I don’t know that I’ve ever underlined these two words in Genesis 42 with my black colored pencil before (my marking for sin), but this morning it was almost a reflexive action. I don’t think these words are always sinful, but sometimes I think they can be. Sometimes I think they are the smoke on the outside which indicates some increasing friction on the inside. The fraught fruit of a faltering faith. And, for Jacob at least, prompting one more scheme from the schemer. One more attempt to manipulate the situation. One last attempt to play God.
When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him.
(Genesis 42:1-4 ESV)
Not sure if Jacob’s fear was the result of a lack of faith or if his anxiety compromised his faith. Either way, he feared and thus he came up with a plan to send ten but keep back one, because he wasn’t sure he could trust God to protect the one. Not saying that Jacob thought the others were expendable, just that while he may have had “faith” to entrust the older boys to God’s care, there was a limit. Ten, but not eleven. Leah’s boys, Zilpah’s boys, Bilhah’s boys, but not Rachel’s boy. Too much wrapped up in Benjamin the youngest, the only son left of the woman he loved the most.
So, Jacob the supplanter tries one last time to supplant the God of his fathers. Jacob, the child of promise, takes matters into his own hands one more time to make sure he secures the promise. Jacob, the limper, isn’t prepared to wrestle with God again and risk having another hip put out of joint, and so he takes control of the chess board, sends out ten and relies on his wisdom and strategies to protect the one.
Honestly, I’m not judging Jacob. No “Tsk, tsk, how could he?” here. I think I get it . . . uncomfortably get it. But what a mess succumbing to fear caused. How taking matters into his own hands again complicated matters so much.
Fear can cloud the thinking. Fear can prompt an “I’ve got to take control of the situation” reaction, provoking an irrational, “Jesus, let me take the wheel” response.
Fear, it seems to me, may not rise from a lack of faith, but, I’m thinking, fear will almost always test our faith. And when fear wins, when fear is the motivating dynamic, when fear fosters a yielding to our sovereignty rather than God’s, it also seems to me, it’s sin. Pull out the black colored pencil.
Thus, I hear the Lord say this morning, “Fear not.”
“And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” ~ Jesus
(Luke 12:29-30 ESV)
People of eternal promise in pursuit of a heavenly kingdom by the power of a faithful Father. Fear not.
Trust and obey. For there’s no other way.
By His grace. For His glory.