Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him. Genesis 45:14-15
There are numerous examples of brothers fighting on opposite sides during the American Civil War. In some battles they even actively fought against one another, though often without realizing it until weeks after the engagement.
The Bible also contains stories of brothers betraying one another. The story of Joseph is perhaps the most famous. Joseph’s father Jacob had twelve children by his two wives and two concubines. Joseph’s mother Rachel was Jacob’s true love, and as a result, Joseph and his younger brother Benjamin, also Rachel’s son, held a special place in his heart. However, some of Joseph’s older brothers were jealous because Jacob loved Joseph most and showered him with gifts, including an “ornate robe,” a “technicolor dreamcoat.” Joseph’s older brothers also resented him because God had given Joseph dreams and the gift of interpreting them.
One particular dream, which foretold future events in all their lives, especially angered Joseph’s brothers as it depicted them bowing down to him. As a result, they schemed to kill him, but instead they sold him to slave traders and showed Jacob Joseph’s blood-soaked robe to convince him Joseph had been mauled to death by a wild animal. Joseph eventually became a slave in Egypt where, despite being the victim of lies and deceit, and spending years in prison, he ultimately rose to become Pharaoh’s most trusted advisor. He was put in charge of the daily affairs of the country. From the depths of undeserved imprisonment to the glories of worldly riches and power, Joseph never quit trusting God.
Joseph utilized the wisdom God gave him to interpret a dream Pharaoh had about the coming of a devastating famine. Joseph mitigated its impact by order- ing that vast quantities of grain be stored in the years leading up to it. As a result, residents throughout the region, including some of Joseph’s brothers from Canaan, came to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph recognized his brothers. The ones who sold him into slavery in Egypt, where he rotted in jail for years on trumped-up charges.
But Joseph forgave his brothers because he never lost sight of the truth that God was in charge even when he couldn’t understand why God was allowing events to occur.
PONDER: Are you willing to keep your eyes on God in order that he’ll empower you to reconcile even the most painful broken relationship?
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A Brand Plucked from the Fire
Over 250 years ago, Shanthini’s fifth generation grandmother met a German missionary in South India during a near-death experience that emerged from her family’s cultural and religious customs. She had grown up in the Hindu tradition, where parents and whole communities practiced child marriages.
She was married as an infant to a little boy just two years older than she. But he became ill and died at just eight years old. She was widowed at six and was obligated to carry out the ritual of Sati, the act of self-immolation by a widow in observance of the goddess Sati. In Sati the widow jumps into her husband’s funeral pyre and is burned to death alongside his body.
In an effort to prevent her from becoming a victim of her family’s cultural and religious practices, her brother pleaded with a German missionary to rescue her. A man named Reverend Frederick Schwartz, who had developed a reputation among the Indian people for being wise and kind, agreed. Schwartz had dedicated his life to learning the language and the culture, spending forty-eight years living in South India. His decision to protect this little girl would put his own life in jeopardy, but the circumstances and timing of his arrival in her village were more than coincidental.
The day before the Sati, her brother led her away from the house under the pretext that he was taking her to the outhouse. Instead, he brought her to Schwartz and gave Schwartz the freedom to raise her in the Christian faith.
Reverend Schwartz fostered Shanthini’s fifth generation grandmother in an orphanage that he built in Tanjore, and he taught her how to read the Bible, which he had translated into Tamil. Her story of redemption has been passed on from generation to generation in Shanthini’s family and produced countless men and women who have served God faithfully in ministry.
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