Genesis 43:1–34: The Mercy of God Almighty
In Genesis 43, God orders the details of the events to force everyone to face the great sin of selling Joseph into slavery so many years ago. For Jacob, this means facing fear. For Jacob’s sons, this means facing their sin. For Joseph, this means dealing graciously with his brothers who had hurt him. In this chapter, we see one of the clearer examples of how God’s providence works. In his providence, not only does God order every detail of our lives, but his ordering is also good. He is not so unjust as to overlook evil in our pasts, whether the evil that we have perpetrated, or the evil that we have experienced as victims. Together, these two principles reflect God’s great wisdom that he displays through his providence. He is working with a definite plan in mind, and that definite plan is slowly, patiently, and kindly untangling all the twisted evil of the world. That is, we see that God is setting right all that has gone wrong with the world.
1) What does Jacob fear, and why? How does Jacob attempt to deal with his fear, both in the previous chapter, and here in Genesis 43? How do the circumstances of the famine and the Egyptian ruler’s demands force Jacob to face his fear? What do we learn from Jacob’s faith when he finally permits Benjamin to go down to Egypt? What are your fears today? How does God Almighty order your own circumstances to stretch your faith in him? What can you apply from Jacob’s response?
2) In how many ways does God force Jacob’s sons to face their former sin in this chapter? How do we see transformation in the brothers as a group? How do we see specific transformation in the life of Judah? What has God ordered the details and circumstances of your own life to force you to face your sin, to confess it, and to repent from it? In the midst of the pain of working back through the pain of your sin, how have you also seen God extend to you the treasure of his mercy and peace?
3) How does this narrative portray Joseph, as he interacts with his brothers who had betrayed him and sold him into slavery? How do you think Joseph is capable of mercifully speaking peace to his brothers, and giving them a feast? What painful situations from your past are the hardest for you to forgive and forget? Where might God be calling you to extend peace to someone who has hurt you? How does the gospel of Jesus give us strength to forgive our debtors?
4) How does Joseph work his interactions with his brothers to test their response to favoritism shown to Benjamin? How had the brothers sinned against Joseph because of the favoritism that God and that Jacob had shown to Joseph in the past? How might they be tempted to treat Benjamin the same way that they had treated Joseph? What factors do you think will lead the brothers to act in a different, transformed way in the next chapter?