Finally, arrangements are underway for the brothers’ return to Egypt. Under Jacob’s direction, they assemble a variety of gifts to carry with them, in hopes this will earn favor before the man’s eyes. But the man, Joseph, had only given one mandate to ensure access to his presence; their brother must be with them.
“Judah spoke to him, however, saying, ‘The man solemnly warned us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ ‘4 If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5 But if you do not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face unless your brother is with you,’ ” (43:3-5).
And that was it; Benjamin must accompany his brothers if there was to be any hope of standing before the man; a fact alluded to at least seven times in this chapter. And when God repeats Himself…!
And meanwhile, Joseph in Egypt, is waiting. “For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice,” (43:10).
A brief search on donkey caravans shed some light on the amount of time that possibly transpired from the time the brothers left Egypt, after their encounter with Joseph, to this point in Genesis 43:10, when they begin to make preparations to again return. “Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan,” (Genesis 37:1).
From Canaan to Egypt is at least 250 miles. The brothers caravanned by donkey; a caravan of donkeys would travel approximately twenty miles per day. Now, I’m no mathematician, but traveling twenty miles per day entailed approximately thirteen days for their return trip home, and at least another fifty days or more waiting on their father to grant permission to return to Egypt. “For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice,” (43:10).
And now they are looking ahead to another twelve to thirteen days of travel to make their way back to Joseph. According to my novice calculations, at the very least, three months would pass before Joseph’s brothers stood before him again. Three months, not so unbearable…unless…unless it’s urgent, critical, life-threatening.
Consider the times we have had to wait; no big deal…unless…unless we’re waiting for a diagnosis; unless we’re waiting for him to pop the question; unless we’re praying for a prodigal child; unless we’ve lost our job and waiting for that interview; unless…
The duration of waiting is not necessarily comprised of time; much of it has to do with the “unless” factor, the “what” we are waiting for.
How difficult it must have been for Joseph to wait. He had already waited so long, and perhaps even given up all hope of ever being reunited with his family again, “ ‘For,’ he said, ‘God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household,’ ” (Genesis 41:52).
And now, his family, which he had all but given up, was in his grasp again; but they have not returned. Joseph, in his position of authority could have gone after them, sent military forces to order their return, even sought them out himself to reveal his identity and convince them it was their best and only option. But he did none of that.
Instead he waited; surely not a moment passed that he was not thinking of them, longing for them, looking for them on the horizon. But he waited. He waited, undoubtedly praying they would return soon. He waited, knowing he was their only hope for survival. He waited, knowing his plan to pour out grace. And though this required tremendous patience, he waited.
And it hit me; God waits too!
Consider Him Who Waits.
“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 all those who long for Him. 19 O people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. 20 Although the Lord has given you bread of privation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will behold your Teacher. 21 Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. 22 And you will defile your graven images overlaid with silver, and your molten images plated with gold. You will scatter them as an impure thing, and say to them, “Be gone!” (Isaiah 30:18-22).
He Waits! He waits for us to come, of our own free will, to receive His grace and compassion, to rid ourselves of worthless idols! He does not force us, does not drag us back. He waits for us to come; but it must be according to His mandate.
We stand before Him not by our own works or gifts in hand, as though we can earn His favor, but through faith in the sacrifice of the Father’s Only Son. God has one requirement, one mandate to ensure access to His presence; Jesus, our Heavenly Brother.
“For both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He [Jesus] is not ashamed to call them brethren,… 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people,” (Hebrews 2:11, 17).
He alone is the God’s mandated provision that enables us to stand before Him.
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved,”(Acts 4:12).
How shall we respond to Him Who Waits?
As we examine our hearts and lives, let us be honest before Him. Why would we ever ask Him to wait? He waits, because perhaps for some inexplicable reason, we are waiting; waiting to come, to surrender, to receive. Waiting… it’s really not so unbearable, unless…unless it’s urgent, critical, life-threatening!
- Oh, may we never forget, our condition apart from God is urgent, is critical, is life-threatening!
- It is urgent!
- “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Whenever we hear His voice, it is today!
- “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” (Hebrews 9:27). There is no time to wait, for we are not assured of tomorrow; today is the day to respond!
- It is critical!
- “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Romans 3:23). Let us agree with His Word; we are all in critical condition apart Him!
- It is life-threatening!
- “For the wages of sin is death,” (Romans 6:23). Our future, our eternity, apart from Him, is death.
- It is urgent!
- Let us depend on Him for our life, to become His children by faith and receive the gift of grace He is waiting to impart!
- “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God,”(1 John 1:12-13).
And if by faith, we have received Him, let us meditate on this truth daily: He waits to have compassion on us, to speak to us, to reveal Himself to us! Wow! How could we ever keep Him waiting!