This devotional is based on Genesis 42-45
As foreseen in the dreams of the Pharaoh, famine came upon Egypt with a vengeance. Thanks to God, however, who sent such a timely warning, Egypt had enough food for themselves, and they even had enough to share with other civilizations.
Jacob had no choice but to send his oldest sons to get food from Egypt. He didn’t send Benjamin because he was afraid that Joseph’s brother would end up like Joseph, and there was no way he would want Rachel’s only remaining son to be harmed.
When the brothers arrived in Egypt, they didn’t recognize Joseph. They bowed to him, just like in Joseph’s dream.
Joseph needed to know if his brothers had changed. He had to test them, and to do so, he accused them of being spies.
“No way!” They said.
He asked about their father and their siblings, and when they admitted to having another brother back home, Joseph demanded that he be brought to Egypt. In order to ensure this would happen, he kept one of the other brothers in an Egyptian prison while the rest returned for their Benjamin.
Now the real test would come for these brothers. Had they changed?
When they got home they found that the silver coins they had given Joseph in payment for the grain were in the top of their grain sacks. They panicked. What would Egypt think about this? They didn’t know what to do. In addition, Jacob refused to allow Benjamin to return with them to Egypt…
Unfortunately for them, the food once again became scarce. They had no choice but to return to Egypt for food. Jacob was in tears. What would happen if Benjamin never came back? With reluctance, he placed his youngest son in the care of his older brothers and sent them back to Egypt. They also took double the silver to give to the ruler!
The men received the food, but the day they left Egypt, Joseph’s silver cup went missing. Unfortunately for Benjamin, it was found in his sack, and now he would have to remain in Egypt as Joseph’s slave. It was then that the older brothers showed how they had changed. Judah came and begged that Benjamin be freed, even offering to take Benjamin’s place. He told Joseph that Jacob would die if he never saw his youngest son again.
Joseph could no longer retain his tears. Finally he admitted to them: “I am Joseph!”
His brothers were amazed.
He called his brothers and told them that he forgave them: “It wasn’t you who sent me here but God.” Joseph had forgiven them a long time prior to this incident. His only purpose for the tests was to know if he could trust them. Fortunately they had changed from the vindictive brothers they had once been to men who cared about others.
The brothers embraced Joseph. Though the family had been dysfunctional in the past, they were now united. They had seen the light.
Without forgiveness we will stay dysfunctional; but forgiveness changes everything.
In 1981 Pope John Paul 2 was riding in an open car when Mehmet shot him 4 times. The pope was seriously hurt. He was brought immediately in the hospital, and he almost died. Two years later, the pope visited Mehmet and told him he was forgiven. He even shook his hand, the same hand that had shot him.
Will you forgive those who have hurt you? You can be freed from past wrongs. Our Father can make you free. Joseph’s brothers were in prison in their minds. Forgiveness opened the doors wide open, and this family became functional again.
Hope is on the horizon. Grab it and enjoy!
(To access the entire “Hope in the Distance” devotional series, please click here.)