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Joseph: The Rest of the Story

February 22nd, 2009 by Vic

Genesis 42-50

(This message requires your Bible in hand.  Read the listed verses, then the comments.)

The Disney web site describes Eeyore as everyone’s favorite delightfully dismal donkey.  But Eeyore doesn’t see himself as gloomy — he just has low expectations.  He expects nothing from anybody, so whenever his Winnie the Pooh friends do come to his aid his expectations of the worst are overthrown, and he is sincerely grateful.  Eeyore’s tiny bright pink bow on his tail, the one hint of color against his gray, is a perfect symbol of the kernel of joy that occasionally surfaces in Eeyore.

Tigger is positive, bouncy, and full of joy.  He has a springy tail.

Jacob was an Eeyore.  After he wrestled with the angel he was renamed Israel which means governed by God.  He was a gray, grouchy, gloomy Jacob, but sometimes called Israel.  For the last 17 years of his life he remembered that all things are really working together for good.

Gen 42:1-7

42:9  Joseph sees his brothers and remembers the dreams he had dreamed.  This was not quite right yet.  There were only 10 brothers here.  His father was not here.  How would God fulfill the dreams?  He put them in prison for 3 days.  That gave Joseph time to think.

42:21-24  Deceit, dishonesty, turmoil and a guilty conscience is the fruit of sin.  Joseph heard for the first time that Reuben had stuck up for him, but he was not ready to reveal himself yet.

When we are suffering for our sins, when does Jesus reveal himself?  Not yet.  The testing is not over yet.

42:36-38  None of what Jacob says is true.  But he did not trust his sons.  He may have assumed that the brothers had sold Joseph as a slave.  He may have assumed that they had now sold Simeon.  That is why they came home with money.  Jacob is being an Eeyore.  From his perspective, nothing works together for good.  Woe is me!  His perspective is distorted.

43:1  Judah is changing, but Jacob is still complaining.  Judah is making some significant speeches in the rest of the story.  Reuben is the oldest, but he doesn’t repeat his offer.

43:11-14  Jacob is called Israel when he remembers how God helped him reconcile with Esau.  He had arranged all the gifts in a dramatic fashion.  Now he has a similar plan, but concludes in his comfortable negative pattern.  “For me nothing is left.  I’ve lost everything.”  That was not true.

43:17 The brothers were fearful when they were brought to Joseph’s home.  Did they have a reason to be fearful from Joseph’s point of view?  When people are afraid to come into a church building, do they have a reason to be fearful?  Do they believe God is just?

43:23  This foreigner was telling them that their God had blessed them.  Why are you so fearful?

A guilty conscience robs us of peace.  When we confess and repent of our sin, then reconciliation and forgiveness can bring us peace.  Pay attention today.  No other religion has dealt with the sin problem.  They all tell us how to help ourselves, but we need a forgiving savior.

In the midst of the storm, Jesus said, “Peace be with you.”  We assume that peace comes at the end of our trial, but the peace of Jesus comes in our storms.

We complain when our friends remind us that God loves us and is blessing us.  We retort, “God may be blessing you.  You don’t have any problems, but He’s not helping me.”

43:26  Joseph’s first dream is fulfilled.  But the test is not over yet.  God allows us to be tested a little more.

43:34  Benjamin’s plate was pilled high.  Traditionally, the one with the most authority was given the most food.  Who’s in charge?  Why didn’t Reuben receive the big portion?  This was a test.  Joseph was watching their faces.  Joseph had been given a special coat and there was jealousy.  Is there still jealousy when the favorite son receives a gift?

How do you react when someone less deserving receives a bigger portion?  When the other guy gets God’s major blessing, how do you respond?  Can you rejoice with those that rejoice?  How do you respond when others are promoted in your place?

44:1  I wonder how much the steward knew.  He dramatically finds the cup in the last sack he looked in, like he knew where it was.  There is a lot of symbolism in the silver cup.  Silver speaks of redemption and Jesus invites us to take His cup.

44:9  The brothers are so sure of themselves they make a rash statement like their dad Jacob had made when Rachel was sitting on the idols.

The steward says the guilty one will be his slave and the rest can go home.  This was a test.  Would the brothers treat Benjamin like they had treated Joseph?

44:16  Judah is changing.  Joseph sees them all coming back together.  That is a good sign.  Judah displays a heart of true repentance.  This is one of the great speeches of the Bible.  Judah expresses love to his brother and loyalty to his father.  Now Joseph could reveal himself.

45:4  It sounds like Jesus inviting us, “Come unto Me”.  Think about the big picture.  God was behind the whole thing.  You did not really sin against me.  And vengeance belongs to God, not me.  Joseph’s attitude was good as a servant to Potiphar.  His attitude was good in prison.  He was in a position to take revenge, but he forgives.  God’s arm is not short.  He can get revenge for your sin, but He gives mercy.  Isn’t it fun serving a loving God?!

Joseph had authority to make them do something weird, some unique punishment.  But there is no hint that he is seeking revenge.  What would you do?  What are you doing?  Someone has wronged you.  He deserves to suffer.  Are you trying to plan his punishment?

Joseph says, “Come close.”  The brothers were terrified.  We hesitate to come to Christ because we know we are sinners.  Warmly, lovingly, Joseph invites them to come close.  His heart was broken for his brothers.  He wanted to reveal himself earlier, but had to wait.

17 years later when Jacob died, the brothers feared for their lives.  They did not understand or accept that they had really been forgiven.  They lived their lives unsure.  They heard the words that God had a plan, but that was for Joseph, not them.  They couldn’t forget their sin.  They had confessed their sin and repented, but Joseph’s kindness was so great.

45:7  Joseph’s vision was broader than his single life.  He enjoyed discovering God’s bigger plan.

Joseph’s perspective included God.  The brothers only saw themselves and their sin.

When I’m wronged, what is my perspective?  Am I bitter or better?  Do I submit to the will of the Father or stand up for the principle of the thing so I look good?  Do I see God in it?

Those who truly forgive are the winners/conquerors.  Those who seek revenge are the conquered.  Remember how much you’ve been forgiven.  “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

45:14-15  After the testing, confession and revelation comes the provision.

45:20,24  Stay in the way.  Leave your stuff behind

46:1  Israel worships and God speaks.  Do not fear.  There is a big picture.

46:28-29  Judah (praise) brings Joseph to his father.

46:31  Joseph is a mediator and provider.  He says the Egyptians do not like shepherds so tell them you are shepherds.  This will keep you separate.  You won’t intermarry.  Egypt represents the world.  Be separate.  Don’t use the world’s ways to build God’s kingdom.  Don’t use the world’s music.  You are to be a holy nation, a peculiar people, and pilgrims.  It won’t be easy, but  your needs will be met.  “Those who are godly will suffer persecution.”  That is a promise.

47:1-12  Joseph presents his family to Pharaoh.  Egypt had a 7-level caste system and shepherds were at the bottom.  Nobody wanted that job.

47:13-26  Joseph banks all the money for Pharaoh.  Joseph buys all their cattle.  Joseph buys all the land and then buys the people.  Finally Joseph gives everyone some land and seed to plant.  They are asked to give 20% back to Pharaoh.  We pay over 40% taxes.  Which system is better?  The happiest people in the world are those who give it all to Jesus and accept His provisions.

The Lord scattered the people before.  When they got too big, sin increased.  Christians are like manure–not worth much in a pile.

47:27  Jacob gets to be with Joseph 17 years.  What he put into Joseph’s life, he got out of it.

48:1  Our culture has forgotten the blessing of visiting the sick.  When you do it unto the least of these, you’ve done it to me.” (Matt 25:34-)  It is not works that makes you a Christian but a faith that works.  There was no busier person in the world at that time than Joseph.  There was no one with more responsibility.  Joseph came with his sons to visit.

48:5  Jacob adopts Joseph’s 2 sons so they can receive the inheritance of the first and second born.  They are replacing Reuben and Simeon.  Joseph is not one of the 12 tribes.

48:10-11  Finally we see a little hope in Jacob.  The little pink bow on the tail of Eeyore is showing here.  He marvels at God’s blessing and provision.

Joseph was more like Tigger.  He was full of hope.  God can do exceedingly beyond what we can imagine (Eph 3:20).  There is no reason for a Christian to be sad, depressed, complaining, or hanging his head and saying, “O, bother”.  Rejoice.  And again I say rejoice.  Bounce around a little on your tail like Tigger.

48:13  In that culture the right hand was greater, but for 4 generations now God has chosen the weaker, or lesser.

48:21  “I die, but God will take care of you.”  He gives Joseph land.  We have no record when Jacob fought the Amorites and took some land, but it had a well on it.  Later when Jesus had to go through Samaria do you remember where he met the woman?  Jacob’s well (Jn 4:5).

49:1  “In the last days.”  In this chapter Jacob is prophetically describing the history of Israel.  Each son may represent a period of history.

Reuben never dealt with his sin of 40 years before and he is unstable as water poured out.  He was 1st born and powerful.  He was like many religions today.  They are big and powerful, but never deal with sin.  Jesus came to take care of the sin problem that Adam had created.  In Christ we can know freedom from the guilt of the past.

Simeon and Levi destroyed the men of Shechem.

Judah is a picture of the Messiah.  The Jews believed the scepter shall not leave Judah until the Messiah appears.  In 12 a.d., the year Jesus visited the temple in Jerusalem, The Romans removed the Jewish authority to execute criminals.  They were no longer a sovereign nation.

49:33  The death of a blessed man.

50:1  Joseph was there.  He planned a huge funeral procession.

50:15-17 The brothers still had a guilty conscience.  Joseph wept when he realized they had not received his forgiveness.  Jesus said, “If we confess, he will forgive.”  Jesus wept at Lazarus grave and over the city when he entered on the donkey.

50:19  Joseph says, “Don’t you see?  I’m not God.”  This is something we should be saying before we get even, repay, fire back, or get compensation.  God said, “Vengeance in Mine.  I will repay.”

50:24  “I die, but God will deliver you.”  Joseph is listed in the Hebrew Hall of Faith not because he was a ruler in Egypt, but because his bones were carried up out of Egypt.  He knew he was a pilgrim.  He had set his affections on things above.

Genesis began with creation and ends with a coffin.  It starts in a garden and ends in a grave.  Satan said, “You will not die.”  He’s a liar.  We are a dying people needing the life of Christ.

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