Wednesday, April 10, 2019 -
Kathie was perusing a book she found at home called Total Forgiveness by R. T. Kendall, and when she read the example used of Joseph in chapter 2, she immediately ordered the book for me so I’d be able to read that chapter.
The gist of Joseph’s example was, of course, the fact that he had much to be bitter about. First, his brothers sold him into slavery as a lad, and he was taken to a faraway land, presumably never to see his father or family again. Secondly, he was sent to prison for doing the right thing, resisting the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife, after she falsely accused him of rape, and lastly, that God had allowed all of this to happen to him. Kendall concludes that Joseph must have been filled with self-pity because while in prison he asked the cupbearer to bring his innocence and the injustice of it all to the attention of Pharaoh. But the cupbearer forgot, and the time of Joseph’s incarceration went on unimpeded. I can relate to all of this! I too have asked those who know well the leader of our nation, President Trump, to bring to his attention my case, and promises have made to do so, yet I have heard nothing from them or about it. Kendall says ofJoseph, “But God had special plans for Joseph, and in order for his testimony to be validated later, there could be no promotion that could be explained in terms of what a human being could do. In other words, God wanted Joseph out of prison as much as Joseph wanted to get out. But if the cupbearer simply put in a good word for Joseph - - and he got sprung from prison because of it - - it would have fallen short of God’s supreme plan. Delays can actually be part of God’s purpose; seemingly unanswered prayer can be as much a part of God’s will as an answered prayer.” Kendall believes this is because Joseph still needed to be delivered from his bitterness, that he hadn’t yet forgiven his brothers, nor Potiphar’s wife because Joseph seemed to be manipulating the situation with the cupbearer. I see no evidence of this in Scripture about Joseph’s heart (Kendall uses Genesis 40:14-15 to make this conclusion). The point is, God, had a purpose for releasing Joseph from prison exactly when He did, for, in the meanwhile, God had a plan to mature and prepare Joseph for the task He ultimately had planned for him - - something was beyond his comprehension and imagination!
Later in the book, Kendall refers to an episode of “Larry King Live” aired on May 29, 2000. A transcript can be found at www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0005/29/1kl.00.html. It is an interview with Jim Bakker, his ex-wife Tammy Faye, and their new spouses. Jim, after receiving a 45-year prison sentence for something he was falsely accused of, was eventually vindicated unexpectedly after having served five years. He told Larry King, “Nelson Mandela says that he didn’t look at prison as a down; he took it as an up. I suddenly found myself in prison for forty-five years - - and my theology didn’t allow for that time. It was like God had walked away from me. I know millions of people have gone through experiences saying, ‘Why, God?’ As I studied the Word of God and had more time to study the Bible, it was my faith in God that got me through. My faith was actually growing after five years. This experience was the greatest training seminary I ever went through, and my relationship with God became more intimate than ever.”
Jim Bakker went on to explain how his experience in prison now provides open doors and open hearts in his current ministry and work for the Lord. He said, “When I first went to prison, I was even questioning, ‘Where, God? Where are you?’ But as I went through the months of studying the Word of God, I realized that prison was God’s plan for me. God was saying, ‘I want you to come aside and be with Me.’ Everyone in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation has either been in a pit or prison or the backside of the desert. They’ve all been through bad things. So bad things do happen to people - - they happened to all the great men of God.”
Kendall also used the example of David hiding and running from place to place while Saul sought to kill him. It was a vital time of preparation for David that God intended him to go through prior to his readiness to be king. “Saul was David’s passport to a greater anointing,” he says. He quotes Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, who I remember being a guest in my parents’ home as a boy, “The worst thing that can happen to a man is to succeed before he is ready.”