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Joy of Reunion II

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As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.[1] From the beginning, even in Genesis, the Lord had begun to show us the joy of reunion between a father and a son. In this case, between a doting father who had given up his favourite son for dead, and the favourite son who had been sold into slavery. At that reunion, Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”[2]

The intensity of the joy of reunion, which we can only imagine for now, helped by Joseph and Israel’s story, is that Israel, who mourned for Joseph for more than 16 years not knowing if he lived or had died, when he saw the object of his love, was ready to die. The joy of the reunion has this feature about it: it will cause those who partake of it and witness it to be ready to die, and in our cases, ready to die to ourselves. The presence of the eleven and whoever else was on that mountain that Resurrection morning to behold the reunion between God the Father and God the Son, would have caused those who beheld it to be ready to die, that is, to die to self.

Now perhaps you might understand the joy of the Holy Spirit the Lord, whose strength we have yet to really appreciate, for He was on that mountain that morning and He did witness the joy of the reunion between the Father and the Son – a joy so intense that the Spirit Himself would have been moved to die to Himself – not that the Holy Spirit can die. What He beheld, which no man beheld, He can make known to those whom He chooses to, for He is the Spirit of Revelation and He makes known to those whom He chooses to. So, do not ever consider your position as an elect of the Holy Spirit lightly again. The Holy Spirit, the Keeper of the deeper secrets and desires of the Father and the Son, has much more to make known to us, more than most disciples can bear.

If the eleven could not bear what Jesus had to say, “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear,”[3] then it is little wonder many cannot bear what the Holy Spirit has to reveal. Even Peter had trouble with the Holy Spirit revealing to him that he had to go to Cornelius’ house, the house of a Gentile. Indeed, those, who loved the words of James and his upholding of the Law of Moses, even from those who have believed in Jesus, returned to the traditions of the Law because they could not stand what the Holy Spirit would reveal. The unpredictability of the Holy Spirit made religious men wary of Him, and it paid them to ignore Him and invent fanciful doctrines that explained His alleged absence away. Like the one that popularly explains the lack of miracles in the church because the Holy Spirit left with the last apostle.

Rather, is it not our lack of faith and faithfulness that has so grieved the Holy Spirit that He has simply refused to do miracles except for a few healings, just like those at Jesus’ hometown?[4] As I have said, healings are by the stripes of Jesus in His Name, but miracles are by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our lack of faith and faithfulness to the Father’s command to listen to Jesus has so offended the Holy Spirit that except for healings, He rarely does major miracles, much less pass on and entrust the release of His power to individuals and churches so that they could do what Jesus had been doing and do even the greater things.

But if you can bear it, the Holy Spirit will release His knowledge of the Father and the Son to you, that is, the Holy Spirit’s version of eternal life, if you like. Jesus said, “Now, this is eternal life: that they may know You, the Only True God and Jesus Christ, whom You have sent.”[5] So then, see and understand that the Holy Spirit is not only the Spirit of Life, but the Spirit of Eternal Life, for who knows the Father and the Son better than He does? And held in the midst of His immense knowledge is the witness of the joy of the reunion, a joy so extreme that it motivated the Holy Spirit to die of Himself so that He has not complained or tired of labouring 2000 years, so that the second reunion may be enacted to its fullness.

You see, when Joseph was reunited with his brothers, it was Joseph who threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.[6] Except for Benjamin, none of the others reciprocated with an embrace and tears of joy. Rather, it is written: Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.[7]

Does that not remind you of the incidence on the lake when the twelve were terrified by the approach of Jesus walking on the water, and again in the locked room on Resurrection evening when Jesus stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you”[8]? They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. How many are not frightened at the prospect of the Lord’s imminent return that they want to be raptured out before the days that herald His arrival begin in unmistakable earnest? Indeed, how many would be frightened by the sight of Jesus coming on clouds of glory that they would call mountains to fall on them even though they may now profess to be His brothers?

The other brothers of Joseph were frightened of him because they knew they had betrayed him. The fear that many have of the imminent return of Jesus lies not so much with a lack of faith or works, but a deeper conviction and knowing that they have betrayed Jesus, when not only did they fail to listen to Him, like the brothers of Joseph did not listen to his pleas for mercy, but also like the brothers of Joseph, bore false witness to his fate. The readiness of many to deny His unjust death, to deny His resurrection, and their reluctance to proclaim His ascended stature at the right hand of God, are the evidence of this betrayal. Imperial colonialism in the name of the church, be it Roman or Protestant, with a program of conversion based on sociological changes along ethnic lines, rather than supernatural conversion with eternal discipleship, where the conversion is achieved through a clear demonstration of the power of God confirming the testimony of witnesses, is the betrayal that we are guilty of.

In using His Name and His church to justify our ambitions and lust for conquest and trade, we have betrayed Him. For Jesus did not die to colonise the world or to enable trade with the world, but to save it because He is the Son of God now alive at the right hand of God. The stench of betrayal hangs over us, as the stench hung over the brothers of Joseph who refused to heed his pleas, and then lied about his fate.

Is that not what we do and have done? We substituted listening to Jesus with listening to James, and the use of religious traditions and logical arguments instead of the power of the Holy Spirit to assist us in our testimony of Christ’s resurrection, ascension and enthronement at the right hand of God.

When we resorted to the sword to defend ourselves in the apostolic tradition of Peter in the garden instead of seeing the Lord’s way of healing the soldier’s ear, we opened to ourselves the curse of the Lord, “All who draw the sword will die by the sword.”[9] Little wonder so many of us have died and continue to die by the sword of men.

Now it is a return to listening to the Holy Spirit in obedience to the Lord’s sevenfold plea… I say plea, not command, for a command is only given once, but a plea is repeated in the hope that someone may hear and act. “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”[10] How Joseph would have pleaded with his brothers not to sell him to the Midianite merchants, is like how Jesus pleaded with the church to listen to the Holy Spirit.

We are powerless and completely extended in the ways of men and the world because we have not listened, and if we do not repent now and tell the Father the truth, how will we ever overcome the fear that comes from our guilt? Joseph’s brothers never confessed their crime to their father, although Joseph forgave them, so then it is no wonder that after Jacob’s death, his brothers had to send a message to Joseph that they made up: “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’”[11] They wanted Joseph to forgive them, but they were not prepared to repent and make themselves one family with Joseph, for they said, Your father left these instructions…” not “Our father.” In their hearts, Joseph did not share the same father as them.

Those who would repent and weep over the injustice we have done to Jesus because of our betrayal of Him – weeping as a man would weep over an only Son – will understand why Jesus said, “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” when He taught us to pray, and why He said to Mary, “I am returning to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.”[12]

In order for the reunion to be enacted at its fullness, the Holy Spirit wants to raise up sons of God who are brothers of Jesus, who address the Father as, “Our Father,” and not, “Your Father.” Now consider how the Holy Spirit has laboured, not speaking of His own, but in a world and a church that has reduced Him to the last words before the end of a prayer… Never complaining or displaying His power in anger as He did to Ananias and Sapphira, so that proud men could raise their voices to Heaven and lay claim of the Earth in Jesus’ Name to enrich their own treasures and fatten their bellies with murderous intent. You might just see how precious the knowledge of the joy of the reunion is, and how profound the effect of its witness is, even upon One as the Holy Spirit Himself.

It is then this joy of the reunion and the knowledge of that joy, which is also the source of our strength in the days ahead, which will permit us to die of ourselves and even lay down our lives. For just as a foretaste of the joy would surely quicken us to the point that nothing else matters, except for the experience of that moment when we, who are left alive, meet with Him in the clouds to be with Him forever. Ignorance of this joy will deny those who show no interest in the welfare of the Lord of the strength they need. Their fear will only grow, and their need for reassurance that their God still loves them, still answers their prayers and meets their needs, will sound like a cacophony of hollow drums and broken cymbals to your ears. Should we then share the knowledge of the joy of the reunion with them?

If they will listen, let them listen, but for the elect, it is time to also learn what the Lord meant when He said, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs.”[13] If they have no desire to listen to the Spirit of Eternal Life, how can they say they are not dogs, for by their own actions and words, they have shown no desire to come to know God and His Son more than a dog wants to know its master? What dog can care for his master’s needs fully, but rather, are they not more concerned that their master should meet their needs?

So then, even as we do give freely what we receive, it is time to also understand that we live in the midst of rebels who are more interested that God should listen to their demands, rather than they should listen to God. Now, if you have ears to hear, turn them to the only Witness of the Joy of the Reunion, and let Him testify to you, then perhaps you might just see how He has been able to and will continue to bear with us. And in so hearing, you might truly learn to bear with one another.

Confess our guilt of betrayal so that we are ready to meet our Brother, the Firstborn of our Father, as He returns, as He promised to take us with Him to the place He has prepared for us so that we may also be where He is. Amen


 

[1] Genesis 46:29

[2] Genesis 46:30

[3] John 16:12

[4] Mark 6:6

[5] John 17:3

[6] Genesis 45:14-15

[7] Genesis 45:3

[8] Luke 24:36

[9] Matthew 26:52

[10] Revelation 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22

[11] Genesis 50:16-17

[12] John 20:17

[13] Matthew 7:6

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