Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 23 Number 12 December 2021
Page 7

Do Not Look Back

Terry Wheeler

Terry WheelerLikewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. (Luke 17:28-33 NKJV)

The idea of no turning back has been around for a long time. It refers to the valid point that once determined to attain a goal, one should not stop until he or she gets it. Otherwise, a person will fail to obtain the goal.

This is especially true in Christianity. The idea of half-measures or half-hearted obedience should be easily recognized by the believer as false discipleship (Luke 14:33). However, this also applies to the idea of the good old days mentality as we consider the days before our commitment to Christ when, according to a faithless memory, we think we were so much better off. Israel succumbed to this sort of unfaithfulness, and it cost them dearly (Acts 7:38-40; Exodus 32:27-28).

On the other hand, God is no tyrant. Those who once committed to Him are always free to go back to those old ways of disobedience, if they are so determined (Hebrews 11:15). Yet, there is no playing God for a fool (Galatians 6:7). He Who easily reads the hearts of men knows where our true allegiance lies. Only full commitment to Him Who saves our souls will do. This means we should not fall for the sweets of this world (Hebrews 11:25) or the lusts we used to indulge (1 Peter 4:1-3). For us, it can only be onward and upward, Dear Brethren (Philippians 3:13-14). “No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

Clothes of Honor

George McNulty

George McNultyThere is an old saying, “Clothes make the man!” Uniforms carry an authority; national costumes proclaim an identity. Genesis 37:3-4 reads, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him” (NKJV).

Joseph’s coat of many colors would have had long sleeves, a tunic reaching to the ends of his wrists and ankles. These coats were given to boys and girls of upper ranks in the land of Canaan. It declared that the wearer wasn’t expected to do any manual labor. As you can imagine, resentment would have set in very quickly. Jealousy is nothing new, and it can be the source of much misery.

These garments are also represented on monuments in Egypt. At Benne-Hassan, for example, there is a magnificent excavation of the tomb of a military officer. It reveals how he took foreign captives (the Jebusites from Canaan). An inscription says the Egyptian captured the chief of the land of the Jebusites and all the captives were clad in multi-colored robes, just like Joseph’s!

Genesis 39 relates that Joseph had been thrown into prison, betrayed by his own and framed by his master’s unfaithful wife. It must have seemed to him to be a hopeless situation.

However, soon all that happened to him would lead to a wonderful future he could have never imagined. God had plans for Joseph! God can use our situations for good, even when we cannot see the sky for the storm or the day for the night. We, like Joseph and so many before and since, must hold on to these facts: To know that God is love (1 John 4:8), that love is stronger than hatred and that the Lord is stronger than the plots and schemes of Satan. God is in control; good is stronger than evil. Light is stronger than darkness. We are commanded to “…Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

We know from where our help comes. We read of God’s providence throughout the Holy Scriptures. No matter how dire the situation, no matter how we fail, our Lord is able to redeem us and to restore us. In response to our many fears, God brings unparalleled comfort. Psalm 27:1 says, “The LORD is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Surely, Joseph must have been relying upon God at this time in his life. The Hebrew slave was about to meet the most powerful man in the world, a man who could have him killed at a whim. Joseph was about to face power unlike anything he had ever experienced as he walked into the palace, surrounded and overwhelmed by treasures and wonders. The heathen magicians or priests, who had failed their ruler, may have been there, too.

When Joseph heard the dream of Pharaoh, he revealed the truth of it. It might not have been what the ruler of the most powerful nation on earth wanted to hear, but it was what he needed to hear. Sometimes people do not like what they hear! Like Joseph, we must be bold in spirit and tell it like it is. Anything else would be a lie and a disservice to both God and the needful hearers. Joseph told Pharaoh the truth of his troublesome dream and was rewarded magnificently. “Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, ‘Bow the knee!’ So he set him over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:42-43).

Joseph moved from powerless to prime minister, from despised to honored dignitary. The ring Pharaoh gave him was the symbol of royal authority and empowered him over all ministers and governors in the Egyptian realm. This ring, embossed with the name and the titles of the Pharaoh, declared that the one who wore it was to be given honor as to the Pharaoh himself. The Scriptures tell us that Joseph was arrayed in vestures of fine linen; the coat of his father Jacob was long gone. Home was a distant, painful memory. What a difference from the prison clothes he had been wearing for two years!

We, who are saved by Christ Jesus, will have similar garments. Speaking of the bride of Christ (His church), the apostle John wrote, “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Revelation 19:8). The coat of many colors will be replaced by the rainbow of the heavenly throne, and, as God provided for Joseph, so also God provides the best for us.

How can we attain these fine garments that set us apart in favor before the Lord? Only in Jesus Christ, beloved Son of the Father, is there favor in the sight of our Holy God. Through Christ’s blood, we are clothed in righteousness. In obedience to Him, the stained garments of sin are stripped away. In Jesus, we leave behind the prison of sin and the promise of Hell, for the palace of our God. In the temple of love, His church, we are one. Seek the garments of salvation and you will find them. Then, and only then, will you find the blessings of Heaven. I promise you, Egypt in all her glory is a pale imitation of that glorious country!

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