But we told him, 'We are honest men, not spies.
I. THE FAMINE IN CANAAN.
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.
Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.I. The story of Joseph is a good example of what is meant by Providence working for the best in the lives of men. Look at the young foreigner, as he comes to a land not his own; see how he resists the one great temptation of his age and station; observe how, through means not of his own seeking, through good report and evil, through much misunderstanding of others, but by consistent integrity and just dealing on his own part, he overcomes all the difficulties of his position, and is remembered long afterwards in his adopted land as the benefactor of his generation and the deliverer of his country.
II. The story of Joseph is, perhaps, of all the stories in the Old Testament, the one which most carries us back to our childhood, both from the interest we felt in it as children, and from the true picture of family life which it presents. It brings before us the way in which the greatest blessings for this life and the next depend on the keeping up of family love pure and fresh, as when the preservation and fitting education of the chosen people depended on that touching generosity and brotherly affection which no distance of time, no new customs, no long sojourn in a strange land, could extinguish in the heart of Joseph. Home is on earth the best likeness of heaven; and heaven is that last and best home in which, when the journey of life is over, Joseph and his brethren, Jacob and his sons, Rachel and her children, shall meet to part no more.
II. THEIR WORST FOREBODINGS ARE FULFILLED. They dreaded Egypt, and events justified their fears.
1. They are received roughly (ver. 7).
2. They are suspected of evil designs (ver. 9).
3. They are threatened with the prospect of imprisonment and death.
III. GREAT PRINCIPLES OF GOD'S MORAL GOVERNMENT ARE :ILLUSTRATED IN THIS HISTORY.
1. That pride is sure to meet with a fall. In verse 6 we are told that "Joseph's brethren came and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth." Where were now those lofty looks, and that contemptuous tone with which they said when Joseph had told them of his dreams — "Shalt thou then indeed reign over us, or shalt thou have dominion over us?"
2. That nothing can hinder the counsel of God from taking effect.
3. That the crisis will arrive when the wicked must appear before the judgment-seat of the pious.
4. That retribution, even in kind, follows sin.
5. That throughout the severity of God's righteous anger against Sin there runs a purpose of mercy.
(T. H. Leale.)
II. THE OFFICE OF CONSCIENCE (ver. 21). Where sin is voluntary wrong-doing, the language of the human heart inevitably connects the penalty with the wrong-doing. In every temptation that comes upon you, think what it will be in the hour of death to be free from the recollection of it. Refrain, refrain, remember the hereafter.
III. OBSERVE THE SEVERITY IN THE LOVE OF JOSEPH (ver. 7). He did not allow his personal feelings to interfere with what seemed to him his duty. Joseph's love to his brethren was a noble love. God's love to us is still nobler, and severity accompanies it. It does not shrink from human suffering, for suffering is necessary for the man's well being.
IV. Lastly, we remark on THE RETURN HOMEWARDS OF JOSEPH'S BRETHREN. Jacob expected corn to relieve their necessities; he got the corn, but with it came sorrow upon sorrow. Bereaved of Joseph, he is now bereaved of Simeon also. In Jacob's answers to his sons, in the close of the chapter, we find a depth of querulousness and despondency. Job was tried with sorrows far more severe, and yet they only served and contributed to the purifying of his spirit. In order to understand the cause of Jacob's despondency we must go far back. Jacob was a selfish man; his very religion was selfish; he would become religious only on condition that God would protect and guide him. To that selfish origin may be traced all the evils of his after life. Throughout it seems to have been his principle to receive as much as possible, and to give as little as he could. He who lives in this world for his own personal enjoyment, without God and His Christ, will by degrees find, like Jacob, that he has no rock to rest his soul upon, but that he must go down in sorrow to the grave.
(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)
I. The vengeance of TIME. The sin of twenty years ago. Time no friend to the sinner. Time gives the harvest opportunity and room to develop. Years of Joseph's imprisonment. Years of torture to brethren.
II. The vengeance of CIRCUMSTANCES. Every link in chain, strong and connected with next link. "Remarkable series of coincidences," very. The plots and counterplots of fiction: of. with Scripture.
III. The vengeance of MEMORY. Joseph's cries wrought into the mental texture of these men. Hetfy, in "Adam Bede." The baby's cry: " Son, remember." Memory, a cup of blessing, or devil's scourge.
IV. The vengeance of CONSCIENCE. Memory may exaggerate, extenuate, add, subtract, &c. But conscience is a just judge. Hamlet, "The play's the thing," &c. Adonibezak, conscience-stricken wretch.
V. The vengeance of PUBLICITY. Evildoers clever in blocking up ninety-nine avenues of discovery. The 100th. The shame. The collapse. Conclusion: Vengeance, not last word in relation to sin. "We know that He was manifested," &c. "Better to fall," &c. "Faithful and just." "Though your sins as mountains rise," &c.
(A. P. Watson.)
PeopleBenjamin, Jacob, Joseph, Pharaoh, Reuben, Simeon
TopicsTRUE, Evil, Honest, Spies, Upright
Outline1. Jacob sends his ten sons to buy grain in Egypt.
16. They are imprisoned by Joseph as spies.
18. They are set at liberty, on condition to bring Benjamin.
21. They have remorse for Joseph.
24. Simeon is kept for a pledge.
25. They return with grain, and their money.
29. Their relation to Jacob.
36. Jacob refuses to send Benjamin.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 42:30-34
LibraryCorn in Egypt
Now, there are very few minds that can make parables. The fact is, I do not know of but one good allegory in the English language, and that is, the "Pilgrim's Progress in Parables, pictures, and analogies are not so easy as some think; most men can understand them, but few can create them. Happy for us who are ministers of Christ, we have no great trouble about this matter; we have not to make parables; they are made for us. I believe that Old Testament history has for one of its designs the furnishing …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 5: 1859
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