“You may feel that because your heart does not condemn you that God is well pleased with your life; your heart may not condemn you, but that does not mean you are acquitted.” … “The standard of evaluation is not your feelings, but Scripture.” … “In the day of judgment, God will call you to account, not on the basis of how you feel, but on the basis of your walking in obedience to His commandments.” Walter A. Henrichsen (“Walt”)
Justice, Mercy, and Consequences
“For he will render to every man according to his works.” Romans 2:6
Mercy is the setting aside of justice, it is not the setting aside of consequences. The mercy of God does not eliminate the consequences of the sin. If you stand on the tallest building in a large city, and in a moment of despair jump, and on the way down realize your mistake and ask God’s forgiveness, He doesn’t stop the fall.
Your thirteen-year-old son, in violation of your will, takes the family auto for a drive, and in the process has a wreck. You confront him with the repair bill, and he begs your forgiveness. After freely forgiving him he says, ‘Wonderful, now I do not have to pay for the repairs.” You gently correct him on this point of misunderstanding, and he counters, “Then what good did it do me in being forgiven?” Your biblical response is, “It restored the relationship.” Consequences are very different from punishment.
The follower of Christ can easily be deceived on this point, thinking that God’s forgiveness eliminates the consequences of his sin. Paul reminds the Corinthians, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”24 This is not judgment for sin, for Christ handled that on the cross. Rather it is the time of reaping the consequences of the life you have lived.
The “law of the harvest”25 is the assurance that such reaping will take place. The promise of no sorrow or tears in heaven will not ameliorate facing a time of accounting. You will carry into eternity the product of your investment in this life. Life is too short and the stakes too high to live mediocre lives.24 II Corinthians 5:10
25 Galatians 6:8
Genesis 43-45 Matthew 12:24-50 (New King James Version)
Joseph’s Brothers Return with Benjamin
43 Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, “Go back, buy us a little food.”
3 But Judah spoke to him, saying, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ ”
6 And Israel said, “Why did you deal so [a]wrongfully with me as to tell the man whether you had still another brother?”
7 But they said, “The man asked us pointedly about ourselves and our family, saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?’ And we told him according to these words. Could we possibly have known that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?”
8 Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 9 I myself will be surety for him; from my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever. 10 For if we had not lingered, surely by now we would have returned this second time.”
11 And their father Israel said to them, “If it must be so, then do this: Take some of the best fruits of the land in your vessels and carry down a present for the man—a little balm and a little honey, spices and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was an oversight. 13 Take your brother also, and arise, go back to the man. 14 And may God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may release your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!”
15 So the men took that present and Benjamin, and they took double money in their hand, and arose and went down to Egypt; and they stood before Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my home, and slaughter [b]an animal and make ready; for these men will dine with me at noon.” 17 Then the man did as Joseph ordered, and the man brought the men into Joseph’s house.
18 Now the men were afraid because they were brought into Joseph’s house; and they said, “It is because of the money, which was returned in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may [c]make a case against us and seize us, to take us as slaves with our donkeys.”
19 When they drew near to the steward of Joseph’s house, they talked with him at the door of the house, 20 and said, “O sir, we indeed came down the first time to buy food; 21 but it happened, when we came to the encampment, that we opened our sacks, and there, each man’s money wasin the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight; so we have brought it back in our hand. 22 And we have brought down other money in our hands to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.”
23 But he said, “Peace be with you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has given you treasure in your sacks; I had your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.
24 So the man brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their donkeys feed. 25 Then they made the present ready for Joseph’s coming at noon, for they heard that they would eat bread there.
26 And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which wasin their hand into the house, and bowed down before him to the earth. 27 Then he asked them about their well-being, and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?”
28 And they answered, “Your servant our father is in good health; he isstill alive.” And they bowed their heads down and prostrated themselves.
29 Then he lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your younger brother of whom you spoke to me?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Now his heart yearned for his brother; so Joseph made haste and sought somewhere to weep. And he went into his chamber and wept there. 31 Then he washed his face and came out; and he restrained himself, and said, “Serve the bread.”
32 So they set him a place by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves; because the Egyptians could not eat food with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. 33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth; and the men looked in astonishment at one another. 34 Then he took servings to them from before him, but Benjamin’s serving was five times as much as any of theirs. So they drank and were merry with him.
44 And he commanded [d]the steward of his house, saying, “Fill the men’s sacks with food, as much as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack. 2 Also put my cup, the silver cup, in the mouth of the sack of the youngest, and his grain money.” So he did according to the word that Joseph had spoken. 3 As soon as the morning dawned, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys. 4 When they had gone out of the city, and were not yet far off, Joseph said to his steward, “Get up, follow the men; and when you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid evil for good? 5 Is not this the one from which my lord drinks, and with which he indeed practices divination? You have done evil in so doing.’ ”
6 So he overtook them, and he spoke to them these same words. 7 And they said to him, “Why does my lord say these words? Far be it from us that your servants should do such a thing. 8 Look, we brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money which we found in the mouth of our sacks. How then could we steal silver or gold from your lord’s house? 9 With whomever of your servants it is found, let him die, and we also will be my lord’s slaves.”
10 And he said, “Now also let it be according to your words; he with whom it is found shall be my slave, and you shall be blameless.” 11 Then each man speedily let down his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. 12 So he searched. He began with the oldest and [e]left off with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Then they tore their clothes, and each man loaded his donkey and returned to the city.
14 So Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, and he was still there; and they fell before him on the ground. 15 And Joseph said to them, “What deed is this you have done? Did you not know that such a man as I can certainly practice divination?”
16 Then Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how shall we clear ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants; here we are, my lord’s slaves, both we and he also with whom the cup was found.”
17 But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so; the man in whose hand the cup was found, he shall be my slave. And as for you, go up in peace to your father.”
Judah Intercedes for Benjamin
18 Then Judah came near to him and said: “O my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s hearing, and do not let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even like Pharaoh. 19 My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ 20 And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, who isyoung; his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ 21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his fatherwould die.’ 23 But you said to your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you shall see my face no more.’
24 “So it was, when we went up to your servant my father, that we told him the words of my lord. 25 And our father said, ‘Go back and buy us a little food.’ 26 But we said, ‘We cannot go down; if our youngest brother is with us, then we will go down; for we may not see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons; 28 and the one went out from me, and I said, “Surely he is torn to pieces”; and I have not seen him since. 29 But if you take this one also from me, and calamity befalls him, you shall bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.’
30 “Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad isnot with us, since his life is bound up in the lad’s life, 31 it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave. 32 For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever.’ 33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers. 34 For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would [f]come upon my father?”
Joseph Revealed to His Brothers
45 Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it.
3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. 4 And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve a [g]posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
9 “Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not [h]tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.” ’
12 “And behold, your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here.”
14 Then he fell on his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept on his neck. 15 Moreover he kissed all his brothers and wept over them, and after that his brothers talked with him.
16 Now the report of it was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, “Joseph’s brothers have come.” So it pleased Pharaoh and his servants well. 17 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Say to your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and depart; go to the land of Canaan. 18 Bring your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the [i]fat of the land. 19 Now you are commanded—do this: Take carts out of the land of Egypt for your little ones and your wives; bring your father and come. 20 Also do not be concerned about your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’ ”
21 Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them carts,[j] according to the command of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey. 22 He gave to all of them, to each man, changes of garments; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of garments. 23 And he sent to his father these things: ten donkeys loaded with the good things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain, bread, and food for his father for the journey. 24 So he sent his brothers away, and they departed; and he said to them, “See that you do not become troubled along the way.”
25 Then they went up out of Egypt, and came to the land of Canaan to Jacob their father. 26 And they told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt.” And Jacob’s heart stood still, because he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him all the words which Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived. 28 Then Israel said, “It is enough. Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
- Genesis 43:6 Lit. wickedly
- Genesis 43:16 Lit. a slaughter
- Genesis 43:18 Lit. roll himself upon us
- Genesis 44:1 Lit. the one over
- Genesis 44:12 finished with
- Genesis 44:34 Lit. find
- Genesis 45:7 remnant
- Genesis 45:9 delay
- Genesis 45:18 The choicest produce
- Genesis 45:21 wagons
24 Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by [a]Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
25 But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. 26 If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. 28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. 30 He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.
The Unpardonable Sin
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
A Tree Known by Its Fruit
33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood[b] of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure [c]of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
The Scribes and Pharisees Ask for a Sign
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”
39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.
An Unclean Spirit Returns
43 “When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. 44 Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers Send for Him
46 While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. 47 Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.”
48 But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” 49 And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
- Matthew 12:24 NU, M Beelzebul, a Philistine deity
- Matthew 12:34 Offspring
- Matthew 12:35 NU, M omit of his heart