ADVERTISING
 
Friday, February 22   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
Bible literacy
How often do you read the Bible?







SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Michael Gowen
 

Joseph’s brothers – Guilt

The Bible gives us some very interesting insight into the minds of those who have committed a serious crime.

FAITHFUL UNDER PRESSURE AUTHOR Michael Gowen 07 JULY 2017 19:00 h GMT+1
Photo: Jan Erick Waider (Unsplash, CC)

Recently Britain was reminded of one of its darkest episodes of the 1960s, with the death of Ian Brady, labelled ‘the moors murderer’.



Over a two-year period he and his girlfriend Myra Hindley picked up five young people, tortured them, sexually abused them, killed them and buried their remains on moorland outside Manchester.



Neither Hindley nor Brady was struck down by a thunderbolt nor was stricken by some excruciatingly painful disease. Both died in prison of natural causes, she 15 years ago and he recently, at the age of 79. Yet for the families of their victims, the pain of their loss continues, and will never go away until their dying day.



One is tempted to ask, Is there really justice in this world? The simple answer is, Yes, sometimes – but even then it is not always as we would want or expect it to be. Maybe there is a more pertinent question: Is there justice? The answer to that is a resounding Yes: for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).



When we consider how justice applies to distressing cases such as the moors murderers, it is important to realise that we only know a small part of the story. They did receive punishment, the deprivation of their liberty for the remainder of their lives. We know that this weighed heavily on them: Hindley made strenuous efforts towards the end of her life be released from prison, and Brady went to court in order to be allowed to starve himself to death. That is only a part of the overall picture, though. We do not know how they felt when they were quiet and on their own. We do not know whether dreams troubled them, whether horrors came into their mind in the hours of darkness, whether the cries of their victims tortured them as they did the jury members who heard them played at their trial. And we never will know.



The Bible gives us some very interesting insight into the minds of those who have committed a serious crime. It comes in an unexpected place, in the story of Joseph’s brothers in Genesis 42. Twenty years earlier they had plotted to kill their step-brother because they were jealous of their father’s favour towards him (you can read about this in Genesis 37). At the last minute they decided to sell him to a gang of slave traders and lie to their father that he had been killed by wild animals. As far as they were concerned, he probably wouldn't live very long. Little did they know!



Twenty years after their crime they presented themselves before the governor of Egypt to plead with him to buy grain and so stave off starvation. They had no idea that this governor was their own step-brother, Joseph; and they had no idea that he could understand every word that they were saying, because he was using an interpreter. Joseph gave them a hard time and set conditions: they could have the grain, but they must leave one of their number behind in prison and he would only be released if they came back and brought with them their youngest brother, Joseph’s only full brother, Benjamin.



Their reaction to this apparent harshness is very enlightening. They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that's why this distress has come upon us.” Reuben vividly remembered that fateful day twenty years earlier: “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn't listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood” (Genesis 42:21-22).



For twenty years this guilt for their brother’s supposed death had eaten into them. Probably not a week went by without one of them being tormented by what they had done, yet they could tell nobody. When everything starts to go wrong, this is the first thing that comes into their mind. Yet from the outside, you would have thought that everything was fine with them. It is not at all clear whether every murderer has these pangs of conscience; they probably would not tell other people if they did. What is clear is that “anyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and no murder has eternal life in him” (1 John 3:15). Murder, and hatred, drains true, Spirit life from us. It delivers us into the hands of the devil and his forces, for he has been a murderer from the very beginning (John 8:44).



There are probably few of you reading this who will have been involved in a murder; but many of you will have known, and perhaps still do know, what it is to hate. Many others of you will have things in your past that torment you, things that you feel guilty for, things which perhaps you have been unable to tell anybody else. Perhaps, like Joseph’s brothers, the guilt of the past has eaten into you for many years. What can you do about it?



Thankfully, God has given us a way of escape from this guilt. It is called forgiveness. If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:8-9). We have a choice: either we try to explain away things from our past, maybe blaming others or God, or pretending things are OK really – and then we become prey to lies and deception. Or we confess our sins and find not only the joy and freedom of forgiveness, but also the wonder of being purified.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Joseph’s brothers – Guilt
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’ ‘Small churches, big potential for transformation’

Photos of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance’s annual gathering “Idea 2019”, in Murcia. Politicians and church leaders discussed about the role of minorities in society.

 
Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities

Christians rallied in Sofia on November 18 to defend their rights. It is the second Sunday of peaceful demonstrations against a new religion draft law that could severely restrict religious freedom and rights of minority faith confessions.

 
Photos: #WalkForFreedom Photos: #WalkForFreedom

Abolitionists marched through 400 cities in 51 countries. Pictures from Valencia (Spain), October 20.

 
Photos: Reaching people with disabilities Photos: Reaching people with disabilities

Seminars, an arts exhibition, discussion and testimonies. The European Disability Network met in Tallinn.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Christians in Venezuela: Citizens and children of God Christians in Venezuela: Citizens and children of God

Prayer, truth, dialogue between the parties and justice are some of the actions of the Church in Venezuela.

 
10,000 signatures ask for action to release Nigerian Christian Leah Sharibu 10,000 signatures ask for action to release Nigerian Christian Leah Sharibu

After one year in captivity, “the least we can do is to stand with her, to protest and to pray until we see her released”, says Mervyn Thomas of Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

 
Lindsay Brown: 3 challenges for the church today Lindsay Brown: 3 challenges for the church today

In an interview, Lindsay Brown analyses three challenges for the church in Europe and elsewhere and how they can be turned into opportunities for the gospel.

 
Can science explain everything? Can science explain everything?

A debate about science and faith between Oxford Emeritus Professor of Mathematics John Lennox and Oxford Emeritus Professor in Chemistry Peter Atkins. Moderated by journalist Justin Brierley.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.