Keywords: causes, conscience, expectations, fear, guilt
42:28b. Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”
These brothers made a colossal error. Now, in trying to take care of their responsibilities, something has gone terribly wrong. Immediately they credit the first cause to God. Is it because they believe He is sovereign and controls all things? Or is it because their conscience still bothers them regarding their error?
The rest of the story shows they were still convicted of what they had done years before to Joseph. This is the power of a guilty conscience. They were fearful of His wrath and saw all bad things coming from Him in vengeance.
I wonder if this is behind the fears that many people have today. Terrible storms and disastrous weather are “acts of God” but not sunshine, flowers, birds, and life. These are a product of evolution (lest they have to be thankful?).
A person who sins is so expecting punishment that everything bad that happens is God getting even.
Perhaps this is why grace is first so hard to accept, but then when it happens and is obvious, it is more powerful than wrath.
I recall the time I tried a different tactic with HR always coming home late for supper because he had to stop for a beer or two before he came. Instead of nagging, I said nothing. Instead of wrath, I unknowingly offered grace. The nagging had not worked but I was amazed that grace did; after one time, he never did it again.
Those who expect wrath see it in everything and they cannot see grace. They must experience grace before they can understand that God is a god of mercy as well as wrath. From this story of Joseph and all of Scripture, clearly He would rather show us grace than take revenge on our sin. He did that to Jesus who bore it so we don’t have to. Wow!
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