Then Joseph said to them the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God." (Gen 42:18)
Typically, a ruler might say something like, 'Do this and live, for you should fear me.' Joseph says something quite different, and along the way throws us into a bit of a question. What does he mean that he fears God? Is it the fear of something that we call a phobia, that strong desire to run out of the room? That is part of it. After the sin of disobeying God, Adam felt that very thing and hid himself from God. He was afraid of the One he formerly walked with in the cool of the evening in the Garden of Eden. Indeed, fear of the Lord is at least partly this same fear for us, for we are born of the line of Adam and live in his fear. Joseph seems to have something else going as well.
His response to his brothers speaks of answering to someone in authority. Joseph says that they should obey him because he is answerable to the Lord. Do this and live because I am responsible to the Lord and recognize the opportunity to help the Lord's people. But is that all? No, in another way Joseph assures them that he too knows God and wants to do what is right by Him. We might say something like, "I too am a Christian" when in a similar position to help, but for some reason don't want to come right out and tell them our name. Except that it doesn't seem quite the same, does it?
People ran up to Jesus all the time with questions and needs. It just seems that we wouldn't do that with God. Jesus truly is the bridge from us to the Father across that great divide. One day, it won't be like that anymore. We will come to the Father as He makes His home with us. For now though, fear of God is that trembling in the knees and a desire to run and hide; it is also that respect that makes us want to do well under His authority and do the right thing to please Him. Fear of God can help us to stay on the straight and narrow way as we make our way with Jesus back to Him.Happy Monday in Christ!