Article - Do We Know Joseph?
In Exodus 1:8 the Bible tells us that there arose a new Pharaoh who knew not Joseph. Was it really the case that this Pharaoh did not know who Joseph was? Or, did he not recognize Joseph and His God, as did the previous Pharaoh? As one reads the first twelve chapters of Exodus, he will see that the latter is the correct interpretation. A proud, arrogant and power prone Pharaoh arose who did not recognize the God of Joseph as the Almighty Sovereign and did not recognize Joseph as His humble servant. But, would it be too much to ask the same question of the world and the church today? Who is Joseph? Or, more correctly, who is the God of Joseph? Has a generation of children and parents arose who do not know Joseph and His God? I am persuaded that every false doctrine, immoral act or licentious lifestyle comes from a false view of who God really is.
To many people God is an ancient, loving grandfather figure who is waiting to bless His children no matter what lifestyle they may live. It is this view that has led the world into the cesspool of immorality and corruption that is dissolving our morals and doctrinal beliefs. While it is true that God is willing and has gone the extra mile to forgive mankind (Matt 26:28, 2 Corinthians 5:21), it is not the case that this comes without definite restrictions on lifestyle (Matthew 7:21, I Corinthians 6:9-11; Luke 9:23). To view God like this is to look at God through “rose tinted glasses.” May I submit to you that the only way that we will ever solve the problems of the world and the church and get to Heaven is by going back to the Bible and finding out what God is really like? Let us then turn to the Bible and see who Joseph or more correctly who God is.
First, God is longsuffering in nature (Romans 2:4, 9:22). The longsuffering of God is best described in 2 Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” We are a living evidence of the longsuffering of God. As someone once said, “the best way to see the longsuffering of God is to look in the mirror.” The very fact that God does not wipe sinful creatures like us off of the Earth is a witness to His longsuffering nature. However, we must also realize that the longsuffering nature of God does have a limit. In the days of Noah when people were eating, drinking and “living it up” the longsuffering of God ended and God sent a flood to destroy those people. Likewise, there is a day coming when “the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10). A day is coming when the longsuffering of God will end and every man will be judged according to the works he has done in his body (2 Corinthians 5:10, James 4:14). Be thankful for but don’t take advantage of God’s longsuffering nature!
Second, God is a god of love and mercy (Hebrews 8:12, I John 4:8). Truly, there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). But God’s love is even more amazing than this. God gave his own son for us, not when we were His friends, but when we were His enemies (Romans 5:6-8). Truly, there is not greater love than for God to give His Son for His enemies (John 3:16). John expressed the love of God beautifully: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10). Truly, God is the epitome of love!
Third, God is a god of wrath (Colossians 2:5-6). Those who live immoral and ungodly lives need to be aware of the wrath of God. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…” (Romans 1:18). Of all the characteristics of God's nature, this is without a doubt the most ignored and overlooked. We like to have the longsuffering and love of God all the time but the only time we want the wrath of God to be present is against other people who are doing us harm. Throughout the Old Testament, God was a God who showed his wrath against sinners. For example, the whole world (save 8 souls) was destroyed because they disobeyed God (Genesis 6-7). Two young Priests were consumed by fire from Heaven because they disobeyed God (Leviticus 10). The Psalmist said, “God is a just judge, And God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). Unknown to many under the New Testament is that God’s wrath will be worse against us (Hebrews 10:28-29). “It is a fearful things to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), “for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).
I appeal to you in light of the biblical nature of God to live your life in such a way that you do not neglect any aspect of the God’s nature. Using the thought of Elijah, “If a 21st century god be god, then let’s serve him, but if the God of the Bible is God, then let’s serve Him.” Are we like Pharaoh or do we really know Joseph???
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