Friday, January 24, 2014

28 Stories - Study 20: Granting Forgiveness

Fundamental: The Second Coming of Christ

Bible Story 

News of Joseph’s joy soon reached the ears of Pharaoh. Everyone who knew Joseph was thrilled at his good fortune. Pharaoh sent a message, “Tell your brothers, ‘This is what you must do: Load your pack animals, and hurry back to the land of Canaan. Then get your father and all of your families, and return here to me. I will give you the very best land in Egypt, and you will eat from the best that the land produces.”
It was more than Joseph or his brothers could have ever dreamed. “Go tell Father,” Joseph said, “God has made me Lord of all Egypt! Please bring Father here, quickly!”
Joseph spoke to his brothers into the wee hours of the night, recounting the things that had happened to him since he was sold into slavery. Some of the stories were difficult to tell, and brought tears to every eye in the room, as they all recognised how involved God had been in each step of the journey. Many of the stories Joseph had previously told as tales of woe were now tales of wonder at the awesome power and foresight of their mighty God.
While telling his own story, Joseph would interrupt himself asking his brothers to tell of their lives and the land he so fondly remembered. Every so often, the conversation would stop and the brothers would just stare at each other. Is this really happening? The famine ravaging the land had dominated their every thought over the last couple of years. And yet now, it was hardly even present in their thinking. They were moving to Egypt where they would be treated like kings—or the brothers of one, anyway!
The next morning, Joseph sent his brothers on their way in new wagons with enough provisions for the journey home and the return trip. He personally gave each brother a new set of clothes. When he came to Benjamin, he couldn’t help himself, and gave him five sets of clothes and 300 pieces of silver.
Usually when you are thinking special thoughts of someone, you send a gift basket. But Joseph had bigger and better things in mind for his father. He sent 10 male donkeys loaded with Egypt’s finest products and 10 female donkeys loaded with grain and bread.
As he farewelled the eleven, he couldn’t hold in a little brotherly jibe, “Hey guys, don’t slow yourselves too much by fighting on the way home!” He wanted them to get there quickly and in good spirits. More than anything, he wanted to see his father again.
When they arrived home, the eleven brothers were surrounded by their wives and children. Everyone was so excited to have their dads and husbands home. And everyone was hungry! When they could finally tear themselves away from their loved ones, the brothers regrouped and headed to their father’s tent. Jacob knew they were home but he knew they would seek him out once they had embraced their families.
As the brothers approached, Jacob visibly relaxed when he saw Benjamin. A smile spread across his face, “Ah, a safe and successful trip! You have all returned to me. Did all go well with the purchase of food?”
The brothers looked at Simeon, the eldest, to allow him the pleasure of telling the good news. He had been playing the conversation over and over in his mind. How would he tell Father they had tricked him all those years ago—lied to him. Joseph hadn’t been killed by wild animals. Joseph’s own brothers had hated him so much they had sold him to slavers. The bloodied coat was just a cover-up. The strategy Simeon decided for telling the news to his father was to get right to the point—jump over the history and the hardships—and tell the good news first!
“Joseph is still alive!” Simeon said, beaming from ear to ear.
Jacob slumped, his knees had lost their strength. Two of the brothers rushed to him and lifted him before he fell.
Benjamin blurted, “And he is governor of all the land of Egypt!”
Jacob’s eyes went as big as dinner plates. For his son to be alive was hard enough to believe. But now he knew it was a joke. It was impossible. He accused them of lying but when they repeated everything Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirits revived and he began to believe them.
For the next few days, as his eleven sons, their wives and his many grand children packed the tents and prepared to move to Egypt, Jacob wandered from one person to the next. No matter who they were or if he had told them before, he repeated, “My son Joseph is still alive! I am going to see him before I die.”
The return journey to Egypt took a lot longer with all the livestock being herded alongside the wagons. Finally they were near enough that Jacob sent Judah ahead to find Joseph and get directions to Goshen.
After sending Judah back to his father with directions, Joseph got in his own chariot and traveled to Goshen to meet his father. Could it be true? Was he really alive? Was God really this good?
Finally Joseph arrived in Goshen and found his family in the place he had chosen for them. The moment he saw Jacob, Joseph leapt off his chariot and ran to his father. He threw his arms around Jacob and wept, holding him for a long time. Finally, Jacob said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.”
“Enough of this death talk, father,” Joseph laughed. “There is someone who wants to meet you!” Joseph helped his father into the chariot and they raced back to Egypt.
Joseph gave his father a tour of the great city. The crowds parted and bowed as the chariot worked it’s way through the streets. Eventually, they arrived at Pharaoh’s palace. Joseph introduced his father to Egypt’s monarch. Jacob began and finished the conversation by thanking Pharaoh for his generosity. The short conversation was marked with a deep mutual respect.
Pharaoh watched with wonder as Joseph and Jacob, father and son, walked arm in arm out of his palace.

My Reflection

Imagine you were Joseph. What would it have been like to see your father after all those years? What would you say?

What would it have been like to be Jacob and discover that your son was alive, you were going to meet him and he was in a position powerful enough to provide all the needs of your starving family?

Everyone in this story, upon reflection, would have realised that God had been working behind the scenes the entire time. Would it be easy to reframe the story in your mind from negative to positive? Describe the emotional and spiritual transitions the following people would have gone through: Joseph, Jacob, the brothers.

My Story

Consider a time when you felt forgotten or abandoned. Is it possible that God could have been shaping you for something in the future?

Imagine you discover you are related to someone extremely rich and powerful and they want to give you a new life. What positive and negative things can you imagine in this scenario?

Imagine that today a finely dressed man came to your house and said, “I’m your long-lost brother, here to take you all to a new life. Hop in the Hummer!” What would you do?

My Assurance

Like Joseph with his brothers, Jesus knows our past and chooses to forgive us for those wrongs. Joseph provided his loved ones with food and a place to live. Jesus has provided us with so much more! What do these verses reveal about the presence, power and promise of Jesus in our lives?

Hebrews 9:28 ~ Christ died once for all time as a sacrifice to take away the sins of many people. He will come again, not to deal with our sins, but to bring salvation to all who are eagerly waiting for him.

John 14:1-3 ~ Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ~ But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.

My Commitment

While Jesus is in Heaven preparing a place for us and is planning to return to claim us, he has a role for us to play. What commitment and action do these texts call us to be involved in?

Matthew 24:14 ~ The good news about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come.

Matthew 24: 43-44 ~ If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 ~ For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ~ In the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

My Outlook

Every day we hear about the failings of planet Earth and her people. The world seems to be unraveling at the seams. Without an understanding of God’s plan and purpose, life can be hopeless. How do the following verses give us a clearer understanding of what is really going on around us and what will soon take place?

Titus 2:13 ~ We look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.

Mark 13:5-8 ~ Jesus replied, “Don’t let anyone mislead you, for many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah.’ They will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and threats of wars, but don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place, but the end won’t follow immediately. Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in many parts of the world, as well as famines. But this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come.

1 Corinthians 15:53-54 ~ For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

My Response

The following statement is the 25th of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Second Coming of Christ

The second coming of Christ is the blessed hope of the church, the grand climax of the gospel. The Saviour’s coming will be literal, personal, visible, and worldwide. When He returns, the righteous dead will be resurrected, and together with the righteous living will be glorified and taken to heaven, but the unrighteous will die. The almost complete fulfilment of most lines of prophecy, together with the present condition of the world, indicates that Christ’s coming is imminent. The time of that event has not been revealed, and we are therefore exhorted to be ready at all times.

Bible Story

The story of Joseph is one of the longest narratives recorded in the Bible. It can be found in Genesis chapters 37, 39-50.

Further Reading

Acts 1:9-11, Revelation 1:7, 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10, 2 Thessalonians 2:8, Revelation 14:14-20, Revelations 19:11-21, Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21

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