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GHOSTS OF THE PAST

A story of Joseph and his unresolved conflicts We all know one of those stories about people that began from zero and reached some high position or riches. I would like now to tell one similar story of a young man that went abroad. While he was abroad, he had to do what every other immigrant usually does, from scrubbing floors and everything else that his boss asked of him. As time passed, that young man has proved himself, and his superior really liked it and has promoted him. And so, very fast he became a manager of his entire organization. After some time, after many thing that have transpired, he has climbed so high on the social ladder that he came to the position of the second man to the president of the most influential country of that time. Maybe so far you have realized that it is a story of Joseph. Joseph was a very successful man, which I believe we could agree on that, because it was a man that started from zero has built so much and God has led him so far and blessed him exceedingly, has came to such a high position. What could have people at that time know about him? They could have known that he is in some high position, that Pharaoh has a complete confidence in him. I dont know how much individual people knew his history, his past. How important was for them his history? The thing they knew about him was only the best. That he is successful, handsome, that he prospered in everything he did and that those in contact with him are being even more blessed. But how important was for himself his past? Those that have later met him have only noticed his virtues, but he was the only one that knew what he was carrying with himself. We are now at the steps of the New Year. We have a chance to turn a new page. An empty page that is ready to be filled. Im sure we have already started thinking what thi ngs we are going to do in the New Year. Im going to change this and that, some new decisions we are going to make. New year surely brings new opportunities, and that can also be an opportunity for us to turn a new, empty page. We all see and know that Joseph received a new, empty page when he arrived to the Egypt. Of course, he was a young man, an immigrant, which against his own will was an immigrant in a foreign, distant land. And that was for him an opportunity for a new start, for an empty page. We could say that he used well that new opportunity to start from scratch with everything. In every aspect he was successful. And as we read 37th chapter of the book of Genesis, and all trough to the end of the 41 st chapter, everything looks so nice in his life, and in some ways, perfect. There were some falls,

but it can be seen that Joseph is in control, and somehow everything goes to better, as God leads him. Again, some falls, but not that of him, but he is again a hero here. And then we arrive to verses that are making us think is it possible that Joseph is carrying something on his back? Lets open the book of Genesis and lets read chapter 41, verses 51 st and 52nd. Reading the text. How do we name our children? I know in my family there was an entire story behind how we choose them, how long were we choosing, the meaning of the names, than how it sounds, and so on. And it tells much about what we expect of our child, but maybe even more how their parents have felt then, and more precisely, in the Josephs case, how he felt. Can we see that something is still smoldering in his heart? Some bitterness, some deep wound that he was carrying with him. He says here that he is grateful to God that he has helped him forget all of his troubles and his entire fathers household. But the interesting thing is that by the mere fact that he has named his sons like that, evidently he has not forgotten, it was still there in his heart. And that starts even more to emerge to the surface, his awareness for the past, when he has met his brothers. And we see that 42nd chapter begins with his encounter with his brothers. Lets read together 42nd chapter verses 6th and 7th. Reading the text. We could say that Joseph here experienced dj vu. As if something was familiar. You know that feeling when you see something that you feel as if you have already experienced it. And really, he has experienced something like that. He has seen brothers that are bowing to him, but he still decided to act. How does a usual family reunion look like, when they have not seen each other for a long time? That long. There is a joy, happiness, screaming, maybe some crying that is a joy, that is a joyful behavior. On the other hand, if you see someone else that hurt you, it cannot just pass by like that without showing your feelings. It will somehow surface. That is, if, we have not tried, over to years, to suppress those feelings. We continue with reading following 7th and 8th verse that are confirming that Joseph had a pretty good idea, and has thought about this possible encounter. Reading the text. Notice that he is repeating that he has recognized them. 9 th verse even says that Then he remembered his dreams about them and immediately continues, and said to them, You are spies! in the same verse. It is as if the writer wants to tell us: because he has remembered them. Because he has already seen them in his dreams how stars are bowing down to him, how sheaves are bowing down to his sheave. He has remembered his dreams! And because he has remembered his dreams, something that we will see later begins. He will try, in a way, to remind his brothers how he has experienced all of that.

Notice that he calls them spies. We will see later why he called them exactly like that. We also see later that everything is somehow carefully planned. All the details, words that he uses are carefully selected. It is as if he has had an opportunity to plan everything that he is going to say. Did Joseph had a time for himself to think about that possible encounter. He had enough time. He had time in that pit where he was. He had time to think as he was scrubbing floors in Pharaohs court. He had enough time while he was sitting in the dungeon. He had time to think. And everything that follows we see that it has connection with that. Joseph decided to show his brothers what was like his entire experience. And maybe it looks like an accusation at the righteous Joseph about whom we got used to listen. But lets look at the following parallels things that he has done to his brothers and things that his brothers did to him. First of all, we have Josephs dreams, about the sheaves that were bowing down to his sheave, about the stars, Sun and Moon that were bowing to him. We also notice the first thing that his brothers did, and many more times after that, they came and bowed to the ground. Not only that, but in many places in 43rd and 44th chapter, they are putting themselves in the position of servant, while calling him the master. And not only that, but how did the sun bowing down to him fulfill? At four places it is mentioned, and they are calling their father our father, a nd your servant. It is amazing how far the similarities were going. Later on, why did Joseph accuse them of being spies? And not once, but three times in these several verses in the 42nd chapter he says: You are spies! You are spies! When we start reading 37th chapter, why did Joseph even come to his brothers, an account says that the father has sent him to see how they are, and to report back. Maybe we think that his intentions were the best. I do not doubt that his intentions were good, but 37th chapter 2nd verse says that he was bringing a bad report about them to his father. In other words, he was a tattletale. He was a spy to his brothers and carried it to the others. In some way, he now wants to show them, that for that thing that he was accused for he now accuses them. He knows for himself that it was not so, the same as he knew that he was not a spy. But we continue. What do we know about the Joseph in relation to his brothers? The Bible says that his brothers could not speak a kind word to him. They could not have talk nicely to him. In what way does the Joseph refer to them? As a person that is in control of everything? That is calm? No! It can be seen that something is smoldering. Also, in the 42nd chapter, 7th verse it says that he spoke harshly to them. And later on after they remind of that account, they say that Joseph spoke harshly to them. Here we also see Joseph how he throws all of his brothers into a dungeon for three days that they also experience a bit what it means to be in that pit. Also, there is one more thing about

the dungeon, when he decides to send one of the brothers (we read in 19 th verse), to remain in the dungeon and others to leave. A familiar picture! He wanted to depict how it looked like when they left one brother in a dungeon, a pit, and that they have left. And in order for the image to be even more striking in their minds, we read in 42nd chapter, 24th verse, what has Joseph decided to do. Reading the text. All those things that are interesting in the narratives, in these stories that we find, in the accounts in the OT is that whenever something is mentioned that is not necessary to the story, very often is the key. Why did Joseph himself had to tie him by himself? He could have simply pointed to the guards to apprehend one of them and put him into a dungeon, but he has decided to do it himself. Why? His brothers took Joseph; first they tied his hands and gave him to the slave merchants. He wanted to remind them of that picture of tying one of his brothers and leading to the dungeon. And further on we see what else he has done. He has packed them the silver when they were leaving two times. Here we even see in the 25th verse that Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each mans silver back in his sack. In Hebrew it says to return them their silver. Back then, silver was a standard currency. But the interesting thing was that they have sold him for 20 silver coins and now he returns them their silver. And not knowingly, they were not even aware, they have left behind them one more brother in slavery, and headed home with the silver that they have given them to sell one more brother. They themselves were at first unaware of what it all meant, but as soon as they have realized that in the inn, they have remembered everything, they were constantly remembered Now we must give an accounting for his blood, that is because we did that to him. Even the brothers h ave remembered of that account. We see that they had a problem of guilty, troubled conscience. But later on when he brought them to his home to accommodate them, they say: Now, now he is going to do something bed to us. We can clearly see the usual reaction when someone is troubled by the conscience. In many instances they admit the guilt. On the other hand, lets look at the Joseph. He has experienced all of those things very emotionally. He was crying very often. And on the end, a third time when we read that he has wept, even Pharaohs household has heard it. We can imagine one man to cry like that, to lose a control, so that everyone hears how he is crying. That was not an ordinary cry, but something that was collecting in him as years and years have passed. And when it blew, he could not stop. Then he was really, in some way, brought out all of those feelings that have accumulated in him. After the last cry, we can see that in a way 45th chapter entire climate is changing. All of the sudden, everyone is hugging each other, kissing, crying together. That is a family atmosphere, the atmosphere of those that were hurt and are together again, the atmosphere of love. But this is some family atmosphere. Up until that moment, everything is very tense.

We can here see Joseph, a man that was successful, but although he was so successful, and has achieved so much, and has married, and had children, he was still carrying a heavy load from the past. Are we also carrying a heavy load of bitterness? Some wound? Some old habit that still hurts us when we remember? What can the bitterness of those old scars do to us? First of all, lets look Josephs case. Bitterness has tore their family apart. Yes, he was sold to the slavery and there a slave cannot do much, he cannot return to his family. But let us not forget, he has become the second most influential person on the world. As soon as he was instated in that position, he immediately went out to visit entire Egypt. No one was following him to see where he would go. He could any moment, without a problem, just go to his father. To say: Father, I am alive. But thorn family relationships, hurt, trauma from his brothers, what they did to him Like a child that was taken away from the parents, even if the parent is not guilty, the Child can experience the reunion with his parent in a very hard way. And how could we even speak about the brothers? All of that was still haunting him. We can see that those old wounds can destroy family relationships. Old wounds and that bitterness can, by time, disrupt the chemical balance in a brain so much, that we can fall deeper and deeper in a depression. Our body, the immune system suffers from that bitterness. Also, many other health problems can occur if not for the relationships themselves. Now that we are at the doorsteps of the New Year, at the beginning of a new, clean sheet, are we going to carry with us the Old Year as well? Those problems, old wounds that have been plaguing us. Are we going to bring with us some sins? Are we going to bring with us some unresolved relationships? We need to face them first, to solve them. I would like now to tell a true story. At the end of the last century, a hospital Minirth Mayer was having live radio broadcasts trough entire week. People were calling. Entire weeks subject was forgiveness. One woman has called in, that was a pastors wife who was very bitter and angry. She described what the problem was. One of the parishioners that was cleaning the church threw away a large quantity of rare organ music that she collected through the years. And all of that sheet music she could no longer acquire. She was very angry and bitter, even though it was unintentional. She knew it was unintentional. But, she said that she could not set herself free from that hatred and bitterness. Then, the host has recommended few steps, few ideas. He said: First of all, you need to forgive yourself. Maybe you could have also done something to prevent to come to that, not to leave the sheet music there, where they could be easily discarded. Second point, a host was urging that she needs to go and face that person that discarded your sheet music and to forgive him.

Third point, you need to forgive God that let this happen. And fourth point, for the next seven days, each day for half an hour, you need to set the time apart for feeling angry and sad, and whatever you need to do, to yell, to cry, to take that hatred out, and after a week, you will feel better and you will be able to continue with your life. That is the final goal, of that forgiveness letting it go, forgive and continue with your own life. Maybe we ask ourselves, why the fourth point? But precisely because we sometimes too easily say to others and convince ourselves that we have forgave, while not having an opportunity to deal with those accumulated feelings. If not, anger can transform into hatred, bitterness to the end of the life. And very often, it is a shorter life, because of that hatred. Unresolved anger also gives a handle to our lives to Satan that he can grip on and tempt us for a long time. For all those years, Joseph did not have a chance to say, to get his feelings out to his brothers. From time to time, he was telling his friends from the jail that he was unjustly sentenced, he has said to others, but not to those people that hurt him so much. Maybe we do not have that problem that we can never meet that person that hurt us that much. Most probably, we can again contact that person. Let us not wait, like Joseph for many years, to reconnect with those people. There is a saying: Bury the hatchet, but leave the handle above ground, which means to forgive only half way, keep the right to later make even the result. But that is only the suppressed anger, the best way for anxiety and depression. When God calls us to forgive, he asks us to bury the entire axe, handle and all that could connect us with that big wound. Only then we can turn a new page on the calendar in our life. May God give us sincerity and courage that we can recognize such cases in our life and courage that we can face that, so that we could continue in the New Year with blessings that God is promising us.