Sunday, 23rd May 10.30 am Order of Service

WELCOME

HYMN All my hope on God is founded

1 All my hope on God is founded,

all my trust he shall renew;

he, my guide through changing order,

only good and only true.

God unknown,

he alone

calls my heart to be his own.

2 Pride of man and earthly glory,

sword and crown betray his trust;

all that human toil can fashion,

tower and temple, fall to dust.

But God’s power,

hour by hour,

is my temple and my tower.

3 Day by day our mighty giver

grants to us his gifts of love;

in his will our souls find pleasure,

leading to our home above.

Love shall stand

at his hand,

joy shall wait for his command.

4 Still from man to God eternal

sacrifice of praise be done,

high above all praises praising

for the gift of Christ his Son.

Hear Christ’s call

one and all:

we who follow shall not fall.

Joachim Neander (1650-1680) paraphrased Robert Bridges (1844-1930)

PRAYER

READING Genesis 43:1-34

Now the famine was still severe in the land. 2 So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.”

3 But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’”

6 Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?”

7 They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

8 Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. 9 I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.”

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”

15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.”

17 The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house. 18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”

19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 “We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”

23 “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

24 The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. 25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

26 When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. 27 He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?”

28 They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.

29 As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.

31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.”

32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. 33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

SERMON The second trip to Egypt

1-14 In keeping with the general pattern of “pairs” of events throughout the Joseph events, the story now begins the “second” journey of the sons into Egypt. The famine was still in the land, and the grain purchased earlier was gone; so the father sent his sons back for more. This time Judah insisted on taking Benjamin back with them in accordance with Joseph’s demands.

In persuading his father, Judah offered to take full responsibility for Benjamin if he was allowed to accompany the brothers to Egypt. That both Reuben and Judah had suggested ways Benjamin could be safely taken to Egypt reminds us of the events of ch. 37 and the brothers’ maltreatment of Joseph. There both Reuben and Judah attempted to save Joseph’s life (37:21, 26). Here they attempt to save Benjamin from the plan Joseph had initiated against the brothers. Judah expresses his impatience with Jacob by making explicit reference to the fact that this was the “second” time a journey to Egypt had been made (cf. 41:32).

Jacob gave in. Just as it was Judah’s plan that ultimately saved the life of Joseph (37:26), so now his plan saved the life of Simeon and, in the end, of Benjamin. Jacob’s farewell words in v. 14 (note especially the word “mercy”) provide the key to what follows.

At the end of the story, when the sons reached Joseph and he saw Benjamin, we are told that “his mercy” (v. 30; part of “deeply moved” in NIV) was kindled toward his brother. It is important that in these words of Jacob the compassionthat Joseph was to find toward his brothers was given by “God Almighty.”

15-25 Curiously, the whole problem of the brothers’ being “spies” (42:9) is not raised again. Their fears as they were ushered into the royal house of Joseph reveal their conviction that nothing good was going to come of this. We are told at the start, however, that the brothers were being taken into the house for a great feast. We know that their fears in v. 18 were misguided. They need not have feared becoming Joseph’s slaves.

***********************************************

When the brothers repeat to the steward how they found the money in their grain sacks, we see why they were so anxious and just how misguided they actually were. The purpose of the retelling is to get the steward’s response.

Joseph’s steward brushed off their explanation. We know that the steward’s words cannot be taken seriously, for there was no mention of money given to the steward. Apparently the steward has been in on Joseph’s secret plan all along. But unwittingly the steward expresses one of the central themes of the book: “Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure.” (Verse 23)

26-34 Joseph was very careful to ask about the well-being of the brothers’ father and the lad, Benjamin, whom they had brought back with them. It is only when we see Joseph hurry to another room to hide his tears that we are sure his identity was still unknown.

What did the brothers themselves think about Joseph’s questions & their treatment in his house. They had come expecting to be made into servants, but it was they who were being served. The Scripture simply states that the brothers were “dismayed” (NIV, “in astonishment” vs 30). They asked no questions and seemed to accept the words of Joseph’s steward (v. 23) and Joseph’s words to Benjamin ‘God be gracious to you’(v. 29) as the most plausible solution.

I think that WE are more like the brothers than we dare to admit. It’s not just that we imagine that the old addage is true: If something CAN go wrong, it probably WILL go wrong. No, there is a deeper problem – we imagine that God wants to enslave us – we are afraid of Him and His possible plans for us. BUT actually – God is bringing us to a FEAST.

His plans for us are all GOOD plans – all we need to do is to entrust our lives into His Hands and to trust Him – a wonderfully trustworthy God.

PRAYER

Hymn Courage brother, do not stumble

1 Courage brother! do not stumble,

though thy path be dark as night;

there’s a star to guide the humble:—

‘trust in God, and do the right.’

2 Though the road be rough and dreary,

and it’s end far out of sight;

Foot it bravely; strong or weary,

trust in God, and do the right.

3 Some will hate thee, some will love thee,

some will flatter, some will slight;

cease from men, and look above thee:

trust in God, and do the right.

4 Simple rule and safest guiding,

inward peace and inward might,

star upon our path abiding,—

‘trust in God and do the right.’

Norman Macleod (1812–1872)

Benediction

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