Sunday, June 29, 2008

Humanity in Sin Part 54: Joseph Made Himself Known

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev. Dr. Stephen Tong on 11th May 2008 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.
Passage: Genesis 45
In this passage, we see how God’s purpose unfolded and we are moved to realize that everything that happened, He allowed for good reason. Like music, we need time and space to understand life. We need time to appreciate the art of time. We need space to appreciate the art of space. But an impulsive person is not able to listen patiently.

Do we know God will lead us and teach us? We are often too anxious and impatient, so we grumble against God when we go through difficulties in our lives. Joseph never grumbled against God. In the entire process, he patiently waited upon the Lord. He suffered great injustice and encountered difficulties that most people could not bear, but he stood firm in his faith.

Joseph never harbored hatred against those who did evil against him. This is an example for us to follow. We cannot fulfill any great things with hatred. God would allow injustices to come. All these things should not result in us treating others with evil motives. If we can understand the spirituality behind these statements, we will become a channel of God’s grace to many people. The bigger our heart is, the more the blessings of God will flow through our lives. The narrower our heart is, the more obstacles there will be.

He put his silver cup in the bag of his blood brother, Benjamin. When he summoned Benjamin, all his brothers were distressed. Judah stood up for Benjamin and offered to take the penalty for Benjamin. After Judah’s words, Joseph could not bear it anymore. He asked all the Egyptians to leave, and cried in front of his brothers. He kept asking them about his father. His brothers were so terrified at his presence that they could not respond.

Joseph told his brothers not to be distressed by what they had done, as it was to save lives that God sent him there. He was very reformed. He knew God as the Sovereign One who planned all things throughout history. However people try to harm us, God’s grace will be sufficient for us. We should see the God’s sovereignty is greater than the will of men. But if we shift our focus towards others’ attack, we are foolish and are carrying a cross that has no reward. We should not partake in whatever that is against God’s will, no matter how others treat us. The plans of men might not come true, but God’s purpose will surely come to pass. Further, we should not be troubled if those who seek to harm us are those who have no part in our upbringing, who have no credit in bringing us where we are today.

Joseph was able to see God’s hand in all that happened and he had a very gracious heart towards those who harmed him. This is very Christ-like. He asked the brothers to go back and bring his father to Egypt. They returned home and told the father that Joseph was still alive. Initially Jacob found it hard to believe as he had been deceived by his sons all his life. But he was finally convinced that it was for real. He was deeply overjoyed and wanted to see Joseph before he died.


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