This year, the world lost a great man in Billy Graham; a man considered to be the greatest evangelists of our time. With the persecution of the Christian becoming more and more common place here in North America, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised to see how his life was celebrated by those outside of the faith. Recognized as God’s man to the world, he had taken the gospel of Jesus Christ to any and every soul who would listen, resulting in the salvation of millions. I can’t imagine his life or his legacy ever being forgotten but, I do realize it can happen if not careful and source a great example from the Old Testament for reference.
The book of Genesis tells the story of a man named Joseph; a man recorded to have saved the lives of his own people as well as those from around the populated world. But, this is not how his life started out. As is the case with many Christians today, Joseph was a man who endured his share of criticism and persecution. Sold as a slave to Egypt, he suffered many a hardship and injustice, all the while never breaking faith with his Creator.
Then the day came when he would have a chance to show that there was and is no God but our God. With the leader of the known world in those days, the Pharaoh of Egypt, suffering with dreams he could not shake or understand, Joseph had been brought forth as one who could help. Trusting in God to provide, he described the Pharaoh’s dream and interpreted it’s meaning; resulting in the salvation of the Egyptian people as well as those surrounding and depending on them from a devastating famine that was to come.
As is with most who have saved a life or lives of others, honor was bestowed on Joseph in making him second in all of Egypt, behind only Pharaoh himself. He had been entrusted with the leading of the nation threw the famine to which he was completely successful. What I find most amazing and encouraging in looking at his life was how, in all that he had been through in his life, he never lost sight of the fact that God was with him and was working circumstances out for his good. Joseph took the long view regarding his circumstances rather than allowing what was happening in the short term to distract him. This produced in him an unshakeable faith while at the same time brought glory to his Creator. For reference on this amazing piece of ancient world history, see Genesis 37 – 50.
But sadly, as found in the first chapter of Exodus, it wouldn’t be long before Joseph and all he had done, by the grace of God, would be forgotten. The detail is found in Exodus 1 v 8 – 10 and reads as follows:
“Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelite’s have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
What I find striking in this section of scripture is found at the beginning and how Joseph was not known to him. I find myself asking how this could happen. Or, how it could have been allowed to happen; that such an important part of their history wouldn’t be known or worse, forgotten.
Without going into the how or why this happened, for me, what is important is that it did and the result for the Israelite people was years of slavery and oppression at the hands of those God had saved. It causes me to ask what happens to us as a people if we allow the Joseph’s and more recently, the Billy Graham’s of the world today to be forgotten? And, more importantly, what happens if we forget the Creator of all things in Christ Jesus, whom the Joseph’s and Billy’s live threw and for. Thankfully, for mine and future generations, in Christ that is a reality that will never come.
In scripture, the living word of God assures us that we are never alone. That God will be known and made known to all and by his grace known by all. We see this boldly proclaimed in Acts 14 v 16 – 17 which states:
“In past generations, He let all nations go their own way. Yet He has not left Himself without testimony to His goodness: He gives you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts with food and gladness.”
Putting an exclamation point on it, Jesus affirms this for us in saying the following in Luke 19 v 40:
“I tell you, He answered, “if they remain silent, the very stones will cry out.”
Christ and His gospel are being proclaimed and, despite Satan and those living for him, the empty tomb has guaranteed that will never change.
As I close this write up out, I find myself thinking about my own mortality and the legacy of faith I hope to leave behind. Truth be told, it doesn’t really matter to me. I’m certain that it would only take a generation or two to be forgotten. If, only for a time, the only thing remembered of me was that I loved Jesus and was covered in and by his grace, that would be enough. As exemplified in the life of the late Billy Graham and modeled by the even later John the Baptist, may Christ increase by my decrease – John 3 v 30. That I to would be embraced by my Savior and hear the echo of Matthew 25 v 23 in my ear, that of “Well done good and faithful servant!”. That is the life I pray for the strength to live to the glory of an unforgettable God and pray the same for you.
God Bless – Sean Bosse