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Presentation 60. In chap 41 we discovered that God enabled Joseph to forget all of the hurt and grief that was connected with his earlier years. Memories.

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Presentation on theme: "Presentation 60. In chap 41 we discovered that God enabled Joseph to forget all of the hurt and grief that was connected with his earlier years. Memories."— Presentation transcript:

1 Presentation 60

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3 In chap 41 we discovered that God enabled Joseph to forget all of the hurt and grief that was connected with his earlier years. Memories of the past no longer haunted him, nor did they introduce disquiet to his spirit. However, as we move into chap 42 God forces others to remember their past. He makes them feel uncomfortable about what they have done in the past in order to bring them to repentance. God has built into man a private alarm system. Conscience is God's ally. John Trapp describes conscience as, “God's spy and man's overseer”. Introduction Presentation 60

4 Our conscience can be compared to the nerve endings in the human body. As a hand approaches the intense heat of a fire, the nerve ending warns that a burn is inevitable. Failure to heed the warning results in a burn and in time the nerve endings are desensitised. Subsequent pain inflicted on the burned limb will not register! Similarly, a constant refusal to heed the warnings of conscience results in it being desensitised. We can put conscience to sleep. But God can trigger the alarm on the Desensitised conscience whenever he chooses. This is what is happening in Joseph's brothers’ lives. And the work of awakening develops in three stages! Introduction Presentation 60

5 The brothers’ consciences were dozing fitfully, when the famine predicted by Joseph devastated the land of Canaan. Jacob told his sons to go to Egypt to buy food and then asks, 'Why do you just keep looking at each other'? Gen 42.1 What was the problem? Jacob could not understand his sons reluctance to go to Egypt. Whenever the word ‘Egypt’ was mentioned they remembered how they had treated their brother and rejected his pleas for help. Clearly, ‘Egypt’ was a trigger word that troubled their conscience. They feared facing their past! Shakespeare might have been thinking of them when he wrote: "Conscience makes cowards of us all”. Deprivation Presentation 60

6 God used afamine to awaken their conscience. Their quiet, contented pastoral lives were disturbed by material need. Egypt, the only place in the world where food was to be found, was the very place they wanted to avoid! Was Joseph still alive? What if they saw him crushed and broken after long years in slavery? Now it was their material deprivation forced them to face their past and travel to Egypt. God can still use deprivation of various sorts today, to force us to face our past and to awaken our slumbering consciences. There are also many biblical examples. Deprivation Presentation 60

7 Think of the deprivation that God used in Gomer’s life. She was Hosea’s unfaithful wife who had left home to be with her lover. However, when he could no longer provide for her needs God sent Hosea to ask if she had adequate food and clothing. She replied: “I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.” Hosea 2:5 It seems there were others queuing up to be with her! But all her lovers failed her and she experienced real deprivation. At that point Hosea stepped in to provide for her. His help was met with ingratitude! “She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold which they used for Baal”. Hosea 2:8 Deprivation Presentation 60

8 Hosea’s provision was intended to soften Gomer's heart, just as God's gracious provision is meant to draw his people Israel to himself. But Israel did not allow God's provision to melt her heart and so God brought upon her even greater deprivation to awaken her to her need: "Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her nakedness. I will stop all her celebrations, her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days all her appointed feasts. I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers. I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them”. Hosea 2:9ff Deprivation Presentation 60

9 A better known example of the positive benefits of deprivation is found in Jesus’ story of the prodigal. ‘After he had spent everything he had, there was a severe famine in the land, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.’ Lk.15.14ff Deprivation Presentation 60

10 In this case deprivation helped bring the prodigal to his senses and it awakened his conscience to the wrongs he had done. He said; ‘I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men”. God uses deprivation to awaken conscience and promote repentance. The Psalmist writes: ‘Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your will.’ Ps Deprivation Presentation 60

11 Physical deprivation by itself does not always awaken conscience. God often has to apply other measures. Hence the harsh treatment experienced by Joseph’s brothers in Egypt. Initially, it took the form of harsh words. Now there are some people who think that words do not really hurt. They say, “sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me”. How wrong they are! “Words! Do you fully understand their power? Can any of us really grasp the mighty force behind the things we say? Do we stop and think before we speak considering the potency of the phrases we utter?” Joni Eareckson Harsh words are not easily forgotten. People often carry the wounds of words to their graves. Harsh Treatment Presentation 60

12 Words can hurt! And that is one reason, why God can use words to unsettle us and so strengthen the impact made upon an awakened conscience. His words can appear harsh only because the truth, so long supressed, now begins to resonate afresh within our minds assisted by the voice of conscience. In this context the Holy Spirit does his convicting work! Think for a moment of the response to Peter's preaching on the day of Pentecost; “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, brothers, what shall we do?” Acts Harsh Treatment Presentation 60

13 “Joseph spoke harshly to his brothers” v7. Was it wrong of Joseph to conceal his identity and speak in this way? Not if Joseph believed he was God's instrument to bring his brothers to repentance and faith. They were not easily disturbed. But an ‘authority figure’ like the prime-minister of Egypt could unsettle their conscience. 'You are spies,' Joseph said. Did Joseph repeat the words his brothers had used years previously when they put him down the well? To them Joseph was a spy, who took bad reports back to their father. They protested their innocence, just as surely as Joseph had protested his. Joseph was put down a Well, they were put into prison! This parallel would have had a powerful appeal to their conscience? Harsh Treatment Presentation 60

14 Have you read Shakespeare’s Hamlet? Hamlet's father - the king- was murdered by his uncle Claudius who in turn became king. Hamlet was uncertain of this fact until a group of actors came to the palace and Hamlet asked them to enact a play he calls the ‘Mousetrap’. This play was in fact a re-enactment of Hamlet’s father’s murder. All of the details of the murder had been provided by the ghost of Hamlet’s father. It is clear to the audience that the ‘Mousetrap’ is Hamlet's device to, ‘catch the king’s conscience.’ The play is performed and the murderer’s conscience exposes him. So too, Joseph re-enacted the scene of his youth when he had been imprisoned in the well in order to ‘catch his brother’s conscience' cf v21... Harsh Treatment Presentation 60

15 We should not resent the wounds we receive from God's Word, whenever we read it or, hear it expounded. It may be that God seeks to ‘catch our conscience’! Perhaps some distant and unconfessed sin is brought to our attention as the cutting edge of God's Word does its work. Before God can pour out the oil of comfort and forgiveness, he must first wound the awakened conscience. We often go to church looking for some feel good factor, when in fact what we may need is to have our consciences awakened. Harsh Treatment Presentation 60

16 M.L.Jones, who was used of God to awaken many consciences in the C20th writes: “The church is regarded as a sort of dispensary where drugs and soothing mixtures are distributed and in which everyone should be eased and comforted. And the one theme of the church must be 'the love of God'. Anyone who happens to break these rules and who produces a disturbing effect upon members of his congregation is regarded an objectionable person”. Harsh Treatment Presentation 60

17 Deprivation and harsh words brought about a trickle of confession cf v13... but after their imprisonment the trickle becomes a torrent cf v God used solitude to trigger conscience. They were no longer distracted by the incessant and trivial demands of daily life. Solitude can take many forms. It is a precious gift from God even, when there is no great sin to be exposed. In our solitude we meet with God. How does the poet put it? Converse with men makes sharp the glittering wit, But God to man doth speak in solitude. Solitude is often the door into the transformation of our spiritual lives. Solitude Presentation 60

18 In solitude, the protective outer shell of our heart is often cracked. We can become contrite, crushed, and broken, by contemplating our own past sins and the pain that we have caused our fellows. One of the reasons for the shallowness of so much contemporary Christianity is surely our reluctance to cope with solitude. Little time is spent alone with God listening to his voice, a voice that reproves before it comforts. The modern anxiety to ensure that we are constantly listen to one sound or another reduces the opportunities for God to speak! When we are too busy for God we are too busy! Solitude Presentation 60

19 The crimes the brothers had committed against Joseph and against God were beginning to rise to the surface. The blows of God’s providences ensured that the ice of their hard, selfish, uncaring resistance was beginning to crack. They are brought out of their imprisonment told to go home but one of them has to stay behind v They begin to see the relationship between their present dilemma and their past sin cf v21... Simeon was left behind but each brother knew they deserved the same for what they had done to Joseph. As far as we know this was the first time in 13 years that they had discussed Joseph’s anguish! In moments of solitude God can access our conscience through our Memories, reminding us of sin we need to confess and forsake. Solitude Presentation 60

20 Finally, solitude taught these men to reason spiritually, 'we are being punished because of our brother... that's why this distress has come upon us...Now we must give an accounting for his blood.' v22 They recognised that they lived in a moral universe, where God requires a reckoning for sin. Of course not every life-calamity is the result of some past sin. However, when God chooses to confronts us with our sin in our solitude, then the pathway of repentance is set before us. When did the prodigal son come to his spiritual senses and decide to return to his father? When he was partying and living it up with all his worldly friends? No! It was when he was deserted by them and in the solitude of the pig-pen saw his sin for what it was! Solitude Presentation 60

21 It is amazing to think that God loves us enough to plan providences and send deprivation, harsh treatment and solitude into our lives in order that conscience might be awakened and repentance pursued. We, for our part, must be prepared to ask the question: “Is God hemming me into a place of solitude in order that his ally, conscience, might begin to search my heart and focus my thinking on my relationship with him?” Conclusion Presentation 60


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