The Wrap Up
Key Goals: (Know) Understand the power of forgiveness and God’s providence. (Feel) Feel strengthened to endure hardship. (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.
Introduction: This is the last message in our series on Joseph, a man whose roller coaster life has been a treasure chest of lessons and challenges. Last week we began our new year with the climax of the story—the big reveal—the moment when, after 22 years and a little scheming, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers. There was very little chance that the 11 brothers could have known that when they returned to Zaphnath-Paaneah (the name Pharaoh gave Joseph when he appointed him) that he was their long lost brother until, speaking perfect Hebrew he cried, “I am Joseph is my father still alive?” Imagine the shock. What kind of thoughts run through your mind when you realize that the most powerful man you have ever met turns out to be the little brother whose life you tried to destroy? What will Zaphnath, I mean Joseph, do?
4So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.
8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, for there are yet five years of famine to come, so that you and your household, and all that you have, do not come to poverty.’ 12 And now your eyes see, and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see, that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 You must tell my father of all my honor in Egypt, and of all that you have seen. Hurry and bring my father down here.”
14 Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. After that his brothers talked with him.
In this speech Joseph makes, there are five statements that really caught my attention. They reveal key aspects about Joseph and his life that, if we grabbed onto them, would revolutionize our walk with God and our relationships with those around us.
1. “Come near to me, please.” (v. 4). Joseph had been living as an Egyptian for the last 22 years. If you remember the dinner they ate together, the Egyptians and Joseph ate separately from the Jews. Several times in Genesis we are told of the Egyptian aversion to shepherds and Canaanites who were viewed as filthy (Gen 46:34). Joseph breaks down the wall and calls them to come close. The Hebrew word communicates coming “close enough to touch.”
Joseph refused to maintain the status quo. He could have kept the situation as it was. He could have kept his distance from his brothers. They caused it; they sold him and left him for dead. The relationship between Joseph and his brothers was not just broken, it was demolished. But Joseph refused to let it stay that way. He took the first step. He was the first mover: “Come near to me, please!” Just like Jesus, Joseph’s actions in this chapter are a perfect picture of God’s movement on our behalf. Think about it—we are the ones who destroyed our relationship with God, yet it is God who refused to maintain the status quo. He took the first step of reconciliation by sending his son (Rom 5:8). He died in our place so that we could “come near” to God (I Peter 3:18).
Application: One of the best challenge by choice testimonies cards I received was about this very issue. The challenge was: Release/forgive someone from your past who meant you evil. The moment the person read the card, they knew who they were supposed to forgive. They set up a meeting, and after years of separation they are now talking. Refuse to maintain the status quo!
2. “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt.” (v. 4). I love the fact that Joseph never downplays what they did. He hasn’t forgotten and neither have they. The moment Joseph reveals himself, his brothers are terrified (dismayed). Genesis 45:3 But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. By declaring himself their brother, Joseph shows his willingness to forgive. It is interesting that, even though there is ample opportunity, we are never told that the brothers asked for forgiveness. Joseph grants it none the less (Gen 50:18-21).
Forgiveness is a vital part of the Christian life. Jesus taught that our ability to relate to God is directly tied to our ability to forgive others. For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (Matthew 6:14-15) Forgiveness is to be freely given to fellow believers as well as our enemies. Jesus also said, “You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you; in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43-45) In fact, “tender-hearted forgiving” is a key mark of believers. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)
3. “Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here.” (v. 5). In this sentence, we clearly see how others-centered and not self-centered Joseph was. This amazes me. Joseph is living this scenario out in real time yet he is not so caught up in his own emotions that he misses what his brothers are feeling. He is incredibly empathetic—the second youngest guy in the room, yet he is the one comforting everyone. You might say that “he is the adult in the room.” The unselfishness being exhibited here is astounding; it is no wonder God wanted it recorded in Scripture. This is a picture of the kind of love Jesus was talking about when he taught his disciples to turn the other cheek (Matt 5:39) or when he said, “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.” (Matt 5:41).
Over and over when Jesus walked this earth, he taught his disciples that because of God’s great love for us, we must be great lovers of others. We are to forgive those who hurt us, give to those in need, help those who require it, encourage the downcast, teach the ignorant—with patience, mourn with those who mourn. It is also why we are to not judge, hate, slander, backbite, cause divisions or steal. Because Joseph loved well and unselfishly, we are still talking about him 3000 years later.
4. “God sent me before you to preserve life.” (v. 5). “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors.” (v.7) “It was not you who sent me here, but God.” (v.8) Joseph knew that it was not his brothers who were responsible for sending him to Egypt, but God, for the purpose of bringing about their salvation. The real hero of Joseph’s story is not Joseph, it’s God. Joseph’s life illustrates, perhaps better than any other story in the Bible, a profound truth: Romans 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
These verses reveal that Joseph believed in “divine providence.” What is providence? It means that as God rules this universe:
- He upholds everything (he is sustaining)
- He governs every event (oversees, reigns)
- He directs everything to its appointed end (guides, leads)
- He does this all the time and in every circumstance
- He does it always for his own glory (purposefully, purpose in everything)
God’s providence in Joseph’s life teaches us several important truths:
- God cares about even the tiniest details of our lives. Nothing in your life is escaping his notice! He is concerned with the small stuff as well as the big stuff. Jesus told us that the Father knows when a sparrow falls to the ground and he numbers the hairs on your head (Luke 12:7). And then he said, “Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
- God uses everything and wastes nothing. There are no accidents with God—this includes events that seem to us to be senseless tragedies. Random chance is an illusion. Joseph being sold into slavery was not a tragedy, it was a new trajectory. God was at work the whole time.
5. “I will provide for you” (v. 11). This reveals to us Joseph’s great capacity for love. But to see it most clearly, we need to go to Genesis 50 and fast forward 14 years. I think you know what happened next in the story. Joseph has all of his family (70 in total) brought to Egypt because there were still five years of famine left. He is reunited with his father and he gives his family the land of Goshen in which to pasture their flocks. The land of Egypt and Joseph’s family thrives for the next 14 years until Jacob dies. At that time, the entire family gathered to mourn together, embalm and bury Jacob at the field of Machpelah where his grandparents Abraham and Sarah were buried with his parents Isaac and Rebekah (Gen 49:30).
Let’s read together Genesis 50:15–21
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: 17 ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.” ’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
The literal translation of that last phrase, spoke kindly to them, is he comforted them and spoke to their heart. What was he doing? He was loving on them. Forgiveness was granted, the past left behind, the hurt let go.
Challenge by Choice: As we close, we are offering you the opportunity for one last challenge. There are six cards with one of six different challenges on them—specific applications from this message. By choosing a card, you will be like Joseph: you won’t know what you will get—it may something difficult, it may be something easy. Like Joseph you will not know until you get there, but each of the challenges will help you live differently.
Community Group Discussion
1. As you begin your discussion, have one group member open their Bible to Genesis 45 and have the rest of the group try to tell the story from memory. Discuss what you missed and what stood out.
2. Joseph’s story helps us see “divine providence” in action. Have there been events in your own life that have revealed God’s providence?
3. Discuss the connection between Jesus’ words to “turn the other check” and Joseph’s life. What are some ways that Joseph “turned his cheek?”
4. Discuss why you did or did not pick up a “challenge by choice” card.
5. Discuss your “challenge by choice.” Will it be easy for you or hard? Why? Share with the group how they might pray for you to accomplish your challenge.
© Calvary Baptist Church of Holland
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to use and reproduce this material in any format for spiritual, non-commercial purposes. We only ask that you do not alter the content in any way and do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction. Please include the following statement on any distributed material: by Paul L. Davis. © Calvary Baptist Church of Holland.
 All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV.
 Some of my thoughts in this section come from this great message. http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/can-you-trust-god-with-the-details-of-your-life/