Uncovered Guilt

Genesis 44:14-24

14Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”

16“What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.” 17But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

18Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

21“Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.

Second Chance

Somewhere on the other side of the globe, one law that favors inmates has polarized reactions. The law offers inmates who have shown reformation during confinement an opportunity to get out of prison earlier than their sentence.

Relatives and friends of victims reacted with sadness. It’s hard for them to accept that the person who murdered their love ones will be released from jail.

If your love ones were abused and killed, can you easily approve offenders to be released from prison, even if a law gives second chance to offenders who have shown remorse and reformation? The instinct of mankind is revenge.

Tooth for tooth, eye for eye is an attitude that wants to seek justice.

The Lord said in Matthew 5:38-48, 38“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ 39But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

43“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

God’s commands always oppose human instinct, why? They are designed to distinguish which attitude is godly and worldly. It takes godly effort to perfectly obey them. God’s standard is perfection. To turn the other cheek, love enemy or go another mile in the perfect standard of God can be done, not with our human effort, (we learned that) but only when we let Christ performs as Lord in our life.

It has been suggested that the lifestyle of Joseph represents a lifestyle for believers but harsh treatment to Judah and his brothers seems like it’s opposite of lifestyle acceptable to God. Are you concerned of which lifestyle is godly and which lifestyle is worldly? As far as God is concerned, behaviors He allows are perfectly instrumental for the accomplishment of His good purposes.

Previously, Joseph ordered his steward to return the money they paid for the grain and to put the silver cup in the luggage of Benjamin. The brothers were told to go home, but later, Joseph instructed his steward to go after them.

Judah and his brothers were shocked when steward accused them of a crime. They’re confident of their innocence but when they opened their luggage, the silver cup of Joseph was found in the sack of Benjamin. They returned to Egypt, bowed down and prostrated themselves before Joseph.

1. Prostrate

14Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”

The brothers bowed down and prostrated themselves to the ground in fear which was the exact opposite of their cruel and harsh behavior toward Joseph when they sold him as slave. They haven’t recognized Joseph, just yet.

It’s wise not to show hostility in foreign land. They appealed for mercy.

Joseph was still in his house because he expected them to return sooner. As wise ruler, he may have sent a company (maybe 100 soldiers). Judah and his brothers or merchants who traveled with them would not dare to make unwise resistance against a company of armed soldiers.

The soldiers that accompanied Joseph’s steward when they went after the brothers may have driven chariots or horses. The brothers may have donkeys but can’t outrun the horses of the Egyptians. Did God make the brothers think it’s better to become slaves rather than die? With God, nothing is impossible!

When we (believers) actively practice our faith in Christ, there will always be people who are hostile to us. Why? Persecution toward God’s people exhibits the reality of spiritual warfare. If you have an enemy or somebody who tries to make your life difficult, what do you normally pray for?

King David appealed to God’s faithful love in Psalm 109:26-31, 26Lord my God, help me. Save me because of your faithful love. 27Lord, let my enemies know that you yourself have saved me. You have done it with your own hand. 28They may curse me. But may you bless me. May those who attack me be put to shame. But may I be filled with joy. 29May those who bring charges against me be clothed with dishonor. May they be wrapped in shame as if it were a coat. 30With my mouth I will continually praise the Lord. I will praise him when all his people gather for worship. 31He stands ready to help those who need it. He saves them from those who are ready to sentence them to death.

King David never lost any battle. What’s his secret? He was very prayerful. He had good advisers but he made it sure that he prayed first before he decided. David eloquently expressed his thought in words, probably, to help the next generation read and learn how to express prayers and praise to God.

Are you gifted communicator like David? If not, listen! We sense in our heart what we want to say but we just can’t find the right word to express them. Praise God! We are blessed because the Holy Spirit helps us speak to the Lord.

It says in Romans 8:26-28, 26The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

How do you normally appeal for God’s mercy? How do you gesture when you plead for God’s grace? Do you kneel, bow down, prostrate, or stand with hands upward? Have you ever tried coming to the altar on bended knees like some devotees who would show remorse or pleading for God’s grace?

Why does a loving God want remorse and humility when seeking grace?

Good purpose! Judah and his brothers did not commit any crime in Egypt, yet, they were harshly treated. The harsh treatment may have reminded them of the fulfillment of Joseph’s dreams after he revealed himself. Previously, they were cruel toward Joseph, although he did nothing wrong to them. They still sold him.

Possibly, Joseph may have already planned to bring the entire family of his father to Egypt. Why? The famine was very severe, and it lingered for few more years. Harsh treatment to his brothers has good purposes. It could be precaution for them that he’s the ruler they will respect when they come to live in Egypt.

It also helped them admit that God uncovered their guilt and admitted that their lifestyle was ungodly. They had come to their senses, eventually. Trouble followed them even after they brought Benjamin as proof of their innocence.

2. Prove

16“What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.” 17But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

Judah has leadership personality. It was obvious when he admitted they can’t prove their innocence. They did their best effort but it’s not enough. A good leader admits limitation. When Judah said that God has uncovered their guilt, was he thinking of their cruelty toward Joseph? Did Joseph interpret it that way?

Joseph directed a strategy or scheme to accuse and convict Judah and his brothers, of a crime they did not commit. It’s a tragic manipulation but essential and instrumental for Judah and his brothers to accept that the Lord uncovered their guilt. What was the guilt that they were talking about?

The Lord may have reminded Judah when they were not merciful. They wanted to kill Joseph. Joseph pleaded for his life but they ignored him. They just wanted him to be vanished from their sight, so, they sold him. They believed that God uncovered their guilt, and they were remorseful. Such remorseful attitude was crucial for them to behave properly when they came to stay in Egypt.

After such nerve-racking and stressful drama, Judah, his brothers, their father and their family members came to live in Egypt for many years.

Later, Pharaoh told Joseph to bring all his family and relatives to Egypt. Why? How confident Pharaoh was that Joseph’s relatives will behave properly?

700 wives, 300 Concubines

Many Christian parents wish their children will marry genuine believers because they expect believer spouses to behave properly. They may have learned from the experiences of King Solomon with his wives.

It says in 1 Kings 11:1-6, 1King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter–Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3He had 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines, and his wives led him astray. 4As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done.

King Solomon was considered as the wisest king. He loved foreign women and married women from nations that God commanded not to intermarry. Did he exemplify that even wise people can be foolish when human instinct prevail?

The practical side of it was political, how? Solomon’s foreign wives were daughters of kings, and they would not attack Israel for obvious reason.

At first, Solomon’s intention may have been to secure peace in Israel. That was noble but his spiritual life was sacrificed. People may do whatever it takes for the sake of many or love ones. Their purpose is noble but if their strategy is illegal, such service or sacrifice will eventually result to disgrace.

Mass Shooter

Government officials have been active recently on social media in search of potential mass shooters. Mass shooters who belonged to extremist ideology groups want to annihilate people with different ideologies or beliefs.

The previous behavior Apostle Paul toward the church was similar to such attitude of people who would use extreme strategy to advance their cause.

Apostle Paul testified in Galatians 1:13-16, 13For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. 14I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. 15But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles.

If someone wants to hurt you physically or emotionally, if a person malign, slander or gossip falsely to destroy your reputation, pray that God would reveal the Lord Jesus to them. Or, share the good news, the word of God to them.

The Lord Jesus said in John 12:48, 48There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.

When you share God’s word, and instead of responding positively, people would resist or try to vilify or slander you, don’t bother much. Their response exhibits what they will face on the end times. May God pardon them!

3. Pardon

18Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’

21“Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.

Why did Judah ask Joseph to pardon him when he explained and reminded Joseph of their earlier encounter? Judah declared that Joseph had equal authority like that of Pharaoh’s. He acknowledged that nobody can resist orders from Joseph. So, to remind Joseph of their earlier encounter, it implies forgetfulness, an insult to a ruler. Judah precluded punishment for his boldness.

Judah prevented an idea that he was blatant on insulting a ruler, and that was why he asked to be pardoned for his boldness to express himself. Moreover, Joseph did not ask him to explain anything. When Judah regarded themselves as servants, he may have appealed for considerations beneficial to Joseph. Instead of death penalty, they can be servants to Joseph. Would Joseph trust them?

Joseph told them that only Benjamin will become his slave, why?

Did Joseph want them to remind them that similar incident happened when they sold him as slave? Did Joseph want to test Judah and his brothers if he can trust them or still have animosity toward him? Benjamin was their half-brother like Joseph. So, if they don’t care much about Benjamin, Joseph can practically prove that Judah and his brothers have not changed yet.

It’s been long years the last time they saw Joseph. They were scared so they cannot recognize him. Joseph had not introduced himself, just yet. When they spoke to each other, it’s like a normal conversation between strangers, most particularly between a ruler and a guilty foreigner, to be more specific.

Nonetheless, Judah and his brothers were remorseful not because they committed a crime in Egypt but because the Lord reminded them of their cruelty. They felt guilty. They may have sensed that the Lord was punishing them for their cruelty toward Joseph when they were still living together in Canaan.

Joseph was excited when he told them about his dreams but his brothers did not like the idea that he will become greater than them. Can you easily rejoice when your brother or sister become more successful than you?

Excel

A gifted young person excelled in his academics. He always received citation during graduation, and his siblings were indignant. Later in his life, this gifted young person was influenced by bad characters. He failed in his studies. He observed that his siblings became more indignant toward him.

He concluded that if his sibling cannot appreciate his success and ignores him when he needed their support, can he expect differently from others?

It says in Romans 12:15-19, 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

When your sport’s team is winning, it is easy to rejoice. But, to rejoice with the winner if your team lost the game, has it become very easy for you?

Well, if it was easy, then God doesn’t bother to command us, right?

Joseph’s harsh treatment toward his brothers may have been viewed as revenge. What do you think? Joseph was ruler of Egypt. He acted as tough ruler. If there were Egyptians spying about his way of administering justice, they were warned. Later in the story, we will find out that Joseph can’t control himself any longer so that he revealed himself as their brother they sold as slave.

That’s would a future topic!

For now, let us ask God to take all guilt feeling caused by our wickedness.

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