January 23 “Responding to betrayal”


How do you respond when some one offends, hurts, or even, betrays you?

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 45 & 46
Psalm 12.3-4
Proverbs 4.14-17
Matthew 15.1-20

Genesis 45 & 46:

Accepting the sovereignty of God

What a reunion for Joseph and Benjamin! But I can’t imagine the shock the other ten brothers must have experienced.

The most amazing part of this story is what John MacArthur calls “a masterpiece of recognition of and submission to the sovereignty of God” (MacArthur Daily Bible). Think about it. Fifteen years had passed since that day when his brothers betrayed him.

Remember there were ten of them—older and stronger. They had thrown him into a pit or dry well. Imagine the terror of overhearing them arguing about whether or not to kill him and what they would tell their father. Later we learn that he pleaded with them, but they wouldn’t hear it (Gen. 45.21). The text says, “And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming” (Gen. 37.25). They sat down to have lunch while they debated his fate!

Then there was the long journey to Egypt. Did he hope they might change their minds and come after him? But no rescue. When he arrived in Egypt, was he put on an auction block?

At some point, Joseph must have made a decision to make the most of his circumstances and the Scripture says, “The Lord was with him” (Gen. 39.2). He served his master Potiphar well, rising to the job of chief steward and was loyal even in the face of temptation. Then falsely accused and thrown into prison. Even there he was faithful and ended up being given a position of responsibility.

Even so, imagine the nights spent laying awake and wondering why? Why would his brothers do such a thing? Why would God allow it? When did he surrender it to God? We don’t know, but surrender he did. What do you do when someone has sinned against you? Do you play that video tape over and over in your mind, allowing it to burn into your brain, turning to anger, then bitterness? Or do you surrender it to God?

Now imagine that moment when Joseph tells his stunned brothers, “… do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45.5).

They had spent years thinking about what happened, too, years of guilt, possibly regret, as they saw their father’s grief. And when something bad happened, wondering if it was payment for what they had done, “… We are truly guilty concerning our brother … therefore this distress has come upon us” (Gen. 45.21). Don’t forget Judah had lost two sons of his own. Maybe that was why he refused to let the third marry Tamar. Was he afraid because of his sin and guilt?

Proverbs says, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Prov. 28.13). What they had done most likely had affected them greatly. And now, they will have to go home, and not only tell their father the good news, but the rest of the story.

Think about what the conversation might have been like on the way home:

“What do you think Dad’s going to do when he finds out?”
“It’s your fault!”
“No, it’s yours!”
“I told you not to do it.”
“What if it’s a trap and once we get back he’ll arrest us and have us thrown into prison or killed?”
“Dad’s going to disown us!”

Maybe in some ways there was relief.

We really don’t know the details of that conversation, but we’ll see in the coming years that the brothers will continue to struggle to believe Joseph had really forgiven them for such a betrayal. It must have seemed too good to be true.

Too good to be true!

Isn’t that our story, too? Have you ever thought about the fact that God was willing to forgive us after all the ways we had sinned against Him. Maybe we didn’t plot His death, but we acted like He didn’t exist. We didn’t sell Him into slavery, but we sold ourselves into the slavery of immorality, selfishness, pride, addictions, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and more.

And even after we come to faith, we betray Him over and over. James calls it spiritual adultery (Jas. 4.4).

Our forgiveness, truly is too good to be true!

Psalm 12.3-4:

In our wretchedness

We were like those talked about here, “… the tongue that speaks proud things, who have said, ‘With our tongue we will prevail; our lips are our own; who is lord over us?’”

How great a salvation! He didn’t just ignore our sin or even just forgive it, He paid for it. He redeemed us, bought us back from slavery. Truly too good to be true!

There is a qualifier though. We must come to the place where we see our desperate need, as the believers of another generation used to say—our wretchedness. We must agree with God that we are sinners: adulterers, liars, thieves, blasphemers, murderers, and betrayers. Then we must ask for His forgiveness and surrender our lives to His Lordship.

Ephesians 2.8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” It is the gift of God. As free people, we should want to serve the King who loved us, died for us, and bought us back. We were created to imitate Him (Eph. 5.1) and to do good works (Eph. 2.10), not out of obligation, but out of our love and gratitude.

Proverbs 4.14-17:

Don’t start down the wrong road

“Do not enter the path of the wicked … for they eat the bread of wickedness, and drink the wine of violence” (vv. 14, 17). This is a warning to not even start down that road. Sin is sometimes wrapped in an attractive package, but it has a hook in it (Jas. 1.14). It can end up taking us farther than we ever thought we could go, keeping us there longer than we thought we would stay, and cost us more than we ever thought we would pay.

Matthew 15.1-20:

Swallowing camels

Here we see Jesus having another one of His verbal exchanges with the scribes and Pharisees. He calls them hypocrites, people who say one thing and do another. They claimed to follow the letter of the law, but Jesus says, they missed the whole point. In another place He tells them, “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Matt. 23.24). Don’t you love Jesus’ imagery?

The Scribes and Pharisees with all their legalism and religious traditions had missed the essensials:

… that simple obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15.22).
… that the greatest command is to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and that you should love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22.37-29).
… that He is the way—the only Way (Jn. 14.6).
… that it’s about the heart (Matt. 15.8, 18-19).
… that no amount of good works will make you right with God (Eph. 2.8-9).
… that communion can’t save you, getting baptized can’t save you, joining a church can’t save you, even praying a prayer in and of itself can’t save you.

As Jesus said to one of the Pharisees who came to him privately, “… you must be born again” (Jn. 3.7). If you’re not sure that you are, God wants you to be sure. “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 Jn. 5.13).

Is there anything you’re trusting in besides Christ alone?
If you died tonight, do you know you would be in heaven tomorrow?

If not, please email me.


2 thoughts on “January 23 “Responding to betrayal”

  1. I love the story of Joseph! No matter how many times I read, there is always some fresh perspective to be gleaned with yet another reading.

    Thank you for sharing it, here!

    • Joe,
      I’m with you. It has to be one of my favorite stories! Thanks for reading and commenting.