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The Beauty of Forgiveness - Genesis Part 66

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
August 27, 2022 7:00 am

The Beauty of Forgiveness - Genesis Part 66

So What? / Lon Solomon

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We are in a verse by verse study of the book of Genesis because that's what we do here at McLean Bible Church.

We do verse by verse expository Bible teaching. And we've been studying the story of Jacob and Esau, the two brothers of Rebekah and Isaac. They were brothers and they were the children of Rebekah and Isaac. And what we've seen so far is how Jacob schemed against his brother Esau and stole his blessing, how Esau then plotted to murder Jacob, how Rebekah sent Jacob for his own safety to her brother, his uncle, a man named Laban in the town of Haran. And let's show you a map so you can see where Jacob went. He was living with his brother and his mother and his father in Beersheba down at the south of the land of Canaan.

He went from eastern Mesopotamia to the town of Haran. And when he got there, we saw how uncle Laban gave Jacob a dose of his own medicine by tricking him into marrying his oldest daughter, Leah, instead of the daughter Jacob really loved who was Rachel. Now let's pick up the story and let's see what happens next. So you ready for that?

And then we're going to talk about what difference it makes to your life and to my life. So here we go. Jacob served uncle Laban for 20 years in the town of Haran. And during this time, he took both Rachel and Leah as his wife.

And between the two of them and their two handmaidens during these 20 years, Jacob had 11 sons and one daughter. Now, Genesis 30, verse 43 says, And Jacob became exceedingly prosperous and had large flocks of cattle and camels and donkeys. And then the Lord said to Jacob, Go back now to the land of your fathers, back to Canaan, back to the promised land and to your relatives.

And I will be with you. OK, but remember, who's still living back in the land of Canaan? Esau, his brother. And the last time we met Esau, Esau was out to kill Jacob. Right. That was 20 years before. And now there's been 20 years for Esau's anger to mature and ripen. So let's pick up the story.

Here you go. Then Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau, and the messengers returned to Jacob, saying, We came to your brother Esau and he is coming to meet you, accompanied by 400 armed men. Then Jacob was greatly afraid. So he divided the people who were with him into two groups, saying, If Esau comes against one group and attacks it, then at least the other group will escape. Then Jacob prayed and said, Oh, God of my father, Abraham and God of my father, Isaac, you who told me to return to my country and my relatives and you would bless me. I am unworthy, Jacob says, of all the grace and faithfulness which you have shown to me, for with only my staff, I cross this Jordan River 20 years before fleeing, of course, from Esau. And now I have become two groups of people. Remember how he divided the people into two groups?

That's what he's talking about. Deliver me, Jacob says, I pray from the hand of my brother Esau, for I fear him that he will come and attack me and also the mothers with the children. And so Jacob spent the night there. And from the possessions he had with him, he selected a present for Esau. And the Bible wants us to see what a huge present this was that Jacob sent to Esau. 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 young lambs and 20 rams, 30 milking camels and their young, 40 cows and 10 bulls, 20 female and 10 male donkeys.

Wow. And he split these animals into three retinues, into three groups and told the men leading each of the three groups, he said, when my brother Esau meets you and says, to whom do you and all these animals in front of you belong? Then you shall say they belong to your servant Jacob.

And they are a present sent by him to my Lord Esau. And please know that Jacob is coming behind us. And so as Esau is on his way to meet Jacob, he runs into three separate groups of these animals, three separate presence, if you will, each one with the guys leading them announcing to him that Jacob is sending him this present. Well, in the morning, it says, Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked and behold, there was Esau coming with his 400 men. Then Jacob walked out to meet his brother, bowing down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother as a sign of respect and honor until he came near his brother. Then Esau, say the next word with me, ran, ran to meet Jacob, but he didn't hurt him. He embraced him and he fell on Jacob's neck and he kissed him and they both wept. Friends, I think this is one of the most touching scenes in all the Word of God. I mean, I mean, can you get a feel for this here? Just imagine the very worst enemy that you've ever had in your life.

You can imagine that not only do they hate you, but they've had 20 years for that hatred to mature and then you finally have a meeting with them, but instead of hurting you, instead of trying to damage you, instead this meeting is full of healing and reconciliation and forgiveness. You say, well, Lon, you know, my DC cynical mind, I hate to say this, but part of me wants to say that maybe what we really see here is merely Esau responding to all the gifts that Jacob sent him. No, that's not it, folks, because later in this chapter, the Bible says that Esau said to Jacob, I have plenty, my brother.

Let what you have be your own. Esau turned down the gifts. He didn't even accept the gifts.

He didn't want the gifts. No, folks, what we have here is not bribery. What we have here is true heartfelt forgiveness on the part of Esau to his brother Jacob.

And, you know, the Bible tells us that Esau and Jacob remained friends for the rest of their lives. Now, that's as far as we want to go in the passage, because we want to stop now and ask our most important question. So we all ready? Yeah, everybody. All right, here we go. Nice and loud. Come on now.

One, two, three. Oh, yeah. You say, well, you know, Lon, I mean, this is a great story. I got to admit, I love happy endings.

And what is a happy ending? This is great. But I don't really see what this has to do with me. Well, it has a lot to do with you and me, folks, because the central issue in this passage is Esau's forgiveness of his brother Jacob. And that's what I want to talk to you about today is the subject of forgiveness, because sooner or later, forgiveness becomes an issue for every single one of us. And the reason is because forgiveness is merely a way of responding to hurt. And sooner or later, every one of us gets hurt. Now, forgiveness is not the only way of responding to hurt, but it is the way the Bible tells us that we are to respond to it. And you say, well, Lon, that's very nice. That's very nice that the Bible says that.

But you know what? After what that person did to me, after the way that person hurt me, I mean, why should I forgive them? I should forgive them just because the Bible tells me to.

No, folks, you and I should forgive them because of why the Bible tells us to. Matthew, Chapter 18, Jesus said, And the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a certain king who wished to settle accounts with his servant and a servant who owed him 10,000 talents. That's over 10 million dollars in today's money was brought to him. And since he did not have the means to repay, his Lord commanded that he should be sold into slavery along with his wife and children and all he possessed and repayment be made. So the servant fell to the ground and prostrated himself before the king and said, Have patience with me and I will repay you everything. And the Lord of the servant felt compassion for him and released him and forgave, say the next three words, all his debt.

OK, so far, so good. But that servant then went out and found a fellow servant who owed him 100 denarii. That's like, I don't know, 200 dollars. And he seized him and he began to choke him, saying, Pay me what you owe me. So his fellow servant fell down and began to beg him, saying, Have patience with me and I will repay you. Does that sound familiar?

Yeah. Isn't that exactly what the first servant just said to the king? Verbatim, that's what he said. But he, the first servant, was unwilling and went and threw the second servant into prison until he should pay back all that was owed. And when the king heard what had happened, he summoned the first servant and said to him, You wicked servant, I forgave you.

Say it all your debt because you begged me to watch. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant in the same way that I had mercy on you? Now, let's identify the players in Jesus's story, shall we? Who's the king that the guy owed 10,000 talents to? That's God.

Exactly right. And who's the servant that owed 10 million dollars? Well, hello. Yeah, if you're a follower of Jesus Christ, that's you. And if I'm a follower of Jesus Christ, which I am, that's me. We owed God a debt that we could never hope to repay. We owed God a sin debt that we could never hope to pay back on our own. And yet, as Jesus said, God felt compassion on us and he released us.

And through Jesus's work on the cross, he forgave how much? All our debt. I love what Colossians chapter two says about this. It says God canceled our debt. Praise the Lord. God canceled our debt.

Can anybody get excited about that but me? Praise the Lord. God canceled our debt and took it out of the way.

Look, say the next six words with me. Having nailed it to the cross. Praise God. Where is your sin today, my friends? If you know Jesus nailed to the cross and God threw away the crowbar.

It's not coming off the cross. It's there for eternity and it's not on you. Hey, if you're here today and you've never had the great experience of having God lift all of your sin and all of your debt off of you and transfer it and nail it to the cross of Jesus. Then, friend, we long for you to have this experience. We covet for you to have this experience of watching Jesus Christ cancel your debt. And as the Bible says, take it out of the way. And if you'll come down front at the end of our service and you'll see members of our prayer team and our staff team that are down here and you tell them you need that, you can have that experience right here before you walk out of this auditorium today.

Please, I'm begging you, don't walk out of this room without knowing that your sin debt is canceled, paid in full and nailed to the cross of Christ for all of eternity. Yeah? Yeah.

All right. Now, who's the third guy in the story? You know the one that owed $200?

Who's that? Well, friends, as a follower of Christ, that's everybody else in the world who's ever sinned against me and who's ever sinned against you. And so what's the point of Jesus' story? And you've got to get this because this is the point of everything. What's the point of Jesus' story?

Listen, here it is. No matter how much another person has sinned against you as a follower of Christ, has sinned against me as a follower of Christ, what they've done to us is a dribble. What they've done to us is a pittance compared to our sins against Almighty God. And in light, listen, of how much God has forgiven me as a follower of Christ, you as a follower of Christ, 10,000 talents, $10 million worth of sin, an amount you could never repay in light of that, how dare you refuse? How dare I refuse to forgive anybody for anything? You got it?

You got it? That's the point. And I love what the King said. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow servant in the same way I had mercy on you? So let's go back to our original question we asked a few minutes ago. Why should I forgive people who've hurt me? Well, let me say as an answer, if you're here and you've never come to Christ, you've never had that experience of God forgiving you all your debt, frankly, I'm not sure I can present a compelling reason for you to forgive people that hurt you.

But if you're a follower of Jesus here, I sure can. Colossians chapter 3 verse 13 says, Forgive others just as the Lord forgave you. Folks, recipients of God's mercy are expected to pass it on. Recipients of God's clemency are expected to pass it on. Recipients of God's forgiveness and His pardon are expected to pass it on.

And not only does God expect us to do that, God commands us to do that. Forgive others just as the Lord forgave you. And how did the Lord forgive you and me? He forgave us freely. He forgave us fully. And He forgave us even though we didn't deserve it.

Right? That's how He wants you to forgive the people around you. Freely, fully, and even though they don't deserve it. Now you say, well, Lon, I got a couple questions before we're done here.

All right, shoot. You say, well, my first question is, are you suggesting here that we forgive people that do a crime and we just let them off? No, folks, we are not talking here about prosecuting criminal activity. We are talking here about responding to personal hurt. You say, all right, well, then if somebody's really hurt me personally, are you saying that I'm just supposed to pretend that they really didn't hurt me?

No, no, I'm not saying that at all. Remember God's definition of forgiveness. Forgiveness means it was not okay then when you did that to me. You hurt me.

You cut me deeply. You damaged me. There's no excuse for your behavior. It was not okay then, but in obedience to God, I am willing to declare that it's okay now. It's okay now.

I've forgiven you. You say, well, does that mean I lower my guard and I let these people, I trust them? I let these people get back close to me and do it to me again?

Wait a minute, whoa. Forgiveness and trust are not the same thing, folks. We grant people forgiveness. Trust has to be earned. There are many people that I have forgiven in my life and they have earned my trust back and I've dropped the walls and let them get back close to me and it's fine.

And there are many people I have forgiven that I have not dropped the wall, that I don't trust them, that I'm not going to let them get close to me, but I've still forgiven them. They're not the same things. You understand what I'm saying to you?

Yeah? All right. You say, well, Lon, what about if my feelings just aren't there yet? I just don't feel like forgiving them yet. Well, listen, folks, that's all right because forgiveness is not an act of your feelings. Forgiveness is an act of your will. We forgive people in obedience to God by a decision of our will and then God makes sure that our feelings eventually catch up. You see, forgiveness, obedience to God is the engine and feelings are the caboose.

Wherever the engine goes, sooner or later the caboose is following. God will see to it your feelings get there, but feelings is not the engine. We don't make decision to forgive based on our feelings.

We make it in obedience to God. You say, yeah, but what if that person never asks me to forgive them? Well, you know, it's wonderful if they ask. That makes it easier. But God's command in the Scripture for us to forgive other people never requires that they ask for it.

Never. In fact, Romans chapter 12 verse 18 says, As much as it lies with you, be at peace with all men. As followers of Christ, we can forgive other people and be at peace with them in our heart whether they ever ask us to forgive them or not. Whether they ever forgive us or not, as much as it lies with you, the verse says.

You be at peace with all men. You say, well, Lon, I've got one final question. And that is, what if I'm not sure I can do this? I mean, these people hurt me so bad, I'm just not sure I can forgive them. Well, listen here.

Look here, folks. God will never ask you to do a thing that He will not and cannot give you the power to do. If He asks you to forgive, He will give you the power to do it. You know, I was driving in last night coming into church here and I was thinking in the car about the message here and I was thinking, you know, the only person I think in my life, the only person that I have ever hated with an utter hatred was my mother. I hated that woman growing up with the most utter hatred you could ever imagine.

You say, why? Well, because of the way she treated me. She rejected me. She verbally abused me. She always criticized me. She made me grow up and be dysfunctional. She made me grow up and be psychotic. And I hated her. I hated her. She tried to dominate my life. She tried to make me do and control me, make me do what she wanted me to do. I couldn't even stand to be around that woman growing up. Kiss her, hug her, touch her. Are you serious?

Are you serious? Well, when I came to Christ, I read Colossians 3.13. Forgive others just as the Lord forgave you.

I thought, well, I guess somewhere in there my mom qualifies as an other. So this is not good here, Lord. I got to do something here. And I thought, Lord, I understand what you're saying. I get it, but I don't think I can do this, God. You don't understand. Here I am telling God.

He doesn't understand. You don't understand what she did to me, Lord. And yet, you know, the Holy Spirit kept pressing me back and saying, But Colossians 3.13 says. And so I got on my face before God. And I said, God, I know what I got to do. And so here's what I'm going to do, Lord. I'm going to tell you right here by faith, in obedience to God, that I am prepared, willing, and ready to forgive my mother. But you're going to have to make that turn into reality somehow, God.

I don't know how to do that. Well, all I can tell you, folks, I don't know how God did it. But once I committed myself to obedience, all I can tell you is God changed my heart towards my mother. And by the end of her life, my mother and I could hug each other. My mother and I could kiss each other. I could look in my mother's eyes and tell her that I loved her.

I could hold her arm or hold her hand or let her put her arm in mine. And my mother came to Christ just before she died. And I'm convinced that would never have happened if I had not forgiven my mother as a follower of Jesus. And she said to me once, she said to me, you hated me growing up, didn't you?

And I said, Mom, I did. It wasn't okay then what you did to me, but it's okay now. Jesus has made it okay now.

Listen, folks. There may be somebody in your life that you don't believe you can forgive. I'm here to tell you if God can give me the power to forgive my mother, God can give you the power to forgive anybody in your life.

And let me conclude by saying this, that I've been praying for you guys all week. I don't know every single name here, but I've been praying for you anyway. Because I know that in a crowd like this, there have got to be people who have not forgiven other folks in their life. Maybe it's a father or a mother, maybe a brother or a sister, maybe an ex-husband or an ex-wife or I don't know, somebody that did you dirty at work and betrayed you.

I don't know. But there's a lot of us here today who the greatest need of our life is to forgive somebody. Folks, the three most beautiful words in the world are I forgive you. The three most healing words in the world are I forgive you. There's more power in those three words for healing the human heart than in every psychology book that's ever been written.

The most liberating three words in all the human language is I forgive you. And some of us here are in bondage to bitterness. We're in bondage to hatred. We're in bondage to malice and gangrene and pus in our soul against somebody else or maybe a couple people. And listen, my friends, Jesus said, if the Son of Man makes you free, you shall be free indeed. And He didn't just mean free from the penalty of sin.

He meant free from the bondage of hatred and malice and unforgiveness to other people because He can give you the power to forgive those people and get free. Get free. And so what I'm going to ask you to do in just a minute is to take those people and what they did to you.

Pretend like it's a little piece of paper. And I'm going to ask you in your mind to take that piece of paper and a hammer and a nail and take that paper and nail it to the foot of the cross of Jesus and throw that hammer away and leave it there and be free. Be free. Listen, it's not your job to exact justice from these people. Justice will be exacted from these people because we have a righteous God who when it's all said and done He will see to it that righteous judgment is done.

But that is not your job and it will kill you to try to make it your job. Your job is to forgive them and give them to God and go on with your life. Free in Christ. You with me?

Alright. And listen, listen. Once you take that little piece of paper and you nail it to the cross if Satan comes around tomorrow or the next day whispering in your ear and saying, Don't you remember what they did to you?

Don't you remember how they hurt you? Don't you remember what they... You say to him in the name of Jesus, say it out loud, and in the power of Jesus, by the blood of Jesus, Satan, you, I resist you, be gone because that what you're talking about is nailed to the cross forever and I'm not pulling it off the cross. That's where it stays, Satan. Amen? Amen. So let's pray together, folks. And with our heads bowed and our eyes closed, let's do exactly what we just said.

Whether it's a mother or a father that hurts you badly, a brother, a sister, an ex-husband or wife, someone at work, someone at school, doesn't matter. You imagine what they did and you take them and what they did and nail that to the cross of Jesus and throw that hammer away and you leave it there and you say, Thank you, Jesus. I am finally free. I'm free. If you need to do that, friends, take a moment.

Let's do it. Lord Jesus, there are so many people here today who've been carrying a bondage in their life like I carried for years towards my mother. And I'll never forget the day I gave it to you, God, and I stood up and I was free, free, liberated.

It's like a thousand pounds had been taken off my shoulders, Lord, and a thousand pounds of gangrene had been taken out of my heart. Oh, God, that's the way you want us to live, free, at peace with all men in our hearts. So, Lord Jesus, today give us that power to do it.

Give us that obedience. Oh, God, liberate your people today, Lord. Bring them out of bondage today and if you could open the Red Sea and if you can open the Jordan River and if you can raise Jesus from the dead, then you can give us the power to forgive. So give it to us and set us free and heal our hearts. In Jesus' name we pray. And God's people said, Amen. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-05 04:20:45 / 2023-03-05 04:31:33 / 11

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