Bright Side

Genesis 45:9-20

9Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

12“You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.” 14Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

16When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’ 19You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. 20Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’”

Light Painter

Light painter Alex Dowis amazed his audience at America’s Got Talent 2019. One judge expressed her observation that his talent needed darkness to shine. This dark world needs light, that’s why God created it on the first day.

Sometimes, the Lord allows us to experience darkness in our life for us to appreciate the existence of light. With problems, it may feel like you’re walking in darkness. What problem makes you feel like you are walking in darkness?

The Lord Jesus said in John 8:12, 12I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

We have heard it said that ‘Jesus is the answer!’ Christ has answers to our problems, and we need Him to light our way that leads to His answer. Ask God to increase your faith to trust the Lord Jesus as the light of your dark world.

When Pharaoh had dreams, Joseph’s interpreted them. There’s bright side and dark side of Pharaoh’s dream. The abundance of food was the bright side, and the severe famine was the dark side. Indeed, the interpretation of Joseph was fulfilled. Egypt had 7 years of abundant food, after that, 7 years of severe famine followed, and there was scarcity of food in the world except in Egypt.

The brothers of Joseph went to buy food in Egypt but their experience added to their horrible circumstances. Joseph explained to them that God has allowed unpleasant events to accomplish His purposes. The bright side of their dramatic circumstances was displayed when Joseph assured his brothers.

1. Assure

9Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

Everyone was starving in Canaan. There was no food anywhere in the world except in Egypt. Joseph has assured to provide for his brothers and their families for all their needs if they come and live in Egypt. Joseph’s assurance may not be easily accepted by his brothers, why? What do you think?

Previously, his brothers were cruel toward him. They were cruel to him. They sold him to merchants who sold him as slave in Egypt. Joseph became the ruler of Egypt subsequently. When they have no food, the same Joseph they sold assured them to provide for them, as if nothing happened. No bad feelings at all!

Joseph did not entertain bitter resentment against his cruel brothers. Why?

The Lord Jesus said in Luke 17:3-5, 3“If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” 5The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Christ commanded us to forgive, and the disciples responded, “Increase our faith!” Why? The normal mindset is to retaliate, to fight for human rights.

“Eye for eye, tooth for tooth” principle has been accepted in many cultures.

The disciples had been taught of it, but Christ has opposed such principle. We are to forgive. Like the disciples, we need increase of faith to trust Christ, and that His teachings are principles that as disciples, we should abide and live for.

Anyway, Joseph may not forget their cruelty, but he acknowledged that his struggles were God’s strategy to accomplish His plans. His brothers were slow to acknowledge that God added horrible circumstances to His design. Even after they obeyed Joseph’s instruction, they still had reservations but quietly.

Forgiving those who make our life difficult is not simple but it is possible with Christ. The Lord Jesus exemplified it when he was crucified. He said in

Luke 23:33-34, 33When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

Christ felt sorry for His tormentors instead of anger or resentment toward them. He said, they didn’t know what they were doing. The Roman soldiers were just obeying exactly an order to crucify Him. So, why did Christ say that they did not know what they were doing? It says in Proverbs 1:7 7The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

The soldiers obeyed an order to crucify Christ, yet the Lord said that they did not know what they were doing. They had no fear of Christ the Lord. Christ Jesus is the Lord. When we despise, reject wisdom and instruction from God, we have no fear of the Lord. Foolishness prevailed. When actions contradict or oppose His instruction, in God’s eyes, it’s sinfulness that reveals foolishness.

It says in Romans 6:16-18, 16Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Are you slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness? Fools despise this truth.

Someone may claim, “I cannot be slave to sin or to righteousness. I’ll do what I think is best for me! Actually, such mindset illustrates a slave to sin. What?

When we ignore God, we act according to our instinct. Our human heart is inclined to do evil in God’s eyes. Any act that originated from mankind is sinful.

Romans 3:23 says, 23For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God!

The term ‘sin’ is properly translated, ‘fall short of the mark, miss the mark.’ If a student did his best in exam but had one mistake, he missed a perfect score.

God’s glory is perfect. Perfect has no mistake. Additionally, if the inclination of human heart prevails, we sin because we are not perfect. Imperfect can never produce perfect. Our imperfect sinfulness prevents us to forgive others.

This is why we need the Lord Jesus to help us obey His order ‘to forgive.’

When Joseph forgave his cruel brothers and assured them to provide for their needs, it exemplified once again that the Lord was with him. The Lord empowered Joseph, and he forgave his brothers and desired for their betterment.

Joseph comforted them. He instructed them to return to Canaan and bring their families to Egypt. He assured them to provide for all their needs. He also told them to inform their father about all the honors accorded to him in Egypt.

2. Accord

12“You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.” 14Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

Previously, Joseph harshly confronted Judah and his brothers. As ruler of Egypt, he accused them as spies and imprisoned their brother Simeon. When they returned, he treated them generously. Then, he accused them of a crime. When he can’t control his emotion, he disclosed, divulged his secret identity as Joseph, the brother they sold as slave. As expected, the brothers were terrified!

Hesitantly, they talked with Joseph. Were they assured that everything was fine? Who made them feel assured that the brother they maltreated will fulfill his promise? Is it easy to trust the person you’ve ignored or disregarded?

Philemon

The letter of Paul to Philemon exemplifies how believers can forgive and offer kindness and goodness not to all offenders but to repentant believers.

Philemon had a slave who ran away. His name was Onesimus. To support his needs when he ran away, Onesimus may have stolen money from Philemon. Philemon was from Colossae. Colossae was located in the present day Turkey.

Onesimus ended up in Rome where he met Apostle Paul and believed in the gospel of Christ. Apostle Paul appealed to Philemon to take Onesimus back.

He wrote in Philemon 1:15-16, 15Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever—16no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

Paul knew Philemon very well. He expected him to welcome Onesimus, not as slave anymore but as a brother in the Lord, who may help in the ministry that Paul has started in the household of Philemon. Likewise, Paul may have assured Onesimus that Philemon will welcome him as a brother in Christ.

That event happened in the latter years of Paul’s ministry seems contrary to his attitude toward John Mark. Acts 15:37-40 says, 37Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40but Paul chose Silas and left.

John Mark was a cousin of Barnabas. John Mark was young and may have been scared by persecution when he left the mission team of Paul. But when decided to join them again, Paul disagreed because he cannot rely upon him.  So, it was not a case of forgiveness but on the matter of reliance.

The Lord Jesus said in Luke 9:62, 62No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.

Service to the Lord is like old school farming. When a farmer plows the soil, he had to look forward to make sure the cattle or horse walk straight and that he will be able to make straight rows of furrows on his field.

If you are driving and keep looking back, you may endanger yourself.

In marathon, some runners tend to look back and lose precious time.

Similarly, if we keep looking back to old lifestyle, we slow down in our spiritual growth. Resentment and unwillingness to forgive are old lifestyle. Christ requires no look back to old lifestyle when we serve Him. We can learn from Joseph.

How did Joseph discern that his brothers had repented of their hostility?

How did Joseph overcome resentment? How could he forgive his cruel brothers?

It says in Genesis 39:2, 2The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered.

And it also say in Genesis 39:23, 23The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

The Lord empowered Joseph to overcome resentment, and he forgave.

It’s a testament that the Lord was with Joseph. All events surrounding him were favorable to Joseph. He was a slave. He was accused. He was imprisoned.

All those apparently undesirable circumstances were God’s instruments that prepared him as ruler of Egypt. Pharaoh had highest respect of Joseph too.

When Pharaoh King of Egypt heard about the brothers of Joseph, he advised Joseph to bring his father and families to Egypt.

3. Advise

16When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’ 19You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. 20Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’”

Pharaoh and all his officials were very glad that the brothers of Joseph came to Egypt. They were more than happy to accommodate all his families. And, Pharaoh promised to give the best of Egypt for Joseph’s family to enjoy.

He even advised Joseph to make sure that his father, their children, and their wives will be comfortable in their journey to Egypt. Pharaoh may have been informed that life in Egypt was the best in the entire world when he advised Joseph to tell his family not to be mindful much about their belongings.

That event is a practical illustration of believer’s privilege to enter heaven. We won’t mind our belongings here on earth when we enter heaven. In heaven, we can enjoy all the things that the Lord has prepared for us forever.

The Lord Jesus said in John 14:1-3, 1Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 

Some earlier Bible versions translated the term ‘rooms’ as ‘mansions.’ Other versions translated it as ‘dwelling places’ or ‘places to live.’ The term “house” is properly translated as “dwelling place, property or household.”

NIV translation, “My Father’s house has many rooms” is just proper. Right? Why? Just imagine million mansions inside an ultra huge house!?! Is it logical?

Anyway, why did Jesus comfort His disciples about His Father’s house?

What’s the point of telling that His Father’s house has many rooms and that He had to go and prepare a place for them? Was it because the disciples of returning to their homes after they had left everything to follow Him?

It was during His last supper with his disciples when Jesus told this truth to His disciples. Why did Jesus tell this truth to His disciples and not to the crowd?

The disciples left everything to follow Jesus. And, not everyone can believe and accept that Christ prepares a place for those who believe and follow Him.

Mansion

Here’s a fictional story of a Church Elder who went to heaven? St. Peter met him and guided him to his house. The Elder saw a beautiful mansion on top of the hill. He thought, “That must be my mansion!” Suddenly, St. Peter pointed at a regular house and said, “That’s your house!”

The Elder curiously asked, “Who owns the beautiful mansion on the hill?”

St. Peter casually said, “Oh! That huge mansion belongs to a lawyer!”

The Elder cannot contain his frustration and asked, “A lawyer has mansion while I have a regular house!?! I was a church Elder, you know that!”

“Well!” St Peter said, “There are many Elders in heaven but not many lawyers!”

That fictional story may have discouraged many to accept their calling to serve.

Anyway, when Pharaoh advised Joseph to tell his family not to be bothered about their belongings and promised to give the best of the land they can enjoy, it was a practical picture or illustration of the promise of heavenly life with the Lord for all believers. The story tells that Jacob and his household believed the promise of Pharaoh and went to live in Egypt.

They were assured that Pharaoh will fulfill his promise because of Joseph.

Likewise, God sent the Spirit of Christ in our heart as guarantee that He will fulfill His promise of eternal life. How are we assured that life in heaven is far better than life on earth combined? The Spirit of Christ produces fruit in us.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! They’re experiences we can have in heaven. Can you accept it?

Desire a spirit-filled life! Jesus said in John 14:21, 21Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

As genuine believers, we desire spirit-filled and spirit-empowered life.

When Christ’s Spirit prevails in us, we desire to serve the Lord.

We can experience more of the bright side of having faith in Christ when His Spirit produces fruit in us and empower us to serve Him.

><((‘> .. ><(((‘> … tmec\2019 …<‘)))>< .. <‘))><

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.