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I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live.
In our technological age, data-collecting software can track our every move. Our web surfing, purchasing habits, movie streaming, and cellphone locations all create a picture of who we are when (seemingly) no one is looking.
Our text today offers us a similar picture of the true attitude of Joseph’s brothers when they thought they were unobserved. With a famine in the land, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food. When they arrived, Joseph recognized them—but the brothers did not recognize Joseph, now an Egyptian overlord. Scripture says that Joseph “spoke harshly to them” (v. 7), accusing them four times of being spies. The brothers protested, explaining that they were sons of one man and that their younger brother was back home. In turn, Joseph demanded to see this younger brother as proof, throwing them all into prison for three days, then retaining Simeon and sending the others away.
It might appear that Joseph was being vindictive toward his brothers, but he was testing their attitudes and desire for reconciliation. Joseph’s heart was actually soft toward his brothers. He wept when he heard their private con- versation, and he returned their money in their sacks when they departed. Revealing his identity too quickly would have provoked their pleas for mercy but not necessarily repentance.
Joseph’s treatment of the brothers helped to prick their consciences. Seeing their own lives in jeopardy, they were reminded of the way they had treated Joseph: “Surely we are being punished because of our brother” (v. 21). Indeed, the difficulty of the situation brought a change in the brothers’ hearts. They were no longer indignant and murderous but humble and repentant. Most importantly, with their genuine confession, true reconciliation and healing would now be possible.
Apply the Word
Find time this week to allow the Holy Spirit to conduct an honest and thorough examination of your life—both in relationship to God and to others. As the Spirit identifies your sin, write it down. Once done, confess that list to God, then throw the paper away, rejoicing in your forgiveness.
Pray with Us
Ask God to help the Audience Development team—Parker Hathaway, Janis Backing, Zack Williamson, Michele Forrider, and Richard Knox—increase Moody Publishers’ outreach, “expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:13).