June 21, 2020
Joseph: Ongoing Opposition, Unwavering Integrity – Gen 45-46
So have you ever heard your Dad say any of those things? If you need anything between 12:00-4:00am please wake me up. Make sure you get all your video games done before starting your homework. You’re 16 so you pretty much know everything now. Or make sure to turn on all the lights before leaving the house. Clearly things that Dads never say! But it’s Father’s Day! A day to thank your Dad for all he’s done for you. A day to remember your Dad and all he did for you. And if you are a Dad it’s a day to relax! But for all of our Dads-I want you to think about this question-what are the best things about being a Dad? How would you answer that? Maybe it’s coming home from work and having your kids tackle you. Maybe it’s coming home from work and all your kids want to tell you something-all at the same time-Dad, guess what? Dad, you’ll never believe it! Dad, I was wondering… I was reading an article about the best aspects of fatherhood and one of the things it listed was that your kids can fathom anyone stronger than you. Isn’t that awesome-it’s the my dad can beat up your dad conversation. Of course all that comes to a crashing halt when you can get the lid unscrewed from a jar and somehow mom can! We won’t ask for a show of hands on that one! But maybe the best thing about being a Dad is all the fun you get to have with your kids or the places you get to take your kids. Maybe it’s the things you get to teach your kids and pass on to them. Dads-what’s something you’ve passed on to you kids? Maybe there’s a skill or a sport or a hobby or an interest you’ve passed on to them. Maybe it’s the love of your favorite sports team that always loses-but because you’re a fan so your kids are diehard fans! Or maybe you’ve passed on your wisdom or advice.
Maybe it’s your spiritual heritage and instruction which is the most important. It says in Eph 6-Fathers, don’t provoke your children to anger (don’t be that mean tyrant Dad), but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. And certainly that’s a responsibility for both parents-Mom and Dad. But we can’t escape the fact that the verse is specifically targeted to Dads-which means that’s a task they can’t overlook- Fathers, bring your children up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Because that’s a legacy that can never be erased. No matter how old we get, no matter how old our fathers get or how long it’s been since they were with us, we always wonder-What would my Dad do in this situation? How would he handle this or react to this? And if your Dad was a believer-you’ve probably asked yourself-How would my Dad trust the Lord in this situation? Would he follow God and lean on Him or just go with his gut? Fathers have a profound influence upon their children. And nowhere is that better seen than in Joseph’s life. As we’re continuing our series on his story we’re going to see a great reunion between father and son-a very long and overdue reunion!
And if you remember last week-the brothers were all reunited for the first time in over 20 years. Joseph gave them a great feast as all 11 brothers were with him in Egypt, including Benjamin. Joseph had butchered an animal so they’re eating steaks and burgers-as much food as they could eat-but yet they don’t know it’s Joseph. He’s kept his identity hidden in order to test his brothers-really in order to help facilitate some much needed transformation in his brothers. So after they eat and get ready to head back home-Joseph sets up one more test by putting his royal silver cup in Benjamin’s bag. And as the brothers have barely started the return journey, Joseph and his men come after them to inspect their bags-inquiring why they would have stolen Joseph’s cup. Of course the brothers have no idea it’s there, they clearly state their innocence-we didn’t steal it-far be it from us. In fact, so confident of their innocence that they say if one of us does have it off his head, let him be put to death. Little did they know they were spelling out their own doom! But they find the cup in Benjamin’s bag as Joseph had planted it-and the bothers are all completely baffled and afraid. They had promised their dad they would take extra care of Benjamin-and now he’s the one on the chopping block! Remember that Benjamin was the youngest, brother #12 and their Dad’s favorite other than Joseph who he assumes is dead. So this would be crushing news for their father if they return home without him. They literally say this will kill him. So Judah, bother #4, once again steps up and intercedes on their behalf saying-Lock me up instead of Benjamin. I’ll bear his punishment, I’ll take the penalty, let him go free. And that’s a great glimpse of the gospel and a picture of Jesus who willingly took our punishment so that we could go free. It’s amazing to see the heart of the gospel all the way back in Genesis. And when Joseph sees that from Judah, when Joseph sees his willingness and sacrificial attitude he knows God has been at work in his brothers-that these guys have been transformed by grace.
So take a look at his response. You can open up your Bibles to Gen 45 or we’ll have it up on the screen-Gen 45:1-3. The brothers are freaked out thinking this is it-we’re done for. Joseph’s been alive all these years, and now he’s the big boss in Egypt-we’re goners! But that’s not what happens-Gen 45:4-8. Three times Joseph reiterates how God has been in control, how God has orchestrated these events to bring Joseph to this position of authority to provide food and create a great family reunion. There is no sense of bitterness or a grudge on Joseph’s behalf-not an ounce of anger still smoldering somewhere in his heart or thoughts of getting even. Pt1:Being fully surrendered to God brings the freedom to forgive. What’s Joseph focused on-rehashing the wrongs from his brothers or looking to what God’s doing? Joseph isn’t replaying the past over and over in his mind, he’s excited about what God has in store-which allows him to clearly forgive. What about you? Are you someone who replays and rehashes the wrongs against you all the time-or are you someone like Joseph saying-God’s got this. He knows what He’s doing-and this is going to work out for good. Where are you on this spectrum? How would you react in Joseph’s shoes? About time you guys got here-I’ve got a few things to say to you! Or like Joseph-Don’t worry about it guys, I’m over the fact that you threw me in the pit and sold me to gypsies. I’m not looking to the past and growing bitter, I’m looking ahead to what God has in store for us! Back to Pt1. That’s what God calls us to do-because forgiveness opens up the door for reconciliation and this great family reunion. Take a look at Gen 45:9, 11. Joseph isn’t writing his brothers off and telling them how the tables have turned-enjoy being destitute back home-seems like your plans to sell me off years ago backfired-now I’m living in the luxury of Egypt! None of that-he’s inviting them into his life, he’s restoring the relationship and providing for them. This is the fruit of where forgiveness leads. And maybe that’s what you need to experience in your life. To let forgiveness lead you to reconciliation and restored relationships instead of bitterness.
In fact, Gen 45:16-20. Isn’t that the best news ever? Not only is Joseph telling his brothers to get their Dad-along with their wives and children to move to Egypt-but now Pharaoh is saying it-and telling them the best of Egypt will be theirs. They weren’t offered some kind of low-income housing in Egypt that was small and cramped but at least it’s better than starving to death in Canaan. They were offered the best parts of the land. And I love how Pharaoh said-Never mind about your belongings. That’s such an important detail because he’s saying-Don’t even worry about your stuff. Just leave it all behind, don’t try to drag all your old belongings with you-the place will be fully furnished, fully decked out when you get here. All the best comforts and styles of Egypt will be yours. Just load everybody up and head on out! Again, isn’t this the best news ever? This isn’t just being offered a condo in Florida-this is being offered the best that Orlando or Miami has. This is being offered the best that the Hamptons or Montauk has. For these brothers this is the greatest rags to riches story, the greatest future they could image-and it happened in an instant, just like that, all because of their brother’s grace that they didn’t deserve-but lavishly received. And it’s no different for us because of our brother’s grace that we didn’t deserve-but lavishly received-and his name isn’t Joseph, it’s Jesus. Our story, our situation is just like these brothers. We’re also living in a world of famine and starvation, we are destitute and doomed for death-not because of a lack of food-but because of our sin. It’s because this world is broken and cursed by rejecting God. And yet we have a brother, like Joseph, who’s full of love for us-and the great wrong that was committed against Him when He was crucified and put to death on the cross has now been used by God for great good by bringing us salvation and hope and an incredible future of a new home with Him. But we’re not just destined for the country of Egypt and the best it has to offer, we’re destined for the country of heaven, our eternal dwelling place-and it’s all because of Jesus our Savior. So Pt2:Being a follower of Jesus guarantees the best future imaginable.
Let that reality really sink into your soul this morning. It probably took the brothers a little while to get their heads around the idea of moving to Egypt. Was Joseph just pulling our leg? Is this really happening? The best parts of the land will be ours? What’s the catch? What’s in the fine print? But there wasn’t a catch, there wasn’t any fine print-it was because of their brother Joseph. And it’s the same for us-there’s no catch, there’s no fine print-we have the best future imaginable-and it’s because of Jesus. Look at Rom 8:18; 2 Pet 3:13. And then I love how earnestly Paul is telling us to not forget our future-Eph 1:18. Do the eyes of your heart grasp this reality? And I think the reason Paul is saying it this way is because we’re prone to forget it and lose sight of what’s up ahead. Now I don’t think that after Joseph told his brothers to load up their families and journey to Egypt that halfway there they got tired, or quit traveling, or just gave up on the journey. They knew what awaited them-it was the best of the Egypt-they would have headed straight there. But don’t we tend to give up the journey of this life, don’t we stall out or grow weary even though we know what awaits us in eternity? Unfortunately we tend to be a people who like to set up camp here and not embrace the future God has for us. We’re like people who compare tents along the way. Hey, check out my 4 bedroom tent-look at how I have it furnished and decorated, isn’t this amazing! Which doesn’t make any sense-because what awaits us is a permanent home in heaven, it’s the kingdom of God that cannot be shaken or moved but lasts forever! But we do that, don’t we? We compare tents. We get so caught up in the stuff of this world, so caught up in the fleeting treasures of this world-and they’re really nothing more tents! Temporary structures that won’t last. Who brags or boasts about tents? But that’s what we do when we get consumed with our houses, our cars, our bank accounts, whatever it may be in this life. But this verse is telling us not to do that do. Don’t let the eyes of your heart-which are your most important eyes! To not let the eyes of your heart lose sight of what matters most. Because what this verse is saying in a few short words is far better than the best Egypt has to offer, it’s far better than what any place on earth has to offer-the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. That’s Jesus’ inheritance-and by faith in Him, by having a relationship with Him-you get to share in that amazing, incredible, glorious inheritance! You get to go and be in that place, in the home, in the presence of your Savior who’s getting it all ready and prepared. Just like Joseph’s brothers got to share in his home in Egypt. What did he say-back to Gen 45:9. I love those last 2 words-Don’t delay! And that’s what Jesus is saying to us-Don’t delay! Don’t hold back, don’t stall out on the journey or throw in the towel. Don’t quit the race or give up the fight. Keep going, keep traveling, stay at it-don’t delay! What does it say in Heb 12:1-3.
Not only does Jesus have everything ready for us when we enter His presence in eternity-but He provides everything we need right now for the journey. Look back at Joseph-an incredible picture of Jesus-but look at what he does for his brothers-Gen 45:21-23. Not only will everything be ready when you get here-but you’ll have all you need to make the journey! All the clothes, food, animals, provisions you need. I’m sure a lot of trail mix, granola bars and beef jerky! Joseph didn’t leave anything out for his family-and Jesus hasn’t left anything out for us. I go back to Eph 1:3-everything we need right now to make it through this life, everything we need for strength and perseverance, everything we need to make it home to Him. Or listen to Jesus words Himself-John 14:27. You have all you need in Jesus as you look to Him and trust Him! That’s Pt3:Being focused on what’s ahead gives you His peace in the present. And that’s such an important promise-because it’s easy to freak out on the journey. It’s easy to get scared, nervous, discouraged, frustrated and want to give it up. But that’s the very thing you can’t do-Lewis quote
God is there to cleanse us and prepare us for being in His presence. That’s what He’s doing right now in our lives-getting us ready. Because what lies up ahead is the greatest family reunion of all time! There isn’t a better Father’s Day passage than what happens next in Gen 46:28-30. Father and son haven’t seen each other for well over 20 years. Jacob thought Joseph was dead-and yet here they are finally reunited., hugging one another, crying, laughing, catching up. Jacob says-I can now die a happy man as I know you’re alive and we’re together. It’s awesome-what an amazing reunion. And yet-let me say-our reunion, the reunion with our Father in heaven doesn’t end in death-but lasts forever. Take the beauty and the joy and happiness of this reunion and multiply it about 1,000 times, multiply it a million times-because look at what awaits us in Christ-Rev 21:3-4, 6-7. That’s the family reunion that’s up ahead. That’s what awaits you. That’s where the journey of this life leads-but it’s all based on being a child of God. It’s all based on being a part of His family now-and that happens through faith in Jesus. If you haven’t trusted Him, this future isn’t yours. If don’t belong to Him now, you won’t belong to Him then. Only through Jesus is this a reality. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done or the mistakes you’ve made. God is in the business of forgiveness-that’s what He does. He can save you and forgive you no matter how bad you’ve messed up. The question is if you’ll let Him. If you’ll trust Him with your life. So in the words of Joseph-don’t delay. Begin the journey now. Turn to Jesus to forgive you and save you and transform you and give you hope-the hope of the greatest, most amazing, glorious, everlasting family reunion you could ever imagine!