by Tad Lindley
Last week we left Joseph (still undercover and speaking through an interpreter) and his 11 brothers having a feast. If you have not read last week’s column, please go back and read that before reading this week’s.
Joe goes full creep
The brothers and Joseph enjoy their meal together. They still believe that he is completely unrelated to them. He looks, acts, and speaks only Egyptian. Instead of telling them the truth, he continues to play them. And so after they eat, the brothers get ready to head back to Israel with the grain they have purchased. There’s a catch though, Joseph has instructed his grain sack packers to hide his silver cup in the youngest brother, Benjamin’s, sack.
Lights in the rear view mirror
The brothers are on the road north for Israel when they look back and see the troopers coming up fast behind them. They pull their donkeys over to the side of the road. The head trooper walks up, “Where’s the Prime Minister’s silver cup? After he fed you so well you had the audacity to steal from him!” Of course the brothers are puzzled, but as the troopers are searching their bags, sure enough they find the “stolen” silver cup in Benjamin’s bag.
Benjamin in handcuffs
Not willing to abandon their youngest brother, the other 10 head back to Egypt with him. Joseph pronounces the verdict: Benjamin will stay and become a servant in Egypt and the other brothers are free to go. But Judah asks to speak privately to Joseph and he offers his own life if Benjamin can go free. At this point the hardness crumbles within Joseph.
Joseph reveals himself
Quickly Joseph orders all of the Egyptians out of the room, even his interpreter. No sooner are they out, then he erupts with loud weeping. We all know exactly what is happening, but Joseph’s brothers are scared, because all they see is the Prime Minister having an emotional breakdown before their very eyes. Now Joseph begins to speak, and they are very confused, because this man that they thought could only speak Egyptian is suddenly speaking their native tongue, Hebrew. “I am Joseph, your brother!” Imagine their fear when they realize that this man who has been playing mind games with them is in fact their brother whom they sold into slavery so many years ago.
Sold became sent
What they could not see is that in only a matter of moments something had changed in Joseph’s heart. He is released from his resentment and ready to face the truth and move forward. He says to them these incredible words, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life…and God did send me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Genesis 45:5,7) Suddenly he steps out of his victimization and embraces his victory. He quit focusing on the fact they did a great evil toward him, and realized that he served an even greater God that could take the tragedy of his betrayal and turn it into an absolute miracle of deliverance for the twelve tribes of Israel. If Joseph had never been sold into slavery, all of them would have starved to death in the famine. The brothers sold him, but God sent him!
The power of forgiveness
Until Joseph entered into this place of forgiveness, he was a troubled man playing mind games trying to exact vengeance. But once he forgave them (and I would add that they probably did not deserve his forgiveness) the mental manipulation quit, and Joseph was set free from the pain of his past. If you are reading this and find similarities between yourself and Joseph, you too can be free from your anguish through the power of forgiveness. If you seek the Lord, Jesus will help you to turn your sold into a sent!
Reverend Tad Lindley is a minister at the United Pentecostal Church in Bethel, Alaska.