Read Genesis 42:1-38
“So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground” (v. 6).
He threw them into prison for three days. Caught completely off guard, when Joseph saw his brothers, he didn’t know what to do, how to act, what to say, so he did what came naturally. He pretended he didn’t know them and “spoke harshly to them” (v. 7). Reacting on impulse, Joseph at once made unreachable demands and threw his 10 brothers into prison.
How many of us have done the same? How many times have we acted on impulse when faced with a mountain we simply have no idea how to climb? Joseph’s mountain lay directly in front of him, in the form of the 10 older brothers whose crimes against him initiated his 13 years of bondage. It was a mountain he had figured he’d already climbed. After all, he named his firstborn son “Forget” declaring that God had allowed him to forget “all (his) trouble and all (his) father’s household” (41:51). Still, there sat Joseph, his forgotten perpetrators prostrate before him ready to do whatever he demanded, as long as he granted them the food he controlled.
It took him three days to realize the absurdity of his demands. Three days it took for Joseph to remember who it was that he feared. Whose plan it was that he trusted.
“On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God . . .” (v. 18).
That’s when grace stepped in and changed the story. God turned Joseph’s unconquerable mountain of forgiving his brothers into a helicopter ride to the top when Joseph took the time to remember the Lord God, the One he served. And Joseph decided to let the faithful, compassionate, full-of-grace God deal with his brothers. We see it in his reaction to their discussion about him, a conversation they had no idea he understood (v. 24). We find it in the provisions he gave them for their long journey home (v. 25). We even see it in his shrewd dealings with them, cautious to trust them entirely.
It’s a story only God could write. A story of undeserved grace and forgiveness for the most shameful wrongdoing. It’s the kind of compassion and mercy that can only come from God. When we let God’s grace step in and forgive, we find ourselves climbing mountains of mercy we had no idea even existed.