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JUDAH GROWS UP
Intro: It has been a while since we looked in on Joseph and his family. If you will remember the story, you know that Joseph’s brothers sold him in to Egyptian slavery, and they told their father that he was dead. As far as they were concerned, Joseph was dead! They went on with their lives as though they would never see their brother again, because they never expected to!
God had other plans! While they are living their lives in Canaan, God is working in Egypt! While Jacob’s heart is broken through mourning Joseph, God is working in Egypt. Down in Egypt, Joseph is sold as a slave. He works for a man named Potiphar, who is Pharaoh’s chief executioner. Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph, but he rebuffs her advances. She lies to her husband telling him that Joseph tried to rape her. Potiphar has Joseph thrown into prison. After a number of years, Joseph is brought to Pharaoh’s attention. God uses Joseph to help Pharaoh, and to make a long story short, Joseph is taken out of the prison and made the Prime Minister of Egypt.
A famine arises in the land, but Joseph has developed a plan to store us grain for the lean years ahead. When the famine comes, it affects all the countries of the countries of the earth, even the land of Canaan, where Joseph’s brothers and father dwell.
Joseph’s brothers make a trip to Egypt to but grain to eat and they meet the brother they sold as a slave some 20 years before. He recognizes them, but they do not recognize him. God uses Joseph to awaken the dead consciences of his brothers. Joseph wants them to think about what they have done, so he accuses them of being spies and throws Simeon into prison until the other brothers return home and get their youngest brother Benjamin. They told Joseph about him and Joseph uses this as a tool to get them to return with his brother.
The brothers return home with their grain, but no Simeon. Jacob again grieves and refuses to allow the boys to take Benjamin back with them into Egypt. After a while, the grain runs out and they are forced to get more. That is where our text begins today.
In this passage, we see a discussion between Judah the fourth oldest of Jacob’s sons and Jacob himself. In this conversation, Judah is trying to convince his father that they have no choice but to return to Egypt, with Benjamin, to get grain. Otherwise, they will all starve to death. That is the gist of what is taking place here. But, as is so often true in the Bible, there is more here than meets the eye.
What we see in these verses is a rebellious man demonstrating the fact that he is beginning to grow us. What we see in these verses is how God used the events of Judah’s life to bring him to maturity. God uses these events to shape Judah into the leader he will one day become.
There is help for us in these verses! After all, God is trying to do the same thing in your life and mine. He desires that we reach a place of maturity. This truth is stated for us in the New Testament.
· Eph. 4:13-15, “13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”
· 1 Pet. 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”
· 2 Pet. 3:18, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.”
Let’s examine this passage to see how the Lord worked in Judah’s life to bring him to the place of maturity. We need these truths because God is doing the same thing in your life and mine. He might use different processes to achieve His goals, but the end result will be the same. I want o take these verses and preach on the subject: Judah Grows Up.
I. v. 3 JUDAH’S PROBLEMS
· Judah is mentioned in verse 3. Let’s take a minute to remember what king of a man we are dealing with here.
Ø Gen. 37:26 – Judah is the one who talked his brothers out of killing Joseph and into selling him as a slave instead.
Ø Gen. 37:31-35 – Judah was part of the lie that broke Jacob’s heart. They told him Joseph was dead and Jacob entered and extended time of mourning.
Ø Gen. 38:1 – When Judah sought a wife, he married an unbeliever.
Ø Gen. 38:7-10 – He raised two sons, Er and Onan, who were so evil that God killed them both.
Ø Gen. 38:12-16 – Judah was a man controlled by fleshly lusts. His wife died and he sought female companionship in the bed of a woman he thought was a harlot.
Ø Gen. 38:12-23 – Judah was guilty of committing incest with his daughter-in-law. She tricked him, but he was still responsible for his actions.
Ø Gen. 38:24-30 – Judah was judgmental. Tamar, his daughter-in-law became pregnant through their incestuous relationship and Judah ordered her to be burned for her infidelity. As it turned out, she exposed him as the hypocrite he was. Their relationship produced twin boys, one of whom would become a distant ancestor of the Lord Jesus, Matt. 1:3.
· We look at a man like that and we say, “He’ll never amount to anything! God can’t use a man that wicked.” The fact is, God had big plans for Judah. God was working in his life and on his heart to transform him into a leader among his brethren. God was working on His to make a blessing to the nation of Israel and to the whole world, Gen. 49:8-12.
· Judah was a rough piece of timber, but God had a plan to work him into shape! Of course, when you take the time to read your Bible, you quickly see that many of those God used in the greatest of ways, started their lives on the wrong side of righteousness.
Ø Rahab – She was a prostitute. She came to know God and she became an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Ø Ruth – She was a Gentile and a pagan. She came to know God and she became an ancestor of the Lord Jesus.
Ø David – He committed adultery; he lied; and he was guilty of murder, but God forgave him and used him.
Ø Matthew – He was tax collector in the employ of the Roman government. He was a thief, a liar and a cheat, but God saved him and used him for his glory.
Ø The Gaderene Demoniac – He was demon possessed. He lived in the tombs. He had an entire region scare half to death. He met Jesus and became a powerful witness to God’s grace and life-changing power.
Ø Paul – By his own testimony, he was guilty of terrible and gross sins, 1 Tim. 1:12-15; Acts 26:9-11.
· Many more could be named! Not a single one of God’s was perfect when He found them. They were all dirty, filthy and full of sin. But, He knows how to clean them up and use them as vessels of honor.
There are people in this room right now and you are ashamed of your past. You are right to feel that way, but never think for an instant that God can’t bless you and use you. If you have been saved and washed in the blood of the Lamb, His precious blood has negated your past. Every stain has been washed away and you are every whit clean in His sight!
I praise the Lord that He is the “Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” John 1:29. I don’t care how clean you live or how close you get to the Lord; there will always be someone out there who will hold what you were against you. Ignore them! When this thing is said and done you will not answer to them. Both you and them will stand before Him and give an account. Live to please the Lord and let Him take care of the rest!
II. v. 3-6 JUDAH’S PLEA
· In these verses, Judah states the simple, unvarnished truth. They cannot return to Egypt to buy more grain unless they take Benjamin with them. So, he begs his father to allow them to return to Egypt with Benjamin to buy more food. In these verses, it is clear that Judah is making spiritual progress. Let me show why.
· He is not longer simply concerned about Judah. His primary focus in no longer what he wants; how he feels and what he thinks.
Ø Judah is concerned about the rest of the family. He knows they have to have food or they will all starve. He is concerned about the future of the family.
Ø Judah is concerned about Simeon. Judah knows they cannot bring Simeon home without going back to Egypt with Benjamin.
Ø Judah is not concerned with doing things the right way. This has never been a priority with him before. Up to now, Judah has cared only about Judah. He would do whatever it took to get what Judah wanted. Now, he wants to do things the right way. He is finally growing up!
Ø This progress hasn’t happened over night. It has taken many years and many trials to bring about these changes in Judah.
· By the same token, the Lord’s work in your life and mine has not been accomplished overnight. If you are growing as you should, you are closer to Him today than you were when you got saved. He has been in the process of developing you since He saved you by His grace. And, His work in us is not something that happens overnight.
God has plenty of time and He is willing to do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to accomplish His eternal purposes in His children.
· A quick study of the Bible proves this to be true.
Ø Abraham – First, God worked in his heart o cause him to leave the only home he had ever known to follow God into Canaan. His faith is so shallow that he runs to Egypt for help during a time of famine. Yet, God keeps working on Abraham until the day comes that he is willing to offer his son as a burnt offering to the Lord. That is progress!
Ø Jacob – He is a trickster and a deceiver. He is a man who lives down to his name. God works on him through a series of difficult circumstances to shape him into the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. God used problems in the family to shape this man. God allows Jacob to be tricked and deceived by his own uncle. God used hardships and even a personal encounter with Himself beside a river to bring Jacob to where God could use him. That is progress!
Ø Gideon – God took a terrified man and called him to be a Judge of Israel. God gave him a mighty army and then God took his army away. God sent him into battle with 300 against a multitude. He even sent him into battle without weapons. All he and his men had were clay lamps and trumpets. God gave them the victory. That is progress!
Ø David – God used everything from giants, to kings, to pride to break and reshape this young man into “a man after God’s Own heart.” That is progress!
Ø Simon Peter – Here is a man who was constantly getting into trouble. He talked too much! He was always putting his foot into his mouth. He even denied the Lord Jesus three times in one night. But, God took those tragedies and used them to shape Peter into a mighty preacher of the Gospel. He would never have become the man he did
Ø without the problems he endured! That is progress!
· Look at your own life. What has the Lord used to shape you into what you are today? He has used our sins, our trials, our valleys, our victories and everything else we have faced in this life. He has used it all to shape us into what He wants us to be.
The Lord’s shaping ministry is a powerful thing. It is something that every saint goes through. It is something the Lord uses to bring even sinners unto Him.
· God’s desire is to take us like He finds us and then develop us into a vessel of honor for His glory, Ill. Jer. 18:1-6. We are merely clay in His hand, and like a potter, He will keep the pressure on us, as He shapes us into what He wants us to be.
Ø There will be times when He will crush us and begin again.
Ø There will be times when He will pound the clay.
Ø There will be times when He will add to us and there will be times when He will take away from us.
Ø In the end, we will become a vessel of honor unto the Lord our God! And, remember, you are never closer to the Potter than when His hand is on your life!
III. v. 7-10 JUDAH’S PLEDGE
· As this passage closes, Judah begs his father to let them go to Egypt for food. He promises to trade his life for Benjamin’s should anything happen to the boy. Earlier, Reuben had pledged the lives of his two sons, Gen. 42:37. Of course, Reuben knew that Jacob would never harm his grandsons. In this case, Judah is willing to lay down his own life for the good of the family.
· This is a good sign that Judah is truly maturing. He is not longer the same self-centered man that he used to be. He is not longer the man who lives only for himself. He is emerging as a leader among his brethren.
· Soon Judah will bow before and offer himself as a slave, Gen. 44:33. Soon Judah will openly confess his sins before Joseph and make things right with him, Gen. 44:16ff. Some, this formerly self-centered man will humble himself before Joseph. He will speak for the whole group and he will take the blame for all their actions. He will put them all ahead of himself.
· Do you want to know whether or not you are making progress as a Christian? Do you want to know whether or not you are maturing in your faith? It’s real easy to tell! Just look at the place others hold in your list of priorities. When we reach a place of spiritual maturity, we will find that we will consistently begin to place others ahead of self.
· A sure sign that you are still a baby in Christ is when you are still number on in your life. When we grow up, our priorities will become vastly different.
When we grow up, Jesus will come first, others will come next and self will come last. If everything in your life revolves around you, what you want and how you feel, then you just need to grow up. If, however, everything in your life revolves around Jesus first, others next and self last; you are making progress!
· Here is what the Bible says about this matter – Phil. 2:4; Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 10:24. One of the greatest examples of this selfless kind of life is found in the testimony of John the Baptist. He was willing to play second fiddle as long as Jesus was glorified, John 3:26-30. That is the attitude that the Lord wants to reproduce in your heart and mine!
· We are living in a world that focuses all the attention on self. People are taught to gratify themselves, and then they will be happy. God’s formula for joy is vastly different. God’s formula comes down to a simple acrostic based on the word joy. True joy will be ours when we get our priorities in the following order:
Ø J – Jesus
Ø O – Others
Ø Y – Yourself
That is the secret to joy in this life. When you arrive at the place of true joy, you will also find that you have reached the place of genuine maturity.
Conc: I fear that many are like the character in the old, but familiar Mother Goose rhyme which goes:
PUSSY CAT, PUSSY CAT,
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
I'VE BEEN TO LONDON
TO VISIT THE QUEEN.
PUSSY CAT, PUSSY CAT,
WHAT DID YOU THERE?
I FRIGHTENED A LITTLE
MOUSE UNDER HER CHAIR.
Like that cat, Christians sometimes settle for petty involvements, trivial pursuits--chasing mice--when we have the opportunity to spend time with royalty, with the King!
A.B Simpson said it like this:
“Once it was the blessing;
now it is the Lord.
Once it was the feeling;
now it is His Word.
Once His gifts I wanted;
now the Giver own.
Once I sought for healing,
now Himself alone.
Once 'twas painful trying;
now 'tis perfect trust.
Once a half salvation;
now the uttermost.
Once 'twas ceaseless holding;
now He holds me fast.
Once 'twas constant drifting;
now my anchor's cast.
Once 'twas busy planning;
now 'tis trustful prayer.
Once 'twas anxious caring;
now He has the care.
Once 'twas what I wanted,
now what Jesus says.
Once 'twas constant asking;
now 'tis ceaseless praise.
Once I tried to use Him;
now He uses me.
Once it was my working;
His it hence shall be.
Once the power I wanted,
now the Mighty One.
Once for self I labored,
now for Him alone.
Once I hoped for Jesus;
now I know He's mine.
Once my lamps were dying;
now they brightly shine.
Once for death I waited;
now His coming hail. And my hopes are anchored safe within the veil.”
That is the place we all need to come to. Years ago, some tourists visited a picturesque mountain village.
They asked some of the locals “Were any great people born in this village?”
One of the locals said, “Nope, just babies are in this village.”
The same is true in the family of God. We are all born as little spiritual babies. But, what a shame it is when we stay babies. The Lord wants us to grow up to live lives of spiritual power and honor for His glory.
Judah grew up. Have you?