Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Humanity in Sin Part 51: Joseph's Brothers Returned Home

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 20th April 2008 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 42:25-38

In Joseph’s wisdom, he demanded his brothers to bring along Benjamin the next time they came along to prove that they had not lied to him. He kept one of his half-brothers, Simeon, in Egypt. Joseph also ordered his men to put back all the money in their sacks. The brothers were afraid when they found their money and quickly returned home. All their fears were because they were haunted by their past guilt.

When they returned, there were only 9 of them. So they had no choice but to tell the father the whole truth. Jacob was deeply saddened. When they told him that they had mentioned about Benjamin before the ruler of Egypt who required them to bring Benjamin over, Jacob was really troubled. He would not want to release this one because he had lost Joseph. He said if Benjamin was taken he would be brought to the grave (seoul) in sorrow.

When Jacob was young, he was so intelligent. But when he grew old, he could not handle his household problems. His life was dramatic, very different from Isaac. All kinds of tragedies happened to Jacob. His sons ganged up and did very wicked things. He felt he was at the mercy of his 10 sons.

Jacob was determined not to let Benjamin go, but Joseph was determined to see him. Gradually as their food supply was exhausted, they had to go again. Reuben said to let him bring Benjamin along and if he could not bring him back, he would sacrifice his two sons. There was so much distrust between Jacob and his sons that Reuben had to put his sons to the line to assure Jacob that he would take care of Benjamin’s safety. Jacob had no choice but to release Benjamin.

Nobody could oppose God and He would hold us accountable. We cannot do whatever we want and think we can escape from God. Whatever we do in the past would become our bondage in the future. We cannot interfere in the sovereignty of God. He would bless whomever He wills. We should not be jealous when God has special grace on certain people.

The brothers bowed down to him when they saw him. God’s revelation through Joseph’s dream were now fulfilled. God would raise anyone He wills, no matter how men are against it. Blessed are those who fear God from the beginning. They would try to avoid unnecessary mistakes. Their lives would not be constrained by jealousy.

There are three great characters of Joseph. Firstly, he never succumbed to the crowd. He did not partake in the sins of his brothers and of the world. He held on to his holy living. We need to honor such a person.

Secondly, he never grumbled when he suffered unjustly. He paid the price for living a holy life. He was attacked by his brothers, sold as a slave, and imprisoned unjustly. But he submitted to God and continued to be a testimony through his faithfulness.

Finally, when his enemies bowed down to him, he did not take the chance to revenge. He encouraged others for their good and did not count the evil deeds his brothers committed against him. The Bible recorded 3 times that the brothers hated Joseph and once that they were jealous of him. But Joseph had no hatred in his heart. He was willing to understand and to forgive others.

Through the life of Joseph, we see the sovereign will of God controlling all things in the midst of human decadence. He is a shining example for all generation.


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