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Overcome an Earthly Mindset                23 NOV 14

GEN 50:15-18 One thing you cannot do is command forgiveness. You can command no reprisal. Forgiveness is a personal matter of the heart just as is love. The brothers developed real fear that Joseph had been nice to them only because of Jacob. Now what was to keep him from taking his revenge upon them with Jacob dead? So they sent a messenger to Joseph to say (supposedly) that Jacob had said that Joseph was to forgive them what they had done to him.  It could have happened during (Gen 49:1 RSV) “Then Jacob called his sons, and said, "Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall befall you in days to come." But the Bible does not record directly that Jacob ever told Joseph to forgive his brothers. That is not necessarily to say that he didn't but it holds the probably that they made this up to influence Joseph who had high regards for his father. In any case, Joseph took it as coming from his father. The brothers knew they had to get the matter settled. They still had a giant guilt complex. After they sent a servant with the message they went to Joseph and bowed on the ground in front of Joseph as was the custom of the day. (The dream of Joseph had come true.) The use of "they" in verse 17 probably means more than one servant went with the servant in verse 16 and they agreed that is what they had been told. Note that "Joseph wept." Why? It had been 17 years since GEN 45:5 and they STILL did not get the message: "Joseph really forgave them!" HE HAD ALREADY DONE SO! How would you feel?

GEN 50:19-21 It was Joseph who brought up the past. The brother never did directly say they did a wrong and they were sorry. They did so through the messenger. Was the statement “we are your servants” a direct admission of guilt? It does not seem to be. It was Joseph who did the forgiving of the evil done against him. He lived (Mat 5:43-47 RSV) "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' {44} But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, {45} so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. {46} For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? {47} And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?" Doing right and good is not always easy. Joseph had come to recognize how God had worked out the good for so many people from his bad days of slavery. So from then on a surface of peace came between Joseph and his brothers. But it would be unreasonable to say this was totally mutual. The brothers never gave face-to-face admission of wrong. It was probably a public peace from their side, but they probably always lived with a sense of uneasiness inwardly. But Joseph showed (1 Cor 13:4 RSV) “Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful;" Since Joseph did this, the peace from his side was real and satisfying. Joseph essentially began again and did the same thing again. He assured them he was not going to take any vengeance. After all he was not God and vengeance is to be God's action. (Rom 12:19 KJV)  "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." However, this is from the Law which was not written yet. (Deu 32:35-36 RSV) "Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly. For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, when he sees that their power is gone, and there is none remaining, bond or free." So what probably happened is similar to what Paul discussed in (Rom 2:13-16 RSV) "For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus."

Then Joseph pointed out what Paul would say in (Rom 8:28 KJV) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." God had not created the brothers' hatred nor Joseph's cause for them to hate. But after the brothers had acted, God worked out the maximum good possible, even though Joseph did not realize it while events were happening.

GEN 50:22-25 Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs on his book The Origin of All Things, Word Books, 1975, page 157 wrote “Joseph finally died at the age of one hundred and ten, a ripe age among the Egyptians (50:22). Before his death he requested that when Israel returned to Canaan after the exodus, they would take his mummified body and bury it in the land of promise (50:24-25; Heb. 11:22). He believed in the promise (Yahweh) made to Abraham. At the time of the exodus (Exod. 13:19) the Israelites took his body and later buried it in Shechem (Josh. 24:32).

Thus Genesis, which opens with the bright light of creation, closes with the words "a coffin in Egypt." Were it not for the rest of the Bible, it would be a dismal ending, but Joseph's request makes it a symbol of faith. Through their long years of servitude, the Israelites could find in that coffin a ray of hope. It was as a light of faith shining in the darkness of despair.

MATT 5:23-24 More should be said about Jesus’ critical and surprising statement and command. "Therefore" in the Greek is 3767. oun, oon; appar. a prim. word; (adv.) certainly, or (conj.) accordingly:--and (so, truly), but, now (then), so (likewise then), then, therefore, verily, wherefore. It points back to what Jesus has just said and he bases what he is saying upon it. What Jesus just said is (Mat 5:22 RSV)  "But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire." The situation in verses 23-24 is a Christian brother/sister having "ought against you." "Ought" in Greek is 5100. tis, tis; an enclit. indef. pron.; some or any person or object:--a (kind of), any (man, thing, thing at all), certain (thing), divers, he (every) man, one (X thing), ought, + partly, some (man, -body, -thing, -what), (+ that no-) thing, what (-soever), X wherewith, whom [-soever], whose ([-soever]). It basically means anything of any subject. Obviously Jesus is making a generality. How does it tie together? Dr. Hobbs in his book An Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew, page 66 wrote "He cannot even worship at God's altar if his brother has ought against him…" Why? Jesus is speaking about Christian brothers (sisters). Because the other person is holding an attitude as in "But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, 'You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire", this Christian cannot worship God properly and could approach what Peter wrote in (2 Pet 1:10 RSV)  "Therefore, brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election, for if you do this you will never fall;". If you can improve the worship level of another Christian by trying to resolve a problem that is bothering another Christian against you, you are immediately to try and resolve it. How immediately? Before you worship God on Sunday morning! In fact, your worship is as adversely affected as the grudging brother because you have not tried to help his worship status! Amazing as it seems, some things have a higher priority than going to Sunday Worship! Dr. Hobbs put it this way: "A difference with your fellowman is a difference between you and God. For this reason it is far better for the Christian to negotiate a difference, even to his own material loss, than to fight for one's rights." This is because the real issue is one between you and God. Jesus could have stopped here and said, "Have you been listening to what I have already said?" Jesus had just said (Mat 5:9 KJV) “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." If you don't go and try, you are also not being a "peacemaker"! And the facts may show that the brother may have good reasons for feeling that way about you. You may have unknowingly caused the problem. You may be the one who really needed to repent and ask forgiveness. But in any case, you are to go as soon as you learn of a problem, even if it is as you start into the doors of the Worship place in the church building. Peacemaking is as much worship of God as any formal congregational worship event. Finally Dr. Hobbs stated "These are strong words, but they are the words of the King!" So recognize, turn, pursue. Then if the Christian does not forgive you after all proper actions by you (of course done in love), then it is not your fault. You are free to return and worship God.

COL 3:12 Paul is making a summary and a command. Note carefully: "Put on therefore…" You have the action and responsibility, just as in Matt 5:23-24. Jesus is not going to do it for you. He will not live your life for you. Paul called Christians "the elect of God." This is not predestination to salvation, but being given the opportunity to accept the Plan of Salvation. (Rom 10:13 KJV) "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." "Bowels" was used in that day for the seat of emotions in the same manner as we use "heart" today. But of course, we know it is really in the brain of a person. Paul used several words of closely related meanings. In the Greek "kindness" means just that: 5544. chrestotes, khray-stot'-ace; from G5543; usefulness, i.e. mor. excellence (in character or demeanor):--gentleness, good (-ness), kindness. "Meekness" mean being teachable. But the context includes you really trying to grow using Peter's Growth Process of 2 PET 1:5-7. To forgive takes a lot of virtues working together. They are exclusively the venue of a Christian. But how they are used and applied to be like Jesus is what a Christian must seek to do.

COL 3:14-15 "Any man" is a category, i.e. any person. "Forbearing" in Greek is 430. anechomai, an-ekh'-om-ahee; mid. from G303 and G2192; to hold oneself up against, i.e. (fig.) put up with:--bear with endure, forbear, suffer. Paul said also (Gal 6:2 KJV) “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." "Bear" here is 941. bastazo, bas-tad'-zo; perh. remotely der. from the base of G939 (through the idea of removal); to lift, lit. or fig. (endure, declare, sustain, receive, etc.):--bear, carry, take up. Note the similar meanings. One thing always involved in good human relations is patience.  Patience allows time to be a healing and educating factor. "Let" is the action and responsibility of each individual, and not God. The "Peace of God" {note peacemaker} is to rule. Make peace! Joseph did all he could to do so, even when his brothers admitted nothing. Forgiving is not to be dependent upon being fair or gaining justice or even the other party. It is about (John 15:12 RSV) “"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you."

 

            There is only one way to “Overcome an Earthly Mindset.” It is as Peter wrote in (1 Pet 3:8-12 RSV) "Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind. Do not return evil for evil or reviling for reviling; but on the contrary bless, for to this you have been called, that you may obtain a blessing. For "He that would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile; let him turn away from evil and do right; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil.""

            This comes by doing (Phil 2:1-4 RSV) "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

            This is achieved by (Eph 4:22-24 RSV) "Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." And doing in an orderly fashion: (2 Pet 1:5-7 RSV) "For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love."

 

Marvin Ganote, Advanced Bible Study Class, Adult Teacher. Lesson at: http://dma1.org/~ganotemd/lesson.htm  or http://academic.udayton.edu/MarvinGanote/Bible/lessn.htm