“Judah answered,” Oh, my lord, what can we say to you? How can we explain this? How can we prove our innocence? God is punishing us for our sins. My lord, we have all returned to be your slaves-all of us, not just our brother who had your cup in his sack.” Genesis 44:16
Joseph’s brothers have been carrying around a great deal of guilt for a very long time. They have seen the torment their father went through with the loss of Joseph and they know that losing Benjamin will kill him. They are desperately trying to make things right by offering themselves as slaves just as they sold Joseph into slavery so many years before. We know that in chapter 43: 29-31 that Joseph is overcome with emotion at his first meeting with his brother Benjamin.
“Then Joseph looked at his brother Benjamin, the son of his own mother.”Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about? Joseph asked. “May God be gracious to you, my son.” Then Joseph hurried from the room because he was overcome with emotion for his brother. He went into his private room, where he broke down and wept. After washing his face, he came back out, keeping himself under control. Genesis 43:29-31
I imagine that seeing his brothers offer themselves for Benjamin is another emotional blow for Joseph. Why didn’t his brothers love him as much? Why were they so awful to him and so loving towards Benjamin? This is a story of how guilt, bitterness, and anger can take over and cause us to do things that are irrational and desperate. All of these things happen when we choose to follow our own selfish desires and allow the wrong emotions to take over rather than follow God and what he has for us.
Following God and his path for us will never lead us astray. Following ourselves, however, carries the burden of guilt, regret, anger, bitterness, and deep sadness.
This is another example of why the Old Testament is a powerful example to use in our lives. These ancient stories are not wasted. God has a purpose for every word written in his book. My prayer is that we use the examples God has given us and apply them to our lives.
Gracious God, I pray today that You soften our hearts to Your word. I pray that as we read the lines of Your love story to us we apply it to our lives. We know that Your word is living and active on our lives and I pray we use it for Your glory in our lives. In Jesus Name, Amen.