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Good Morning.

Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth. (Genesis 42:6)

Considering his insight and wisdom, it must have occurred to Joseph that, one day, members of his family would show up to purchase grain. Perhaps this is one of the reasons he instituted policies that forced all to come to him. So, did he plan for this encounter, and if so, did he also rehearse how he would handle the situation when they showed up? On the day that ten road-weary brothers from Canaan showed up in his courtroom, he recognized them immediately. They did not recognize him, however, because in dress, name, language and function, as far as they were concerned, he was an Egyptian.

The Bible says that Joseph acted like a stranger to them and spoke roughly with them, obviously to test them. “What was their relationship with their father?” “How did they feel about their younger brother seeing he was the son of their father’s other wife?” “How did they feel about their lost brother?” It should be be pointed out here that, at this point, only ten of his brothers were there to bow before him and in the dream, there were eleven. He could not — and did not — reveal his identity at this point. They had to be tested more.

And so this brings us to ask the question, “Is it alright to test those who have injured and betrayed us?” Is it appropriate to conceal certain things from people when we don’t know their heart and true motivation? Apparently, not only is it appropriate but advised. Consider what Moses told the children of Israel: 

“The Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger…” (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)

God put His people to test in order to see what was in their heart. In fact, the word translated as “hunger” is the same Hebrew word for “famine.” He used famine to test what was in their heart. Joseph, more or less, did the same thing where his brothers were concerned. He did not orchestrate a situation designed to cause failure on their part but to reveal what was truly in their heart. Therefore, it would seem that we are not obligated to put ourselves in a situation to be betrayed AGAIN by those we know to have betrayed us before. If you know that a snake might bite you, then act accordingly.

Yet, at the same time, we must always be ready to extend mercy and forgive those who have harmed us. We must always allow for a path that leads to redemption and restoration for those who have earned our distrust. This is the example given to us in Scripture and we, who are also in need of mercy and forgiveness, must be ever ready to grant others a pardon. Remember, unless we are willing to forgive others of their sin, our sins won’t be forgiven (Mark 11:26). 

Blessings and Shalom,  




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