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  ‘HOWEVER DEEP THE PIT ...’ GENESIS 50:14-26: “As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day” (v20)

Did you hear that the Lord God in His infiniteness and Almightiness over rules the evil plans of the wicked in other to bring about that many people should be kept alive! We continue meditating on the great truth of our Lord’s resurrection and its application to our living on earth. Last week we referred to the story of Elie Wiesel who, in his book Night, came to the conclusion that God didn’t care about His universe and, as a result, developed hard and bitter feelings toward the Almighty. How about you? Do you also have that same wrong notion of or about God? How different from the story told by Corrie ten Boom in ‘’The Hiding Place’’. All the pain and suffering of Night are present in Corrie’s gripping story. She, too, saw people murdered, watched her sister die, felt the pain of a whip and sensed all around her the dissolution of virtue. But there is another element present in this issue of how people feel when they are in pains, suffering and difficulty that only a Christian mind can understand –that element is the element of faith and hope. When it comes to faith and hope; many people apply it differently and in varying degree. Time and time again, Corrie refers to the ways in which God turned the evil to good unlike Wiesel who never see anything good in what God does. If you have read the story, you will remember the many miracles that took place, the secret Bible studies, prayer times with other believers, acts of great sacrifice and compassion, and so on which gives people great courage. But Wiesel’s book leads to unyielding despair, but Christ’s book leads to overwhelming hope. This is why it is very essential for us to be very careful of the type and kind of books we read! Never read books like that of Wiesel if you have not waxed strong in spirit and be able as Paul advised Timothy to study and prove himself a servant worthy of dividing the word of truth. What is the reason for this difference in the way many people handles the issue of faith and hope when in pain, suffering and difficulty? It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that brings about the difference. The resurrection is like a lighthouse in a storm-tossed sea of pain and suffering, beaming out a powerful message of life and hope amid pain, suffering and difficulty. It says, ‘Sin, pain and suffering are not the final answer –God and what God does with pains, suffering and difficulty as exemplified in Lord Jesus death amid the associated pain, suffering and difficulty endured by the Lord gives or is the final answer.’ So it is important that we always have confidence in the confidence of God and this is where faith and hope stems from. God’s Son Jesus Christ overcame everything life threw at Him when He was on earth, and this is what qualified Him to sit once again on the throne of the universe, having Himself endured the deepest agonies of human suffering and pain. As Corrie ten Boom puts it in The Hiding Place: ‘However deep the pit, God’s love has gone deeper still.’ This should be your encouragement when life vicissitude brings pain and suffering home to you!

  THE SECRETS OF FINISHING WELL – GENESIS 50:14-26

The content of Genesis 50 contains the following: 1. The mourning for Jacob as seen in verses 1-6. 2. His funeral as seen in verses 7-14 3. Joseph's brethren crave his pardon, He comforts them as seen in verses 15-21. 4. Joseph's direction concerning his bones, His death as seen in verses 22-26. Genesis 50:1-6; Though pious relatives and friends have lived to a good old age, and we are confident they are gone to glory, yet we may regret our own loss, and pay respect to their memory by lamenting them. Grace does not destroy, but it purifies, moderates, and regulates natural affection. The departed soul is out of the reach of any tokens of our affection; but it is proper to show respect to the body, of which we look for a glorious and joyful resurrection, whatever may become of its remains in this world. Thus Joseph showed his faith in God, and love to his father. He ordered the body to be embalmed, or wrapped up with spices, to preserve it. See how vile our bodies are, when the soul has forsaken them; they will in a very little time become noisome, and offensive. Did you get something in this sentence ‘’when the soul forsake the body; the body becomes noisome and offensive’’. Can you liken it to when God forsakes a body and soul? Genesis 50:7-14; Jacob's body was attended, not only by his own family, but by the great men of Egypt. Now that the Egyptians were better acquainted with the Hebrews, they began to respect them and their culture because of the great work of Joseph. Professors of religion should endeavour by wisdom and love to remove the prejudices many have against the Israelites and an average Jew. Standers-by took notice of it as a grievous mourning. The death of good men is a loss to any place, and ought to be greatly lamented. Genesis 50:15-21; Various motives might cause the sons of Jacob to continue in Egypt, notwithstanding the prophetic vision Abraham had of their bondage there. Judging of Joseph from the general temper of human nature, they thought he would now avenge himself on those (his brethren) who hated and injured him without cause. Not being able to resist, or to flee away, they attempted to soften him by humbling themselves. They pleaded with him as the servants of Jacob's God. Joseph was much affected at seeing this complete fulfilment of his dreams. He directs them not to fear him, but to fear God; to humble themselves before the Lord, and to seek His Divine forgiveness. He assures them of his own kindness to them. See what an excellent spirit Joseph was of, and learn of him to render good for evil. He comforted them, and, to banish all their fears, he spake kindly to them. Broken spirits must be bound up and encouraged. Those we love and forgive, we must not only do well for, but speak kindly to. Genesis 50:22-26; Joseph having honoured his father, his days were long in the land, which, for the present, God had given him. When he saw his death approaching, he comforted his brethren with the assurance of their return to Canaan in due time. We must comfort others with the same comforts with which we have been comforted of God, and encourage them to rest on the promises which are our support. For a confession of his own faith, and a confirmation of theirs, he charges them to keep his remains unburied till that glorious day, when they should be settled in the land of promise. Thus Joseph, by faith in the doctrine of the resurrection, and the promise of Canaan, gave commandment concerning his bones. This would keep up their expectation of a speedy departure from Egypt, and keep Canaan continually in their minds. This would also attach Joseph's posterity to their brethren. The death, as well as the life of this eminent saint, was truly excellent; both furnish us with strong encouragement to persevere in the service of God. How happy these examples are to set our early hope and faith in the heavenly race, to continue steadfastly, and to finish the course with joy! This Joseph did, this we also may or should do. Even when the pains of death are upon us, if we have trusted in Him upon whom the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles depended, we need not fear to say, "My flesh and my heart faileth, but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever." Now let us read Genesis 50:14-26: 14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brethren and all who had gone up with him. 15 When Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Perhaps now Joseph will hate us and will pay us back for all the evil we did to him. 16 And they sent a messenger to Joseph, saying, Your father commanded before he died, saying, 17 So shall you say to Joseph: Forgive (take up and away all resentment and all claim to requital concerning), I pray you now, the trespass of your brothers and their sin, for they did evil to you. Now, we pray you, forgive the trespass of the servants of your father’s God. And Joseph wept when they spoke thus to him. 18 Then his brothers went and fell down before him, saying, See, we are your servants (your slaves)! 19 And Joseph said to them, Fear not; for am I in the place of God? [Vengeance is His, not mine.] 20 As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day. 21 Now therefore, do not be afraid. I will provide for and support you and your little ones. And he comforted them [imparting cheer, hope, strength] and spoke to their hearts [kindly]. 22 Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived 110 years. 23 And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation; the children also of Machir son of Manasseh were brought up on Joseph’s knees. 24 And Joseph said to his brethren, I am going to die. But God will surely visit you and bring you out of this land to the land He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob [to give you]. 25 And Joseph took an oath from the sons of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and you will carry up my bones from here. 26 So Joseph died, being 110 years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put [a]in a coffin in Egypt.

  Introduction:

The rest of Genesis 50 tells of the last years of Joseph’s life. I love Joseph because he is an example of a man of faith and steadfastness of character. Joseph’s example strengthens our faith and makes us want to hold onto our integrity in the same way he did. Seeing the life of Joseph makes you want to run the race with endurance and to finish the race well. Genesis 50:14-26: We have reached the last chapter of the book of Genesis. At this point, Jacob has now passed away. He blessed and prophesied over his sons, then drew his legs into his bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people. Before he died, however, he charged his sons to bury him with his fathers in the land of Canaan in the cave that Abraham had purchased from the sons of Heth. Abraham and Sarah were buried there, so were Isaac and his wife Rebbekah. Jacob’s wife Leah was buried there. Once again, the rest of chapter 50 tells of the last years of Joseph’s life. When Abraham died, it says of him in Genesis 25:8, Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life. Abraham finished well. Though Joseph had many troubles and a difficult life, Joseph also finished well. So from Joseph’s example, it doesn’t matter whether your life is filled with many troubles and difficulties, all that matters is that you are required by the Lord to finish well in your life on earth. In these verses we will see the secrets of finishing well from Joseph’s life. I. God’s Way is a More Excellent Way: When the brothers came back to Egypt from burying their father in the land of Canaan, they said to themselves, “What if Joseph should bear a grudge against us and pay us back in full?” They expected Joseph to be like many others, full of hurts and wounds that they hold onto and never let go of; bitter and unforgiving, looking out for opportunity to revenge. But that’s not Joseph. There is a more excellent way to live — God’s way is the best. 1 Corinthians 12:31 says, “31 But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all—love]. Earnestly desire the greater gifts, but I will show you a still more excellent way; and that excellent way is love! A. Decide now to live God’s way: • It’s one thing to say that God’s way is a more excellent way, it’s another thing to say that that is the way you want to live your life. Many people find it very hard to live God’s way and as such they begin to live like the rest of the people of the world. • There is a common way to live. It’s common because many people live that way, but it’s not God’s way. God’s ways are higher …and noble Isaiah 55:7-9, says “7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have love, pity, and mercy for him, and to our God, for He will multiply to him His abundant pardon. 8 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, says the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” • No one would have blamed Joseph for bearing a grudge and paying the brothers back for all the wrong which they did to him; he would have been justified by men if he had. They deserved it. But Joseph lived differently. There is a more excellent way to live and that was the example which Joseph gave us. • You see the efforts of the brothers to still manipulate a bit even here, coming up with a fictitious story of how their father gave this direction for Joseph to forgive them before he died. • What a contrast there is in how they approach this issue and how Joseph approached it. They try though, by efforts of their own manipulation to seek forgiveness, rather than choosing God’s way. • Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 to show them what that more excellent way was. Paul said it’s love. 1 Corinthians 13:2, “2 And if I have prophetic powers ([a]the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody).” In reality divine love is really hard to practice because it takes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in an individual to be able to practice it, this is why we all must work hard to live our life according to the word of God so that the indwelling which is the baptism of the Holy Spirit will take place in our life. A. Have a sensitive heart: • In verse 17 – Joseph wept when they said this to him. He was stirred with compassion when they asked for forgiveness. • Joseph wept many times. It makes us respect him even more when we see how tender and sensitive his heart was. • When the brothers first met Joseph, they didn’t recognize him, but he recognized them, and he used an interpreter, so they didn’t know he understood what they said. Later, when Joseph held Simeon in prison until they brought Benjamin from Canaan, the brothers said to each other, “We saw the distress of our brother when he pleaded with us and we would not listen. Now comes the reckoning for his blood.” When Joseph heard his brothers say these things, he turned away and wept. • When the brothers brought Benjamin to Egypt, Joseph said, “Is this the boy of whom you spoke? God have mercy on you, my son.” And he was so moved, he found a private place and wept. • When Joseph set the trap so that Benjamin would stay in Egypt as his servant and the remaining brothers were free to leave, Judah responded, “Please, sir, I will be a servant to you in place of the lad, but please let the lad go or it will bring the gray hairs of his father to the grave.” Hearing Judah offer himself as a slave instead of Benjamin was too much a compassion on his part. So Joseph could control himself no longer, he ordered the Egyptians out of the room and wept so loudly that even Pharaoh heard of it. Meaning that Pharaoh’s apartment is very close to where all these things were happening. • When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he fell on Benjamin’s neck and wept. He then held each of his brothers, kissed them and wept. • When Joseph met his father after so many long years, he embraced him and wept. When his father died, he wept deeply. • It’s good for a man to be able to cry. Lord Jesus also wept. So a man’s weeping in certain circumstance is no sign of weakness but shows how compassionate that heart is easily touched by certain feelings. Illus- In the past, I held my emotions and didn’t like to cry at all. My wife thought I was a bit too much like Spock. I thought it might help me to live long and prosper. But in my early 20’s, when I had one of my first opportunities to preach a sermon in church. I did so poorly I closed the message early, took Jordi’s hand and found a private room and wept. When our daughter was murdered four years ago I cried more than I had ever known said the narrator. Since then, my heart is easily broken. God has made me more sensitive to the hurts and pain of others than I was before. • Joseph’s tears came out of the compassion and love he felt for those around him. He could see the burden of others; he had a sensitive heart. • The opposite would be a hard heart. A hard heart feels nothing for those around him; and feels nothing for God. Nehemiah 9:17 says, “17 They refused to obey, nor were they mindful of Your wonders and miracles which You did among them; but they stiffened their necks and in their rebellion appointed a captain, that they might return to their bondage [in Egypt]. But You are a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great steadfast love; and You did not forsake them.” Illus – When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, he said, “How can I do this thing and sin against God?” All of these are examples of heart that can easily be touched by human feeling.

  II. Seek God’s Perspective as Your Own:

• When Joseph’s brothers fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants,” Joseph responded, “Do not be afraid, am I in the place of God?” • “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result and keep many people alive.” • Joseph knew God’s perspective and he took God’s perspective as his own. He chose to see it as God saw it. How about you? Do you think you can act like Joseph when faced with similar circumstance? A. Never give up on God: • Verse 20 is one of the most important verses in this whole book. Joseph clearly saw that the intent of God is greater than the intent of man. • There is great comfort in this principle. There is a lot of evil in this world, and to know that God’s sovereignty is over all encourages us in our faith. App – But this requires looking beyond what we see with our eyes. The Scripture tells us that we must walk by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:5-7 says, “5 Now He Who has fashioned us [preparing and making us fit] for this very thing is God, Who also has given us the [Holy] Spirit as a guarantee [of the fulfilment of His promise]. 6 So then, we are always full of good and hopeful and confident courage; we know that while we are at home in the body, we are abroad from the home with the Lord [that is promised us]. 7 For we walk by faith [we [b]regulate our lives and conduct ourselves by our conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, with trust and holy fervor; thus we walk] not by sight or appearance.” He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident; … for we walk by faith, not by sight. This is the watch word for all Christian! Illus – Jacob thought everything was against him. He couldn’t see that God was orchestrating everything and that God was working all things together for good. These things were actually for him. • This is trusting God’s perspective. We may not be able to see everything as God sees, but it is enough to know that God sees it and that He knows everything which is why some times it is advisable to allow the system to run without trying to manipulate and manoeuvre things through our evil and selfish schemes which ends up been against us. • The key is this — don’t give up on God. Don’t judge God’s love by your outward circumstances. In Lamentations 3:21-26, we read “But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. [Mal. 3:6.] They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. [Isa. 33:2.] The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him. [Num. 18:20.] The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God's word]. It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.” When we sit quietly and meditate very well on these portions of God’s word we begin to have a clearer understanding: look at the phrase ‘...says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him...’ ‘It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord’ these amplified versions give you more insight and understanding to certain import of God’s word! B. See what God would do through you: • Your life will not be remembered for what you did for yourself, your life will be remembered for what you did for others. Sincere service to others is the joy of life. • Verse 21 – Joseph told them not to be afraid; that he would provide for them and their little ones. • This is a fulfilment of the prophecy of Jacob that Joseph would be a fruitful bough (a main branch of a tree) by a spring whose branches would run over a wall. • This is another secret of finishing well, what God would do through you. Have you ever thought about what God will use you to do for others? If you have not then know that you are still living a selfish life and you need to grow spiritually. In Colossians 1:10, we read “10 That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and [a]desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, [b]acquaintance, and recognition].” • The key to bearing fruit is being grafted into the tree of life. It’s God sap, God’s life moving through you which gives your life significance and power. Illus – You can actually graft many different fruit trees onto the same tree and the sap will flow into every branch, producing many types of fruit from the same tree. In Psalm 92:13-14 says, “13 Planted in the house of the Lord, they shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 [Growing in grace] they shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap [of spiritual vitality] and [rich in the] verdure [of trust, love, and contentment].” • Believe in God; and that God would work through you, that He wants to do great things through you. Illus – In the Count of Monte Cristo, Abbe Faria tells young Edmond Dantes that when he finds the treasure of Sparta he must use it for good, only for good. “No!” says Dantes, “I will surely use it for my revenge.” Faria, breathing his last, says, “Here now is your last lesson. Do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God has said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ “I don’t believe in God,” says Dantes. “It doesn’t matter,” says Faria, “He believes in you.” At the end, Dantes stands on the island that was once his prison and says, “You were right, priest, you were right. This I promise you… and God. That which I once used for vengeance I will now use for good. So rest in peace, my friend, rest in peace!” That is exactly how we disobediently wrestle with word in life but at last God’s word must sure be. • When Peter saw Lord Jesus walking on the water, he believed that Lord Jesus could do this, but could he believe that Lord Jesus could do this through him? “Lord, if it is You, command me to come out to you.” Later when Peter saw the wind and the waves and began to sink, Lord Jesus took hold of him and said, “Oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt?” this is how it often happen to us, we begin to sink in life once we begin to doubt God. In Mark 9:24 it says, “24 At once the father of the boy gave [an [a]eager, [b]piercing, inarticulate] cry with tears, and he said, Lord, I believe! [Constantly] help my [c]weakness of faith!” or “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” This should always be our sincere cry to the Lord! C. Believe that God will surely take care of you: • Verse 24, as Joseph was about to die, he said to his brothers, “God will surely take care of you, and will bring you up from this land to the land which He promised.” • Joseph then gave a charge to his brothers, saying, “You shall carry my bones up from here.” • He knew that God would fulfil His promise, that He would take care of them, and bring them back home. Illus – God took care of Israel by providing for them in Egypt, but He also kept them from intermarrying with the Canaanites so they could be kept separate and could grow into a great nation. The story of Joseph and his brothers is a story of God caring for them even in spite of their failure. • The words of Lord Jesus encourage us when He said…in Luke 12:6-7, “6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And [yet] not one of them is forgotten or uncared for in the presence of God. 7 But [even] the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be struck with fear or seized with alarm; you are of greater worth than many [flocks] of sparrows.” This is a key to finishing well; keeping the faith, believing that God gives you a future and a hope. In 2 Timothy 4:7-8 it says, “7 I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith. 8 [As to what remains] henceforth there is laid up for me the [victor’s] crown of righteousness [for being right with God and doing right], which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me and recompense me on that [great] day—and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved and yearned for and welcomed His appearing (His return).”

  

Gracious and loving Father, it is obvious that You have confidence in Your ability to turn everything that is negative in this universe into something that is positive and good. Pour into me that self-same confidence too so that I will be able to run my race and finish well. In Your name Jesus Christ I ask it. Amen!