CDPCKL · The Apocalypse of Joseph (Genesis 44:1-45:15)

The Apocalypse of Joseph (Genesis 44:1-45:15)

In the opening sentences of Book 12 of Genesis — the account of Jacob and his sons — we were told that Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, and when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. His brothers were jealous of him.

And at the first chance they got, they sold Joseph into slavery.

And what is really twisted about that event is this: the brothers were thinking that, if they could just get Joseph out of the way, their father would come to his senses and learn to love them also.

Now, clearly that was not a very rational plan. But to be fair: hatred is not rational. Jealousy is not rational.

And we have seen how their plan back-fired terribly: their father simply transfered his obsessive love from Joseph to Benjamin. But we have also seen from the way both Reuben and Judah have spoken with their father over the last couple of episodes — we have seen that these sons still have some kind of hope that somehow someday their father might still learn to love them.

Now, clearly, this is not a very rational hope: what are the chances Jacob is going to change his sinful ways at this point in his life? But again, to be fair: hope is not rational either. The heart wants what the heart wants, no matter how hopeless the hope.

And because this hope is such a desperate hope, these sons are going to cling to it rather desperately. They are not going to suddenly have an attack of conscience and tell their father what they did to Joseph…because that would be the end of their hope! Why would their father ever love them if he knew they were the ones who murdered Joseph?

And this is a big problem.

In fact, this is the central conflict of Book 12. It comes down to this: Joseph — who is now the Prime Minister of Egypt — needs to persuade his father Jacob to move the whole family to Egypt so they can survive the famine that is sweeping the world. In order to persuade his father to move, he needs to persuade his brothers to tell their father that Joseph is now Prime Minister of Egypt. But in order for them to tell their father that Joseph is now Prime Minister of Egypt they are going to have to explain how Joseph got to Egypt in the first place.

And therein lies the rub!

Because even the good news that Joseph is still alive is not likely to result in their father loving them more. Most likely Jacob will simply re-transfer his obsessive love back to Joseph and hate the 10 brothers even more for lying to him and making him suffer for 20+ years!

So, over the last few chapters, Joseph has been using every bit of wisdom God has given him to draw his brothers ever closer to recognizing the truth: that their father’s love and respect cannot be earned. A father’s love is given, or it is not — but that is totally up to the father, it has nothing to do with his childrens’ performance.

Many fathers in this world make it seem as if a child’s performance determines their value, but the bible tells us that this is not true: if a father decides to love his children unequally, that is his sin, that is his problem, that actually has nothing to do with the “quality” of the children.

But Joseph’s brothers do not know this. They are committed to deceiving their father because they believe that deception preserves their very last chance to be loved by him.

Now, clearly, deception cannot possibly lead to true love! — because love can only truly exist in an honest relationship. But, once again, to be fair: love and hate and jealousy and hope rarely operate in a rational fashion. And as the Book of Proverbs points out: Hope deferred makes the heart sick. These brothers are sick. Blinded by years of disappointment and guilt.

So Joseph has to convince them that telling the truth is their only chance to gain love and life. Yes, telling their father the truth is extremely risky. Most likely their father will hate them all the more — but in that case, they really haven’t lost anything anyway. However, there is a million-to-one chance that their father might finally recognize how his own sin of favouritism actually laid the foundation for his sons’ sin of murder…and he might even repent! and take responsibility! and finally embrace his sons as his equals in sin, as his equals in gracious redemption under God.

It will be an all-or-nothing gamble. Joseph knows that. So he has been shepherding his brothers very slowly and carefully toward the truth. Joseph was a shepherd when he was a boy: he knows that when you are dealing with wounded and frightened sheep any sudden move is going to spook them and send them running blindly for the horizons!

And we have seen that Joseph was very wise to move so delicately, because his brothers have been very touchy from the very beginning. Even the good things Joseph gave them were taken as reminders of their guilt!

But when we last saw them, last week, the brothers were finally relaxed: hanging out, eating and — especially — drinking with their brother Joseph. Even now — even with all the hints Joseph has been dropping for them — they have no idea that they have been set up for one final exam, the hardest test of all:

So in the morning, Joseph gives these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. [2] Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.

So [3] the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. But they don’t get far before Joseph’s steward chases them down — with a contingent of Egyptian police, no doubt, and says, “Why have you repaid good with evil? [5] Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.”

[7] But they said to him, “What are you talking about? Haven’t we proven our honesty by this point? Look, if you find this ‘cup’ on any one of us, then he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves!”

“Ummmm, okay,” the steward says, “are you sure you want to play it like that? How about this: whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free to go home.”

Great! So [11] each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. [12] Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.

[13] At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.

This is actually a good sign: they had the chance leave Benjamin behind, but they don’t.

Why not? Well, 20+ years ago they saw their father tear his clothes when they came home without Joseph. They are not really wanting to experience a repeat performance. That is why they tear their own clothes this time!

[14] Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.

[15] Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”

And this comment is designed to remind them of the secret knowledge he displayed yesterday during lunch, when he seated them all in the proper order. This comment is designed to persuade them that Joseph is the god-like judge who sees all and knows all, and that now is the time for them to finally admit that they are not the “honest men” they claimed to be.

And it is again, Judah who speaks up: he is the undisputed leader of the brothers now. [16] “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt.”

Now Judah is not admitting that they are guilty of stealing the cup. He is simply saying, “How can we refute this evidence? We did not do it, but apparently God himself wants us to be found guilty!”

But then Judah goes on to acknowledge that, even though they are technically innocent here, it is actually fair for them to be found guilty. He does not confess out loud that they sold their little brother into slavery, but he does propose that he and his brothers should now be sold into slavery themselves:

We are now my lord’s slaves,” he says, “we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”

[17] But Joseph says, “Actually, that would be unjust! Only one of you is guilty for this sin. So only he should pay the penalty. Right? The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”

This is the final exam. It only has one question, and it is multiple choice: are you going to a). admit your collective guilt and let your innocent brother go free? or b). pronounce your innocent brother guilty and set yourselves free?

And there is only one right answer.

And once again Judah steps forward: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself…”

And then Judah retells all the events of the last two chapters.

And this repetition is still Moses winking at us, reminding us that the reason everything is being told to us in two forms is because these matters have been firmly decided by God: this has been God at work from beginning to end. So do not forget that!

But even as Judah retells the story we have to notice that, even now, he does not quite come out and tell the whole truth about how their missing brother actually went missing all those years ago.

Though, to be fair, why should he confess that particular sin to the Prime Minister of Egypt? Why would the Prime Minister be interested in that?

So instead, Judah tells the Prime Minister how much that son’s disappearance cost his father. And then he goes on to say that, if they go home without Benjamin, his father will die of grief. And then he admits that, if that happens, then he — Judah — will have effectively killed his own father. Because, as he says in verse 32, “I guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’

“So,” Judah concludes, “really, my lord, if I go home without Benjamin, my life is over anyway. Even if my father survives the shock, he is going to hate me until the day of his death. So listen, here is my proposal: please let me remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. [34] How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”

Judah has finally reached the point that Joseph has been shepherding him toward. He has finally recognized the truth: that he is not going to earn his father’s love and respect. Not now, not ever. His father loves Benjamin, and there is nothing Judah can do about that.

And this realization has led Judah to a very important question: how am I going to respond to this painful truth? My father effectively hates me. That is wrong! but there is nothing I can do about it.

So: am I now going to do what is wrong myself and hate him in return? Or am I going to love my father freely, even though I know that he will never love me in return?

Judah is giving up his life to save his little brother’s life. But he is not actually doing it for his little brother’s sake, he is doing it for the sake of the father who does not love him. He is making this sacrifice with no guarantee of return, no guarantee of forgiveness, no guarantee of atonement.

This, finally, is a completely selfless act. This, finally, is a man who is choosing life, not for himself! but for someone else. This is unconditional love.

[1] Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. [2] And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

[3] Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?”

Now, he already knows that his father is still alive. What he really wants to know are the details, the kind of details that brothers share with one another. He wants to know, “Really: how is dad doing? Is he taking his medication? Does he still tell that stupid joke about the donkey and the well?”

But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

And this again shows us how wise Joseph was to move so slowly, to reveal his identity only after he had tested them thoroughly. Frightened men are dangerous men: there is no telling what a man might do if he thinks he is going to have to fight for his life.

Fortunately, these frightened men have already spent a few days with this government official; they have done business with him; they have eaten with him. So they do not respond at once with violence and attempted escape, they are frozen with shock instead, and this gives Joseph a chance to explain things from his perspective.

So Joseph says to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! [5] And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because actually this was all God’s plan. This famine is going to go on for another five years! but God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”

So Joseph is saying he is willing to absorb the cost of their sin against him. He is willing to pay the penalty himself, instead of charging them with it. In short: he is willing to forgive them, without expecting anything in return — except one thing:

“You guys need to go back and tell dad that God has set me up as the Prime Minister of Egypt! Tell dad that God wants him to move everyone down here. [10] You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. [11] I will provide for you, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

[12] “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. [13] Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

[14] Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. [15] And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them.

Afterward his brothers talked with him.

And with this last little sentence Moses is showing us that “all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”

Because: at the beginning of Book 12, these brothers hated Joseph and could not speak a single kind word to him.

And now here they are: speaking with him.

Wow. What a redemption!

And what must it have been like for these brothers! What a rollercoaster ride of emotions — despair, humiliation, guilt, hope, terror, and then, suddenly: life? Forgiveness? Freedom?

And if you have been travelling alongside us for the last few weeks then you already know that God’s work to redeem these brothers is a picture of how God works to redeem all kinds of people. First he makes sure they hear the Good News that there is life available to them. Then he makes sure they are confronted with their guilt, their inability to purchase that life for themselves.

And this realization always leads a person to a decision point: am I going to keep on trying to earn life by hiding my guilt? or am I going to finally acknowledge my guilt and despair and accept the death I deserve?

This decision is always very difficult. Because everything in our experience tells us that love must be earned, and that admitting our guilt simply guarantees that we will not be loved. But we also know, deep in our gut, that hiding our guilt simply guarantees that the love we earn is as fragile as the secrecy it is built on. It is a Catch-22, a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t kind of decision: admitting guilt destroys love, but hiding guilt turns love into an illusion. Our choices are: no love, or fake love; the reality of death, or the illusion of life.

And when it comes right down to it, most of us prefer the illusion: we would rather maintain the illusion of love than face the reality of no love. We are just like Judah and his brothers: we prefer the irrational hope that our fake love might someday turn into real love. And so most of us live lives of quiet desperation, living in dread that one day the truth about who we really are will finally come out and strip us of even the illusion of love.

And we dread this because we know that the day we are stripped of our illusions is the day we die.

Death is dreadful to us because we do not know what is on the other side.

No, scratch that: death is dreadful to us because we do know what is on the other side. And we know what is on the other side because we were all created in the image of God: we were all born with an intense and instinctive sense of justice and judgement. We were all born knowing that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that therefore every action must one day have its consequence, every sin must one day be paid for.

We fear death because we fear judgement. We fear judgement because we know we deserve it. And so, for most of us, the illusion that we can earn life is better than the reality of despair and judgement.

This dynamic only changes when the pain of the illusion becomes worse than the fear of the reality. People only choose death when the futility of continued life becomes obvious. People only choose isolation when the falseness of earned love becomes undeniable.

That is what happened to Judah: he finally reached the point where he despaired of life and love. He finally realized, fully and completely, that there was no point in continuing the illusion of his life and his relationship with his father.

Now: he knew that, by giving himself over to slavery and death, he was not atoning for his past; he knew that, for him, no sacrifice for sins was left, but only the fearful expectation of judgement and a raging fire. It was too late for him to save himself from despair, he knew that! — but it was not too late for him to save his father from despair.

So Judah chose death. He faced the truth that there was no way for him to escape the judgement he deserved, and with his last breath he tried to breathe life into someone else.

Now: on one level that is deeply stirring. It is deeply moving to see someone lay down their life for someone else without expecting anything in return.

And, if you are anything like me, when you hear this sort of story you start to get a distant look in your eye as you contemplate the tragic nobility of the act, and you begin to wonder if perhaps it might be your calling also to stand in the gap as the solitary hero who descends into the underworld never to return, to live on only in the praises of those who were redeemed by your selfless act. And there will be a funeral procession of course. All the flags of the UN will be flown at half-mast. And someone is going to make a speech about how the brightest stars in the sky burn only half as long, and the whole scene becomes so full of pathos that you find yourself moved to tears on your own behalf —


Have I revealed too much about my own day-dreams?

But all that is nonsense.

Because, first, in that fantasy, I have set myself up as my own messiah — and everyone else’s. Which means that, unlike Judah, when I perform this tragically heroic act, I am expecting something in return: I am expecting to be worshiped. I may not be around to appreciate that worship, but as I make my sacrifice I am comforted by the knowledge that one day the world will write stories about my courage.

Second, that fantasy is not being honest about what real despair is like. Men do lay their lives down for their brothers. Mothers will protect their children to the death. But the nobility of those actions only exists in retrospect. Those who have lived through war will tell you that there are no thoughts of heroism or nobility on the battlefield but only fear, horror, despair…a soldier’s final moments are consumed with the desire to survive, while those who do survive are often consumed with guilt over the fact that they did survive.

There is no glory in despair. When Judah made this decision, he was not contemplating the nobility of his sacrifice. He was not fantasizing over how his father might finally tear his robes over Judah’s death. Judah was thinking only of his father. He had no hope left for himself.

And the reason I am talking like this is to highlight the fact that, without hope, despair is deadly. Without hope, despair leads inevitably to suicide. A person without hope seeks death, either all at once, or over the course of a lifetime.

And this…this is serious. This is very important for us to understand: Joseph was playing a very dangerous game by leading his brothers to the point of despair over their guilt, because — as we noticed — desperate men are dangerous. A person with nothing left to lose is like a bomb ready to go off: their despair can potentially destroy not only themselves but everyone around them.

And that is why it is very important for us to realize that Joseph revealed his identity at exactly the right moment. At the very moment Judah deliberately let go of his hold on life, Joseph reached out and caught him and proved — beyond the shadow of a doubt! — that Judah’s guilt was gone, his atonement was complete, that no sacrifice for sins was left because Joseph himself had already performed the sacrifice on Judah’s behalf.

Okay. But what does it mean? What are we supposed to do with this information?

Well, as always, Moses is teaching God’s people a number of truths on a number of levels all at once. As we have seen over the last several weeks, Moses is very concerned to make sure his people — the ancient people of Israel — are prepared for the future of God’s plan — especially Phase 2 of God’s plan, which Moses knows is going to come as a terrible shock to the people of Israel.

So far, Moses has revealed that Phase 2 is going to begin when God’s Messiah is betrayed by his own brothers, put to death, raised back up to life, and crowned King over every nation of people on earth.

Then Moses revealed that, as Phase 2 continues, the Good News of the life-giving Messiah is going to go out to every nation on earth — including the nation descended from Jacob. And Moses, the prophet, empowered by the Spirit of God, knows that when the Nation of Jacob approaches the throne of the risen Messiah and discovers his true identity — when they discover that this King over all the world is the man they just betrayed and murdered! — they are going to experience a shock and despair like no other shock in the history of the world!

In that moment of shock and despair, the sons of Jacob — the people of Israel — will face a decision:

Are we going to keep on trying to cover our sins with the blood of sacrificed animals at the temple? or are we going to acknowledge that all those sacrifices, all that blood was pointing forward to the true atoning sacrifice of the Messiah?

Are we going to keep on trying to earn God’s love by hiding our sins from ourselves and everyone else? or are we going to finally acknowledge that we will never be “good enough” to earn God’s love?

Are we going to continue to cling to the illusion of love and life, or are we going to face the reality that there is no hope for us now that we have murdered our own Messiah?

When that moment of terror and despair finally arrives, it is Moses’ prayer that his people will look back into their own history and remember Judah’s moment of terror and despair, and realize that just on the other side of despair and death lies life and perfect forgiveness.

Moses wants his people, in that moment, to let go of all hope in themselves, to cry out in their despair, because it is in that very moment their Messiah will reach out and catch them and prove — beyond the shadow of a doubt! — that their guilt is gone, their atonement complete, that no sacrifice for sins is left because the Messiah himself has already performed every possible sacrifice on their behalf.

And you know what? About 1500 years later it all happened exactly as Moses prophesied. 2000 years ago, from our perspective, a man was born in the kampung of Nazareth, and he grew up claiming to be the Messiah Moses had prophesied. Just like Joseph has been doing for the last few chapters, this man Jesus spent several years shepherding the Nation of Jacob very slowly and carefully toward the truth about their sins and their guilt.

And, in fact, the life of Jesus proved that desperate men are dangerous. Because as Jesus made the reality of their guilt more and more clear to the sons of Jacob, they were forced to make a choice: they had to either admit that God’s messenger was right about them, or they had to kill the messenger.

They killed the messenger. Just as Moses prophesied, Jesus was betrayed and put to death by his own brothers, the sons of Jacob. But, just as Moses prophesied, Jesus was raised back to life, lifted up to heaven and crowned King over all creation.

And then the Good News began to go out to every nation in the world. In the New Testament this moment is captured in the Book of Acts, Chapter 2: on the Feast of Pentecost, 50 days after the Messiah had been crucified, Jesus poured out God’s Holy Spirit of prophecy on all his disciples: men and women, young and old, rich and poor. And as a result, they burst out of the house they were in and started preaching in the streets of Jerusalem.

And Luke — the author of the Book of Acts — details for us how Jerusalem just happened to be filled with Jewish pilgrims from every nation contained within the Roman empire! And the people were amazed by this spectacle of Jesus’ disciples preaching in all their languages so that they could be clearly understood! And they all wondered, “What on earth is going on here?”

So Peter, the leader of Jesus’ disciples, got up and explained. And he basically did exactly what Joseph did to his brothers today: he revealed that Jesus, now crowned King over all nations — the King who holds the power of life and death — is actually the very same brother that these people had just betrayed and murdered.

And just like Joseph’s brothers today, the people of Jerusalem responded to this revelation with terror and despair. This is how Luke describes it: When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?

How can we be saved now?

And then, just like Joseph did, Peter reached out and caught the people before they could fall completely into despair. He gave them the hope of the Gospel: “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit also. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off — for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

And we are told that many thousands from the Nation of Jacob obeyed: people from every nation of the Roman empire. And so, when they all went back home to their corners of the world, they carried the gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

Okay. But that application was for the sons of Jacob. What about us? How are we supposed to apply this episode here to our lives?

Well, if you are here today, and you have not yet been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, then this is your application:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you! You do not have to live in fear and despair any longer. You do not have to cling any longer to the illusion that you are able to earn your father’s love.

Because you can’t. You won’t.

And really, you know this already! — you have known it all your life. But at the same time you don’t want to know it, because you know that this illusion of hope is the only thing that keeps you from falling completely into despair.

And so I know that these this truth fills you with fear, especially if you have longed for the love of your earthly father and never really received it.

The Word of God is telling you to give up on that false hope. Let it go. If your father did not love you, if your father made it seem like it was your job to earn his love, then God’s Word is here to tell you: that was his problem. That was his sin. And he will have to answer to God for that. It has nothing to do with you!

But, now, before this truth drives you completely into despair, let Christ catch you with this greater Truth: you have a Father in Heaven who stands ready to love you freely. He will never tell you that it is your job to earn his love.

And all you have to do to receive this love is come in, as the sons of Jacob did, and throw yourself to the ground before him, and cry out, “Abba! Father! Daddy: love me! Save me!” And he will.

Now, if you are here today and you are already baptized, then you are already beginning to discover the depths of our Father’s love for us. In which case, these are our applications:

Fathers, mothers, love your children freely and equally. Do not force them to earn your affection through good performance. Make sure they know that they are precious to you even when they fail, even when they sin. Even when their behaviour brings public shame to the family make sure they know that you are on their side, that you are their defenders, that you are willing to pay the penalty for their sins yourself if possible! Love them the way our Heavenly Father loves us.

Husbands, love your wives as Judah loved his father Jacob. Give yourself up for her without demanding anything in return, trusting our Father in Heaven to redeem her heart and give her back to you as a radiant bride.

Wives, submit to your husbands as Judah submitted to his brother Joseph: without asking him for anything but mercy, trusting our Father in Heaven to redeem your man’s heart so that he would learn to love you sacrificially, without conditions or measure.

Children, honour your parents as Judah honoured his father — even if they are very far from being good parents. Their failures to love you are not your fault. And as we are discovering now what true love actually is, let us learn how to love our parents freely even if they never truly learn how to love us in return. We can do this because we know we have a Father in Heaven who loved us long before we loved him! — a Father in Heaven who loves us even though we are still children in our understanding of love.

And if you are here today and you are thinking that you have come to the Christian faith too late to make a difference in your marriage, in your parenting, in your family life, then — first — let me say this: you are not alone in regret. I have been a Christian all my life and I still feel like I am learning things about God’s love and grace that I wish I had known a long time ago! The older I get the more clearly I see how my failures as a son and a husband and a father have affected those around me.

When those thoughts and regrets come upon us, let this be our comfort: this is God’s plan. Judah was nearly 50 before he came to this repentance, and God allowed him to lose two sons along the way. Jacob is much older and he is still struggling with favouritism, and we have seen how much that sin has cost him! — and yet, somehow, God is still at work to redeem this messed up family.

He is at work among us in the same way. So when the cold hands of regret reach up from the abyss and try to drag us back down to despair, let us cry out again, “Abba! Father! Daddy: save me, save my family from the consequences of my sins!” And he will. We don’t know how, but he will.

Let me close with this:

We only have four more sermons left in the Book of Genesis. The great moment of crisis has come and gone: the war against the serpent is over.

Which means the rest of the book is what literary people call the “denouement”, which is just a fancy French word that means The Results. For the rest of Genesis, Moses will be outlining for us what the rest of Phase 2 is going to look like, what the Messiah’s reign over the earth is going to look like. Over these next weeks, as we witness the beginning of the golden age of Joseph’s rule over Egypt, we are going to understand better how our lives are supposed to look now, here at the beginning of the golden age of Jesus’ rule over all creation.

You guys have seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy, right? — or read the books? I don’t know if you have noticed this, but in the movies the crisis is resolved, the Ring of Power is destroyed…and then the final movie goes on for another 45 minutes, showing us what the beginning of the restoration of Middle Earth looks like. In the books, this is even more pronounced: the ring is destroyed at the 75% mark of the trilogy. That means 25% of that story is the ”denouement”, the beginning of the Golden Age of the Kings of Gondor!

That is where we are now in the Book of Genesis. We have just passed this book’s “Day of Pentecost” — the revelation of the risen Messiah to the world. And just as in the New Testament, everything that follows the Day of Pentecost is actually the story of the great cleanup after the war and the beginning of the victory feast that will last for all eternity.

So these next few weeks are going to be beautiful! We are going to get to breathe the sweet air of victory and peace and rest. We are going to get to eat from the Tree of Life, from the riches of the King’s table. We are going to get to drink deeply from the River of Life, the never-ending wine of the Spirit. We are going to get a foretaste of what it is like to walk with our Father again in the softness of the evening, with the garden growing up cool and green all around us.

It is going to be great. I, for one, am really looking forward to it. Because I really need a break from the war and violence of this world.

Don’t you?

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