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Sermon 6/25/06
Genesis 50:20 – Betrayal

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Betrayal

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20)

Have you ever felt betrayed? REALLY betrayed? Inside it’s like you have been DESTROYED by what happened, and worst of all, the anger growing within is often the result of betrayal by someone you truly CARED for. You opened your emotions to them, you shared with them, and they answered with betrayal. You and I have opened up in the past to those “who did us wrong” in very serious ways, and though forgiveness is possible in our Lord, it is something else to forget.

In our Scripture for today, we find the recorded words of Joseph, son of Jacob. His father was the son of Isaac, son of Abraham. Jacob had been a clever, deceitful man who subsequently was gentled by the circumstances of life and by a holy God. The Lord changed the man’s name (and his heart) from “Jacob” (“heel-catcher” or “supplanter”) to “Israel,” which means “God strives” or “Prince with God.”

Joseph was born to Israel (Jacob) somewhat later in life, and mostly he saw the gentle man his father had become. Most of Joseph’s brothers had come into the world earlier, and they exhibited varying degrees of the cleverness and jealousy that characterized their father as a younger man. Have you noticed that? Your children are indeed individuals, but they also reflect who you are. If fathers or mothers are cold and aloof, something of those characteristics will be “caught” by their little ones, almost like “catching” a “disease” of the soul. Children become “mirrors” that reflect parents, and we tend to be troubled by what we see of ourselves in them.

Joseph was the “favorite” of his father. Most of his brothers were “half”-brothers. They all had the same father, but four mothers were involved. Joseph’s mother, Rachel, was the love of Jacob’s (Israel’s) life, and Joseph, (like his full-younger brother, Benjamin) was adored as a child. In addition, Joseph was gifted by the Lord. He had prophetic dreams about a future time in which his brothers and other family members would bow down to him. The other brothers knew all this and they were disgusted by him. They had murderous feelings. Thoughts have a way of becoming reality and on a certain day they threw him into a pit, prepared a trumped-up story for Jacob and were going to leave Joseph for dead.

This account of the events that led up to the time when his brothers betrayed Joseph can be read in the Book of Genesis, starting with Chapter 29. Joseph was pulled up out of that pit and sold to slave traders, who then re-sold him for profit as a slave in Egypt. He worked hard, but he was betrayed again and ended up in prison. It was very difficult. It says of that time: “they hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons” (Psalm 105:18). Joseph had lots of time to think about his brothers.

God subsequently reached into that dark place and rescued Joseph, raising him amazingly to the position of Governor of all Egypt. In that office, Joseph made godly decisions that resulted in saving innumerable lives during the famine that came upon the land. Included were his brothers and father. “His brothers fell down before his face, and they said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’” He responded, “Do not be afraid” (Genesis 50:18-19). Joseph was enabled by God to – forgive.

It might have been Joseph’s opportunity to revenge the betrayal done to him, but instead it was God’s time to reveal HIS heart through the man. Joseph said: “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:20).

In the book, “The Hidden Hand of God, Turning Points,” there is an interesting true story by Richard W. O’Donnell, called “Waiting for the Bus” (page 143). In Hawaii, the author rode “The Bus” as the service is called and he became acquainted at the bus stop with a Korean lady named Minnie, a widow who lived alone. She observed, “You’re a Christian” and the author nodded. She said, “I used to be a Christianwish I still was.” She came from a Christian family and had lived in fear when the Japanese took over her country, Korea. One night her priest left and never came back. The community did not know if he ran away or was arrested. His departure felt like a betrayal to them. She said, “I lost track of my religion” and “I hate the Japanese.

Minnie no longer took the bus when she got a different job, but she sought him out at the bus stop several months later. This time she had a “warm glow” and a “look of contentment.” She said, “I’m a Christian nowGod has welcomed me home again.” She reported that “a little Japanese woman who came to Hawaiihelped meI don’t think I would have made it if she had not been my friend…” She paused and then continued, “Maybe I don’t hate the Japanese anymoreMaybe I’m beginning to like them. Maybe that was why God made me wait so long before He welcomed me home again.” The author observed: “Letting go of her hatred had transformed her.

God is no stranger to betrayal. The Bible contains many recorded accounts of treachery. Judas Iscariot sold-out our Lord to the authorities revealing that God personally understands OUR feelings, our hurt. Judas betrayed God. It is interesting that it really was OUR sins that put Jesus on the cross. When Judas betrayed the Lord, WE betrayed Him, and we have done it each and every time we sinned.  Instead of blaming others, it’s time to think about what we have done. If anyone should be carrying a grudge, it’s the Lord, and yet there is FORGIVENESS in Christ Jesus. As the crowd mocked Him and cast lots for His clothing; as He bore your sins and mine, He said: “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34). He forgives – you and me.

Read the words of Jesus and understand that you do not need to fear. The words of Joshua to his brothers are the beginning of understanding that the forgiveness we have withheld is now possible for you and me. Not in our strength, but in the power and love of God. It’s time to forgive. Let’s do it now:

Lord, we give you our anger, our fear, our resentment. Forgive us, heal us, and in Your strength, Lord, forgive those who caused us pain. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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