The Final Test (Genesis 44) by Ptr. Xley Miguel

This morning, in this morning’s sermon, we were reminded of covid. Indeed, it was a time of testing for all churches. Many churches were divided — should we worship, should we gather, should we just be at home and listen to the sermon online, should we wear mask, should we get vaccinated. But no matter how you look at it, while many churches were divided, we can say that it was for the good of the church. While many people left churches, we also know that God used such time of testing to purify His churches. So that time of testing was in fact good for God’s people. Same is true for Joseph’s brothers. What happened to them in this chapter was for their good. Why? Because they too were put to this final test. Turn with me to Genesis chapter 44 and we will read the entire chapter. Then he commanded the steward of his house, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, and put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, with his money for the grain.” And he did as Joseph told him. As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away with their donkeys. They had gone only a short distance from the city. Now Joseph said to his steward, “Up, follow after the men, and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? Is it not from this that my lord drinks, and by this that he practices divination? You have done evil in doing this.’” When he overtook them, he spoke to them these words. They said to him, “Why does my lord speak such words as these? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! Behold, the money that we found in the mouths of our sacks we brought back to you from the land of Canaan. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? Whichever of your servants is found with it shall die, and we also will be my lord’s servants.” He said, “Let it be as you say: he who is found with it shall be my servant, and the rest of you shall be innocent.” Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city. When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.” Then Judah went up to him and said, “Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father, or a brother?’ And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a young brother, the child of his old age. His brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ We said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’ Then you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall not see my face again.’ “When we went back to your servant my father, we told him the words of my lord. And when our father said, ‘Go again, buy us a little food,’ we said, ‘We cannot go down. If our youngest brother goes with us, then we will go down. For we cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. One left me, and I said, “Surely he has been torn to pieces,” and I have never seen him since. If you take this one also from me, and harm happens to him, you will bring down my gray hairs in evil to Sheol.’ “Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy’s life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life.’ Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.” The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.

You see here in this chapter, Joseph, putting his brothers again to another test, in fact, the final test. He deliberately had his servant place his silver cup to the bag, put it in the bag of Benjamin before they left. And when they left, Joseph commanded his servant to pursue them and asked them about the silver cup. Of course when the brothers were speaking to the servant, the brothers were denying. I mean they didn’t really take anything. They did not steal anything, that’s the truth. They were confident about not having the silver cup. To add more to the weight, it would appear as if they were stealing from someone who had a very high position in the country. In fact, yun yung pinaparamdam ni Joseph dito. Pinahabol, you’re stealing from someone from the governor or the ruler of the land; add to that, this someone allowed you to be inside his house. In fact pinakain ka pa; pinaupo ka pa kasama sa mesa ng governor who was like Pharaoh himself. And most importantly, it appears that what they have stolen was something very important. Yun yung gustong i- communicate dito, para maramdaman, ma-prick yung conscience nila. Joseph mentioned that this cup was used for divination, meaning it was used for pagan rituals. Now I would agree with many commentators na given that Joseph was truly a righteous man, looking at his history in the previous chapters, could be that Joseph did not really engage himself in such rituals. Na in fact ginawa lang ito ni Joseph to really test them. And in fact yung ritual na iyon was called hydromancy. Ginagawa doon…eto yung silver cup, naglalagay ng tubig tapos maglalagay ng oil and then imi-mix mix. Tapos kung ano yung lumabas, ay probably, yun yung magpakita kung ano yung mangyayari in the future, right.

Ganun yung hydromancy. Well, if we’re talking about the future, I believe Joseph knew kung sino talaga ang makakapag-foretell ng future. I mean he had experience. He dreamed about what’s going to happen in the future. Hence, I think malakas yung argument na Joseph really did not need such rituals, right.

And that Joseph just mentioned this to poke their consciences para maintindihan nilang mabigat itong bagay na ito, sobrang importante ito. And so when the servant pursued the brothers and told them about the missing cup, the brothers were very confident. Verse 9, sabi nung brothers.. verse 9, whichever of your servants is found with it shall die. Sige, kung sino man.. kung nakanino man yan, dapat mamatay yan. And we will also be my Lord’s servant. The rest of us, magiging servant ni Joseph. Of course they didn’t know that it was Joseph pa.

Well of course they were confident because they knew that they did not steal the silver cup. But when the servant searched for Reuben’s sack, Simeon’s sack, Levi’s Judah’s, Naptali’s, Gad’s, Issachar’s… and then we come to the very last one. Isipin siguro natin siguro yung anxiety nila during that time ‘no. Siguro, ina- anticipate nila yung vindication, right. And then Benjamin. We see the cup inside Benjamin’s sack. And because of this, we knew they immediately went back to Egypt and they pleaded with Joseph. Judah was the one. In fact in the story, it was Judah who was the one who went up to Joseph and he offered himself to be the substitute for Benjamin. But Joseph only wanted the one who had the cup. And Judah, as you can see, this is one of the…ito yung pinakamahaba in fact na plead sa Genesis where he continued to reason out and told Joseph that if Benjamin will not come with them to Canaan, their father, Jacob will die.

Now if you remember, Joseph has already put them to the test two chapters ago. Genesis chapter 42. If you remember the first time that they saw Joseph again, of course the governor. Joseph knew who they were and Joseph accused them of being spies. You’re spies! You’re here to witness the nakedness of this land, that’s what Joseph said. And because of that test, the brothers thought wait, is God now dealing with our past sins? Eto na ba? Eto na ba yung reckoning? Eto na ba yung nararapat para sa atin because of what we have done to our dear brother Joseph many years ago? Now, we’re being accused falsely of being spies at tayo ay makukulong dito sa Egypt? Eto na! Eto na yung hustiya! in fact in Genesis 42: 21, they said to one another, we read this kanina… in truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul when he begged us and we didn’t, we didn’t listen. That is why this distress has come upon us. Nangyayari sa atin ito kasi meron tayong ginawa before. So they recognised it because of the first test, they were able to confess. And so now Joseph, so Joseph tested them the first time so that he would see if the brothers were repentant. Although we can say that there were there was confession before already that time, but we know that confession is not enough. For confession is just one component of repentance. And here in this chapter another test was necessary, desire for reparations must be seen, hatred towards sin must be seen. And that’s exactly what Joseph is now seeing in this chapter.

We’re seeing more components of such repentance where we can say wow, in this chapter they’re in fact showing true repentance. The final test of Joseph was to see whether the brothers were ready to again leave another brother behind.

And it looks like they were not ready to do that. They don’t want to repeat the same sin again; repentance, right, repentance is that you don’t want to repeat it! And so because of the test, the sin was revealed. Because of the test, guilt was felt, guilt was acknowledged. Because of the test, Joseph saw that the brothers who were with him there were different from the brothers who almost killed him many years ago. Brothers who threw him to the pit, brothers who sold him. Now we see his brothers pleading, acknowledging their guilt. This was the result of Joseph’s final test. And what a perfect picture this is of the work of God. For God also tests, God also sends trials as tests to bring what? the repentance of people for people to acknowledge their guilt, for people to make reparations, for people to desire graces and mortify their sins, for people to be changed into becoming like their Saviour, Jesus Christ. Now, you may not be experiencing such fiery trials in your life now, but as a child of God, you will and you, you’re probably going through it now. But if you’re currently experiencing such trials in your life now whether that would be a small matter or to the point that your faith is almost shaken, well, just like the brothers of Joseph who were showing some change in their lives, this is my message this afternoon: God moulds His own through testing.

God Moulds His Own Children Through Testing. It is a necessary thing for Him to be moulding His people and He uses tests. He uses trials, even tribulations to mold His people into becoming like His Son. So when the brothers were tested their sins were dealt with, we’re going to talk about that in our first point which is Divine Justice. And what was the reason for the testing? We’ll talk about that we’ll consider that in our last point— Renewed Life.

Let us consider the first point, Divine Justice. Again, remember two chapters ago in Genesis 42, when Joseph first tested them, in verse 22 of Genesis 42, Ruben said to them after Joseph accused them that they were spies, Ruben said did I not tell you.. (he was talking to his brothers).. did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen! So now, ngayon, there comes a reckoning for his blood. Because we did this.. we did that to Joseph many years ago, 20 plus years ago, now we are reaping the results of what we have done 20 years ago. And so you see here that the brothers have already recognised the providential hand of God two chapters ago. That it is God who’s finally revealing such sins. And now two chapters after in chapter 44 verse 16, when Judah was now talking to Joseph pleading, he said, “what shall we say to my Lord? what shall we speak or how can we clear ourselves?” And listen to this, this is what Judah said: “God, (he didn’t say Joseph, he didn’t say the governor, rather he said God) has found out the guilt; he’s not even saying the guilt of Benjamin because he stole the silver cup, no. He’s saying God has found out the guilt of your servants. Judah recognised the in inevitability of the divine justice of God. He’s referring to the guilt of Judah himself but also his brothers of what they have done to Joseph many years ago. I mean just look at this, ang sinisisi lang sa kanila ay yung silver cup pero na-acknowledge nila hindi, nangyayari ito kasi ginawa natin ito sa ating kapatid many many years ago. This is God’s doing. This is the divine justice of God. That even after many years, God was exposing their sin. After many years God was dealing with their sin against Joseph. He and his brothers indeed recognised that they were reaping the results of that sinfulness. The reckoning has indeed come. God is truly just and God is truly righteous and God will deal with every sin. This is the same for all of us. Now we may reap the temporal consequences of our sins now, or even in the future, gamitin natin ang words Moses in Numbers chapter 32 when he was speaking to the Israelites that if they disobey, Moses said, sin will find you out. Meaning, it will get you in the end, meaning, you will bear the consequences, meaning, no sins will be un- judged. This is God’s just ways. In Deuteronomy 32:4 it says, the rock ,His work is perfect for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is He. This is the just way of God in dealing with sin.There are times when sin will indeed find us out. You may indeed reap such consequences and you… there may be a time when you really have to confess that sin.

Sabi ni J.I. Packer sa Knowing God na kaniyang sinulat. He said and I quote, “God will see that each person sooner or later, receives what he deserves. If not here, then hereafter. This is one of the basic facts of life.” This is the reality because our God is just. All sins will be judged. The question is for everyone who’s here, were your sins already judged or will it still be judged when the judge of all things, Jesus Christ, returns. Don’t waste your time for it may be too late. If you’re not a believer of Christ, if you don’t have faith in God’s provision of salvation, it may be too late! I mean there’s time, there’s still time, pero huwag mo nang patagalin. God is just so all sins will be judged. And let me remind you, one sin is enough to merit eternal judgment in hell. So right now, call on this Judge who will return, for He is a present Redeemer, who alone can save your soul. Repent now and come to Him now as a Saviour, for failure to do so, He will come to you as the Judge of all things. Run to Him now as He is the Refuge, He is the shelter. For failure to do so, you won’t be able to run and hide from His wrath.

Find in Him the forgiveness of your sins. For failure to do so, your sins will find you out. But if you are in Christ, you have this great unchanging assurance that you have been saved from your sins. That you have been saved from God’s judgment, you will escape eternal wrath. In fact even now, no wrath abides in you. So when trial comes, these are not punishment sa ‘yo kasi hindi iyon wrath ng Panginoon. If you are in Christ, no matter how difficult these trials are, these are not manifestations of God’s wrath. Hindi ito nangyayari kasi galit sa iyo ang Panginoon, rather they are means that God uses to mold you. This is because all punishments that are supposed to be poured on you, have already been poured on Christ on the cross. So my first challenge for you, those who are in Christ, Be Assured That In Christ Alone, Your Sins Have Been Judged On The Cross. In Christ alone, you have and you will escape the just wrath of God.

Again, let me clarify that we may still reap the temporal consequences here of our sins here on Earth. For example, if you lied to someone, your brother or your sister in Christ, you may indeed reap the earthly consequences. Like it would be hard for them to trust you moving forward. That’s a consequence. Or if a person committed something that would put him in jail, the person may still have faith but he will have to answer for what he did by being in jail. And this happens because it’s God’s ways. It’s how God’s providence works. Sin, because it goes against the original design of God, it goes against the very nature of God. So even as a Christian, when you’re tempted to sin, know how it can still destroy you, how it can destroy your relationships, it can even destroy your vocations.

May mga temporal consequences pa rin. However, this is your assurance — that in Jesus Christ your sins will not condemn you anymore.

The silver cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. Joseph wanted the cup to be with Benjamin who was the current favourite son. Reuben can’t have it. I don’t think it would have the same effect if Reuben had it. I mean the test won’t have the same effect as we have read now. Reuben can’t have the cup, Simeon can’t have the cup, Levi, Judah, Gad, Issachar, Naphtali, the rest, can’t have the cup. It needed to be with the one who was more prized. To be with the one who was more precious in the eyes of their father, Jacob. And for a Christian, this is your assurance. In Luke 22:42, when Christ was kneeling down and praying before his arrest and His sacrificial death, he said: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.” This is your assurance brother and sister in Christ, that a different and yet more frightening cup was with Christ. And it is a cup of wrath. And no one else can have it, you can’t have it, you can’t consume it, you can’t drink from that cup. Not even Judah can have it. Not even the real Benjamin, not even Joseph. No one else can drink from it, only the more prized one, the sinless precious one, and His Name is Jesus Christ alone can drink from it, and he did, for He obeyed the will of the Father. And because He did, be assured that your sins will not condemn you anymore for wrath will never be poured on you, for it was poured already on Christ. Be assured that your sins will not not change God’s mind anymore. As if God changes His mind, He doesn’t change. Be assured that your present and your future sins will not invalidate the finished work of Christ. Any sin of a Christian truly redeemed by the Lord have been forgiven, and will be forgiven.

This is this is why we can publicly proclaim that no power of hell, no scheme of man can ever pluck you from the hand of Christ. Because you are assured. And don’t ever think that all bad things that are happening to you is because God hates you. In fact it is the opposite, God in fact allows trials, sends trials and you may even reach your lowest point; but know that God moulds you through testing and be assured that In Christ alone, your sins have been judged on the cross. How assured are you that your sins have been paid for? Doesn’t this fact comfort you brethren if you are in Christ then that assurance does not change. Your situations may change but that assurance doesn’t.

My last point is Renewed Life. So let’s go back at the time when the brothers committed their sin against Joseph. After they sold him, they went back to their father, Jacob. In Genesis 37:34 it says, it tells us what the reaction of Jacob was. It says then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days, and it tells us that the brothers comforted their father, right, after sinning and almost murdering their brother, they reported the deed to what happened to Joseph to Jacob and Jacob was the one who was grieving and they comforted their father. They did not grieve with their father. But now in Genesis chapter 44, when the servant saw the silver cup inside the sack of Benjamin and they all knew that it is God who is at work.

Without any explanations, it says in verse 13, then they tore their clothes and every man loaded his donkey and they return to the city. Alam na nila, alam na nila kung sino ang nagwo-work behind the scenes. They understood. Unlike in Genesis chapter 37, their father was the one grieving, but now it’s all of them. Nakita natin, something indeed changed in the response of these brothers. But what’s more evident in this chapter is Judah restored life. Take note Judah was not the firstborn, and yet in this chapter, he acted like the protector of the family.

He acted like the head of the brothers and we can see the change in him as it is obvious how they hated what happened before. Now they don’t want to abandon another brother because they knew that if they leave Benjamin behind, their father Jacob will die. So Judah, being a man of his word, sinabi niya sa tatay niya before na maging pledge of safety siya, now he’s saying the same thing to Joseph. That he’s offering himself to Joseph as the pledge, as the substitute sabi sa verses 32-33. For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, if I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life. Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my Lord and let the boy go back with his brothers. Remember Judah’s life before. This is why for some reason, some may think teka, parang nasingit yung Genesis chapter 38 sa narrative ni Joseph.

Why? Bakit kailangang ikwento pa yung buhay ni Judah na nagkaroon siya ng mga anak na namatay ang mga anak niya. Nagkaroon siya ng youngest son na sobrang bata pa na supposedly dapat ibibigay na yun sa kaniyang daughter-in- law pero hindi niya ginawa. So ginawa nung daughter-in-law niya na si Tamar, pumunta sa isang festival, nagsuot ng suot ng prostitute. Itong si Judah, naghanap ng prostitute, and lo and behold, hindi niya alam ang kaniyang kinitang prostitute ay ang kaniyang daughter-in-law at he impregnated her.

Nandoon yun sa Genesis. In the middle of the story of Joseph for you to see how God changed Judah’s life now. What a story of redemption Judah’s life was. And now that he was experiencing this final test, it all the more affirms his changed life. And this is the same for all of us. God’s test is in fact an affirmation of a sanctified life. Brethren, we are living a life of testing, we are living a life of molding into Christlikeness. The goal in this life is a sanctified life, the goal of the end is a glorified life. Hebrews 12:14 tells us strive for peace with everyone and strive for Holiness without which, no one will see the Lord. Those who are in Christ will go through sanctification, we will go through God’s molding for us to be like Christ. And it’s not going to be an easy life. There will be sweat and many tears, but the promise is that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. You will if you are in Christ, you will go, you will go through sanctification. That means you will go through testing, that means you will go through molding. So brethren, when you are tested, let your immediate response be to ponder on the fact that God’s working in us. That God is not absent, that God is in fact at work, that God loves those whom He moulds and he does mold. That’s what’s happening now! We have a God who works behind the scenes. He’s not absent, He’s working in your life. During the testing, usually naiisip natin, sobrang hirap naman nito. Lord, tanggalin mo ito sa akin.. not knowing there’s someone who uses such testings to mold you. God is at work; ponder on that.

You know, we enjoy being together every Lord’s day, here in the chapel. Not knowing that there are people behind the scenes. Security guards who make sure that this area is protected. People who are working in Meralco to make sure we have electricity, kung sumisigaw ako dito, walang amplifier tapos madilim, hindi ko makikita kung sino’ng tulog. Just imagine how much more if God works behind the scenes? It’s one thing to appreciate that all of these things are happening because there are people behind the scenes. Now, how about God? The Challenge Is For Us To Ponder On The Continuous Work Of God In Your Life! When you meet trials and you will, ponder on this fact that God is working in us. This is why James said you can rejoice because God works in us, for us to be conformed in Christ. We are not immune to trials if you are God’s child you will go through trials and we all at times struggle with the thought why is this happening to me? Lord, why are you doing this to me? And the one answer that applies to every Christian is that God works in us. God works in us when trials come in marriage, when trials come in rearing our children, in meeting certain expectations in your job. God works in us when relational problems happen in the church, with friends, with family. God works in us during the early morning Metro Manila traffic. You may think as shallow as it is, but God works in you. Yung patience mo kamusta? God works in us when you or a loved one is stricken by sickness, or when a loved one passes away. From the very shallow trial to the more to the heavier one. And you know what? Again, God’s work in us and God’s motivation is your transformation. In your transformation from rags to riches, from dead to alive in Christ, from being wary of sin to being in glory with Christ is a surety. Be assured that you will go through trials and God’s motivation is your transformation into Christlikeness. God is working. It is a surety because you have a better pledge of safety. You have a better Judah who took your place on the cross, and that is Jesus Christ. So be comforted by this fact, ponder when you meet trials, God is working in your life for your sanctification.

There was a Puritan whose name was Thomas case and he was imprisoned because he went against the Church of England. He preached differently, different from what the Church of England was prescribing him to do. So he preached the true gospel. And he was in prison for many years. And in his work, in his treaties, he mentioned that in that prison life, of course it was a life of testing. He was inside the the prison. But in his writing, he’s saying that in fact those are the best days of his life. You know, in this treaties that he wrote, one of his good friends, Thomas Manton wrote in the preface of his treaties and Thomas Manton said in that preface: Thomas case, I in fact envy your prison comforts. Do you look at trials that way? That in fact you go through trials knowing that God is never absent, rather He is presently working in your life to mold you through the time of trial and testing. So how often do you experience trials? How often do you get frustrated because of trials? Can I suggest to count it joy because God works in us. Because you have a surety in Christ, He is the better Benjamin. You are assured of your standing before God because this better Benjamin consumed that cup of wrath and because of Him, you are truly justified. You, Christ is your surety because Christ is the better Judah who took your place as the true pledge of safety. And because of Him, you indeed have a renewed life, a life.. a life of molding, a life of sanctification, that is what you have. So brethren, ponder on this great truth that God is working in your life for you to be transformed and conformed to the image of your Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. May the word of God enrich our knowledge of Him and may it stir us to live in light of these truths.

Let us pray. Our great God and gracious Father, Lord, we are grateful for Christ who took our place, who willingly received Your wrath so that we will receive all the every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places. Lord, help us to always be assured of this great truth. Enable us Lord to always ponder on this great truth as well that You are sanctifying us. Sometimes Lord, we are blinded, sometimes Lord, our minds and our eyes are clouded and we do not see this truth. Lord, forgive us that at times we are.. we forget this great truth. Lord, I pray that You would truly enable us to see it. Allow us to always gaze upon our beautiful Saviour. Allow us Lord to be.. to be living that renewed life, a life of testing, a life of molding and may we appreciate their work in us. So Lord, thank You… thank You for ministering to us. It is our prayer that You would use us as well to minister to others. We thank You in His Name, amen.

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