In the time of the patriarchs, there was a famine and it lasted years. The crops failed and the herds were limited. The sons of Israel had gone to Egypt to get bread. But their faither kept Joseph’s brother back: he thought he had lost his first son and therefore he clung tightly to the second one.
But famine makes one desperate. His oldest son, Reuben, gave his two sons as surety for his brother. Saying to his father you could kill them was not a metaphor — though note that Jacob in his old age has reverted to form, and is back whining.
29 When they came to Jacob their father in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30 “The man, the lord of the land, spoke roughly to us and took us to be spies of the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we have never been spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, sons of our father. One is no more, and the youngest is this day with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33 Then the man, the lord of the land, said to us, ‘By this I shall know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, and take grain for the famine of your households, and go your way. 34 Bring your youngest brother to me. Then I shall know that you are not spies but honest men, and I will deliver your brother to you, and you shall trade in the land.’”
35 As they emptied their sacks, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack. And when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid. 36 And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.” 37 Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” 38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”
I’m writing this as COVID 19 is hitting Italy, and there are preparations happening here. There are issues about getting food — only one person per family can visit the shop and only at a certain frequency. There is not famine, but the logistic chains are breaking.
The issue we have now is more spiritual. We are without the food of God, which is his word and without it the people of God… diminish. We need to be fed: and many churches and institutes want you to look anywhere but the plumb line and lode star which is the scripture.
As a father and grandfather, i don’t want to be where Jacob was: greiving for his sons. But more than that, I pray that my sons may not be lost to eternity: when the son says he’s connected to a church I rejoice, and when another avoids church I grieve. There is a spiritual famine, and the storehouse of such food is either ignored or it is giving out not food but a substitute. For the word of God is living and active, dividing sin from health at the joints, and discerns the truth in you. Through it we know we have salvation by grace, and that our God is good.