Live Differently

Joseph: The Wrap Up

The Wrap Up Sermon Notes

The Wrap Up

Genesis 45

 

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?

 

Genesis 45:4–15[1]

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.”[2]

 

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:

  1. 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.”
  2. 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.[3]

 

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.

 

[1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV.

[2] Leonard J. Coppes, “1297 נָגַשׁ,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 553.

[3] 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/

Joseph: The Reveal

Joseph: The Reveal Sermon Notes

The Reveal

Genesis 44-45

 

Key Goals: (Know) Understand and prepare for God’s surprises. (Feel) Feel prepared for 2017. (Do) Take steps to prepare ourselves for what God will bring our way.

 

Introduction: Even though we know surprises are coming in 2017, they can still sneak up on us. So how do we prepare? Please turn to Genesis 44. When last we left Joseph and his brothers, a great feast was underway at Joseph’s house in Egypt. For the first time in over 20 years, all 12 brothers were together. So much has happened since the day Joseph wore a colorful coat and was sold into slavery. Joseph is no longer the 17-year-old boy crying for mercy. He is a 40-year-old man, and as the leader of Egypt perhaps the most powerful man in the world at this time.

 

As we return to the scene, Joseph is still disguised but reunited with all 11 of his brothers, even his full brother Benjamin, the new favorite of his father Jacob. They are enjoying a meal together. Genesis 43:34 says, “They drank and were merry.” (Hebrew: intoxicated. Literally this says they were drunk.) Plenty of food, plenty to drink, much to celebrate. But what about Joseph? He is still disguised and the brothers all think he is dead. They are in for the surprise of their lives! They don’t have a clue what Joseph is up to, and beyond that, they do not realize that God has been orchestrating every detail of their lives to bring them to this moment. They are about to be set free from their guilty consciences, but first it’s going to hurt.

 

Before we go any further, Happy New Year! It’s 2017 and we have all been celebrating, many spending time with family. As we approach this New Year, let us remember that just like God orchestrated these twelve brothers’ lives, wherever you find yourself this first morning of 2017, God has orchestrated that too. God had a plan for Joseph and his brothers, and he has plan for you. It is going to be easy for us to spot God’s fingerprints in Joseph’s life because we have the whole story. It is tougher for us to see it in our own lives, because God’s plan with us is not done yet. But as we leave this morning, my prayer is that we will each trust that God is faithfully at work, drawing us to him, calling us to follow him, and orchestrating even our toughest times.

 

Chapter 44: As the banquet ended and it was time for the brothers to go back to Canaan, Joseph had his steward hide a silver cup in the bag belonging to Benjamin. It is a very special silver cup, one that would be easily recognized. The brothers depart, but they do not get far before Joseph sends his steward to stop them and accuse them of stealing the silver cup. Of course, the brothers are innocent and deny the accusation, with the promise that if any man is found with the silver cup, he will die. Unexplainably, the steward found the cup (right where he put it). Look at Genesis 44:11. Then each man quickly lowered his sack to the ground, and each man opened his sack. 12 And he searched, beginning with the eldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 Then they tore their clothes, and every man loaded his donkey, and they returned to the city.

 

They “tore their clothes.” “Kriah” is a Hebrew word meaning, "tearing." It refers to the act of tearing one’s clothes and it is done to express grief and anger in death. The brothers would not do this unless they believed Benjamin was about to die. If you ever go to a Jewish funeral, the family will do a “Kriah” as a part of the service. As the tear or cut is made, the family recites the following blessing: Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha’olam dayan ha’emet. Blessed are You, Adonai Our God, Ruler of the Universe, the True Judge. Will the brothers abandon Benjamin like they did Joseph? Were they the same men or had they changed?

You decide for yourself. Listen to what happens next and you decide if these men are the same jealous, callous schemers they were 20 years ago: 14 When Judah and his brothers came to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell before him to the ground. 15 Joseph said to them, “What deed is this that you have done? Do you not know that a man like me can indeed practice divination?” 16 And Judah said, “What shall we say to my lord? What shall we speak? Or how can we clear ourselves? God has found out the guilt of your servants.”


There it is. That sentence is what I believe Joseph has been working toward since he first saw his brothers. They know that they have been falsely accused here, but they also know that they have no defense and can only plead for mercythe one thing they did not give when it was asked of them. In Joseph’s wisdom he knew it was imperative that his brothers feel their need for God and his mercy.

 

Application: When American parents are asked the number one thing they want for their children, they overwhelmingly respond: happiness. In India, parents want success. In China parents respond: health.[1] While I understand what parents are saying, I doubt any one of us would ever conclude that God’s plan for us or our children is for us to be 100% happy, 100% successful, and 100% healthy. In fact, that might even be dangerous. Several years ago a teenage girl said this in my youth group: “I have a question for you. Why do I need God? I have everything.” This is one of the most honest questions I’ve ever been asked. She was a healthy, beautiful, smart athlete who came from a wealthy family. At 15, she honestly could not figure out why she needed God. Reality check for 2017: tough and painful circumstances may enter your life this year for you to feel your need for God and his mercy.

 

The brothers are distraught. 16“Behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we and he also in whose hand the cup has been found.” 17 But he said, “Far be it from me that I should do so! Only the man in whose hand the cup was found shall be my servant. But as for you, go up in peace to your father.” Joseph seemingly lets 10 of the brothers off the hook, only Benjamin must stay. 20 years ago the brothers would have seen that as a great deal.

 

 (NLT[2]) 18Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself. 19 “My lord, previously you asked us, your servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we responded, ‘Yes, my lord, we have a father who is an old man, and his youngest son is a child of his old age. His full brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him very much.’

 

 21 “And you said to us, ‘Bring him here so I can see him with my own eyes.’ 22 But we said to you, ‘My lord, the boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.’ 23 But you told us, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you will never see my face again.’ 24 “So we returned to your servant, our father, and told him what you had said.

 

 25 Later, when he said, ‘Go back again and buy us more food,’ 26 we replied, ‘We can’t go unless you let our youngest brother goes with us. We’ll never get to see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 “Then my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife had two sons, 28 and one of them went away and never returned. Doubtless he was torn to pieces by some wild animal. I have never seen him since. 29 Now if you take his brother away from me, and any harm comes to him, you will send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.’

 

 30 “And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. 31 If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave.

 

 32 My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’ 33 “So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead (tahat) of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!”

 

Do you see what Judah is trying to do here? He is asking Joseph to allow him to be a “substitutionary atonement” for his brother. In fact, the Hebrew word used in this verse is the same word used in Genesis 22:13. Just as Abraham was going to sacrifice his son, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead (tahat) of his son. This “tahat,” this “instead of” is exactly what Jesus Christ offers to you and me. His death on the cross is in place of our death. We place our faith in Jesus as our “tahat!” His death pays our debt and we go free.  1 Peter 3:18 says For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.

 

This is love! The Bible tells us in John 15:13, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. What a difference! Remember Jacob was showing the same favoritism to Benjamin that he had showed to Joseph. Jacob had not changed, but the brothers had! Where did the jealousy go? Where is the hatred for Benjamin? It is gone and it is replaced with sacrificial love. It is in this context that Joseph finally reveals who he is. It is so rich that I just have to read it. Genesis 45:1–3.

 

Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, “Make everyone go out from me.” So no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. 3 And Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.

 

“Dismayed” is one way to describe how they felt, shocked is anotherhow about dumbfounded and frightened? You could add confused, astonished and speechless. The Hebrew word is often translated as “terrified.” They immediately had a flashback to 22 years ago. (Next week we are going to explore Joseph’s five powerful statementsunderstood in context they are life changing.)

 

Let me end with some appeals for 2017:

1. Surprises are coming in 2017. Get ready! God is orchestrating them even now. You must prepare yourself. Are you ready mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually?  In 1 Cor. 9:27, Paul talked about training himself in godliness. “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”

 

2. Embrace the hard. It comes from a God who loves you. Some of your surprises will be difficult. Do not let them discourage you; use them to open up your eyes so you can see your need for a loving and merciful God. Turn to him; draw close to him. Listen to James as he addresses how we face hardship. (James 4:8-10) Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

 

3. Replace the hatred. Your change, your sacrifices of love can open up the possibility for reconciliation in ways you could ever expect. Judah had no idea when he replaced his hatred, jealousy, and betrayal with love and sacrifice that he would reconcile with his long lost brother, but it happened. Begin a new chapter in 2017. Let the hatred go, let the hurt go, turn the page. Our God is the kind of God who goes to great lengths to orchestrate surprise reconciliations.



© 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.

 

[1] “What Indian Parents Want Most for Their Children” Aditi Malhortra The Wall Street Journal Aug. 13, 2015.

[2] All other passages are quoted in the ESV.

Joseph: Compassion

Joseph: Compassion Sermon Notes

Compassion

Genesis 43

Pastor Paul L. Davis 

 

Key Goals: (Know) Understand God’s compassion.

         (Feel) Desire to express compassion to others.

         (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.

 

Introduction: Betrayal, seduction, intrigue, treachery, disguise, secrets, and spies. Is this a James Bond movie? No, it is the book of Genesis. When we left off last week, nine of Joseph’s brothers returned to Canaan, while one brother, Simeon, remained in Egypt as security—security that they will return with their youngest brother Benjamin and prove they are not spies. They have no clue that they met with Joseph. We pick up the story in Genesis 42:35, as they arrive home.

35 As they emptied their sacks, behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack. And when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were afraid.

 

Joseph had instructed his servants to fill his brothers’ bags with food, but also to replace the money they brought to pay for the food. 36 And Jacob their father said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin. All this has come against me.”

 

Jacob does not understand why or how this is happening, all he knows is that he is now down two sons and may lose his youngest, Benjamin.

37 Then Reuben said to his father, “Kill my two sons if I do not bring him back to you. Put him in my hands, and I will bring him back to you.” 38 But he said, “My son shall not go down with you, for his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. If harm should happen to him on the journey that you are to make, you would bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to Sheol.”

 

Verse 37 is our first glimpse at why Joseph is using all the intrigue. Reuben has seen what losing a son does to a father, and he is willing to put his two sons up as security so that he would not allow Benjamin to get hurt. What a huge change of heart in Reuben. Benjamin is Jacob’s new favorite—that is very clear in verse 38. Jacob declares that Joseph is dead and Benjamin is the “only one left.” The only one left? There are ten brothers and poor Simeon is in jail! Jacob’s favoritism is showing again. There were only two sons of his beloved Rachel who died in childbirth. If Joseph is gone and Benjamin is gone, there is no one left. Reuben sees the favoritism, but instead of being envious and jealous like he was 20 years ago, he is generous and sacrificial. What a difference 20 years makes.

 

Chapter 43—We Must Go Back

1 Now the famine was severe in the land. 2 And when they had eaten the grain that they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go again, buy us a little food.” 3 But Judah said to him, “The man solemnly warned us, saying, ‘You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you will send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. 5 But if you will not send him, we will not go down, for the man said to us, ‘You shall not see my face, unless your brother is with you.’ ” 6 Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?”

Judah is very clear with his father that no one is going back to Egypt without Benjamin; in his mind it would be suicide. Watch closely. What happens next has eternal repercussions. 8 And Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, both we and you and also our little ones. 9 I will be a pledge of his safety. From my hand you shall require him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame forever.

Talk about a change of heart! Judah one-ups Reuben! He pledges his own life on behalf of his brother. Essentially Judah is offering his life for Benjamin’s life. At this point bells ought to be going off in your head. Is this a foreshadowing of what Jesus will do on the cross? Judah is offering his father the same thing Jesus offers us: his life. We often talk about how the goal of the Christian life is to be Christlike. Judah was particularly Christlike. The same guy who once thought about killing his brother now willingly offers his life. What does John 15:13 say? Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

 

This decision has eternal repercussions. For centuries Judah will be blessed:

1.          While all 12 brothers become tribes, Judah will be the largest most powerful tribe.

2.          Once the nation divides, the southern kingdom will be called Judah.

3.          People who believe in God in an OT way are called Jews. “Jew” comes from Judah. The religion that refuses to believe in a Jew that gave his life for the world is named after a man who gave his life for his brother.

4.          Judah receives the most lengthy of Jacob’s blessings. He likens Judah to a lion (Gen 49:9), states that all of Judah’s brothers will praise him and bow down to him (Gen 49:8), and reveals that kings will come from Judah (Gen 49:10).[1] Every king of the Jews except for the first one, Saul, will come from Judah’s lineage, including Jesus.

5. In Revelation 5:5, Jesus is called the “Lion of the tribe of Judah.”

 

This situation right here is why Joseph has put his brothers through their ordeal. Joseph was testing them. Have they changed? The answer is a resounding yes!

 

Hope. Judah[2] and Reuben[3] have gone from being the worst brothers in history to some of the most sacrificial—they matured, they changed, and that should give you hope. If these two rotten brothers can change, so can you and I. Judah talks Jacob into letting the sons go back to Egypt with Benjamin. They take all the money from last time, plus more, and they also bring other gifts. As they are leaving, Jacob prays this over them, 14“May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.”

Jacob asks for mercy (ra-ha-miim—mercy or compassion) from “God Almighty” (Hebrew—El Shaddai). This is the first time in the Bible mercy is asked of God. Jacob does not appeal to YHWH or ELOHIM, the two names we have seen over and over in this story. He uses the name God used for himself when he met with Jacob 40 years earlier at Beth-El. Listen to God’s promise that night. Genesis 35:11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty (El Shaddai): be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.” As Jacob sends his sons back to Egypt, he is trusting in the mercy of El Shaddai, God Almighty, who promised him nations.

 15 So the men took presents, and double the money with them, and Benjamin. They arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Bring the men into the house, and slaughter an animal and make ready, for the men are to dine with me at noon.”

 

Food In Egypt: This would have been quite a meal. Nobles ate well in ancient Egypt—vegetables, meat, and grains at every meal, plus wine and dairy products like butter and cheese. Tombs detail meals of honey-roasted wild gazelle, spit-roasted ducks with pomegranates, and a berry-like fruit called “jujubes” with wild honey cakes for dessert.[4] Joseph’s brothers are brought into the house…

18 …and the men were afraid because they were brought to Joseph’s house, and they said, “It is because of the money, which was replaced in our sacks the first time, that we are brought in, so that he may assault us and fall upon us to make us servants and seize our donkeys.” (Guilty conscience, perhaps?) 19 So they went up to the steward of Joseph’s house and spoke with him at the door of the house, 20 and said, “Oh, my lord, we came down the first time to buy food. 21 And when we came to the lodging place we opened our sacks, and there was each man’s money in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight. So we have brought it again with us, 22 and we have brought other money down with us to buy food. We do not know who put our money in our sacks.” 23 He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

 

That is not true. Joseph’s servant is lying to keep up the ruse. It is interesting to me that, while his servant will lie, Joseph never does. He hides himself for sure, but he never lies.

26 When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present that they had with them and bowed down to him to the ground. 27 And he inquired about their welfare and said, “Is your father well, the old man of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?” 28 They said, “Your servant our father is well; he is still alive.” And they bowed their heads and prostrated themselves. 29 And he lifted up his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother’s son, and said, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me? God be gracious to you, my son!” 30 Then Joseph hurried out, for his compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there.

 

Joseph’s compassion overcomes him (Hebrew—ra-ha-miimkash-mem-resh). In English we have translated this Hebrew construction as his “compassion grew warm” (ESV). The NLT says he was “overcome with emotion.” The NKJV translates this as “his heart yearned for his brother.” It is surprisingly important that we find out exactly what this phrase means, because this very phrase God uses tells us how he feels about sinners who have walked away from him. The book of Hosea (11:8) uses the same wording when God tells his people that even though they have betrayed him and sinned, he will not destroy them because he is God and his compassion grows warm and tender. This literally could be translated as his “love, mercy and compassion burns within him.”

 

Key Application: When we, as believers, sin and our hearts grow cold towards God, often we put off coming back to him, thinking we have disappointed God and he probably does not want us back. But he does. The emotion Joseph feels in this story—being reunited with his little brother after 20 years of prison and slavery, overcome with emotion to the point that he has to run away to weep—this is how God describes his heart. It grows warm with compassion and mercy. Why would we not come back to a God who feels this way about us?

 

Does God cry? Have you ever asked yourself this? Does the sovereign powerful God of the universe cry? The Bible says he does. In John 11:35, Jesus wept, and we are told before he cried that he was deeply moved in his spirit. The reason we feel anything at all is because we are made in the image of a loving, feeling God. God feels everything we do and more because we are told in Psalm 34:15 that our tears catch his attention. Not only does he feel, but he feels when we feel. How does this scene end?

31 Then he washed his face and came out. And controlling himself he said, “Serve the food.” 32 They served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat with the Hebrews, for that is an abomination to the Egyptians. (Literally it was repulsive—the Hebrews were unshaven, unwashed, unclean—repulsive!) 33 And they sat before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth. And the men looked at one another in amazement. 34 Portions were taken to them from Joseph’s table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. And they drank and were merry with him.

 

Jacob prayed for mercy/compassion (ra-ha-miim) and once again we see how closely Joseph walked with God. He showered his brothers with compassion. No vindictiveness, no paybacks, no hatred, no revenge. Just amazement. And they do not even know with whom they are eating yet. Wait until next week!

 

Application: We are most like God when we show love, mercy, and compassion to those who have mistreated us. We need to let go of the bitterness.

 

Challenge by Choice: Right now, in your own soul, are you bitter? Are there people in your past that you would “go off on” if they were to show up at your door? Our challenge today is personal, internal, and may be the hardest challenge of this series: Let it go. Release the hatred and bitterness. If you have nothing to take care of, pray like Jacob did for someone else.

 

Community Group Discussion

1.          As you begin your discussion, have one group member open their Bible to Genesis 43 and have the rest of the group try to tell the story from memory. Discuss what you missed and what stood out.

2.          Discuss mercy/compassion. Have someone Google the definition on their phone. Did God show mercy/compassion to Joseph? His brothers?

3.          Have you been hurt by someone in your past? How are you working through it? Do you need to let it go? Why or why not?

4.          Look up 2 Sam 24:14. What does David know about God that would make him want to “fall into his hands” versus falling into the hands of a person?

 

 

© 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.

 

[1] Jeremiah K. Garrett, “Judah, Son of Jacob,” ed. John D. Barry et al., The Lexham Bible Dictionary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).

[2] Judah had many faults and family sins. He even slept with his own daughter-in-law thinking she was a prostitute. See Gen 38.

[3] Reuben had horrible issues, not the least of which we find in Gen 35:22. Reuben slept with Dan and Naphtali’s mother Bilhah.

[4] http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/eat-like-an-egyptian

Joseph: Making Things Right

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Making Things Right Sermon Notes

Making Things Right

Genesis 42

 

Key Goals: (Know) Understand the power of our conscience. (Feel) Desire to clear our conscience. (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.

 

Introduction: 20 years is a long time; a lot can happen in 20 years. In 20 years you can finish your education, get married and start a family. In 20 years you can build a career or a business—you could even become wealthy and famous. In 20 years you can also go from being a teenage Hebrew sheepherder to one of the most powerful men in the world. That’s what Joseph did. Here’s one thing you can’t do in 20 years: you can’t erase a guilty conscience. Our conscience is an odd thing. It’s like a moral barometer of the soul that senses when we’ve done wrong. We all have one.[1] I like having a conscience; I know mine keeps me out of a lot of trouble. It helps me remember important things, it prompts me when I’m neglecting or hurting key relationships in my life, and it provokes me to make things right with people I have offended.

 

I wonder if Joseph’s brothers liked having a conscience. Maybe they were under the illusion that time would remove their guilt. After all, they hadn’t seen or heard from Joseph since the day they tossed him in the pit, pulled him out again, sold him to the Midianites, and then watched as that caravan dragged him away naked and in chains, a slave on his way to Egypt. 20 years later the brothers assumed he was dead. Slaves didn’t have a long lifespan. With Joseph dead, their secret was safe. Even if their conscience jabbed them from time to time, they were learning to deal with it, to push down the feelings of guilt. Who would ever find out? After all, when you are dead, you are dead. There is nothing you can do, right? But Joseph wasn’t dead—far from it. He was living 300 miles south of them in a lavish palace, as the second most powerful man on the planet. His brother hadn’t a clue, and because there was no such thing as a Bible yet, they did not know several Bible verses that could have helped them: Be sure your sin will find you out. (Numbers 32:23 NIV) or Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. (Galatians 6:7 NIV)

 

Nine years have passed since Joseph rose to power in Egypt. Joseph is 39 years old, and because of his wisdom, the entire world was coming to him for food. Everything has happened exactly as he said it would. Seven good years yielded grain abundantly—so much grain that it could not be measured (Gen 41:49). This morning we enter the story two years into the seven lean years, and times are very tough; the nations around Egypt are starving. In Canaan, where Joseph’s brothers and father Jacob live, the land is devastated. Jacob hears there is food in Egypt. Please turn to Genesis 42:1–5[2].

 

When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” 2 And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” Only two years into the famine, and Jacob is worried that the entire family is in danger of dying. 3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. 5 Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. End of verse 6… Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground.

 

Remember the dream? Joseph’s first one (Gen 37:6-8) where he is a sheaf of grain and all the other sheaves bow down to him? It’s happening; the brothers are there to buy grain, and they are bowing to him and they don’t even know it! It would have been a miracle if they had recognized Joseph. He was 17 when they sold him; he is now 40 and completely Egyptian. What would Joseph have looked like? We don’t know, but we can take a guess. We know that the richer an Egyptian was, the more makeup he wore. They shaved or plucked all their hair, and loved light skin with no wrinkles. Joseph would have been unrecognizable to his brothers, who would have had full beards, long hair, and dark skin. 7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.”

 

And then Joseph does something strange. He accuses them of being spies, a serious charge that would bring a death sentence. Of course the brothers immediately begin to defend themselves, declaring boldly that they are honest men (42:11). Joseph knows that they are not as honest as they claim to be, so he presses them more. As they continue their defense, verse 13 reveals something. They said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.”  It is interesting that even after 20 years they still think of themselves as “12 brothers.” It is also clear that they think Joseph is dead. So Joseph hatches a plan. (Remember, as we continue this story, Pharaoh believes that Joseph is the wisest man in the kingdom. I think it would be foolish for us to assume Joseph doesn’t have a plan.) He is going to test his brothers to find out what kind of men they have become. In verse 15 he says to them, “By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you.”

 

And then he throws them in jail for three days to think about it. It is on the third day, when Joseph comes to see them, that we observe a huge turning point in these men’s lives. Skim down to verse 21—the brothers are talking among themselves. Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” 22 And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” After 20 years, as soon as a difficult situation arises, they immediately attribute their difficulties to their guilt for selling and killing Joseph. These are men with a guilty conscience. Reuben reveals why he didn’t want his brothers to kill Joseph in the first place. Since there was no Bible, and the Ten Commandments didn’t yet exist, where would Reuben have come up with the idea that there would be a “reckoning” (interesting word—an accounting word) for Joseph’s blood? He got it from Genesis 9. Turn there for a moment.

 

Because of incredible violence, God has flooded and destroyed the entire earth. Noah has just left the ark and is ready to repopulate the earth with his family. God gives Noah two commands. The first is to be fruitful and multiply (9:1) and the second is found in Genesis 9:5–6. And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning (same word Reuben uses): from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. 6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. These are the only two laws of God at this time. Reuben and the brothers knew they had violated this law by killing Joseph, and their consciences immediately made the connection that it was “reckoning” time. You know how they were feeling—their consciences were pinging like crazy.

I wonder if this was new or if their consciences had been bothering them for a while. The Bible tells us that we can “sear our conscience.” I Timothy 4:2 talks about this. If we disobey our conscience repeatedly or if we refuse to develop deep-seated convictions around God’s moral law, then our sensitivity to moral issues becomes deadened. They just stop bothering us. This is a dangerous thing that Romans 1 tells us will lead to the darkening of our minds and a whole host of other issues.

 

The goal of the Christian believer is to develop a mature or healthy conscience, which will take two key elements:

1)         The Holy Spirit. Every believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit whose ministry to us includes the “conviction of sin.” (John 16:8)

2)         The Word of God: We need a deeply held love and understanding of the Word of God. The Bible gives us God’s will regarding moral issues; the Holy Spirit then enables us to “welcome, embrace” that truth (see 1 Corinthians 2:6-16), so that it transforms us from the inside out!

 

A warning: The New Testament talks about our conscience over 31 times. It is a gift from God and is meant to act like a dashboard warning light to keep us from sin and doing things that might injure ourselves, others, and our relationship with God. If we watch the dashboard and don’t ignore the warning lights, we will flourish spiritually. If we refuse to listen, refuse to study God’s Word, and if we decide to do our own thing our own way, the Bible tells us that God will abandon us and leave us to our own “foolish thinking.” Listen to how God responds to people who sear their conscience. Romans 1:28–32 (NLT) 

 

[God]…abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. 29 Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. 30 They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. 31 They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy. 32 They know God’s justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too.

 

Are you listening to and growing a healthy conscience? Or is God abandoning you to your foolish thinking and evil actions? Perhaps you are feeling guilty for the first time in a while. Acts 3:19 (NIV) calls us to Repent, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.

 

Joseph treated his brothers harshly, but look closely at what happened. Perhaps for the first time in 20 years, his brothers are convicted of their sin. They realized, because they now needed mercy, that they refused to show mercy when Joseph cried for it in deep distress. Turn back to Genesis 42:23. They did not know that Joseph understood them, for there was an interpreter between them. 24 Then he turned away from them and wept… This whole conversation has happened right in front of Joseph because they didn’t think he could understand them! Can you imagine the emotions running through Joseph? The last time he saw his family, they viciously threw him into a pit and mercilessly sold him like a goat. As he listens to their discussions, he knows they think they killed him. Is it time for revenge? Forgiveness? Restitution? Punishment? Penance? Joseph has the power to do any or all of those, but instead he weeps. Look at the end of verse 24.

 

And he returned to them and spoke to them. And he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. 25 And Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, (here is the tricky part) and to replace every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. This was done for them. 26 Then they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed. 27 And as one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place, he saw his money in the mouth of his sack. 28 He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”

 

Why all of a sudden do the brothers think God is behind this? Joseph, through his actions, has made these men see their weakness, their need for mercy, and that God is up to something. Joseph’s actions have activated their consciences.

 

This morning we all come here in one of two places: either we have been activating and growing our conscience or we have been searing and deadening our conscience. Perk up your ears and listen, church. Imagine a man walking in one direction who suddenly realizes that he is going in the wrong direction. He stops. He turns around. Then he begins walking in the new direction. It is a quick and simple process. He realizes. He stops. He turns. That is a healthy conscience at work. If you are in this spot, thank God and use your conscience to flourish in your walk with Christ. Now imagine a man in a sailboat, the wind at his back, sailing quickly in the wrong direction. Turning around is a hard and difficult process—he must turn into the wind, readjust the sails, and make sure his rudder is deep and true. Some of us are in this boat. In order to change, we need to grow our conscience. It will require some big adjustments to our thinking, and the winds of our past decisions, addictions, and relationships blow against us. If that’s you this morning, you need to do three things:

1)         Pray for the ministry of the Holy Spirit. (John 16:8) Right now. Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal your sin to you and help you deal with it properly.

2)         Actively study the Word of God for the purpose of learning right and wrong and wisdom.

3)         Surround yourself with godly people who will help you activate your conscience.

 

Challenge by Choice: Right now, do you have a clear conscience? Is the warning light going off on the dashboard of your soul? Is there a name, an offense that you have in your mind? That’s the Holy Spirit of God. Your challenge is to go today to get this made right. In order for us to flourish, we must have a clear conscience, with an attitude of instant obedience. Don’t allow the warning light to be ignored. 

 

Community Group Discussion

1.          As you begin your discussion, have one group member open their Bible to Genesis 42 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 actions functioned as God’s instrument to activate his brothers’ consciences. Are there any appropriate parenting tips here?

3.          Discuss the sailboat illustration. How have you felt “the winds of your past” make it difficult for you to change?

4.          Discuss why you did or did not pick up a “challenge by choice” card.

5.          Have fun with this discussion: if your conscience was a person, who would it be? (Whose voice is in your head?)

6.          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.

 

[1] http://www.keepbelieving.com/sermon/are-you-willing-to-face-your-past/

[2] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

Joseph: Freedom

Freedom Sermon Notes

Freedom

Genesis 41

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

Pastor Paul L. Davis 

Key Goals: (Know) Glimpse the sovereignty of God. (Feel) Feel content that God is in control. (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.

Introduction: This morning we continue our epic adventure through the last chapters of the book of Genesis, with the theme of living differently. We have had the opportunity to choose to challenge ourselves, and this morning we have new and unique opportunities. Joseph’s story dwarfs any other event or person in the entire book of Genesis. There are clearly things in this man’s life that God wants us to know. Over the last several weeks, we have painfully walked with Joseph through his roller coaster life: his father’s favorite son, betrayed by10 half-brothers, sold into slavery. But because the LORD was with him, he became the ruler of the entire house—until he was unfairly accused, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. That is where we left Joseph, in prison faithfully serving and again making himself useful, but forgotten by the cupbearer. Two years go by and Pharaoh has a troubling dream, in which he was standing by the Nile. Genesis 41:2[1].

2 and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows, attractive and plump, and they fed in the reed grass. 3 And behold, seven other cows, ugly and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 And the ugly, thin cows ate up the seven attractive, plump cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5 And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time. And behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6 And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. 7 And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump, full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream.

 

Usually when something like this happened, Pharaoh’s wise men would suggest what a dream meant. In ancient Egypt, dreams were important. Egyptian archeologists have found a book from Joseph’s time period called “The Dream Book.”[2] In it, 108 dreams are listed with their meanings; it also interpreted 72 actions that might happen in a dream and whether they were good or bad. Nothing in Pharaoh’s dream showed up in any of the books, and Pharaoh’s wise men were stumped. That is when the cupbearer remembered how Joseph had interpreted the dream he had while in prison with the baker. So he spoke to Pharaoh.

12 “A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. When we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. 13 And as he interpreted to us, so it came about. I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”

 

So Joseph is shaved, cleaned up, and brought before Pharaoh. Standing in front of the most powerful man in the world at the time, Joseph is asked if he can interpret dreams, to which he answers, “No!” Verse 16: “It is not in me;” Joseph says, “God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

 

Application: This answer is one of the reasons Joseph’s life is worth studying. The humility here is convicting. Joseph knew God had revealed dreams to him, and he could have very easily answered this question, “Yes! And if you let me out of prison, I’ll interpret yours too.” A self-filled Joseph would have used this as an opportunity to shine and make a deal—but instead he gives God the glory and exalts God in Pharaoh’s eyes, even to the point of downplaying his role. It is like Joseph knew what Jesus would say 1500 years later in Matthew 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. “ Then Joseph said to Pharaoh,

25 “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one. 27 The seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. 28 It is as I told Pharaoh; God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, 30 but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will consume the land, 31 and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of the famine that will follow, for it will be very severe. 32 And the doubling of Pharaoh’s dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it about.

 

God showed Pharaoh what he was going to do: God “fixed” the thing, God will shortly bring it about. Over and over Joseph communicates God’s plan and power to accomplish it. I’m not sure we appreciate the fearlessness here. Joseph was brave almost to the point of foolishness. As supreme ruler of the people, the pharaoh was considered a god on earth; he was the intercessor between the gods of heaven and people on earth, and when he died, he was thought to become Osirus, the god of the dead.[3] Joseph is bravely declaring to a man who thinks he is a god that only YHWH is sovereign over the earth. Around this time, a man named Job was writing this (Job 23:13 NIV): [God] stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. Joseph isn’t done with just an interpretation, because he has a plan.

33 Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. 35 And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36 That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”

 

This plan is well beyond God’s interpretation of the dream; this is Joseph using his gifts to solve the obvious problems presented in the dream.

37This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.”

 

This is the highpoint in Joseph’s life. Looking back, we can clearly see how a chain of painful but divinely planned events have brought him to this point. Had Joseph not said “no” to Potiphar’s wife and been thrown into prison with the cupbearer, he would never have met Pharaoh. Had Joseph not been betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, he would never have been in Potiphar’s house. We are beginning to see more clearly how Joseph’s life paints a picture of Romans 8:28. And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Joseph has both of the disclaimers on this verse: 1. He loves God 2. He is being called to use his gifts for an incredible purpose.

 

We need to grab two key truths from this passage or we could read this story and walk away with some really bad theology—theology, like that video at the beginning, that is selfish.

 1. Joseph’s rise was more about usefulness than it was blessing. It is important that we don’t use this story to make an inappropriate theological leap. Some have read this story and taken this away: Bad things happen, but because God is good, God turns bad things into blessings. That’s karma not Christianity, and it is not the message of this story. Sometimes bad things happen and then something worse happens.

Last year, Al-Qaeda forces moved into a village in Southern Syria. The people were “Druze,” a religious community that is a strange mixture of Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism. They are unbelievers who need the gospel. On June 15, Muslim soldiers began forcing everyone in the village to convert or die. While hundreds forcibly converted to Islam, 20 villagers were shot and killed point blank for refusing. Where is the good news in this bad news story? Bad things happened and then at least 20 people were sent into a Christ-less eternity.

Our only hope in situations like that is Gen 18:25 Will not the judge of all the Earth do right? The answer is “Yes.” He will do right, by those and all the Earth. Joseph’s rise was not about God bringing some “good karma” into Joseph’s life because he experienced “bad karma.” YHWH is a neither a Buddhist nor a Hindu. Joseph to this point has shown himself faithful to God in good times and bad times, with much and with little. Because of this, God entrusted Joseph with the responsibility of rescuing his entire family from famine. If you want to be like Joseph, pray for faithfulness. Jesus said it this way in Luke 16:10 One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. The Bible does not teach “good karma,” what the Bible teaches is that when we are faithful (like Joseph) with smaller responsibilities, it places us in the position for God to entrust us with much more. Joseph rose because he was faithful and useful for the kingdom.

 

2. Joseph’s rise was more about others than it was about Joseph. Joseph’s life isn’t just about him. Sometimes we can get self focused and fall into a black hole of thinking our lives are just about us. Joseph’s rise was a result of God keeping his promises to Abraham and his plan to preserve the lineage of Christ and two entire nations. Joseph was not the sole object of God’s attention and activity. Joseph’s position of power and prosperity enabled him to become the “savior” of his brethren. God does care for us as individuals, but he always has broader purposes for the gifts and blessings he brings into our lives. God blessed Abraham and he very specifically told him why he was chosen for blessings. Gen 2:2-3 “I will bless you (God said)…so that you will be a blessing.”

What about us?  Each of us has been given spiritual gifts—each of us a special way that the Holy Spirit works through us. But those gifts are not meant to be spent on ourselves; they are meant for the body of Christ! We have been blessed for the same reason Abraham was: to be a blessing. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (I Corinthians 12:7 NIV) As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (I Peter 4:10 NIV). Watch how Joseph uses his position, blessings, and skills to bless the whole world.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and went through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven plentiful years the earth produced abundantly, 48 and he gathered up all the food of these seven years, which occurred in the land of Egypt, and put the food in the cities. He put in every city the food from the fields around it. 49 And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured. 50 Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. 51 Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh (He who makes someone forget). “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52 The name of the second he called Ephraim (God has made me fruitful), “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

 

These two boys’ names summed up what God was doing through the faithfulness of Joseph’s life: causing him to forget the pain that it took to get him here and bringing fruitfulness to his present service. His fruitfulness blessed the whole world.

56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.

Blessed to be a blessing.

 

Challenge by Choice: As we close, we are again offering you the opportunity to be challenged. There are cards with one of six different challenges on them; these are specific applications from this morning’s 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 41 and have everyone else try to tell the story from memory. Discuss what you missed and what stood out.

2.          Joseph’s life is one of extremes. This week we watched him rise. Pastor Paul made a big deal about this not being “good karma.” If it wasn’t karma, what was it?

3.          This is the third time Joseph has risen to a place of prominence. Discuss Luke 16:10 and the role that this may have played in Joseph’s life.

4.          Discuss why you did or did not pick up a “challenge by choice” card.

5.          Discuss some ways that God has blessed you and how you can use those blessings to bless others.

6.          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.

 

[1] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.

[2] See Figure #1 The Dream Book (www.Ancient-Origions.net)

[3] Ancient History Encyclopedia “Pharaoh” by Joshua J. Mark published on 02 September 2009.

Joseph: A Long Wait

A Long Wait Sermon Notes

A Long Wait

Genesis 39:21-40:22

Sunday, November 13th, 2016

Pastor Paul L. Davis

 

Key Goals: (Know) Glimpse the sovereignty of God. (Feel) Feel content that God is in control. (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.

Introduction: This morning we continue our epic adventure through the last chapters of the book of Genesis, with the theme of living differently. Each week you have had the opportunity to choose to challenge yourself. This morning you will have new and unique opportunities. Joseph’s story dwarfs any other event or person in the entire book of Genesis. There are clearly things in this man’s life that God wants us to know. Over the last two weeks, we painfully watched Joseph’s roller coaster life: his father’s favorite son, betrayed by 10 half-brothers, sold into slavery to an Egyptian named Potiphar. Because the LORD was with him, he became the ruler of the entire house until he was unfairly accused, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. That is where we find Joseph—in prison. There are many of us this morning living in painful circumstances over which we have no control, and these circumstances are not going to end soon. In the midst of these circumstances, it is easy to become bitter and angry at God. What I love most about the Bible is that it is straightforward about our pain. Suffering is going to happen and II Timothy 3:12 warns that it is going to happen to people of faith. But instead of running from it, the Bible teaches us ways to use our suffering. James 1:2-4 tells us that suffering grows our faith and produces spiritual endurance. So instead of being surprised by difficulty and suffering (I Peter 4:12), we should prepare ourselves and look for God’s good hand in it. Genesis 40 may be the greatest chapter in the Bible on how to suffer well. Let’s see if we can spot some life lessons.

We will start where we left off last week, in Genesis 39:20. And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. The Hebrew word translated prison means “round house.” Don’t imagine this as a big modern prison with lots of cells; it was most likely a round underground room large enough for a few men, with its entrance in the ceiling. Watch how God shows up in verse 21. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. YHWH was with Joseph and he showed him “steadfast love.” The Hebrew word is “hesed,” that is God’s persistent and unconditional tenderness, kindness, and mercy. It is at the core of his relationship with man in that he seeks after us with love and forgiveness. It is one of the key descriptors of God in the Old Testament.

 

Turn with me quickly to Exodus 34:6-7. The context is Mount Sinai. The Children of Israel are at the base of the mountain, and this is just after the Golden Calf incident where Moses in anger threw down the two tablets of the Lord’s commands. Moses has gone back up the mountain to meet with God a second time. In the midst of all the sin and rejection of God, the Lord comes down and meets with Moses. As he passes before him, God describes himself. The Lord passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love (hesed) and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love (hesed) for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. These two verses are one of the clearest descriptions of God that we have in the entire Bible; the best part is that it is God describing himself. These verses answer the question, “God, how would you describe you?” God says, “The best way to describe me is: merciful, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in hesed[1]—persistent and unconditional tenderness, kindness, and mercy. The only descriptor that appears twice in these verses is hesed. God wants us to be clear that he is a persistently loving God. This aspect of God is everywhere in the Old Testament. Because of God’s steadfast love:

He is committed and faithful to us. Ho 2:19

He is drawn close to us. Jer. 31:3

He comforts us when we struggle. Ps 119:76

We can look to God for mercy. Ps 51:1

Our prayers are heard. Ps 119:149

We are preserved in times of trouble. Ps 40:11

We receive mercy. Isa 54:8

Believers can expect to know this love during affliction. Ps 42:7, 8

 

The most powerful aspect of Genesis 39:21 is that this is the first time God reveals himself as a God who is lovingly at work in our suffering—preserving us, comforting us, and faithfully hearing our prayers. God loved Joseph …and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed. Just like in Potiphar’s house, Joseph’s life was different. He was trusted and rose in authority.

 

Genesis 40:1–4

1 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense (literally - sinned) against their lord the king of Egypt. 2 And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard (Potiphar), in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.

 

There is something going on here that is tough to spot in English. We have three people in this story: the captain of the guard, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. In the Hebrew, each of these men is described with the same word (captain/chief = “sar”[2]). In other words, these men were equals in Pharaoh’s court. All of them would have been important advisors with Pharaoh’s ear.

 

Genesis 40:5–8

5 And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8 They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

 

Notice Joseph’s question. “Do not interpretations belong to God?” This is consistent with Joseph’s witness and another opportunity to teach an Egyptian about YHWH. Think about the incredible closeness and confidence Joseph must have had in his relationship with YHWH to say to these powerful men, “Tell me your dreams and God will interpret them.”

 

Genesis 40:9–22  

9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10 and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”

 

Without hesitation, Joseph gives an interpretation.

12 Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. 14 Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness (the Hebrew is “hesed” he is asking for faithful kindness) to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. 15 For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”

 

Joseph specifically asks the cupbearer for one thing—hesed—the kindness of sharing his story with Pharaoh. Joseph was not asking for a favor, he was calling the cupbearer to be lovingly-faithful to a person who helped him in a time of need. This is the same call that Jesus gives us: love others because we have been loved; forgive others because we have been forgiven!

 

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17 and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18 And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. 19 In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

 

This is not Joseph’s interpretation, it is God’s—and mercifully, Joseph gives it to him straight.

 

 20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday (probably a celebration of Ra’s rebirth –which was celebrated by giving gifts and releasing prisoners)[3], he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.

 

Verse 23 is one of the most painful verses in our journey so far. Yes, brothers throwing one of their own in a pit is painful. Being falsely accused and convicted is painful. But being forgotten in your time of despair? That is uniquely painful. The first four words of Genesis 41 drive home the pain, because the story will not pick up again until after two whole years.

 

Life Lesson #1: God’s hesed (persistent and unconditional tenderness, kindness, and mercy) is how and why we persevere through suffering. We see in this passage and others that it is in times of affliction that God hears our prayers, fulfills his promises, and draws close to us.[4] As we get toward the end of Joseph’s life, we will see clearly how God was committed and faithful to Joseph. His lowest points will be the vehicles God uses to move Joseph to new opportunities and seasons of ministry.

 

Life Lesson #2: Those who suffer well understand that God is with them. When we studied chapter 39 last week, no one was surprised to hear that God was “with Joseph” on his successful rise in Potiphar’s house (39:2-3). But we are told just as emphatically that God was with Joseph while he was in the pit (39:21-23). In chapter 40, no one could have had the confidence Joseph did that God was able to interpret dreams through him apart from an intimate walk with God in that dungeon. God is not far off. The God of the Bible is not aloof. He is close and he hears our prayers. Isaiah 41:17 says When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the Lord answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.

 

Life Lesson #3: “Remembering” someone who is suffering is a key role of the body of Christ. Unfortunately, I think we can all relate to the cupbearer forgetting Joseph. At some point all of us have seen suffering, thought we should do something, and then forgotten. Our God never forgets us. Isaiah 49:15 asks a powerful question: Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? (The obvious answer is no.) Even if these forget, yet I will not forget you. Because our God is a God who remembers, we must remember too. The orphan, the widow, those in prison—we have been remembered, so we must remember!

 

Challenge by Choice: As we close, we are again offering you the opportunity to be challenged. There are cards with one of six different challenges on them; these are specific applications from this morning’s 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 40 and have the rest of the group try to tell the story of Genesis 40 from memory. Discuss what you missed and what stood out.

2.          Joseph’s life is one of extremes. This week we saw him hit bottom by being forgotten. How does a deep faith in God help one through the extreme ups and downs in life?

3.          This is the third time Joseph has been hurt by people he was living with and serving. Why do you think Joseph did not grow bitter or angry?

4.          Discuss why you did or did not pick up a “challenge by choice” card.

5.          Look up the following verses about God “remembering” people. Since you know God cannot forget, what is the Bible telling us that God was doing? (Genesis 8:1; 9:15, 16; 19:29; 30:22; 42:9)

6.          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.

 

[1] R. Laird Harris, “698 חסד,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 305.

[2] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995).

[3] K. A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 751–752.

[4] See these passages for details…Ho 2:19; Jer. 31:3; Ps 40:11; Ps 119:76; Ps 51:1; Isa 54:8; Ps 119:149; Ps 42:7,

Joseph: A Successful Man

A Successful Man Sermon Notes

A Successful Man

Genesis 39:1-20

Sunday, November 6th, 2016

Pastor Paul L. Davis

 

Key Goals: (Know) Glimpse the sovereignty of God. (Feel) Feel content that God is in control. (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves in areas of integrity. 

Introduction: This morning we continue our epic adventure through the last 25 chapters of the book of Genesis, with an open challenge to live differently. Turn to Genesis 39. As you are turning there, let me place us in time. The basic outline of the book of Genesis is easy to remember, we only have to keep in mind four major events and four key people. Genesis 1-11 depicts four great events: Creation, Fall, Flood, Tower of Babel. Genesis 12-50 describes four men of faith: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph.[1] In all of this, the story of Joseph is by far the largest section in the entire book. In fact, Joseph’s story dwarfs any other event or person in the entire book of Genesis. There are clearly things in this man’s life that God wants us to know. Last week, we witnessed a painful scene as Joseph’s half-brothers betrayed and sold him as a slave to Ishmaelite traders. We begin this morning with those traders selling Joseph to an Egyptian named Potiphar.

 

Genesis 39:1–23

Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain (or prince) of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. Potiphar, as the captain of the guard, would have been a part of the Egyptian social elite. He would have been educated, wealthy, and could have had as many as 1,000 slaves handling his business. Joseph, on the other hand, is still17 years old. He is uneducated and is over 300 miles away from his family and anything he knows. And, by the way, there is almost zero chance he spoke Egyptian.

 

2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. Who was with Joseph? Your Bible says, “the LORD.” Whenever you see the word LORD, it is always translating the word YHWH, the personal name for the God of the Bible. Genesis is very clear as to who was with Joseph. YHWH was with him. The same YHWH who spoke to Abraham (Gen 12), blessed Isaac, and gave 12 sons to Jacob. Verse 3 tell us that Potiphar “saw” that YHWH was with Joseph. This is fascinating, because how would Potiphar know about YHWH? Potiphar’s name means “gift of Ra.” You would think that if Joseph was good worker, Potiphar would have thought that “Ra” was with Joseph or that Joseph was a gift from Ra, but he doesn’t. Potiphar saw Joseph and his success and attributed it to YHWH being with him. This means two things:

 

1. Joseph proclaimed YHWH with his life. Even though Joseph was a slave, he took his work seriously and did it to the best of his ability. Was he property to be bought and sold? Yes. But he worked and served to bless even those that would abuse him. He lived above his circumstances and served YHWH, and people knew it. He is living out what the apostle Paul taught in the New Testament: Ephesians 6:5–7 Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, 6 not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, 7 rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man…

 

2. Joseph proclaimed YHWH with his lips. There was only one way for Potiphar to know about YHWH—Joseph must have told him the stories of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. For a man like Potiphar to make a causative statement like he did at the end of verse 3, the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands,  Potiphar must have been convinced that Joseph’s God was alive and active in his life.

 

 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field.  6 So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.

 

The trust communicated here is astounding. For an Egyptian to entrust this much to a Hebrew slave’s charge, Joseph must have had astonishing integrity, people skills, business sense, and mastery of the Egyptian language. Notice in verse 5 that the LORD’s blessing was on Potiphar’s house because of Joseph’s sake. This is worth noting. We often talk about the “faithfulness” of the Lord. This blessing was God being faithful to a promise made to Abraham in Gen 12:3, where God says, “I will bless those who bless you.” As Joseph pursued the Lord, the Lord blessed him and those around him. When we pursue the Lord and begin letting the gospel transform us, it would be a mistake to think that the blessings that follow will only be for us. When we pursue Christ, our bosses will be blessed, our spouses, our children, our neighbors. God’s blessings are known for their ability to burst out and overflow![2]

 

Look at the end of verse 6. …Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. Wow! More blessings, right? Who doesn’t want to be handsome? The Hebrew here is very visual (photographic). It literally says Joseph was beautiful in “his shape and appearance.” These words together describe a man who was the total package. 7 And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph (literally “lifted her eyes”) and said, “Lie with me.” 8 But he refused (Hebrew—he defied authority—he was unwilling to obey) and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. 9 He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

 

Joseph declined her advances for three reasons: (1) This sin would violate his personal integrity. (2) This sin would directly hurt Potiphar. (3) This sin was downright against God.

 

(1) Joseph was a man “above reproach.” Joseph lived a life of personal integrity. He knew that integrity matters; it was the foundation of Potiphar’s trust in Joseph. Responsibility and opportunities flow to people of integrity. Luke 16:10 says Whoever can be trusted with little can be trusted with much.

 (2) Joseph was protective of his relationship with and witness to Potiphar. Joseph had spent incredible effort building his witness to and relationship with his master; he was not going to devastate it for a few moments of pleasure.

(3) Joseph was committed to YHWH. The end of verse 9 really speaks to Joseph’s commitment to YHWH. He was unwilling to break fellowship with God. Joseph knew that a relationship with a holy God is deeply affected by sin. YHWH was too close and too important to Joseph for him to sin like this.

 

We would do well to remember that every time we sin, we violate our personal integrity, we gamble with devastating key relationships, and we break fellowship with God. Every sin we commit affects us, the people around us, and God. Do not be fooled, Galatians 6:7 warns us, God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

 

10 And as she spoke to Joseph day after day (Hebrew—“yom, yom”—every day over and over), he would not listen (Hebrew—obey) to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. 11 But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, 12 she caught him by his garment (The Hebrew word “caught” in this passage has the idea of rape. See Deut. 22:28), saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. This was a violent act. She was done asking; she “seized him,” “caught him” and ripped his garment off. This is serious.

 

We are not told whether or not Joseph was tempted to give in. She was the one who looked at him, she grabbed him. There is not one bit of evidence that Joseph was tempted and the Bible is honest enough that if he was, it would be mentioned (think David & Amnon). He was looking at instant death if he slept with Potiphar’s wife. Remember, to Potiphar’s wife, Joseph was property to be used and cast off when she was done. From what we have in this story, Joseph was probably not running from a tempting situation, he was running for his life!

 

13 And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, 14 she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” 16 Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, 17 and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh (The Hebrew here is a sexual euphemism) at me. 18 But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.” 19 As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. 20 And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison.

 

Potiphar throws Joseph in prison. A huge red flag should go up in your mind here. Because Joseph could have been—and if he did it, should have been—put to death. But he is not. Most Bible scholars think that, at some level, Potiphar understood what was going on. So he throws him in jail instead of killing him. At this point, if I were Joseph, I would be tempted to think that every time my life starts going well, something happens and it falls apart. God is out to get me. Joseph is probably 27 years old, and in his short life has been betrayed, sold into slavery, falsely accused and thrown into prison—every time by people who were close to him. Joseph had to be asking himself, Why me? Over the next few weeks, the “why” question will come better into focus, but for this morning let me wrap up with several random thoughts and life lessons from Joseph so far.

 

Evil people do evil things, but God is in control: Ever since sin entered this world, evil people have been doing evil things. If this story teaches the believer anything, it is that God is so good and his sovereignty so complete that even the evil in this world is worked into God’s good plans. Selling Joseph as a slave was evil, but think about this: Joseph spent the next ten years of his life learning the integrity, people skills, business sense and mastery of the Egyptian language that he would later use to rule Egypt. God’s ways are far more powerful than the evil schemes of 10 brothers. As we get further and further into Joseph’s life, we will see this more clearly.

 

Run from sin regardless of the consequences: Here is a theological truth we must get our head around: sometimes in this world, when we obey God and do right, we experience extreme hardship. The Scripture teaches us it happened to Jesus and it will happen to us. Joseph ran from sin, he did the absolute right thing, and he paid for it by being sent to jail. It was “not fair,” but because his personal integrity, witness to Potiphar and his relationship with God were intact, God will bless him in very unique ways despite his circumstances.

 

When we live for the Lord, people around us are blessed: This will be a recurring theme in Joseph’s life. The blessings of God overflowed from Joseph’s life and they spilled all over Potiphar. When you and I put God first, when we follow him regardless of the consequences, people around us will be blessed. It is in the very nature of God’s blessings to burst out, overflow, and spill onto others!

 

Challenge by Choice: As we close, we are offering you the opportunity to be challenged. There are cards with one of six different challenges on them; these are specific applications from this morning’s 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 39 and have the rest of the group try to tell the story of Genesis 39 from memory. Discuss what you missed and what stood out.

2.          Joseph’s life is one of extremes. This week we saw him go from being the favored servant to a prisoner. How does a deep faith in God help one through the extreme ups and downs in life?

3.          This is the second huge event in Joseph’s life that “was not fair.” How would you counsel Joseph through this if he were a friend of yours?

4.          Discuss why you did or did not pick up a “challenge by choice” card.

5.          How does 2 Timothy 2:22 tie into this Bible story?

6.          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.

 

[1] This very basic outline largely comes from the “Walk Thru The Bible” Old Testament material.

[2] C.f. Exodus 23:25; Ps 1:1; 31:19;Prov 3:10, 16:20; Deut. 28:1

Joseph: Family Dynamics

Family Dynamics Sermon Notes

Family Dynamics

Genesis 37

Calvary Baptist Church of Holland

Sunday October 30th, 2016

Pastor Paul L. Davis

 

Key Goals: (Know) To understand how God uses dysfunction in our lives. (Feel) Feel power to live differently within our family dynamics. (Do) Choose to challenge ourselves.

Introduction: This morning begins an epic adventure through the last 25 chapters of the book of Genesis, with an open challenge to live differently. Turn to Genesis 37. As you are turning there, let me place us in time. The basic outline of the book of Genesis is easy to remember; we only have to keep in mind four major events and four key people. Genesis 1-11 depicts four great events: Creation, Fall, Flood, Tower of Babel. Genesis 12-50 describes four men of faith: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph.[1] Interestingly, the story of Joseph is by far the largest section in the entire book. God uses five times more space to describe Joseph’s story than he does to tell us about the creation of the world. In fact, Joseph’s story dwarfs any other event or person in the entire book of Genesis. There must be something in this man’s life that God wants us to know.

You may already know the end of Joseph’s life. You may know that he will become Pharaoh’s right-hand man, wealthy and powerful. But let us keep in mind all the way through this adventure that Joseph did not know how his story would end. All Joseph had was the present and his God. For Joseph to get to the end of his story, he had to go through betrayal by his own brothers, being sold into slavery, and being tempted with sexual sin. When he resisted, he was falsely accused, thrown into prison, given false hope, then forgotten for years. Through all of those circumstances, the only constant in Joseph’s life was that he lived differently. Specifically this morning, we will find that he lived differently within a dysfunctional family.

 

A Frenetic Family: Let’s read through Genesis 37:1–11.[2]   Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan. 2 These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Our adventure starts when Joseph is 17 years old. We are told he is a “boy” and that he is working with the four sons of Bilhah and Zilpah[3], all of whom would have been men, and technically his half brothers. You see, Joseph grew up in a seriously messed up family. Joseph’s father, Jacob, had four wives. Each of them was known to scheme and manipulate Jacob for his affections.[4] Jacob was actually tricked into marrying his first wife, Leah. Bilhah and Zilpah were slaves given to Jacob as wives to produce children. And then there was the beautiful Rachel, the love of Jacob’s life. From those wives, 12 sons and one daughter were born. These 12 sons eventually became the 12 tribes of Israel. Imagine growing up in a house with four mothers, one little brother, 10 half brothers (all of them older, which had to be fun) and one half sister. Here is where it gets dicey. Jacob played favorites and everybody knew it.[5] Rachel was Jacob’s favorite wife; her firstborn, Joseph, was Jacob’s favorite son. With that dynamic brewing, there is bound to be trouble, and there was.

 

Joseph came in from working with his half brothersAnd Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. The 17 year old ‘boy’ brings a bad report of the men. The Hebrew word “bad” is usually translated “evil” or “wicked.” So Joseph did not come home and tell his dad that the guys were doing a “bad” job shepherding the flock. They had done something wicked or evil and Joseph told on them. This is our first glimpse that Joseph lived differently. Whatever it was his brothers were doing, Joseph wasn’t.

 

3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. For 11 men in the family, this is a painful verse. It was not Joseph’s fault, but when the 17 year old favorite son of the favorite wife brings bad reports about the others, you can feel the storm clouds on the horizon. This family was a disaster waiting to happen; there is no way that Joseph will escape being the lightning rod. (Parents, take note this morning on the dangers of favoritism.) Because of his love, Jacob makes Joseph a robe of many colors. Now I am going to mess up something for you here. In Hebrew,ket-honet passim,” Joseph’s robe was actually “a coat of extended length,” literally, a coat that extends to the hands and feet (passim). We are not told if it was colorful or not. Sorry. The idea of a “coat of many colors” is actually an ancient mistranslation.[6] Men who worked for a living wore short robes with short sleeves. Long robes were for rulers and the very wealthy. Typically a robe like this would be given to the firstborn son, which would have been Reuben (Leah’s son). By giving Joseph this robe, Jacob sent a strong message to his other sons: Joseph is my firstborn; he will inherit.

 

4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. Literally the brothers could not speak “shalom” to Joseph. Shalom is the Hebrew greeting and prayer for “peace and wellness.” In a family that plays favorites, there is rarely shalom.

 

A Dreamer of Dreams: 5 Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: (Can’t you almost hear the brothers groaning?)   7Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. 

The Hebrew words Joseph used in describing his dream left no mistake that in his dream Joseph was a “king” and his brothers were going to “bow down” and worship. The Bible does not tell us if Joseph was arrogant, but let me point out some obvious facts. He was 17. He wore the coat. He was dreaming about ruling over everyone. So, either he was arrogant, terribly naive or just 17. Regardless, his brothers hated him for it. 9 Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” 11 And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.

Through these dreams, God was giving Joseph a glimpse into his plans for him. That is the purpose of God’s revelations: to help us see God’s purposes, plans, and design for our lives. Remember, there was no Bible for Joseph to read. How would Joseph know that God loved him, that God had a plan for his life, that he needed to put his faith in God? We have 66 books of the Bible to help us know that. All Joseph had were two fading dreams, but we will soon find that it was enough for him to live differently.

 

A Victim of Violence: One day, all of Joseph’s half brothers were tending the flocks. Jacob sent Joseph to check on them and bring him back word as to how they are doing. So Joseph left and found his brothers in a place called Dothan. Skip down to verse 18. They (Joseph’s half brothers) saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. (This phrase is dripping with hateful sarcasm; the Hebrew is literally “lord of dreams.”) 20 Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” 21 But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.

Reuben, the true firstborn, stops the bloodshed with a plan to have his brothers throw Joseph in a pit, intending to secretly come back and rescue him. It is good to note that not all the brothers were bloodthirsty. 23So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore (again the robe of “passim” or long sleeves). 24 And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. The pit was almost certainly a dry well or cistern, which, in that area would have been deep and virtually impossible to escape. Even if he did escape, he was stripped of his clothes. 25Then they sat down to eat. (What? These guys throw their kid brother, stripped naked, in a well and then eat. Nice.) And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. 26 Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. 28 Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.

 

What kind of money can you get for a little brother? About 20 shekels—the going rate for a slave and equal to about two years’ wages of a healthy free man. Today’s modern equivalent value could be as high as $50,000. Can you imagine being Joseph? 17 years old and your brothers violently strip you of your clothes, throw you in a pit, and then they eat lunch! Don’t think Joseph was not scared out of his mind either. Listen to these same brothers five chapters from now when they are confronted with what they have done. Then (the brothers) said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen.” (Genesis 42:21) They saw his pain. Joseph begged his brothers not to sell him. He pleaded with them for compassion. His soul was “distressed.” The word distress comes from the root word for enemy; the idea is intense pain or affliction caused by someone who hates you. Maybe for the first time, Joseph realized how much they had hated him all along. They pulled him from the pit, naked, and sold him, knowing full well that he would be a slave for the rest of his life. This section of the passage ends with the sad words: They took Joseph to Egypt.

 

Let me highlight some thoughts from Joseph’s life so far:

1. God’s gifts often come in strange packages. Joseph was a gift to his family and brothers, but they had no idea. He came as a strange package. Because we are not God, it is virtually impossible for us to see who or what pieces in our lives are God’s gifts. The brothers hated Joseph and yet it will be Joseph that rescues them and their children from starvation. The very brother they could not speak “shalom” to will bring “shalom” to their lives. Let us live differently. Romans 12:18 says …so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. There is not one of us here who does not have some dysfunction in our family, friends and work. Don’t hate. Speak shalom to your family. We saw this morning where hate leads. Let’s live differently. Let us forgive when we are wronged and love our enemies even when we are hated. Jesus himself asked the question, “If we love only those that love us, how are we different?” (Matt 5:46)

2. God’s gifts help prepare us for the road ahead. Those dreams Joseph had, we have detailed descriptions of them almost 3,500 years later. Do you think that Joseph clung to those dreams? I imagine Joseph being dragged naked through the desert on the way to Egypt thinking to himself, how did my life end up here? Joseph will need a big God and a deep faith to get him through. God gave Joseph those dreams to build his faith—faith Joseph would need in the future. Today, God has given you his Word. This Word—every story, truth and paragraph—is a gift to help prepare you for the road ahead. Study every chapter. You don’t know what you are going to face, but by studying God’s word you will know how to face it. Don’t miss a week as we study Joseph’s life. It will build your faith and help you to live differently.

 

Challenge by Choice: As we close, we are offering you the opportunity to be challenged. There are cards with six different challenges on them; these are specific applications from this morning’s 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 37 and have the rest of the group try to tell the story of Genesis 37 from memory. Did you miss anything?

2.          Joseph’s life is one of extremes. This week we saw him go from being the favored son to a slave. How does a deep faith in God help one through the extreme ups and downs in life?

3.          Playing favorites can create a painful experience. Have you ever experienced or felt favoritism? Discuss how one might overcome the residual anger or lack of “shalom” that comes from favoritism.

4.          How does knowing that Joseph’s family was “dysfunctional” give you hope?

5.          Discuss why you did or did not pick up a “challenge by choice” card.

6.          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.

[1] This very basic outline largely comes from the “Walk Thru The Bible” Old Testament material.

[2] All Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV.

[3] The sons of these two wives were: Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher.

[4] See Genesis 30:1-22 for all of the salacious details.

[5] In fact, Genesis 30 tells us that Jacob “hated” Leah his wife, which is why God blessed her with children. Bilhah and Zilpah were actually Leah’s slaves given to Jacob by Leah to produce more children. Rachel is the only wife that we are told Jacob actually “loved.” Genesis 29:30 …and he loved Rachel more than Leah…

[6] John H. Sailhamer, “Genesis,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1990), 227.