Then they said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw his anguish when he pleaded with us, but we would not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” But Reuben replied: “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you would not listen. Now we must account for his blood!” —Genesis 42:21-22

            Twenty years have gone by since Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers.  That could have been a long time to simmer in bitterness.  He had the opportunity to now bring revenge on his brothers, but he did not.  Joseph saw God’s hand at work.

            On the other hand, these brothers carried the guilt of what they had done for those twenty years and their dastardly deed was still fresh in their minds.  Now they believed they were being punished by God for what they had done to Joseph.  The anguish and his pleading were only met with hatred-filled, hardened hearts and they would not listen to his pleas.  Reuben said to them, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you would not listen. Now we must account for his blood!”  Yes, their guilt was a burden all these years and now Joseph heard what was being said.

            Years that pass by don’t erase guilt carried by some terrible deed of the past that is unforgiven.  Let us be thankful to God though that when we confess to Him, He forgives and we do not need to carry that guilt any longer.  The memory may still be there and come to our mind from time to time, but we can fully rest in the forgiveness of God.  But, is there someone we need to talk to about it?

            Joseph could have carried such hatred and bitterness toward his brothers for that terrible action they had conspired and carried out against him.  He could have remembered his own heartache and his brother’s hard-heartedness toward him.  Instead Joseph would test them— “And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you shall not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.”  Joseph put them into prison for three days “and on the third day he said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God. If you are honest, leave one of your brothers in custody while the rest of you go and take back grain to relieve the hunger of your households. Then bring your youngest brother to me so that your words can be verified, that you may not die” (Genesis 42:18-20).  Yes, Joseph was looking at their present day attitudes… but Joseph wasn’t bitter and later we read “But Joseph replied, “Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God? As for you, what you intended against me for evil, God intended for good, in order to accomplish a day like this—to preserve the lives of many people. Therefore do not be afraid. I will provide for you and your little ones.” So Joseph reassured his brothers and spoke kindly to them” (Genesis 50:19-21).

            Thank God that His plan is carried out even through the terrible things that happen on planet earth.  Like Joseph, let us be forgiving of terrible things that may happen to us  Let us also be thankful for God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness extended to us from others.

Dear Father, thank You forgiveness.  Thank You for our sin debt being washed away by calling on the Name of Jesus.  Out of loving gratitude may I faithfully serve You in the power of Your Holy Spirit and in the authority of Jesus.

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