“Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts” (Book of Common Prayer).
Read GENESIS 42:25–38
25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.”
Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”
29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’
33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’”
35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”
37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”
38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Your sins will find you out!
Skeletons have a disconcerting habit of falling out of closets. As sure as day, an ill-advised decision, an act of deception, a cruel maneuver may be concealed for a while, but sooner or later it will spill out. For all that the ten brothers have tried to get on with their lives, they were never able to forget Joseph. A plot hatched in hatred and
opportunity, covered by untruths, reaped consequences they never could have foreseen. Joseph’s absence must have seemed even more disturbing than his presence as their grieving father Jacob clung inconsolably to Benjamin, his next dear son, “the only one left” (38).
However, the specter of Joseph, who allegedly “is no more” (13,32), refuses to stay buried beneath lies and distraction and activity. Although he may have not been named in years, the gut-wrenching cries for mercy they once refused to hear have haunted their quieter moments. Now as they themselves beg for relief and are treated with harshness, the tables are turned and the truth will come out. Perhaps repeated mention of their
youngest darling brother calls up unwelcome parallels with the one they discarded so brutally. Protesting their innocence, awaiting their fate in prison, leaving a brother in Egypt where years before Joseph had been bound, puzzled by the payment of silver found returned in their grain: all these accumulate until the unspoken guilt and recrimination and regret overflow.
All of us carry memories of deeds for which we feel ashamed. In our families and friendships, communities and churches we may be facing complex situations where disclosure could either bring immeasurable damage or the green shoots of reconciliation and healing. May our gracious God from whom no secrets are hidden grant genuine repentance and forgiveness, wisdom and clarity, and renewal!
Like Jacob, what situation seems hopeless in your life at the moment? From this chapter, what will you keep in mind as you face the situation in hope?
Gracious God, from whom no secrets are hidden, grant genuine repentance and forgiveness, wisdom, clarity and renewal! Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!