Genesis 43-45, Psalm 14
For many years I was deemed a Jesus Freak by my family. By the grace of God, over the past 30 years, slowly most all have come into a relationship with Jesus Christ. I have one brother who, unfortunately, is bitter and angry about a host of things and is hostile to the gospel message. His son, who came to Christ around 5 years ago, feels his father seems too far gone. But the Bible, Christian history, and our churches are full of changed lives. John Newton, the writer of the hymn, Amazing Grace, referred to himself as the “old African blasphemer”. He was defiant to any form of authority, led a life racked with every form of sinful lifestyle, found himself deep in the slave trade, before finding God aboard a boat in the stormy seas. This is how he came to write: “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found; Was blind, but now I see.”
We come to an interesting part of the story of Joseph. Joseph overhears his brothers say in Genesis 42:21, “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.” One of the most callous scenes in the Bible is in Genesis 37:25, which takes place immediately after tossing Joseph in a pit, “And they sat down to a meal.” Filled with envy, they cared so little that despite his anguished pleas, they sat and enjoyed a meal together. When the brothers come to Egypt from Canaan the second time with their brother Benjamin, he puts the brothers to a test to see if they are still struggling with envy in Genesis 43:34, “Then he took servings to them from before him, but Benjamin’s serving was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him.” Judah passes the final test showing that their change was genuine. When it seemed that Benjamin was going to be forced into slavery, Judah responds in Genesis 44:33, “Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.” Repentance was necessary to reestablish a relationship. No different than us, now. We cannot establish a relationship with Jesus unless we approach Him in a spirit of repentance. Just like Joseph could not hold back his emotions and weeped over his brothers after witnessing this repentance, Jesus lovingly embraces each sinner and gives them the Holy Spirit when we repent. In Luke 15:10, we read, “Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” In many ways, Joseph exemplified many characteristics and life circumstances of Jesus.
When we consider our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, are there any that we have written off as too far gone? Are there any whom we feel are too hardened to ever change? For this should never be our stance. Heaven is full of hardened sinners brought to their knees who have formed a saving relationship with Jesus. When Peter asks whether he should forgive his brother who sins against him seven times in Matthew 18:21, Jesus responds in verse 22 with, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Though people like to compare and stratify sins, we must never forget that even one sin uncovered by the blood of Christ is enough to keep one out of heaven. We are not to judge, but plant seeds of the gospel message. Anyone can change, but many won’t unless we choose to never give up on them.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: