Bible reading for Feb 10: Genesis 43; Mark 13.
"I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever." (Gen 43:9)
So far, Judah has not been much of a good example, but now he steps forward to take responsibility for the family welfare. He commits to "be a pledge for safety" for Benjamin when they return to Egypt for more grain. This word, being a "surety or pledge" (here and in 44:32), is elsewhere translated, "to stand in for" (Isa 38:14), or "to risk one's life for" (Jer 30:21). He would bear guilt if anything happened to Benjamin, and if more prisoners were detained he would stand in. Judah would take personal responsibility for Benjamin.
This was no empty offer. Their dealings with the Egyptians had been unpredictable (and scary) so far, and they had no way of knowing whether lives might be lost in the encounter with Egypt. Fast forward: from Judah's tribe will come One who stood in for us, who became a surety for us, who not only risked, but gave his life, that we might find eternal safety.
As for Joseph, far from being resentful or vengeful toward his brothers, he is moved to tears at reuniting with them. So, in this sometimes strange family of twelve brothers we are catching glimpses of the salvation that will come one day through their lineage. Bearing guilt, being a surety, giving forgiveness, reconciling relationships... these are the blessings of redemption through Jesus Christ, the descendant of Judah... "And one of the elders said to me, 'Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.'" (Rev 5:5)
"Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come." (Mark 13:33)
The Olivet Discourse (Mk 13). We have read Matthew's account of this in Matt 24. There seem to be both near and far view prophecies contained in this teaching. The near view is the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, and the far view relates to the return of Christ in the future. The cosmic phenomena of 13:24-25 are events just prior to Christ's second coming. Christ's return will be visible, personal, and glorious: "And then they will see [visible] the Son of Man [personal] coming in clouds with great power and glory [glorious]." (13:26) This rules out claims of the cults that Jesus has already returned in some hidden or mystical way, or in the form of some popular religious leader.
The Abomination (Mk 13:14). From the NETBible notes: "The reference to the abomination of desolation is an allusion to Dan 9:27. Though some have seen the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy in the actions of Antiochus IV (or a representative of his) in 167 B.C., the words of Jesus seem to indicate that Antiochus was not the final fulfillment, but that there was (from Jesus' perspective) still another fulfillment yet to come. Some argue that this was realized in A.D. 70, while others claim that it refers specifically to Antichrist and will not be fully realized until the period of the great tribulation at the end of the age (Mar 13:19; Mat 24:21; Rev 3:10)." I take it that this event is yet future and refers to the "man of lawlessness" (2 Thess 2:3-4) and "the beast" of Revelation 13.
Several times we are told to "be on guard" or to "stay awake". There will be many false teachers, and also many opponents of Christ at that time, even more so as we near his return. His coming will also be sudden and unexpected. One of verses I have memorized from this chapter is Mark 13:31... "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." We have his word today (and forever), not only because of who he is, but also because he has guaranteed that we would have his word. He has not left us without guidance, or without his promises. These things will come to pass in just the way he said. We need to be vigilant and prepared for his return.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. A PDF copy is available here.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.