Read Genesis 42:18-38
18On the third day, Joseph said to them, "Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die." This they proceeded to do.
21They said to one another, "Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that's why this distress has come upon us."
22Reuben replied, "Didn't I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn't listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood." 23They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.
24He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.
25Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man's silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
27At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28"My silver has been returned," he said to his brothers. "Here it is in my sack."
Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, "What is this that God has done to us?"
29When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30"The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31But we said to him, 'We are honest men; we are not spies. 32We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.'
33"Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, 'This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.'"
35As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man's sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36Their father Jacob said to them, "You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!"
37Then Reuben said to his father, "You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back."
38But Jacob said, "My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow." (NIV)
This is an powerful encounter between Joseph and his brothers. Joseph at first shows his anger to his brothers. They have sinned against him and they must account for their sin. This is our problem with God too. We have sinned against him and we must pay the price for our sin. But we see that forgiveness begins with confession. In verse 22, we get the confession from the lips of Rueben. The confession moves Joseph to tears. I believe when we confess to God, it brings tears to God’s eyes, tears that say God notices our hearts and our pain in the sin. It is interesting the Joseph changes his mind about the punishment after three days. Just as when Christ entered the tomb and three days later came out to offer us new life and forgiveness of sins, Joseph after three days offers his brothers new life. He returns their money along with the grain. But they don’t understand it. Instead of thinking the best, they think the worst.
I think this is so true of us in life. We think the worst is happening to us, especially in trying times. And so, we cannot see God working in those trying situations. Jacob too is caught up in fear and grief. He too, cannot see that God is working in his life during a time of great stress. The land is in a great famine. He thinks only of his losses. Even the efforts of his oldest son cannot console Jacob.
I think this is our dilemma with God too. We don’t always see the ways we He is working in our lives. Often we get overshadowed by the pain of life or the uncertainty of situation. It is in these times we need to remember the promises of God and trust them. This is what Rueben is trying to do with this father. He is reminding Jacob of the promises. There is grain available. There is a way to get your son back. Yes, there is trust that must be acted upon by our actions, but the promises are there. Do we trust God’s promises in times of trial and suffering is the question everyone faces at one point or another in their life.
How have you hung on to God’s promises in your life? Do you find comfort in God’s promises? Are there times that you feel it is so dark, you need a reminder of God’s love for you.
Blessings and Peace