January 14, 2020

Forgiveness is Easier When God Holds You Up

 

INTERESTING FACTS : The Bible is unique in that it has survived over the centuries with very little corruption to the text. Compared to other ancient manuscripts, the Bible is the most accurately preserved text in existence. Most disputes among church scholars and theologians involve the interpretation of the words in the Bible, not the words themselves[1]
 
Daily Reading : [GENESIS 41 - 42]
 
TEXT : Gen 42:8 And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. Gen 42:9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.
 
THEME : MERCY
 
Though the butler forgot Joseph at the end of chapter forty, God did not. Yet, how difficult it must have been for Joseph to be left in prison two more years after he had already been in prison for some time - how long, the Bible does not say. Still, Potiphar imprisoned Joseph wrongly when his wife accused him of trying to rape her. Truth is - it was just the opposite. Daily she tried to seduce him, and when he would not consent, she became angry and falsely accused Joseph. It was a crime he did not commit. Therefore, we learn that life is not just. More accurately, people are not just. Still, God promotes Joseph inside the prison when we read - "But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper." [Gen. 39: 21 - 23] This is how it was when Joseph served Potiphar - all that Potiphar had was in Joseph's hand - and this is how it will be when Joseph serves Pharaoh. Joseph was an honorable man, who obviously knew how to behave himself properly in all circumstances, not just those that pleased him.
 
The Apostle Paul writes similarly about himself when he says - "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. [Php. 4: 11 - 13] True men and women of God serve God no matter what. They are not opportunists as far too many Church leaders are today. Whether it was hard or easy, bitter or sweet, men and women of God throughout the ages knew how to behave themselves before God. This is why God writes about them in the Bible, and this is why we admire and remember them. For the same reason we also emulate them, because they had the Spirit of God.
 
Joseph is a "dreamer." Yet, he is not a dreamer in the sense of how we usually employ the word. He is not a whimsical ideologist, or a man whose has his head filled with vague ambitions or naïve goals. We plainly see how competent, sensible, levelheaded, and useful Joseph is by his continual promotions at the Hand of God. No, Joseph is a dreamer in the Biblical use of the term - the Spirit of God tells him "secrets," and matters concerning the future. This is one way - a primary way, God spoke to the prophets who wrote the Bible. It is a work of God no man can match.
 
How silly and frustrating it is to listen to people come to Church who claim to have dreams from God and "prophesy,"  then immediately go about their lives violating nearly every commandment of God! It is absurd. The prophets of God in the Bible lived in holiness and wisdom. Wisdom and holiness are fruits of the Holy Spirit. God gives these character traits of a true prophet in contrast with false prophets as in Jeremiah's time. God spoke of them when He said - "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you." Then God writes further - "I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart;" [Jer. 25 - 26].
 
Further, it is not that God does not speak any longer through His Spirit in dreams and visions. It is simply that the person who claims to have this gift or attribute will have their life in accord with the nature of God's Spirit, His Word - the Bible, and bare fruit in their spirit as Joseph did. In today's Church, there is no end to the hurt and mischief done in the pulpit and pew from men and women who claim to have a dream or vision God never shared with them. It is all from their deceitful heart.  Jesus and His Apostles warned us about these last days. Both Jesus and the Apostles told us the world and the Church would be filled with misguided and misleading people who promote their dreams above God's true Word!
 
"How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart; Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. [Jer. 23: 26 - 32]
 
TRUTH FOR TODAY : "FORGIVENESS IS EASIER WHEN GOD IS HOLDS YOU UP!"
 
There are two interesting facts about Pharaoh's dreams that we should notice. The first is that God at times will speak prophetically to world leaders that do not know Him. Most times, God speaks only to His prophets.  Yet, we see God show Pharaoh the near future of Egypt just as God showed Nebuchadnezzar the near and distant future of Babylon. Both were world leaders who did not know God.  Next, we see these same leaders need an interpreter and cannot find them among their own "magicians" or "wise men" or "astrologers and sorcerers" [as in Nebuchadnezzar's case]. These worldly sages do not know what God's dreams mean as in the case of Joseph with Pharaoh, and Daniel with Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar.  Yet, when the butler at last remembers Joseph and Pharaoh summons him, Joseph claims he does not have the ability to interpret dreams. He states God alone has that power. There is an identical statement made by Daniel when Nebuchadnezzar calls Daniel to interpret his dreams. ["But as for me, this secret is not revealed to me for any wisdom that I have more than any living, but for their sakes that shall make known the interpretation to the king, and that thou mightest know the thoughts of thy heart. Dan. 2:30] Again, we observe that God controls His own Kingdom and the kingdoms of the world. What encouragement to know this truth! Our God reigns and He needs no help or counsel from man!
 
As the famine comes to pass throughout the world, Joseph is promoted to second in command in Egypt because he correctly interpreted the meaning of God's vision to Pharaoh. Then, Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy food. Here, for the first time, Joseph will meet the men who caused him so much misery and hardship. It is in his power to deny them the food they desperately need, yet he does not do so. He shows them mercy. As we will see, Joseph knows that what his brothers meant for evil because of their hatred for him, God used for good - both Israel's and Joseph's. Such are the ways of God. He causes "all" things to work together for our good and the good of His kingdom. The Apostle Paul "knew" this truth when he wrote - "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Of course, the most important phrase is "His purpose." Still, God is working today as He has throughout history for His purpose and pleasure. Thankfully, we are part of that plan!
 
It is curious to see that Joseph's brothers relate the [initial] rough treatment they receive at the hands of Joseph to "killing" their younger brother thirteen years ago! Certainly, they had committed many other sins during that time. Yet, they immediately remember what they did to Joseph. They recall the anguish of his heart, his cries for mercy, and their refusal to stop their contemptible, disgraceful, and brutal abuse of Joseph. Keep in mind, for years before they threw him in a pit; they never spoke one kind word to him. John Calvin crisply described their specific fearful state of mind in this predicament when he said - "The torture of a bad conscience is the hell of a living soul." Still, Joseph does not repay evil for evil, but spares their lives and eventually receives them into Egypt where he can provide for them and protect them. I suggest when God is in control of your life, forgiveness is easier, since God in us is greater than those who are in the world. God promotes his servants, and that consolation and comfort alone makes showing mercy easier than it is for others without God.
 
Joseph is like our Christ. He treats us kindly though our sins brought Him to a Roman cross. Jesus loved and saved us when we were his enemies. He provides and protects us now; though at one point we would not have Him rule over us or obey His commands. He was our friend, when we used His Name as a sneering, derogatory, and scornful way to express our anger or frustration. In truth, we love Him, because He FIRST loved us![2]  Great is the mercy of God, as opposed to the malice of men.

  • [1] http://bibleresources.bible.com/Bathorty.php
  • [2] "We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also. [1 Jn. 4: 19 - 21]
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