Hi, this is Ross Paterson. I started last month on the subject of Joseph, and I'd like to continue with that. This month I want to look at two keys to faithfulness in Joseph's life. Now, I suspect that some of us will know those keys but I want to give a slight, as it were, sting in the tail to them.
Follow along and listen to the podcast here:
Joseph's Journey And Situation
He starts bound in irons; he finishes binding prisoners of his will. What does Joseph's journey mean?
Two Schools of Christianity
Which of them is true? Let's examine the stories of Joseph and other Biblical characters
What Is God's Plan for Us?
As human beings, we can't possibly understand the reality and the greatness and the awesomeness and the wonder of our Heavenly Father.
God's Call Is Real, but Not Effortless
God's power and grace and purposes and destiny are fantastic, but don't confuse effortless success with God's destiny.
Endure, if that's your passage for now. Enjoy, if that's your passage for now. But have confidence in God's purposes, and don't stay His hand from fulfilling them in your life.
Recap of Joseph's life and situation
The first one is that Joseph was faithful to God's Word and promise to him. I started last time in Psalm 105, and in many ways I feel that's such a defining passage concerning Joseph that I'd like to go back there again.
And the Word says this, Psalm 105:16, “God called for a famine in the land and he sent a man before them -- Joseph, who was sold as a slave.”
The Effortless Brigade and the Grumpy Brigade
So, God was engineering a process of events in his people's lives, and God sent his man Joseph, sold as a slave. I dropped last time on the whole issue of the Effortless Brigade and the Grumpy Brigade, some who would have no place, it would seem, for God's men being sold as a slave, and the danger the Grumpy Brigade feel that's what happens all the time. But I want to move on from there this time, and look at verse 19. “They hurt his feet with fetters.” Verse 18, actually.
18 They hurt his feet with fetters, he was laid in irons. 19 Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.
Now, I want to suggest to you, I would think there are various interpretations here. When it says, “Until the his word came to pass,” I think “his word” means the word that Joseph gave, which we'll look at in a minute, to his brothers and his father when he talked about the dreams.
So he stood on that word, stood on the promises of God, the word that had come through the dreams, until the word of the Lord released him.
And during that time the word of the Lord tested him. If you're told that your brothers and your father are going to bow down to you, and your mother, and the brother said about killing you and all this kind of thing, you can have a rough time actually holding on to that word, but Joseph did hold on to that word.
And you know what I referred to in Genesis chapter 39, in terms of chapter 37 verse 5, Joseph had a dream and he told it to his brothers, and they hated him even more, so he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I've dreamed,” and basically his brother's reaction, in Genesis 37:8 his brother said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
Then in verse 9 he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers. “Look, I've dreamed another dream. And this time the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”
Joseph held on to God's word for 13 years
Well, sun, moon, eleven stars... when it was told to his father by Joseph and his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?” And, you know, these brothers did. I'd have to check on whether his father did... well, he must have done, if the Word of God says so, and certainly when Joseph was such a powerful man his brothers bowed and scraped by the time we've gone about three chapters, but for now they tossed that word out of the window.
They just fundamentally rejected that word, but what scripture says in Psalm 105 is that Joseph himself held onto it until the time that his word, the dream that his brothers, and then his brother, mother, and father would bow down to him, came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him, and that was thirteen years.
Thirteen years during which time the word of the Lord tested him. The king sent and released him, the ruler of the people let him go free, made him lord over his house and ruler over his possessions.
the first test of faithfulness
Holding on to the word of God was for the benefit of others
When Joseph finally reveals himself to his brothers, he says that God sent him ahead for a reason
The first test of faithfulness, then, is standing on the Word of God. Now, I want to suggest to you that there are two elements of that.
What is God's call for us?
Element number one is that we find out what it is that God is saying to us. What is His call? What is His promise? What is His crafted identity of our lives through His promise? You don't make that up. That's a very very important thing.
Hold on to God's calling despite difficulties
And secondly, having got that, having defined it, we hold on to that against the kind of thing that happens to Joseph, and that was pretty terrible stuff.
Now, that's key number one: the faithfulness. Faithful in believing the promise of God as defined in Psalm 105.
Hold on to God's calling despite difficulties
Here's the sting in the tail: The sting in the tail is that it was for the benefit of others, not just for himself.
If you're familiar with the story, you'll know that the beautiful, beautiful subsequent element in it when finally, finally, finally Joseph reveals to his brothers who he is.
In Genesis chapter 45 verse 4, Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near me.” This was after all the business with Simeon and with Benjamin and back and forth, and Jacob saying “You gonna send me down to the grave in tears?” and all this kind of stuff, and finally Joseph... it's been interesting reading it.
Some people think Joseph was just being mean to his brothers. I didn't think so. I think that one writer that I saw had a beautiful, beautiful definition.
He fundamentally said that until the brothers articulated their sin against Joseph -- not in his presence when things were going really badly, they didn't know who Joseph was, the money is returned and they're in trouble, the money and the cup is found in Benjamin's sack and they're in serious trouble -- until they articulated this sin, number one, until Judah said to his father, “I will take responsibility for this issue,” and they cease to be the murderer of their younger brother and became the protector of Benjamin, the younger brother, in a way diametrically opposite.
And until that happened, I don't think Joseph was ready to reveal to them who he was, but he did in chapter 45 verse 4.
4 And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvesting.”
Remember, the interpretation of Pharaoh's dream said there are going to be seven years of feast and seven years of famine.
Joseph is saying, verse six, “We've had two years and there’s another five to come, and God sent me before you,” Genesis 45 verse 7, “to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So it was not you who sent me here, but God.”
Wow! They sold him. they betrayed him, they almost killed him, they treated him, to say the least, wretchedly, but he's able to say, “It was not you who sent me here, but God, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, the Lord of all his house and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord over all of Egypt; come down to me and do not tarry.”’ Verse 11, “I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.”
The point then, the sting in the tail, very simply is that this standing on the promises was not for him, but it was for his posterity. Of course it was for him, it couldn't happen without him, but the intent, the purpose of it that Joseph saw, is this thing is for my people. This thing is for others. This thing is for the brothers who've treated me so lousily, for my father, for the family.
Now, if we lay a hold of this, this is quite, quite extraordinary, and it's absolutely critical: if we're standing on the promises for the benefit of ourselves, then we're way short of the purposes of God. If we understand that these promises are given for others, as well as ourselves, then we're really standing on the promises.
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