Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, return each man's silver to his sack, and give them provisions for their journey. This order was carried out,
Genesis 15:13, 14). But it is not merely a fact in the historical preparation for what he was bringing to pass; a link in the chain of events leading on to Christ. We must look upon it as part of a series of types foreshadowing gospel truths. The famine was a step towards the promised possession, and has its counterpart in the work of the Holy Spirit. It represents the spiritual want of man; conviction of sin (John 16:8; cf. Romans 7:9), leading to know the power of Christ's work (Matthew 18:11).
I. The first step is CONSCIOUSNESS OF FAMINE; that a man's life is more than meat; more than a supply of bodily wants. It is realizing that he has wants beyond the present life; that in living for time he has been following a shadow. This knowledge is not natural to us. Bodily hunger soon makes itself felt, but the soul's need does not; and until it is known, the man may be "poor and blind and naked," and yet suppose that he is "rich and increased with goods."
II. WE CANNOT OF OURSELVES SUPPLY THAT WANT. Gradually we learn how great it is. We want to still the accusing voice of conscience; to find a plea that shall avail in judgment; to see clearly the way of life that we may not err therein. In vain we look one on another, seeking comfort in the good opinion of men, in their testimony to our upright life. In vain we try to satisfy ourselves, by promises to do better, or by offerings of our substance or of our work. In vain is it to seek rest in unbelief, or in the persuasion that in some way all will be right. The soul cannot thus find peace. There is a voice which at times will make itself heard - "all have sinned" - thou hast sinned.
III. GOD HAS PROVIDED BREAD. "I have heard that there is corn in Egypt" (cf. Romans 10:18), answers to the gospel telling of the bread of life. As to this we mark -
1. It was provided before the want arose (1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8). The gospel tells us of what has already been done, not of a gift to come into existence on certain conditions. The ransom of our souls has been paid. We have to believe and take (Revelation 22:17).
2. How faith works. They must go for that food which was ready for them. To take the bread of life must be a real earnest act, not a listless assent. The manna which was to be gathered, the brazen serpent to which the sick were to look, the command to the impotent "Rise, take up thy bed and walk," all show that it is not enough merely to wish, there must be the effort of faith (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3). This is a law of the spiritual kingdom. As natural laws regulate results within their, domain, so spiritual results must be sought in accordance with spiritual laws.
3. It is our Brother who has made provision for us. This is our confidence. He waits to reveal himself when in humility and emptiness we come to him, and to give us plenty (1 Corinthians 3:21, 22). - M.
I. THE RETURN. Affairs in Egypt strangely settled, they set out on their return. They have been treated with a perplexing mixture of kindness and harshness. They have provision for their journey; but they remember the prison, and the hostage they have left behind. What shall they say to their father? Once they returned without Joseph. He scarcely recovered from that blow. Now they are without Simeon, and must demand Benjamin. How great their perplexity! They thought of Joseph when in the presence of the lord of Egypt; do they think of him now? By the very road they were travelling they saw him borne away years before. They were enveloped in mystery. The old man at home among his hungry household, and their own children awaiting their return. Simeon's children, too, to meet; and no father brought back to them.
My money is restored; and lo, it is even in my sack: and their hearts failed them.I. THEY PURSUE THE SINNER EVERYWHERE.
II. THEY DRIVE THE SINNER TO PUT THE WORST CONSTRUCTION UPON EVERY EVENT.
III. THEY ARE INTENDED TO LEAD THE SINNER TO REPENTANCE.
(T. H. Leale.)
II. THE DISCOVERY. Thus perplexed, and anxiously anticipating the result, they arrive at one of the inns, or khans, at which the caravans stopped to rest. An ass needs provender. A sack is opened. The money is discovered. Consternation. What can it all mean? Did they reflect on the money for which they had once sold a brother? Probably Joseph's purchasers once lodged with their newly bought slave in that very inn, and talked of the sum they had given, as these men were now talking of the money they had found. This money boded no good. An unheard-of thing, that a seller should return the money. Joseph very likely returned the money to ensure their return; lest they might need food and not have money to buy it. A new thing to tell their father.
III. THE FAMILY CONSTERNATION. They arrive at home. The first greetings over, inquiries are made. Where is Simeon? They relate the history of their adventures and Simeon's detention. While they relate this strange history they open their sacks. A new discovery. All the money returned! Fear seizes the whole family. It is a new thing in the story of trade. May have been regarded by them as a pretext for the Egyptians coming and carrying them all away into captivity. Jacob especially filled with dread. He has now lost two sons, and sees in the returned money a new occasion of alarm. "All these things are against me." But they were all for him, because a son was in it all. "All things shall work together for the good of them who love God," because another Son — Jesus Christ — is concerned in our welfare. Learn:
I. Past sins cast their shadow on the present, and overcast the future.
II. The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth.
III. Conscience converts things strange into things ominous.
IV. Our ignorance of Divine plans causes us to charge God foolishly.
V. No money needed to procure the bread of life. "In my hand no price I bring." Jesus Christ is an "unspeakable GIFT."
(J. C. Gray.)
(G. Lawson, D. D.)
2. Observe the fear of these men. They were bold, hard men; yet see how their heart fails them. Whom do they fear? The stern Egyptian ruler? No. Their own thoughts, their own secret, their own sin. Nothing makes men so fearful as an evil conscience.
3. But their thoughts turned not to their sin alone, but to God. They saw His hand in what befell them. This, as far as it went, was a wholesome thought. What they said was quite true; it was God that was dealing with them. It was well that they should feel it.
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