Have you ever received something that was too good to be true?
This week, we have seen how the governor of Egypt twice tested his brothers: first to see if they would still be jealous when one of their own was shown special favor, and second to see if they would stand up for their own brother when he was unjustly singled out for punishment. They passed both tests, and today the governor will reveal that he is in fact Joseph, their brother! It’s too good to be true! Their brother is alive! And not just alive, he has become the most powerful man in the free world! This should be a cause for rejoicing! But is it?
Please read Genesis 45:1-3.
Joseph is so overcome with emotion when he sees how Judah has stood up for Benjamin. Perhaps he wishes that Judah had stood up like that for him when he was young, or perhaps he is just happy to see Judah’s new heart. Either way, he cannot help but reveal himself to his brothers at this point. He is so filled with joy that his joyous weeping can be heard by the entire household. Yet, when his brothers realize who he is, they aren’t happy to see him—they are dismayed.
The word “dismayed” or “troubled” is not really a strong enough translation. The Hebrew carries the force of “terrified.” They are horrified to learn that this governor, whom they feared before, is in fact their long lost brother. Instead of celebrating with him, now they fear him even more! They know that this brother has reason to hate them; they know what they did to him. Now he is in a position of such power he can have them executed with a word! And they know that they deserve it.
Their brother is rejoicing, but they can’t join him in his celebration, because they have guilty consciences.
When you know that you have wronged someone, and you have yet to seek their forgiveness, it creates a barrier between you and them. We see this in our marriages and other relationships: one person has hurt the other, and a fight has broken out. The offended party refuses to reach out to the other because they are so angry, and the guilty party refuses to reach out because they are ashamed of their guilt. If one of them doesn't seek reconciliation, the marriage will eventually fizzle out. Even if they stay together, they can no longer celebrate with each other.
A guilty conscience can be a terrible thing. That’s why God encourages us to seek out reconciliation as soon as possible. He warns that, even if we are in the middle of worshipping God, as soon as we remember an offense against a brother, we must stop what we are doing and seek that brother out so that we can ask their forgiveness. We can't let anything stop us from pursuing reconciliation. If we fail to reconcile, we will be left like Joseph's brothers: terrified and unable to join in the rejoicing.
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