Advertisements

Tag Archives: Salvation

Joseph Reveals Himself To His Brothers

“Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.” (Genesis 45:1)

The moment of reconciliation. It is to this end that all of the actions of the preceding four chapters have been leading. It staggers the mind to think of the lengths that God has gone to in order for this very moment to come to pass; this point of reconciliation between the sons of Jacob wherein Joseph once again takes his place among them. We are reminded as we look back over the space of more than 20 years at Joseph’s dream, a dream where his eleven brothers bowed down before him (Gen. 37:5-7), that God truly does see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Yet would we even begin to imagine all of the things which God brought to pass in order to make this happen? Would someone entirely unfamiliar with this account of the life of Joseph even begin to guess what would transpire in fulfillment of the prophetic dream?

Nevertheless, we know that God did these things for one end: to bring the sons of Jacob back together in the safety of the land of Egypt. All that has been leading up to this moment — the testing, the accusations of espionage and theft, the threat of placing Benjamin into slavery — were done to bring the brothers to this point in time. Do we not greatly underestimate what God will do in order to bring people to the place where He wants them?
The reconciliation between the brothers and Joseph is a portrait of the sinner’s reconciliation to Christ. All of the moments of fear, trepidation, anxiety, guilt, confusion, and frustration which the sons of Jacob experienced during their dealings with this enigmatic “governor of Egypt” are hallmarks of many of our own experiences when Christ was drawing us to Himself. Some roads longer than others, all of us were brought through moments of emotional pain, struggle and inner turmoil until we reached the point when our hearts were ready and the Lord Jesus revealed Himself to us.
It is worth noting that before the actual moment of reconciliation begins, Joseph sends every other person out of the room. “Cause every man to go out from me“, he cries. It seems to be our practice as Evangelicals to want those making an initial decision to come to Christ to go to the front of the church and announce their decision in front of everybody. But isn’t this most crucial moment in a person’s life really between them and the Lord? Sometimes we act as though their conversion is only validated by a showy presentation in front of the entire congregation. “They must confess Christ with their mouth and not be ashamed of Him”, we explain (as though there will not be time enough for public proclamation later). There isn’t anything necessarily wrong with giving an altar call, but we do well to respect what is going on at the moment between them and God. Seldom do we really know everything that has been going on in the person’s life which has brought them to this point. We do not know all that the Spirit of God has been doing in their heart in order to prepare them for the Lord Jesus Christ to reveal Himself to them and reconcile them to Himself.
Joseph’s steward and many of his other servants played a part leading up to this moment, yet when the time came, Joseph sent them all out of the room. It was just the brothers and Joseph. Why? Because the moment of reconciliation was just between them. Many of us will play a role in bringing others to Christ, but perhaps we are mistaken in insisting that we be there at the actual moment when the person is reconciled to God. Maybe our Lord is politely sending us from the room for a moment so that He might rejoice in private with that person, just as Joseph did when his brothers were reconciled to him.To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published November 9, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Advertisements

Joseph Accepts His Brothers’ Presents

“And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.” (Genesis 43:26)

There is something very striking about Joseph’s dealings with his brothers that might be easily overlooked. After their first journey into Egypt, as the brothers are returning home, they are startled to discover that the money which they gave to pay for their grain had been returned to them (Gen. 43:21). After the second trip, Joseph again orders that their money be discreetly restored unto them: commanding that it be secretly placed back in their sacks, as had been done the first time (Gen. 44:1). Twice the brothers attempted to pay for the food they received and twice the money was returned to them. They even tried to give double the price after the first visit and their money was not accepted (Gen. 43:23).

Yet we are told that at the urging of their father, Jacob, the brothers brought a present to give to Joseph on their second visit, and the present was received. Oh, the present wasn’t really much: a little balm, a little honey, some spices, myrrh, nuts, and almonds. But we know that it was from the best fruits the brothers had to offer (Gen. 43:11). Joseph would not accept payment for the food that he had provided to his brothers, but he would accept a freely given gift.
Continuing with our look at Joseph as a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, we see another wonderful similarity in this. As Joseph would not accept any payment for the food that he provided to his brothers, neither will our Lord accept payment from us for the Bread of Life which He provides. Our money, our possessions, our good works, our acts of righteousness are all unacceptable currency for securing for us the gift of Eternal Life that Jesus offers. There is absolutely nothing which we can use to purchase Eternal Life because it was paid for by His own blood. But a gift — a present freely offered to the Lord out of our gratitude — that He will accept. God will honor that which we bring to Him voluntarily from our own best fruits.

Corn In Egypt

“And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.” (Genesis 42:2)

Chapter 41 of Genesis ends by telling us how severe the famine affecting Egypt, Canaan, and all the surrounding nations became. “All countries came into Egypt to Joseph“, Verse 57 says, “…because that the famine was so sore in all lands.” Chapter 42 opens with Jacob’s response upon learning that there is food available in Egypt. In his response, we see four factors which mirror the steps a person takes in coming to Christ:

Recognizing Our Need

The first, and possibly the most crucial step, is recognizing our need for Christ. Before anything else, Jacob needed to be aware of his hunger or he would never make any effort to fill it. Before a sinner can repent and come to the Lord Jesus Christ, he must realize that what he has called his spiritual food is unsatisfying and emaciating. As a small child is tempted to fill their bellies with nothing but candy and sweets, so are many people contented to try to meet their spiritual nutritional needs by consuming whatever pleases their own tastes, starving all the while. Jesus said that He is the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35), but until a person knows that they have need of this Bread in order to live, they will not come to Him. If Jacob and his sons had remained satisfied eating the old and rotting scraps and fragments of leftovers they had at home, they would never have gone to where the food was.

Knowing Where The Food Is Not

“Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?” (Genesis 42:1)
It is amazing the places people will look in an effort to find the answers to their problems. Rather than looking to God, most people are busy looking to one another for the answers. Every couple of years a new spiritual “guru” will emerge and write a bestselling book that promises to enlighten anyone who reads it. There is no God, is their repeated mantra, the answers lie within yourself. But looking to another human being for spiritual food is about as productive as the starving sons of Jacob looking to one another for something to eat.

Knowing Where the Food Is

“And [Jacob] said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt…” (Genesis 42:2a)
Jacob heard where to find food. Sri Lankan evangelist D.T. Niles is quoted as having said, “Evangelism is just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread”; and that is exactly what we are doing when we share the Gospel Message. For apart from Christ we are all starving to death, the only difference is when we know where to go to find food.

Going To Where the Food Is

“And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.” (Genesis 42:3)
The key word in this verse is “went.” The sons of Jacob responded by going. This is a picture of life-saving faith in action. We can hear from another beggar where to find food, but suppose we do not believe them? And even if we do, what if we do not take action and go to where they have told us? If Jacob’s sons had decided to just stay at home, if Jacob had doubts about whether or not there really was any food in Egypt and had waited for “proof” or “evidence” that the corn in Egypt was real, this whole family would have still starved to death. Hearing alone will not fill an empty stomach, only by going to the One Who has the Bread will we “live and not die” (Gen. 42:2).To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published October 15, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Taking Lot By The Hand

“But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city. (Genesis 19:16)

There really is not much that we can find comforting or encouraging in Genesis 19, but Verse 16 is quite reassuring. Lot is commanded by the two angels to depart from the city of Sodom and warned that if he does not, he too shall be consumed. I like to think that, had I been in Lot’s shoes, those two angels would have had a hard time keeping up with me as I sprinted full-speed for the hills. But, looking back on my own track record, it is just as likely that I would have responded the same way Lot did.

The angels could not have made the urgency of the situation any clearer to Lot and his family. Yet what did Lot do? He hesitated. Lot’s co-operation with those trying to save him was not very impressive. How often do we do the same thing when we receive instructions from the Lord? We delay, we procrastinate, we make excuses. He tells us, “Go now” and we answer, “Just a minute.” There were things in Sodom that Lot really had no desire to leave behind. We know that he believed God, but he definitely had one eye on Heaven and one on Earth.

What I find so comforting about this particular verse is the response that the two angels, acting on God’s behalf, give to Lot’s hesitation. Did they tell him that he was out of luck because he did not act quickly enough? Did they stand there and reason with him, argue with him, or continue to try to persuade him? No, there just was not time enough for that. Did they walk away, shaking their heads, telling him that they were sorry but he had forfeited his salvation from Sodom because of his hesitation? No. They laid hold on his hand and brought him forth!

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:27-29)

The Lord Jesus is our Shepherd, leading us by His voice. We are His sheep and are guided by His Word. But what happens when we fall behind, when we ourselves linger and become too far away to hear the sound of His voice? He leaves the other sheep to search us out until He has found us (Luke 15:4). He comes back to us, calling out to us all the while. And when He does find us, He carries us upon His own shoulders and brings us to safety (Luke 15:5-6). We see in John 10:27-29 that we hear His voice, He knows us, and we follow Him. But we also see that He is holding us in His own hand.

Lot was saved from the destruction that came upon Sodom (God’s  judgment) because he believed God. Lot was not told by the angels: “OK, here’s what’s gonna happen. Good luck and we’ll see you on the other side!” They led him every step of the way, and when he started to fall behind, they took him out by the hand. When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we may lose our way from time to time. We may linger and hesitate to keep in step with where He is taking us, but our Salvation is not contingent on our own efforts any more than Lot’s was. Once we have put our faith in Him, once we have become a part of His flock, He will bring us to safety, even if He must take us by the hand and carry us.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published January 22, 2010]

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Abraham Believed God

“And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

It is without any hyperbole that I say that the Fifteenth Chapter of Genesis is arguably the most pertinent chapter for the Christian in the Book of Genesis, possibly in the entire Old Testament. And the key verse to this key chapter is Verse 6, “And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” There is no other single verse in all of the Old Testament that so aptly illustrates God’s unchanging method for Salvation. Paul will directly quote this verse in his epistle to the Romans (Romans 4:3), and in his epistle to the Galatians (Galatians 3:6). James will also quote it in his epistle (James 2:23). To say that this chapter of Genesis inaugurates a turning point in the relationship of Abraham to our Lord is a gross understatement, for it is what God does for him at this point that lays the foundation for everything else.

What we have in this chapter is nothing short of the attainment of Salvation by Abraham as his “belief” is counted as righteousness. God imputes righteousness to him on the basis of his faith. The very heart of Christian Theology, this is the summary statement of how God’s Grace works in the life of the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. God attributes vicariously the righteousness that belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ alone, to those who put their faith in Him. Neither in the Old Testament nor the New is Salvation secured by any other means. This has always been God’s method.

“And I will give the men that have transgressed my covenant, which have not performed the words of the covenant which they had made before me, when they cut the calf in twain, and passed between the parts thereof,” (Jeremiah 34:18)

The slaughter of the animals and the dividing of their carcasses recorded in Genesis 15:9-10 might seem peculiar to us, but what Abraham was actually doing was following the custom of the day for entering into a covenant or contract. As we see in Jeremiah 34:18, the way that a contract was ratified in those days was for the two parties to come together, slaughter a calf or a goat, divide the carcass in half, and then the two would walk between the parts. The vow was made that, “If I should break the terms of this covenant, then may I be cut asunder as this animal is.”  When God gives instructions to Abraham in verse 9 to prepare these animals, He is announcing His intent to enter into a covenant with him.

But something very strange happens to Abraham as he is waiting for the Lord to show up for the ceremony. A deep sleep falls upon him and a horror of great darkness (v.12). This is not a sleep that comes from being weary or a slumber that overtakes him as his wait becomes too long. This is the same type of unconscious state that the Lord put upon Adam when He took his rib to make Eve (Genesis 2:21). While he is asleep, God tells Abraham of the captivity that will come upon his descendants and their slavery in the land of Egypt. As soon as the sun sets, a smoking Furnace and a burning Lamp pass between the carcasses of the animals (15:17).

This entering into covenant between God and Abraham is still part of the illustration of Abraham’s Salvation that began in Verse 6. It is also an illustration of our own Salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. As Abraham becomes paralyzed in the grips of a deep sleep, seeing the captivity of his sons and daughters in the land of Egypt; so, too, were we held paralyzed in the captivity of sin, until God delivered us from its clutches. Just as Abraham does not pass between the carcasses himself: announcing his end of the agreement, neither do we have anything to offer in our own Salvation Covenant with God. He did not pass through because he was not making any promise to God, this was an entirely one-sided transaction. God alone was making the promise to save Abraham, Abraham had nothing to offer on his part. Only God confirmed the Covenant, passing between the carcasses; His presence symbolized by the Furnace and the Lamp.

Abraham’s part in his own Salvation amounted to nothing more, nor anything less, than believing God. Abraham lay helpless as God secured for him the Salvation that he himself could not. God’s call to us is to put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for Salvation. Our part in the process of our own Salvation is the same as Abraham’s was, to believe God (John 6:29). He has not called us to walk between the carcasses, nor can we. He has not instructed us to promise anything to Him. We are to believe God, place our faith in the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and His righteousness will be imputed to us also.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published December 15, 2009]

**All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

%d bloggers like this: