† I.H.S. †
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, as it is shown to you, affect more people than you can imagine!
- Intro – The Harvest Focus today
Usually, when the story of Joseph and his brothers come up, the pastor will try to get you to see yourself walking in the shoes of Joseph, trying to encourage you to deal with those who’ve hurt you. (Oddly enough Joseph never says he forgives them, only that he doesn’t have the right to judge them.)
Today, I want us to think through what the brothers had to process. I want us to walk in their shoes, to feel their pain, their relief, the comfort they were given and the most incredible thing of all, the awe at what the Lord truly made of their sin….
- The Sin
So let’s deal with their sin, originally how they reacted to Joseph’s dreams.
5 One night Joseph had a dream, and when he told his brothers about it, they hated him more than ever. 6 “Listen to this dream,” he said. 7 “We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” 8 His brothers responded, “So you think you will be our king, do you? Do you actually think you will reign over us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dreams and the way he talked about them. Genesis 37:5-8 (NLT2)
That is where it all started, and now that the brothers realized the vision had come true, that it was prophetic, the brothers are scared for their very life, and so the same self-centered nature that would not believe the dream. This time, instead of getting rid of a pain in the neck little brother, in fear they lied, about what their father had said.
The sent this message – they didn’t even have the guts to say it to his face, ““Before your father died, he instructed us 17 to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.”
Like Dad would have needed to say that! He either assumed Joseph would do this, or that the 10 deserved whatever they deserved. They had already apologized, but now with dad dead, they thought revenge would be total and swift.
They would eventually get to the place were they would throw themselves at his feet, and indicated they were his slaves.
Their sin finally broke them, their guilt and shame caused the fear that they would get what they deserve.
If all the world could ever get to the point where they felt the need to do something like this, to feel the pressure of the sin, then being to drawn to God like the brothers went to Joseph would change the world.
- The Redemption
As we, and by me I mean the entire world, go to God finally broken by our sin, we can realize what Joseph told them…
“Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”
Joseph couldn’t forgive his brothers, he realized this was all in the hands of God Almighty, it was all in the hands of God who would come and visit his great grandfather, with whom his dad wrestled. Who would come and live among His descendants, and die on the cross.
Who could punish us for every sin that would damn us to hell, but instead chose to use even what we meant for evil not just for good – but for the greatest good, for something that would bring pure contentment and joy.
I watched the movie about the first successful heart surgery on a baby the other night. A remarkable story I’ve watched a number of times, as it was the story which eventually led to my own heart procedures. When the baby’s skin turns from blue to pink, because of the success, the operating theater explodes in awe.
Even more awe must have been known by the brothers.
To realize their sin God was able to use for good, what a profound miracle!
God does that, even with ours today…
- Who was saved!
If we only see the awe in God forgiving us, we are still self-centered and missing the point. When god heals our brokenness it does something far more,
Hear the scriptures again, “20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.”
This is what leaves them in awe… that the salvation wasn’t limited to the 10 brothers. It wasn’t even limited to their dad and their children.
God was able to use their sin ot bring Joseph to a place where millions would be physically saved.
So who knows what happens, what could happen, when we are forgiven, and realize God can us even that to bless others. We see that already in the lives of people here, like Vanessa – whose co-workers ask her to pray – and have us pray for them, or like the Chinese congregation, which has four new believers going through a new membership class, or the children in school age care who asked me questions for 30 minutes about this place – hungry to hear about the windows that teach the catechism and the banners and candles and how they teach about Jesus.
All of that God has done, because a bunch of sinners were forgiven. And the impact of that in 10 years, or 20 or 50…
God will use everything – including the sins we’ve committed, to bring people to a place where others are saved..
And while it happens, you dwell in the peace of God which goes beyond all understanding, guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN!