When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought, and they bowed to the ground before him.
Genesis 12:15). And the brethren were evidently people of large possessions with a considerable retinue, as they were to carry food for so many; and they had brought the proof required that they were true men. Had Joseph intended to do them harm he might have done it before. It was conscious guilt that made them fear. What they had done to their brother suggested similar treatment being meted to them. Perhaps they had almost forgotten it. But God left not himself without witness to bring their sin to remembrance. The stain of sin on the conscience is indelible. Time cannot remove it. Occupation may turn the thoughts from it, but it returns again and again. The act of wrong may be little thought of at the time. Only afterwards is it felt that it cannot be undone (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:9). This explains the attitude of so many toward God. Why is there such slowness to receive the gospel just as it is offered? When men are bidden to their brother's table; when his will is declared they shall sup with me (cf. Revelation 3:20), why is there such shrinking as if they were being led into danger; as if God were laying some obligation on them which they cannot fulfill, to bring them into bondage for ever? It is because of sin in the heart; perhaps unfelt, unthought of; but it is there, the fact of a self-chosen life. And if these are invited to closer communion with God, straightway they are afraid; suspicious of God. And hence, when the gospel invitation is pressed, and the Lamb of God held up, and the power of the blood of Christ and the welcome for all proclaimed, and they are bidden to trust, to accept salvation, men try to fortify their position: "O sir, we have done this or that (cf. Matthew 18:26), clinging to distrust instead of striving against it.
I. THIS DISTRUST AND SUSPICION OF GOD ARISES FROM THE PRESENCE OF SIN NOT FULLY RECOGNIZED AS SIN; while the man is still trying to set good deeds against bad ones, or to find. excuses for faults. It is the effect of sin before conviction by the Holy Spirit. Real conviction brings to God (Psalm 51:4; Luke 18:13). It is unacknowledged sin that separates.
II. DISTRUST IS REMOVED BY A REAL BELIEF IN THE ATONEMENT (Hebrews 9:25), God's plan for reconciling the sinful to himself (Romans 3:26). Hence this is the turning point of the spiritual life (John 3:18); the great work (John 6:29) out of which, as from a germ, the whole Christian life must grow. - M.
1. The banquet of Joseph's joy, of his hope, of his trying watch.
And he took and sent messes unto them from before him.
I. As IT ILLUSTRATES SOME USEFUL PRINCIPLES OF SOCIAL LIFE.
1. That we should not set up the pretence of loving all alike. Benjamin was specially honoured (ver. 34), and greeted with loving words (ver. 29).
2. That it is wise to observe the established customs of society when they are not morally wrong.
II. AS IT ILLUSTRATES THE SECRET AND THE OUTWARD LIFE.
1. In the case of the brethren.
2. In the case of Joseph.
(T. H. Leale.)
2. The feast of reviving hope in Joseph's brethren.
3. Their participation without envy in the honouring of Benjamin.
4. An introduction to the last trial, and a preparation for it.
5. The successful issue in the fearful proving of Israel's sons.
(J. P. Lange.)
1. The order of the tables. One for himself, one for the strangers, and one for the Egyptians. The design of this was to set them a thinking of him, and who he was, or could be? That the Egyptians and Hebrews should eat apart they could easily account for: but who, or what is this man? Is he not an Egyptian? Yet if he be, why eat by himself? Surely he must be a foreigner ....
2. The order in which they themselves were seated; it was "before him," so that they had full opportunity of looking at him; and what was astonishing to them, every man was placed " according to his age." But who can this be that is acquainted with their ages, so as to be able to adjust things in this order? Surely it must be some one who knows us, though we know not him. Or is he a diviner Who or what can he be? They are said to have "marvelled one at another," and well they might. It is marvellous that they did not from hence suspect who he was.
3. The peculiar favour which he expressed to Benjamin, in sending him a mess five times more than the rest. There is no reason to suppose that Benjamin ate more than the rest; but this was the manner of showing special favour in those times. It was therefore saying in effect, "I not only know all your ages, but towards that young man I have more than a common regard Look at all this, and look at me Look at me, my brother Benjamin. Dost thou not know me?" But all was hid from them. Their eyes, like those of the disciples towards their Lord, seem to have been holden, that they should not know him. Their minds however are eased from an apprehensions, and they drank, and were cheerful in his company.
2. Providence sometimes orders peaceable entertainment, where worse is feared.
3. Nature itself, much more grace, inquire of and desires the peace of parents. He asked of their father, and meaneth his own (ver. 27).
4. It is equal that peaceable inquiries should have due answers.
5. In answering for others, Providence orders the accomplishment of his will The sunbows, &c.
6. All humility becomes their answers who are in fear of foreign powers (ver. 28.)
7. Sight of near relations moveth to inquire of their condition.
8. Natural affection desires to know its near relations for good.
9. Grace puts souls upon blessing relations as well as knowing them.
10. The best blessing is the grace of God procured upon souls.
11. Brethren may be fathers in blessing the fruit of the same womb (ver. 29).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)1. Natural affection may speed to vent itself, after gracious benediction.
2. Natural bowels may burn in gracious souls to their relations.
3. Gracious wisdom teacheth to seek time, place, and measure of expressing affection to relations.
4. Secret venting of affections is best at some opportunities (ver. 30).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)I. PRESENTS FROM HOME. Those made to Joseph by men who little thought what feelings they might excite.
1. They were from his father. He would think of them as being selected by him. An act of homage.
2. They were peculiar to his native country and immediate neighbourhood. How often when a boy had he collected similar gums and nuts. They would take him back to the old time.
3. The presents we may receive from home have more of love in them than homage. We like them the better for that.
4. These presents were the gifts of poor men, who were the poorer by reason of the famine. Presents not to be valued by their intrinsic worth, but by the circumstances under which they were selected, and the feelings with which they are offered.
5. Every good gift is from above. God the author and giver of every good and perfect gift.
6. There is one unspeakable gift, made to us, suited to us; have we accepted this gift?
II. INQUIRIES ABOUT HOME.
1. They are asked concerning their welfare (see Exodus 18:7). Such inquiries from us often mean only the welfare of the body, or relate to temporal things. Family greetings pleasant. Should include an interest in highest and best things.
2. They soon regarded the absent. His father in particular, the "old man." It was about twenty-two years since he had seen his father. "Is he yet alive? A few years work great changes in families. Return to your native town after an absence of twenty-two years, and note the different names, and the vast changes. The father was poorer than when he saw him last by reason of the famine; the son was richer than when he left home to look after the shepherds in Shechem. The coat of many colours exchanged for a robe of state. The shepherd boy become a prince. Absent friends to be remembered.
3. Benjamin specially addressed.
III. THE BANQUET.
1. The president of the feast. Joseph at a raised table by himself. His state and grandeur. Perhaps the presents from home were placed before him. His knowledge of the guests, and their ignorance of him. Jesus at &he last supper knew all, and was little known; after the resurrection He was known in the breaking of bread.
2. The officers of his household. They would show the respect and honour in which he was held.
3. The Israelites. The arrangement of their places at the table. "Whence hath this man this knowledge?" Benjamin's mess. What could this mean? Whether they liked it or not, their father's regard for the younger son, whether Joseph or Benjamin, was to be respected. They needed to be taught this lesson. And we must honour our parents. As they thus sat and feasted with the prince, did they think of the time when they sat down to eat bread by the side of the pit where Joseph was once imprisoned? Joseph returned good for evil. Learn: Let us remember home, especially the heavenly home.
(J. C. Gray.).
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