Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.
—Genesis 44:33

This week we will look at life’s most important choice as we continue our study of Joseph, learning how to live a life that matters. Remember where we are in Joseph’s saga. Joseph’s brothers, who had sold him into slavery, didn’t realize he was the governor of Egypt. Joseph wanted to reconcile with his brothers, so he went through an elaborate plan to bring them back to Egypt. The brothers were invited to a feast and received grace instead of judgment. Now, this seems like a perfect place for Joseph to reveal himself. But he doesn’t do that yet–because there’s one final thing that has to happen before his brothers can receive Joseph’s forgiveness.

That leads us to Genesis 44. The brothers were packing to go back to Canaan. “Then [Joseph] commanded his house steward, saying, ‘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. Put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his money for the grain’” (vv. 1-2). As the brothers were on their way back to Canaan, Joseph’s servant chased them down and said, “Where do you think you’re going? After all the governor did for you, why would you steal his silver cup?” They said, “Search our bags if you want to. You won’t find any cup here.” So, “He searched, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest” (v. 12) Can you imagine the scene? Eleven brothers all had their bags open, and the servant went down the line until he got to Benjamin’s sack. The servant opened Benjamin’s sack and pulled out the silver cup. The brothers were overcome with grief and regret. “Then they tore their clothes, and when each man loaded his donkey, they returned to the city” (v. 13).

This is the first hint that something has changed in these brothers’ attitudes. Had this happened 22 years earlier, they probably would have said to the servant, “We can’t believe Benjamin did that. But we never really liked him anyway. So long, Benjamin; we’re out of here.” But they didn’t do that. Instead, they returned to the city.

The brothers went back to Joseph’s house. He said, “What is this thing that you have done?” Judah said, “God has found out the iniquity of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found” (v. 16). Joseph was just testing them. He said, “If you let me keep your youngest brother, the one who is guilty, you all are free to go back to Canaan.” Then we see evidence the brothers had changed. Judah said, “We can’t do that. It would break our father’s heart.” Then he said, “Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord” (v. 33). Judah offered to pay for Benjamin’s sin. In this passage, Joseph’s brothers demonstrated true repentance.

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Life’s Most Important Choice” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.