For I Fear God [Genesis 42]
14Joseph said to them, "It is as I said to you, you are spies; 15by this you will be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here! 16"Send one of you that he may get your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. But if not, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies." 17So he put them all together in prison for three days.
18Now Joseph said to them on the third day, "Do this and live, for I fear God: 19if you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined in your prison; but as for the rest of you, go, carry grain for the famine of your households, 20and bring your youngest brother to me, so your words may be verified, and you will not die." And they did so.
21Then they said to one another, "Truly we are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore this distress has come upon us." 22Reuben answered them, saying, "Did I not tell you, 'Do not sin against the boy'; and you would not listen? Now comes the reckoning for his blood." 23They did not know, however, that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them. 24He turned away from them and wept. But when he returned to them and spoke to them, he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes.
This event took place at least 30 years after the brothers had sold Joseph into slavery. That is a long time to carry the guilt they had about what they did. But it is clear that they did. "Truly we are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore this distress has come upon us." They were sure God was revenging them for their misdeed. Their understanding of God was very different than Joseph's. When he heard that they were still waiting "for the reckoning for his blood," Joseph wept. His response tells us what he believed about God. If he was still harboring ill for his brothers, his response would have been anger, self-righteousness or indignation. Instead, he had forgiven them because he knew God had forgiven them and had used them to accomplish His purpose. Yes, they still had to come to grips with what they had done and receive God's forgiveness but at this point they were still blaming each other and waiting for the gavel to fall.
I told my husband this morning that I have been thinking a lot about Joseph's plight. He of all people could have gone to prison and wallowed in self pity. He had been ripped from a great career and sent to prison unjustly. But from his actions we see that he had a deeper understanding of God at work in his life. Instead of pining away over his injustice, he moved easily to what God had for him next because he understood that it was all happening by God's direction. He probably didn't understand why but he certainly accepted with gratitude God's provision of a new job. And it is also clear, that no matter what the job was Joseph's understanding of God caused him to work whole heartedly the task that was before him.
Thank You Lord, for Joseph's example of trusting You. We praise You that You are the One who is using all that happens to us for Your good. You use every event, every detail to nudge us to experience Your holiness. Such incredible love is mixed with Your amazing sovereignty. Cause us to receive this truth today and walk in it as Joseph did, without doubt and with without lingering in selfishness.