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Family Feuds: Seeing God In Injustice – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
May 17, 2024 1:00 am

Family Feuds: Seeing God In Injustice – Part 1 of 2

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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May 17, 2024 1:00 am

Conflict becomes a way of life—unless the cycle is broken. After Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, he had every right to give into bitterness. But in this message, Pastor Lutzer observes three deaths Joseph died: to his family, to his reputation, and to his friends. Joseph believed God had a purpose in everything.

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Moody Church Hour
Pastor Phillip Miller
Running to Win
Erwin Lutzer

Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Whether due to some imagined or real hurt, or to an inheritance wrongly divided, some feuds go on for generations. Conflict becomes a way of life. Unless the cycle is broken, hatred can consume blood relatives.

Is there a way out? Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, we used to watch the Hatfields and the McCoys on TV long ago, two families at each other's throats. And you know, Dave, history hasn't changed much, except that today, the consequences are more serious. People settle their arguments, oftentimes by violence. We're living at a time when crime oftentimes is out of control. So much anger, so much injustice, so much suffering.

How do we manage all that? Well, we're glad that the Bible is very honest about what happens to people, and even as we think of Joseph, who was cruelly and unjustly sold into slavery. And what happened then?

Even there, he saw God. For a gift of any amount, we're making available to you a book entitled When You've Been Wronged. I believe that this is one of the most important books because the number of people who harbor bitterness and anger and unforgiveness in their hearts, that number is huge. You might be one of them. Here's what you can do.

Go to or call us at 1-888-218-9337. The title of the book When You've Been Wronged, and we think of all those throughout history who have been wronged. I begin today with a verse of scripture from God's Word.

It says this, see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God, that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled. Root of bitterness. Back in the days on the farm when I was a boy, I had to weed the garden. Absolutely hated it. Had to put a stake in the ground to distinguish what I had already done from what was yet to be done.

Did it so poorly. But I learned something. There are two ways to take care of weeds.

One is to cut them off at ground level. And the other, of course, is to dig deep and get at the root. Often, when we forgive, it's at ground level. Yeah, I forgive him, but we don't get at the root.

Well, we're going to today. Today, we're going to go for the root. Second truth in God's Word here, it says that the root of bitterness springing up defiles many. There's no such thing as a bitter person who is bitter only for himself. He's bitter with all of the people that he talks to, especially the ones whom he tries to get to agree with him, and thereby many, many are defiled. Today, we're going to look at the story of a man who was able to forgive against all odds.

He got to the root. The purpose of this message very clearly is, first of all, to teach us lessons regarding total forgiveness, and in the process, we're going to have the opportunity of actually testing ourselves to see whether we have forgiven others. And of course, it is my hope and prayer that there are some of you who today are going to walk out of the walls, and I hope that some of you are going to actually hear the clanging of the chains that fall to the concrete floor. It's a big agenda.

That's why I've been praying so much because it's an agenda that only God can accomplish. The man's name is Joseph, and I need to tell you the story of Joseph so that we understand why it is that he had every right to be bitter. First of all, because of the rejection of his family.

I'll tell you the story before we turn to some critical texts. There he is. He's 17 years old, and his father loves him very much. In fact, he was the favorite of his father. He was the 11th of 12 children, and the last two were Jacob's favorites, and he let it be known that they were his favorites.

He gave Joseph a richly ornamented robe, which in effect said, I want you to have the blessing of the firstborn. Bad idea, with 10 other sons who were very angry and opinionated. And then Joseph had two dreams, and in the first dream he says, I was out in the field and my sheaf stood up, and all the other sheafs, you know, the 10 of you, you all bowed down before me. Boy, that went over like, you know, a porcupine in a balloon factory.

I was not highly regarded. God says that the brothers hated him because of his dream. Then as if that wasn't enough, he said, you know, there were the sun and the moon and 10 or 12 stars, and they bowed before me. And of course the brother says, isn't it wonderful to know that our kid brother has such wonderful dreams? I wonder how we can help him fulfill those dreams and see the potential that is really within him. Don't you wish they hated him all the more.

One day he's out in the field. He's coming toward them because his father sent him to find out the welfare of his brothers and they see him coming and they say, let's kill him and then see what becomes of his dreams. Do you know of anyone who would like to kill you to end your dream? There are some people maybe that you know about whose dream is to put an end to your dream.

They hate you and they hate your dreams. So he comes and they take him and they want to kill him, but Ruben talks them out of it. He says, let's put him in the pit. And the Bible says Ruben's intention was to actually get him later and restore him to his father. So Ruben has a kind heart and he goes off to eat. That's what the Bible says. We don't know what the others ate, but we do know of course what Ruben had, right?

I'll go a little more slowly next time. And so Ruben discovers after he's finished eating that the pit is empty because Judah had suggested that they sell him to the Ishmaelites that were coming along the path who were on their way to Egypt and they sell him for 20 pieces of silver and they condemn him to a fate that they knew would be worse than death. And so that's the end of Joseph. His brothers rejected him and Ruben, despite his goodness, is going to participate in the lie because the brothers take the coat of Joseph, dip it in the blood of an animal, take it to the father, and Jacob says that is the blood of my son. And Jacob begins to mourn for his son for 22 years. And all the brothers keep the lie.

And Ruben, who wanted to do well, he has to be part of the lie too. And their consciences no longer trouble them after a while because it's like a dying battery. I once had a clock that beeped every hour. Could never get the thing to stop beeping. That was its problem. Didn't want to just toss it away, what I should have done. So I left it in my study and every hour it would beep, beep every hour. It did that for weeks and finally, finally that battery died. Finally it died. Same way conscience.

It kept beeping but finally it dies. We live the lie and we're going to take it to our grave. So there was every reason for Joseph to be bitter having been so cruelly sold and then he goes to Egypt and suddenly he is exalted and he gets to work with Potiphar who was the head of Pharaoh's secret service detail. It says that Potiphar was responsible for protecting the Pharaoh and, and Potiphar's wife and Joseph spent an awful lot of time together and the Bible says that Joseph was handsome in appearance and day after day she would persuade him, come to bed with me and day after day Joseph said no. One day in a fit of passion she ran and she caught him and he struggled with her and he ran out the door and she caught his coat and had it and then hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn. She takes it to her husband Potiphar and she said, you know that servant that you had, you know what he did? He tried to rape me. Her husband believes in Joseph is in jail, not in jail. He's in a dungeon.

Terrible, terrible, terrible conditions. So that's what you get when you obey God. You know, there's this theory today, you know, just do what is right and God will work it all out in the end.

Oh really? The scripture says that if you do evil and suffer for it, you have nothing coming to you in the rewards in heaven, but if you do good and suffer for it, this is well pleasing to God. Joseph knew that he was training for another world and that the, the rewards of obedience are oftentimes postponed.

So there he is, he's thrown in prison. God is with him. It says God was with Joseph when he was exalted. Very same expression is in the next chapter where it says, and God was with him in his prison. God is with us in our successes.

He's also with us in our failures. In prison there are two other people, a cup bearer and a baker. They have dreams. Joseph interprets the dreams and says to the baker, you're going to die. And he says to the cup bearer, you're going to live and you're going to be giving the cup to Pharaoh very soon. And he says, please, when you do that, would you remember me? Would you remember me and tell Pharaoh that I shouldn't be here?

And furthermore, please tell him that I'm innocent and that I should be released. And the chapter ends with this amazing statement, but the cup bearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. All right, you're in the dungeon now. Joseph there has to die three deaths, three deaths. He dies in the dungeon. First of all, death to his family. He has no emails. He has no way to telephone to see whether his dad is still alive.

No telegrams, no communication. He doesn't know what's happening at home. He has to die to his family and his brothers who so cruelly and unjustly treated him. He has to die to his reputation because everyone in the palace believes he's a rapist. So he has to die to that. He knows the whispers that are going on about him and how evil he is. He knows the truth, but he has to die to his reputation. He also has to die to his friends. You know, what are friends for if they can't help you when you're in trouble? Here you help the cup bearer and he gets out and you ask him to do you a favor and he doesn't.

He forgets you. He also has to die to all of his dreams and his plans. And there he dies the death. Very interesting commentary in the book of Psalms about that. It says regarding Joseph, they put his feet in fetters and there the word of God tested him. Joseph knew that he was in prison by the divine will and the purpose of God. So he had every reason to be bitter and yet he is today a model on forgiveness. And what we're going to do is to give you five tests, five ways to describe Joseph's reaction and why it was that his conscience was totally clear and he could release his brothers. And those five tests are for you and they're for me and for anyone who's listening to this, whether by radio or internet or CD. I'm speaking to you today, not the person whom you think needs it, but to you.

Amen. First of all, he chose to live in the future, not the past. Now we are going to ask you to turn first of all to chapter 41 of the book of Genesis. Genesis chapter 41, Joseph is released from prison.

He is given a position of responsibility. We cannot go into the details of what all that means, but this is what the text says after Joseph was married. After he gets out of prison, he marries and he has two sons and it says in chapter 41 verse 51, Joseph called the name of his firstborn Manasseh for he says, God has made me to forget all my hardship and all my father's house. God caused me to forget. And then he, the second son, he says, Ephraim, because that means God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.

Joseph is saying that terrible though it was all the nights of crying and weeping in loneliness, all those days in the dungeon, which remember he did not know when or if those days would ever end. All of that affliction, he says, God has caused me to forget it. He said, I refuse to live in the past. I refuse to allow my past to be the prism through which I view all events that continues to color and to destroy any hope of being fruitful in the present or the future. God has caused me to forget the past and not be bound by it. What Joseph is saying is I refuse to be a victim.

I will be a victor with a help of God. You know, this is of course an example of how Jesus also endured his injustice. It says who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame. Jesus said this, he said, I will go to the cross and look beyond the cross. And in looking beyond that cross to glory, I'll endure the cross. I'll see that affliction is taking place, but fruitfulness lies ahead. I will refuse, absolutely refuse to be the kind of person who says that my past has to color and control and dictate and ruin anything that I can do in the future because of what happened to me. God will cause me to forget.

Now here's my question to you. Test number one, do you live with more memories than you do dreams? Is it possible that because of what happened to you, everything is colored, that root of bitterness springs up and many people are defiled because you refuse to forget and you refuse to trust for your future? Second, notice this, he chose to set his brothers free. Now this is in chapter 45 and please turn to that because we have to leave out all of these intriguing details. Joseph puts his brothers through a series of tests and he does this to know that he doesn't tell them immediately he forgives them. He wants to see whether or not he can trust them first because reconciliation itself also needs trust. Remember reconciliation needs trust, it needs respect and it needs forgiveness, it needs all three and in this series of messages there is going to be a message just on the topic of reconciliation. So Joseph now is going to reveal himself to his brothers. Chapter 45 verse 4, Joseph said to his brothers come near to me please and they came and now he's going to reveal who he is after all of these events and now he says I am your brother Joseph whom you sold into Egypt and now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here for God sent me before you to preserve life. He's saying don't be mad at yourself for what you did.

He set his brothers free. Most of us in that situation we'd have said okay you guys I forgive you but I want to tell you a thing or two. I just want you to get clear what it was like for me. Have you ever put yourself in my sandals? Have you ever thought of what it was like at the age of 17 to be sold like that to go from pillar to post to be thrown in jail for two years? Do you realize what you guys did to me? Sure I'll forgive you but I just want you to know how deeply you wounded me. In fact what he does is he asks that everybody else be put out of the room because he didn't even want the Egyptians to know what his brothers had done so that the Egyptians would not think ill of them so he shuts everybody out and says I need to just be with my brothers and that's the best way that reconciliation takes place just with the ones that wounded you and so he says let's do it here but I want you to know don't be angry with yourselves.

I'm not going to go into a laundry list of all the ugly things that happened because of what you did. Isn't that like Jesus? He can speak to us and he can say be thou forgiven. Now sometimes the spirit of God does convict us of sins absolutely but after the sins are confessed and forsaken does he say okay I'll forgive you but I want you to know today have you ever thought of what you did? Do you realize what you've done? You think to yourself that you can hold this bitterness because you're really more righteous than the people who hurt you. Do you want me to show you all of your sins?

How about using the equipment of Moody Church with our lovely screens and let's go on for a half an hour and list some of the things you have done and let's get this straight I'll forgive you but I want you to understand a thing or two. Spires the East is from the West so far he removed our transgressions from us like as a father pity of his children so the Lord pity of those that fear him for he knows our frame and he remembers that we are dust and your sins and your iniquities I will remember no more. Joseph says I'm setting you free I'm setting you free don't be angry with what you've done. Test number two you willing to set your victimizer free? Test number three as we hurry along here is this he saw God in his injustice he saw God in his injustice and now do not be distressed I'm still in verse five do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here but God sent me here.

Let's camp on that phrase for just a moment. Joseph isn't just saying you know you guys really messed up by hurting me but God turned it into something good anyway. He's not saying that. Saying much more something much more theologically profound what he's saying is is that your evil was part of the divine plan. God had a purpose in all of this. This was long before Romans 8 28 was written and yet Joseph understood it with incredible clarity that all things work together for good to them that love God including the false accusations that all things work together for good to them that love God to those who are the cold according to his purpose because he was able to see God in the midst of evil.

Didn't it remind you of Jesus? It says in the book of Acts Jesus was offered by the predetermined plan and counsel of God and you wicked men carried out that plan and you killed the just one. Was God there when Jesus died? Was there a plan?

Was there a plan and the answer is yes and Jesus could see God right next to the devil and he saw God as bigger than the devil. If you were if you were holding on to bitterness and all that you can see all that you can possibly see is the devil. That person did that to me and he is evil and if you do not see God you will retain your bitterness. You know what's remarkable about Joseph is he's the only man in the Bible that I can think of about whom nothing is said that is wrong or evil that is to say he lived a very holy committed life.

Now of course we know that he wasn't perfect because he was a human being but for him to be able to see God in the midst of injustice he's an example for all of us. I've written a book entitled When You've Been Wronged. There is a burden on my heart and that is to see people delivered from anger, unforgiveness, bitterness, all of those things that fester in our souls.

God is there to help us that we might be free but we can't simply walk away free we have to be set free. I've written a book entitled When You've Been Wronged as I've mentioned already on this program for a gift of any amount we're making it available to you. Here's what you do go to that's or pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. Let me share with you my heart. The desire is to get the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people around the world as we possibly can and together we are making a difference. We're making these resources available to you that you might be helped in your journey. Go to and thanks for helping us.

You can write to us at Running to Win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you find God's roadmap for your race of life. Forgiving others for great wrongs dissolves years of hatred in mere moments. That's what happened when Joseph forgave his jealous brothers for selling him as a slave. Next time don't miss one of the most unforgettable episodes in all the Bible. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-17 02:13:39 / 2024-05-17 02:22:23 / 9

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