GENESIS - CHAPTER 44
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
44:1. “And he commanded the steward of his house, saying, Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put every man’s money in his sack’s mouth.”
In Joseph’s abundant provision for his brethren we have a picture of Christ’s provision for Israel in the Tribulation, and since it is the servant who is comm-anded to fill their sacks, we are reminded that it is the Holy Spirit Who will minister the Word (the corn) to them, as He does to men in every age.
“As much as they can carry,” tells of the adequacy of the Lord’s provision. No man’s need will ever exceed Christ’s sufficiency to meet that need.
It is significant that it was according to their ability to carry. Each man’s strength determined the amount he was given. What related to them literally, relates to men spiritually: it is only in proportion to our spiritual strength that we are given spiritual food - and sin saps that strength. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, rebuked the sin that was making it impossible for them to have fullness of blessing, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Co 3:1-3). He is a wise man whose ambition is to be able to carry much “corn,” that is, who gives himself to the acquisition of spiritual rather than temporal riches.
The spiritual significance of the returned money is the same as in chapter 42:25: salvation is God’s gift to every believer. It can’t be bought with law-keeping or anything else, for it is priceless.
Its being the second time that their money has been returned, continues to emphasize the slowness of Israel to learn this truth. But since Israel is God’s mirror to all men, we are being shown that all men are guilty of the same dullness.
44:2. “And put my cup, the silver cup, in the sack’s mouth of the youngest, and his corn money. And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.”
While the returned corn money represents God’s rejection of works as an aid to salvation, the silver cup represents redemption, for silver is the Scriptural symbol of redemption. Its being a silver cup rather than some other silver object, reminds us that the reception of salvation is likened to drinking water. Jesus, addressing the Samaritan woman, said, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.... Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up unto everlasting life” (Jn 4:10-14).
There is, however, another aspect to drinking in connection with salvation. Before the cup of salvation could become available to sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ must drink the cup of wrath and judgment that was our due. The terrible nature of that cup is discerned in His plea to the Father in Gethsemane”s garden, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.... And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Lk 22:42-44).
The cup placed with the returned money in the mouth of Benjamin’s sack declares symbolically that the same Word which teaches the rejection of works reveals also the only way of salvation: man has to abandon self-effort, and drink instead the water of life provided as God’s gift purchased at an incalculable price at Calvary. This truth Israel will learn in the Tribulation.
A further truth is declared in its having been placed in Benjamin’s sack. He alone among the brethren was innocent, yet that cup in his sack caused him to stand among them as the only one guilty - and by their own words, “Let him die” - worthy of death. Here the veil of symbolism barely covers the typical picture. Benjamin, the wrongfully accused younger brother, stands as a type which was fulfilled when Christ the innocent “younger Brother” stood wrongfully accused. The sentence, however, from which Benjamin was saved, was executed in terrible full measure against Christ, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Pe 3:18).
This nameless servant we have already seen to represent the Holy Spirit, Whose part in the work of redemption is indicated in the words, “And he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken.”
44:3. “As soon as the morning was light, the men were sent away, they and their asses.”
In our study of chapter forty-three we suggested that in the context of this section, Judah and his brethren may represent the first of the Tribulation age converts, but like all new believers, having still a great deal to learn. As a nation whose spiritual life has centered for so long around the concept of salvation through law-keeping, a lesson that will be learned slowly will be that it is all of grace through faith apart from works. Nor is it only the Jew who takes long to grasp this truth: many a true believer has also begun his new life hindered by the same “grave clothes” from the full enjoyment of his new state.
Faith, however, translates a believer “out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pe 2:9). That spiritual light is suggested by the fact that when the brethren began this journey that was to end with the revelation of Joseph as their brother, they set out by the morning light, the light of a new day. The new day into which faith brings the believer, will have the same ending: we shall see Christ face to face. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (Jn 8:12). The redeemed nation of Israel had the same experience at the Passover, “None of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning” (Ex 12:22): they began their journey to Canaan in the light of a new day. And so with these brethren of Joseph. The literal light of that morning is a type of the spiritual light in which every believer walks.
“They and their asses.” We have seen already that the domesticated ass represents the body under a measure of moral restraint, so that the spiritual lesson here is that as those asses were subject to the control of Joseph’s brethren, so is the believer’s body to be subject to the Spirit’s control. The ass (the body) left uncontrolled, will carry us back into the darkness.
44:4. “And when they were gone out of the city, and not yet far off, Joseph said unto his steward, Up, follow after the men, and when thou dost overtake them, say unto them, Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?”
I am certain that the “city” here has spiritual significance, but regret being unable to determine what it is.
Joseph’s interest in them, however, is simply a picture of the Lord’s concern for His own; and the painful process by which they were brought to a fuller knowledge of him demonstrates the truth of Heb 12:11, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” The grievous chastisement of the Tribulation will bring the remnant into the enjoyment of millennial blessing.
The activity of the steward continues to portray the Holy Spirit’s part, not only in leading the remnant to a full knowledge of Christ, but in bringing every believer to that same knowledge. However unpleasant that process of spiritual education may be, it is as necessary for the believer as are discipline and education for a child.
44:5. “Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing.”
It was by means of that silver cup that they were led to confess their sin, and then to have Joseph revealed as their brother. Its being the cup from which Joseph had drunk reminds us that what is for us a cup of salvation, was for Christ, a cup of wrath and judgment.
“And whereby indeed he divineth.” Divination is the attempt to foretell the future, or acquire knowledge, by supernatural means. One method of divination used by the Egyptians was hydromancy, the interpretation of signs in water.
God had communicated with Joseph through dreams, and it is possible that He may perhaps, have communicated with him also through hydromancy, using the same medium by which the Egyptians allegedly received knowledge from their demon gods, to impart true knowledge to His servant. Where Scripture is silent however, speculation is unwise. Whatever the meaning of Joseph’s words, it is unlikely that he was lying in regard to the cup, and it may have been used in a manner not disclosed, to bring him revelations from God.
In this present instance “divineth” is literally “make trial,” and certainly it was by means of that cup that Joseph made trial of his brethren, leading them to confession, and then to blessing. The Gospel portrayed in that silver cup is the means by which Christ “makes trial” of all men, for acceptance or rejection of the Gospel reveals the true state of every man’s heart.
“Ye have done evil in so doing,” that is, in having stolen the cup. They hadn’t stolen it, of course, but it was being made to look as though they had. It is necessary therefore, to determine what is being spiritually represented by the stolen cup. Since it represents salvation, the reference must then be to stolen salvation. But how does one “steal” salvation? By doing spiritually what they had done literally. They had attempted to buy the corn that Joseph was giving them as a gift. The salvation “bought” with works is “stolen.” Man becomes the legitimate possessor of the silver cup of salvation only when he receives it as God’s gift. It is evil to attempt to possess it in any other way. All of this, of course, continues to illustrate the difficulty with which the remnant will learn this lesson in the Tribulation.
44:6. “And he overtook them, and he spake unto them these same words.”
This continues to represent the activity of the Holy Spirit in the Tribulation. In that age, as in every other, His ministry of conviction and enlightenment will be a necessary part of salvation.
A word of explanation is necessary here in regard to what may seem contradictory. We have taken the moment when they set out with Benjamin as representing the time of the conversion of the first of the remnant in the Tribulation. As has been noted already, however, the conversion of the whole remnant is not a sudden event at the Lord’s return, but rather a process continuing throughout the whole Tribulation period. God is not showing us in these brethren, then, men saved one day and unsaved the next, but, rather, a part of the process by which the remnant will learn that law-keeping has no part in “buying” them salvation.
44:7 “And they said unto him, Wherefore saith my lord these words? God forbid that thy servants should do according to these things.”
Their protest is simply the echo of the protest uttered by all who consider law-keeping essential for salvation. It reflects a self-righteous attitude, reminding us that this is the character of the righteousness possessed by all who trust in works: their righteousness is that which they themselves provide, it is of self, but the only righteousness of value in God’s sight is that which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ. That they should be guilty of “stealing” salvation is a truth they find very difficult to accept.
44:8. “Behold, the money, which we found in our sacks’ mouths, we brought again unto thee out of the land of Canaan: how then should we steal out of thy lord’s house silver or gold?”
Their having brought the money the second time emphasizes the reluctance of the Jew, as well as the Gentile, in the Tribulation, as in every age, to abandon the pursuit of salvation through works.
“Out of the land of Canaan” may be designed to teach us that the law in which so many trust was given to Israel, not to the Gentiles.
44:9. “With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord’s bondmen.”
By their own judgment that silver cup was to place Benjamin under sentence of death, and them under perpetual bondage. While they were certainly not guilty of having transgressed against Joseph in regard to his cup, they were guilty of a far more heinous crime against him: they had virtually condemned him to death when they sold him as a slave.
Since Benjamin and Joseph represent two different aspects of the same Christ, one lesson we learn here is that redemption, represented by the cup, required Christ’s death. In addition, that redemption so dearly bought, places all men under eternal obligation to Christ. It is not only as Creator, but also as Redeemer that He has the right to do with men what He will. All men are His “bondmen,” but those who trust Him as Savior He will bless eternally, and those who won’t, He will punish eternally.
While Christ is represented by both Joseph and Benjamin, it is instructive to note that here it is Benjamin alone who is brought under sentence of death by reason of that cup which represents redemption, though, in fact, he didn’t die. The lesson is clear. The Jew has to learn that redemption through faith in a crucified and risen Christ spells “death” to every expectation of redemption through a Christ represented only by Benjamin. It is as though the Benjamin type Messiah must “die” though in fact he doesn’t. The truth the Jew will learn in the Tribulation is that salvation comes through the Messiah represented by Joseph, while the enjoyment of millennial blessings will be under the reign of the Messiah represented by Benjamin. The believing remnant will have both “Joseph” and “Benjamin.”
44:10. “And he said, Now also let it be according unto your words: he with whom it is found shall be my servant, and ye shall be blameless.”
What was unknown to them was known to this servant whom we have seen to be a type of the Holy Spirit. In his acceptance of their own judgment, which he knew would be to their own condemnation, we see demonstrated the truth that an essential part of salvation is the acceptance of our own condemnation. We can be saved only when we are willing to confess that we are worthy only of death.
And it was the silver cup that condemned them, a fact which teaches us that our acknowledgement of fitness but to die is an inseparable part of our salvation. Those who would be found worthy of God’s gift of eternal life must be willing to acknowledge themselves worthy only of eternal death. The Tribulation judgments will teach the remnant that truth.
In the steward’s mitigation of the sentence, which they themselves had pronounced, we catch not only a glimpse of the Divine grace displayed in the Gospel, but also a symbolic declaration of the truth declared in Eze 18:20 “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son.”
Discovery of the cup would produce two results: the man with whom it was found would become the steward’s servant. The man who is found in possession of the salvation symbolized in the silver cup becomes the bondman of the Holy Spirit. The second result was that the others were to be completely vindicated: guilt would attach only to Benjamin. The spiritual picture is easily seen. It was the unjust condemnation of Benjamin, the guiltless, but falsely accused, that would secure the vindication of those who were in reality guilty of a far worse crime than theft of a cup. It is the unjust condemnation of the guiltless Christ that secures a full pardon for the guilty sinner. In this is seen the completeness of the believer’s identification with Christ, for here Benjamin represents both Christ and the believing sinner. It is through the unjust condemnation of Christ, represented by Benjamin, that the believing sinner, also represented by Benjamin, becomes the bondman of the Holy Spirit, a state, which though it seems like bondage, is, in reality, true freedom.
44:11. “Then they speedily took down every man his sack to the ground, and opened every man his sack.”
As we have noted already, the sackful of corn represents the Scriptures, so that their hasty examination of the sacks speaks symbolically of Israel’s searching the Scriptures in the Tribulation. “Speedily” bespeaks urgency. Whether for Israel, or for an individual, there is nothing more urgent than the matter of salvation.
44:12. “And he searched, and began at the eldest, and left at the youngest: and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.”
It was the steward who conducted the search, and in this we are reminded of the Holy Spirit’s part in using the Scriptures to convict of sin and lead men to Christ. The parallel with Jn 8:7-9 is too obvious to miss, “He said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.... And they which heard it, being convicted of their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last.” The Jews were led to see themselves as being no better than the sinful woman, and there were no exceptions: from the oldest to the youngest, all filed out, confessing in this that they were as guilty as she. And so with Joseph’s brethren. The discovery of Benjamin’s seeming guilt, and the accompanying death sentence which they themselves had earlier pronounced, must surely have pierced their consciences as they remembered their own far more terrible crime.
Both instances are symbolic demonstrations of the truth declared by Paul, “There is none righteous, no, not one.... For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Ro 3:10,23).
44:13. “Then they rent their clothes, and laded every man his ass, and returned to the city.”
The rent clothes speak of repentance and sorrow produced by conviction, while the asses, loaded again with the sacks of corn, speak of the old nature under the restraint of the Word.
The city was where Joseph was, and their being led back there by the steward shows us symbolically, not only the Holy Spirit’s leading the remnant to Christ in the Tribulation, but also His leading all convicted sinners to the Savior in any age.
44:14. “And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph’s house, for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground.”
God continues to show us in symbol the process by which the remnant will become the saved nation that will enter the millennial kingdom. As Judah and his brethren, out of chastisement and trial, were reconciled to Joseph, so will the remnant, out of the Tribulation judgments, be reconciled to Christ. The mention of Judah first may have reference to what, as already noted, is declared in Zec 12:7, “The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first....”
“For he was yet there,” implies that he was waiting for them, and in this is revealed the attitude of Christ towards Israel: He also waits patiently for their return.
The word “yet,” however, conveys the subtle implication that he wouldn’t be there for ever. Nor will Christ wait for ever. The warnings against procrastination in regard to salvation are multiplied in Scripture, “Behold, now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation” (2 Co 6:2), “My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Ge 6:3), “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy” (Pr 29:1), “When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door.... There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Lk 13:25-28). Those shut out will wail for all eternity, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved” (Jer 8:20).
Their prostration points to the future experience of the remnant of Israel: they will prostrate themselves before Christ.
At this point it is necessary to remember that the conversion of the remnant will be a process going on throughout the whole Tribulation period, rather than an instantaneous experience at the moment of Christ’s return. In the typical picture of that process presented in the section now before us therefore, there is a blending together, not only of conversion, but also of the instruction of those converts. It seems that the primary application of chapters forty-three and forty-four (from the moment when Jacob agreed to send Benjamin), is to the spiritual education of the Tribulation converts, but this doesn’t preclude the application of many of the details to a conversion, rather than an educational experience.
44:15. “And Joseph said unto them, What deed is this that ye have done? wot ye not that such a man as I can certainly divine?”
By means of that silver cup, and the false charge of theft, they were led to confess their far greater crime, and out of that confession came their reconciliation to Joseph. It will be by means of the “silver cup” (redemption), and the returned corn money (rejected works), that the remnant will be reconciled to Christ in the Tribulation.
In Joseph’s apparent ability to divine (possess knowledge by supernatural means) we have a picture of Christ’s actual knowledge. As Joseph knew of their guilt before they confessed it, so is Christ aware of the guilt that will be confessed by the remnant in a soon-coming day.
44:16. “And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.”
The chastisement had done its work. The crime so long hidden was finally confessed. They recognized that the punishment they were to suffer for a crime they hadn’t committed was but God’s recompense for one they had. In their unprotesting acceptance of that punishment we see what is an essential part of salvation, not only for the remnant, but for every sinner: there must be acknowledgement that God is righteous in His judgment, and that we deserve nothing but death.
“And he also with whom the cup is found.” Since the cup represents salvation, the one in whose possession it is found represents a believer, and Judah’s declaration that that man should be Joseph’s servant is simply the annunciation of the truth that every believer is what Paul confessed himself to be, “The bond slave of Christ.”
Before that cup of salvation could become available to men, however, it was found in the possession of the Lord Jesus Christ as a cup of wrath and judgment, and His acceptance of that cup made Him the Father’s bond servant. His willing service is the pattern for ours.
44:17. “And he said, God forbid that I should do so: but the man in whose hand the cup is found, he shall be my servant, and as for you, get you up in peace unto your father.”
This continues to depict the servitude of Christ when He made Himself responsible to be our Substitute, and make atonement for sin. In the liberty of the others to return in peace to their father, we see the liberty bestowed on the believer to “return in peace to the Father.” As their liberty was connected with Benjamin’s unwilling bondage, so is the Christian’s liberty connected with the bondage into which Christ willing entered.
44:18. “Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servants for thou art even as Pharaoh.”
In chapter thirty-seven Judah appears to have been leader and spokesman for the brethren when he suggested the sale of Joseph, and now again it is he who acts as leader and spokesman in pleading for Benjamin. This would indicate that he is to be viewed perhaps, as representative of Israel, first as the Israel whose rejection of Christ is foreshown in the brethren’s treatment of Joseph, and then as the Israel that will be saved in the Tribulation, that is, the believing remnant.
Since Christ is represented by both Joseph and Benjamin, Judah’s pleading for Benjamin betokens the change of heart that the remnant will experience in the Tribulation. He who had callously sold Joseph was now willing to lay down his life for Benjamin. The nation that “sold” Christ will be willing, after conversion, to die for that same Christ, and in the Tribulation many of them will, in fact, make that sacrifice. Paul is the out-standing example of one in whom such a change had been wrought. In his unconverted days he approved of Christ’s death, and gladly killed those who belonged to Him, but as a believer he was willing to die for Christ’s sake, and did in fact die such a death.
“For thou art even as Pharaoh.” In Judah’s acknowledgement that Joseph was as Pharaoh, we are being shown that Christ, though subject to the Father, is no less God, and is co-equal with the Father and the Spirit.
44:19. “My lord asked his servants, saying, Have ye a father, or a brother?”
44:20. “And we said unto my lord, We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, a little one; and his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother, and his father loveth him.”
The description of Jacob as “an old man” reminds us that the nation he represents is also old and will soon pass away, being replaced by the new nation that will emerge from the Tribulation.
The “child of his old age” as noted already, portrays the Messiah to which blinded Israel still clings; and the dead brother, the Christ Israel still rejects. All that Israel has left today is a Messiah represented by Benjamin; and as Jacob loved that younger son so does Israel cling fondly to that Messiah. What joy awaited Jacob, soon to have both Joseph and Benjamin! What joy awaits Israel soon to have the Messiah represented by both sons!
44:21. “And thou saidst unto thy servants, Bring him down unto me, that I may set mine eyes upon him.”
The Christ represented by both Joseph and Benjamin must be brought together before Israel can be blessed.
44:22. “And we said unto my lord, The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die.”
Those words have a far deeper significance than Judah dreamed of that day when he uttered them. The “lad” must “leave his father,” and that “father” must die, before Israel can have the millennial kingdom. Israel must abandon her faith in a Benjamin Messiah, and put her trust in the Christ represented by both Joseph and Benjamin. She must see that the Lion and the Lamb are One and the same.
44:23. “And thou saidst unto thy servants, Except your youngest brother come down with you, ye shall see my face no more.”
This continues to emphasize the truth declared symbolically in the preceding verse.
44:24. “And it came to pass when we came up unto thy servant my father, we told him the words of my lord.”
44:25. “And our father said, Go again, and buy us a little food.”
The tenacity with which Israel, and all religious legalists, cling to the false notion that salvation can be bought with good works, continues to be shown here in the words, “buy us a little food.”
44:26. “And we said, We cannot go down: if our youngest brother be with us, then will we go down: for we may not see the man’s face, except our younger brother be with us.”
Here in symbolic language we are being shown the Gospel that will be preached to Israel in the Tribulation: trust in a regal conquering Messiah must be replaced with trust in One Who is not only the Lion of Judah, but also the Lamb of God.
44:27. “And thy servant my father said unto us, Ye know that my wife bare me two sons.”
Rachel, the wife Jacob loved, represents the believing remnant within the apostate nation (and therefore, the only Israel that God recognizes). It was that believing remnant that “bore” the Christ portrayed in the two sons. In her being dead we see the state of the nation that “bore” Christ two thousand years ago: it, too, is dead; but as Rachel’s life was perpetuated in her two sons, so will the dead nation live again in the new believing nation that will emerge from the Tribulation judgments. As Rachel bore the Joseph who was rejected, and the Benjamin who was accepted, so has Israel produced the Christ Who was rejected; but in the Tribulation, as the old unbelieving part of the nation dies, so will the new Israel (the believing remnant) bring forth “Joseph,” the Christ Who will be accepted.
44:28. “And the one went out from me, and I said, Surely he is torn in pieces, and I saw him not since.”
As the father of Joseph and Benjamin, Jacob is a type of God the Father, but as has been noted already, he is a double type, representing also the remnant of Israel, and it is that type that is prominent in the present context. As Joseph went out from Jacob, so did Christ from Israel, and as Jacob thought that Joseph was dead, so has Israel entertained the same mistaken thought in regard to Christ. Since that day when He was “torn in pieces” (slain) at Calvary, the nation has “seen Him not since.” Believing Jews during this present age are not the remnant of Israel: they, together with believing Gentiles, are the Church.
44:29. “And if ye take this also from me, and mischief befall him, ye shall bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.”
We have noted already that Jacob’s attitude towards Benjamin pictures Israel’s hope in a conquering Messiah rather than in a crucified and risen Christ, while his unwillingness to relinquish Benjamin illustrates the reluctance with which even the remnant will abandon that hope. God, however, always does for believers “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20). When Israel does give up “Benjamin,” God will give Him back, and she will have both “Joseph” and “Benjamin.”
44:30. “Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life;”
44:31. “It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.”
Up until the time when he was willing to send Benjamin to Joseph, Jacob represents the remnant, foreknown, but not yet saved. Thereafter he represents the remnant saved. Judah’s pleading for the restoration of Benjamin therefore, is the symbolic illustration of the faith of the Tribulation remnant to believe that faith in a crucified and risen Christ should not deny them the blessings connected with Christ as the Lion of Judah. Judah’s pleading, then, becomes symbolic of the plea of the saved remnant in the Tribulation, for the return of Christ as the Lion of Judah, to end their sufferings, and bring them the long-promised blessings of the Millennial kingdom.
“When he seeth that the lad is not with us ... he will die.” This emphasizes the truth declared in the Scriptures: Israel’s very life is inseparably bound to Christ, not only as the Lamb, but also as the Lion. Apart from a Christ Who is also the Lion of Judah, Israel has no national expectation, for without that Christ there can be no fulfillment of the kingdom promises. To deny the justification of Israel’s hope of literal earthly blessings, in a literal earthly kingdom, under the beneficent reign of Christ her Messiah, is to subvert Scripture.
44:32. “For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame unto my father for ever.”
In the transformation of Judah we are being shown the transformed state of the remnant following their conversion, but we are being shown also something of the nature of their faith. In chapter 43:9 Judah confidently declared, “I will be surety for him, of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee ... let me bear the blame for ever.” This portrays the faith of the remnant to believe that faith in the Christ represented by a rejected Joseph doesn’t exclude them from the millennial blessings associated with a victorious reigning Messiah represented by Benjamin. Judah’s pleading for the return of Benjamin depicts the longing of the Tribulation remnant for the return of Christ as King of kings. The Gospel preached in the Tribulation will, in fact, emphasize the oneness of the Lamb and the Lion.
44:33. “Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.”
This is a very different Judah from the one who had said in regard to Joseph, “Let us sell him” (37:27). His changed heart is revealed in his speech. The changed heart of the Tribulation remnant, symbolically foreshown in Judah, is the change foretold by God in Zec 36:26, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.”
To deliver Joseph’s brother from bondage, and Jacob their father from suffering, Judah was willing himself to enter into the very same bondage to which he had once consigned Joseph.
“And let the lad go up with his brethren.” The Judah who had once set his own pleasure above that of others was now willing to suffer anything in order that others might be served. This is the spirit of Christ, and it is the spirit that should mark every one prof-essing to belong to Him, as He Himself declared, “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn 13:35). Moses and Paul were two men in whom this spirit dwelt, Moses’ plea to God on behalf of Israel being, “if not” (if You can’t forgive them), blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book” (Ex 32:32); and Paul also in regard to that same rebel-lious nation, “For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Ro 9:3). This same spirit will be found in the Tribulation remnant.
44:34. “For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I shall see the evil that shall come on my father.”
If we have been correct in taking Judah and his brothers to be representative of the first Jewish converts of the Tribulation; and Jacob, the representative of those later converted during those years, then Judah’s plea here continues to emphasize the faith of those believers that they will have, not only eternal salvation, but in addition, complete fulfillment of all God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob regarding a literal earthly kingdom governed by the Lord Jesus Christ.
It was Judah’s confidence in Joseph’s word that had prompted him to persuade Jacob to give up Benjamin, and it was that same confidence that had led him to promise the safe return of Benjamin. In this we have seen the symbolic picture of the Gospel that will be preached in the Tribulation. Israel will be asked to give up her hope of redemption through faith in the Benjamin type Christ, and to trust in the Joseph type Christ for salvation. But then she will have “Benjamin” returned to her. She will have fulfilled to her in the Millennium all the blessings that she has ever expected through the Christ represented by Benjamin.
As Judah couldn’t go up to Jacob without Benjamin, neither will the evangelists of the Tribulation age have to preach a Gospel that doesn’t assure Israel of millennial blessings under the Christ Who is the Lamb represented by Joseph, and also the Lion represented by Benjamin.