Guilty Conscience

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Genesis 41-42, Matthew 12:1-23


So they prepared to do this. 21 The brothers said to each other, “We are clearly guilty for what we did to our brother when we saw his life in danger and when he begged us for mercy, but we didn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this danger now.”

22 Reuben responded to them, “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t do anything wrong to the boy’? But you wouldn’t listen. So now this is payback for his death.” 23 They didn’t know that Joseph was listening to them because they were using an interpreter. 24 He stepped away from them and wept. When he returned, he spoke with them again. Then he took Simeon from them and tied him up in front of them (Genesis 42:20b-24, Common English Bible).

When I read this part of the story, it always gets me. That old saying, “Time heals all wounds,” well. it just isn’t true. This story is evidence that there are some things we just can’t get past, regardless of how much time may have past since our infraction occurred.

It was a while in coming. We really don’t know how long but we do know it was more than seven years. From the day the brothers sold Joseph to a Midianite trader until the day of today’s lesson, more than seven years had gone by.

We know Midianite traders bought Joseph from his brothers but we don’t know how long the Midianite traders held him captive. We know Joseph ended up in the house of Potiphar, who held Joseph in high esteem. We don’t know how long Joseph was held captive before Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him and Joseph was sent to prison. We don’t know how long Joseph was in prison before he was brought to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and he was released. We do know that after Joseph’s release from prison that there were seven years of plenty and that was followed by seven years of famine. We also know that sometime during the seven years of famine, Joseph’s brothers showed up to buy food, but again we don’t know when they actually showed up. It might have been in the second year or the fifth.

My point with all that is, a significant period of time had passed before the sons of Israel made their way onto the scene in Egypt. I really think we can pretty safely assume ten years or more. When trouble comes there way, where to do their minds go? Their guilty conscience shows up as they once again (probably not for the first time) remember what they did to Joseph and they know they are guilty. They don’t even know it is Joseph and yet they say, ““We are clearly guilty for what we did to our brother when we saw his life in danger and when he begged us for mercy, but we didn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this danger now.”

Time will come for the guilty parties to face up to what they had done, but this was not yet the time. So why did they go there? When I read verse 21, their guilty consciences show. When we commit a serious wrong, few of us can just put it behind us forever. At some point, at least for most of us, we can’t quite get over what we did to someone else. It is time to confess our sin and cleanse that guilty conscience.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

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