Joseph: Providence, Suffering, and Gospel Glimmers
Scripture: Genesis 37:1–37:36
There are two targets we are aiming at today, first — to see the unfolding glory of Jesus in the Old Testament. Every thing in the Bible has an aroma of Jesus. We are looking to see how Joseph, a little shepherd boy, has anything to do with the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Secondly, we want to hone in on worshiping Jesus. We do this by thinking highly of Him, enjoying Him, praising Him — and obeying Him. Living in response to his glory. That's Christianity.
And Joseph's story is immensely helpful for all of us, because the gospel speaks to the human existence. It speaks to suffering, injustices, and hope.
READ Genesis 37:1-36
Whoa. Now that is family drama. Joseph is so hated by his brothers, they want to kill him, decided to fake his death, sell him into the slave market, and a make a few extra bucks. Twenty shekels (v.28) was about a three years salary of a shepherd, divided that by Eleven, they each got about three months pay.
Now, we've all seen our fair share of family drama, but it's never come across your mind, I could sell this person and get three months change out of it. Sibling rivalry has never been this bad in your house.
Joseph's story has so much for us. Throughout his story, till the end of Genesis, Josephs is astounding. He is rock solid man of God. Let me try and capture the broad brush strokes of Joseph's story, and we'll got back and pick out what we need to apply.
Ch. 39 - He ends up in Egypt, in Potiphar's house, the Lord blesses him, Potiphar's endeavors succeed, Joseph is promoted, but then he is accused of attempted rape — which he didn't do.
Joseph ends up in prison. God blesses him so greatly while in prison that he ends up running the prison — as a prisoner (39:22). That's wild!
Ch. 40 - Joseph interprets the dreams of two other prisoners, who used to work in Pharaoh's house, and he tells them, "When you get out, don't forget about me!" Well, they forget about him.
Ch. 41 - Two years go by and then Pharaoh has a nightmare, and wants it interpreted. The cupbearer, cellmate of Joseph, remembers Joseph, brings him up. Joseph interprets the dream as a famine to come, gives Pharaoh a plan to save Egypt, and Joseph is promoted and becomes Vice President of Egypt.
42-50 There is a famine in the land, and Joseph's brothers have to come to Egypt for food. Joseph recognizes them, but they don't recognize him. He was 17, he's now 30. They reunite, weep together, and the family is reconciled.
13 years of suffering. Can you imagine? Slavery, felony, labeled sex offender, prison, forgotten, — Ruler of Egypt. Suffering is going to come. Suffering that we didn't create. Sometimes we create our own, our actions and decisions that we must own. But Joseph was checking on his big brothers, fathers' orders, and before we know it he is in a pit.
What are you enduring? How long? Week? Months? A decade? Joseph endured for over a decade. This wasn't written to rub our noses in it, but to give us hope. We live on a broken rock, with broken people — some who legitimately want to do us harm. .
Stack on every responsibility, care, and concern you have in your life (kids, job, money, etc..) — how do we keep from losing our minds? How can we insanity-proof our lives?
First thing we see from Joseph's life...
1) Trust the Caring Providence of God
God is not removed from his creation; that's deism and it's lame. Providence is the truth that God plans, carries along, and govern's the world. And his providence is a caring and loving one.
Some non-christians think that even if there were a god, he couldn't be very personal. But the Bible says, that he is super-personal, more than we can even comprehend. HE CARES FOR The Dung Beetle. Every ant.
Joseph ends up working in Potiphars's house, look at 39:2-3. "The Lord was with Joseph....the Lord caused all that he did to succeed."
He ends up in prison, where's the Lord? Have you ever said or thought, "God, where are you?" He is there. He is there in the prison with Joseph.
"But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love." and again in 23.
God was with Joseph and cared for him and loved him every step. That's glorious. Every Christian has this with God. Every one. We don't see one sentence of Joseph having a meltdown. Why not? Everyone is entitled a little meltdown right?
Joseph entrusted himself wholly to God.
We don't see what God sees and we most certainly don't know what God knows — but if we know God —that's enough.
I remember being a little kid in the car asking for the light to be on. My dad would say, "No, not now, I can't see when it's on." I would think, "That make no sense. I can see fine. It's light. Just do it." Ivy asked for it the other night, "I turned it on, and I couldn't see a thing out of my rear view mirror. I denied her request, for her protection.
I knew something Ivy didn't. Ivy can't see past the seat, but I can see all around. Church, we can barely see past the end our nose, and God sits above it all.
What boulder are you carrying around? What massive weight of worry are you lugging? Realize, God cares for you. God is with you — and he is in control. Now, we may not like the light being off — but God knows what is best.
You don't have to understand God's sovereign hand, but you do have to trust it. Intellectual fuzziness coupled with an emotional flare ups – don’t make God’s sovereignty untrue. What does the Bible say? Ephesians 1, He works all things according to His will
We don't act like the world, people are going to flip out come November — but Christians should be rocks because our life is built on the rock, not the oval office.
You may say, "I know God is in control but..." — here's what that is saying. "I've heard that God is in control, but I don't buy it."
Grab this application: Trust God. Trust him. Get beyond yourself and kneel before the throne. IN all things. People who are more filled with Heaven, feel less anxiety on the earth. The vertical impacts the horizontal.
A Godward life, changes the here and now.
2) Dial in a Godward Life
Everything points to God. God is the center. God is the goal, motivation, reward — a Godward life, we see this in Joseph.
Moses' acknowledged that Joseph's success at work — was all God.
39:3 "The Lord caused it to succeed." // 23 "And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed." Smart or silly plans — God made it work.
The explanation of Joseph's rise and success — God. Here is a fundamental difference between Christians and the world. If you don't know God, you are left to give the glory to your self — humanism. But Christians know the glory belongs to God.
Do we give credit to whom credit is due? All of life: business, ministry, evangelism, parenting — it's all in God's hands. We can say with our mouth, "God blessed that" and believe in our heart "I'm so gifted." That's phony — it's blasphemy.
A Godward life realizes that God is behind it all. Joseph knew it.
Pharaoh says to Joseph, "I hear you can interpret dreams." What does Joseph say? "That's right."
41:16, "It's not me. God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer." Pharoah believed him, 41:38-39.
Church, that's missional living. Joseph was doing his job, living his life, in a Godward way, and he was able to exalt God before men, even a man, Pharaoh, who thought himself to be a god. Joseph was letting his light shine before men (Matthew 5:16).
We need to adopt Joseph's phrase: "It's not me. It's God" — God working through us. But not in a cheesy way. Godward living makes it publicly known that "It", whatever "it" is — is God at work.
Godward living publicly says — It's about Him.
Godward living also has a private element. Namely, how we deal with sin and temptation.
Joseph's greatest concern for not sinning — God!
If we avoid sin simply because we don't want to do wrong and look bad — which is why most of us avoid it — we don't' want to look bad, we don't want to deal with the effects (shame, awkward conversations) — it's unbiblical. Non-christians have that motivation.
But we need higher reason than that — We don't want to sin against God. The horror of legalism is obedience for obedience sake.
Better stand up straight when your grandmother comes around, cause she'll say something. That's not Christian living. That's not freedom. We should still stand up straight, cause we don't want to look like we belong in a turtle shell when were 80. But the point is you do it when you know the inspection isn't around the corner.
If you avoid sin to avoid getting in trouble, you've yet to grasp what the gospel is all about. We avoid sin, to enjoy and glorify God. Christian living is in response to what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
You don't avoid eating raw chicken meat, just to avoid the stomach issues — or death. That's not your thought process. You avoid raw chicken, so you can enjoy cooked chicken. We avoid sin, not to avoid trouble, but to enjoy God.
She grabs him, and he leaves his jacket behind. Pray for that kind of heart — Usain Bolt fleeing of sin. That's what we all need.
Lost his cloak once before, got him in a pit. Lost his jacket again, in prison. And later in the Bible, another beloved son will who have his garment ripped of and he'll be nailed to a cross.
Joseph, a Godward man, boasted that his success and blessings were because of God AND, do not miss this — Joseph knew that even the evil things, being sold into slavery — God was at work.
Joseph's meteoric rise was God at work; and Joseph in the pit & prison was God at work.
3) In All Things God is for Your Good
I don't know of any other truth that has been more helpful to my life.
God is working in all things for my good. Especially the tough things. We need this truth is for the tough times. This isn't Pollyanna Christianity, or some baptized hakuna-matata -- this is relationship with the all-powerful mega-personal God.
Genesis 45:5, 7-8.
Yes, Joseph says, "You sold me." AND "God sent me." Both purposes at work at the same time.
The brothers' evil plan and God's plan — working together at once. This is one of the great perplexities of the Bible. Of God.
Genesis 50:20 - Wow. This is one you underline. And memorize.
And don't blur the words or meaning here. By Joseph going into slavery, his brothers meant / had an intent, "YOU MEANT" for evil; and Joseph says, "God had an intent too." "God meant it for good."
Same event. Two parties. Two different plans. God wins.
God didn't origami Joseph's situation. It was God's blueprint the whole time.
God never does damage control — He is always in control—as Paul says, for our good.
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...31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
God is for you. Nothing slips through God's hands that he doesn't have a purpose for; even evil — God will use.
Joseph's brothers thought they were derailing Joseph's dream but yet — they were fulfilling them — they sold their brother, so their brother could save them.
Think of Jesus. The most evil and awful act in human history, the righteous and perfect son of God, murdered, nails driven through his skin, hung naked on a cross' what they meant for evil — God meant for good — the salvation of who would believe in Him.
In the beginning of this series, I talked about how every story in the Old Testament is a turn of diamond that is Jesus. We see a new side, angel, and glimmer on every page.
And Joseph's story glimmers of the gospel.
This blows me away. God orchestrates human history, the lives of a cupbearer, a baker, a slave trading route, a lustful woman — all to get Joseph where he needs to be — so he could become Lord of the Gentiles and be a shadow of Jesus.
Here is the gospel witness:
• Joseph, the beloved son, is betrayed by his brothers, suffers, but is exalted and becomes Lord of the Gentiles.
• Jesus, the beloved son, is betrayed by his brothers, suffers on the cross, but is risen, exalted, and is Lord of the Gentiles, and give a name at which every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord!
God orchestrates all of this — for the glory of Jesus Christ. It's all about Jesus.
And in this story, as it shows us Jesus, we are Joseph's brothers — guilty of sin against the Beloved Son.
And what does righteous Joseph do to his unrighteous brothers?
They are forgiven. And they are not to lug around their guilt.
GOSPEL GLIMMERS HERE OF FORGIVENESS AND GRACE
They still feel the guilt and shame of their sins. And Joseph weeps. Because he doesn't want them to feel that way. He has forgiven them. They are reconciled.
Christian, you and God are reconciled. He doesn't want you lug around your guilt, though Satan does.
v. 21 - He comforted his brothers and spoke kindly to them.
If you aren't converted, you haven't surrendered your life unto Jesus. Repent, turn from your sin, and confess with your heart that you believe Jesus died for your sins and rose again — and you can be forgiven. Given a new life.
Christian, If you are being crushed under a tower of guilt and condemnation of your past, if you are in Christ, you've looked at Jesus, repented of sin, believe that he died for your sins and rose again — God wants to comfort you and kindly reassure you — "You are forgiven. Walk in newness of life. I will never leave or forsake you. As I was with Joseph, so I am with you."
All that's left to do is worship our God of Grace.
Worship our Savior who suffered, endured, and is exalted. Our savior and Redeemer. Punished to pardon us from our sin and shame.
More in Gospel Witnesses: The Unfolding Glory of Jesus
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