Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Humanity in Sin Part 50: The Famine

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 13th April 2008 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 42

It is hard to transit from prosperity into poverty. But sufferings will trigger us to think about the meaning of life. We also learn to enjoy life more after we have gone through sufferings.

In Egypt, after 7 years of abundance, 7 years of famine came. How many of us will prepare ourselves for the days of sufferings? When we are in safety, we need to think about crisis. The entire land around Egypt was affected. But God had prepared Joseph to become their prophet and lord. Pharaoh was not the real ruler over Egypt, Joseph was. Pharaoh did not have the wisdom to deal with the famine. It was Joseph that had the wisdom to rule over Egypt.

God said to Israel to seek after His face and His favor. But few people are looking for that. People look for status, fame and their own interest. Joseph did not graduate from any great school. His wisdom came from his fear of the Lord. This is greater than Socrates’ statement that knowing oneself is the beginning of wisdom.

Jacob asked his sons to go to Egypt to buy food but refused to let Benjamin come along. He loved Rachel so he especially loved the sons of Rachel. He was afraid of losing another son.

Joseph immediately knew the 10 men were his brothers as he had a sensitive heart. He wanted to know whether his father and brother were still alive. So he devised a strategy to find that out. He accused the brothers as spies. They immediately defended themselves, saying that they were honest men, they had one father, and two other brothers. One was at home and another one was no more. Joseph was so moved that he went out to cry. None of the brothers could recognize him. They would never have imagined that a slave could become a ruler. The ways of God far surpass men’s ways. No matter how lowly a person is despised, God could raise the person up. We should not be afraid that others would look down on us. We should only be afraid that we depart from God’s ways.

Joseph did not want to let his brothers go because he still wanted to find out other things. When jailed, the brothers began to speak to each other in their own language. They started to talk about how they sold Joseph off in the past and believed that they were punished because of their great sin. But God used the event to save the Israelites. Through sufferings, Joseph became an important person in history of mankind. It showed that the power of God surpasses the power of politicians.

May we learn to see the hand of God when we encounter the things we do not welcome naturally. The Bible says God works through all things for the good of those who love Him. We should not fear whatever sufferings we encounter, but should go through all sufferings with a heart that fears God and loves God.


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