Homeland Security

Genesis 42:9-17

9Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 10“No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”

12“No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 13But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

14Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17And he put them all in custody for three days.

DHS

Have you been following what’s happening in Philippine politics? What’s the latest? One senator has filed a measure to establish the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect the country’s borders against terrorists and other transnational crimes such as trafficking of illegal drugs.

Accordingly, the famous senator underscored the effects of terrorism and other transnational crimes to the country’s infrastructure, as well as how such crimes result in loss of lives that destroy families. He also stressed that transnational crimes undermine the government’s efforts to develop the economy and maintain peace and order in the country.

For sure, citizens desire that government officials may protect the interest of their constituents. It says in Proverbs 27:18, 18The one who guards a fig tree will eat its fruit, and whoever protects their master will be honored.

Government officials protecting the interest of their constituents can be compared to farmers guarding their plants. Farmers will benefit when their plants are taken care of diligently. Similarly, government officials will certainly benefit especially during election, if they prioritize the interest of their constituents.

The temptation of graft and corruption in the government offices is real. Citizens may not necessarily know every detail of transactions in the government offices but we can do our part. As concerned citizens, we should pray for government officials to function conscientiously in godly manner.

It teaches us in 1 Timothy 2:1-4, 1Petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

It benefits us when authorities are honest. We’ve got to pray for authorities: Employees pray for employers; students pray for school officials; church members pray for church leaders; and children pray for parents. God has blessings prepared for obedience to His instructions to “pray for authorities.”

Practically, when Joseph interrogated his brothers, it implied that he was doing his job honestly as government official who protects the interest of Egypt.

1. Protect

9Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 10“No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”

Joseph’s brothers came to buy grain in Egypt. He recognized them but they did not recognize him as they bowed down before him. The moment when his brothers bowed down before him reminded him of his dreams. Joseph told his brothers about his dream in Genesis 37:7, 7We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it. 8His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.

His brothers interpreted his dream accurately that they will bow down to him. Amazingly, his brothers came to buy grain and bowed to before him. Is it possible that when he dreamed about sheaves, it revealed that his brothers did not have grain that can measure to the abundance of grain that Joseph had?

Nevertheless, Joseph showed to his brothers and also to the Egyptian officials and servants who might be standing next to him that he was responsible official when he interrogated his brothers harshly. Joseph appeared to be suspicious of strangers coming to buy grain. He protected the interest of Egypt.

His brothers could have answered that their purpose of coming to Egypt was to buy grain, but they also added that they were sons of one man, just to prove that they were honest men and not spies. Joseph knew that they were not honest men. He had personally known the dishonest practices of his brothers.

It says in Genesis 37:2, 2Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

Jacob may have believed the reports of Joseph but he didn’t reprimand his sons. But as a reward of Joseph’s honesty and not participated in wickedness of his brothers, Jacob made a beautiful robe for him. But when his brothers claimed that they were sons of one man, did God put words in their mouth even if such information were irrelevant? Telling irrelevant information put them in trouble.

Have you been in trouble because you said something not relevant to a conversation? When applying for entry-level jobs that don’t necessarily require prior experiences in the field or profession, it is not relevant to put all experiences in your résumé. If you are over-qualified, employers will ignore you.

During job interviews, it is not necessary to tell the interviewer about your experience as doctor if you are applying as dishwasher. So, where should one get the right answer to particular situation? We need godly wisdom.

Nehemiah

Nehemiah was a cupbearer who protected and made sure that the wine was safe for the king to drink. He displayed a godly wisdom before the king.

It says in Nehemiah 2:1-6, 1In the 20th year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, 2so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, 3but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”

4The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, 5and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.” 6Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.

Nehemiah had in his heart what he wanted to say but he prayed before telling the king what he wished to happen. Did God give Nehemiah the right word he uttered? Did God move King Artaxerxes’ heart to grant Nehemiah’s request? God may have also given Nehemiah the right voice or accent to dramatize his request so that the king’s heart was moved and pleased to hear it.

In comparison, when Joseph’s brothers said that they were honest men, did it please him? He required them to prove their honesty. He pretended to be very strict when he declared that they were spies. Why? Was it some sort of prompter that caused them to defend themselves and proved their innocence?

2. Prompt

12“No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 13But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.”

When Joseph insisted that his brothers were spies looking for unprotected areas in Egypt, it implied that protecting the land of Egypt was his responsibility also. Since he recognized his brothers, he intended to learn more about them without asking them directly of what’s happening in their life. Subsequently, they told him that their youngest brother was left behind with their father.

Knowing that his father and younger brother were still alive, it was added good news for Joseph. Joseph interrogated his brothers like spies to protect the interest of Egypt because he was a government official, but secretly, his insistent attitude toward his brothers served as prompter to squeeze more information.

Remember when Pharaoh had dreams, Joseph interpreted them and gave appropriate recommendation, it says in Genesis 41:38, 38Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

Can you strongly agree that the Spirit of God gave Joseph the right interpretation and appropriate recommendation to the dreams of Pharaoh? Can you strongly agree that the Lord gave Pharaoh the belief that the Spirit of God was with Joseph? Do you strongly agree that the Spirit of God who was with Joseph is the same Spirit of Christ whom we received when we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior? In Romans 8:9, 9You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.

To maximize the fullness of life experiences as believers of Christ, we need to be very sure we have received the Spirit of Christ. In everything we do, practical or spiritual tasks, we need wisdom from God. God knows what’s best for us. Do you agree? It says in 1 Corinthians 1:24, 24To those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

In this life, what do we need to be mindful of? What should we consider when we decide or do important matters? To do what God has called us to do. What is it exactly? God has unique mission for each of us but each of us should observe 1 Thessalonians 4:7-87For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

To live a holy life is to live by the standard of God. God is holy. Instructions for holy life come from God. God’s word is instruction of living holy lifestyle. We can only live a life of holiness when we are guided and led by the Spirit of Christ. Christ is the Truth. He teaches us how to live by the truth.

In comparison, when the brothers of Joseph claimed that they were honest men, they’re claiming that they’re telling the truth. They were not aware that the Spirit of God was with Joseph. They didn’t know that Joseph can discern if they were honest or not. Can you strongly agree that the Spirit of God gave Joseph the right words when he interrogated them so that they spoke spontaneously?

His brothers were confused in their answers, as they tried to prove their honesty so that they mentioned their father and their youngest brother. To know that his father and youngest brother were still alive was good news to Joseph but he told them to bring their youngest brother to Egypt to prove their honesty.

3. Prove

14Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17And he put them all in custody for three days.

One may possibly observe that Joseph was very insistent to his brothers. Others suggest that Joseph took that opportunity as revenge for their harsh treatment when they sold him as slave. Still others believe that Joseph pretended to be harsh because there were Egyptian officials and servants who were standing nearby who might be spying or who may accuse him of favoritism.

When he mentioned the name of Pharaoh, it was possible that there were spies observing his activities who would report to Pharaoh if there were corrupt practices while Joseph administered the sales of food supplies.

So indirectly, when Joseph put his brothers in custody, Joseph used his brothers as practical example of what may happen to spies who are caught.

When doing godly endeavors, expect that there will always be people who pretend to help actually, attentive to failures that they can use to accuse or destroy reputation. Why are they very critical about ministry involvement? Do they intend to discourage God’s servants from obeying Him?

Jerusalem Wall

Such critical attitude is a problem that believers should bring to the Lord.

Nehemiah felt obligated to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem joined him and slowly build the walls but there were opposition to their project. It says in Nehemiah 6:10-15, 10One day I went to the house of Shemaiah son of Delaiah, the son of Mehetabel, who was shut in at his home. He said, “Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you—by night they are coming to kill you.”

11But I said, “Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!” 12I realized that God had not sent him, but that he had prophesied against me because Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him. 13He had been hired to intimidate me so that I would commit a sin by doing this, and then they would give me a bad name to discredit me.

14Remember Tobiah and Sanballat, my God, because of what they have done; remember also the prophet Noadiah and how she and the rest of the prophets have been trying to intimidate me. 15So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days.

It was the will of God for Nehemiah to lead the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem so that they completed their project in short span of time. If it is God’s will, no critics can discourage us to complete the task God instilled in our hearts.

As a church, we prayed that God would reveal to our church leaders the activities or mission projects that He want us as a congregation to participate. It is possible that there is and will be individuals who may be confused to promote their personal agenda or to promote the welfare of other organizations.

What should we do when individuals or groups directly or indirectly do not coordinate, cooperate or collaborate with ministry teams and church leaders?

Nehemiah prayed that God would remember his enemies who tried to intimidate him and those who were with him. And God made him successful.

No cooperation, no collaboration, these are some forms of discouragement that may intimidate faithful servants of the Lord. But like Nehemiah, if we truly believe that our ministry comes from the Lord, we have to pray and believe that God will give us ministry success no matter how others may intimidate us.

There is no problem too big for the Lord that He cannot solve.

Today, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper to remember the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ died to solve the problem of sin.

Do you strongly believe that the Lord has taken all our sins and nailed them with Christ on the cross?

Do you strongly believe that the Lord has resurrected to solve human’s greatest problem of death?

Do you strongly believe that the Lord will come again to take us into His heaven?

The Lord Jesus declared about those who believe in Him in John 14:12,

12Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

Joseph protected the interest of Egypt.

Nehemiah protected the interest of Jerusalem.

We, as God’s children, what is it the Lord instilling  in our heart to protect?

It says in 2 Timothy 1:6:9-14, 9He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. 13What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

A lifestyle of holiness is a practical display that Christ is actively guarding our life. We become holy before God when received the Holy Spirit who helps us to live a lifestyle of holiness. Praise belongs to our God.

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