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Attitude Adjustment

We're not above needing another one.

Genesis 42:1–11 (ESV)

When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” So ten of Joseph's brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.

Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.”

The key to understanding today’s passage (and the next few chapters) is Gen 42:23.

They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. (ESV)   

Joseph isn’t speaking in Hebrew! He’s speaking Egyptian through a translator.

The Bible doesn’t describe how the scene looked, but it’s not hard to imagine. Egyptian architecture is massive. Joseph is doing everything he can to intimidate his brothers. He’s presumably sitting on some kind of throne—and keeping his distance. By speaking in Egyptian, he makes everything impersonal and also prevents his brothers from recognizing his voice. The scene is magnificent—and unsettling.

All this intimidation has a purpose. Joseph is setting up his brothers for an attitude adjustment.

Attitude adjustments lie at the heart of Christianity. Conversion is the ultimate attitude adjustment, but it’s far from the only one. We are called to be transformed. That’s major adjustment.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. — Romans 12:2 (ESV)

This is not advice for unbelievers. Paul wrote this to Christians. They need transformation too.

This is easy to memorize but hard to really get. I like to think that what I need at this stage of my Christian growth is a few tweaks here or there. I couldn’t be more wrong.

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These weekday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. Saturdays' by Matt Richardson. Subscribe here:

The weekly study guides, which include questions for discussion or meditation, are here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NASB stands for the New American Standard Bible. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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