The Hope of Faith
So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly. And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the length of Jacob’s life was one hundred and forty-seven years. When the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “Now if I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please do not bury me in Egypt, but let me lie with my fathers; you shall carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” And he said, “I will do as you have said.” Then he said, “Swear to me.” And he swore to him. So Israel bowed himself on the head of the bed. (Gen 47:27-31)
With the help of his son Joseph, Jacob and his whole family was able to leave Canaan during the famine and came to live in Egypt. And Jacob lived in the land of Goshen in Egypt for seventeen years. He lived until he was 147 years old. At that time, the land of Egypt and the surrounding regions suffered a shortage of food because of a severe famine. However, with the wisdom and inspiration of God, Joseph turned Egypt into a rich and powerful nation and that was when he was able to bring his family to live in Egypt. It was done according to God’s plan.
During that time, Egypt was at the height of civilization and wealth, and the people of Israel that were given special treatment had a comfortable life there. They were safe from any foreign attack or invasion and enjoyed a bountiful life in safety having many children. But around the time Jacob died, what was always on his heart was for him to return to his land no matter how great the land of Egypt was. Why was that? He must return to the land promised by God so that there his descendants can become numerous just as God said. And there, God would be with them so that finally the promise God made with Abraham is fulfilled. By that, God’s will would be fulfilled and hence Immanuel will be accomplished. That is why he had to return to his land.
Jacob knew that his coming to Egypt was God’s will. Because God promised that to Abraham ahead of time, that his descendants would be in a foreign land for 430 years as slaves before they returned to this land. And Jacob had heard about this. He didn’t know which country that would be, but when he came to Egypt with the help of Joseph, he realized that this was what God had foretold Abraham. Thus, he also knew that one day his descendants would return to that land. So he besought Joseph not to bury him in Egypt but to take his bones to his family’s burial ground and bury him there, where his father and grandfather were buried. He implored him and even made him swear that he would do that. He told Joseph to put his hand under his thigh which refers to the male genitals. There Joseph put his hand and swore to him.
Today’s young kids swear by their mum when they are making a promise to their friends. This is because for them, mum is the most important person. She is the origin and root of their being. But what Jacob did meant more than that. He made Joseph swear because this was about the hope that God had upon mankind and the reason for man’s existence. So, when Jacob died, Joseph took all the people of Israel to his father’s land and buried Jacob there. That journey was a great procession that would be likened to the Exodus that happened hundreds of years later. Everyone went except for the young children and animals. If they had grown and multiplied in number for 17 years, how many people would there have been? There were a great number of people perhaps thousands or tens of thousands that traveled there for the burial and returned. It was as though they were doing a rehearsal. And after that journey, Joseph would have set this in his heart: Although we are living here presently, one day we will follow this road back to the land of Canaan and the promise of God would be fulfilled. He had seen what would take place ahead of time.
And when it was time for Joseph’s death, he also had one wish. What do you think it was? At that time there was no one who could take him and bury him in his father’s land just as he did when his father died. There was no one with such authority anymore although Joseph had power. He just didn’t know how the remaining people would be able to survive in that foreign land. So his last words to his descendants were this: in due time, you will leave this land of Egypt. (He wasn’t asking to be buried in the land of Canaan because that was a task too difficult to do now.) But when you leave this land, take my bones with you and bury me when you go to the land of Canaan. Joseph surely believed that one day, the people of Israel would leave the land of Egypt. He knew this by faith which was why he instructed them regarding his bones.
Let’s read Genesis 50. Genesis 50:22. This is how the Book of Genesis ends. Let’s read Genesis 50:22. “So Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he and his father’s household. And Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. Joseph saw Ephraim’s children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph’s knees. And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” So Joseph died, being one hundred and ten years old; and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” After these final words of Joseph the Book of Genesis ends.
By faith, Joseph believed and earnestly hoped that in due time the people of Israel would leave Egypt and go to the promised land. Regardless of how magnificent and splendid our present circumstances are, where we must go is God’s promised land. Our greatest hope in any circumstances should be to have God with us. It is to long for Immanuel.
The Holy Spirit now comes inside of us and is Immanuel in us. But later on, we will be going to the kingdom of heaven and there we will be with Jesus Christ. On that day, all the angels will shout out, “Behold, what a marvellous sight! The tabernacle of God is with men!” It is written that the angels will cheer. It is our faith to eagerly yearn for God to be with us and to always have the testimony of God with us. Where is our joy? It is in being with God. That is the most fundamental.
But as we work hard to have that fulfilled, we could gradually divert away from the fundamentals so that our desires and our pride start to take precedence. And since we came to have this goal which we didn’t even consider before, the goal starts to take precedence and we lose sight of the fundamentals. We forget about this greatest happiness that God is with us and start to feel frustrated. That is why sometimes we need to format ourselves once in a while. Just as we clean up our computers or format a USB, sometimes we need to do a whole clean up of our own selves. What am I doing right now? Where is my happiness? My happiness is that God is with me. The happiness I have is that God shows me that He is with me and to know His grace by which He entrusted me with this work.
As we do our work for God, it can become obvious sometimes. In the past, we didn’t have many Chinese souls in contact with us. Now we have dozens of Chinese souls that contact us each week and call us any time, that sometimes it can get annoying and frustrating. We even tell them to stop calling us. When they write emails to us with ridiculous questions it can be irritating. However, when we first started this ministry, do you know how joyful we were to receive a letter asking for healing?
After distributing books in 2002, we received a letter from China in 2003 for the first time with the request for healing. And I was truly happy. That was the beginning. Now we are starting to see the fruits. When one letter came and then another, we were so happy that we immediately called them on the number they wrote in the letter and prayed for them earnestly. It wasn’t only over the phone but when we prayed alone, we prayed for those souls. But since then, as the number of souls increased overtime, we have changed too.
One day, a person came to our church. This person found us through our book but said he wanted to go to the Full Gospel Church. And I felt disappointed. Our church was not as well known as the Full Gospel Church back then. Now, if you look up Berea online, there’s so much on the internet but not at that time. So before I took this person to the church, I rang the Full Gospel Church and asked the one in charge if I could bring this person to see the worship place and hear about their church. But this person that picked up my call sounded as though he was annoyed and said they can’t accept visitors. I can’t remember if he said the person in charge was not there or if the visiting hours were finished, but he said he couldn’t do it, although I thought it was something that they were more than able to do.
So I said to him, “This person came from overseas just to go to your church and I am only trying to help this person.” But he answered that he had many people come like that and was not willing to accept the visitor. Since I knew that this person came such a long way to see the church, I also didn’t give up and persistently asked. And this man asked me which church I was from. When I told him Sungrak Church, he began to nitpick at my words. He asked, “Is it Sungrak Church of Pastor Ki-dong Kim?” I said it was. “Isn’t that the sect? Then I can’t do it for you because you are from that church”. And then I told him, “This person didn’t come from our church but wants to go to your church and I’m only trying to aid them.” But he still wouldn’t let them visit saying he had hundreds of visitors coming every day.
That’s when I realized, “Ah they are really different from us. This one person that came was not even trying to come to our church, and yet we wanted to help him as much as we could because he was touched by our words and wanted his heart to be opened toward us. But for the other church, they already had a lot of people and couldn’t be bothered now. And then I thought, “Will we become like them later on? When many people come to us, would we get annoyed and ignore them too? Ah, we shouldn’t ever do that”. So I prayed in that moment: “God, help me not to become like them later on. Regardless of how many people come to us and how many letters we receive, help me not to treat them that way. Help me to regard each soul as precious souls.” And from memory, I don’t think I have ever not replied to a letter that I received until now. We get more than a thousand letters a year don’t we? I reply to each and every single one of them.
Sometimes we get letters that speak ill of our church and criticize us. But I reply to them with great effort. First, I bless them in my reply. I could just write crudely but I always say, “I bless you so-and-so in Jesus’ name.” And then I reply to their questions as best as I can. When I send my reply, the same person would write back to me because he saw I answered his first letter sincerely. And after a few replies sent back and forth, the person’s attitude changed completely. Although he didn’t come to like Berea so much as others do, but his attitude was noticeably different then when he first contacted us that he even read our books and sent us a revision of the book. It is because we didn’t ignore not one person but treated each one sincerely like that, that we now have so many churches linked to us. It didn’t happen all by itself.
People that see us from the outside don’t really understand this. They can’t understand when we tell them we built churches through letters like these. They ask, “How can you help people in China build Berean Churches when you didn’t even go to China?” But even now, there are churches being built. Even this week, this person is going to build another church. This person was just a laity but after receiving the word continuously, he is now asking, “What should I do now? What should I name our church?” This is what’s happening. Do you think this is possible just on its own? Could this be done if I had just relied on the word saying that the word is powerful enough to do everything?
It is on top of the word that we kindly and continuously helped and nurtured them, and they also accepted our help and followed our instructions that such good fruits could be produced. And since they see the fruits, they ask more questions and as we go back and forth like that, we gain their trust. Finally, they call themselves Berea Church and want to belong to us.
As the letters keep coming, sometimes they ask questions that are obvious. If they had read the blog, their questions would be answered. If they had read the book Demonology even once, it would answer their question. But they ask again and again, and sometimes it can get annoying and I just send a link or reference to a page in the book and tell them to read it. But when I am focused, I don’t just send them page references from a book; instead, I search the book myself and write them a reply. That’s different than just telling them, “Look up such and such page of such and such a book”. It’s different if I look it up for them and write it to them. When I am focused that’s what I do, but when I’m not, I might send a short reply.
That’s why even I need a regular clean up. I have to format everything. I have to format myself. Pastor Lin Luing bothers me the most and calls me so many times a day. And on some days, I don’t even pick up the phone. I even turn off the phone. But then I realize how thankful I should be that I have someone that constantly bothers me. This person keeps asking for me. Even if I tell them off or ignore them, they still seek me. And I am truly thankful for that. What happens if this person doesn’t ask for me? Let’s say that this person doesn’t call me one day. Wouldn’t I feel concerned too? When I start to think, “Doesn’t God use me anymore? Is this person no longer needing my help?” I quickly repent and make sure I answer their calls. I accept their calls and even call them myself. Likewise, we need to format ourselves.
It is good that we take pride in the work we are doing but we must not let that go too far that we start to feel superior and look down on or pass judgment on those souls. We have to fulfill our duties as the ones who help those souls. What is our work? Just as God is Immanuel with me, He wants to be Immanuel with all the other souls. Just as God gave me that word, He wants them to also receive this word and have it fulfilled in them. And that is what we are supporting. Many of those souls may have bad characters. Nevertheless, God wants His word to penetrate them to be Immanuel. Yet if I reject that person because I don’t like that person’s character, I am not letting this work happen. Hence, I have to be the one that bears with those people’s characters and flaws. And then let the word of God to be Immanuel in them.
Whoever it might be, when God is at work, when Immanuel is fulfilled, there will be a blessing. That is the power of God’s word. Since we know that this is our duty, we need to let our God who is Immanuel in us to be Immanuel in them. And may the work which God entrusted to His Son be fulfilled entirely, and the Son brings glory to the Father through those countless souls. May this become our joy and our duty. Let us pray that we can have the faith to return to Canaan as we do our work.
God our Father, we are able to do this work of the Lord because we were truly thankful and joyful of the fact that our God is with us that we gladly obeyed and devoted ourselves to the Lord. God our Father, in order to spread this joy to others, help us to always have the heart we had at first and be dedicated to help those souls with joy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center