November 27, 2009

A Bag of Tricks

Genesis 42:1-8, 25-38

In each man’s sack was his pouch of silver!
Genesis 42:35


When Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt, Joseph recognized them but kept quiet. He had them in the palm of his hand and wielded the power to crush them. But he took his time to test them and play a trick on them. Later, when they discovered their silver in their bags of grain, they realized that judgment from the governor of Egypt was only a matter of time, for they would have to return there to buy more food.

Not knowing that it was Joseph who governed Egypt, the brothers had spoken in front of him about the terrible thing they had done to him (Genesis 42:21-24). Their own mouths convicted them of their deceit. They also confessed that they had been wrong. And Joseph forgave them. So by grace and mercy they did not receive what they deserved.

The human condition in God’s world has not changed. Sow the seeds of lust, greed, haughtiness, or envy, and sooner or later you will reap their reward. No one will escape; poor and rich, old and young will stand before the judgment seat of Christ. And, like Joseph’s brothers, we will fear the punishment for our sin.

In God’s family, however, even though we are still prone to sin, there is forgiveness and reconciliation, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who freely took the punishment for all the sins we have done.

Thank you, Lord, for the grace you give us through Jesus Christ. We don’t deserve it. Help us to surprise others with forgiveness and mercy, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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