December 28, 2014   Genesis 50    Joseph 


         A story is told about a tree.  At the lake there was an old tree that was truly majestic. It was 70 feet tall and set right at the water’s edge. It provided shade to generations of fishermen and was home to countless squirrels and birds over the years. In the fall its colorful leaves were glorious to gaze upon. By the end of October they had covered the walk path in a thick, crunchy carpet that was a joy to the eye, a pleasure to the nose, and a delight to the ear. This tree was such a wonder to behold. It made the lake and the world a more beautiful place just by being in it.   As time went on erosion began to take its toll on the ground around the tree.  There came a point when the dirt was so worn away by the lake water that it could no longer support the huge roots of this massive beauty and the tree fell to the ground.   Amazingly, for the next year it still held on to life. The following spring with only a few roots still in the ground this tree produced fresh leaves along its fallen limbs.    Eventually, though, the tree died and its huge trunk began to slowly decompose

     But as time went on it was noticed that seeds had fallen into the rotting tree trunk and started to grow. Out of this dead trunk two new saplings were now growing. Even in its death this glorious tree was bringing beauty and life to this world.    May we all live our lives as beautifully as this tree did.   May we all live a life that makes the world around us a better place. May we all live a life of such love, such joy, and such light that we touch countless lives with our spirit. May we all live a life of such goodness, such kindness, and such oneness with God that we continue to bring beauty, love, and life to the hearts and souls of others even after we have left this world.   Jesus said unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and die it remains alone.     Jesus died and gave up his life for us.  

     Joseph life is somewhat like this illustration.  Joseph had to die to himself.  God’s training program for Joseph was tough.   I remember my training for the army back in the Viet Nam days.    Joseph is known as a man of integrity and forgiveness.  We probably should spend a few minutes and discuss Joseph’s life for some that may not be familiar with the Old Testament and his story.   God called Abraham and promised to bless him.  God said those that bless you I will bless and those that curse you I will curse them.  God watches out for his children.   We are close to God’s heart.   Abraham never saw the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to him but at the age of 99 he had a son Isaac.   Isaac marries Rebecca when he is 40 years old and Rebecca has twins and they jostle in her womb.   Rebecca inquires of the Lord about them and God tells her that she has 2 nations in her womb and one is stronger than the other and the older wills serve the younger.     The oldest and first born is Esau and the younger is Jacob. 

     As they grow up Esau is a skillful hunter and Jacob was more of tent dwelling man.  Isaac loved Esau and Rebecca loved Jacob.  That can of course cause issues in a family.  In Genesis 25 Esau comes in from the open field one day and is hungry and asks Jacob for some food and Jacob says sure if you will give me your birth right.  He figures that some food is more important than his birth right so Esau sells his birthright to Jacob.   Isaac when he is old blesses Jacob over Esau through trickery.   Through Jacob come the 12 tribes of Israel.   Jacob has 12 sons by 2 wives and 2 maid servants while he was in Paddan Aram.   Joseph is number 11 of those sons and his father Jacob loves him and of course his brothers know it.  Jacob loved Joseph more than any other son that he had and Jacob made him a beautiful coat.  Joseph’s brothers could not say anything nice to Joseph.  is borthers could not a say a kind word about Joseph.     Scripture tells us that Joseph gave a bad report to his father regarding his brothers.

    Joseph has a dream that he is out binding sheaves of grain in the field and Joseph’s stood upright and his brothers gathered around Joseph and bowed down to Joseph.    His brothers hated him more.  All of us can think of ways that we are put last.   Everyone can get jealous of others and let that turn into poison in their life.  Joseph I am sure had some trials in those early teen years being hated by his brothers.  His brothers were not all choir boys and there are some things that happened that were not good or godly.   One day Jacob sends Joseph out to his brothers to check on them and because of jealousy and hatred his brothers decide to do a number on him.  His brothers strip him of his robe and throw him into a cistern and talk about killing him.   What a dark hour for Joseph.  Joseph has many more dark hours coming.  But God is with him and protects him.   God has a plan for him and a caravan comes by and they decide to sell him as a slave.  I would see Joseph’s life in like 5 main events or you could say 5 chapters.  Joseph starts out OK in this chapter but this part of his life closes with darkness.  I suspect that Joseph does not ever expect to see his dad again.  It might be like us being deported to the Amazon jungle or something.    Joseph is going to strange land to a people and language that he does not know and he is going as a slave.  His brothers hate him.  

    So the next chapter of his life is that he is sold as a slave to Potiphar who is one of Pharaohs officials.   God blesses him.   Joseph is a smart Jewish boy and has a knack with administration and dealing with people.  I would assume that Joseph pays attention to detail and soon Potiphar put him in charge of his whole house hold.   Joseph is also handsome and well built and pretty soon Potiphar’s wife notices Joseph and in time Joseph is falsely accused and Joseph is thrown into prison.  Joseph does not sin against God or against Potiphar.   I have often wondered if Joseph when he became second in command of all of Egypt if he ever went back to have a chat with Potiphar?   How do you think that would go?   Maybe Joseph did not want to upset the family and never addressed it.   We do not always know how things are going to turn out and so we need to walk in love and truth and the Holy Spirit.    Chapter 2 of Joseph’s life starts out OK but ends with Joseph in jail.   Darkness, pain, trials and suffering seem to follow Joseph.  It is not all easy for Joseph.  The road has some bumps in it and God is in every single hour of those years of darkness.  God is training and working in Joseph’s heart.  God feels every bit of Joseph’s pain.  

     Joseph is falsely accused and gets thrown into jail.  In those dark years for Joseph God works in his heart and prepares him for the next thing in his life.   This becomes another chapter in Joseph’s life and this chapter starts out on the bad side but God is at work.   Joseph could not see everything that God was going to do through him.  Joseph could not see what God was preparing him for.    Joseph was granted favor in the eyes of the prison warden.   God was with Joseph in prison and granted Joseph favor.  Joseph may have had to look long and hard for God’s presence with him but God gave Joseph some light and some blessing.   God had a plan for Joseph.  God works in jails folks.  I have a friend in Michigan who probably led over 300 men to Jesus while he was in jail.     God can do mighty things with people in prison.  God is good.   God was at work in Joseph’s life.  God is always in the midst of our pain.  Joseph does not know what is going to happen to him next.   Joseph when he was younger was given dreams but now God steps it up a bit and gives Joseph the ability to interpret dreams.   These dreams are real and come true.

      Pharaoh for whatever reason throws his cup bearer and baker into prison and God gives them each a dream.   Joseph noticed that they were sad one day ask them why they were sad.  They tell him that both of them had a dream and no one can tell us what the dream means.  God knows and understands dreams.  Joseph knows that and tells them interpretations belong to God.  Joseph asks them to share with him their dreams.  Joseph interprets both dreams correctly.    The chief baker is hanged.   The cup bearer is restored and Joseph asks him to talk with Pharaoh about his situation when he is restored.    The cup bearer forgets all about Joseph.    Joseph could and probably did sink into depression.   God can move and work on people in the most difficult of situations.   Many men become more hardened after time in a prison but when God works and speaks lives change for the better.  

     Well in chapter 41 Pharaoh has a dream.   This is 2 years after Joseph tells the cup bearer his dream.  Pharaoh calls all the wise men and magicians in Egypt and they cannot explain the dream to him.  The cup bearer then tells Pharaoh about Joseph and Joseph is immediately called to come before Pharaoh.  Joseph goes from the pit and the dungeon to stand before Pharaoh.  This certainly starts another chapter in Joseph’s life.  It starts out well and Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream and Pharaoh puts Joseph in charge of everything in Egypt.   Joseph becomes second in charge in all of Egypt.  

    Then there is another chapter in Joseph’s life when his brothers come looking for food.  Joseph certainly has the power now to deal with his brothers but Joseph offers them forgiveness.  It is not easy to forgive someone who has hurt you.  It certainly is not natural to forgive.   To forgive someone does not mean that you easily forget it.   It is a process.  We work on our attitude.   When someone is forgiven it does not mean that what they did was OK.   Wrong is wrong.   God used Joseph in a mighty way to save many people from starvation.  Perhaps it was through Joseph that the Jewish people were saved.   God humbled Joseph and then blessed him.

   And then there is the chapter of being reunited with his father.  Jacob comes to Egypt and in Egypt the nation of Israel is formed.  The nation grows and becomes large and the Egyptians become concerned that someday the Israelite will join with Egypt’s enemies and over throw them so they enslave the Israelites.  They are in Egypt about 400 years and grow from 70 to over 600,000 men. 

    Joseph’s life parallels that of Daniel.  Daniel was exported from his home and his name changed.  Daniel interpreted dreams and was promoted and Daniel was a blessing to the gentiles.  Joseph was also a type of Jesus or similar to Jesus.   Joseph suffered the pain of rejection and so did Jesus.  Jesus came to his own and they received him not.  Even Jesus brothers did not believe in him.   Jesus was despised and rejected by men a man of sorrows and so was Joseph.  Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver and Joseph for 20.   Perhaps the extra 10 was due to inflation.   Joseph brothers took counsel against him and so the Lord’s own brethren did not him.  Both of them loved their brothers.  Jesus wept over Jerusalem and Joseph wept over his brothers when they came to him later when Joseph was in charge of Egypt.  Joseph was raised up to save many people alive and Jesus gave his life to save many people.   Joseph forgave his brothers and Jesus asked God to forgive those that took his life.   Jacob thought Joseph was dead but later learned that he was alive and Jesus of course rose from the dead.   Joseph was a man who did the right thing even in the midst of great temptation and Jesus was sinless and always did what the Father told him to do.  . 

   It is interesting to think about the chapters of our lives.  Perhaps a chapter is closing for you or maybe one is opening.  This year 2014 is drawing to a close and a new year is upon us.   It will have its challenges but God will there in each challenge.  God has plan and God is in control.  I would like to see this church fill up in 2015 and maybe after that we go to 2 services.   We can dream about God using us.   We should dream big dreams because God is such a great God.    We can dream and continue to pray that God uses our lives to reach others.