January 31, 2021
Sermon notes January 31, 2020
This week our reading completed Genesis, and yesterday we started in Exodus. If you have kept up with the daily reading plan in January, you read two full books: Genesis and Job. This morning, we will focus on Joseph. Most people first learn about Joseph as the boy with the coat of many colors. To give a brief outline of Joseph’s story, he is the first born of Rachel, who was Jacob’s favorite wife, and thus he becomes Jacob’s favorite son, which leads to the gift of the coat. Joseph has dreams which are visions from God. Joseph tells his family about his dreams and how they foretell he would become greater than all his family, and they would bow before him. As you can imagine, jealousy and anger arise among his brothers, and they fake his death to deceive their father and sell Joseph off to traders. The traders take Joseph to Egypt and sell him as a slave. Remember, Egypt is the place of corruption and opposition to God, and it is not good. As a slave, Joseph lives for God and earns his master’s respect, becoming the head of the house. However, the master’s wife lusts for Joseph, but Joseph defies her advances. Eventually, the wife falsely accuses Joseph of attacking her, which leads to Joseph’s imprisonment. In prison, Joseph works to earn the respect of others and is well regarded. He would also interpret dreams of prisoners correctly, informing one prisoner of his future release and restoration in service as Pharaoh’s cupbearer and another prisoner of his impending death. As time continues, Pharaoh has strange dreams no one can interpret. The cupbearer remembers Josepha and tells Pharaoh. Suddenly Joseph is before Pharaoh, hearing his dream. Joseph interprets the dream regarding a future famine lasting seven years. With Pharaoh’s trust earned, Joseph is made second in command and put in charge of all preparations for the famine. This leads to family reunion when the famine-stricken family of Israel (Jacob) goes down to Egypt for food. The family is reunited, and the Israelites settle in Egypt.
Now, how is this story meaningful to us today? One thing it reveals to us about God is God’s greatness over people’s plan. Joseph’s brothers meant evil when they sold him into slavery and his master’s wife meant evil when she framed him of attempted rape, but God used all those events to place Joseph into a position where he could interpret Pharaoh’s dreams and become the head the storage of food to save so many lives. In all this Joseph brought glory to God before all of Egypt. Genesis 50:19-20 tells us God is capable of taking people’s evil schemes and accomplishing greater good. Let that truth guide you in life.
I also want us to consider the example of Joseph. In Genesis 39:1-10, we see Joseph’s commitment to obeying and honoring God. Do you see his commitment to honoring the people in his life? He is a slave, but he is not in rebellion, sulking, in misery, driven by anger or vengeance. In Genesis 39:21-23, Joseph is now in prison but continues living a life of obedience and honoring God. In Genesis 41:14-16, Joseph is placed in a position of opportunity. However, he is not self-promoting nor is he leveraging anything. In humility, he is pointing people to God. By his truth and testimony, he earns tremendous favor and brings glory to God. He does all of this after he was betrayed by family, sent to the evil land of Egypt, betrayed by a woman, imprisoned, and forgotten. None of it is his fault. But Joseph had a resolve to live for God in all circumstances.
How resolved are you to stay firmly obedient to God? I believe we may be having a reckoning soon here in America. Biden’s policies are one threat. From threatening to overturn the Hyde Amendment that kept tax dollars from funding abortion to laws that would demand doctors perform abortions to the transgender deceit that distorts the truth of gender and ends the religious protections in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for those that would stand by the truth. Recently the Huff Post ran an article linking Christian schools and curriculums to the Washington riots and raid of the Capitol. Such articles are attempts to portray Christians as a threat to the public. These things are the work of Satan, the father of lies and the accuser of Christians. Satan is looking to destroy the witness of Christians.
We must ask ourselves is our resolve to stay with God no matter what will come? And will our witness be one that finds favor and is above reproach? Christians need to live in such a way that the lies from the devil cannot be believed by the public. Our actions and our voice in the public realm should be so dominated by God’s love and righteousness that no one would believe deceitful accusations hurled at us. Joseph was willing to remain faithful to the Lord and to do right by people even though he was repeatedly hurt and let down by others. Joseph stood firm in the Lord when everything went wrong. I believe accusations are coming soon against true believers and soon standing firm in the Lord will invite unfriendly reactions, will we have the same resolve as Joseph?