God with us in the story of Joseph – rejection and reconciliation.
George Methodist church 10th February 2019
8am and 10am Genesis 37 – 50 With Peter Veysie
Introduction – The story of Joseph
The Bible Story of Joseph, from the Book of Genesis, is one of rejection and reconciliation. Joseph was the most loved son of his father, Israel, given the famous robe of many colours. When Joseph reported having dreams of his brothers, and even the stars and moon, bowing before him, their jealousy of Joseph grew into action. The brothers sold him into slavery to a traveling caravan of Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. In Egypt, the Lord’s presence with Joseph enables him to find favour with Potiphar and the keeper of the prison. With God’s help, Joseph interprets the dreams of two prisoners, predicting that one of them will be reinstated but the other put to death. Joseph then interprets the dreams of the Pharaoh, which anticipate seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.
Pharaoh recognises Joseph’s God-given ability and prompts his promotion to the chief administrator of Egypt.
Shortage of food in Canaan forces Jacob to send his sons to buy grains from the Egyptians. Benjamin, Joseph’s younger brother remains at home as Jacob fears of losing him, as he did Joseph. When Joseph finally encounters his brothers again, he deliberately conceals his identity. He accuses them of being spies and tells them to return with Benjamin or he will not sell them grain. The ongoing famine forces Jacob to reluctantly send his sons back to Egypt with Benjamin, and they are unexpectedly invited to dine at Joseph’s house.
Joseph then tests the character of his brothers by placing a silver cup in the sack of Benjamin and falsely accusing him of theft. When Judah offers to stay in place of Benjamin, Joseph knows that his character has changed and reveals that he is their brother. Joseph explains they need not feel guilty for betraying him as it was God’s plan for him to be in Egypt to preserve his family. He told them to bring their father and his entire household into Egypt to live in the province of Goshen because there were five more years of famine left. Joseph supplied them Egyptian transport wagons, new garments, silver, and twenty additional donkeys carrying provisions for the journey. Jacob is then joyously reunited with his son Joseph.
- Journey Genesis 37 – 38
For Joseph his rejection from his family took him on a journey to a foreign land as a prisoner of a people and culture he had to understand
- Obedience in rejection Genesis 39
Potiphar – there is always a “Potiphar” in our moment of rejection. We will be tempted at this point to sacrifice everything to please the accuser who comes at us with skillful words and sharp eyes and often and intimidating way about them. How many of you can identify your Potiphar right now ? How many of us are still slaves to the same “Potiphar” and have never escaped their grip. Potiphar’s wife – The very reason why Joseph was not completely crushed by the lies and deceit that came from her mouth was because he had chosen long before the temptation to be obedient to God. This took a lot out of him and almost destroyed him due to the temptation which was coming his way.
- Spiritual discernment – dreams Genesis 40 – 41:38
In his obedience and challenging world, God gives Joseph a supernatural ability to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh. He is working, remember, in a foreign world and the Lord enables him to be used by Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. He finds favour. I do believe that in our lives if we are determined enough we can move away from the deceit of failure into the promises of God. Often folk sit around in misery saying woe is me instead asking God for direction and becoming a tool for transformation not only in your own lives but also in the lives of others that you meet.
Gifts of the Holy Spirit start by getting the fruit right.
4. Empowerment Genesis 41: 39 -43
The empowerment of Joseph leads him into a powerful place of leadership and it is through this the the Lord does his work. It’s not so much about Joseph but about the Lord doing a great work for the future Kingdoms through him.
He is the chief administrator of Egypt. At this point when promotion comes we need to be careful that it does not go to our heads. The SONA speech and Cyril Ramaposa who in his introduction drew all of his opposition together through a song.
- Partnership Joseph 30 years old in partnership with Pharaoh and the Lord
Joseph was aware of this partnership with the Lord and he has a name change Zaphenath-Paneah and he is given Potiphars daughter Asenath as his wife Genesis 41:44 -47: 7 years of abundance and the land produced plentifully.
It is in partnership with God that God can bring abundance and enough for all. It was his plan to provide for those in drought stricken areas and poverty. In partnership with God it is so easy to just look after our own needs but God calls us to partner with him in looking after the needs of others. We remember the days when we were possibly challenged and rejected and when God blesses us, we use it as an opportunity to bless others.
Isaiah 58:7-8 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness[a] will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
- Hope for the family of Israel Genesis 42 – 50
Genesis 50 : 19 and 20 summarises the heart of all of these last few chapters of Genesis and the story of Joseph :
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
The reconciliation is not without it’s challenges and Joseph finds himself having to dig deep to forgive and forget the rejection he experienced through his brothers. Jacob, his father, plays a powerful role in the restoration process.
Remember with any reconciliation it is a process !!!
As we conclude today I want to remind you all that you are on a journey and I trust this is away from rejection towards obedience so that you can be spiritually used by the Lord and empowered to do His will. I pray that as you partner with the Lord you will choose to bring hope to the world you touch and if it is family that you need to reconcile with that you will choose to do it soon.