The Cloud of Witnesses
Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible
Lesson 7: Joseph – The Brotherly Encounter
The Brotherly Encounter
It had to happen. God had orchestrated the drought and it would be as severe in Canaan as in Egypt. Sooner or later, Jacob and his family would be drawn into Egypt. Just as water is sucked over a waterfall.
Joseph’s brothers arrived weary, anxious and timid. They were only on a buying trip but it was in a foreign land with strange customs, and by the very nature of the situation, they were on the defensive. They needed help and they needed it desperately.
However, they were only the surface problems – what we often call the presenting problems. There were deeper issues that were haunting them. They had effectively murdered their brother without remorse. They had lied to their father whom they were watching deteriorate by the month. All joy and laughter had left them and in its place guilt, like a cancer, was destroying them.
That issue was far worse than any shortage of food. They needed to be forgiven and yet had nowhere to turn to receive it. They couldn’t ask Joseph – he was as good as dead. And Jacob was in no position to help – he was grieving too deeply.
The future was bleak indeed, and on top of that, they were now desperate for food.
God is into both forgiveness and reconciliation. We look at the drought and consider it a debilitating trial. God saw it as a means to reconciliation, joy and blessing. That’s why God says our thoughts are not like His thoughts nor are our ways His ways. We see things from a selfish perspective – He sees things globally and with a perspective of eternity.
The brothers had to bow before Joseph. He recognised at once who they were, but they didn’t have a clue. Guilt blinds us to the truth. It makes us afraid of the very truth which will set us free. Joseph was able to ‘play’ with them. He spoke in Egyptian and they in Hebrew. But he could, of course, understand their conversation. When Reuben chided the other brothers on their treatment of Joseph being the reason for their current discomfort – Joseph turned and wept.
What love he still held for them. He could have had them executed there and then with one wink or movement of a finger, and all the injustice of the past made good. However, Joseph chose the better way. He chose the way of grace, forgiveness and love. A hard choice -but a much softer way to live and it produces a much brighter future.
Joseph could hold his head high while his brothers were stooped in shame. No bitterness held Joseph captive; he was free to love and forgive – it is the way of the Master – Jesus.
Joseph would say to us today...
Don’t harbour bitterness – it doesn’t affect the one you are bitter at – it just ruins your own life. Let it go because the price on you is far too great.
Father, help me keep short accounts. Short accounts with You and short accounts with my family, friends and workmates. Lord, guard me from bitterness, envy and strife and help me forgive others, as I need to be forgiven. Amen.
Obadiah; Luke 15:11-32; Matthew 18:21-35; Matthew 6:9-15.
What are the reasons we become bitter?
Why does bitterness do us more harm than the person we are bitter about?
How do we ‘let go’ of bitterness?