“It all comes down to this.” How often in our lives do we work towards something; desiring for it to come to pass, and then it all comes down to the wire? It is the moment of truth. Will the hero save the day? Will the girl say. “Yes!”? Will he get the job that will spark his career and set him on the path for greatness? Will she get the score that she needs to get into the prestigious school that she wants?
This is just such a time for Joseph and his brothers. Joseph is pulling the strings and testing his brothers. He needs to know if they are still the same bitter, angry, jealous men they were when they decided to kill him and ended up selling him into slavery for a few coins. Is his little brother in just as much trouble as he was by being with them? Will they stand up for him, or give him away to whomever will take him? The plan is in place, and the opportunity is given. How will they respond, and what will it mean for them?
I wonder sometimes in reading this, what would have happened if the brothers had made the wrong choice? Ultimately we don’t know, because it never did. Judah stood up and wisely and tactfully responded to the problem. He explained the situation desiring to get Benjamin off the hook, but needing to do so without making this ruler / lord lose face. He sacrifices himself so that his younger brother (and father) would live.
Would you or I be willing and able to make the same choice?
Joseph is more than 37 years old at this point. He was sold into slavery at the age of 18. He has lived more of his life in Egypt than he ever did in Canaan. Now, for the first time in 19 or more years he comes face to face with his brothers. They sold him into slavery because of his dreams and their jealousy of him and their father’s love for him.
Now, here they are bowing on their faces before him. After more than 19 years, Joseph has the opportunity to exact his revenge. He could arrest them, imprison them, and sell them into slavery, or worse. He could mock them, laugh at them and let them starve to death. He could reveal himself and simply threaten their lives. So what does he do?
Joseph decides to test them. He wants to know if they are the same jealous, angry, bitter men that they were when he was a child. He wants to know if there is remorse or if there is humility and love. He wants to know if they care more about themselves, or if they care about their family. So he accuses them of being spies, questions them, and puts them for a short stay in prison. Then he tells them that in order to be released or to get more grain they need to bring their youngest brother Benjamin back to Egypt with them. Meanwhile, he took Simeon and held him until the other brothers returned with Benjamin.
The brothers return home and tell Jacob, their father, what happened in Egypt. Jacob is upset and as time goes by they begin to run out of grain again. The brothers know that they can’t return to Egypt empty handed, so Reuben takes responsibility for Benjamin placing Benjamin’s fate on his own sons heads.
Are there situations that occurred a lifetime ago that you are still bitter and angry about? Do you have anger and unforgiveness towards someone that did something to you, or have you forgiven and moved on. It’s not a question of whether there is someone who hurt you. I don’t think that there is a person over the age of 20 who does not have emotional scars from something someone said or did to them. The question is, what are you doing about it? Joseph tested his brothers to see if they were still angry and bitter towards him and his brother Benjamin, but at the same time, God was testing Joseph to see if he still held anger and hostility towards his brothers.
When (not if) you are tested, how will you respond? Have you allowed anger and bitterness to take root in your life. I know that this is something that i am struggling with, and that i am in the process of trying to deal with. What about you?