Appeal For Mercy

Genesis 44:25-34

25“Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ 26But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

27“Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’

30“So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’

33“Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”

S.M.A.R.T.

Who doesn’t wish to be successful? Most if not all love it! Have you surfed online for suggestions from people who are successful in their career? Did you try ideas you presumed to be helpful for you? Have you tried S.M.A.R.T. goal? The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-oriented. Do you have any success following S.M.A.R.T. goal yet?

This S.M.A.R.T. goal idea is smart approach to achieve goals but it doesn’t reflect faith in God. Why? It requires dependence upon human ability or effort.

Truly, we may achieve our goals in life but would it glorify God to rely upon human capability? What’s the purpose of our existence? Why did God create us? To glorify and praise Him! We certainly praise God when we rely upon Him and achieve success. We praise ourselves when success relied upon human effort.

King David found out that it does not glorify God to rely upon human effort.

One time King David stayed in Jerusalem when his army went to war, and they were victorious. He may have felt proud of their success. So, he ordered a census of all soldiers in Israel. Why? Maybe to commend them! Prophet Gad, who’s very close to David, informed him that the Lord didn’t approve the census. He also told David to choose a punishment that the Lord would execute.

It says in 1 Chronicles 21:11-13, 11Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Take your choice: 12three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the Lord—days of plague in the land, with the angel of the Lord ravaging every part of Israel.’ Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me.” 13David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into human hands.”

When he took a census in Israel, David may have planned to commend his army, instead of giving back glory and praise to the Lord. King David knew that the Lord enabled his army to become experts in war and caused the defeat of his enemies. One time after a successful campaign, he even said in 2 Samuel 5:20, 20As waters break out, the Lord has broken out against my enemies before me.

So, when Prophet Gad informed him, King David came to his senses that the census was not acceptable to the Lord. Why? Did David’s commendation for the effort and sacrifice of his soldiers made God jealous? Possibly, David forgot the Lord for a while because of excitement of their successive victories.

Anyway, David chose a punishment from the hand of the Lord. David had believed that punishment from God is far better than punishment from humans.

The Lord says in Revelation 3:19, 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.

God is merciful and He punished Israel to redirect them to godly lifestyle.

Another practical illustration of the merciful love of the Lord can be put into perspective from the dramatic interaction between Joseph and his brothers.

Previously, when Judah and his brothers returned to Egypt, they were treated with generous hospitality. They went home thinking everything was fine.

Joseph sent his steward after them, and accused them of a crime. They returned to Egypt to plead guilty of a crime they did not commit. Why? They can’t prove their innocence. The silver cup was found in their possession.

Judah went up to Joseph, the ruler of Egypt to plead for mercy. They have not recognized Joseph as their brother, just yet. Judah asked to be pardoned for his boldness to explain their situation. He started by acknowledging that Joseph had power and authority similar to Pharaoh King of Egypt. He implied that orders from Joseph cannot be ignored, and that they regarded his orders so seriously.

Judah recalled their first encounter when they were accused as spies. Simeon was detained to make sure they would return or take his order seriously. They were required to bring Benjamin as proof of their innocence, which they did.

Judah explained that he informed their father Jacob that the requirement to prove their innocence was to bring Benjamin, and if Benjamin won’t go with them, they won’t return to buy grain in Egypt. Judah specified it to Jacob.

1. Specify

25“Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ 26But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’

Judah recounted their struggled to convince their father. Jacob was scared that he may lose Benjamin but let him go after all. Judah and his brothers needed Benjamin as guarantee for them to be able to buy grain from Joseph. Spiritually speaking, that incident practically illustrates our situation before God.

Judah and his brothers were guilty because they sold Joseph to slavery.

Similarly, we are guilty before God. Christ was crucified because of our sin.

Benjamin was the only guarantee for Judah and his brothers to see Joseph.

Similarly, Christ is the way, the truth and the life, and no one can come to God the Father except through Him. Christ in us guarantees we’ll see God. Amen!

Dropping out of Faith

Have you heard about a popular pastor who dropped out of faith?

This popular pastor declared that he is not a Christian anymore.

I don’t really know what he is thinking or planning, but if it’s true that he quit as a Christian for whatever reason, it should serve as wake-up call for every believer.

It says in Ephesians 2:8-10, 8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—9not by works, so that no one can boast. 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

If the grace of God is not at work in our life, it’s possible that we all quit from Christian faith. We need to make sure we have faith in the Lord. So, how do we know we have faith in Christ? What is a practical proof of faith? James 2:17 says, 17Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

One may point out: The pastor who quit his Christian faith, did he not prove that he had faith in Christ when he served as pastor in a church? That is another practical example that serving as pastor which commonly seen as proof of faith in Christ is not enough to guarantee that a person has genuine Christian faith.

Have you heard of an atheist pastor? Don’t be fooled by mere appearance. To imitate how others serve God in the church is good starting point but it is not sufficient proof you’ve got genuine faith. Make sure you’ve Christ’s Spirit in you.

It says in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22, 21It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

Faith in Christ depends upon the grace of God. Faith does not rely upon the good things we do. Good works should be the by-product of faith in Christ. Not otherwise. Good works is not sufficient proof that one has faith in the Lord. Best proof is Christ’s Spirit producing fruit in us, and we’ve got joy and peace to participate in the ministry that God has called us to use our spiritual gift.

Judah and his brothers were allowed to enter Egypt for the second time because they have Benjamin with them. The presence of Benjamin with his brothers practically illustrates that the presence of the Holy Spirit in our life guarantees we’ll enter the heaven of God. After they were accused of a crime, the brothers offered their service to pay for their crime but they were rejected.

It says in Genesis 44:16-17, 16“What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.” 17But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

Joseph can’t trust the brothers, and they admitted that God uncovered their guilt. That event practically illustrates that service from guilty person is not acceptable to God. Our sin makes us guilty before God. Sinfulness contaminated and tainted our best efforts which can’t be acceptable to a perfect God, for sure.

Joseph said that he would only want Benjamin as his servant. Similarly, only service that originated from the Spirit of Christ is acceptable to God. Only when we are prompted by Christ’s Spirit and we use our spiritual gifts to serve God—such service to the Lord has originated from God, is acceptable to Him.

Judah pleaded for mercy because he conceded that they cannot defend or prove their innocence, and he believed that orders from Joseph were final. Judah had explained their side not to prove they were innocent but to seek mercy from Joseph, the ruler of Egypt they did not know was their brother, just yet.

Judah dramatically recounted what Jacob said when they tried to convince him to allow Benjamin to join them when they returned to Egypt. Jacob said that if Benjamin will be harmed, he may die grieving. His life would be suppressed.

2. Suppress

27“Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’

This drama between Jacob and his sons depicted how suppressed feeling had overwhelmed them. Jacob predicted his life until his death will be lonely if Benjamin won’t return to safely. Judah knew that no matter how he may argue their case, reasons can’t prove them innocent. When he recounted that his father may spend his remaining years in suppression, Judah hoped that pleading for Joseph’s mercy would help them to be acquitted of a crime they did not commit.

30“So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!

Judah bravely stated that he would take the blame if something wrong happens to Benjamin. It’s his desperate quest for mercy. Whatever Joseph would decide, Judah was willing to accept, even if it means his death. Judah has, once again, displayed a virtue of leadership in his willingness to die for Benjamin.

Judah was also smart. He knew that he had no sufficient proof to argue their case or prove their innocence, so, he appealed for mercy from Joseph. To prove he was not lying, he was alert to hold on to what Joseph had said earlier.

Joseph said previously in Genesis 44:15, 15What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?

So, if Joseph can find things out, he can easily know that Judah was truthful.

Judah exemplified how to appeal for mercy when he appealed not only to Joseph’s extraordinary wisdom, but also to his just and merciful nature. How?

When Judah admitted that they cannot prove their innocence, he offered themselves as slaves. Joseph answered in Genesis 44:17, 17But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

That is just verdict. The one who sins is the one to be punished. When Joseph said, “The rest of you, go back to your father in peace,” it displayed the merciful nature of Joseph. Joseph could have easily indict them or charge them with a crime of connivance or participation to a crime, if he wanted but he did not.

And that should remind us of God who knows everything, and that nothing we can do by human sinful instinct is acceptable to Him. Anything we do outside faith cannot possibly please God. It says in Hebrew 11:6, 6And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. 

It’s possible that we commit sin that we are not mindful of. We may not be aware we committed sin before God. Do you always rely upon the Lord? Many times we do things by instinct, right? By faith, we believe that God knows all things, even things we don’t know. He knows the sin we don’t know we did.

It says in 1 John 1:8-10, 8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

Judah presumed they didn’t do any crime but cannot prove why the silver cup was found in the luggage of Benjamin. He displayed a remorse attitude when he appealed for mercy instead of trying to prove their innocence. Judah acted as the leader of his brothers. He displayed a highly appreciated boldness to sacrifice for his brother’s well-being, and he didn’t try to present himself as expert leader.

Pray that God help you nominate church members He had chosen to join the leadership ministry. We need leaders like Judah who is wise to admit his limitation and willing to sacrifice for his brothers’ well-being.

3. Sacrifice

33“Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”

Judah has chosen to serve as slave of Joseph. Judah implied that life of a slave was far better than seeing his father grieving every day. Why?

Practically, Egypt has abundant food while Canaan was suffering from severe famine, and he saw Joseph as just ruler. He may have anticipated that his sibling and their families, and possibly his own children would be blaming him for the agony that Jacob would be suffering if Benjamin won’t return to Canaan.

Have you been blamed before because of decisions you’ve made that may have turned out negative or unacceptable to others?

Not Once

A man heard not once but many times his relatives and friends blame him for decisions that may have contradicted their notions. Many times he quit from a position which others saw to be far better than most regular employees. The last time he quit his secular job was when he decided to serve the Lord. At first, people may have thought that he put his self in a very difficult situation. But deep inside him, he has peace with the assurance that God will bless him more.

The Lord Jesus promised in Mark 10: 2930, 29“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.

Christ is the truth. Whatever He says is true. The said pastor has proven not once but multiple times when Christ promise has been fulfilled in his life.

May the Lord God Almighty be glorified forever more! Amen!

Each time Christ begins with the phrase, “Truly I tell you,” He emphasized that what He has promised will certainly be fulfilled. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, 20For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

And in Revelation 3:14, 14These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.

In the original Hebrew language, the term translated “Truly” is the same as the Hebrew term, “Amen.” The Pharisees and Jewish leaders were indignant of Jesus because, each time He says, “Truly,” He claims to be the “Amen.”

The Hebrew “Amen” is properly translated, ‘verily,’ ‘truly,’ ‘so be it,’ or ‘it is so.’

Christ is the Amen who assures us that God’s promises will be fulfilled.

And as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper we are reminded of the promise of Christ to return and take us to His heaven. Are you ready for His return?

Make sure you have genuine faith.

Make sure you have received the Spirit of Christ.

Make sure that the Spirit of Christ produces fruit in your life.

Make sure that your service to the Lord is prompted by the Holy Spirit.

Make sure that you use your spiritual gift when serving the Lord.

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