Gary Protheroe - Biddestion Convention - 2017

We were singing in that hymn have you tasted the sweetness and have you seen the beauty or has there been something that has been a hindrance to you. We could be in God’s family and we could be in God’s kingdom and we could not be getting the real sweetness we should be experiencing or not seeing the real beauty we should be seeing because of something within us that is hindering us. There are some verses in John 11 that Jesus spoke to a lady in the cemetery at Bethany. Jesus had come to the cemetery because He had received a message about Lazarus being sick and he had passed away and finally He got up to the village and went to the cemetery.

Verse 40 “Jesus said unto her, 'Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?'” The world says seeing is believing and that is what Thomas said when Thomas missed that meeting and they told him the news sometime after the meeting. He said, "Unless I see, I will not believe." He had to wait a few more days and he finally got that opportunity. Jesus said, "You have seen and now you believe but there are more blessings when they have believed and have not seen." The world’s estimation is seeing is believing and yet God’s way is believing and seeing and if we don’t believe, we are limiting what we can see. That was the experience of Thomas that he never believed until he saw and when he did, see he was truly humbled. Jesus said that thou shouldest see the glory of God and we heard about the shepherds seeing the glory of God. I like to think of the glory of God being like this, visible evidence of the presence of God. When we have faith and put aside our doubts and we believe and we trust and then we will get the opportunity to see the visible evidence of God’s presence.

I was thinking of the story of two man in the Old Testament in Genesis. The first one was in Genesis 22 when Abraham was given this message to go to a certain mountain and offer up his son, his only son. I like thinking about this story, because Abraham believed he got to hear of God’s promises to him expanded and given to him and a greater measure. Going all the way and doing exactly what was asked of him and gave him the opportunity of seeing, to see the provision God had made. He never said, "I cannot believe God said that to me and I can’t believe that God has asked this, and I can’t believe I need to go so far." There was no can’t believe and he believed everything God has said and asked and he followed it step-by-step and believing led him to see. To see the One that was prepared to take his place of his son. He was able to see a greater measure of the glory of God than he had ever seen before because he believed.

I liked thinking about another man in the Old Testament in Genesis and that is Joseph. We read in Genesis 42 of the seven good years had passed and had come to their own and the famine had begun. It wasn’t long before the famine was felt by Jacob and his family up in the land of Canaan where they were living. Jacob said to his sons, "I have heard there is corn in Egypt. Go down and buy some for us so we can live and not die." 10 of his sons went down to Egypt and he kept Benjamin behind lest some mischief befall him. They came down with their asses and there empty sacks and their money down to Egypt to where the corn was being sold and they came to the governor of the land and they did not realise it was Joseph their own brother. They bowed down to the earth and Joseph saw them and knew them and he made himself strange to them and spoke roughly to them. He remembered the dream that he had dreamed and how one day this very scene would take place. They were the dreams he had told his brothers about and they were the dreams that had caused his brothers to be jealous and envious with him and dislike him. Now he was seeing these things fulfilled right before his own eyes. He began to question them and he asked them where they had come from and they told him. He said, "You are spies and you have just come down to see how barren the land is." When they were shepherds and ran out of grass, they would go out and spy out the land to see where they could led their sheep to and they had been used to doing that sort of thing.

They said, "No, we are true, man." Joseph began to question them and they began to give him some details. They said, "Actually there are 12 in the family and 10 are here and our father is still alive and our younger brother is back with him." This is news that Joseph had been wanting to hear for many years. Then Joseph said, "This is how I’m going to try you out to see if you’re telling the truth or not." He knew they were not telling him the whole story. There was part of the story he knew he was part of and they were not telling it. He knew that 10 men bowing to him was the 10 men that has sold him into the country. He was not angry or upset about that and he put them where he had ended up and that was in prison, a little three-day tryout to see what it was like to live in prison where he spent a number of years. He had been bought out of prison to this very place because of his faithfulness and because of keeping in touch with God. He thought, "I will keep you all here and you can go back and get your young brother." He thought about it in his heart and had compassion on them. He said, "I fear God and I will just keep one of you and send the rest of you back with the food. When you come back next time, you must bring your younger brother back with you." And Simeon was kept in the jail.

Then in verses 21–23, “And they said one to another, 'We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.' And Reuben answered them, saying, 'Spake I not unto you, saying, do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? Therefore, behold also his blood is required.' And they knew not that Joseph understood them, for he spake unto them by an interpreter.” They did not realise Joseph could understand them and that little conversation they had was like the first sign of repentance. When Joseph saw the first sign of repentance, he could not help himself and turned aside and wept. Joseph took Simeon and bound him and that was like testing their love for their brother. Joseph may have done that just to see if they had any compassion this. Those men went back to their father and said, "We met the man down there and he spoke roughly to us and asked us about our brother and our Father and we told him all the details. He said prove that you really are true men." They said, "This man said, 'Next time you come back, you have to bring your younger brother back with you.'" He kept Simeon in jail. He was kept back so they would come back and to testify had feelings for their brother like they had just spoken of.

Jacob was quite adamant he would not let Benjamin go. You may remember the story when Benjamin was born and his mother was Rachel who also was Joseph’s mother and she died when Benjamin was born. Benjamin did not know what it was to have a mother and his father was the one who looked after him and most caringly and lovingly from the day of his birth. He had three stepmothers and I do not know how much they did for him. This little boy became like the apple of Jacob's eye and he became like an idol to Jacob. He was one that Jacob loved more than any of the others. Joseph was taken out the picture and his sons told Jacob a lie and they had sold him and they did not tell the father that and they lived under the shadow of that lie for many years. Benjamin was then like an idol to Jacob. In this story, I like to think that Joseph was being like Jesus.

Joseph’s request was that Benjamin would come and Jacob would be willing to surrender Benjamin. That is like the gospel when it comes to us, Jesus wants us to be willing to surrender anything that we love more than Him, anything that we idolize anything that is like an idol to us and is extremely precious to us. We read they had come to the stage of having had almost eaten all the food they bought from Egypt from the first trip. They had eaten almost everything and Jacob said, "The famine is still sore." Then Judah said, "The man said, 'If you don’t bring back your younger brother, you will not see my face." Judah said, "If you don’t send our younger brother, we won’t go down but if you do we will go." Jacob said, "Why did you tell him you had another brother?" They said, "He asked us straight out about our family and our relatives and we did not know what he was going to say next. We just answered him according to the way he questioned us." Reuben said to his father, "Let Benjamin go so we may live and not die and I will be a security for him."

Genesis 42:36–38, “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.' And Reuben spake unto his father saying. 'Slay my two sons if I bring him not to thee; deliver him into my hand and I will bring him to thee again.' And he said, 'My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead and he is left alone; if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave.'” If we hadn’t lingered so long, we could be down back and have food. It was so hard for Jacob to let Benjamin go to give this a little picture of the struggle in the spiritual sense some times and that which is very precious to us and very important too and we cannot live without and sometimes it is a very thing that God wants us to surrender so one day we can see His glory.

Genesis 43:11–13, “And their father Israel said unto them, 'If it must be so now do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, our little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, nuts and almonds; and take double money in your hand, and the money that was poured again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; pre-adventure it was an oversight. Take also your brother, and arise go again unto the man.'” That was some of the hardest words for Jacob to say when he let his son go. There are many things we could offer and give up instead and he had many good things. There was never going to be any of those things that was going to win the heart of Joseph. It is none of those things will win the heart of Jesus. The things that will not open the door to Jesus is natural gifts. It is when we are willing to surrender the thing that is an idol to us that will open the door. When Jacob was willing to say, "Take my son Benjamin," and then they set forth.

It says they came down and the man took the presents. Joseph said, "Bring them into my home." It was then that he saw Benjamin and seeing Benjamin surrendered that opened the door to Joseph’s home. I do not know how much Joseph understood the struggle it took for his father to let Benjamin go and we do know that God understood. God knows how much it cost us to surrender and give up our little Benjamins so the door can be opened to us. When they got invited into the house, they were a little worried and wondered what it was about and maybe he is going to take us all captive and they started talking to the steward about the money that was in the sack that they had bought back. He said, "I have your money. You don’t have to worry about that." In spite of Joseph being in Egypt and so far away from the family and the faith they had and obviously he had often spoke of his God and the steward in his house spoke of Joseph’s God. We know God was with him in every experience and God was with him here to in the Prime Minister’s role. He never came to the point that he never spoke about God because he was too busy and into politics and obviously God was always a very big part in his conversation, even to his servants.

Genesis 43:27-30, “And he asked them of their welfare and said, 'Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spoke? Is see yet alive?' And they answered, 'Thy servant our Father is in good health, he is yet alive.' And they bowed down their heads and made obeisance. And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son and said, 'Is this your younger brother of whom ye spake unto me?' And he said, 'God, be gracious and thee, my son.' And Joseph made haste for his bowels did you earn unto his brother; and he saw where to weep; and he added into his chamber and wept there.” He bought the men and he fed them and they offered to give the money back and he could hardly constrain himself from weeping when he saw Benjamin. The first time that Joseph wept was when he saw the first sign of repentance. The second time that Joseph wept was when he saw signs of self-denial. There is an important pattern in this story for our spiritual process we could call it. We can go so far as to repent and yes, that touched the heart of Joseph and they had taken steps to obey Joseph and if they had not they would not have come to his table again and seen his provision again. It was when Joseph saw evidence of self-denial that he wept again. We could repent and never go on to deny ourselves, and we would not make very much spiritual progress. Repentance if it is not followed by obedience and self-denial and we do not get any more than one load of corn out of Egypt.

He bought them in and gave them a good feed and he sat them from the youngest to the oldest and they marvelled that he knew this order. He said, "Just put my silver cup in Benjamin’s bag and put their money back and get them ready to go." They were able to sit at Joseph’s table because of Benjamin being there and having been surrendered. It was all because of Jacob being willing to deny himself with the one that he idolized that was taken from him and then these brothers had the opportunity to sit at Joseph's table. Perhaps we don’t realise the potential and speaking about parents when they learn in their own experience to deny themselves and that gives their children the opportunity as it were to sit at Joseph’s table. If Jacob had never been willing to let Benjamin go, these men would never have had the opportunity to sit at Joseph’s table.

Simeon was also released and they set off and they got a little way and Joseph sent his men after them. They said, "What’s going on here?" They were told, "The big man’s cup is missing." They were so sure of themselves that it would not be in any of their sacks. They said, "Have a look through our sacks and whosoever sack the cup is found in, he can be the Lord’s bondsman." Genesis 44:9, “With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die and we also will be my Lord’s bondsman.” They were so sure of themselves and the one coming after them said, "It will not be like you’re saying." Whosoever sack the cup is found in that will be the one and the rest of you will be blameless. They found the cup in Benjamin's sack and they were devastated. They came back and went before Joseph and fell down onto the ground and it was like they were completely humbling themselves. Joseph was bringing them through this to get to the bottom of the hidden dishonesty that was still lingering in them. Friends, that is one thing that will hinder us from seeing the glory of God having a little lingering dishonesty within us. There was a little self-righteousness in these man as they said they were true men. They had to be bought to the place where they realised they were not true men.

Genesis 44:16, “And Judah said, 'What shall we say unto my Lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants; behold we are my Lord’s servants both we and he also with whom the cup is found.'” Then Judah told the whole story to his brother and he had to bring to light the fact that he had told a lie to his Father. He told inadvertently what that lie was that they had told to their father and it bought them to the place where they were totally humble and totally honest before Joseph. There are two crucial things that God looks to develop in us before He would ultimately give us eternal life. Up to this stage, what Joseph was giving them was something to take home and now he was making a place for them to dwell for the rest of their life. Before they could enter into that, they had to be brought to the place where they realised what they were truly themselves and to be totally humble and totally honest before Joseph. When Judah told this whole story and now he was willing to put himself in the place and Judah was the one that had made the suggestion to sell Joseph. Now Judah was willing to give himself instead so Benjamin could be free and that was quite a change. It is quite possible Benjamin had not known the story and they would not tell him because he would tell his father.

They sold Joseph for 20 pieces of silver each and between 10 brothers, that is only two pieces each. The reward of iniquity is never very much. We read when Joseph revealed himself to them they were astounded and he sat them at his table again and before he sent them off and he gave to Benjamin 300 pieces of silver. The lesson we get from that is self surrender is far more than the reward for iniquity. He gave to each one a change of raiment; then he gave to Benjamin five changes of raiment. Each time he favoured Benjamin, he wanted to see if his brothers had got over this problem of being jealous. When he could see that they got over being jealous towards a brother and when they got over that they could see who they were speaking to and see his glory.

When Pharaoh had heard that, he said, "Get all the wagons and bring them back. I will have a place for them and they were provided for in abundance." It could never have happened if Jacob wasn’t willing to surrender Benjamin the one he loved and the one he idolized. They got their provision for the future all because Benjamin was surrendered. Chapter 49, you can read about when Jacob was speaking about his sons and prophesying about their future and it speaks of Benjamin in the 27th verse, “Benjamin shall ravin has a wolf; in the morning he shall devour the prey and that night he shall divide the spoil.” And you can see that Benjamin was no longer the idolized one, and he would not say that if Benjamin was the one he still idolized. Because Benjamin was willing to go because Jacob was willing to surrender his Benjamin and he can see Joseph in his glory.

You can read the story about when Joseph came to meet his father at the border there and what a great day was when Jacob saw Joseph in his glory. Today we are here to see more than a man that was lifted up to the position of prime minister. We are here to see the one that God has sent ahead of us so provision could be made for us. If we don’t surrender our Benjamins, we could be still stuck in Canaan. It is when we are willing to let go of things that God puts his finger upon and God says, "Let go of that." That is a thing that is hindering you seeing the glory of God. That is the thing that is hindering you from tasting and knowing the sweetness you could be tasting in God’s way. Our little Benjamin could be pride and unforgiveness and our little Benjamin could be lots of different things that would just want to remain with us and hinder us from seeing what God has planned. Let us be willing to surrender Benjamin and let us see the glory of God and may God help us for Jesus's sake