LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Words Which The Holy Ghost Teacheth...

by Colin Maxwell, http://ulsterfpcs.blogspot.com/

Words which the Holy Ghost teacheth...

So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 45:8) .

Here's a thought. Try and follow it through with me: We know that Joseph's brethren (Joseph being the speaker of these words and his brethren being the hearers) did send Joseph into Egypt. The narrative clearly tells us that they did (chapter 37), their own conscience smote them about the matter, and they feared that Joseph would sooner or later take vengeance upon them. So they did the evil deed.

Why does Joseph then use the words that he does here? And that by inspiration of God (2 Peter 1:21) It was not because he was trying to airbrush history in a disturbed victim's act of denial or that this was a roundabout way of saying, "I forgive you" but because he had another handle upon it. He is looking beyond the human side and he sees the sovereign hand of God. Later on, he explains this further again:

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. (Genesis 50:20).

Here, he freely indicts them for their crime ("ye thought evil") while acknowledging that God had a part in it and His part was working the wickedness of the brethren to a noble and merciful end ("meant it for good to save...") .

On what basis we ask, can Joseph strongly say that it was not his brethren, but God? The words are clear: "It was not you, but God." This makes God, does it not to be the great First Cause here. Some would say that it merely means that God overruled; that He permitted the brethren to do their beastly act and that He intercepted and pulled a few strings from behind the scenes, so that it would all work out in the end. Do you buy that? I find it hard to. I do not think that it is strong enough. Without reducing the brethren to mere puppets or acquitting them of their guilt (although acknowledging that God has pardoned them for it) yet I see here that sovereign hand of God that ordained that they would do the deed and yet leave them fully responsible for the guilt.

Some folk don't like this sort of thing. They think that this implicates God in the sin of the deed. I say, "No, it doesn't. It implicates God in the deed, but not the sin" for God cannot be tempted and neither tempteth He any man (James 1:13)." Our text above is very clear. Joseph went as far as to say that it was not the brethren, but God who sent him hither.Let me ask a question, "If it was indeed the brethren who brought about this awful deed and not God" (which is the opposite of what is written) then is the Spirit of Truth using inappropriate language when other words would convey it more accurately?

John Calvin on Genesis 45:8.

"Good men are ashamed to confess, that what men undertake cannot be accomplished except by the will of God; fearing lest unbridled tongues should cry out immediately, either that God is the author of sin, or that wicked men are not to be accused of crime, seeing they fulfill the counsel of God. But although this sacrilegious fury cannot be effectually rebutted, it may suffice that we hold it in detestation. Meanwhile, it is right to maintain, what is declared by the clear testimonies of Scripture, that whatever men may contrive, yet, amidst all their tumult, God from heaven overrules their counsels and attempts; and, in short, does, by their hands, what he has himself decreed. Good men, who fear to expose the justice of God to the calumnies of the impious, resort to this distinction, that God wills some things, but permits others to be done. As if, truly, any degree of liberty of action, were he to cease from governing, would be left to men. If he had only permitted Joseph to be carried into Egypt, he had not ordained him to be the minister of deliverance to his father Jacob and his sons; which he is now expressly declared to have done. Away, then, with that vain figment, that, by the permission of God only, and not by his counsel or will, those evils are committed which he afterwards turns to a good account. I speak of evils with respect to men, who propose nothing else to themselves but to act perversely. And as the vice dwells in them, so ought the whole blame also to be laid upon them. But God works wonderfully through their means, in order that, from their impurity, he may bring forth his perfect righteousness. This method of acting is secret, and far above our understanding.".

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