“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God. Believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place a for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am there you may be also.” John 14:1-3 New American Standard Bible
Although the sons of Jacob may have expected a quick journey home, they found themselves mired in a political scandal that left them confused and afraid. The second most powerful authority in Egypt had accused them of spying. The formidable official had condemned Jacob’s sons for surveillance of possible weaknesses in Egypt’s borders and defenses.
Stunned, a specter from the past filled the brothers eyes, and with it the sound of their brother Joseph pleading with them, begging them for mercy, washed over them like the Nile when it flooded. For a moment the brothers were swept along with the flooding memories. They were sinking beneath the guilt of 17 years, filled with fear that one day they would be found out, one day God was going to rain down on them the destruction they deserved for what they had done to Joseph.
Joseph heard every word the men said, and overcome with emotion hurried from the room. When he had regained control he returned to the room and ordered his brothers bound, and thrown in prison for three seemingly endless days. The charge: spying on Egypt, seeking to discover any weakness that could be exploited against the kingdom where Joseph now ruled with the Pharaoh. Of course, the brothers had no way of knowing Joseph was the powerful man sitting on the throne. They were terrified, and well they should be, spying was a Capital Crime that resulted in a sentence of death.
“They said to one another, ‘ No doubt we deserve to be punished because of our brother, whose suffering we saw; for when he pleaded with us we refused to listen. That is why these sufferings have come upon us.’ ” Genesis 42:21 The New English Bible
Each of us can probably think of something we never want known. We don’t even want anyone to know this “something” ever existed, or that we could have been involved with (fill in the blank) __________! There are times when it stills haunts our dreams, making us cringe in shame, full of fear it might one day be found out. The fear of retribution is a strong motivator, as is embarrassment and humiliation, and our own need to know we are not who we once were.
Joseph needed to know his brothers were not who they had been, and so did the brothers! Very likely the subject of Joseph and that fateful day were never spoken about. These men had never had an opportunity for confession and to seek forgiveness, to come to their father that the father/son relationship could develop. Instead, the connection between father and sons suffered a slow and painful death. The brothers could not look at each other without being reminded of the day they had decided to be “God,” determining the fate of another human being.
Just as suddenly as they were thrown in prison, three days later they were released for their journey home. That is, all except Simeon, who was bound and returned to prison to await his brothers return. Simeon had most likely figured that was not going to happen, since his brothers already had what they needed. He knew there was no way Jacob would allow Benjamin out of his sight, let alone send the boy to Egypt. Simeon was sure he would either be executed, or spend the rest of his life in prison.
“When they stopped for the night, one of them opened his sack to give fodder to his ass, and there he saw his silver at the top of his sack. He said to his brothers,’My silver has been returned to me, and it is here in my pack.’ Bewildered and trembling, they said to each other, ‘What is this that God has done to us?’ ” Genesis 42:26-28 The New English Bible
Later, as the brothers made camp for the night, they discovered to their horror their money was in the bags with the grain they had purchased. Why God, why? Wasn’t sending Simeon to his death enough? Did God want all their lives to atone for the life of one? How could they face their father? What were they supposed to tell him? How could they explain? Was the past to rise up from the grave, violating what passed for relationship in their family? Would they never be free from Joseph, or were they to pay forever for what they knew must have been the death of their brother?
That journey home had to be filled with pain, fear, guilt, accusations, and recriminations as 17 years of self-condemnation and shame erupted from hearts and minds infected with the poison of betrayal, the knowledge of what they had done to their brother. Rather than protect and care for him they had destroyed him, and with that destruction began a process tainting every thing and every relationship that entered their lives.
The enemy primes mankind to immediately blame God for everything entering our lives that causes us pain, especially if it is the result of choices we have made. “What is this that God has done to us?” The brothers picture of God was a lie!
What if God is sheltering us from consequences so horrendous we would be crushed by the weight? What if only a little spatter of the consequences was allowed to touch our lives? In reality, we have no idea of what God is protecting or allowing in our lives. What we know is stuff happens, and God tells us He has plans. He tells us He is always with us. He promises He never leaves us, that He never forsakes us. And with all those promises, bad stuff still happens to those who belong to God, because we live in a world ruled by an enemy, one who longs to see you and me destroyed. He wants to see us turn our backs on God. The book of Job spells it out pretty well.
We, too, are on a journey home, like those brothers of Joseph, those sons of Jacob. Our Father already knows more about us than we will ever know. He sees into the deepest darkest recesses of our hearts and minds. He removes our defective, disease riddled hearts. He replaces those with hearts that make us sons and daughters after His own Heart. And just as He replaces that heart so full of the disease that is sin, so He does the same with our minds, giving us minds that seek His Grace and the process of becoming all He longs to make us. As long as we are here in this world, there will be “good days, bad days, and going half mad days.” All of it is part of the Journey Home.
Our Journey Home began in a Garden with a promise made to two people who had just made the worst choice ever in the history of mankind. Our journey home was begun in a garden two-thousand years ago, when Holy God made the most amazing choice for man ever made in the history of mankind.
The Journey Home, our journey home, was guaranteed, signed, sealed, and delivered when a man uttered the words, “It is finished!” The Journey Home, our journey home, is secure, because Jesus conquered death and the enemy, taking back what was His.
The Journey Home is our journey home. Jesus is coming to take us home. How do I know? He promised there is a room for me in His Fathers Home, and there is a room for you, if you want one!
“My Father’s home is designed to accommodate all of you. If there were not room for everyone, I would have told you that. I am going to make arrangements for your arrival.” John 14:2 The Voice
Note: Lyrics from “If The Phone Doesn’t Ring It’s Me” by Jimmy Buffet