Robert Jeffress - Invitation To The Banquet Of Grace
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to Pathway to Victory. God has an abundance of gifts that he wants to lavish upon us, but often, our fear or even our pride prevent us from receiving his blessings. Today, we're going to look at the second trip the brothers of Joseph made to Egypt. In this dramatic scene, we'll see a marvelous picture of God's grace, that is available to everyone who lays aside his pride and fear. My message is titled, "Invitation to the Banquet of Grace", on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Why does God give his best gifts to those who don't deserve that gift? Have you ever wondered the answer to that question? Why is it that God gives his best gift of all, the gift of forgiveness to those who don't deserve to be forgiven? The answer in one word, grace. God is a God of grace. Grace is God giving us what we don't deserve. And the only thing more perplexing than grace, is the question, why do people refuse to accept the gift of grace? Have you ever wondered about that? Why are those people who need most God's forgiveness in their life refuse to receive that grace? Well, the answer to that question is found in the passage we're going to look at today, in Genesis chapter 42. The story of Joseph's brothers second trip back to Egypt to buy more food.
Take your Bibles and turn to Genesis 42. For the last 22 years, these brothers had been living in dishonesty and deceit, they had developed that hard conscience toward God, but God was working in their life just like he was working in Joseph's life. And we saw last time, the way God awakens a conscience that has been hardened toward himself. Remember what he did, he first of all sends adversity in into their life. The famine, false accusations. When that didn't get their attention, secondly, he used embarrassment, just like he does with us, trying to get our intention. He made their hidden sins public by making them admit that, in fact, they had another brother, they had never spoken up before. And then when that didn't work, God gave them the realization to connect the dots, to be able to see what they were suffering now, was directly because of their unconfessed sin for their brothers years ago. And when that didn't get their attention, God used his final tactic, that he uses on you and me as well, to get us to the place of repentance.
You know what that final tactic is? Grace, grace. God giving us something we don't deserve. And that's where our story picks up today, in chapter 42, verse 36. They're back in Canaan now with their dad, and they're giving a report of their trip, and they say, "Dad, we've got some good news and some bad news for you. The good news is we got the grain that we had purchased, and we even got the money returned to us, we don't know why. The bad news is, we had to leave Simeon, our brother, as a hostage, with the governor. In fact, he said, he's not going to give Simeon back until we return and bring Benjamin, your favorite remaining son with them". They couldn't believe that, and neither could Jacob. Jacob said, "Let me get this straight. You're telling me, that what happened was, first of all, you're responsible for getting my son, Joseph, killed. You didn't protect him. He got eaten by a wild animal".
That's what they told him. "And now you tell me, you go to Egypt and you allow Simeon to be taken hostage. And now you're telling me that the only way to get him back is to take my other remaining favorite son, Benjamin, back to him. Are you out of your mind"? That's what they're saying, in verse 36, "Their father Jacob said to them, 'you have bereaved me at my children. Joseph is no more. Simeon is no more. And you would take Benjamin'". And then he adds, "All these things are against me". He is throwing a gigantic pity party for himself, at this point, all is against me. And Jacob's thinking everything that happened was against him.
You know, Chuck Swindoll in his biography of Joseph makes an interesting point here. For all of his life, Jacob had only been able to look at life horizontally, he never looked at his life vertically. He never once asked, "What is God trying to do through all of this in my life"? He was looking at life horizontally. He had been doing that for over a hundred years of his life. And instead of teaching his children to look at life vertically, he was just passing on a legacy of unbelief. That was Jacob, but God loved Jacob. He wasn't through working in his life. Notice how he continues to work with him, in verses one and two of chapter 43. "Now the famine was severe in the land. So it came about when they had finished eating the grain that they had purchased from Egypt, that their father said to them, 'go back, buy us a little more food'".
Now, remember they hadn't just told Jacob that the only way the governor would allow them back in Egypt to purchase more grain was to bring Benjamin their remaining son as a hostage. They had just told Jacob that and now he says, "Hey, sons, let's go back to Egypt and get some food. We're out of food, the cupboard's bear, let's go on back". And so the brothers started looking at one another, is dad losing it? Is he slipping? Did he forget what we told him? No, he hadn't forgotten. Jacob was simply trying to renegotiate the deal. No, the essence of pride, listen to this, the essence of pride is trying to approach God on your terms instead of his terms. And that's exactly what Jacob's trying to do in approaching the governor. He's saying, I want to go on my terms, not his. So maybe we can go back and just forget to bring Benjamin with us.
And so the brothers, once again, repeat exactly what the governor had said to them. No, the only way we get to purchase more grain is if we bring Benjamin with us, now, look at verse six. "Why do you treat me so badly? Jacob said. By telling that man, whether you still had another brother, in other words, you're are to a blame for this. If you hadn't led on that, there was another brother". But Joseph knew there was another brother, he didn't know it, but by letting on, you have put me in this predicament. Again, blaming others for his situation. People lash out when God is dealing with them, like he's dealing with Jacob. Finally, Judah, one of the sons, has had enough of it. And he steps in to be the spiritual leader of the family.
That's always a tragedy when a child has to assume spiritual leadership in a family, take a father's place, but Judah had to do it. And look at what he says in verses eight and nine. "Then Judah said to his father, Israel," that was the other name for Jacob. "Judah said to his father, Jacob, send the lad with me, and we will arise and go that we may live and not die. We, as well as you and your little ones, I myself be a surety, a guarantee for him. You may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever". Judah said that, I'll take responsibility. I'll protect Benjamin, and if anything happens to him, even though it is the governor's fault, I'll take the blame for it.
I'd be remiss if I didn't stop here and point out that Judah is a forerunner, a type of Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus came from the tribe of what, Judah. Judah was saying, I will be the guarantee for his safety. I'll take the blame if anything happens, that's what Jesus did for us. He, Jesus, who knew no sin, became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him. He says, there's only one way to do it, and that is by taking Benjamin, now notice, Jacob, isn't going to give up in trying to renegotiate the deal, look at verse 11. "Then their father, Israel, said to them, if it must be so, if you got to take Benjamin, then let's do this, take some of the best products of the land in your bags and carry them down to the man as a present. A little balm, a little honey, aromatic gum, and myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds. Take double the money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks, perhaps it was a mistake".
In other words, he's trying to sweeten the pot. He's trying to add to the deal, he's saying, well, we'll send Benjamin, but let's cover our bets and send a little bit more. Let's send some more money, let's send some pistachio nuts, those were a delicacy, and on, and on, and on, again. Again, what a great picture of how some people try to approach God, they hear over and over again, there's only one way to God, through faith in Jesus Christ. They say, okay, all right, I'll put my faith and trust in Jesus Christ to save me for my sins, but I'm going to cover my bet a little bit. I'm going to add some things to sweeten the deal with God. I'll get baptized, I'll join the church. I'll give a tithe, I'll keep the law, and maybe, they be all of these things together will be enough to inherit eternal life. God says, nope, that's not the deal.
Saint Augustine said, God only gives to those who have empty hands. Hands filled with parcels can't receive a gift. God says to you, the only way you can come to me is by completely trusting in Christ, and receiving salvation, not as God's obligation, but as God's gift to you. They want to try to approach the governor on their plans, God said, no, there's only one way to approach the governor, and God says there's only one way to approach him. Remember the words of Isaiah 55, verse one. "Every one who thirsts come to the waters, and you who have no money, come buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost". Jacob had problems approaching the governor in the right way, because of pride. Just like many people today have trouble approaching God, because of their pride.
On the other hand, the brothers had a different reason. They were apprehensive in going back to Egypt and approaching the governor, it was because of fear. The brothers are a picture of fear. They know they need food, they head back to Egypt, but when they get there, they get the word that the governor doesn't want to meet them in the palace, he wants to meet them at his home. And immediately they began to tremble with fear and trepidation. They wonder, what is he up to? Why does he want us to meet him at his home and not the palace? Why would they be fearful? That it makes no sense, but that's what happens when you have a guilty conscience. You're always filled with anxiety.
Remember the quote from last week, the unrighteous tremble at the rustling of the leaves. Solomon said it this way in Proverbs 28:1. "The wicked flee when no one is pursuing them, but the righteous are as bold as a lion". So they begin to speculate with one another. What is the governor up to? Maybe, he's framing us about the money that was in our sacks, and what he wants to do is take us a slave, look at verse 18. "Now the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph's house". They don't know it's Joseph. They just think it's the governor. "They were brought to Joseph's house, and they said, it is because of the money that was returned in our sacks, the first time that we are being brought in, that he may seek occasion against us and fall upon us and take us for slaves with our donkeys".
Now think how illogical that is. The governor of Egypt who has charge over millions of slaves in Egypt, does he really need more slaves? And what is he going to do with 11 broken down donkeys? Do you think the governor needs that at all? It makes no sense, just as it makes no sense when people are fearful of coming to God. Oh, I'm afraid if I get my life right, or if I trusted in Christ as my Savior and become a Christian, I'm afraid of what's going to happen. God's going to take away my boyfriend, or my girlfriend, or my husband, or my wife. Guess what, God doesn't need your husband, or wife, boyfriend, or girlfriend. God's going to take all of my money. He has a lot more money than you do. He doesn't need your money. He's going to make my life miserable. No, he's not. It's when you feel guilty that you allow fear to keep you from reasoning in a sound way, and that's what was going on here as well.
So they're waiting to Joseph's house for him to return from the palace. And so they decided to try to make a preemptive strike. They say to Joseph's servant, verse 22. "We have also brought down other money in our hand to buy food, we do not know who put the money in our sacks. You don't need to have him punish us. We're innocent". Blah, blah, blah, they keep on. The servant says, "Take a chill pill". That's what he says. That's what he says. Well, he actually says, in verse 23, "Calm down, be at peace. Be at peace, relax". And that's the same thing God says to us, when we come to faith in Christ. Romans 5 verse one says, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ".
There's nothing to worry about when you approach God in the right way, through his grace, and through a right relationship with his son. I said, these two responses indicate why people don't come to God. Some people refuse to come to God out of pride. I'm going to come to God on my own terms, that was Jacob. Other people failed to come to God because they're fearful, that's the brothers. But I want you to notice beginning in verse 26, Joseph, when he arrives is a picture of grace. The grace, the undeserved gift that God wants to give each of us. Joseph arrives home, and the brothers are brought to him.
Again, they don't know his real identity, so the first thing they do is they bow before him, but what he does next blows them away. What does he do? Look at verse 27. "Then Joseph asked them about their welfare, and said, 'is your old father well of whom you spoke? Is he still alive'"? He was asking about his own dad, Jacob, they didn't know it was Joseph. They began looking at one another. Why does he care about our father? And then he starts inquiring about their welfare. How was your trip? How are you doing? Do you have enough food? Why would the governor of Egypt care about them?
I remember reading years ago, an interview with comedian Jerry Seinfeld, and he was telling the reporter about a time that a reporter asked him about a recent scandal in his life, and Jerry said to the reporter, he said, "You know, I barely care about my own life. I'm not why you're so interested in it". Do you know, we serve a God who is interested in every detail of our life. For no other reason than he'd loves us. He cares about your welfare. In Jeremiah 29:11, he said, "For I know I have the plans for you, declares the Lord. Plans for your welfare, not for calamity. A plan to give you a future and a hope".
The brothers couldn't believe this, that they would actually have a governor who was interested in the details of their lives, now look at verse 29. "As Joseph lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, he spoke, 'is this your youngest brother of whom you spoke to me'? And he said, 'may God be gracious to you, my son'". Why did he love Benjamin so much? Benjamin was his full brother, unlike the other brothers, who were half-brothers. They both had the same mother, Rachel. He had been separated from him for 22 years. And this was the first time that he saw him. "Is this Benjamin? May God be gracious to you, my son".
And finally Joseph couldn't stand it any longer, and, he had to hide his emotions, so he hurried out of the room, verse 30 says. "For, he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep and he entered his chamber and he wept there". Why was he weeping? He was so moved with emotion at this reunion. He so wanted to identify who he was, and affect the reconciliation, but he couldn't do it quite yet. It wasn't the time to do it, he still needed to get Jacob from Canaan over to Egypt. So all he could do was to go hide himself and weep.
I read one writer this week, who asked the question. "Where is God when he seems so distant from us? When we're hurting, we need him so badly, but we can't feel his presence, where is he"? He's in his chamber, weeping for you and me. He has so much, he would love to explain to us. He would like to show us how the story ends and the great glorious conclusion to our lives, but it's not time yet to reveal that. And so in the meantime, he's weeping and he's praying for you and me. That's exactly where Joseph was. Finally, he composes himself, verse 31. He comes back in the room and he says, "It's time to eat". He's prepared a sumptuous Buffet, a banquet. And what's interesting, verse 31 says, he had the brothers seated according to their birth order. Think about it. These 11 places around the table, they're little placards in front of each place, and they are arranged in perfect chronological order.
Dr. Henry Morris, the father of our Dr. Morris, who went home to be with the Lord recently. Dr. Henry Morris senior in his book, "The Genesis Record" notes, that with 11 people, there are nearly 40 million possible combinations of how to sit them, if you did it randomly, 40 million different possibilities. But Joseph gets it right. Why? He's their brother, that they don't know it. So they're kind of beginning to look at one another. There's something going on here? What is it? How did this happen? They sit down and Joseph sends orders for the food to be brought in, and they bring from the king's table, all the choices, food, and verse 34 ends with a picture of them seated around the table, enjoying this banquet and eating and drinking continually, throughout the day and the evening. The brothers came to that home with fear and trepidation, expecting judgment, instead, they received a heaping helping of grace and generosity.
Right now, God, the Father, is inviting you to come to his throne. Not to receive judgment, but to receive his undeserved gift of grace and forgiveness. What is it that is keeping you from approaching God's throne of grace and receiving his forgiveness? Is it pride? You want to come to God on your own terms? Is that fear? I'm not sure what God is going to do to me. Listen to Isaiah's words, Isaiah 30:18. "Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you. And therefore he waits on high to have compassion on you, for the Lord is a God of justice. How blessed are those who long for him".