Keep Your Enemies Closer!
† In Jesus Name †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ transform you into people who call people to come closer… to you… and therefore God!
As I was working on this sermon about Joseph and his brothers, I would type out the title. Thinking about how God was working in their lives, I would look at it, and something seemed wrong.
It was the exclamation point. Maybe it should have been a question mark.
Keep your enemies closer?
Na… back to Keep your enemies closer!
Well, wait a minute… closer! Closer?
Which you think works better as a title might depend on who’s shoes you are wearing and what your agenda is…
But either way – make sure you repeat to those people what Joseph said to his brothers, Please come closer! And bring him here quickly!
Don’t Be Upset – Don’t Be Angry
Even though it has been a decade or more, Joseph knows his brothers all too well.
And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. 5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.!
The first reaction to sin is denial, but they cannot do that anymore. The one they sinned against is standing right in front of them! So they go to the second and third steps in the getting caught process.
Fear – pure fear. Translated here as being “upset.” To be caught by the person who you sinned against, and for that person to have all the power and authority to do whatever he wanted to, to you. The amount of fear that would create – could probably be seen and even smelt.
And so Joseph says… calm down, don’t be upset!
The third step for a sinner caught in sin is to beat themselves up over it. We are all pretty good at that, aren’t we?
“Don’t be angry with yourselves!” he says to them – as fast as their mood is changing.
Even as God says that to us today.
Did you sin this week? Did you sell out Jesus? You thought everything would be perfect if you could get rid of God, sending Him away?
You will stand before Him, just as the brothers had to stand before Joseph.
Don’t be afraid or anxious; His desire is to draw you close….
Don’t be angry with yourselves; God the Father sent Jesus into captivity, just as God sent Joseph into Egypt. Hear Joseph’s words again,
God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. 8 So it was God who sent me here, not you!
Hear that – as Jesus says it to you from the cross! As Jesus dies, our life would be eternally spent with God the Father!.
God has sent me ahead of you to (the cross) to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. 8 So it was God who sent me here (to the cross!), not you!
So come closer, and don’t be upset or angry with yourselves…. God is in control….
Our hope – understanding grace like Joseph… bringing enemies near to embrace us!
I can imagine that the brothers saw themselves as Joseph’s enemies when he called them to “come near.” They struggled to believe how blessed they could be in the moment the truth set them free of their past and present sins.
But there he was… just as Jesus is for each one of us today. Ready to cry with joy over us, even as Joseph did as he embraced first Benjamin, then the rest of his brothers.
It is what we need to pray for, for those people who should be our brothers and sisters but struggle as they think they are our enemies.
Even as Jesus brings his enemies closer and reveals us to His brothers and sisters, Joseph could look back at what God did, what He was doing in providing for all the people of God. As He did, he found the ability to trust in God’s plan, in what God provided.
That is how we draw people to Jesus… we fall in love with Him as we see what He is doing in our lives, and we realize “our enemies” need to see it happening to them as well.
In our prayer circle – I had you put two names – the names to pray for, that God would come to be so natural to them… that when they walk through those doors, you dance with joy. These might be the people that betrayed you in your life, the way Joseph was betrayed. Or they may be the people you sold off into slavery. Either way, these enemies are drawn into a relationship with Jesus. Are revealed to be your brothers and sisters!
Call them to come near, tell them, “please come closer!.” Describe what God is doing, how you see God using the worst challenges in life as blessings,
And when that happens, weep because you are so overwhelmed with joy!
God is with you – so calling them to come closer. Praying that they do… is simply bringing them into the presence of God. AMEN!