Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” Genesis 42:21
We see God arousing memories in the brothers here, but the awakening of their memory may have begun earlier: “When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, ‘Why do you look at one another?’” (42:1).
Jacob says the word “Egypt!” and the brothers are all looking at each other. “That’s where we sent Joseph! Now the old man, who thinks that Joseph is dead, is sending us there!” So the brothers go, following the same route that would have been taken by the traders.
When they arrive in Egypt, the brothers are thrown into prison. Now memory is really aroused. For no good reason, we threw our brother in a pit, and now, for no good reason, we have been thrown into prison.
Then the brothers said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us” (42:21).
It’s all coming back to them now! God has brought their past actions to mind and their own sins are real and alive and fresh and present. Conscience is awakened! They see what God sees and know what God knows. And Reuben said, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood” (42:22).
Has God been awakening a memory of a wrong that you committed? If so, what will you do with that memory?