The Christ Church Wednesday Bible Study Group is studying God's providence or divine providence in the lives of David and Joseph and how we can apply His providence in their lives to our lives today.
The providence of God is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. Divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe. He is in control of the physical world. He is in control of the affairs of nations. He is in control of human destiny. He is in control of human successes and failures. He protects His people.
Two weeks ago, we talked how should respond to people who God has blessed tremendously, or who has gone through a challenging time. Last week we looked at how our consciences, which God gave us can, can cause us problems when we try to suppress it. We also said saw that God will somehow bring some stuff to the surface for us to deal with that will activate and revitalize a conscience that has been seared.
This week we talked about how not to react when things don't go the way that we want them to.
For our study we are using Great Lives: David: A Man of Passion and Destiny, and Joseph: A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness by Charles R. Swindoll. To study along with us you can purchase the books by clicking the Links here or the images after the notes.
The providence of God or divine providence is the governance of God by which He, with wisdom and love, cares for and directs all things in the universe. Divine providence asserts that God is in complete control of all things. He is sovereign over the universe as a whole, He is in control of the physical world, He is in control of the affairs of nations, He’s in control of human destiny, He’s in control of human successes and failures, He protects His people. Through divine providence God accomplishes His will.
Two weeks ago, we talked how should respond to people who God has blessed tremendously, or who has gone through a challenging time.
Romans 12:15-21 NIV Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
We do a pretty good job of morning with those who mourn but not so good at rejoycing with those who rejoice
Yet we may see God bless someone in a tangible way, and we don’t think it’s fair. Maybe God begins to bless and use a certain individual, and we say, “Lord, wait a second. I have faithfully served You all these years. But this Johnny-come-lately pops up, and You’re blessing this person instead of me. It isn’t fair! I’m so much godlier than they are. I’m more committed than they are. And most of all, I’m humbler than they are.”
However, we should rejoice that God is being glorified. Speaking about the body of Christ, the church, the apostle Paul wrote, “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:26–27 NLT).
We need to guard against the petty jealousy and rivalry that we can so easily fall into. If God lifts up one of us and blesses us, we should rejoice. It doesn’t have to be you or me. What’s important is that God is the One who’s receiving the glory.
Last week we looked at how our consciences, which God gave us can, can cause us problems when we try to suppress it. We also said saw that God will somehow bring some stuff to the surface for us to deal with that will activate and revitalize a conscience that has been seared.
If the conscience is “seared”—literally “cauterized”—then it has been rendered insensitive. Such a conscience does not work properly; it’s as if “spiritual scar tissue” has dulled the sense of right and wrong. Just as the hide of an animal scarred with a branding iron becomes numb to further pain, so the heart of an individual with a seared conscience is desensitized to moral pangs.
The first step toward activating a seared conscience is taking responsibility for one’s own personal guilt. When God activates a seared conscience, we begin to gain a different perspective. God also activates a seared conscience when we are recipients of undeserved expressions of grace. Joseph’s brothers deserved no grain. They deserved no money. They deserved punishment, perhaps even imprisonment, for what they had done to their brother. Instead, they wound up with freedom, a full sack of grain, and all of their money returned.
Today we are going to look at how Jacob, Joseph’s father responds to the report from his sons after they returned from Egypt with the grain that they and their families needed for survival.
Genesis 42:1-4 NIV When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.” Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him.
Remember Joseph recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him. He was out of sight, out of mind, so to speak.
Genesis 42:5-7 NIV So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also. Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”
They tell Joseph about the family, not knowing that Joseph was the one that they said was no longer.
Genesis 42:11-15 NIV We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.” “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.” Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.
Joseph changes his mind and let’s all but one of them, Simiem, go back to Cannan with the grain and with all their money.
While they were in prison waiting for Joseph’s decision their conscience began to bother them and they thought this was happening because of what they did to Joseph. It was amplified when they saw that all their money was returned.
Genesis 42:21-24 NIV They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.” Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must account for his blood.” They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.
Genesis 42:25-28 NIV Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left. At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”
So let’s pick up the story. Everybody but Simeon is back in Cannon, and they have to tell Jacob what happened, and Jacob freaks out.
Genesis 42:33-36 NIV “Then the man who is Lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’ ” As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”
His focus is horizontal not vertical. Here hs sons come back with food plus all their money.
They had been given grain from Egypt free of charge. All the prime minister had asked was that they prove they were not spies by returning with their youngest brother and claiming Simeon had been left as a hostage. Yet Jacob saw none of this as God’s provision. He froze in fear and focused on a worst-case scenario. His response was negative and horizontal.
Jacob should have been thankful his sons were still alive. They had been accused of being spies and could have been killed on the spot. Besides having their lives spared, they had been given the food they needed and had their money returned.
All they had to do was return and show the prime minister of Egypt that they really did have a younger brother, that they had been telling the truth. But Jacob not only reacted negatively and horizontally, he overreacted. As soon as he heard they had left their brother in Egypt, he jumped to the conclusion that Someone was dead. “Joseph is dead. Simeon is dead. Everything is against me,” he moaned. Henbegan to sound paranoid and self-pitying. “All these things are against me!”
Ruben, the oldest son, was more levelheaded and told Jacob that if he agreed to let Benjamin go so they could get Simeon out of jail he would sacrifice his own sons if he didn’t bring Benjamin back.
Genesis 42:37 NIV Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.”
Jacob said no and he again showed favoritism of one son over all the rest and again saying “whoa is me”
Genesis 42:38 NIV But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
Jacob, like many of us panic and look at the natural things, that’s a horizontal view, and didn’t consider that God may have other things in mind if we just trust Him. If Jacob had considered the blessing of the grian being free and the only thing needed was to prove that they were not spies by sending Benjamin back, he may have seen God working. We miss God often because our view is horizontal.
However, we are studying God’s providence and we said at the beginning and throughout this study that through divine providence God accomplishes His will. Gos will get His way.
He always does, but it’s a lot more painful when we fight Him and resist His leading, based on negative thinking, horizontal perspective. and resistance to change. God is never in a hurry, and He can and will wait you out.
In Jacob's case the food they bought in Egypt was running out and there was still a severe famine in Cannan and there was still grain in Egypt.
Genesis 41:57 NIV And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.
So, Jacob told his boys to go back to Egypt and get some more food, but Judah reminded his of what the prime minister said.
Genesis 43:1-5 NIV Now the famine was still severe in the land. So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ ”
Jacob still thinking horizontally and selfishly asked how woha is me responds
Genesis 43:6-7 NIV Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?” They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”
He still didn’t want to send Benjamin to Egypt but Judah, the one who convinced the brothers to sell Joseph, said if you had agreed with us when we got back the first time, we could have gone back to Egypt a couple of times. I’ll take full responsibility for Benjamin, but we need to get on it right away.
Genesis 43:8-10 NIV Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.”
Jacob finally reluctantly agrees
Genesis 43:11-14 NIV Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”
Still, he ends with woe is me.
When our view is horizontal rather than vertical, we tend to be negative rather than positive when things don’t go smoothly. We resist anything that is unfamiliar, we are not open to new stuff. We are reluctant, and suspicious, we put up our defenses and sometimes become paranoid. “They're all against me. They don’t understand.”
So, what do we do to start to change our focus to a vertical one?
1. Recognize and admit your negative mentality. So much of the cure is in the confession. Immediate correction begins with honesty admission. Recognize, realize, admit your negative mentality. Don’t hide it. Quit Denying it. It will help if you and I simply say, “I have fallen into the habit of negative thinking.”
2. Force a vertical focus until it begins to flow freely. How do you do that?
First, you pray for strength. Then you make a conscious effort to respond,
“Could God be in this situation?
Is God trying to get through to me?”
Ask God about it and ask Him how you should react.
Admit that you had been trying to handle it yourself.
Ask for direction.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
3. Stay open to a new idea for at least five minutes. Don’t just reject it because it’s new or “it wasn’t invented here” or that’s not how we have always done it”. Just hold off for five minutes or better yet pray about it then respond. You may still reject the new idea, but you don’t make a snap judgement, based on the past.
Trust God rather than resist change out of hand.
Bible Study Audio