Surety: “a person who has made himself responsible for another; a person who is legally responsible for the debt, default or delinquency of another; security for the fulfillment of an obligation, etc.; a pledge, guarantee, or bond.”
When the brothers plotted and performed the treacherous betrayal of their brother, it was Reuben, the firstborn, who intervened to save Joseph from a murderous outcome, (Genesis 37: 20-23). Perhaps, as the eldest, he felt an obligatory nudge to take care of his younger brother.
But here, in this riveting story of the one who voluntarily takes responsibility to become surety for the younger brother, it is Judah who steps forward. Of course it is! A foreshadow of the One Who would voluntarily become the Surety available to all mankind, so beautifully depicted.
For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, (Hebrews 7:14).
and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals,” (Revelation 5:5).
As we lean in for a closer look at Judah’s noble and sacrificial act, we are brought face to face with the One Who would become the perfect Surety for all mankind held in the vice-grip of an obligatory debt, without the slightest hope or ability to settle.
Consider Him, Our Surety
1). Judah bore the blame. “For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then let me bear the blame before my father forever,’” (44:32).
Jesus, Our Surety, bore the blame:
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him, (Isaiah 53:5-6).
2). Judah offered himself as a substitute. “Now, therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers,” (44:33).
Jesus, Our Surety, offered Himself as a substitute:
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him, (2 Corinthians 5:21).
3). Judah pledged he would not leave his brother behind. “For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me…” (44:34).
Jesus, Our Surety, pledged he would not leave His own behind:
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also,” (John 14:1-3).
How are we to respond to Him, Our Surety?
- Admit we bear the guilt and blame of sin. We cannot excuse our sin by comparing ourselves to others who appear to be in a worse state. In God’s sight, any good we do is seen as utter and complete refuse, as useless as a pile of dead leaves caught up in the wind.
- For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away, (Isaiah 64:6).
- . Accept His substitutionary payment for sin on our behalf. The sacrificial lamb must be without blemish or defect; clearly we do not meet the requirements of an acceptable offering. This is precisely why we are in such a desperate state, in such desperate need of what only He, Our Surety, can do.
- and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed, (1 Peter 2:24)
- Await His return in full confidence and holy obedience.
- For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds, (Titus 2:11-14).