Corn For Free
Genesis 42:25-28 (25) Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them. (26) And they laded their asses with the corn, and departed thence. (27) And as one of them opened his sack to give his ass provender in the inn, he espied his money; for, behold, it was in his sack's mouth. (28) And he said unto his brethren, My money is restored; and, lo, it is even in my sack: and their heart failed them, and they were afraid, saying one to another, What is this that God hath done unto us? A previous meditation (Numbered With The Transgressors) noted a picture of Jesus Christ in Joseph. Joseph prompts us once more to think of Jesus Christ. Joseph, the faithful brother who had been betrayed unto death but whom God had exalted to be lord over all gives us a glimpse of the grace of salvation which we can never purchase or earn. When the sons of Jacob stood before Joseph, it was noted, “And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him” (GEN 42:8). Years later, Jesus Christ “...came unto his own, and his own received him not” (JOH 1:11), and they condemned Him “...because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day...” (ACT 13:27). Sadly, as the eyes of the sons of Jacob did not discern Joseph for who he was, so the eyes of many sons of God do not discern the true Jesus Christ Who is evidently set before them in the gospel. Instead of a successful Jesus Christ Whose death eternally saved all that the Father had given Him to save (JOH 6:37-39; JOH 10:27-29; JOH 17:1-3) and by Himself purged sins (HEB 1:3), they see an ineffective Jesus Christ Whose death only made eternal salvation a possibility: his death was only a down-payment on sin's debt and did not actually purge anyone's sins, his salvation requires the balance of payment to be made by sinners, and he loses many of those for whom he died. Thankfully, the eternal life of blood-bought sinners does not depend on their conscious knowledge of Him, but of His covenant knowledge of them: “Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his...” (2TI 2:19). Joseph's brothers knew him not for whom he really was but this they knew: that he was the only one that could save them. They were much like many of God's children throughout the ages who have known instinctively that Jesus was their only hope, that “...there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (ACT 4:12). Yet, though knowing Him as the source but not knowing His course, they have worked and spent to purchase His free grace. But a reward that is earned by works is not grace at all (ROM 11:6): it is only the satisfaction of a debt (ROM 4:4) and God will be indebted to nobody but Himself. The spending of our efforts in service to Christ, our Bread and Manna from heaven (JOH 6:49-58) will be someday seen (as with Joseph's brothers' money) to be refunded. The price of our eternal salvation is free, being the gift of the “...lord of the country...” (GEN 42:33), that is, the heavenly country (HEB 11:16). Saints should certainly strive to “...work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” (PHIL 2:12) while knowing “...it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (PHIL 2:13). If God works not grace first within man, man can never work it out. It is the great work of the gospel to save men from “...going about to establish their own righteousness...” (ROM 10:3) and get them to understand that it is by the obedience of One (Christ) that sinners are made righteous (ROM 5:19), and that the sinner's faith is a token of that righteousness, “...counted for righteousness” (ROM 4:5). Faith proves one righteous: “By faith Abel....obtained witness that he was righteous...” (HEB 11:4). The righteousness of God is not produced by the gospel; rather, “...therein is the righteousness of God revealed...” (ROM 1:16-17). Life and immortality is NOT brought through the gospel; rather, God “...hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2TI 1:10). The gospel declares that God “...hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began (2TI 1:9-10). Believers ought to, like Paul, “...follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus....pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (PHIL 3:12-14), knowing that His grace of salvation is not won by the labors we bring to Him, for it is “Not of works, lest any man should boast” (EPH 2:9). The cost of salvation is greater than any blemished sinner could afford for it was “...the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1PE 1:19) and our spiritual wallets have nothing in them but filthy rags (ISA 64:6). At times, Jesus, like Joseph, may make Himself strange unto His brethren and speak roughly unto them (GEN 42:7). But that is only His holiness and His law speaking, convicting the wayward of their inadequacy to stand before God so as to push them towards abandoning trust in their own will and works to complete reliance upon God's will, God's plan, God's purpose and grace, Christ's blood, Christ's death, Christ's resurrection and Christ's righteousness for them. Behind His frowning providence, there hides a smiling face. And, on the coming day of Christ many are likely to discover that all their works and “money” by which they had assumed they had gotten the Bread of heaven will be found returned unto them, for His salvation to them was a free gift, not an offer or a purchasable commodity. They will be astounded to (as it were) open their sacks as Joseph's brethren (GEN 42:25-27), and find they not only have the Corn which they sought after, but that it had in reality been free. In that day they might well say, not in consternation but in humble adoration, “...What is this that God hath done unto us?” (GEN 42:28). What a great salvation it is to know this grace before He comes!