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 19, 2020

2020.12.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 41:46–42:9

Read Genesis 41:46–42:9

Questions from the Scripture text: How old is Joseph now, and how long has he been in Egypt (Genesis 41:46, cf. Genesis 37:2)? How many years pass in Genesis 41:47-53? What does the land do during this time (Genesis 41:47)? What does Joseph do, where, during this time (Genesis 41:48)? How much does he gather (Genesis 41:49)? What/who else is fruitful at this time (Genesis 41:50)? What does Joseph call the firstborn (Genesis 41:51)? Why? What does he call the second (Genesis 41:52)? Why? What begin to come in Genesis 41:54? Where was there famine? Where was there bread? What happened to all the land of Egypt in Genesis 41:55? To whom did they cry out? What did he tell them to do? Where, again, does Genesis 41:56 repeat that the famine was? What did Joseph open? To whom did he sell? How bad was the famine? Who came to Joseph in Genesis 41:57? Where else was the famine this bad? What did Jacob “see” in Genesis 42:1? What were his sons “seeing”? What does he tell them to do in Genesis 42:2? For what purpose? Who go to Egypt to do what in Genesis 42:3? Who doesn’t go (Genesis 42:4)? Why not? With whom do the sons of Israel go (Genesis 42:5)? Who was personally overseeing the selling in Genesis 42:6? Who come? What do they do before him? In what manner (cf. end of Genesis 37:10)? What does Joseph do when he recognizes them (Genesis 42:7)? What does Genesis 42:8 tell us about this recognition? What does Joseph remember (Genesis 42:9)? How does he speak to them, and what does he say? What do they call Joseph in Genesis 42:10? What do they call themselves? What do they claim shows they are not spies in Genesis 42:11? What accusation does Joseph repeat (Genesis 42:12)? What extra data do they add in Genesis 42:13 about the claim they had made in Genesis 42:11? What accusation does Joseph repeat in Genesis 42:14? How does the demand of Genesis 42:15 relate to the claims they have made? How many does he say may go, and how many must stay, to prove it? For how long does he put them where, under this stated arrangement (Genesis 42:17)?

Dreams come true, if they’re prophetical dreams. Joseph has been very insistent that these particular dreams (Butler, Baker, Pharaoh, chapters 40–41) are from God. And they have come true. But what about his? Yes, God has lifted him out of the pit. The previous passage especially emphasized God humbling the proud (Pharaoh/Egypt) and lifting up the lowly (Joseph), but what about his brothers bowing down before him?

The Holy Spirit gives us a clue in Genesis 41:46 that what we are to see here is fulfillment of God’s Word: “Joseph was 30 years old.”  The dreams were to take effect immediately (Genesis 41:32). Then we add the seven years of Genesis 41:53. So Joseph is 37 years old and married with two children (Genesis 41:50) whom he has named out of faith in the Lord and praise to Him for the way His goodness has swallowed up the affliction of his years growing up (Genesis 41:51) and in Egypt (Genesis 41:52).

All of this calls our attention back to Genesis 37:2, which was some 20 years ago now—more than half his lifetime. And that establishes the background for Genesis 42:6, “Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth.” Joseph sees them (mentioned twice, actually, Genesis 42:7Genesis 42:8) and remembers that this was prophesied by God (Genesis 42:9).

In all of this, the Lord has brought Joseph to a holy forgetfulness, fruitfulness, and faith.

Forgetfulness. Manasseh. “God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house” (Genesis 41:51). Just as the years of famine were going to swallow up the years of plenty in Egypt, the reverse is true with God’s providence to believers: “the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17). The certainty of God’s Word means that we may embrace already the certainty that the exceeding and eternal blessedness that is coming will make us “forget” the toil and affliction of the past and present.

Fruitfulness. Ephraim. “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:52). The certainty of God’s Word coming true means not only that these afflictions will be forgotten in the future, but also that they are fruitful in the present. He has planned them for His good purposes. It is precisely through them that He is doing good. We are not only to trust Him, but to serve Him, seeing that He works graciously now in us, and is glorified by the fruit of that grace, as it is displayed in our lives.

Faith. “Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them” (Genesis 42:9). We’ll consider the rest of the verse, and what Joseph is doing, when we come to consider Genesis 42:9–38 and the priming of the rest of the family for a leap of repentance and faith. But, for now, we see how God uses affliction to strengthen our faith. To make us that much more sure of Him, and everything He has said in His Word. Joseph is a man who has believed God up until now. And what a payoff of confirmed faith he now enjoys. 

What is God doing in the afflictions of believers? He is bringing them to a holy forgetfulness, fruitfulness, and faith! He may be doing so in a way that feels painfully slow to us, but it is actually in His perfect time.

What is the hardest thing you’ve gone through? What fruit did it produce? How does your future compare?

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH257 “Children of the Heavenly Father”

 

Friday, December 18, 2020

2020.12.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 11:1–13

Read Luke 11:1–13

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Jesus doing (Luke 11:1)? What did the disciples ask when He finished? How does Jesus respond to whom (Luke 11:2)? How are they to address God? What is the first petition? The second? The third? For what manner of the doing of God’s will should they pray? What is the fourth petition (Luke 11:3)? What is the fifth (Luke 11:4)? What are the two parts of the sixth petition? About what hypothetical situation does He ask them in Luke 11:5-6? What does He challenge them that they would not do (Luke 11:7)? Why does He say that they would give the friend “as many as he needs” (Luke 11:8)? Which actions of the friend in the question does He use to describe praying in Luke 11:9? What will the Father do in response to each of these? What is the relationship of Luke 11:10 to Luke 11:9? What effect does this have, as Jesus urges them to be persistent in prayer? What new hypothetical questions does Jesus propose in Luke 11:11-12? What does He say about their character in Luke 11:13? But what does He say they know how to do? To Whom does He compare them? What good Gift will He much more surely give?

If the Lord Jesus’s praying in Luke 11:1 is reflected in the petitions that He teaches them in Luke 11:2-4, then that gives us the content of the kind of prayer to which He is directing us in Luke 11:5-13. The teaching here is presented as a whole, bookended by “Our Father in heaven” in Luke 11:2 and “your heavenly Father” in Luke 11:13.

For what had John taught his disciples (Luke 11:1)? He was proclaiming the need for repentance (Luke 3:1–14) in light of the coming of the Christ who would pour out upon them not water but the Holy Spirit (Luke 3:15–16). And it is reasonable to conclude that he taught them to pray along similar lines.

Now Christ the King upgrades all of these things as He teaches us to pray. 

Not merely for the coming of the Christ, but for the consummation of His kingdom (Luke 11:2). 

Not merely for the requisite repentance but for sure and free forgiveness (Luke 11:4). 

Not merely for One who would pour out the Spirit, but for the instant, delighted, abundant giving of that Spirit by Him Whom we now know as Father (Luke 11:11-13).

The Lord Jesus teaches us to be ambitious and confident as we pray for spiritual things! And oh how comforting this is to us who need constant reaffirmation of God’s forgiveness, of God’s Spirit carrying us along in our repentance and service, and of the powerful and unstoppable progress of His kingdom, despite all that we might think we see in the world!

His instruction on praying for earthly things is, by comparison, modest. Daily bread in Luke 11:3. Sometimes requiring persistence in asking for bread, or whatever it is that we need (Luke 11:5-8). Still, even these prayers are to be offered in confidence that whatever is good our wise and good Father will give us (Luke 11:9-15, cf. Matthew 7:7–10). 

And of course, one of those good things He will give us is that ministry if His Spirit that stirs up our heart more and more toward spiritual things, as we serve our heavenly Father and King in every spiritual circumstance.

God grant that our praying would not be like John’s so much, but rather reflect that Christ has come, the Spirit has been given, and the kingdom is unstoppably coming! (cf. Acts 19:1–10)

What spiritual things are major items of prayer for you? What earthly things? In what manner do you pray?

Suggested songs: ARP4 “Answer When I Call” or TPH518 “Come, My Soul, with Every Care”


Thursday, December 17, 2020

Armed Together in Christ's Strength through Corporate Worship (Family Worship in Ephesians 6:13–16)

How does Christ, our Strength, Strengthen Us? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these four verses, we learn that what the apostle describes here as taking up the armor of God is the use of that corporate worship that He has been describing throughout the epistle.

Praising His Work to Provoke His Work (2020.12.09 Prayer Lesson in Rev 15:1–5)

In His greatest works, God often ordains to do them as responses to the prayers of His people, and indeed to delay them until those praises. What an encouragement unto praise and prayer this is—and especially the two, combined! Yes, on the one hand, we are commanded unto them. So, it is our duty. But, in considering what great place God has assigned to them, we see that it is also our great privilege!

2020.12.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 6:13–16

Read Ephesians 6:13–16

Questions from the Scripture text: What, again, were they to take up (Ephesians 6:13)? How much of it? That they might be able to do what? When (cf. Ephesians 5:16? And then what? And then what? What command does Ephesians 6:14 repeat? With what are they to gird their loins (waist)? What is to be as a breastplate to them? What footwear should they put on (Ephesians 6:15)? How does Ephesians 6:16 begin by telling us the importance of this item? What is it? With it, what will they be able to do, to what, from whom? 

Having been briefed on the enemy and given our orders, these verses begin to describe our equipment.

We notice that, although it is in the Lord Himself and His powerful might that we are to stand, there is a duty placed upon us to put on this armor. We are told to gird with the belt and put on the breastplate. We are told to put on the shoes and take the shield. 

Yes, it occurs only by God’s grace, only by God’s power. But that does not remove from us either responsibility or activity. Rather, it emphasizes that responsibility because the God in Whom we are told to be strong has told us to do this, and it narrows the central focus of our activity to those particular things that this God has told us to do.

A second thing to notice, even before getting to the pieces of the armor themselves, is that these are corporate commands. We are not surprised, since this fits perfectly with what the apostles spent much of chapter four drilling into us about how believers grow up into Christ our head. But, in our fleshly individualism we are forgetful both of the needs and the needfulness of others. So, it bears pointing out that these are pieces of armor that we put on together, as part of the body of Christ.

This corporate aspect is especially noticeable in the shoes and the shield. The shoes of the gospel of peace almost certainly refers us back to the beautiful feet of the one who announces good news of peace in Isaiah 52:7, and in this book we have learned that we all address one another with this glorious truth (Ephesians 4:12–16), especially in that corporate worship where we address one another with the Word in songs by which the Lord fills us with His Spirit (Ephesians 5:18–21). If you’re missing corporate worship, you are not the beautiful-footed gospelist of Isaiah 52:7 whom we now see as the sure-footed soldier of Ephesians 6:15.

The shield of faith is also one that must be corporately wielded. Of the Roman shields, this was the large one that was used together with the rest of your unit to make an impregnable enclosure. This is confirmed by the fact of its primary use being against fiery darts. Under a hailstorm of pitch-coated fiery arrows, these shields need to be used together in unison. How many a believer has found it nearly impossible to resist doubt and temptation by himself, and then he has gone into the assembly where we all lift together the shield of faith, and the Lord has guarded and delivered him there!

And it is precisely that shield of faith in which we cling to the truth of God, His Word as the belt by which all the pieces are held together. And also to the righteousness of Christ, through which no attack can wound us. It is by the exercise of faith that His perfect truth also makes us wiser in the truth and ourselves more faithful and true. It is by the exercise of faith that Christ’s perfect righteousness that has been counted to us begins to be reflected in the righteous way that we live. It is no longer we who live, but Christ Who lives in us. The life that we live, we live by faith in the Son of God Who loved us and gave Himself for us!

So, while it is ultimately true that what we are really being told here is “put on Christ,” it is helpful to see that Christ has given us specific actions by which He will graciously make that an experienced reality in our lives. And first and foremost, those actions are the clinging together to His Word and His righteousness, as He has given to us to do in His corporate worship. It is this that will be the means by which we come to live as children of light in our everyday lives.

Therefore, take up the whole armor of God!

How does singing thoughtfully and heartily in public worship help you cling to God’s truth? How does it help you cling to Christ’s righteousness? When we hear, pray, sup, and ‘amen’ together, what are we taking up?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH406 “Jesus, with Thy Church Abide”

 

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

God's Grace Our Only Hope to Save Us from Our Remaining Sin (Family Worship in 1Samuel 27–29)

What are we to think about what David is doing in this passage, and why does the passage about Saul interrupt it? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these forty-eight verses, we learn that David still has within him the capacity for great sin within him, and that the only thing that keeps him (or us!) from becoming Saul 2.0 is God’s saving grace.

2020.12.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 27–29

Read 1 Samuel 27–29

Questions from the Scripture text: What does David surprisingly (cf. 1 Samuel 16:10) say in 1 Samuel 27:1? Where does he go with whom, and whom do they bring (1 Samuel 27:2-3)? What did this accomplish (1 Samuel 27:4)? For what does he ask (1 Samuel 27:5), and what does he receive (1 Samuel 27:6)? For how long (1 Samuel 27:7) was David doing what, where (1 Samuel 27:8-9)? But where did he tell Achish he was doing this (1 Samuel 27:10)? So what did Achish believe (1 Samuel 27:12), and why (1 Samuel 27:11)? What was Achish going to do in 1 Samuel 28:1, and whom did he tell to come as what (1 Samuel 28:2)? What does the Holy Spirit tell us about (1 Samuel 28:3-25), while letting the suspense and drama of this situation hang in the balance? How does God get David out of it (1 Samuel 29:1–11)? What does Achish still believe at the end of all this (1 Samuel 29:3b1 Samuel 29:6)? How does David act at the news (1 Samuel 29:7-8)? Meanwhile, who is on the other side of this Philistine lead-up to war (1 Samuel 28:4)? What did he desperately seek and how at first (1 Samuel 28:5-6), and then later (1 Samuel 28:7)? Why was this challenging (1 Samuel 28:8-10)? What happens, and what does the woman conclude (1 Samuel 28:11-14)? What does Saul do and ask (1 Samuel 28:14-15)? What does Samuel explain as the reason (1 Samuel 28:16-18) for what is about to happen (1 Samuel 28:19)? How does Saul respond to the news (1 Samuel 28:20)? How does Saul end up having what for his last supper (1 Samuel 28:21-25)?

Was David right or wrong? Well… yes. Things are often more complex than that. But the introduction to the episode, the contrast to his former actions, and the parallel with Saul that so rudely interrupts the passage all point to significant error—even sin, as we should call it when it appears—on David’s part. 

But Yahweh saves Him and does Him good! Yes, and that is a great part of the teaching of the text. The Lord Who is saving us does so not based upon how well we are doing, but upon His gracious intentions. Almost certainly, David doesn’t feel that everything is going swimmingly. 

When Samuel’s death—and Saul’s attempted undeading of his services—so rudely interrupts us in 1 Samuel 28:3 (cf. 1 Samuel 25:1), David is between a Ziklag and war-place. How will he squirm out of this one? The text actually leaves us under that pressure until 1 Samuel 29:1–4, reminding us in the meantime of how bad things have gotten with Saul. That all leaves us wondering if David’s faithless feeling/thinking in 1 Samuel 27:1, and the fact that he is no longer consulting Yahweh as in 1 Samuel 23:1–13, means that we may be on the verge of Saul 2.0.

So, yes, Yahweh saves him, but the flow and force of the text seem to be saying that it is not so much by cleverness and shrewdness with God’s enemies, but by the sheer grace of what God does in the hearts of the princes of the Philistines in 1 Samuel 29:4.

But how about the eliminating the threat of raiding bands (Geshurites, Girzites, and Amalekites, 1 Samuel 27:8) in the Judean hill country? Isn’t that a good thing for a king to do? Well, yes, to an extent (God hadn’t commanded him to do so, and 1 Samuel 27:11 makes it plain that David wasn’t carrying out conquest-judgments but rather closing lip-holes in his Achisch-pacification plan. And it’s telling that the brutal completeness of his modus operandi in 1 Samuel 27:91 Samuel 27:11 draws a contrast to the comparative (self-interested, and wickedly intended, to be sure) mercy of the Amalekites in 1 Samuel 30:2.

So, God does good to those upon whom He has set His grace, even when they are not doing particularly well. And God does good through many who are not doing particularly well spiritually. I’m sure the Israelites “south of the Jerahmeelites or south of the Kenites” (1 Samuel 27:10) were happy for God’s reprieve from the wicked raiders.

But God takes our sin extremely seriously, and that’s the point of the Saul narrative that the Holy Spirit uses to build pressure while we and David are cliff-hanging. Saul has done much by now that is rather wicked; but it is ironic that while David does not seem to be seeking Yahweh at all, Saul wants the (earthly, to be sure, rather than spiritual) help of the Lord of Whom he had made an enemy (1 Samuel 28:16) by half-obedience and neglect of His honor (1 Samuel 28:18). 

It’s amazing that it’s this incident—“you did not obey the voice of Yahweh nor execute His fierce wrath upon Amalek”—that is still the primary cause of Saul’s demise. How easily Samuel could have added the sin of consulting a medium! But there are no small sins. And that’s a big part of the point.

Which brings us back (literally, 1 Samuel 29:1) to David and sharpens the focus of chapters 27–29 upon the grace of God. He is not inviting us to be sympathetic with David’s actions, but rather to hope in David’s God, and that God’s great grace. For, in that grace, God would be bringing great David’s greater Son, Who would speak and do only as He saw from His Father in heaven, and yet would suffer a punishment far worse than Saul in order to bring a deliverance infinitely better than David’s.

When we read this passage, but especially when we consider what our King had to offer in His perfect obedience and suffer in His fully-atoning sacrifice, we realize that none of our sins are small. But, we also realize that the grace of this God is infinitely bigger. So, we see His love and respond to Him with repentance that seeks to be holy even to the level that He is holy. And, rather than being dismayed when we keep committing these very not-small sins, our loving and grateful repentance comes also with the confidence that He has been doing good to us and through us, throughout it all!

When has God worked in or through you, while you were sinning? Why isn’t this an encouragement to sin?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Amazing, Assuring, Abounding Salvation-Love of God (Family Worship in Romans 5:6–21)

What special benefits come from knowing Whom it was who died for us and what we were like when He did so? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. In these sixteen verses, we learn that these facts amaze us at God's salvation-love, assure us of the completion of salvation, and make to abound to us a limitless trove of Christ's life, righteousness, and strength for all that we need in the meantime.

2020.12.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 5:6–21

Read Romans 5:6–21

Questions from the Scripture text: What condition were we in, when Christ died for us (Romans 5:6)? For whom does verse 6 specifically say that Christ died? For what kind of man would people ordinarily still be unwilling to die (Romans 5:7)? Who is giving the demonstration in Romans 5:8? What is He demonstrating? For Whom? In what condition were we when Christ died? For whom did Christ die? Is Romans 5:9 presenting something that is more certain, or less certain, than sinners, such as we are, being justified (declared righteous) through Christ’s blood? What is more certain—from what will we be saved? Through Whom? What were we, when we were reconciled to God (Romans 5:10)? Through what were we reconciled? What condition are we now in? By what shall we be saved (end of verse 10)? In addition to this certainty, what are we already doing (Romans 5:11)? In Whom are we rejoicing? Through Whom are we rejoicing? Why—what have we received through Him? How did sin enter the world (Romans 5:12)? What entered through sin? What had all men done (verse 12)? What was already in the world before it was given on Sinai (Romans 5:13)? What happened to men from Adam to Moses, to show that the law was already in effect (Romans 5:14)? When Adam’s offense and Jesus’ grace are in competition, which does Romans 5:15 say “abounded”? How many offenses of Adam did it take to condemn us (Romans 5:17a)? From how many of our offenses did Jesus justify us (verse 17b)? What kind of gift did Romans 5:18 call this? How were many made sinners (Romans 5:19a)? How were many made righteous (verse 19b)? When the law came to be written on stone and scroll, instead of only on hearts, what abounded (Romans 5:20)? But when Jesus came and was obedient in our place, what abounded even more than the offense of those sins? Whose kingly reigns are in competition in Romans 5:21? What do each of these produce? Whom does verse 21 identify as having made this glorious difference? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Romans 5:6–21, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with And Can It Be That I Should Gain.

This is a passage about those whom God has declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). But there are two transitions that have taken place. Legally, they have gone from “sinners” (Romans 5:8) to “justified” (Romans 5:9). Relationally, they have gone from “enemies” (Romans 5:10) to “reconciled” (Romans 5:10,Romans 5:11). Is this you, dear reader? Have you recognized the debt of sin, and come to the cross and had it canceled in the permanent ink of the blood of Jesus Christ? If so, then you are reconciled with God!

And the point that our passage is making is that if God’s particular interest in you was such that while you were still ungodly and a sinner and an enemy, Christ died for you… how can it even be possible that God’s interest in you has become any less now? Less interest in one who is declared righteous by the throne of heaven? Less interest in one whose righteousness and reconciliation are the result of being IN CHRIST? Less interest now that you have gone from His enemy to His friend? Of course not! God’s redeeming love and saving interest in you cannot be lost by anything in time, because it is from eternity. It can have no end, because it had no beginning!

Further, Romans 5:11 considers the new reflex of our hearts toward God—to be exulting in Him, to be full of His praise—and says that this new life of rejoicing is an evidence and seal of our reconciliation. So, may I ask you, dear reader—do you rejoice over God’s great redeeming love and saving acts? 

Here, also, we have one of Scripture’s great comparisons between the first Adam and the last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ. Some dislike the idea of Adam’s sin being counted against us. But the fact of the matter is that if we cannot be considered in our federal head, then this takes Jesus away from us. We are sinning and dying plenty for ourselves. How we ought to rejoice that there is a free gift of righteousness and eternal life for us in the obedience of Jesus Christ!

Some dislike the idea of Jesus being punished for the sins of others. But let them see that He willingly went. It is grace! It is a free gift! It is not some horror of injustice, but a mind-boggling quest of love and power! And let all remember that apart from Jesus and His grace we are perishing. God’s law has always been on our hearts. There is no escape. One great purpose of His proceeding to give that law also in plain words was to intensify this urgency. How great is our offense against God!

And yet, it is precisely the gospel that enables us to say, “How great is my offense!” As we go through life, realizing this over and over again, we are not terrified to death, but rather more and more amazed at our eternal life. Every time we say, “How great is my offense!” The Lord Jesus comes along in the gospel and says, “How greater is my grace!” There is no extent of the believer’s realization of his sin and death that Christ has not already answered with forgiveness and eternal life. For the believer, wherever sin abounds, grace has already abounded all the more!

Why are your offenses great? How is God’s grace greater? How are you responding to this great grace?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH431 “And Can It Be That I Should Gain”


Monday, December 14, 2020

Our Battlefield, Enemy, and Resources in the Spiritual War (2020.12.13 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 6:10–13)

Christians are former darkness, transformed now into light that exposes the darkness in the evil day. Their battlefield is especially their own marriages, parent-child relationships, and everyday work. Their enemy is the devil himself whose vast forces are organized, powerful, and evil. But they have the high ground, being united to Christ and seated in heaven with Him Who Himself is their infinite and glorious Resource for this battle, as the Spirit applies Him to us by means of the armor.

The God Who Humbles the Proud and Exalts the Lowly (2020.12.13 Morning Sermon in Genesis 41:1–45)

God, who brings down the proud and lifts up the lowly throughout the course of His providence, is eternally and exceedingly bringing down the proud who do not yield to Christ and lifting up the lowly who abandon all self-trust and self-glory to trust in Christ and glory in Christ.

Hopewell Liturgy Reform, part 1 — Overview of What's Changing, Why, and How We Got Here (2020.12.13 Sabbath School, Part 1)

Pastor Hakim introduced the liturgy change info sheet, recapping some of how the Lord brought us to this point, and our confessed doctrine of worship that requires some of these changes and makes the others wise.

God Who Humbles the Proud and Exalts the Lowly (Family Worship in Genesis 41:1–45)

What are we to learn from Joseph’s meteoric rise from prison to palace? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. In these forty-five verses, we learn that the Lord lifts Joseph up in such a way that he and we will know that our God is One who lifts up the lowly like Joseph while simultaneously bringing down the proud like Pharaoh and Egypt. This is His pattern in history, and even more so in redemption, in an ultimate way.

2020.12.14 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 41:16)? 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 (Genesis 41:33a)? 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)? 

It is the Lord who remembers, cares about, and lifts up the lowly. This was certainly true of Joseph. The cupbearer/butler did not lift Joseph up. Three days turned into two years of days (literal translation in Genesis 41:1), and what the butler ends up remembering is his sins (Genesis 41:9). And by God’s grace, Joseph recognizes that his own integrity, faithfulness, and skill have not done this for him. 

In Genesis 41:15, Joseph was only “halfway” up from point A (Genesis 41:1) to point B (Genesis 41:44). This would seem to be the time to puff out his chest and sell Pharaoh on the indispensability of Joseph. But he emphatically answers, “Not me!” in Genesis 41:16. Joseph diverts all the efficacy and glory to God Himself. Just as it would be God who must give Pharaoh the perfect/complete answer, so Joseph recognized that it must be God who kept Joseph out of the dungeon or raised him any higher. Here he was, finally clean, shaven, nicely attired, from prison to palace. God had done that. The God who lifts up the lowly.

This, of course, is something that God does on a macro/massive scale in redemption: taking hell-deserving and thoroughly corrupt sinners, and making them righteous in Christ to Whose image He also conforms them. Redemption is Him taking the lowest of the low and raising them to the highest of the high. And He displays this aspect of Who He is throughout history in incidents like this one.

But let us not miss that he also humbles Pharaoh. Pharaoh starts out pretty high and mighty. 

He thinks his birthday is pretty special (“two years of days” in Genesis 41:1 is a way of naming exact time). But this adds to the troublesomeness of the dreams that he has had. He thinks the Nile is pretty powerful and fruitful, but this adds to the troublesomeness of the second set of cows. In Egyptian company in Genesis 41:3, everyone knows that this just isn’t something the great Egyptians see in their great land that is sustained by their great river! When he retells it to Joseph in Genesis 41:19, he adds for the uninitiated Hebrew’s sake that this is Egypt; that sort of creature just doesn’t exist here.

Who knows what the great Pharaoh, incarnation of the great sun god Ra, of the great Egypt, sustained by the great river had planned for his very special birthday? We don’t. Because  a couple of prophetical dreams brought it all to a screeching halt. How easily brought down to earth is a man whose pride is in the heavens!

But God graciously grants to him not only to know how much Egypt will be humbled for seven years, but even to have a humble heart. By the time Joseph is done speaking, Pharaoh isn’t interested in the help of the pantheon of the Egyptians. He wants the man in whom is the Spirit of this God (Genesis 41:38Genesis 41:39) that Joseph has continually mentioned (Genesis 41:16Genesis 41:25Genesis 41:28Genesis 41:32 x2) to be the one by whose work mighty Egypt barely survives (Genesis 41:36b).

The position into which he puts Joseph, known to Egyptologists as the Vizier, is well known in their history. But Pharaoh does not keep his favorite or most important half of the duties for himself, as with other Vizier arrangements. He takes his hands off the reigns completely. He puts Joseph over his house (Genesis 41:40a), all the people are to be ruled by his word (verse 40b), and in fact “without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt (Genesis 41:44)!

Truly, earthly power only exists so long as it is useful for the plans and praise of God. The highest kings are in the slipperiest places and will have the greatest falls. 

Beware all pride, lest you have some measure of participation with them. And beware that greatest pride of hardening your heart against resting in Christ and receiving Him as your King—lest the catastrophe of your own fall be complete and everlasting. 

But also remember that anyone in any high position—whether in church or family or nation—will either cast his crown down before Christ or be brought down as soon as the time is up for His usefulness for Christ’s glory and the church’s good. Do not put your trust in them, or be tempted to unfaithfulness to Christ in order to curry favor with them. And do not fear or envy them who will be shockingly and scornfully humiliated soon enough.

How are you privileged and prosperous? How are you afflicted and lowly? Which will increase for you? Why?

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