Scared to Death

Genesis 42:27-38

27At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28“My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”

29When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30“The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’

33“Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’”

35As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”

37Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”

38But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”

Drive-Through

Did you drink coffee today? Did you buy it from drive-through outlets?

Someone claimed that he stopped buying coffee from drive-through outlets because of a very regrettable experience. He calculated his time of travel going to work. He had enough time, and decided to pass by a drive-through outlet to buy his black coffee. He ordered his hot coffee, paid for it, and then, drove away.

He assumed it was hot coffee. So, he waited a few minutes to let it warm. He sipped his coffee from its lid and got frustrated that it was not hot. It was cold. He cannot forget that experience and decided not to pass by drive-through ever.

Was the instruction clear? Well, experience is a great teacher, so they say.

Deplorable situations that others experienced may probably happen to anybody which may also cause someone not to trust somebody easily. But who can help us when we fear something we’ve got no control? It says in Isaiah 12:2:  2Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”

By faith, we trust Christ for our eternal life. Whatever may happen in this life and when we sense no worry, it’s a manifestation of active faith. To have faith in Christ includes trust that He cares for our temporary life on earth. Agree?

Of course, God cares much about our eternal life but does He ignore our temporary life? No! Life on earth serves as practice moment for life in heaven. If you find enjoyment in your Christian life now, for all eternity, you will certainly enjoy your eternal life in the presence of God much more.

Yet most often, we are slow to practice godly lifestyle, and we worry a lot.

Christ has prescribed an antidote or solution for worry in Matthew 6:33-34, 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Many things and events make us worry. Why would God allow them when He knows we may worry? Worry has negative effect on several aspects of life. The best antidote or solution to worry is to seek His kingdom and righteousness.

How? We pray: “Lord, be the Lord of my life!” How to know when Christ is performing His Lordship in our life? We evaluate our lifestyle if His righteousness becomes our guide in life, in our thoughts, actions, and the words we speak.

The Lord commands us not to worry, yet we disobey Him. 1 Samuel 15:22 says, 22To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Did you know that Christ has commanded “not to worry about tomorrow?”

Some people think it’s just a suggestion or interesting statement of Christ. The Lord commanded not to worry that is why it is not easy to obey because it’s godly command. Worry does not come from the Lord. It’s a human instinct.

But the fruit of the Spirit of Christ is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

These descriptions of the fruit of the Spirit are the very opposite of worry.

The Lord’s commands are our guide to have righteous lifestyle. We can only obey the Lord when we allow Hi Spirit prevail in our hearts and minds. And when the fruit of the Spirit is manifested in our life, worry can’t control no more.

Jacob was believer of God but he also had his shares of worries in life. When his sons told him that the harsh ruler of Egypt wanted to see their youngest brother to prove their innocence, Jacob rejected the idea. Why did he not let Benjamin go to Egypt? He worried that Benjamin may be harmed.

If Jacob and his sons heard the Lord’s prescription about worry, they would have peace in any situation and not trembled of events they cannot control.

1. Tremble

27At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28“My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”

 The sons of Jacob covered more than 600 kilometers from Canaan to Egypt. Approximately, they may have traveled 7-10 days until they reached their home in Canaan. Of course, common sense suggests that they may have rested where there was shade or where their donkeys can eat grass on the ground.

One night, a donkey may have been braying or making much noise, and they cannot sleep so that one of the brothers needed to feed his donkey. And they were shocked and trembled. His silver was in the sack.

When Joseph’s brothers left Egypt, they did not check the luggage they received. Why? Was it because they were so scared of their life? They wanted to leave Egypt immediately and go home as fast as they can. They did not inspect if the items they received were grains or what they bough was right. Why?

Online Shopping

Online shopping has become more popular than ever? Is it worth the risk to shop online? When you received the product you’ve purchased online, are satisfied with it? Have you ever had received different product or slightly different from what you paid for? Have you ever regretted shopping online?

There’re many complaints when buying product online. Have you had one?

The problem with online markets cannot be totally eliminated. But, when you personally buy the product in person you’ve got the chance to inspect it. Yet, still there are complaints made. Products are returned or exchanged.

The brothers may have been scared to death after the ruler of Egypt treated them harshly so that they did not bother to check what they purchased. Joseph recognized them but they did not recognize him. When Joseph was harsh toward his brothers, not a few have interpreted it as his way of revenge for their cruelty against him. But think about it one more time. Would it not be a sweeter revenge if he introduced himself first before he treated them harshly?

Well actually, when Joseph hid himself and wept, it can also be interpreted that it was not really his intention to take revenge against his brothers. So, why did he treat them harshly like spies, then? What did his brothers think about it?

2. Treat

29When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30“The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’

The Spirit of the Lord was with Joseph. Would agree that the Lord gave wisdom to Joseph on how to act and speak as responsible prime minister, not just before his brothers but to everyone? When Joseph treated his brothers harshly like spies, it caused them to defend themselves and prove that they were innocent. And subsequently, they mentioned their father and youngest brother.

Joseph demanded that they will bring their youngest brother Benjamin to Egypt to prove their innocence. And as a guarantee, he had one of his brothers Simeon imprisoned in Egypt. He had him bound before their eyes. Now, that’s brilliant but totally harsh treatment. Why? Joseph may have used that harsh treatment so that his servants, other traders and some officials will see what he would do to spies when caught. There might be politicians spying on him.

Anyway, his brothers cannot forget their harsh encounter with him. They described to their father that the man who is lord over the land treated them harshly. They never recognized him as their brother Joseph. Joseph may have changed physically, and possible, there was authority in his voice.

33“Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’”

Can you sense fear when the brothers reported their experience in Egypt? It seems like they were very scared to death before Joseph. Perhaps, when they bowed down they didn’t even raise their face to look straight to Joseph’s eyes when he accused them as spies because they’re simply very scared to death.

The Lord said in Genesis 4:7, 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.

Jeremiah 2:19 says, 19“Your wickedness will punish you; your backsliding will rebuke you. Consider then and realize how evil and bitter it is for you when you forsake the Lord your God and have no awe of me,” declares the Lord, the Lord Almighty.

God Punished the Assyrian

The Lord has records for righteousness and wickedness. He rewards the righteous and punishes the wicked. When the Israelites sinned against God, the Lord used the Assyrians to punish them. But, He also punished the Assyrians. In Isaiah 10:12-16, 12When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, “I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. 13For he says: “‘By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings. 14As one reaches into a nest,  so my hand reached for the wealth of the nations; as people gather abandoned eggs, so I gathered all the countries; not one flapped a wing, or opened its mouth to chirp.’”

15Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it, or the saw boast against the one who uses it? As if a rod were to wield the person who lifts it up, or a club brandish the one who is not wood! 16Therefore, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will send a wasting disease upon his sturdy warriors; under his pomp a fire will be kindled like a blazing flame.

When the Lord punished the Israelites and brought into exile, their captors did not treat them with dignity. During war time, are you required to be kind, good or take care of your enemies? The Assyrians were brutal and cruel when they defeated and captured the Israelites. The Assyrians were God’s instruments to punish the Israelites but they’ve got to answer their wickedness before God.

Luke 6:32-36 says, 32“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Now, if we say that Joseph’s lifestyle represent a lifestyle of believers, why was he very harsh to his brothers and accused them as spies? Joseph acted like he was harsh but in his heart, he was very sad that he needed to be harsh before his brothers. He wept privately was a proof that he did not enjoy being harsh to them but he had to do it. Later, after their father died, Genesis 50:18-21 states, 18His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. 19But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

Most often, rebuke is interpreted as being harsh or expression of hatred. When our faith is active, we can trust that God uses unpleasant events to rebuke us which are essential supplement to His good purposes in our life. When we trust that God is love, His commands and rebukes are expression of His love.

3. Trust

35As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”

Jacob has become pessimistic because his favorite son disappeared. His sons reported that Simeon was imprisoned in Egypt, and he can only be released if their youngest brother Benjamin would appear before the harsh ruler of Egypt. The manner his sons described the harsh treatment they had experienced before Joseph may have terrified Jacob. He easily believed them.

Jacob mentioned Joseph, Benjamin and Simeon, and told his others sons that they deprived him of his children. Did Jacob imply that he favored Joseph, Benjamin and Simeon, over his other sons? Joseph and Benjamin were Jacob’s sons with Rachel. He loved Rachel more than his other wives, so it’s follows that he favored them more than his other children but how about Simeon? Did Jacob care about Simeon because he was worried what may happen to him in Egypt?

37Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”

38But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”

Reuben interpreted that their father cared much about Simeon also and being the oldest son, Reuben felt responsible to bring Simeon back home.

Jacob sensed that Reuben was tentative to sacrifice completely for the mission he proposed. Why did he offer his sons to be punished if he failed? Why not himself? Jacob did not desire to punish anybody for other’s failure. He added that if Benjamin is harmed, the rest of his life until he dies will be empty and sad.

Being the oldest son, Reuben may have felt guilty that he did nothing to bring Simeon back home to Canaan. When he offered his sons for Jacob to kill if he fails to bring Simeon home, he may have interpreted that Jacob needed something to express his anger. So, it is kind like Reuben was offering a gift just to appease or make Jacob feel relieved.

Aren’t we like Reuben when we feel guilty of disobedience to the Lord? We sacrifice, we try to make ourselves busy doing something we assume to be God’s will. The Lord’s doesn’t need anything from us more than a contrite heart.

Do you feel guilty when you commit terrible sin? It’s normal for people of God to feel guilty when we sin because the Spirit of Christ in us wants us to repent to be cleansed and experience once again the joy of our salvation.

Psalm 51

King David was very guilty of his terrible mistakes. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, and then, he planned the death of Bathsheba’s husband.

He pleaded in Psalm 51:14-17, 10Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 13Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. 14Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

David prophesied that once joy of salvation is restored, it is practically manifested in teaching sinners to seek God’s forgiveness, too.

Everyone is prone to commit sin. The Lord does not require us to sacrifice. Christ has sacrificed once and for all. All we need to do to is, repent of our sins. God won’t reject us when we come to him with contrite and repentant heart.

Once assured of God’s forgiveness, we won’t be scared to death no more.

Do you agree that God does not reject a repentant heart? Praise God!

By faith, we trust that the Lord creates in us a pure heart when we repent.

With pure heart, we’ve got joy to keep trusting and praising God.

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