31 - The Brothers Bow Down
January 31 - Nº 31 Genesis 41:46-57; 42:1-38
For the next seven years Joseph was busy constructing huge storage facilities and collecting grain. During this time, he and his wife had two sons. Joseph named their first son Manasseh, which meant forgetfulness. God had filled his emptiness and allowed him to forget his pain by giving him a new family and new home to replace the ones that his brothers had stolen from him. The other son he named Ephraim, meaning doubly fruitful. God had blessed him twice by giving him a second son. When those seven years were over, the hard times came just as Pharaoh’s dreams had forecast. There was no rain—just hot, dry sun. Nothing grew. As the Egyptians’ pantries emptied, Joseph opened the storehouses and began to sell the grain. People from surrounding countries heard that there was food in Egypt and came to buy it. Jacob sent his ten oldest sons all the way from Canaan, but he kept his youngest son Benjamin at home. When the brothers arrived in Egypt, they bowed low to the governor. They had no idea that this powerful ruler was their younger brother (or that they had just fulfilled both of his teenage dreams—see #27 - Joseph is Sold Into Slavery). Joseph recognized them, but he refused to reveal his identity. He spoke harshly, accusing them of being spies. They explained that they were all sons of one man. They just needed food. Their youngest brother was still at home, and their other brother was—um—well—gone. Joseph came up with a “test” pretending to see if they were telling the truth. He would keep one of the brothers in prison while the others traveled home to get their youngest brother. If they returned with him, Joseph would free the imprisoned brother. It had been more than twenty years since Joseph’s brothers had sold him to the caravan traders, but their consciences had never stopped bothering them. They began to wonder if the mess they were now in was a punishment for what they had done so many years before. They talked to each other in Hebrew, not realizing that Joseph understood every word. Joseph put Simeon in prison and sent the others home with their grain. But before they left, he snuck their payment back into their grain sacks. When they arrived at home, they tried to explain everything to their father. He was distraught. As they unloaded their donkeys and emptied their sacks, they found the hidden money. Things had gone from bad to worse. Now, when they returned with Benjamin to free Simeon, the ruler of Egypt would accuse them of stealing. No telling what he would do to them! They were in a terrible predicament. In their hearts and minds they knew that their past sinful choices had put them in this horrible situation.
Is there something from your past that is bothering you? We all struggle with guilt at times. It is God’s way of showing us we have gotten off the path He has for us. But if we allow guilt to stay in our minds and hearts, it can cause damage. We need to talk to God about it, then figure out a way to share what took place with the people involved. We may need to ask someone for counsel to help us find the forgiveness we need.