JUDAH ASSUMES LEADERSHIP
Can people change? The answer has been debated for generations by philosophers, psychologists, and poets. Some argue we are born as blank slates to be shaped by our circumstances. Others claim we come into this world with our personalities and proclivities already determined. Christians believe that faith in God can transform anyone through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Joseph’s test of whether his brothers had changed from selfish vindictiveness ran into an obstacle. He would not provide any more food for the family unless they brought Benjamin with them—but Jacob refused to let him go. Reuben tried to convince his father by offering the lives of his own two sons as a guarantee that he would bring Benjamin back (42:37). Jacob would not listen.
Judah now stepped up to the challenge of leadership among his family. With food running out, Judah analyzed the situation and decides: “Send the boy along with me . . . so that we and you and our children may live and not die” (v. 8). Yes, it is a risk to send Benjamin. But if they do not take that risk, Benjamin will die of starvation.
Notice especially that Judah is no longer derailed by his father’s clear favoritism. As one commentator says, “Judah’s reference to Benjamin as ‘our brother’ (43:4) counters Jacob’s label (‘my son’) and the exclusivity (‘he alone is left’) with which he talks of Benjamin (42:38).”
Judah offered himself as a pledge of Benjamin’s safety (v. 9). The last time Judah offered a pledge, it was a foolish gift to a prostitute. The last time he made a convincing speech to his family, it was to sell Joseph to a traveling band of Ishmaelites. His priorities had been transformed.
APPLY THE WORD
Ephesians 2 says, “You were dead in your transgressions and sins . . . But God . . . made us alive with Christ.” When God transforms us, it becomes possible to restore broken relationships. Do you have relationships that need God’s healing? Rejoice today that we worship a God that allows for and enables radical change in people’s lives.