SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Twenty years have passed since Joseph was thrown into the pit by his brothers. He's now become the second most powerful man in Egypt.
- There is a worldwide famine taking place. As a result, Egypt has become the soup kitchen of the world. People from all over are coming to Egypt to buy grain - including Joseph's brothers.
- The brothers do not recognize Joseph, though he recognizes them.
- Joseph sets out an elaborate plan to reveal his new self (which we will read more of in the coming chapters).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Forgiveness is more powerful than revenge. We'll see this played out more in the chapters ahead, but realize that this moment was a perfect time for Joseph to get even with his brothers. This was an ideal time to exact some revenge. He could have denied them food, enslaved them, imprisoned them long-term, or executed them. Instead, he puts them through a series of tests. Maybe this was because he wanted to know whether they had changed, or were they the same guys who threw him in the pit 20 years earlier. He had already forgiven them, but could he be reconciled to them?
- Unresolved guilt can plague us for a lifetime. Notice that they blamed their current suffering on what they had done to Joseph years earlier. Evidently they had been carrying that guilt around their entire lives.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Who could you forgive today? Who has hurt you in the past that you've never let off the hook? Have you considered how freeing it would be to you to offer forgiveness? What is one step you could take today to offer forgiveness to someone? Write a letter? Make a phone call?
- Is there any sin in your life - from your past or more currently - that you have been carrying around with you? Would you confess it to God and others that were perhaps hurt by it? 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Claim the freedom that God wants to give you so twenty years later you're not still carrying it around like Joseph's brothers.