Summary: When Joseph got the chance to make his brothers sweat, he took it.
There is a story of the rich executive who announced to his church one morning that he was going to give up all he owned so that he had to depend on his faith in God for everything he needed. He sold everything, gave it to the poor, and moved into a rented home down on the bad side of town. That first night, he prayed that God would furnish him with some food. The next morning, he went outside on the porch and there was no food.
That night, he again prayed for food. The next morning...nothing.
The 3rd night, he prayed again, saying, "Lord, if you do not feed me, I will surely die of starvation." The next morning...nothing. Then, in a near panic brought on by hunger, he fell to his knees and cried out, "Lord, I have put my faith in you on the line. Why are you ignoring me like this?"
In the quietness of that rented house, he heard the Lord tell him that his prayers had been answered, but he was not looking at the answer. The Lord told him to go back out on the porch, which he did. Then, the Lord told him to look up! A large sign on the building across the road, in bold letters, said, "WORKERS WANTED -- LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED"
As we continue to look at the life of Judah we will see God’s provision for him and his entire family including his brothers and father.
Let’s recap who was Judah. He was the fourth son of Jacob, also called Israel. His mother was Leah. He had 11 other brothers. They would become the twelve namesakes of the tribes of Israel.
Joseph was the 11th born son. His mother was Rachel. Jacob loved Joseph and Rachel more than he did the others. Also Jacob had dreams that one day his brothers and his father would kneel before him. It was for these reasons that Joseph’s brothers hated him.
When given a chance they devised a plan to get rid of him. The original plan was to kill him. However, Judah got the idea to sell him into slavery. So Joseph was taken to Egypt. Jacob was deceived into believing that Joseph had been devoured by a wild beast. Jacob would mourn his death continuously. His only solace was his youngest son Benjamin, born of Rachel who died while birthing him.
Judah would distance himself from the family and go to live with an acquaintance. There he would marry a Canaanite woman and have three sons. The eldest would marry a Canaanite woman named Tamar. Her husband would die because he was wicked. The brother would die for refusing to impregnate his sister-in-law. Judah would send Tamar away to protect his third son.
When she realized that she would not be allowed to conceive she devised a plan to get pregnant by her father-in-law by posing as a prostitute. When Judah realized that she had done this he proclaimed her righteous and protected her. She gave birth to twins, one of which was Perez.
Twenty years had passed since Joseph was sold into slavery. A great famine had gripped the land. It was like none other ever seen. Even the great nation of Egypt was in it’s grip. Jacob realized that action was needed.
Genesis 42:1-2 “When Jacob heard that grain was available in Egypt, he said to his sons, ‘Why are you standing around looking at one another? I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Go down there, and buy enough grain to keep us alive. Otherwise we’ll die.’”
Talk about kids living off of dad. Jacob has sons that are grown men now. They are all certainly in their forties. They all have families. They all are wondering how they will survive. It took dad to put a boot in their rear to get them moving.
I can almost see them scrambling about, loading up camels for their trek to Egypt. Jacob is sending the ten eldest to purchase grain. Benjamin, who is probably in his early thirties, is not permitted to go. Like Joseph, Benjamin holds a special place in his heart. He is the reminder he needs of his beloved Rachel. So off they set including Judah. There was a surprise that waited for them. Genesis 42:6 “Since Joseph was governor of all Egypt and in charge of selling grain to all the people, it was to him that his brothers came. When they arrived, they bowed before him with their faces to the ground.”
In the twenty years that Joseph had been in Egypt he had managed to go from slave to the second in command of all Egypt accountable to only the Pharaoh. As a houseboy for a powerful ruler he managed to work his way up the ladder to being the head servant. After being falsely accused of attempted rape, he was thrown into prison. In prison he found favor with the warden and proved himself valuable. The warden placed him in charge of the other prisoners.