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#414 TAKE UP OUR CROSS, GENESIS 37:1-27

As we go into the history of Jacob and of Joseph, there are some things we want to consider anew. The Lord Jesus Christ says that we must take up our cross and follow Him. As we look at the biography of Jacob, we see a type of the struggles and trials that a believer encounters in this life. As we go into the history of Joseph, we learn to see Christ formed in you, the hope of glory.

Notice the parallel between the history of Christ and of Joseph. We are to fellowship in the sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ. This beautiful harmony is also what we see in the life of believers as we ripen for glory: we begin to fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. What I mean by "fellowship in the sufferings of Christ," is that we not only suffer the things that Christ suffered, but we suffer them in the spirit in which Christ suffered them.

God's Word teaches in ROM 8:28: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Who are the called according to his purpose? They are going to have all things work together for good, even the things that we do not realize: that the wrath of man shall praise the Lord. The wrath of man that comes against God’s elect, God’s dear children, is not only sent by the Lord, but will be for His honor, glory, and praise.

As we follow the biography of Jacob we begin to see the matchless patience of God with those whom He loved from eternity. As we see the working of grace in the heart of a sinner, as we see the slips and the falls, the waywardness, and all the things in the life of God’s people that would cause us shame, we must see the patience of God.

2PE 3:9, speaking about His second coming, says, "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

There is a distinction between the secret will of God and the revealed will of God. In DEU

29:29 we read that, "The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, [Then it goes on to tell us why] that we may do all the words of this law." God gives us His revealed will to be ourguide. His secret will is not the guide of our life.

The revealed will of God is: "that all should come to repentance." (2PE 3:9) The secret will of God is that only those whom He calls by His grace will come to repentance, but that is not the basis on which we govern our lives.

"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…." (JOH 3:16) That word world in the Greek means "the world and its inhabitants." It does not sort out the elect from the non-elect. When God says that all should come to repentance it is the proclamation of the Gospel; it is to all men. We have not been called to preach to the elect. It is not my job to sort out who is elect and who is not. The Gospel must be proclaimed to all men.

We do not consider it slackness that His Son has not yet returned, but it is His longsuffering to us, not willing that any should perish. On the Day of Judgment there will be an accounting for the Gospel message that was available to us, whether we would hear or whether we would forbear.

We also see His eternal plan unfold as He overrules all the human reasoning of man to bring about that very plan. The Lord uses the human reasoning, the things that are done by the world against His Church, and all the things that are done to persecute His church. "All things work together for good." (ROM 8:28) He uses those very connivances of man to bring about His purposes, and He overrules them for good.

GEN 50:18-20 shows us, "And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 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."

Joseph is telling his brethren that they meant it for evil, and the Lord will requite them for that evil, but the Lord used it to bring about His very purpose, and that was "to save much people alive."

It is not only a wonder to trace God's grace in His dealings with Jacob as a type of the believers as he ripens him for glory, but it is also wonderful to see the consolation of God's grace triumphing over all for our good. When we look back, we quite often have 20/20 vision. Sometimes, when we look forward, we can be nearsighted and shortsighted. We look through our dark glasses of human reasoning and we cannot understand what the Lord is doing. But sometimes when we look back, then, as the old saying goes, "If only my foresight was as good as my hindsight." We see what the Lord did with Joseph, we can understand not only what the Lord’s purpose was in allowing these things to happen, but also that they happened according to His decree.

In PRO 4:18 we read, "But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." As God brings His people through the purification process, their light begins to shine brighter and brighter. The light of Jacob shone dimly at first, but as he matured and came to ripe old age, his light began to shine much brighter.

The working of God's grace kills the flesh and all that appertains to it so that the new man might prevail. All the human reasoning, the hatred, the conniving, the scheming, and everything in Jacob’s life and in the life of his sons, were slain by the Lord, but He also used them to bring about His very purpose.

2CO 4:16 tells us, "For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."

Even though Jacob lived in Shechem and had religion outside of the Bible, the Lord had to slay it. The outward man had to perish. All of our human reasoning has to perish; yet the inward man is renewed day by day. The Lord not only drove Jacob out of Shechem, but also renewed His command to return to Bethel and blessed him there.

The old man has to be slain, but the new man is renewed day by day as the Lord takes us and brings about His purpose in our life. To bring about His purpose, He renews the call of the Gospel, the call of grace, and the work of the Spirit.

How are these fruits of the Spirit brought to maturity in the way of the cross except by the faith of our blessed Saviour? The Father looks upon all His dear children in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord looks upon our obedience as nothing unless it is in the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing in man, nor in flesh, that can stand before the scrutinizing sight of the Father except it be in the faith, patience, suffering, and obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ.

HEB 12 speaks about the monuments of faith that are set forth in HEB 11, so that you and I may be able to compare our trials and look to their faith to strengthen our faith. These monuments of faith have been revealed so that we may learn to see and take courage for the strengthening of our faith.

HEB 12:1-2 says, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses [these witnesses speak unto us by their actions, their conduct], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us [Looking unto all these monuments of faith? No], Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

When faith has come to the lowest point, then the Holy Spirit will take those precious things of Christ and place them before our eyes. He will show us the trials that Christ has endured, what Christ has walked through, and how He suffered such contradiction of men, because therein our faith is inflamed. Our faith is restored back unto the Lord Jesus Christ and His faith. "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith [This illustrates and demonstrates the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ]; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

What is faith? We see in HEB 11:6 that we must first "believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." The Lord Jesus Christ demonstrates His faith by having faith in the reward: "for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (HEB 12:2)

The faith of the Lord Jesus Christ is set forth evidently before us. We are not looking to these monuments of faith, we are looking to Christ and His perfection in faith.

When our tender Heavenly Father deals with us as His dear children, bringing us through the furnace of affliction, it is to bring our eyes unto the faith of our blessed Redeemer. Christ is altogether lovely and came to redeem us from all iniquity.

HEB 12:3 says, "For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." When should we consider Him? When we have the contradiction of sinners against us.

This is what we see in Joseph: he endured such contradiction of sinners against himself when they ridiculed him for his dreams and for his father’s love. They ridiculed him for every reproof that he brought against their sin.

That is what we must learn from the history of Joseph. We are going to suffer contradiction of sinners against ourselves, but when we do, consider Christ and the contradiction that came against Him: how they called Him a blasphemer and a Beelzebub. We should consider such contradiction against Him "lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." That is what inflames our faith to go forward and endure that contradiction of sinners against us, because our eyes are fixed on the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ - that blessed faith of our blessed Saviour - and how He suffered such contradiction. It inflames our faith and gives us the strength and courage so that we do not faint in our minds.

As we struggle with our cross in these trials, we derive our strength and courage to endure by keeping our eye upon that perfect faith of Christ as the object of our faith. "Looking unto Jesus the author…of our faith." He is the author of our faith because His faith imputed to us becomes our faith.

HEB 12:4 points out His faith and it rebukes us if we faint in our minds, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." The Lord Jesus Christ, striving against the powers and torments of hell and of sin, resisted against sin unto blood. He gave His own life-blood. When we have that contradiction against ourselves and they have not yet slain us, "Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin."

Verse 5 says, "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him."

When this contradiction of men comes against us, it is a trial of our faith that the Lord has sent. This trial of our faith, which is the chastening of His hand, are instruments of His sending. When we learn to see that, our bitterness against that instrument is taken away. We no longer have bitterness against the instrument that the Lord uses to chasten us, but we turn our eyes unto Jesus and what He suffered in the contradiction of men against himself. The Father sent it because thereby He purchased our salvation. When our eye is fixed on Christ, on His faith and what He endured, that little chastening that comes against us, seems so small.

As long as Jacob looked in himself, these trials and struggles caused him to faint in his mind.

GEN 42:36 says, "And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me."

Jacob was writing bitter things against himself, responding to these trials with human reasoning. He was still looking within himself. He said, "…all these things are against me." He could not see the Lord’s hand in what was transpiring.

Jacob had lost sight of what we read in ISA 55:8-11: "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."

Jacob had lost sight of that. The Word of God is just like the rain or snow. It does not come down, then turn around and go back up. It does not return "thither, but watereth the earth," and so is the Word of God that goes forth out of His mouth. It shall not return thither; it shall accomplish that whereunto He sent it.

Even though Jacob had forgotten what God had told Abraham, yet His Word would not return unto Him void and it was going to transpire. In His Providence, He is bringing about what He had promised Abraham.

What God had told Abraham is transpiring in GEN 15:13-16: "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full."

The Lord has His reasons for His timing. The "iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full," therefore you are going to go into Egypt and be there four hundred years. I have yet four hundred years that I am going to give to the Amorites to fulfill their iniquity.

You may marvel why this nation has never been destroyed for all the sin that we see. The iniquity has not yet been fulfilled.

Jacob has lost sight of that and now he’s complaining and looking within himself when he says, "all these things are against me." If he was able, by faith, to look unto the Redeemer, and if he, in such a time of trial, was able to give an unconditional surrender to the will of God, he would not have endured such grief. He would not have been faint in his mind.

A right understanding of these things is necessary to rightly understand the history of Joseph. As a child, I would become very emotionally upset toward the brothers of Joseph, as well as those who crucified Christ. I would become very upset thinking that those terrible people would do such a terrible thing. I remember the sermons on the passion of Christ. They would instill in me such anger against those terrible people who would actually do such things to Christ.

PHI 2:8 says, "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." When I began to understand this, my focus fell upon the wonder of Christ's humility and obedience unto death instead of the instruments God used to bring about His eternal plan of salvation. If we see the passion of Christ, we are looking at how He humbled Himself "unto death, even the death of the cross." Our eyes must be fixed on Christ, and not on the instrument that God used to bring about His plan.

We need to understand this before we will understand the history of Joseph: it is all in the Providence of God, bringing about the very thing that He had promised Abraham generations earlier. What a wonder it is, how God uses the wrath of man to bring about His eternal decrees.

As I pointed out in the beginning, there is such a perfect parallel between the sufferings of Christ and His Church. As we meditate and look upon the sufferings that God brings upon His Church, we must see the blessed parallel: "take up your cross and follow me."

In PSA 76:10 it says, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain." It was their wrath against Joseph that turned out to be for the Lord’s praise, but He restrained that wrath so that it did not go beyond the Lord’s plan. In His restraining of that wrath, God brings about the fulfillment of His eternal decree.

GEN 37:18-27 says, "And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. [There was murder in their hearts with intentions to murder him, but the God of heaven restrained their wrath to the point that they did not slay him, even though that was their first reaction.] And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. [See wherein the hatred lay] Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him. [The Lord used one man out of the ten to restrain them.] And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again. [Reuben wanted to deliver Joseph back to his father, but the Lord restrained that also. The Lord used the wrath of man to bring about His plan.] And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him; And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. [See God’s Providence: the Lord sent a company of Ishmeelites at the exact time of need.] And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content."

God restrained the remainder of the wrath of man. He brought about His counsel, and Joseph was sent into Egypt to be the forerunner. Christ is our forerunner.

What was it that brought about such a hatred for their brother?

1) The reproof of their sin.

The Lord Jesus told His disciples that He was going to go up to Jerusalem. He said, "They don’t hate you, they hate me because I reprove them of their sin."

The first source of their hatred we see in GEN 37:2: "These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report."

The first source of hatred was that hey were being reproved of their sins. When you show someone that what he is doing is bringing about his own destruction, you will be hated. The Lord Jesus said that they hated Him because He reproved them of their sins. We see the parallel in that the hatred against Joseph was prompted by reproof.

2) The father's obvious love.

The fact that the father obviously loved him generated hatred. GEN 37:3-4 says, "Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him." The hatred keeps building because they were jealous of their father’s love.

3) His prophetic reign as their sovereign.

He prophesied that he would reign over them as their sovereign. GEN 37:5-8 says, "And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words."

See how that inflamed their bitterness and hatred! When they saw him coming, the first thing they said was, "Here comes that dreamer. Let us kill him and see what happens to his dreams!" They were going to stop this by not allowing him to have dominion over them.

Isn’t this why they hated Christ? These are the same three main reasons why our Saviour was hated by those who, out of envy, brought about God's decree in the death of Christ.

The scribes and Pharisees sought to destroy Christ for revealing their fruitless greed. He reproved them of their sin.

In MAT 21 we read the parable about the vineyard, and how the husbandmen slew the messengers that came to get the fruit of the vineyard. They slew the son and said, "Let’s seize upon the inheritance. Let’s kill him that the inheritance may be ours." This parable was spoken against the scribes and Pharisees. It was to show them their fruitless greed. They were not bearing fruit but were greedy of gain.

In MAT 21:43-46, the Lord tells the scribes and Pharisees, "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. [He wanted to see the fruits of repentance and the fruits of love under the law of love.] And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them [They realized that it was a reproof to them.]. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet."

He reproved them of their sin, their fruitless greed; so "they sought to lay hands on him." The reproof of sin is where their hatred began to build.

The Jews hated Jesus because of the Father's special love for Him. See the parallel in JOH 5:18: "Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God." They hated Him and were seeking to kill Him because He had said that God was His Father.

Jesus rebuked this hatred, saying, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel." (JOH 5:19-20)

The Lord Jesus Christ is showing these haters how the Father loves the Son. Because of this special love, they sought the more to kill Him.

See the parallel: when a person claims that God loves him and that he lives and walks in the love of God, it causes jealousy and generates hatred.

Jesus was also hated for His prophetic reign. He prophesied that He would reign as king, as their sovereign, as we can see from the scorn of the chief priests and scribes. They did not only want to kill Him; they wanted to murder Him and torture Him with the most ignominious death they knew how to administer, because He had prophesied that He would reign over them.

While He was on the cross bleeding His life-blood, MAR 15:31 says, "Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save."

They are revenging themselves to prove that this prophetic reign will not take place. We see that with Joseph. "We will kill him and see what will come of his dreams." They are going to murder the King of kings to see what will come of His kingdom.

Verse 32 continues, "Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him."

They were bitter and hateful toward His prophetic reign. They were going to murder Him to see if He indeed would reign as King. That is what they said about Joseph, "Let us kill him, and then we will see what will come of his dreams."

Pilot understood the source of their hatred against Jesus. In MAT 27:18-19 it says, "For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him."

Pilate’s wife had a few dreams, too. She saw that Jesus was a "just man" and that He had no sin. She warned her husband to have nothing to do with Him; and he realized that "out of envy they had delivered him."

This same envy is also what moved the brothers of Joseph to use such extreme measure to rid themselves of him.

GEN 37:11 says, "And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying." He had spoken to them about these dreams (in verse 10); he told his brethren and he told his father. Like Mary, his father pondered it in his heart.

King Solomon said in SON 8:6 that "...love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave..." This word, grave, comes from the Hebrew word sheol (sheh-ole), which means, "the world of the dead, grave, hell, pit."

Jealousy is as cruel as hell. It is so strong that your own brother would like to destroy you, body and soul. That is an awesome thought, a solemn reality. Jealousy is one of the strongest evils that can enter a human heart. They were going to not only destroy Joseph physically, but they were going to destroy what God had proclaimed of His Sovereign reign.

The wonder of wonders is to see how the love of the Father in giving His only begotten Son, as well as the love of the Son in giving Himself, was stronger than death! That is what Solomon said, "…love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave…."

The chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees, out of envy, would have destroyed the Lord Jesus Christ. They called Him a blasphemer. They condemned Him to die as a blasphemer, and a blasphemer had no hope for eternity. Out of envy they would have destroyed the very Son of God. So strong is envy; yet love is stronger than death. Even for sinners who have nailed Him upon the cross, the love of God is stronger than all of the powers of jealousy and hatred.

LUK 23:33-24 tells us, "And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots."

Notice that when Jesus said, "Father, forgive them," it was when they had crucified Him, while He was hanging on the cross, knowing that it was out of jealousy and hatred that was as cruel as hell. While He was suffering the climax of that torment, His love was stronger than death. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." While He was praying for them, "they parted his raiment, and cast lots" for His vesture.

Think of the power of love. Jealousy is as cruel as hell, but love is stronger than death.

We see this same love reveal itself in Joseph. Those very brethren who had sold him as a slave into Egypt are now falling down before Joseph. GEN 45:14-15 tells us, "And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him."

See the expression of love in the heart of Joseph. This is teaching you and me that for those who envy us, whose jealousy of us is as cruel as hell, our heart of love may not fade for them. While Christ was hanging upon the cross, He said, "Father, forgive them." We must pray for those who would destroy us. While Joseph was in the position of authority and was their sovereign, he wept upon their shoulders. His love had not diminished in spite of what they had done to him.

These are solemn lessons that we have to learn. These things are written for our admonition to teach you and me. There is nothing that destroys a person more than to become frustrated. It is the most grievous form of unbelief, because if you are frustrated it is because you have lost sight of the faith of Christ. If your eye is upon Christ and the contradiction that He suffered from the children of men, and the faith that He had, and how He prayed for them, and the love He had for them, then you will not suffer frustration regardless of what a person does to you.

This is the lesson we learn from Joseph. His brothers sold him; they thought to murder him, but when he saw them, he fell upon their necks and wept. He showed them the deepest expression of love.

All things work together for good, but it isn't until afterward that we learn to see the joy that follows. This is what is so marvelous: while we are going through these trials, suffering such contradiction of men, things that we cannot understand, crying with Jacob that "all these things are against me," at that time we do not see the joy.

We read in HEB 12:11: "Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby."

After the Lord has completed His work, has broken our rebellion, brought us into unconditional surrender in submission to His will, and we are able to yet show love to that man that has been the instrument in God’s hand to purify us, then we have the peaceable fruits of righteousness.

One time after my grandchild was disciplined, she came and sat on her father’s lap and put her arm around his neck and said, "Daddy, I won’t lie." Rebellion was broken. The loving discipline had taken its effect. That is the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

When the Lord has brought about His disciplining and our heart has been melted, rebellion has been broken, and we come in total surrender to the will of God, we start to understand the peaceable fruits of righteousness.

I do not need to say, "You did this and this, and I’ll forgive you this and you forgive me that." None of that took place with Joseph and his brothers. When Joseph was embracing his brothers and they wept on each other’s necks, it was an unconditional pardon.

This is the way it is when the Lord brings His chastening hand. I do not need some special revelation from heaven to say, "I have forgiven you that sin." When the Lord comes with the embraces of His love and overshadows my soul, there is a pardon in that. These peaceable fruits of righteousness include the full assurance that the Lord has pardoned all of our miserable sins.

HEB 12:12 says, "Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees." When we see this fainting in the mind in one of our brethren, we have to go to him and lift up the weak hands, and draw their eyes off from self and that person that is chastening them; we have to draw their eyes unto that faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. How do we lift up the hands that hang down? By pointing their eyes of faith unto Christ and what He has suffered, and how He suffered in total submission: He was a lamb before His shearers; He opened not His mouth; He had no rebuke; He had no threats. We take our eye off from that chastening hand and start looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

Verse 13 says, "And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."

When poor old Jacob cried, "...Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me," (GEN 42:36) he was still looking through his dark glasses of human reasoning. His eye was not fixed on that suffering Saviour, upon the word that God had already spoken.

When we learn to see the distinction between Joseph and his brethren, then we begin to understand why there are twelve gates through which the Lamb’s bride enters into the kingdom of heaven. Have you ever thought of the difference between Reuben and Joseph? Reuben defiled his father’s couch. Reuben defiled the bed of his own father. Joseph would rather go to prison than defile the bed of an Egyptian. Do you see the difference between one and another?

Yet there are twelve gates named after the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. That is because you and I each have our own areas of weakness wherein we slip and fall. Reuben does not have to despair just because Joseph did not fall. There are twelve gates: three to the East, three to the West, three to the North, and three to the South. This teaches us that even though we fall and sin against Him we need not despair. We need to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We need to look unto that one and only salvation that there is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

We read in REV 21:9: "And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife."

When we see Reuben, we see the bride, the Lamb’s wife. When we see Judah, Simeon, and all of these who were so filled with bitterness and hatred, we want to be careful: just because the Lord uses one of our brethren as the instrument of our chastening, we do not pass judgment on them. There is a gate to the South as well as to the North; there is one to the East as well as to the West.

Verses 10-13 say, "And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates." Amen.


These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.

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