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Take Me Back to Canaan

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
April 19, 2024 12:01 am

Take Me Back to Canaan

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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April 19, 2024 12:01 am

How do we explain the presence of evil in God's plan for His people? Today, R.C. Sproul teaches how the Lord's good purposes for Joseph were carried out even in the midst of his brothers' wicked plans.

Get R.C. Sproul's New Hardcover Book 'Joseph: From Dreamer to Deliverer' and Teaching Series 'The Life of Joseph' for Your Gift of Any Amount:

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R.C. Sproul (1939-2017) was known for his ability to winsomely and clearly communicate deep, practical truths from God's Word. He was founder of Ligonier Ministries, first minister of preaching and teaching at Saint Andrew's Chapel, first president of Reformation Bible College, and executive editor of Tabletalk magazine.

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Nathan W. Bingham is vice president of ministry engagement for Ligonier Ministries, executive producer and host of Renewing Your Mind, host of the Ask Ligonier podcast, and a graduate of Presbyterian Theological College in Melbourne, Australia. Nathan joined Ligonier in 2012 and lives in Central Florida with his wife and four children.

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Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

God worked through Pharaoh to bring about His redemptive work of the Exodus.

Pharaoh meant it for evil. God meant it for good. God worked through the betrayal of Judas for the atonement of Christ. God's intent was perfectly righteous. Judas meant it for evil. And so we see in this enormously important passage a reaffirmation that God is Lord of history. And Joseph is saying, even while what you did was evil, God was bringing everything together for good for those who love Him. When we get to the end of Joseph's story, we hear the famous line from Joseph to his brothers that though they meant their actions for evil, God meant it for good.

But this is more than a dramatic and perhaps unexpected ending to this story. This is a truth that anchors the Christian life and reveals the comforting truth that God truly is sovereign over all things. It's good to have you with us for this Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind. I'm Nathan W. Bingham. Joseph's story is captivating, and it reads like a screenplay, but it's a story that reveals important truths about God and the Christian life, which is why I recommend you request the entire 20-message series and the hardcover book on Joseph's life.

Today is the final day to secure your copies, so visit and give a donation of any amount before midnight. Well here's Dr. Sproul with the final installment on the life of Joseph. As we come now to the end of our study of Joseph, I'm going to skip over the 49th chapter of Genesis almost in its entirety, not because I regard it as unimportant. In fact, Genesis 49 is one of the most important chapters in the whole book of Genesis because it sets forth the patriarchal blessing that Jacob gives to his sons and serves as a kind of prophetic instrument to the whole future history of the nation of Israel, and for that in itself makes it extremely important.

But because it doesn't have direct bearing on our consideration of the biography of Joseph, I'm going to skip over most of that chapter until we come to verse 29 towards the end of chapter 49 where we read this. Jacob says, or it is said of Jacob, then he charged them, that is his sons, and said to them, I am to be gathered to my people. Bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephraim the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre in the land of Canaan, which Abraham brought with the field of Ephraim the Hittite as a possession for a burial place. There they buried Abraham and Sarah his wife. There they buried Isaac and Rebekah his wife, and there I buried Leah.

The field and the cave that is there were purchased from the sons of Heth. And when Jacob had finished commanding his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people. Now, this of course is a poignant moment for Joseph, the death of his beloved father Jacob. And Jacob's final instructions are for his resting place.

He wants to be buried with his fathers in Machpelah, which reminds us of one of the great ironies of the patriarchal history. We remember that this whole drama began when God called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees as an old man and sent him to a place he knew not where he was going. And God promised him that he would be the father of a great nation and his descendants would be as the stars of the sky and of the sands of the sea. And integral to that promise of the great inheritance was the promise of land, which then became the promised land. And yet we are told in the New Testament that Abraham went out not knowing where he was going and hoping against hope, trusted in God for his own future and became the father of the faithful.

The irony was this. The only piece of real estate that Abram ever owned in the promised land was Machpelah, his grave, his cemetery plot. That was his personal inheritance of the promised land. And that became more or less a family shrine because Abraham and Sarah were both buried there, Isaac and Rebekah were both buried there, and Jacob's first wife Leah was buried there. And now as he is dying, he asks that he might join that place where he may enter into his rest in the presence of the God who would be known in future generations as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And so then Jacob dies, and chapter 50 begins, and Joseph fell on his father's face and wept over him and kissed him. And Joseph commanded his servants, the physicians, to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel.

Forty days were required for him, for such are the days required for those who are embalmed, and the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days. Now there's something in this text that may sound a little macabre at the outset. We are told that when Jacob died, Joseph kissed him.

We're squeamish about kissing corpses. Something happens instantly upon death. The very outward appearance of a dead person is strange and frightening when life has left their body.

It's even worse after rigor mortis has set in. But that particular passage spoke to me because I was present in the room when my father died, just as Joseph was present when his father died. And I remember what I did after my father breathed his last breath, and I was standing there by his bed looking at his lifeless body. Instinctively, naturally, because I didn't know what else to do, I simply leaned over and kissed him on the forehead. That was my last outward expression of affection for the man who meant more to me than anybody in my life.

Now it just strikes me that that custom has gone on for thousands of years and that what I was doing was not something extraordinary, unusual, or weird. It was done here by Joseph, who kissed his father goodbye. Now when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found favor in your eyes, please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh, saying my father made me swear, saying, Behold, I am dying. In my grave, which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me. Now, therefore, please let me go up and bury my father, and I will come back.

Joseph asked for a leaf of absence for a brief time of departure and release from his duties as prime minister. He says to Pharaoh, Let me go back to Canaan that I might bury my father there. And Pharaoh said, Go up and bury your father as he made you swear. So Joseph went to bury his father, and with him went all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt, as well as all the house of Joseph, his brothers, and his father's house.

Only their little ones, their flocks, and their herds they left in the land of Goshen. And they went up with him, both chariots and horsemen, and it was a very great gathering. This was a funeral cortege to beat all funeral processions. It was like a state funeral that not only Joseph's family but members of the court of Pharaoh and those who were servants of Joseph participated in this journey for the funeral of Jacob. Funerals can be magnificent occasions. I've mentioned before an unforgettable experience at a funeral I had. In 1965, I believe it was in January, one of the great leaders of the Western world in the 20th century died. His name was Sir Winston Churchill. I was living in Holland at the time, and a couple of friends of mine who were at the university where I was met with me, and we agreed. We wanted to go to the funeral of Winston Churchill, and so we drove and took the ferry across the English Channel in the middle of the winter and snowing and cold, stayed in the YMCA in London, got up the next morning for the funeral, and there were a million people on the streets of London in a short few blocks lined up there to pay their respects to Winston Churchill.

I've never seen anything like it before or since. All the great heads of state from around the world were there, and they were part of the funeral procession. First came the horses that brought the carriage containing Sir Winston Churchill, and then the carriage of Lady Churchill, and the beef eaters were all there and so on. And then one dignitary after another, there was Charles de Gaulle marching down the middle of the street, Maurice Chambie from the Congo, King Constantine from Spain, Queen Juliana from the Netherlands, Conrad Adenauer from Germany.

All these great world leaders were right there on that street as part of this funeral cortege, and it was just an unforgettable experience. And that's what I think of when I think of this incident here in the book of Genesis, where all these dignitaries and their chariots go up to put Jacob to rest. And they came to the threshing floor of Aetid, which is beyond the Jordan, and they mourned there with a great and solemn lamentation. He observed seven days of mourning for his father, and when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Aetid, they said, this is a deep mourning of the Egyptians.

Therefore its name was called Abel-Misraim, which is beyond the Jordan. So his sons did for him as he had commanded them, for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre, which Abraham bought with the field from Ephraim the Hittite as property for a burial place. And after he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all who went up with him to bury his father. Now Jacob is gone, and now a new sense of terror enters into the hearts of Joseph's brothers. They realized that Joseph had been kind to them and not vengeful in large measure out of Joseph's dedication, devotion, and love for his father.

And now his father is gone. In a real sense, what the brothers of Joseph are experiencing is the loss of their protector, and they're thinking among themselves, now what is Joseph going to do? And so we pick up this part of the narrative in verse 15 of chapter 50. When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, perhaps Joseph will hate us and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him. And so they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, before your father died, he commanded, saying, thus you shall say to Joseph, I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin, for they did evil to you. Now please forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father."

Now isn't this interesting? They're still dissembling. They are still not dealing directly with the problem of their guilt before Joseph. They don't send a letter to Joseph saying, we confess to you that we have done this evil against you.

Please forgive us. But they couch their confession in this indirect reference to Jacob. They're still appealing to Jacob as their protectorate or as their protector in this case, where they're saying, oh, by the way, Joseph, before your father died, he commanded that we make this request of you that we should beg you to forgive our trespasses.

And so now we're asking for that forgiveness as our father had instructed us. Joseph's response, we read, and Joseph wept when they spoke to him. And his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, behold, we are your servants. Now how many times have we seen the literal fulfillment of the original dream that created all of this hostility in the first place, the dream that Joseph had as a boy of these sheaves of wheat bowing down, which was interpreted to mean that at some point his brothers would bow before him, and they were enraged and filled with jealousy and anger and hatred against him. And that's what precipitated their betrayal of him in the first place.

And now it's like a broken record. It's like a litany in these later chapters of Genesis, for now this is the fourth or fifth time that they are bowing down before him and offering themselves as slaves to Joseph's household. But Joseph said to them, verse 19, do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 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. Now therefore do not be afraid.

I will provide for you and your little ones. And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Now those of you who listen to our series on Renewing Your Mind on the providence of God will remember that this text that I just read was crucial to the classical doctrine of divine providence as it relates to one of those concepts subsumed under the doctrinal heading of providence, the doctrine of concurrence, or sometimes called the doctrine of confluence. And if you recall at that time I mentioned the city of Pittsburgh as an example of what concurrence is or confluence is, where we have what's called the golden triangle or the point where the Three Rivers Stadium is, and every time the Goodyear blimp flies over that, the commentators show you that viewpoint from above the stadium and show you how these two rivers, the Allegheny and the Monongahela, flow together at the point in Pittsburgh and form the beginning of one of America's great rivers, the Ohio River, which then flows west until it empties into the Mississippi and becomes part of the Mississippi River.

And usually the jargon that the commentators use to describe this is they speak of the confluence of the Allegheny and the Monongahela Rivers to form the Ohio. Now what does the word confluence mean? It simply means to flow together. It's a synonym for the word concurrence.

We get the word current from the same root that is found in the word concurrence, and it means currents that come together and mix together. Now what that doctrine points to is the mysterious way in which God governs the affairs of men, whereby even though we are acting according to our desires, according to our choices, according to our will, that God brings to pass His sovereign will, not apart from the choices of human beings or apart from the actions of people, but in, through, and by the work of people. That even though there are two streams flowing, the human stream and the divine stream, these two merge into one. And that's what Joseph is saying to his brothers when he said, you meant it for evil, God meant it for good.

And now he puts his accent on the intent of the action. He's saying that when you betrayed me, you weren't the only actor in the drama. God was involved in that. God was working His good plan even through your evil plan.

That's hard for us to grasp, but it's a principle that we find throughout Scripture. God worked through Pharaoh to bring about His redemptive work of the Exodus. Pharaoh meant it for evil. God meant it for good. God worked through the betrayal of Judas for the atonement of Christ. God's intent was perfectly righteous. Judas meant it for evil, and he is responsible for his wicked intentions. And so we see in this enormously important passage a reaffirmation that God is Lord of history. And Joseph is saying, even while what you did was evil, God was bringing everything together for good for those who love Him. God worked through your treachery to provide for your own salvation, your own rescue from the famine. God used your evil intents for His righteous purposes.

It's an amazing thing. And so he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. So we read at the end of this book that Joseph dwelled in Egypt. He and his father's household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. And he saw Ephraim's children to the third generation. And the children of Makar, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph's knees.

He had a wonderful time with his grandchildren. And Joseph said to his brethren, I am dying, but God will surely visit you and bring you out of this land to the land which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel saying, God will surely visit you and you shall carry up my bones from here. And so Joseph died being one hundred and ten years old.

They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt. But his last words were prophetic of the future work of God, where God would at some later date once again be present among His people and remove them from Egypt and take them to the promised land. We have come to the end of our study of the life of Joseph.

But it's not quite the end of what the Bible says about this man. The book of Exodus begins with an ominous statement where we read in chapter 1 of Exodus, verse 8, Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And what follows there is the story of what had taken place four hundred years after the family of Jacob moved to the land of Goshen. There arose a new king who didn't know Joseph, who had forgotten Joseph, who wasn't concerned to honor the pledge that Joseph had made to his family and the pledge that the earlier Pharaoh had made to protect these people.

And the new Pharaoh took this opportunity to enslave the Israelites, setting the stage for the most dramatic act of redemption in the whole Old Testament, namely the exodus of Israel out of Egypt. The Bible tells us later on in Exodus that when the exodus took place, before Moses led all of these people into the wilderness, one of the first things he did was he got the bones of Joseph and said, If we're leaving, we're taking the bones of our patriarch with us to the promised land. We've just completed this lengthy study of Joseph. I pray that none of us will ever be like that Pharaoh who forgot Joseph.

That was R.C. Sproul on the life of Joseph on this Friday edition of Renewing Your Mind. For more than fifty years, Ligonier Ministries has been proclaiming the truth of our holy and sovereign God as some in the church have eclipsed the biblical portrait of God. By God's grace, we have faithfully taught the Bible without compromise, faithfully proclaiming the God we learn about in the life of Joseph. While there's still time, request this complete twenty-part overview of the life of Joseph with a donation of any amount at or by calling us at 800-435-4343. Your support fuels and extends the reach of our vast teaching library. And as our way of saying thank you, in addition to the series, you'll receive the newly released hardcover book from R.C. Sproul, Joseph from Dreamer to Deliverer. This offer ends at midnight, so give your gift now at Next week, R.C. Sproul will encourage us in how to grow as a Christian, teaching us how to read the Bible, how to pray, and other important areas. So join us beginning Monday here on Renewing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-04-19 02:25:22 / 2024-04-19 02:33:32 / 8

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