To get reconciliation, if a person sins against you and repents, forgive them; if you sin against another, repent and seek forgiveness. Reconciliation endures if founded on repentance and forgiveness but would be meaningless and short-lived if not. As an example, Joseph (the 11th son of Israel) forgave and reconciled with his brothers after he verified that they had repented from sin they committed against him. Their reconciliation paved the way for subsequent growth and prosperity of the nation of Israel.
In this bible study session, we focus on understanding the relationship of repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. As we discuss in a previous study, repentance is necessary and sufficient for forgiveness. If a person sins against you and repents, then forgive them. Similarly, if you commit sin, repent and ask for forgiveness from the injured party.
Thus, repentance leads to forgiveness. Also, forgiveness leads to reconciliation. Our discussion in this study focuses on understanding that repentance and forgiveness provide a solid foundation for meaningful and lasting reconciliation and for a bountiful harvest in human interactions and relationships.
We begin with Christ teaching in Matthew 5:23–24 to understand the priority and process of reconciliation in human interactions. Also in the study, we draw an example from the life of Joseph (the 11th son of Israel) regarding his reconciliation with his brothers. We see that Joseph first verified that his brothers had repented from a great sin they committed against him, then he forgave them, and reconciled with them. Their reconciliation cleared the way for the nation of Israel to relocate to Egypt, where they survived the great famine, multiplied, and prospered.
Humanly inexplicable pregnancy of Mary raised dilemma for Joseph that he resolved by compassion: recognizing a person in need and doing what you can to alleviate the need. Further, the interactions illustrate the value of allowing reasonable time to understand events and consider response. Joseph’s compassion for Mary bought him time and provided him opportunity to hear God and understand God’s purpose regarding his marital and parental responsibilities to Mary and the child.
We discuss interactions between Mary and Joseph, the human parents of Jesus; regarding Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus and Joseph’s response to the pregnancy and a Jewish law that appeared relevant. Joseph was engaged to be married to Mary but became aware that Mary was pregnant and he had nothing to do with getting her pregnant. The only human conclusion regarding the development was that Mary committed adultery.
That was a problem, because Jewish law prescribed severe punishment for adulterers. A man and woman that committed adultery were to be put to death. Joseph was expected to refer the matter to the Jewish authority in order to initiate judgment and punishment. However, we will see that Joseph decided he would not seek enforcement of the adultery law against Mary. He would divorce her quietly instead. The word “quietly” is a key part of his decision. It meant he would not expose her to public disgrace in any case.
As he contemplated his intentions, an angel visited him in a dream and explained the circumstances of Mary’s pregnancy. Through the dream, Joseph understood God’s purpose regarding his marital and parental responsibilities to Mary and the child. He woke up from the dream, took Mary home as his wife, and began living his responsibility as Mary’s husband and human father of the Son of God. That is, Joseph’s compassion for Mary bought him time that provided him an opportunity to hear God and understand God’s purpose.
Joseph’s prayer leads to understanding the basis for faith and expectations when circumstances suggest a prayer may have gone “the wrong way.” He prayed for release from jail but the prayer appeared unanswered for two years. Thereafter, he was taken from jail and appointed to a high position in Egypt. If he believed that an appeal to Pharaoh was God’s answer to his prayer, then he likely was disappointed because the appeal did not bring him relief. However, if he understood God may have a plan for him that differed from his expectation, then he likely waited with faith for God’s time. Release from jail at the time he prayed would likely have led to great uncertainties for Joseph. However, more than two years after his prayer, he was released into a condition that gave him great control over future events. Joseph’s experience illustrates that God may grant a prayer with a promise to be fulfilled WHEN and HOW he chooses, to fit his overall plan for the recipient.
In the first installment of this two-part study on Joseph’s prayer (see Prayer of Joseph from the Dungeon Part 1 of 2), we observed that Joseph probably believed his encounter with Pharaoh’s cupbearer was God’s answer to his prayer.
Therefore, he used the opportunity to appeal to Pharaoh. However, although the encounter was indeed a key step in the implementation of God’s plan for Joseph, his expectation regarding the opportunity was different from God’s plan. Joseph prayed to be released from jail and expected his appeal to Pharaoh would result in his release. However, the cupbearer did not deliver the appeal and Joseph remained in jail for the next two years. Thereafter, Pharaoh had dreams that troubled him but could not be interpreted by any of his people [Genesis 41:8]: “In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.” Then, and only then, Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered Joseph—as an expert dream interpreter—and informed his master [Genesis 41:12–13]: “Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”
God may grant a prayer with a promise, set a schedule to fulfill the promise to fit his overall plan, want the recipient to follow the schedule; but may not reveal the promise, schedule, or plan. We begin a study series to follow David’s experience as king in waiting and examine his interactions in the context of Christ’s teaching: with the purpose of understanding how he followed God’s schedule to become king of Israel without knowing the schedule a priori. The study begins with a discussion of Joseph’s prayer from Potiphar’s jail, as an example of prayer that God granted with a promise but did not reveal the promise or schedule for its fulfillment. The study is potentially relevant to every person in understanding God’s expectations of each of us when he grants a prayer with a promise to be fulfilled WHEN and HOW he chooses.
We begin a bible study series on Following God’s Schedule based on David’s interactions with others during the period between his anointing and confirmation as king of Israel. We examine the interactions in the context of Christ’s teaching several generations later. Recall that David did not become king immediately after his anointing. Instead, he went through a sequence of events that lasted approximately ten years and culminated in the people of Israel formally electing him king. The sequence of events represents God’s Schedule for David to become king of Israel after his anointing. God did not reveal the schedule to any person—not even Prophet Samuel or David himself. That notwithstanding, David followed the schedule, as we can surmise because he did become king. He followed God’s schedule to become king of Israel without knowing the full schedule at any time.
SCHEDULE FOR MISSION As we discuss in a previous study under Human Relationship with God Regarding Work, God often will lead a person to accomplish a mission through a schedule of task increments without revealing the mission or entire schedule. Each task increment leads to an outcome that ushers in the next task. Thus, the person proceeds through God’s schedule in a series of steps that culminate in completing the mission and accomplishing the objectives, without knowing the full schedule at any time. The events in each step can be preparatory (i.e., providing experience needed for the next events), precursory (i.e., a necessary event that leads to the next), or both preparatory and precursory. The person’s choices in each event determine whether he/she follows or departs from God’s schedule. As we discuss in previous studies, a departure from God’s schedule need not be permanent because he often provides opportunity for redirection (see Opportunity for Voluntary Redirection and Divine Intervention by Coercive Redirection). David took advantage of redirection when needed and, thus, followed God’s schedule to become king of Israel.
SCHEDULE FOR PROMISE David’s experience in following God’s schedule is potentially applicable to every person, because God at times grants a prayer with promise, sets a schedule for fulfillment of the promise, wants the recipient to follow the schedule, but may not reveal the promise or the schedule to the recipient. He grants every prayer of a person that believes in him. He may grant some prayers instantaneously and exactly as prayed whereas he grants other prayers with a promise to be fulfilled at a different time as he chooses.
Banking Blessings Ministry welcomes you to 2019. Our program this year will focus on understanding government based on people and events described in the bible to learn about God’s purpose for relationships between people and their government. We thank you for participating in our programs as we seek and share understanding of God’s purpose for human interactions and relationships. We thank God for the opportunity to understand his message better this year and live in the understanding to approach closer to his purpose for each of us individually and as member of a community.
The year 2018 ended while we were in the middle of a series on Husband-Wife Interactions, focused on studying the life of couples described in the bible to learn from their interactions among themselves and with God. The series provides lessons about husband-wife unity; family leadership; love, honor, and trust; and bringing all these together to always present the husband-wife union as one before God, such that any potentially dividing husband-wife disagreement will be resolved quickly and permanently. We provide a summary of what we learned in 2018 based on a few selected studies from the series.
New Series for 2019
The series on husband-wife interactions is not done but will be suspended for a while in order to focus on a new assignment for 2019. Developments around the world indicate increasing tension between people and their governments. There appear to be widespread dissatisfaction with government. In several cases, governments appear to have departed greatly from the expectations of the people. Maybe because the people have incorrect expectations, or the people in charge of government have forgotten or did not ever know what the government can expect from people and what the people can expect from their government.
The bible provides information to guide understanding God’s purpose for relationships between people and their governments. To understand the information better and benefit from the guidance it provides, the Banking Blessings bible study program this year will focus on understanding government based on people and events described in the bible and using the accounts to learn about God’s purpose for relationships between people and their government. What should the people expect from their government and what should the government expect from the people? We will find the bible provides answers to these questions.
Jacob’s family interactions highlight inability of a man to love multiple women equally and potential to extend unequal love to the children and, thus, jeopardize positive family relationships. His unequal love for wives and children led to hatred of Joseph by older brothers and a tragic event in the family. Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill him in Dothan as he visited to check on them and their flock. However, kindly interventions by Reuben and Judah changed his sentence from death to enslavement and thus launched him onto his Egypt mission.
The life of Joseph, the 11th son of Jacob (also known as Israel), illustrates potential tragic family interactions resulting from polygamy as well as God’s grace in using an adversity to launch a positive change in a person’s life.
His life story begins with interactions with senior brothers (half-brothers, from the same father but different mothers) that hated him: partly because they believed he “stole” their father’s love and partly a manifestation of intra-family rivalry passed to them from their mothers. The hatred culminated in a tragic event that could have ended his life. However, the tragedy triggered a sequence of events in Joseph’s life that ultimately led him to the highest administrative position in Egypt. There he had an opportunity to retaliate against his brothers. However, he did not retaliate. Instead, he put them through tests to verify their repentance so he could forgive and reconcile with them. By doing so he cleared the way for fulfillment of God’s promise to their fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) to lead them to a foreign land where they will multiply and prosper before returning to the Promised Land.
In a previous bible study under Joseph Called to Mission, we focus on Joseph’s life as an illustration that God could use adversity to bring about a positive change for a person. Joseph’s mission to Egypt started with his tragic experience in Canaan: almost like burning part of a rocket to launch it into higher orbit. His brothers first threw him into a dry well, where he languished until they changed their mind about killing him and instead sold him as slave to merchants travelling to Egypt. That is, God used the adversity brought to Joseph by his brothers to “launch” him into his Egypt mission.
The current bible study focuses on understanding the tragic events among Jacob’s family in Canaan as the product of seeds of discord that Jacob sowed inadvertently through polygamy.
Mary and Joseph interactions during the childhood of Jesus illustrate unity in understanding and performing parenting responsibilities. Their overnight escape to Egypt, return to Israel several years later, and diversion to Galilee instead of Judea were each based on revelations Joseph received in a dream and communicated to his wife. Other examples include their consistent annual trip to Jerusalem to participate in Passover festival for at least twelve years as the child developed. Their love for each other and love of God led to unity in parenting applicable today to other kinds of husband-wife ministry.
In the first of this two-part study on Mary and Joseph as a couple (Love Prepares Home for God’s Intervention), we noted that they relied on their love for each other to deal with human challenges they faced as part of their call to become parents of the Messiah. We concluded that love prepared their heart to receive and execute the call and may well have been the reason they were chosen.
In this second part of the study, we discuss another benefit of their love, that is, unity in understanding and performing parenting responsibilities. Examples illustrating their “unity in parenting” are evident in two sets of events that occurred during the childhood of Jesus. One set was in connection with the flight to Egypt and back to Israel. The other is in relation to their annual participation in the Passover festival. In all the events, their love for each other and love of God led to consistent understanding of their parenting roles and performing their responsibilities based on the understanding.
Their interactions can be understood better by considering parenting as a husband-wife ministry. God called Mary and Joseph to the ministry of parenting the Messiah. Initially, Mary was the primary (or “first primary”) in the ministry and Joseph was the supporter (or “second primary”). Mary’s responsibility at the initial stage was to carry the pregnancy and Joseph’s was to support her wholeheartedly so together they nurtured the unborn child through birth. However, their roles switched after the child was born.
God recognized Joseph as the family leader, communicated child care instructions to him, and thereby charged him with leading the husband-wife team to implement the instructions. They remained united in implementing the instructions, completing each task successfully without any indication of disagreement. Also, their performance indicates they communicated effectively to determine steps toward completing the instructions. Love of each other and love of God led to effective communication, understanding their responsibilities, and performing the responsibilities to accomplish the objective.
If parenting is a husband-wife ministry, then other kinds of husband-wife ministry can benefit from the parenting experience of Mary and Joseph. In every case, unity in ministry based on love of each other and love of God will lead to understanding and recognizing responsibilities and performing them seamlessly to accomplish the objectives of the ministry. Furthermore, we note their unity in parenting led to fulfilling God’s purpose for the child as prophesied through the Scriptures: “Out of Egypt I called My Son” [Matthew 2:15] and “He shall be called a Nazarene” [Matthew 2:23]. In the same way, unity in ministry will lead to a husband-wife team fulfilling God’s purpose for their ministry.
Marital Commitment Founded on Love
Mary and Joseph relied on love to deal with human challenges they faced as part of their call to become parents of the Messiah. Mary was concerned about potential effects of the pregnancy on her relationship with Joseph. She surrendered her concerns to God. Joseph, on his part, was aware of Mary’s extraneous pregnancy but determined to protect her from public disgrace in the event of terminating the engagement in obedience to Jewish law. However, God sent him an angel to explain Mary’s pregnancy. Their love for each other prepared their heart to receive and execute their unique call and may well have been the reason they were chosen.
This study focuses on Mary and Joseph as a couple, using events from their life to seek better understanding of God’s purpose for husband-wife interactions and relationships. They were engaged to be married when God called them to host the Messiah as his human parents. They prevailed over the human challenges of their call because of strong marital commitment founded on love and relying on the faith of God to overcome difficulties.
The call came to Mary first. Angel Gabriel appeared to her in the town of Nazareth and informed her in a live human conversation that she will conceive of the Messiah through the power of the Holy Spirit. Her request for clarification reveals she was concerned about potential effects on her human relationships, especially with her fiancé Joseph. In her loyalty to human commitments, she asked for human understanding. However, after the angel explained the conception will be through the power of God, whereby “nothing will be impossible” [Luke 1:37], she obeyed and submitted her concerns wholeheartedly to God.
Joseph received his call as he considered his options for responding to his fiancée’s inexplicable pregnancy. He was loyal to a Jewish law that required him to terminate the engagement. However, he was concerned about her and wanted to protect her from public disgrace. Then an angel of God informed him in a dream that “what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” [Matthew 1:20]. Furthermore, the angel informed Joseph he will be the human father of the Son of God that was conceived in Mary. The dream was sufficient for Joseph. He took Mary home to be his wife.
Through the concern she raised with the angel, Mary showed her love for Joseph and commitment to their engagement. Joseph, on his part, showed his love by seeking to protect Mary even if he had to obey the Jewish law. Both surrendered their concerns to God in complete obedience as soon as they recognized the call. Their love for each other determined their choices in a difficult challenge. Their faith of God gave them peace that their concerns will be resolved right. We discuss the events of their call to reach a conclusion that they were chosen because of their love for each other.
The experience of Job indicates that recognizing adversity as an attack from the devil is an important step in seeking God’s guidance and direction and ultimately defeating the adversity and the temptation that it represents. If a person lives in the image of God, representing God among other people and fulfilling his/her responsibilities as God’s provider assistant, then an adversity in the person’s life is more likely a temptation instead of punishment for wrongdoing. We learn from Job’s experience that the appropriate response is to declare war against the devil by renewing your commitment to worship and serve God.
We begin a bible study series on Responding to Adversity, with intention to study events and personalities described in the bible to gain insight into what a Christian should do when facing adversity. The current study examines the temptation of Job to expand understanding of the nature of adversity. Job was an upright, blameless, and successful man: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil” [Job 1:1]. Yet, he suddenly came under a storm of adversity that included losing his children and every earthly possession.
Job’s experience indicates adversity may befall anyone, even a person that has done nothing wrong. His adversity was a temptation whereby the devil attempted to pull him away from God by destroying his earthly comfort and happiness: “But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face” [Job 1:11]. God permitted the devil to tempt Job within a wide but limited scope: “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person” [Job 1:12]. Therefore, we learn from this account that God protects us from temptation but may permit the devil to tempt a person. The devil may in that case choose how to tempt the person. He chose to rain adversity on Job in the study example.
Recognizing adversity as temptation will affect how a person responds. Because Job was upright and blameless, he most likely recognized the adversity as temptation and, thus responded by focusing on his relationship with God and leaving it all with him in prayer [Job 1:21]: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Also, we have encountered previous studies that showed adversity as a springboard to launch a person onto another phase of life with opportunities of great significance. Notable examples include the experience of Joseph in Joseph Called to Mission and Ruth in Ruth Joins Naomi, among several others. There also are cases of adversity befalling a person as punishment for wrongdoing: a possible example being the revolt in David’s family during his reign as king of Israel in Absalom Rises Against His Father David.
This study focuses on the experience of Job to learn that adversity may befall a person as temptation at pulling the person away from God. Recognizing the adversity as such will help fortify the person to respond by relying more on his/her relationship with God. A person that lives in the image of God (e.g., Job’s reputation as upright and blameless) will more likely recognize an adversity as temptation, instead of punishment for some wrongdoing. Thus, he/she will be better prepared to respond positively.
God may alert a child to an opportunity by prompting the child’s parent to pass the information as parental instruction, advice, or request. The information could be delivered as part of normal parent-child interaction with neither the parent nor child recognizing at the time that the information is a special message from God to the child. The child will receive the message and progress toward the opportunity if he/she has a habit of listening to the parent with intent to understand and implement the parent’s information.
This study concludes a series on understanding that God sends messages to children through their parents. We examine information based on four previous sessions to understand what a parent and child need to do to ensure God’s messages to the child through the parent are delivered and received effectively. Each message could present an opportunity for the child to encounter a life experience or accomplish a specific objective. Therefore, the child needs to receive the message effectively in order to preserve such opportunity. The examples used in the sessions appear well suited for the study as they include information to enable understanding how the parent and child in each case communicated effectively.
Based on information from Joseph Called to Mission and David Called to Mission, we learn that God may direct a person toward an opportunity by positioning a need in his/her path. The person will encounter the opportunity if he/she recognizes the need, commits to providing service to address the need, and perseveres. In the case of Joseph, for example, the opportunity was his call to undertake a special mission to Egypt. For David, the opportunity was to confront Goliath.
Also, we learn from the two examples that God may often position a need in the path of a child by prompting the child’s parent to pass information to her/him. He may provide the information to the parent clearly so the parent is aware the information is from God and is for the child. For example, Eli was aware that God wanted to speak to Samuel.
Alternatively, God may prompt the parent one way or the other to deliver information to a child without the parent being aware of the prompting. The parent passes the information to the child as part of normal parent-child interaction but neither the parent nor the child recognizes at the time that the information has been prompted by God. This category of messaging a child through the parent is important because of being channeled through normal parent-child interaction. One example is Joseph’s father sending him on an errand that became God’s call to Joseph to undertake a mission to Egypt. In another, David’s father sent him on an errand that became God’s call to David to confront with Goliath.
The information could be passed in the form of parental instruction, advice, request, or any other form of parent-child interaction. This bible study focuses on understanding the behavior, attitude, or habit of a child or parent that affects the effectiveness of passing and implementing such information in order to encounter the opportunity that God is presenting to the child through the information.