Genesis 43 Repentance, Faith, And The Breaking Of Bread.
There is something about having no food that causes people to change their minds. Jacob, now referred to as Israel, grills his sons for not lying to Joseph about Benjamin (vv. 1-7). Then Judah finally also mans up and offers himself as surety, willing to be blamed forever if he fails in his mission (vv. 8-10). First Reuben, and now Judah finally break the comfort of the sinful solidarity of the eleven. There is a lesson for all here – all men will one day stand before the judge of all the earth alone, with or without the only advocate to plead our case. A second point is this, sins are legion that have been committed by peer pressure and the excuse that one was just following the crowd or orders. Jacob, who God renamed Israel because he wrestled with him in his younger days and prevailed, finally returns to the only faith that counts – the one of total abandonment to the only sovereign over all the earth (vv. 11-14).
Faith means nothing if it is not of a sort that a man is not only willing to be bereaved, but to go to his death if necessary. This is the faith that changed the world. May God be pleased to use my death to bring him glory, for everything in this life is all smoke and mirrors to what really matters in life. When the brothers return to Joseph with Benjamin he finally had proof that their faith was more than mere inheritance from a father who also wavered, it was a faith to match his own, which was purified in the furnace of suffering, false accusation, the stealing of his good name, and excommunication from an apostate church and family (vv. 15-17). The brothers stepped forward in fear, knowing that they indeed deserved to die (vv. 18-22). Men with clear consciences don’t step out in fear, but are willing to bear true witness come what may. It was a word of mercy which came from the steward, with Simeon (v. 23).
The steward of Joseph’s house was ‘the man’, speaking words of peace and backing them up with other acts of mercy, no doubt by Joseph’s command, because that is what good stewards do, obey their masters (vv. 24-25). When the brothers bowed before him, and he queried them (vv. 26-28), verse 29a then says that Joseph lifted his eyes. Could it be that the boy who boasted that they and their father would one day bow before him, chose not to see them bow? In any case, Joseph spoke grace to Benjamin, and he yearned for him with the love of one who knew him as the one who took his place in the bosom of their father (vv. 29b-30). Joseph had a time to weep and now was a time for restraint (v. 31). Is there not a lesson to weep before breaking bread with those who have transgressed, but have come to repentance? Joseph who once ate alone, now feasted with his brethren and they with him (vv. 32-34).