By Pastor Hal Mayer
Welcome to this month’s Keep The Faith message. I hope that you have made progress in your spiritual life as a result of the lessons we send you each month. Our burden is the salvation of souls and it is encouraging to us to hear your comments about the sermons.
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My friends, I’m so thankful for how God has worked in our lives to bring about reconciliation. He first reconciles us to Himself and our Heavenly Father and then to those around us.
This month we will conclude the story of Joseph. We began this series in January of this year, and it is fitting that we end this year with its last part. It is hard to imagine that this is part 5 already, but it has been a wonderful personal blessing to me to prepare these messages on the life of Joseph and it’s practical application to our experiences as God’s children. I hope you have gained as much blessing listening to them as I have had in preparing them. If you want to refresh your mind on the story where we left off last time, go back and listen to the last sermon in this series.
Jesus is the center of this story, even though He is not mentioned by name at all. The cross of Christ is also portrayed in the experience of Joseph though it is never mentioned. Yet, the parallels to the plan of salvation and our relationship to Jesus come through loud and clear.
So, before we begin, let us bow our heads and ask God’s blessing on our time together. Our Father in Heaven. How grateful we are for your love and providential leadings, even through pain and tragedy to triumph in Christ. Help us to grasp it more fully. Help us learn to depend upon you and patiently wait for You to work out the councils of Your will. May our hearts be open to your ordained tools to mold and shape us into your image so that you can be the one people see when they see us. By your grace, restore the image of Jesus in your people in these last days. Now help us as we study, to more fully see your hand in our lives. In Jesus’ name Amen.
After coming to Egypt, Jacob lived another 17 years. Jacob does not want to be buried in Egypt and asks Joseph to make sure that he is taken back to the cave where he buried Rachel, Joseph’s mother. Joseph readily agrees not to bury him in Egypt. Their parting at the time of Jacob’s death is so moving. You can read it in Genesis 49. Jacob has taken sick and is sitting on his bed. Joseph brings his two sons. His brothers also come to see him before he dies. Jacob blesses them and then calls all of his sons to his side and prophesies about them. Notice what he said of Judah. It’s in Genesis 49:10. “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” This is saying that Judah would be in the lineage of Jesus.
Turn to Matt 1:2 and you will see it. Let me read it. “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren.” The word translated “Judas” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Judah. It is very interesting that a Judas was the betrayer of Joseph just like Jesus was betrayed by his disciple Judas. Joseph’s brother however was changed by the power of God and he was restored. Do you think Judas could have been restored if he had turned from his selfishness and pride like Joseph’s brother Judah? In addition to being restored by Joseph, Judah was also restored by the God of heaven and was given the privilege of being in the direct line of ancestry to the Son of God. What amazing restoration! What a powerful witness to the forgiving power of God. Judah was restored to the lineage of Jesus the great deliverer of which Joseph is a type.
When Jacob is finished with blessing his sons and prophesying about them, he pulls his feet up on the bed, closes his eyes and gives up the Ghost. Chapter 50:1 opens with these words; “And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.” His farewell is reminiscent of his reunion with his father after so many years, but now Joseph has to let his father go. Have you ever let go of a loved one in death? Parting is very hard. I know because I experienced it with my mother. I knew she would not live more than a few more days when I last saw her. I wept as I left her home for that last time. I believe I’ll see her again, but I know a little of the sorrow Joseph felt at the loss of his beloved father. There is a lump in your throat that is hard to swallow. Tears flow freely and your heart feels as if it is going to break. I can imagine that Joseph felt like that. It is hard to let go of a loved one.
After Jacob’s death Joseph got Pharaoh’s permission to bury his father in Canaan. What an entourage. A huge procession wended its way up the now familiar road between Egypt and Hebron, the same road that Joseph, many years before had traveled in another procession as a prisoner and a slave. His heart was crushed with sorrow. But now the procession is a different kind of sorrow. Vs. 8 and 9 of chapter 50 tells us that there was “a very great company,” with chariots and horses and all the house of Joseph, his brothers and all the house of Jacob. Only their children and flocks and herds were left behind. The Canaanites have never seen such an imposing site, an Egyptian state funeral in Canaan of all places. Important Egyptians aren’t buried outside the valley of the kings in Egypt. But the deceased is no Egyptian. He is a humble shepherd, a Hebrew, returning to his homeland, but with Egyptian state honors.
Imagine Joseph’s thoughts as the great stone was rolled back in front of the cave of Machpelah. He must have sat quietly there, a long, long time, thinking about the events of his father’s life. He must of thought about how God had taught him to trust Him, not vicariously through his father, but with his own personal walk with God. The same God of his father, and his father’s father would be with him and his brothers. He must have thought about his brothers and the history of their relationship and how God had worked everything for their good. He must have thought about the sweet restoration that had brought them all back together.
The lump in his throat must have been thick as he turned and left the grave site, to return to Egypt. Slowly and with his shoulders bent, he makes his way back South. He is wearing the mourning clothes of proud Egypt, but he is humble and acts quite differently from the Egyptians. He is in his homeland. He is not an Egyptian. He is a child of the God of God’s, the Mighty one of Israel. He looks upon the hills of Hebron, his childhood home, probably for the last time, the only time in nearly 40 years.
That night he again looks into the heavens and sees the stars. The same stars that he saw when he was a slave trudging South to Egypt for the first time. Now he is turning South again for the last time, not as a slave but as a ruler, the prince of Egypt. As he looks into the heavens he is reminded of God’s promises and is greatly comforted that God will be with him just as He was with his fathers. He renews his faith and his covenant with God.
You know my friends, it doesn’t matter who you are, or how high your position, or how strong you appear in the eyes of others, we all face times in our lives when we need comfort and encouragement. We all face times of loss and sorrow. These are times when through faith we can have Jesus close by our side. These are times when we can look at the stars and can have the confidence that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph will be with us just as He was with them.
After Joseph buried his father, his brethren became concerned. They think that now that their father is dead, Joseph would take revenge on them. They were afraid to come to him themselves, so they sent a messenger to him.
Genesis 50:15-17. “And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, so shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father.
Joseph wept when he heard this. He was no doubt disappointed that his brothers did not trust his previous forgiveness and the magnanimous symbols of his love.
Though his brothers were good men, they hadn’t learned the strength of faith in God that Joseph had. Nor do they understand the character of Joseph. But Joseph was gracious to them. He spoke kindly to them and reminded them of God’s providence. He has no interest in revenge.
The scripture says in vs 19-21, “And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”
Joseph doesn’t need justice. God has given him justice both real and poetic. His dreams have been fulfilled. He is practically in charge of the greatest nation on earth. He doesn’t need any further justice. His heart is pure. He has learned how to forgive. He leaves his brothers with God. He can see that God has transformed them and that they are no longer what they once were.
My friends, this is exactly what Jesus does with us. When he forgives us, He changes us from what we were into what He is. He transforms us. His work in our lives becomes obvious to all. And it makes Him sad when we bring up our past and fear that He has not really forgiven us.
Joseph lived approximately another 70 years until he was 110 years old.
He asks that he not be buried in Egypt, but put in a coffin until the departure of Israel for the promised land. Little did they know that it would be 400 years until he is finally buried, and that a terrible slavery would intervene. Why the slavery? God did not want them to get too comfortable in Egypt. He wanted them to long for the land promised to their fathers. It is interesting to note, that Joseph’s coffin was there to remind the Egyptians of what Joseph had done for them. Yet they eventually, turned against Israel (in the providence of God) and forgot Joseph. I think it is ironic that the children of Joseph’s brothers were put in bondage like Joseph. Their lives were made hard like his was. They learned what it was like to suffer unjustly. Do you remember the scripture that says that God visits the “iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.” That is Exodus 20:5, 6
The story of Joseph is an amazing story of forgiveness and Christ-likeness with types and symbols as well as personal practical applications to our own lives. But it is also a story that reveals the principles of the Great Controversy and especially does it speak to the Last Generation. Perhaps as you study the story yourself, you will see more examples of this than what we will cover today. This month I want to challenge you to think beyond the immediate, wonderful story of Joseph, and grasp the deeper significance.
There is a powerful text in scripture that speaks of those living in the last days. 1 Timothy 3:16 says “and without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” My friends, the mystery of Godliness was fulfilled in Christ when He became manifest in the flesh. But it is also to be fulfilled in the Last Generation when they are filled with the character and the glory of God through Jesus dwelling in them. They become the mystery of Godliness as they live in holiness unto God. Don’t you want to be part of that great movement at the end of time?
The stories of the Old Testament are often illustrations of all or part of the plan of salvation or of the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan. Each story illustrates a different aspect of how God deals with His church through out time. But the scriptures tell us that the stories of the Old Testament were examples to us. In 1 Corinthians 10:11 we read “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” History repeats itself. The principles, characteristics and conflicts in the stories of the old testament have great meaning for us, because they happen to us too.
Joseph was also a type of Christ manifest in the flesh, particularly in his role as a reconciler with his brothers. But there are many parallels between Joseph and Jesus. Let us look at them and also the parallels to the Last Generation.
The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan, with the involvement of everyone on the earth as well as the unseen angelic hosts, is a theme that runs through scripture. Many of the people in the stories of the Old Testament illustrate the characters in the great controversy, not always in exact detail, because they are fallen men, but in the positions that they hold in relation to each other and the events that occurred, they are types of the larger conflict going on in the universe. The story of Joseph is no exception.
Jacob is the head of the family. He is the father and represents our loving Heavenly Father whose interest and care for His children and His church is great. As the story unfolds we see the squabbles and unsavory issues going on in God’s church in their day.
Joseph is given two prophetic dreams. He then becomes the prophet to his brothers, who were the church of their time. They hate their prophet and want to do him harm. Isn’t this what Christ was to Israel; their Messiah, their greatest prophet? Yet His church despised and hated him and did him harm. Micah 7:6 says “a man’s enemies are the men of his own house.” The remnant church is identified in scripture as having the Spirit of Prophecy (Rev 19:10). There are many who hate God’s prophets and messengers today in the same way. They mistreat them and deal with them in ways that often reflect the same characteristics that Joseph’s brothers revealed in their treatment of him.
You see my friends, it is not the world that you have to worry about sometimes as much as those in God’s church. Those that will betray you, are the ones who know you, the ones that know your secrets. You can actually expect better treatment from those that aren’t members of the house of faith, than those with whom you worship each week.
Joseph’s brothers become envious of him. They became so hateful of him that they had to take their flocks and go a long way for a long time. Their father became worried about them and sent his son to see how they were doing. He sent gifts with his son for them as well. They persecuted Joseph, squandered the gifts and sold him as a slave.
God’s church went astray too. He was worried about them so He sent His son Jesus on a journey to find his lost brethren. He sent spiritual gifts which they squandered and wasted, while persecuting Him; and like Judah, Judas sold Him for the price of a slave to their enemies. Do you think this kind of betrayal will happen at the end of time? I do. In fact, Jesus predicts it in Matt 24:10. “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” You see my friends, the time of trouble is going to be more trouble from fellow believers than from the world. So we’d better get used to it. You can’t expect your fellow church members to protect you. Some of them will stoop to the lowest level of human indignity to make your life miserable. We need an experience like Joseph so that we will respond in Christ-like ways.
Joseph’s brothers ate the food their father sent, but rejected and persecuted the messenger. They lived on the benefits without being accountable to their father for their behavior. Isn’t that what Israel did? They partook of the benefits of being God’s church, but rejected the One that had given them those very benefits. Jesus described the rebellion of His church in Matt 21:33-39. “Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.”
Do you think that the same problem exists in God’s church today? Do we not proclaim to work for the divine husbandman, but in reality we are doing our own thing, and when He sends us messengers of warning, we ridicule them, accuse them and assassinate their reputations? I don’t know about you, but I have seen this many times.
Joseph is crucified twice in the story, first by his church; that is by his brothers (symbolically at least) in their effort to rid themselves of his influence. Though they didn’t actually kill him (even though they had planned to at first), they crucified him in their minds. They sent him to Egypt as a slave, thinking that they would be rid of him forever. They never thought about the principle that after every crucifixion, there is a resurrection. They could not appreciate the value of the act that they had so wickedly accomplished.
Joseph’s brothers despised the prophet Joseph and his message. This led them to treat him with disrespect and dishonor. When they sold him into slavery, He became dead to them for all intents and purposes. They think they got rid of him and would never see him again, nor ever hear of his dreams and prophecies again. But Joseph suffers for his brothers, just as Christ suffered for us, even though we mistreated Him. Yes it is true, our sins, the sins of the last generation have done to Christ what the Jews did to Him when He was here on earth.
Do you remember when Christ was treated this way by His church? When Christ was crucified, didn’t the Jewish leaders think that they would never see him again? They thought they were rid of him forever. Yet one day they will see him coming in the clouds of glory. Jesus himself said to them “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. That’s Matt 26:64. Just before Jesus comes again there is to be a special resurrection which we find in Revelation 1:7. Here it says that “every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him. This includes Herod, Caiaphas, the soldiers that drove the nails into his hands and side, the mocking crowd; all of them see the glory of Christ coming in the clouds of heaven. When they see Jesus again, it will be too late to repent and be reconciled. They will see Him in all His glory, in all His majesty and power. When Joseph’s brothers saw him, he too was seated at the right hand of power. After the redeemed have spent 1000 years in heaven, they too will be seated at the right hand of power when the wicked see them again for the first time.
Secondly, Joseph was crucified by Mrs. Potiphar, who represents the secular world. She wanted revenge and to be rid of the man who had spurned her lawlessness in the name of his God. Yet, that plot was also foiled. She never imagined in her wildest imaginations that Joseph would one day soar above her own husband in power and authority. Nor could she appreciate the significance of what she had just done.
Christ went through exactly the same kind of crucifixion on the cross. He was crucified in the hearts and minds of the Jews (His church) who orchestrated his death by the cruel hands of the Romans. Both the church and the secular world were at odds with Christ and His mission. Neither could appreciate the importance of what they had done in accomplishing His mission. They were so blinded by malicious hatred or cunning politics that they could not break through the darkness to understand and appreciate the light. The light shined in darkness, but “the darkness comprehended it not.” John 1:5.
Another lesson should be clear to us. When we are crucified by others. When we are mistreated, judged unjustly, maliciously villainized, or cruelly characterized, we have Christ by our side just as Joseph did. We are to shine as He shone in the darkness, even if those who have done those things to us cannot comprehend the light. He will raise us up after humbling us in the dust, just as He did for Joseph. It was as if Christ was showing Joseph, and us, something of the cross and His character through his own experience.
Here’s another parallel. Joseph and Jesus were both misunderstood and misrepresented by the very ones who should have known better. But Joseph, like Jesus remained true and loyal under temptation, abuse and pressure.
Here is another… Joseph’s character was not stained by the wickedness of godless Egypt and neither was Christ’s character stained by the wickedness of this earth.
And another… while in Egypt Joseph took ignominy and punishment unjustly for the good of his master Potiphar, who symbolizes Caesar, or the secular state. Likewise Jesus took ignominy and punishment unjustly for the good name of His Father from the state as well. Joseph was innocent, but was punished as a wrongdoer. So was Jesus. Both of them were matured or made perfect through suffering. Both of them strengthened their future ministry through injustice and suffering, Joseph to Prime Minister and Prince of Egypt and Jesus as Prince of Princes, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Neither Joseph nor Jesus could see the future, but they trusted in the love and goodness of their God to bring them through.
When Joseph was brought before Pharaoh, he made himself of no reputation. Like Christ he always glorified the God of heaven. Both of them made decisions against their own interests, on principle. Both were silent under false accusation.
Both Joseph and Jesus returned good for evil. Joseph tested his brethren and Jesus tests his spiritual brethren to develop their loyalty and restore them. Both Joseph and Jesus became the savior of their own brethren.
Joseph gave his brothers princely coats as if to honor them as fellow rulers with him. Jesus is going to do the same thing for the redeemed. Even now we are given his princely robe of righteousness, but He plans to have us sit with Him on His throne and rule with Him as well.
Joseph never said anything about the alienation or the trouble his brothers had caused him. Likewise Jesus treats us as if we had never sinned and departed from God or caused Him any trouble at all. Isn’t that wonderful? What assurance!
It is wonderfully obvious that Joseph is a type of Christ! There are clear and heartwarming parallels that give us assurance that Christ is doing the same for us. Joseph’s life is an illustration of the plan of redemption in many, many ways.
Now let me draw your attention to another important point. God’s prophet to the remnant has been despised and widely ignored. While there are those that openly ridicule and condemn God’s end-time prophet, most simply ignore God’s messages of instruction to the Last Generation. This is as serious as what Joseph’s brothers did to him. We cannot physically hurt the prophet, but we show just as much disrespect by ignoring and rejecting the message. Could we not crucify the prophet in our minds today? Today’s church is no different from the church in Joseph’s day. We think we can get rid of the prophet by ignoring God’s clear counsel. But God still holds us accountable for the light He has been so gracious to give.
When Joseph’s family hungered, they came to Joseph. When we are spiritually hungry, we must go to Jesus. He feeds us and nourishes us as did Joseph for his family.
Now let us talk about the Last Generation for a few more minutes.
The Last Generation has the prophetic gift, but it is largely ignored or rejected. God also sends other messengers to the church with spiritual food, warnings and reproofs. But they are rejected for the most part.
God’s people live on the spiritual blessings that He has abundantly provided His church, but they often turn from His messengers and sometimes turn on them. God’s end time messengers must tell the truth both to the church and to the world just like Joseph told the truth to his brothers and the chief baker.
Joseph’s message as prince of Egypt was present truth at that time. It was a message for the world. It was a message of warning and a message of salvation. But it was also a message of preparation for the coming crisis. It is exactly the kind of message that God’s people in the last days have to give. If God is going to preserve a people unto himself, He first sends a message of warning so that they can take the appropriate measures to protect themselves. And in the last moments of earth’s history, God now sends another warning to make the final gathering of His people and prepare them for the last crisis. You are the messenger. You are the one whom God has chosen to bring to light the preparation that needs to be made for the crisis and the time of trouble that is coming upon the world. That message includes the Sabbath message and other neglected truths such as the sanctuary message. Similarly Joseph was the one sent to explain the preparation that needed to be made for Egypt’s time of trouble.
Notice that the message had to do with food. The Egyptians were to store up food for themselves against the day of famine. Joseph was the one who had all the food during the time of crisis. The message in the last days is also about storing up food, spiritual food in your soul, so that in the time of spiritual famine, you will not be lost. Your soul must be fortified with the truths of Gods word. Listen to this statement from Great Controversy, pg. 593-594. “None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable word? Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?”
The people came to Joseph for the food which was Present Truth for that time. Here my friends is an interesting lesson. The Last Generation, like Joseph, will be the ones who have Present Truth, spiritual food at the end of time, and to whom the world will come to be fed. They will have many questions when they see the chaos, confusion and turmoil, and God’s faithful remnant people will be the only ones with the answers. They will feed them spiritually, similar to how Joseph fed the multitudes physically. Jesus will guide them and use them to save “much people alive,” just as He did with Joseph. They are to provide the hungry with Present Truth, both to the world and to the church.
Joseph’s Present Truth was not heard, by the church until they were surprised by the crisis. Some of God’s people will hear the message before hand, particularly those who come from the world. But those who grow up in the church generally don’t respect the message as they should. They may not recognize it at all until it’s too late, or by God’s mercy, recognize it when they are surprised by the crisis.
It is interesting that Joseph brought his brothers food, but they refused to give him any. He had his own little famine in a way, there in the pit while they ate the food he brought them. They also sent him into a land of spiritual famine. But in order to be restored God had to take Joseph’s brothers through a physical famine of their own, as well as a spiritual famine of guilt. It is amazing how God brings things around full circle.
The world in Joseph’s day was more ready to hear and heed the warning than was the church. The church was not fully prepared to yield and humble themselves until the crisis came. Do you think that is likely to happen in the Last Generation? Incidentally many things in the life of Joseph have not yet been fulfilled in God’s remnant church, but they are prophetic and will come to pass.
During the coming crisis, there will be a famine in the land, not for bread and water but the hearing of the word of God. Amos 8:11. The last generation, like Joseph, will be there with spiritual food to provide from the spiritual storehouses of God for the people.
The storehouses were the places where the people of Egypt brought their excess production. During the time of famine, they became dispensaries of food to nourish and preserve the people. The people would come to the storehouse to gather food for themselves and their families. Likewise God’s remnant people will be like storehouses with spiritual food to dispense to those who are spiritually hungry. So my friends, while we are in a time of spiritual plenty, let us store up in our hearts the truths for this time, so that we will have something to dispense to the people in the time of crisis.
Joseph had dreams. The Last Generation will also dream dreams and see visions. You probably remember reading that in Joel 2:28. Here it is: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”
Joseph was sent from his home church in Hebron into the world by the persecution of his brothers, so that the world could hear the truth and be prepared for the crisis. God often allows the last generation to be despised, rejected and betrayed by their own fellow believers, so that they can scatter and reach the world with the love of God and His last message of warning. Think about it. Persecution always spreads the message. If you are persecuted in one place, go somewhere else. You’ll find ample work to do to win souls to the truth. Perhaps in our day, we suffer often at the hands of our fellow believers, in God’s providence, so that we will not become spiritually lazy.
The world doesn’t realize how much they owe the preservation of God to His people. They turn on them just as the Egyptians turned on the Hebrew church and made them slaves. The same spirit rules the world today, and when it is advantageous, they will try to enslave God’s people by forcing them to obey man’s laws instead of God’s laws.
There are some personal lessons that we can learn from Joseph. When you are cut down, plan on God expanding your work for the Lord. When you are cut down, don’t complain, let him purify your character.
Don’t become discouraged, the very ones who have turned from you and rejected you, in the crisis, may well come back one day for answers. Be kind to them. They are going to need you one day. God will give you a mission to them perhaps, and great restoration can take place.
If you are alienated by someone, forgive. If you are mistreated, you can hope in God. He obviously sees something in you that is worth purifying and refining. And He will raise you up. Remember with every crucifixion, there is a resurrection. But we must learn patience and learn to trust in God. We must learn to turn from evil, and learn personal submission to injustice. That is a hard one for me.
When you are misunderstood, learn graciousness and respect. When you are treated unkindly, learn to be kind in return. Injustice is a good lesson book, don’t you think?
Sometimes after testing you, God wants to surprise you and others by giving you special responsibilities, and sometimes very quickly. It may even surprise your enemies. Think about what Mrs. Pharaoh must have thought as she saw Joseph elevated to prime minister, the Prince of Egypt. Joseph had gained through his integrity, the very freedom and power that she had suggested would be his if he sinned with her. Perhaps she trembled as she thought about what she had done to Joseph. Would he now take revenge? But Joseph was not that type. He had been vindicated, but what is bigger and far better; he had forgiven her, even while he was languishing in prison.
Perhaps one of the most important personal lessons we can learn from the life of Joseph is that forgiveness takes away the bitterness of the heart. It takes away the envy, hatred and jealousy. It takes away feelings of anger, resentment and retaliation. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. When you forgive it heals your own soul and brings relief to sin burdened hearts.
Joseph went from the pit to Potiphar. He went from Potiphar to prison. He went from prison to palace, and he went from pauper to prince. Do you think Jesus is going to do the same for you? I believe so. I believe that Jesus is going to take you and me through hard experiences so that we can learn these lessons of faith. Faith is a principle that forgives even when you are being crucified.
Brothers and sisters, don’t give up. Don’t become discouraged.
When your friends turn against you, don’t give up.
When your circumstances press you down, don’t give up.
When your family pressures you, don’t give up.
When your money runs out, don’t give up.
When your ministry is limited, don’t give up.
When your home is repossessed, don’t give up.
When your reputation is besmirched, don’t give up.
When you make mistakes, don’t give up.
When you get into trouble, don’t give up.
When you are slapped, beaten, stripped naked, hung up on a
cross, or sent to prison, don’t give up.
When you are abused, accused, misused, don’t give up.
My friends, don’t give up. Look at the stars. Look to Jesus. He will sustain you through the trial. Don’t pray that you will not have trials. Pray that you will survive them spiritually, and that God will honor your prayers.
In the time of trouble, it is character alone that will get us through. Some may not have had the time to develop the strong faith of experience in the truth and in the message. But if you are in Christ now, and living by His law and are yielding to His grace and power, you will be prepared.
Look at the starts my friends. They are symbols of God’s providence and his promise to bring you through what it takes to prepare you for heaven. Look at trials and misfortune as opportunities to grow. Look at abuse and mistreatment as a chance to forgive more deeply.
Let us pray. Father in Heaven, what a blessing to study the life of Joseph! Help us to be like him in character. Help us to turn from our pain and bitterness and look at the stars. Help us to see beyond the challenges we face at the moment and look to Jesus to sustain and keep us in His care. And may we have compassion towards those who are persecuted and mistreated by others. May we lift up the broken. May we enlighten the benighted. May we encourage the disheartened. Keep us faithful we pray, no matter what happens to us. In Jesus’ name, amen.
We hope you have received a great blessing from this month’s message. Your prayers and gifts mean much to us. Thank you for your support. The song you have just heard entitled “God’s Refining Fire” is from a CD entitled Chosen 4 One. If you would like a copy of this CD please send $16 post paid to Keep The Faith Ministry, Locust Dale, VA 22948.
The following is a current events update of interest to those who love the appearing of Jesus Christ and are watching the fulfilling prophecies. We can see the signs of the times telling us that we are nearing the world’s great crisis. May the Lord find us faithful.
Our first item this month: Representative Harris Condemns Separation of Church and State.
On August 25, 2006, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Representative Katherine Harris from Florida said that “God did not intend for the United States to be a ‘nation of secular laws’ and that the separation of church and state is a ‘lie we have been told’ to keep religious people out of politics.”
Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness that “If you’re not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin.” She told the Baptist weekly journal that abortion and same-sex marriage were examples of that sin.
Representative Harris is a candidate running for a seat in the U.S. Senate. She said “her religious beliefs ‘animate’ everything she does, including her votes in Congress.
“Harris,” said the Sentinel, “has always professed a deep Christian faith. But she has rarely expressed such fervent evangelical perspective publicly… Harris told the journalists ‘we have to have the faithful in government’ because that is God’s will. Separating religion and politics is ‘so wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers,’ she said. ‘And if we are the ones not actively involved in electing those godly men and women,’ then ‘we’re going to have a nation of secular laws. That’s not what our Founding Fathers intended, and that certainly isn’t what God intended.”
It is obvious that representative Harris would like to have laws against abortion and same-sex marriage, but I wonder what other non-secular or religious laws Ms. Harris would press for if given the opportunity. I checked to see her religious affiliation and it turns out that she claims to be a Presbyterian. I would imagine that Sunday laws could easily find support from her should there be enough public pressure to pass them in the midst of public anxiety to pass them. That is a prediction that inspiration tells us will one day be an eventuality.
Rep. Harris is another voice in the higher echelons of the American government that are calling for change in the way America views and applies the first amendment. Times are changing, little by little. Stay tuned.
Next: The Pope speaks with Muslims.
The International Herald Tribune reported on September 25, 2006 that “Pope Benedict XVI sought again Monday to repair the Roman Catholic Church’s rift with the Islamic world, telling ambassadors from 22 Muslim countries that he respects Muslims and that ‘interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a necessity.’”
The Tribune said that the Pope did not apologize for his remarks in his speech nearly two weeks before which set off waves of violent protests in Muslim countries. His speech had quoted a Byzantine emperor of the 14th century calling Islam “evil and inhuman.”
His speech lasted about five minutes. He said that he respected “Muslim believers.” But some Muslims were unhappy that he has still refused to apologize for the remarks. The Muslim Brotherhood, an Egyptian Islamist opposition group, said Monday that the Pope’s meeting with Muslim envoys to the Vatican was “another attempt to avoid the issue of an apology.”
Our next item is rather lengthy, but I think it is worth sharing with you: A New Detainee Bill Shifts Power to the President.
On September 29, 2006, the New York Times reported that in the passage of the new detainee bill in Congress, “President Bush… achieved a signal victory, shoring up with legislation his determined conduct of the campaign against terrorism in the face of challenges from critics and the courts.
“Rather than reining in the formidable presidential powers Mr. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney have asserted since Sept. 11, 2001 the law gives some of those powers a solid statutory foundation. In effect it allows the President to identify enemies, imprison them indefinitely and interrogate them – albeit with a ban on the harshest treatment – beyond the reach of the full court reviews traditionally afforded criminal defendants and ordinary prisoners.
Taken as a whole, the law will give the President more power over terrorism suspects than he had before the Supreme Court decision this summer… that undercut more than four years of White House policy…”
The Times said that the legislation “broadens the definition of “unlawful enemy combatant” to include not only those who fight the United States but also those who have ‘purposely and materially supported hostilities against the United States… The designation can be made by any ‘competent tribunal’ created by the President or Secretary of Defense.”
This means that even American citizens can be detained in secret, and denied the process in the courts, even if they are not combatants, but perhaps even unwittingly support those involved in terrorism.
Please note several points mentioned here. First, the President is given more power and codifies that power in federal law. This confirms the disruption of the balance of powers in the Constitution to a considerable extent. Remember, Rome cannot gain control of America with the balance of powers in an equal and adversarial relationship with each other. She needs America to have a stronger executive power than the other powers. Disrupting the balance of powers significantly plays into the hands of Rome. It is also interesting to note that this alteration in the balance of powers specifically involves the power to implement many of the principles of the Inquisition in the United States.
Secondly, note that the new law also gives the President the power to “identify enemies, imprison them indefinitely, and interrogate them,” using stress and duress tactics previously considered to be torture, and still considered to be torture by most Americans. And they cannot challenge their detention in court. In other words, the law actually imposes certain elements of the Inquisition on enemies of the United States or those whom the government defines as enemies of the United States, whether real or construed. In addition it does not differentiate between citizen and non-citizen.
This represents a significant step. These inquisitorial changes to America’s justice system were happening unconstitutionally by presidential action, but they have never been given the legal standing that this new law gives them. They are still unconstitutional, but now they have the power of legal standing to sustain them.
Thirdly, the law “broadens the definition of “unlawful enemy combatant” to include those that give support to any hostilities against the United States. This can include citizens and legal residents as well as foreigners. What will prevent this new law from being used against those who are one day perceived as enemies of the state because they hold unpopular religious beliefs, or disobey federal or state Sunday laws in deference to the law of God? Will the definition be broadened again?
Fourthly, note that the President or the Secretary of Defense can set up a tribunal that will determine if a person qualifies as an “enemy combatant.” This circumvents the regular process of charging someone according to an established law and leaves the decision up to a tribunal whose proceedings can be secret, and outside the purview of the public. In other words, and more ominously, this can be a very fluid situation, leaving prosecutors with a very strong opportunity to make up crimes as they go along.
The Times article pointed out that the new law does limit the ability of the government to use the worst and most extreme elements of torture, but allows for stress and duress tactics that are not as extreme. But when will those extreme tactics be used again secretly? After all, they were secretly used in the first place until information about them was leaked to the press. Once the Americans have forgotten the current controversy, will a future administration press for further erosion of constitutional and international legal protections? In other words, the administration has had to step back just a little in its attempts to implement the principles of Rome’s inquisition in the United States. But how long will it remain that way? Of course we do not know. But the time will come when those who are considered enemies of the state will not have mercy or justice.
There are a number of other features of this new bill that should be noted. In an editorial in the New York Times of September 28, 2006, the editor reported that the new law would “repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing [the President] to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret…” So the secrecy would actually allow the President to go beyond the barriers of the new law because all the proceedings are secret and there is no accountability.
Further, detainees would not be able to challenge their detention in court, which is a feature of the principle of habeas corpus. In other words, anyone that is wrongly imprisoned on false accusations or allegations has no chance to prove their innocence. They would be at the mercy of the system, or their interrogators.
Under the new law, coerced evidence would be permitted in court if a judge considered it reliable (which is a contradiction in terms) and if he considered it relevant. Testimony which has been coerced is known to be unreliable. That is why, up until now, it has not been permitted in court. But the new law opens the door to using coerced evidence if the judge thinks it is reliable. Again this is a very fluid situation and is not based on established uniform code or legal principle.
Historically, and constitutionally, secret evidence is not permitted as evidence if it has been kept secret from the defendant. The new bill however, weakens this protection and allows judges to include evidence that the defendant has not seen.
In essence, said the Times, the new law gives the President “the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what most people would consider torture, and to deny justice to many who may be captured in error.
The Times said that the Supreme Court struck down the President’s actions last summer in part, because of the absence of congressional authorization. “The new bill solves that problem, legal experts said.”
So it should be obvious that the issue is not a matter of the President bringing in inquisitorial justice to the United States, and that it was opposed by some in congress and the Supreme Court because it was wrong in itself. The Congress was generally not against the principles in question, such as refusing detainees access to lawyers, the courts and even the evidence against them, or detaining them in secret prisons and using torture. They are actually in favor of it all generally (except for the most extreme torture measures). The issue was that they were left out of the authorization process. It is important for God’s people to note that the controversy however, exposed the real issues at stake so that those who are paying attention to prophecy can see what is coming.
Now that the President has granted Congress a role in the process and has gotten their approval and support, the new legal framework gives the whole inquisitorial business federal statutory (or legal) protection. What’s more, in the name of congressional authorization, he, or a future president can implement more principles that erode the Constitution down the line and strengthen the ones that are already in place.
Congressman Arlen Spector led the opposition to the President’s usurpation of powers, but was quite willing to negotiate a process so that the inquisitorial practices could continue, but with congressional and legal support. This bill is, in part, a result of that negotiation. Of course the law is going to be challenged in the courts. It remains to be seen what will happen. But if the courts do not overturn it, this new law will give the new inquisition a legal basis in the United States for the first time in its history, just what Rome wants. I would imagine that the American founding fathers would have had a lot to say in opposition to this new law.
“Bruce Ackerman,… a professor of law and political science at Yale University, sharply criticized the bill,” said the Times, “but agreed that it strengthened the White House position. ‘The president walked away with a lot more than most people thought,’ Mr Ackerman said. He said the bill ‘further entrenches presidential power’ and allows the administration to declare even an American citizen an unlawful combatant subject to indefinite detention.
“‘And it’s not only about these prisoners,’ Mr. Ackerman said, ‘If Congress can strip courts of jurisdiction over cases because it fears their outcome, judicial independence is threatened.’”
Some legal experts… “said critics could no longer say the Bush Administration was guilty of unilateral executive overreaching,” said the Times. In other words, congress agreed to give the President more power than the other branches of government. But the fact that the President’s new powers are now confirmed by Congress is only small comfort to those who have been following this issue over the last couple of years. When will the current or future administration begin to overreach again, step back a little to get a legal footing, and then overreach again? This process can go on and on until all the elements Rome needs to gain control of America are fully in place.
It is also important to acknowledge that some Democrats in the House of representatives opposed the bill on the basis that “it abandons the fundamental principles of fairness,” reported the Washington Post of September 28, 2006. House Majority leader John A Boehner (R-Ohio), railed on them saying “It is outrageous that House Democrats, at the urging of their leaders, continue to oppose giving President Bush the tools he needs to protect our country.”
Those few who are opposed to these measures on their moral basis are being put in a corner between the proverbial rock and a hard place. On one hand, they don’t want to approve measures that remove basic constitutional rights. On the other, they don’t want to be painted as soft on terrorism.
John Boehner is a Roman Catholic and is in the most powerful position in the Republican controlled House of Representatives. Obviously he supports the imposition of inquisitorial principles in the United States. Though his comments infuriated Democrats, the Washington Post said that “many congressional democrats decided to swallow their misgivings and vote for the bill to avoid being portrayed as less than vigilant against suspects captured in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Thirty-four Democrats joined 219 Republicans in supporting the legislation.”
My friends we are in perilous times. The scriptures declare that America will create an image of the beast. That means that America will legally look like Rome was and is, before the end of time, and will use those mechanisms to persecute God’s faithful commandment-keeping people. Creating the image is in process now and we need to be paying attention and preparing for the last great struggle for loyalty between the God of heaven and the God of this world.
I should mention that all this political maneuvering is not what we should be concerned about. What is really important to God’s people is the effect of it all in relation to fulfilling prophecy.
God’s Last Generation prophet says that “When Protestantism shall stretch her hand across the gulf to grasp the hand of the Roman power, when she shall reach over the abyss to clasp hands with spiritualism, when, under the influence of this threefold union, our country shall repudiate every principle of its Constitution as a Protestant and republican government, and shall make provision for the propagation of papal falsehoods and delusions, then we may know that the time has come for the marvelous working of Satan and that the end is near.” That’s from the 5th Volume of the Testimonies, pg. 451.
What we have been documenting is the progress of this effort to repudiate every principle of the Constitution of the United States. It doesn’t matter who is in power, whether Republican or democrat or something else. The issue is that the events of 9/11 opened the door for these changes to be made wholesale. Many of the things being done are perhaps the only things that government leaders can do to raise the barrier against terrorism. Whatever their motivations, we must realize that these changes to the legal system of the United States is directly related to the prophecies of the end. It is also interesting that Islam is being used as a tool to build the new system that is repudiating the principles of the U.S. Constitution. Keep your eyes open.
Next: Secret Financial Searches
In yet another revelation of invasion of privacy, the Washington Post reported on June 24, 2006 that there is another secret program run by the government to spy on hundreds of thousands of private banking records from around the world in search of terrorist ties. Vice-president Dick Cheney said that these searches are “absolutely essential” to protecting the country from further attacks.
The revelations, which Cheney and other officials said undermined an important counterterrorism tool, prompted renewed criticism from (some) democrats and civil liberties groups that the administration is operating outside the legal and congressional controls.
“At the White House,” said the Post, “press secretary Tony Snow acknowledged that the program relies on an expansive interpretation of Treasury’s powers that is unusual.”
The Post reported that the government has obtained the financial records from an international banking cooperative known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, otherwise known as SWIFT. SWIFT is owned by a banking consortium of over 8000 banks. Of officials at three large U.S. banks who agreed to speak about the program, only one said his institution had knowledge of the government program.
“The program was criticized yesterday by privacy advocates and civil liberties groups. Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called it ‘contrary to the fundamental American value of privacy… How many other secret spying programs has the Bush Administration enacted without Congress, the courts or the public knowing?’”
The government defended the program saying that the program is being conducted within the law, explaining that the information requested is only that which is subpoenaed by the Department of the Treasury based on actual terrorist watch lists. The government did not say whether the subpoenas had court warrants to back them up.
Next: The Catholic Church No Longer Swears by the Truth of the Bible.
The London Times reported on October 5, 2005 that the “hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has published a teaching document instructing the faithful that some parts of the Bible are not actually true.
“The Catholic bishops of England, Wales and Scotland are warning their five million worshippers, as well as any others drawn to the study of scripture, that they should not expect ‘total accuracy’ from the Bible.
“‘We should not expect to find in scripture full scientific accuracy or complete historical precision,’ they say in [the document called] The Gift of Scripture.
“As examples of passages not to be taken literally, the bishops cite the early chapters of Genesis, comparing them with early creation legends from other cultures, especially from the ancient East. The bishops say it is clear that the primary purpose of these chapters was to provide religious teaching and that they could not be described as historical writing.
“…the first 11 chapters of Genesis, in which two different and at times conflicting stories of creation are told, are among those that [Britain’s] Catholic bishops insist cannot be ‘historical’. At most, they say, they may contain ‘historical traces’.
“Similarly. They refute the apocalyptic prophecies of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible, in which the writer describes the work of the risen Jesus, the death of the Beast and the wedding feast of Christ the Lamb.
“The bishops say, ‘Such symbolic language must be respected for what it is, and is not to be interpreted literally. We should not expect to discover in this book details about the end of the world, about how many will be saved and about when the end will come.”
Of course it is true that one cannot interpret symbolic language literally, but that is quite a different thing from applying symbolic language literally. In other words, we must interpret the symbols as representations of literal events in the past, present or future.
There are many things about this teaching document that can be said, but perhaps one of the most obvious to God’s last-day people involves the book of Revelation. Catholic people (and others enamored with her ecumenical spirit) are essentially being told that they cannot accept the symbolism of Revelation as being of any real value to modern Christians and that it is merely trying to convey a vague spiritual idea or concept. This undermines those that understand those symbols and their applications accurately. Rome cannot explain Revelation accurately, because in doing so it would point the condemnatory finger at herself. Therefore she tries to cover this up and get her people and others to brush the truths of Revelation aside, including those that identify the beast, the whore, the image of the beast, Babylon, 144,000 and even the lake of fire, and other important elements.
The document also undermines the truths of the creation story. With this concept it is easy to brush the Seventh-day Sabbath aside and say that the part about the Sabbath is only referring to the “principle of rest” or “one day is seven.” This undermines the true understanding of the Seventh-day Sabbath that God gave to all mankind as the day of rest. It makes it easier to suggest that the 10 commandment Sabbath given at Sinai was something just for the Jews, even though God had established it all the way back at creation. It further undermines the true principle of worship on God’s Sabbath day in Revelation 14:6 which calls for worship of the creator, implying the continued importance of the Sabbath until the end of time, and its connection to the Babylonian beast power. There are other elements of the creation story that are also placed in question by the document.
The teaching document also obviously undermines faith in Holy Scripture, and leads to a dependence on the bishops to explain what is accurate, and therefore authoritative and that which is not. The document identifies as true, those most simple and basic points on which all Christians can basically agree.
According to the Times, “the document goes on to condemn fundamentalism for its ‘intransigent intolerance’ and to warn of ‘significant dangers’ involved in a fundamentalist approach.
“Such an approach is dangerous, for example” says the document, “when people of one nation or group see in the Bible a mandate for their own superiority, and even consider themselves permitted by the Bible to use violence against others.”
While this is an obvious reference to Islam, it is not restricted to Islam alone, as there are other religions that use violence against others, including Catholicism. Rome, by the way, claims superiority to all other religions, but she does not do it on the basis of the Bible. She uses the false claim of succession from the apostles, tradition and the primacy of Peter to establish this claim, and only uses inferences of scripture that are not clearly spelled out to support these key reasons she gives for her supremacy.
So, how is it that those that believe the Bible is accurate, are labeled as fundamentalists who are dangerous and that they think they are somehow better than everybody else? Rome teaches that she is the mother of all churches, and that among the Protestants there are many divisions and that all of them believe that they are right, and even in some cases superior. Those that believe they have the truth and that Rome does not, are a threat to Rome’s claim. She doesn’t want to lose any of her adherents to evangelists or Bible workers that help Catholic people learn to rely on scripture as accurate and authoritative. Once they see that, Rome cannot hold them. Hence Rome has to try to prepare her people for contact with those teaching the accuracy of scripture lest she lose them to other folds.
Those that believe the Bible is accurate will naturally express those accuracies in doctrines and teachings which will expose Rome’s false system of worship. Those that are compromised with Rome’s ecumenical spirit are naturally going to support the idea that the Bible is not accurate, and that the authors wrote in the context of their own times, or that they wrote to the issues that they faced in their day, and that those things aren’t relevant now. Rome is teaching that we can pick and chose what we want to believe. Rome is also teaching that she is the one that is authorized to pick and chose, and therefore control the information in such a way as to remove from her the negative condemnations against her found in the scriptures.
She is trying to suggest that those that take the “accuracy” approach to scripture are somehow in a dangerous position. My friends, there is no danger in believing that scripture is accurate. No doctrine will expose Rome and the end time deceptions of the devil more effectively than the belief that scripture is accurate and that it is to be followed.
Do you think that one day those that really understand the truth of God for these last days as found in scripture will be painted in the press and in religious circles as fundamentalists, willing to use violence against others? Perhaps, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. But it is important to understand that the final conflict will be over those that believe in the accuracy and authority of scripture over and against tradition and the teachings of Rome and her fallen daughter churches that agree with her.
Unfortunately, that is all we have time for today. Until next time, may God bless and keep you and your family in His loving and protecting care as we near the end. Keep the faith!
The cross of Christ is portrayed in the experience of Joseph, although it is never mentioned. Yet, the parallels to the plan of salvation and our relationship to Jesus come through loud and clear.