December 20, 2010

Benjamin: Ransomed, Redeemed

Today we come to the last of our thumbnail sketches of Jacob’s twelve sons. So far (and in a variety of ways) we have noted that lives of several of the twelve boys (warts and all), were foreshadowings of our Lord Jesus:
  • Levi, from whose line was drawn the Israelite priesthood, reminds us of Jesus, our great high priest.
  • Judah, who was willing to give his life in place of his brother Benjamin’s, reminds us of how Jesus substituted Himself for us on the cross.
  • Naphtali, the giver of beautiful words (Genesis 49.21), reminds us of Jesus, our great Prophet and Teacher.
  • Zebulun reminds us of Jesus because it was in Zebulun’s territory (i.e. Galilee) that the Savior spent most of His life and ministry.
  • And, of course, Joseph reminds us of Jesus in the way he suffered so unjustly … and eventually, single-handedly, rescued all Israel from death.
But today we come to a different kind of character. Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth and youngest son, reminds us not so much of Jesus, as of ourselves! Remember Genesis 44 … when Judah stepped in and offered to give his life in place of his younger brother’s? Benjamin was the younger brother! Benjamin had been accused of stealing a silver cup from Egypt. The punishment? Being turned into a slave. And this is where Judah stepped in (v.33): “Please let your servant (i.e. Judah himself) remain instead of the lad a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.”

What a picture of Christlikeness! Judah, on a much smaller scale, of course – but in a very compassionate and costly sense, nonetheless – was doing for his little brother what Jesus has done for us! His was willing to give himself up for the sake of another. And he is, as we said several weeks ago, another Old Testament picture of Jesus! And, therefore, the brother who was getting out from under the penalty; the brother whose sentence was being taken by another; the brother who was being loved in such an amazing way is a picture of the Christian! We all, if we belong to Christ, are Benjamins! We have had our sentence repealed – not by some clever courtroom maneuvers, but because someone else loved us (and loved His father) so deeply as to be willing to take the penalty for us!

Yes, remember that Judah didn’t just offer himself up in place of Benjamin because he loved Benjamin, but because he loved his father (Genesis 44.34) and did not want to displease him! And so it was with Jesus! He died because He loves us, yes. But He died, even more fundamentally, because He loves His Father. And it was His Father’s will that He die; His Father’s will that we be saved from our sins!

So, if you’re ever looking for yourself in the Bible; if you’re ever wondering if there is a character with whom you might really identify – not the best way to read the Bible, by the way … but if you are looking for such a person nonetheless … check out Benjamin. He was as good as done in Genesis 44 … until his older brother stepped in on his behalf. And that pretty much sums up your position, too, does it not? So thank God for our older brother, Jesus!

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