An All-Sufficient Substitute (Genesis 44:33-34) - Radical
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An All-Sufficient Substitute (Genesis 44:33-34)

“Now therefore please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my Lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father.”
– Genesis 44:33-34

What’s happening here is, Joseph is testing his brothers. He’s saying, “Keep Benjamin here, and you guys go back to your father”. Judah steps up and says, “No. You can’t do that. We can’t do that. I will stay instead of the boy”. Like, “Let Benjamin go back, because if we go back and we don’t have Benjamin with us, then my father will fall apart”. I mean, “Could die”, is basically what he’s saying.

This is a high point for Judah. Have seen Judah in some not so good ways in the book of Genesis. But here he offers his life basically as a substitute for Benjamin. We don’t know what all of his motivations were, but we do know that this is a picture of Judah saying, “I’ll be a substitute so that someone else can go free”.

From the line of Judah came a King who stood in our place and redeemed us from the penalty of sin.

The reason why I emphasize that is because this Joseph story in Genesis is really in a bigger way a Judah story. It’s interesting. We don’t have time right now to dive into all the ways that Judah plays a pivotal part in Joseph’s story. But this is one of them. This is a picture. The reason this is so important is because it’s from Judah’s line that will come king David, and ultimately king Jesus.

Genesis 44:33-34 Foreshadows The New Testament

As we’re reading this story we need to pay particular attention to Judah’s line, because that is the promised line. It’s in this promised line, in the line of Judah, that we see this picture of substitution. The reason that’s important is because, well one day, king Jesus from the line of Judah would come. He would be the perfect substitute. This picture of Judah in Genesis 44:33-34 is foreshadowing a much greater picture of a substitute to come. This is, in many senses, the essence of the cross. When Jesus went to the cross, he wasn’t just going as an example of love for us, although that’s certainly part of the picture. He wasn’t just going as an example of love for us, though that’s certainly part of the picture. Jesus was going quite literally as a substitute for us. We deserve the judgment of God, and what Jesus did at the cross, is he stood in our place as our substitute. We deserve that judgment. Jesus took it upon himself instead so that we could be free from that judgment and have life.

This picture in Genesis 44:33-34 is foreshadowing that picture in the New Testament. This picture leads us to, yes, appreciate what Judah is doing here. But all the more, to praise Jesus for what he has done for us.

Genesis 44:33-34 Leads Us to Thank God for Saving Us

So we pray. Lord Jesus, we know that we deserve eternal judgment, and we praise you for the substitutionary sacrifice you made for us on the cross. Thank you for standing in our place. For enduring the penalty that we deserve. We praise you as our substitute, and we pray God that more and more people would know you as their substitute.
What great news is that, that sinners can be set free from the penalty of sin because someone else has paid the price for them.

These Verses Lead Us to Pray for Help to Sharing the Gospel

God, help us to share this good news today with somebody else. God, I pray for people in my life right now who I know don’t know you, don’t know your love. The substitutionary sacrifice you have made, they have not believed in you. I pray for other people in the spheres of influence and people who are listening right now, God, that you would bring more people to know Jesus as the substitutionary sacrifice for sin today. God, we pray that others would know this good news, this freedom, through our lives today. God, help us not to sit silent with this good news. Help us to make it known today. We pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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