The Return to Egypt
Open Your Bible
Genesis 43:1-34, Genesis 44:1-34, Genesis 45:1-28, John 12:25, Philippians 2:5-11
BY Erin Davis
I’ve always been fascinated by geodes. They’re unremarkable on the outside; to the untrained eye, they just look like rocks (often ugly ones). But crack a geode open and you’ll find your breath has been taken away. Each one is filled with a tiny city of crystals that shine and sparkle in a spectacular variety of colors and formations.
There are many geodes in Joseph’s story, moments that are unremarkable at first, even ugly. But as the Bible cracks each one open and all is revealed, our breath is taken away by the beauty God brings about in the midst of the ugly and unremarkable.
One geode is the silver Joseph snuck back into the sacks of his brothers. Genesis 42 records: “Joseph then gave orders to fill their containers with grain, return each man’s silver to his sack, and give them provisions for their journey. This order was carried out” (v.25). For Joseph, this was a moment of generosity. He opted to give blessings to the brothers who had taken so much from him. But to the brothers, who could not scrub the blood of their brother from their hearts and hands, the money was a curse, highlighting their sin and guilt.
There are both blessings and perceived curses in our lives. We think we can distinguish the difference between the two. Blessings look and feel good. Situations that seem to be cursed, in our limited, human perspective, do not. But what if blessings and burdens are in cahoots? What if God can use the seemingly unremarkable and ugly parts of our lives to reveal His goodness and provision?
When the famine forced his brothers to return to Egypt a second time to purchase grain for their hungry families, it was the silver in their sacks that brought them back to Joseph. Without money to return, surely they would have avoided the foreign ruler who imprisoned them, kept their brother Simeon, and ordered them to bring him their beloved baby brother. But once the geode was cracked open, deep beauty was revealed.
“Then the steward said, ‘May you be well. Don’t be afraid.
Your God and the God of your father must have put treasure in your bags.
I received your silver.’ Then he brought Simeon out to them” (Genesis 43:23).
They returned the silver, and brought their brother Benjamin to Joseph, and Simeon was returned to them. But look again. Standing in their brother’s presence, reconciliation was possible. The family was reunited and brought together to live in the thriving nation of Egypt.
Look again. Crack open another geode. The events of Joseph’s story set the stage for Israel’s later enslavement by a new Pharaoh. That moment of history is ugly, but look at how God continues to work. Israel’s deliverance through Moses, the Passover, and the parting of the Red Sea. Keep looking. Keep cracking. From the nation of Israel came our Savior whose birth seemed unremarkable and death was horrific, but whose sacrifice granted us salvation—the greatest treasure of all.
There is no way to know the riches God can bring in the ugly, rocky places of our lives. We can trust the treasure is there and that in His timing, beautiful, sparkling gems will be revealed.