Monday, March 15, 2010
How Much Did He Know?
When we went home last Tuesday, Simeon was still in prison. He'd been there for quite some time. Let me refresh your memory. A few years into the famine, Israel realized that he needed outside help to feed his ever-expanding family. He sent ten of his eleven living sons to buy food from Egypt. But when they arrived, the man in charge didn't believe that they were simply purchasing sustenance, but accused them of spying on his land. So he threw all of them in prison for three days, then released them with food as well as the money they had paid for the food, keeping Simeon in prison as surety that they would return with the one brother they claimed had stayed at home.
Fearing that they would all be once again accused of spying, especially because of their returned money, the brothers stretched their sustenance until it was obvious that they would starve if they didn't go and get more food. Judah actually tells his father that if they hadn't been afraid of this man's response to seeing them again, they could have gone to Egypt and back twice.
So how long had it been since they were in Egypt? Three months? Six months? A year? I am not sure, but it had been quite a while. And all this time, Simeon had been sitting in prison, waiting for his brothers to return. I am sure he worried about his family. I am sure he wondered how long it would take for his brothers to return? Why hadn't they grabbed Benjamin and returned immediately for him? Would they ever come back?
After thinking through those options, I can imagine that his mind then turned to his own life. Prison has a way of giving you the time to review the choices of your life. Did he regret his slaughter of the men of Shechem? Did he think that possibly God was punishing him for his violence by separating him from his family and forgetting about him in prison? Did his mind wander even further back to the incident with his baby brother and the Midianite traders?
Now, there is one other possibility for Simeon and his prison time. Was he thrown into the general population, or did he go to the King's prison? Again, I don't have an answer for that, but I would think that the men in both those prisons were aware of the rags to riches story of the foreign slave who now was running the country. Did Simeon hear the story? Did he commiserate with a fellow prisoner, claiming to be innocent (prisons are filled with innocent people, by the way) and blaming the paranoid imagination of the man in charge for his incarceration? Would he have heard the story of this leader, of his claim of false accusations, his ability to interpret dreams and his rise to power? Did he look at this ruler with curious eyes? Did his mind ever wander to the Dreamer?
And wouldn't you have liked to have been a fly on the wall when the brothers arrived back in Egypt and were ushered into Joseph's personal quarters, a feast placed before them? They sat according to birth order, except one seat was empty. Then the door opened and Simeon was ushered in, the first time he had been out of prison, unshackled, and placed in the empty seat. What were his first words to his brothers? Did he thank them for returning? Did he run to Benjamin and thank him for coming? Did he ask of his wife and children, or of his aged father? Or did he shake his head in disgust and sit quietly, waiting for the brothers to explain why they had left him for so long?
Tomorrow is a big day for Joseph's brothers. Their lives will be forever changed. Yeah, they are going to move their families and will be revered because of their brother's influence. That's not what I am talking about. It's going to be a big day in our study because the brothers are going to be washed with forgiveness, so unexpectedly that they struggle to accept it. As a matter of fact, it takes them seventeen years to come to terms with it. Seventeen years. Wow.
Questions for you: Do you struggle to accept God's forgiveness? Do you live with a fear that He'll still get even with you for your sin? Do you serve Him and worship Him out of a desire to please Him to earn His forgiveness? Can you not wrap your mind around the fact that Jesus took responsibility for your sin and gave His perfect record to you?
Seventeen years the brothers lived in the prosperity of Joseph's forgiveness without understanding the depth of that act. Wasted time, in my opinion. Their lack of faith had to hinder their relationship with their brother. So today, I am curious if a lack of faith is hindering your relationship with the Lord, based on the extent of His forgiveness.
Do me a favor and think about it.
See you in the morning!