Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Public Worship as Spiritual Warfare (2020.12.12 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – December 12, 2020

Dear Congregation,

One of the things that we have noted as we move through the “prayer passages” in the book of Revelation is how almost every time the Lord is about to do something marvelous, it begins with the prayers of His people—especially and specifically the praises of His people. They proclaim His glory and greatness, and then He demonstrates that glory and greatness in action.

Those who are following the M’Cheyne calendar will find a similarity here with something that occurred in the reigns of both Hezekiah and Jehoshaphat. God’s people called upon His Name and basically had a worship service, and the Lord acted decisively and majestically to deliver them and to devastate their enemies.

When we come to consider Ephesians 6:13–16 in the evening sermon next week (and on Thursday, for those making good use of the Hopewell @Home), we will find that corporate worship is of the essence of the armor of God and the imbuing of His people with His strength for His battle.

Even (especially) our babies get to participate in this. God has ordained strength to come out of their mouths as they prattle along in the public worship of God, “O Yahweh, our Lord, how excellent is Your name in all the earth, Who have set Your glory above the heavens! Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger” (Ps 8:1–2). The Lord Jesus’s own paraphrase of this is “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have perfected praise” (Matt 21:16).

Certainly, God has assigned unto us many duties in the home and in the nation where He has placed us, during these particular and trying times in which He has placed us. And, He has assigned unto us many other duties in the church.

But tomorrow, on His holy day, in His holy assembly, He calls us to a duty that has sometimes been a precursor to the glorious breaking out of His mighty power in behalf of His church!

Looking forward to praising His great glory with you, as out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants He brings that strength which He has ordained,

Pastor

2020.12.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 41:1–45

Read Genesis 41:1–45

Questions from the Scripture text: How long is it since the end of chapter 40 (Genesis 41:1)? Who did what? Where was he in his dream? What came up out of the river (Genesis 41:2)? What were they like? What did they do? What else came up (Genesis 41:3)? What were they like? What did they do (Genesis 41:4)? What did Pharaoh do? What did Pharaoh do again in Genesis 41:5? What did he see this time? What else did he see (Genesis 41:6)? What did the seven thin heads do (Genesis 41:7)? What did Pharaoh do? What happened in the morning (Genesis 41:8)? For whom did Pharaoh call? What did he tell them? What couldn’t they do? Who speaks in Genesis 41:9? What does he remember? What had Pharaoh done (Genesis 41:10)? What had the butler and baker done (Genesis 41:11)? Who interpreted for them (Genesis 41:12)? And what came of it (Genesis 41:13)? Whom did Pharaoh call in Genesis 41:14? What did they do to him? What does Pharaoh say about Joseph in Genesis 41:15? To Whom does Joseph redirect the attention in Genesis 41:16? What details does Pharaoh add in recounting his dreams (Genesis 41:17-24, cf. Genesis 41:1-7)? What does Joseph tell Pharaoh that God is showing him (Genesis 41:25Genesis 41:28)? What are the good cows/heads (Genesis 41:26)? How do the dreams relate to one another? What are the ugly cows/empty heads (Genesis 41:27)? What is going to happen first (Genesis 41:29)? For how long? Then what will happen (Genesis 41:30)? For how long? What will happen to the plenty (Genesis 41:30-31)? Why was the dream repeated twice (Genesis 41:32)? What does Joseph make bold to do, in Genesis 41:33-36, that was beyond his original task? Whom does he say Pharaoh should recruit (verse 33a)? To do what to him (verse 33b)? Who should appoint the rest of the officers (Genesis 41:34a)? To do what (verse 34b)? What does Joseph say to do with the surplus (Genesis 41:35)? Why (Genesis 41:36)? Who thinks that this is good advice (Genesis 41:37a)? Who else (verse 37b)? What does Pharaoh ask in Genesis 41:38? What does Pharaoh declare about Joseph in Genesis 41:39? Over what and whom does Pharaoh set Joseph (Genesis 41:40-41)? What three things does Pharaoh put onto Joseph in Genesis 41:42? Onto what does he put Joseph in Genesis 41:43? What do the people cry out before him? What does Pharaoh say about himself in Genesis 41:44? What does he say about Joseph? What does he rename him (Genesis 41:45a)? What else does he give to him (verse 45b)?

The primary thrust of this chapter is the Lord’s lifting up Joseph. Joseph had hoped that this might come by the cupbearer’s remembering him (cf. Genesis 40:23), but he did not. By stating that this chapter occurs “at the end of two full years” (Genesis 41:1), the Holy Spirit draws our attention to the fact that this timing and method was rather different than Joseph had anticipated.

The Lord lifted His servant at the time and in the way that was best. He may keep us low and lowly for an extended period of time. But, it was to be conformed to the image of His Son that His love predestined us (cf. Romans 8:29). 

In the ordinary workings of His providence, the Lord often gives these small displays of Himself as the God who lifts up the lowly, because this is ultimately one of the great things that He displays about Himself in His redemption. He takes those who had descended to being by nature children of wrath, and so justifies and adopts them that at last they are both declared and displayed as children of God!

But let us not miss the companion truth about Pharaoh. Here he was, the greatest man known on earth, reduced to a psycho-emotional mess by dreams about skinny cows and bud-less plants! This, too, is a foreshadowing of the great work that the Lord does on a massive scale in His plan of redemption. Demons and men that seem to be something, the Lord reduces to nothing in an instant. 

Pharaoh even tries to compliment Joseph at first (Genesis 41:15), but Joseph makes sure to give God all credit and glory (Genesis 41:16). Joseph makes it plain that man can do nothing to undo or delay what God has determined (Genesis 41:32). Our God is One who lifts up the lowly and brings down the proud!

In what ways/circumstances are you low or lowly? What is God going to do to you? Why? How are you in danger of being proud? Or of envying or fearing the proud? What is God going to do to them? Why?

Suggested songs: ARP138 “With All My Heart, My Thanks I’ll Bring” or TPH138A “With All My Heart, My Thanks I Bring”


Friday, December 11, 2020

Serving and Needing the Lord Jesus (Family Worship in Luke 10:38–42)

What can we learn from Martha here? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these five verses, we learn that by God’s grace, when others refused Christ, Martha welcomed Him—may we too serve Christ and be identified with Him when it becomes unpopular and costly! But, she came to be focused upon the “muchness” of her serving, which distracted her from the Christ Whom she had welcomed. Mary knew that she needed Him, and Martha showed her own need of Him by being worried and troubled about many things. We, too, need Him and can recognize when we are focused upon the muchness of our own service by when we are distracted from Jesus and His words, when we are irritated with others for not serving as much as we do, and when we are worried and troubled about many things.

2020.12.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 10:38–42

Read Luke 10:38–42

Questions from the Scripture text: What did they enter in Luke 10:38? Who did what to Jesus there? What did she have (Luke 10:39)? What did this sister do? But how was Martha distracted (Luke 10:40)? Whom did she approach? What did she ask? What did she want Him to do? What did Jesus say about her (Luke 10:41)? How many things did Jesus say were needed (Luke 10:42)? Whom did Jesus say had chosen it? What did He call it? What did He say would not be done? 

It is obviously not a bad thing to serve Christ. We have just read in the last chapter that the Samaritans did not receive the Lord Jesus because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:53). These were days in which it was becoming dangerous to associate with Christ, and we might infer that the closer He came to Jerusalem, the greater the danger. 

Against this backdrop, it is no small thing that Martha “welcomed Him into her house” (Luke 10:38).  Mary was there too, and perhaps Lazarus, but she is specifically mentioned for welcoming Him. Many flatter themselves that they are all about a relationship with the Lord, but can neither claim to Martha’s serving Him, or even the attentiveness to His Word. Before we come to learn from Mary, let us first ask whether in days and ways that others are afraid to serve the Lord Jesus, we are more eager to serve Him than to be spared pain or dishonor.

But when we are convinced that we should serve Him, and have set ourselves to the work, there are dangers in it. The implication here is not that Mary did not serve at all. But, there came a time, when Jesus began to teach. The most important service that we render to our Lord is that worship we offer by sitting at His feet and hearing His Word. We mustn’t think that Christian service is a good reason to absent ourselves from preaching or to be lax in personal or family Bible reading and meditation.

For, it was not with “serving” that Martha was distracted, but rather with “much serving.” How easy it is to go from being bold to serve Christ to being distracted from Christ Himself by that very service! And it wasn’t just the “muchness” of the service that distracted. The disproportion expressed itself in her “worrying” and being “troubled” (literally in a turbulent or chaotic, Luke 10:41). 

True Christian service proceeds from faith, and when our focus on serving comes out of proportion, the opposite of faith happens. Surely, Martha was concerned that the house was disorderly, but the second word that Jesus uses there focuses upon how it was her heart that was disorderly.

When we find worry and chaos arising in our hearts in the midst of service, let us return to the root of faith and rebuild our serving from there. The Lord Himself has set His Word before us on such a continual basis that we will often discover the chaos of our hearts if we only attend well upon that Word.

And may the Lord discover our chaotic hearts to us quickly, before we not only fail to attend well upon Him but even well-meaningly seek the harm of our brother or sister. The Lord Jesus doesn’t tell us that Mary was better than her sister. In fact, the needfulness of her listening points to the fact that she was not yet what she ought to be. She needed to hear Jesus’s words! 

And what Jesus is telling Martha is that if He fulfilled her wish, there would be two sisters who were not having their spiritual needs addressed, instead of just the one. What Martha was asking was basically that the good thing would be taken from Martha. When we see how desperately we need Jesus, we would do well to remember that our brothers and sisters desperately need Him too, and focus our thoughts about them upon how to help them look to Him first for all their needs, so that their service, too, may spring from faith.

About what service unto Christ do you sometimes find yourself worried or troubled? About whose worship-attendance and sermon-hearing are you concerned? What might you do to enable them to attend better?

Suggested songs: ARP119E “That I May Keep Your Statutes, Lord” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Victorious Praying to the Wrathful King over the Nations (2020.12.09 Prayer Lesson in Rev 11:15–18)

Those who live in light of the current reign and coming wrath of Christ ought to pray to and praise Him in light of both—rejoicing in His victory, present and future!

Standing by Grace, in the Evil Day, for the Glory of God (Family Worship in Ephesians 6:10–13)

What is our spiritual warfare like? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow's "Hopewell @Home" passage. In these four verses, we learn that the evil day of 6:13 draws us back to where we left off in 5:15–17. If we are to walk as children of light through the filling of the Spirit (5:22), we must do so standing against the onslaught of an organized, evil, powerful enemy who hates that we are seated with Christ in the heavenlies, and hates how God's transforming grace is displayed in how we conduct ourselves in our marriages, parent-child relationships, and everyday work.

2020.12.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:10–13

Read Ephesians 6:10–13

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call the Ephesians saints in Ephesians 6:10? What does he command them to do? In Whom? And in what? What does he say to put on (Ephesians 6:11)? How much of it? So that they might be able to do what? Against what/whom? What didn’t the apostle and the Ephesians wrestle against (Ephesians 6:12)? Against what did they wrestle? What, again, were they to take up (Ephesians 6:13)? How much of it? That they might be able to do what? When? And then what? And then what? 

One of the things that is sometimes missed in the apostle’s teaching about the spiritual war is that we are given marching orders. Our Commander in Chief has identified the location and nature of the battle, and has given His great order: “Stand!”

But where, against whom, against what, and how? The context in which this battle occurs has been established by the preceding sections. In Ephesians 5:8–16, the apostle discussed being light against the darkness by the fruit of the Spirit. And then in Ephesians 5:17–21, he talked about how the great thing that is needed to live wisely in the evil days is to be filled with the Spirit. Now, he brings us back to that thought in Ephesians 6:13’s “evil day.”

Before, he had said to “walk” three times (Ephesians 5:1Ephesians 5:8Ephesians 5:15), and now he indicates just how difficult this is by changing the command to “stand” three times (Ephesians 6:11Ephesians 6:13Ephesians 6:14). What has changed? He has told us where the battle is especially taking place: marriages, parent-child relationships, everyday work. For the kingdom of light to advance, ground must not be lost in any of these areas. How often we have heard of those who thought themselves advancing the kingdom but failed to stand in their marriage, parenting, and employment/finances!

But against whom are we doing battle? Coming out of Ephesians 5:22–6:9, our flesh will say “spouses,” “parents,” “children,” “bosses,” or “employees.” But it is a great mistake to think that flesh and blood is our great opposition. It is the devil himself (Ephesians 6:11) whose very organized army (Ephesians 6:12) is taking aim at us. 

And they do so not so much in the earthly circumstances, but rather attacking who we are in Christ. The “heavenlies” in verse 12 are the place where we have been “blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3) where He has been raised and seated (Ephesians 1:20), and we have been raised and seated together with Him (Ephesians 2:6). This is where the manifold wisdom of God is displayed in Christ (Ephesians 3:10).

Our marriages, parent-child relationships, and everyday work are where we slip the most. Where we fall the most. And where maintaining the display of Christ’s resurrection life in us is most at stake. This is the place where the devil has instructed his well-organized, wicked, forces to attack. This is the place where we must summon not all of our strength, so much as all of the Lord’s strength, if we are just to stand!

Some Christians marvel at others whom they think to be “real spiritual warriors” or “in real spiritual warfare.” Dear Christian, that’s you. You are under attack all day, every day. And it is by the Lord’s strength that you are to be strong, just so that you can stand. And keep standing.

Where and with whom do you spend the most time. Whom will you be tempted to think of as the enemy? But who really are your enemies? What does the enemy want you to do? What will it look like to stand against him? How will you be able to stand against him?

Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the Lord” or TPH534 “Fill Thou My Life, O Lord My God”


Wednesday, December 09, 2020

The Lord Is on His Own Side. Are You? (Family Worship in 1Samuel 26)

Is Yahweh on David’s side or Saul’s? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these twenty-five verses, we learn that since the Lord is on His own side, we need to obey His instructions rather than try to accomplish His plans, trust His justice rather than provoke His discipline, and look to please Him who rewards us rather than hoping that men will be pleased enough to reward us.

2020.12.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 26

Read 1 Samuel 26

Questions from the Scripture text: Who told whom what, where, in 1 Samuel 26:1? Where did Saul go (1 Samuel 26:2)? Who went with him? To do what? Where did Saul encamp (1 Samuel 26:3)? Who saw (1 Samuel 26:3-4)? Where did David come in 1 Samuel 26:5? What did he see? What was Saul doing in the camp? Where were the rest of the people laying? Whom did David ask to do what (1 Samuel 26:6)? What did David and Abishai find in 1 Samuel 26:7? What did Abishai say had happened (1 Samuel 26:8)? What did he ask permission to do? What did David command him (1 Samuel 26:9)? Why? What did David suggest could happen (1 Samuel 26:10)? What does he suggest doing instead (1 Samuel 26:11)? Why didn’t any of the men wake up (1 Samuel 26:12)? Where did David go in 1 Samuel 26:13? To whom did he call out (1 Samuel 26:14)? What did Abner ask? What does David ask in reply (1 Samuel 26:15)? What does he declare in 1 Samuel 26:16? What does he ask about? Who responds instead, and what does he ask (1 Samuel 26:17)? How does David answer? What does David ask (1 Samuel 26:18)? What two options did he suggest for why Saul was chasing him (1 Samuel 26:19)? How did David respond to each? What does David ask, and why, in 1 Samuel 26:20? What does Saul say he had done (1 Samuel 26:21)? What did he ask David to do? Why? How did he evaluate his own behavior? What does David offer in 1 Samuel 26:22? What does he call on Whom to do in 1 Samuel 26:23? But what does David refuse to do? What did he ask Yahweh to do in 1 Samuel 26:24? What does Saul say in 1 Samuel 26:25? Where does David go? Where does Saul? 

Is God for David or for Saul? This is another version of the question that Joshua famously asked of the Lord in Joshua 5:13. And the answer is the same, “No.”

David knows this, and gives the theological underpinnings of that answer in 1 Samuel 26:23 of the chapter before us. Yahweh is for Himself and His own righteousness.

The reason that David is bold to approach Saul’s camp is also the reason that he refuses Abishai’s request to pin Saul to the earth. When Saul had previously thrust that spear at David (cf. 1 Samuel 18:111 Samuel 19:10), he had “stretched out his hand against Yahweh’s anointed.” 1 Samuel 26:9 cuts both ways: Saul cannot be held guiltless (cf. David’s confidence in what Yahweh will do in 1 Samuel 26:10), and David won’t allow himself or Abishai to join him in that category.

Abishai thought they had great boldness because they were about to strike the decisive blow (1 Samuel 26:8), but David’s great boldness instead came from the Lord’s decisive Word. Saul may sound convinced in 1 Samuel 26:25, based upon the success of his action and mercy of his interaction. But for David, it was God’s Word and sign (anointing, cf. 1 Samuel 16:1–13) upon him that was convincing enough to produce such an action. 

But it’s not just Abishai that David here instructs. He instructs king Saul by pointing out that as king he is supposed to be doing the Lord’s bidding, rather than his own (1 Samuel 26:19), which does include punishing evil (1 Samuel 26:18). But, David says, if that’s actually what is going on, David hopes that the Lord would accept a substitutionary sacrifice.

In fact, David’s primary complaint against those who are chasing him is that they are keeping him from public worship (end of 1 Samuel 26:19). Saul is moved more by being spared (1 Samuel 26:21) than by the worship of the Lord. David has no hope that Saul will find David’s life precious, but he has a gloriously sure hope that the Lord will do so (1 Samuel 26:24)!

May the Lord so convince us of His faithfulness to His promises that we would be enabled to take bold and courageous action, while having very tender consciences to honor His command and very eager desires to offer Him His worship!

What are some Bible promises that sometimes feel like they are in jeopardy? Why aren’t they? What bold action might you take in response to them? What difficult obedience might you offer in response to them?

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH245 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness, O God My Father”


Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Jesus, Our Help for Approaching a Holy God (Family Worship in 1Samuel 7:3–12)

Who is able to stand before this holy Yahweh God? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow's "Hopewell @Home" passage. In these ten verses, we learn that God Himself is our help for drawing near to God Himself, by the grace of Jesus Christ—our Prophet, Priest, and King.

2020.12.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 7:3–12

Read 1 Samuel 7:3–12

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom was Samuel speaking (1 Samuel 7:3)? What did he tell them to do with all their hearts? What did they have to put away? What would they need to prepare, if they were to serve the Lord only? What did Samuel promise, as God’s prophet, would happen if they did this (verse 3)? How do the people respond in 1 Samuel 7:4? Then what does Samuel offer to do in 1 Samuel 7:5? Even though the people have changed their ways, what do they do and say in 1 Samuel 7:6? And what does Samuel do there? What do the Philistines do, when they realize that Israel is gathered in one place (1 Samuel 7:7)? And what do the people, now all the more, ask Samuel to do in 1 Samuel 7:8? What does Samuel do, first, before he prays in 1 Samuel 7:9? How does this verse describe his praying? What was Samuel doing in 1 Samuel 7:10? How did the Lord respond? What did the Israelites do in 1 Samuel 7:11? What did Samuel set up in 1 Samuel 7:12? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from 1 Samuel 7:3–12, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.

At this point, the Lord had severely humbled the Israelites. He had killed more than fifty thousand of them (1 Samuel 6:19). This was so unbelievable that a few Hebrew manuscripts went ahead and deleted the fifty thousand and just left the seventy!

The question in 1 Samuel 6:20 had been one that we all need to ask: “Who is able to stand before Yahweh, this holy God?” And there are three good answers here.

The first good answer is: those who come to God through His appointed Mediator. Samuel, here, is acting as a prophet (1 Samuel 7:3), as a priest (1 Samuel 7:51 Samuel 7:8-9), and even as a ruler of sorts (a judge, 1 Samuel 7:6). He is a foreshadowing of Jesus—the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King. Who is able to stand before the holy God? The one who comes to Him in Jesus.

The second good answer is: those for whom there is an atoning sacrifice (1 Samuel 7:9-10). Again, this looks forward to Jesus. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Only with His atonement having wiped out every last particle of our guilt can we stand before God.

The third good answer is: certainly not God’s enemies! The holiness of God, and His almighty power, are great comforts to those who belong to Him in Jesus Christ. We know that no enemy, however powerful, can stand before Him (1 Samuel 7:10-11).

We must live in continual remembrance of how the Lord has helped us in Christ. Samuel raised the stone of help (“Ebeneezer,” 1 Samuel 7:12). The Lord has given us His Supper, nourishing us upon Himself, as in our eating and drinking He shows forth His death until He comes.

At some point, every single one of us is actually going to stand before the holy God. Will we do so, as those who are coming to Him through Jesus Christ, our Prophet, Priest, King, and Atoning Sacrifice? Or will it be as an enemy who is about to perish? Lord, bring us to faith in You!

If you were to stand before the Lord, the holy God, today… could you? And if so, how is that possible?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH429 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”


Monday, December 07, 2020

Loving, Diligent, Glad Slaves of Jesus, Our Master (2020.12.06 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 6:5–9)

Christians should all be delighted to be the slaves of their perfect Master, Who is worthy of their sincere, diligent, cheerful, loving obedience in whatever role they have and whatever work they do.

WCF 12: Of Adoption (2020.12.06 Sabbath School)

All those that are justified, God vouchsafeth, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put upon them, receive the Spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry, Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him, as by a father: yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption; and inherit the promises, as heirs of everlasting salvation.

Remembered in Love by the Sovereign Lord (2020.12.06 Morning Sermon in Genesis 40)



Friends forget us, but the Lord never will. In fact, when they do so, it is precisely because He is remembering us according to eternal, electing, effective love.

2020.12.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 40

Read Genesis 40

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had done what in Genesis 40:1? What does Pharaoh do to them (Genesis 40:2-3)? With whom do they end up? To whom does the captain of the guard entrust them (Genesis 40:4)? What happens to them in Genesis 40:5? What does Joseph notice in Genesis 40:6? What does he ask (Genesis 40:7)? What do they say (Genesis 40:8)? What does Joseph say about interpretations? What does he ask them to do? Who goes first (Genesis 40:9)? What happened in his dream (Genesis 40:9-11)? What does Joseph say is the interpretation (Genesis 40:12-13)? What request does Joseph make (Genesis 40:14)? How does he summarize the last several years of his life (Genesis 40:15)? What did the chief baker see (Genesis 40:16)? What does he tell Joseph about his dream (Genesis 40:16-17)? What does Joseph say is the interpretation (Genesis 40:18-19)? How long does it take for these things to be fulfilled (Genesis 40:20-22)? How does it come about? What comes of Joseph’s request (Genesis 40:23)? 

Joseph is absolutely confident that God cannot forget him. Interpretations of prophetical dreams belong to God (Genesis 40:8), because the future belongs to the God who works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). So, Joseph is still sure that his own prophetical dreams will be fulfilled. If he wasn’t, he might’ve just told the butler and the baker not to worry about those dreams, because they don’t necessarily happen.

It was Joseph’s confidence that God still remembered him that enabled him to be such a good friend to he butler and the baker. Since he trusted God’s care for himself, he wasn’t absorbed in his own concerns, but rather free to care enough about his friends to notice that they were troubled on this particular day.

This makes Genesis 40:23 even more difficult for him. To some extent, he and the butler and the baker were friends. It is hard when friends forget us, but they do. Not always out of malice. The butler will reproach himself for this later. But, the Scripture tells us too about those who had been friends and turn on us. The Psalms are full of this. Jesus’s teaching was full of warnings about this. The apostle Paul’s experience, in particular, was full of this. But even when friends are not turning on us, they can often forget us. 

But there is that friend Who sticks closer than a brother! The Lord was still with him. The Lord still remembered him. The Lord’s promises couldn’t fail to come true. When our friends forget us, we may have comfort from the fact that the Lord will not forget us.

In fact, we may be strengthened not only from the fact that the Lord remembers us when they forget us, but even that their forgetting us is, in part, precisely because the Lord is remembering us! Joseph thought that this would be his ticket up out of that Egyptian house and back to the land from which he was stolen (Genesis 40:15). So, he takes the opportunity of the certainty of the butler’s restoration as a path to that by his request in Genesis 40:14

But what would come of Egypt and Canaan if, two years from now, Joseph wasn’t in the prison in Potiphar’s house? What would come of Joseph’s prophetical dreams and their promises? When our friends forget us, isn’t it because that whatever other intentions or failures are occurring at the time, God’s intentions toward us are good, and He is succeeding in carrying out His perfect will toward us?

Interpretations belong to God. Perhaps the Lord brought the baker to faith in Christ through the witness of Joseph—in which case the Lord had done him a good that Pharaoh’s execution order could never take away. But, if we belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ, then He is never forgetting us but always showing us steadfast love. Whether we are being given position and power and possessions, or being forgotten in a dungeon, or executed by the state… if we belong to God through faith in Jesus Christ, absolutely everything that happens to us happens because God is remembering us in His steadfast, covenanted love (cf. Romans 8:18–39)!

Who has forgotten or betrayed you? Who never will? What is the most painful thing that has come to you in His love?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH246 “Though Troubles Assail Us”