Then they said to one another, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.” And Reuben answered them, saying, “Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.” (Genesis 42:21-22)
The Bible tells us that, in order to force the brothers to bring Benjamin with them on a return trip, he kept Simeon imprisoned until such time as they returned with their younger brother. (Tradition teaches that it was Simeon who first suggested killing Joseph). This, along with being accused of being spies, prompted them to consider that, after all these years, they were now paying for the sins committed against Joseph.
Presumably, they were speaking to one another in Hebrew, unaware of the fact that the governor of Egypt understood every word they were saying. Throughout their verbal exchange, Joseph had spoken to them through an interpreter in order to conceal his true identity from them. In this way he was able to learn many things from his frightened brothers, including the fact that Reuben had tried to save him then and, now, all of them greatly regretted the cruelty committed against their brother.
We’ve heard it all our lives but the Bible bares this truth out again and again — our sins will find us out (Numbers 32:23). In fact, the Hebrew understanding of that concept is that our sins will pursue us and overtake us. There are consequences that can’t be avoided when a sin is committed and if the transgressor doesn’t take action to rectify the situation — in other words repent and make restitution — that sin will find us at the most inopportune time and demand recompense.
Thankfully, as followers of the Messiah, we don’t have to live in fear of retribution — not if we have confessed our sins to Him and asked Him for a pardon. We understand that He has already paid the penalty for our transgressions past and present. As for the future, while we believe that He has paid the penalty for those sins as well, we cannot assume that we can do as we wish without consequence; eventually deliberate actions we know to be wrong will come back to bite us. So, let us not live in such a way that we must rely upon “greasy grace” as they say. Let us live in such a way that says we are thankful for His forgiveness and are determined not to make those same mistakes again so that we may live in God’s favor and blessing.
Blessings and Shalom,