Whenever I wrap up my prison Bible study for the day, I typically try to end with some sort of “real life” application based on what we are studying. On this particular occasion, the LORD made this rather simple as we observed his power to change the hearts and lives of his children.
We had been studying the book of Genesis and when we got to chapter 44, we witnessed the culmination of God’s transformation of the patriarch Judah.
You may recall that years earlier, when the brothers stripped Joseph of his special coat and threw him into a pit, that it was Judah who came up with the cold-hearted idea of profiting from their brother’s demise. “What profit is there in killing our brother and concealing his blood?” Judah callously said, “Come on, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites.”
In the years that followed, the LORD worked mightily on Judah’s callous heart, transforming him into the loving brother of his little half-brother Benjamin, and the caring son of his aged father Jacob. When Benjamin was found to be in possession of the stolen cup and was about to be taken away as a slave, Judah interceded on his behalf. “Please,” Judah pleaded, “let your servant stay as a slave to my lord instead of the boy, and let the boy go up with his brothers. For how can I go up to my father if the boy is not with me? How could I stand to see the evil that will come on my father?” In order to spare Benjamin from suffering the same fate as his older brother Joseph who was sold into slavery, and spare his father from suffering the loss of his favorite son for the second time, Judah was willing to become the slave of Egypt's Prime Minister.
What a comfort it is to know, and joy it is to share, that this same God, who worked so mightily in Judah’s heart, continues to bring his power to bear on my heart and the hearts of those I serve. Through Word and Sacrament, God continually transforms all of us into this same kind of loving child, one who reflects the love of his heavenly Father!