Parashah Mikketz 2020 (It came to pass) Genesis 41 – 44:17

Joseph is still in jail, and it has been two years since the Cupbearer to the Pharaoh was returned to his station, as Joseph had told him when he interpreted the man’s dream.

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At this time, Pharaoh has two separate dreams, and no one in the kingdom can interpret them, when suddenly (or should we say, finally?) the Cupbearer remembers Joseph and tells Pharaoh about him. Pharaoh calls for Joseph, who properly interprets the dreams about the 7 cows and the 7 ears of corn.

Pharaoh is so impressed he promotes Joseph from prisoner to Grand Vizier and places him in charge of storing grain for the next 7 years while the crops are successful. Joseph is also given a wife who bears him two children, Manasseh and Ephraim.

As the famine comes, Jacob (also called Israel) sends his sons to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph but doesn’t allow Benjamin to go. As the brothers come to Joseph they don’t recognize him, but Joseph knows them.

The rest of this parashah is about how Joseph tests the brothers to see if they are still quarreling and jealous by accusing them of being spies, releasing them with grain, so they don’t die, but keeping Simeon as a hostage until they bring Benjamin to prove their story.

The brothers tell Jacob what happened, but he refuses to allow Benjamin to go down with them to get Simeon released. Eventually, they need more food and reluctantly, only after Judah guarantees the boy’s safety, does Jacob allow Benjamin to go down with the brothers to get more food.

Joseph continues to test them, and after treating them all to lunch, sends them on their way but plants his goblet in Benjamin’s pack so that after overtaking them, he can accuse Benjamin of stealing.

The parashah ends with Joseph telling the brothers they can go home, but Benjamin must stay as his slave for life.

There are two passages in this parashah that I want to discuss with you today, and they are found in Genesis 42:21 and Genesis 44:16:

42:21They said to each other, “We are in fact guilty concerning our brother. He was in distress and pleaded with us; we saw it and wouldn’t listen. That’s why this distress has come upon us now.”

44:16: Y’hudah said, “There’s nothing we can say to my lord! How can we speak? There’s no way we can clear ourselves! God has revealed your servants’ guilt; so here we are, my lord’s slaves – both we and also the one in whose possession the cup was found.”

The first statement was between all the brothers when they were in jail during their first visit, and the second statement was after they had told Joseph (in their absolute certainty of their innocence) if anyone is found with his goblet, that one will be killed and the rest of them will be his slaves for life.

What both of these statements have in common, besides having been heard by Joseph (while the brothers didn’t know he understood them) is that they represent recognition of the sin they committed against Joseph many years ago and that the consequences of that sin have now come back to bite them in the tuchas.

The lesson today is simple: there are no free lunches. Just because through Messiah Yeshua’s sacrifice we can be freed from the eternal consequence of our sin, in the real world we can never escape those consequences. They may come immediately, or maybe (as with Joseph’s brothers) not for many years, but sooner or later, they will come.

What this means for us is that despite being a believer in Messiah Yeshua and a faithful worshiper of God, when we screw up we will pay for it here on earth. Sin is a horrible thing; like yeast, it spreads and affects much more than just what it initially touches. And in many cases, innocent loved ones are collateral damage of the sins we commit.

David sinned against Uriah and the consequences of that sin came many months later when the child conceived by that sin was killed.

Eli sinned by allowing his sons to be sinful, and after years of this not only did they die in battle, but when he heard of it, Eli fell off his stool and broke his neck. Meanwhile, the Ark of the Covenant was in enemy hands!

Look at how many times, in both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, the sins of the leaders caused so many innocent people to suffer and die.

We all sin, we are born into sin with the Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination), and iniquity (the desire to sin) is part of our very DNA. If anyone could ever live a sinless life, then the Messiah died for no reason because if any one human being can live without ever sinning, then every human being can live without ever sinning. And if no one is sinning, we don’t need forgiveness through a Messiah.

But, of course, no one can live without sinning and that is why we DO need the Messiah.

Moving forward, the good news is that although we will sin, we can be eternally forgiven of that sin; the bad news is that we will still have to live with the consequences of it while we are alive. So, try your best not to sin. And if you are thinking:
DUH! Gee, thanks, Steve, what a revelation: try not to sin. Lot of good that will do us!”
I do have a recommended way to sin less: pray for forgiveness every day, pray that God will guide and strengthen you through his Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) every day, give thanks every day, and remember all the times people misjudged you for no good reason before you judge anyone else.

Oh, yes, and one more thing, probably the most important one: forgive those who wrong you and do not return their evil with more evil. Trust in God to dispense justice because even if someone seems to be getting away with it here on earth, they won’t escape the consequences of their actions when they come before his throne…and we all WILL come before his throne.

Thank God he has provided the Messiah so that when we come before the Throne of Judgment he will be our Defense Attorney.

And what’s really great is that he’s a Jewish lawyer!

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Until next time, L’hitraot and Shabbat Shalom!

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