Summary: how Judah tried to explain the mess he was in to Joseph, and how he got out of it
August 3, 2002 Genesis 44:30-34
“So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’ “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come upon my father.”
“How in the world did you get yourself in this mess?”, the mother asked her daughter, as the little girl came sobbing out of the bathroom. Here she was, hovering over her three year old daughter, who had somehow managed to get a hairbrush thoroughly entwined in her hair in what seemed to be about a hundred knots. As she looked at the situation, the mother declared, “what a mess, how am I going to fix this?”
Have you ever wondered that about your own life? “How did I get myself into this mess?” A popular idiom for such situations is used when we say, “what a tangled web we weave!” When you walk through a cob web, you can understand the meaning of the saying. A web is sticky, made up of many strands coming from many directions and meeting at the middle. Sometimes we can weave ourselves into quite a sticky mess.
Today, as we continue our Joseph Sermon Series, we’ll see what a tangled web Joseph’s brothers had spun into, and how we often get ourselves into similar situations. Our theme for today is -
What a Tangled Web We Weave!
I. Sin gets us into it
Up to this point in the story, Joseph’s brothers had gotten themselves into quite a tangled web, hadn’t they? They thought that selling their brother into slavery would end their father’s favoritism and put an end to their jealousy and anger. But instead of simplifying their lives, their web became more entangled. Instead of dealing with their father’s favoritism, they had to deal with his sorrow and their own guilt. You might compare it to a child playing with sticky tape - the more they play with it the worse it becomes. Joseph’s brothers went from toying with sin to being firmly wrapped in it.
The brothers returned to Egypt for two main purposes - to get food for their family and release Simeon from prison. The only problem was that they needed to bring Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest and favorite son, along for the journey. Even though he was most likely in his twenties, his father had been very protective of him. Jacob thought that he had lost Joseph to wild animals on a short fifty mile journey, and so he decided to never let Benjamin out of his sight. The only way Judah was able to persuade him was the fact that they would have starved to death if they didn’t bring him. Judah gave Jacob his word that he would return Benjamin home safely - if not - he would bear the guilt for the rest of his life. So they went on their journey, hoping that nothing would go wrong.
What happened when they arrived in Egypt? Joseph actually took them into his house. They wined and dined - had a great time! They even received Simeon back along with a load of wheat. Everything went great! They probably thought to themselves, “let’s get out of here before anything goes wrong!” But then, on the way home, Joseph’s steward came riding out to meet them. He said, “how could you be so evil as to steal the very cup that Joseph uses to talk to the gods!” They said, “we did no such thing! If any of us stole it, you can put him to death and make us slaves!” So sure was their innocense. But after a close examination of their bags - the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! . . .
Joseph’s solution was simple. “You can go home. I’ll just keep Benjamin as my slave.” It seemed like a fair and simple solution, but it wasn’t. Judah approached Joseph oh so timidly, and tried to explain the tangled web of a mess he was in. In modern day terms, Judah basically said, “my father’s life is closely bound up with Benjamin’s life, and so is mine! If he stays here, my father will die from sorrow! Benjamin’s only brother died, and he is the only son left from his mother. My father loves Benjamin very much, and this would break his heart! Besides this, I have taken on the responsibility for Benjamin, so if he doesn’t come back, then I will have to bear that guilt for the rest of my life!” What Judah was basically saying is, “this is a real tangled web we’re in here, and Benjamin is the one part of our mess that we can’t let go of! If he goes into slavery and we have to go home, it will KILL my father and ruin ALL of our lives.” It was like a big tangled web.