Sin Will Find You Out
The Sting of Being Caught
This section provides detailed conversation between Joseph, his brothers and his brothers and Jacob. The tragedy of the brothers’ treatment of Joseph now catches up with them. Little did they realize how difficult it would be for them. Isn’t that the way it is with us when sins’ consequences catch up with us?
Joseph was raised up to #2 in the land of Egypt. Because of his correct interpretations of Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph was designated to prepare all of Egypt for the famine to come. The extent was such that not only Egypt but Canaan and the surrounding regions were affected as well.
Thus when Jacob sends his sons (except Benjamin) to Egypt, little did they know that their journey to Egypt would fulfill the dreams of Joseph that he shared with his brothers. Nevertheless the “reunion” would be drawn out for them. Anguish would best describe their experiences as they have to make mulitple trips to Egypt, each one more miserable than the previous one.
Joseph knows who they are. His broken heart at seeing them is masked by his hard treatment of them. He desires to see his full brother, Benjamin. And he wants his other brothers to face what they did. His words begin the work on his brothers:
Then they said to one another, “Truly we are guilty concerning our brother, because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore this distress has come upon us.”
Reuben answered them, saying, “Did I not tell you, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Now comes the reckoning for his blood.” (Gen. 42:21-22)
Simeon was kept in Egypt as a guarantee that they would bring Bejamin back with them. If they thought that was the worst, they soon discovered the money that Joseph had his men put back into their bags, meaning they would look like thieves. And the agony of Jacob increases their own burden.
Their father Jacob said to them, “You have abereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all these things are against me.” (42:36)
And note how Jacob dismisses the other sons:
But Jacob said, “My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he alone is left.”
Almost as if Joseph and Benjamin are the only “real sons” (the two sons of his beloved Rachel). So the anguish multiplies for the brothers. They also have lost Joseph, Simeon, and now may lose Benjamin.
Finally Jacob sends Benjamin with the brothers to Egypt, for they need to buy more grain because of the famine. Even that does not solve the dilemma. For once Bejamin comes, then he is held so that Jacob may also come to Egypt.
At this point Judah steps forward as the spokesman for the brothers when Joseph confronts them.
So Judah said, “What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; behold, we are my lord’s slaves, both we and the one in whose possession the cup has been found.” (Gen. 44:16)
Joseph still holds out on them. So Judah continues with the complete confession of what they had done (44:18-31). But even more Judah steps into the place of Benjamin.
Your servant became accountable to my father for the boy, saying, ‘If I do not return him to you, I will always bear the guilt for sinning against you, my father.’ Now please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave, in place of the boy. Let him go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father without the boy? I could not bear to see the grief that would overwhelm my father.” (Gen. 44:32-34 NET)
Later Moses addresses what these brothers had to endure.
But if you do not do this, then look, you will have sinned against the LORD. And know that your sin will find you out. (Num. 32:23 NET)
In some ways this is an uncomfortable text to read. While we might wish to be Joseph, in reality we are much more like his brothers. Or at least I am, if I am honest. Let me slip and slid and avoid the guilt of my sin.
Confession and Forgiveness
To be under the pressure of their guilt, the brothers suffered greatly. Keep in mind that each trip to Egypt is not a 3-4 hour car drive. They had days, and nights, multiplied as they reflected regretted, struggled, and tried to wiggle out with much damage.
That describes me more than I want to admit. “If only…” becomes not just a front or excuse, but a last ditch effort to avoid confronting my sin. Thankfully, the brothers are finally brought to the breaking point, and their confession (through Judah’s words). Words of reconciliation are coming for them, comforting words.
The Apostle John wrote about that in the life of the church.
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 NAS)
I am so glad that each worship service we hear these words (or equivalent words). It reminds us that as we gather “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (our Baptizing God), we do so by confessing our sins. We may be like the brothers and hide, run away from, or downplay our sin. But thankfully, God does not let us get by with that.
And God’s word to us when we confess? “I forgive your sins.” Then we can worship in truth and purity through faith in Jesus Christ.