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Summary: God is beginning to break the hearts and stir the consciences of Jacob and his sons. While still in the middle of the famine, we can learn much from their wrong reactions to the famine and the sin that was a very real part of their lives

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INTRO: Last week, we saw that God was using the worldwide famine to awaken the seared consciences of the sons of Jacob. They expressed a certain amount of remorse at what they had done to Joseph 20 years earlier, and started to wonder if God was punishing them for the dirty deed done so long ago. But make no mistake about it, there is still much to be accomplished in their hearts to prepare them spiritually to be the founding fathers of the 12 tribes of Israel.

The story ended last time just as the 10 sons get back from Egypt with food. They rehearsed to Jacob all their experiences in Egypt and their meeting with the prime minister. By this time, they have discovered that all the money they took to buy food had been returned to all of them – an act of grace done by Joseph himself. And of course, they had to tell dad that Simeon was being kept in Egypt as a hostage until they could return there with their youngest brother Benjamin.

How will everyone respond to this situation. We will see the varied reactions to famine time, both wrong and right. And in this we’ll also see their wrong and right reactions to the sin in their lives.

I. Wrong Reactions

A. Getting irrational (37)

– Jacob is obviously upset that this whole ordeal is going to involve Benjamin. So Reuben comes up with a plan, and for some reason he actually thinks it’s a good plan.

– Just to be clear, Reuben suggests that he will be responsible to bring Simeon back and to protect Benjamin. If anything happened to them, Jacob could slay Reuben’s sons in punishment. “Dad, I know you have lost Joseph, and now Simeon, and you fear to lose Benjamin – tell you what, if I don’t get them all back, you can kill my two sons.” What? Exactly what kind of satisfaction he thought it would give Jacob to kill his own grandsons is beyond me.

– What is going on here? Reuben is simply speaking without thinking. It illustrates that sin makes us do and say irrational things.

– Illus: Have you ever asked your kids when they got in trouble “What were you thinking?” Have they ever had a good answer? It’s usually something like, “I just wasn’t thinking, I guess.” Exactly. Sin turns your discernment to jello.

– He is willing to have his sons killed as opposed to the much simpler option of telling his dad the truth.

B. Self-pity (36, 6a)

– Not only getting irrational, but self-pity is another wrong reaction to sin. Look again at Jacob’s “feel sorry for himself” moment in verse 36. He says, “all these things are against me.” And again in verse 6, “Why are you all treating me like this?”

– Jacob misses the boat, man. Remember, this is the patriarch of Israel. And this is his opportunity to turn his family back to Jehovah. But he blows it. He can only think of how this whole situation is making him look bad. Jacob has known God now for more than 100 years, but he still wrestles with negativity and only seeing things from a horizontal viewpoint.


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