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Joseph: Perseverance with a Purpose

 

Joseph: Perseverance with a Purpose

Genesis 39:1 through Genesis 39:23 (NASB)

1Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. 2The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. 3Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. 5It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD’S blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. 6So he left everything he owned in Joseph’s charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate.

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” 8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9“There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” 10As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her. 11Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. 12She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. 13When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. 15“When he heard that I raised my voice and £screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled and went outside.” 16So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. 17Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; 18and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”

Joseph Imprisoned

19Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned. 20So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail. 21But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. 22The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it. 23The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper.

[Pray]

 

I.          Recap Joseph's Story

John told this story a few weeks ago about how Joseph, son of Jacob, was the favored son and was treated ill for it. He's brothers threw him into a well. We saw how this was demonstrated in Isaac's family toward his sons Jacob and Esau and to be honest it happened with Abraham's as well. Growing up, Isaac saw that he received favor over the Ishmael who was eventually cast out…again, the younger child, Isaac, favored over the older child Ishmael…and so it goes down from generation to generation.

A.         What His Brothers did to Him.

Genesis 37:19 through Genesis 37:20 (NASB)

19They said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer! 20"Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams!"

 

Genesis 37:23 through Genesis 37:25 (NASB)

23So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; 24and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.

25Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt.

 

B.         Why His Brothers Did it to Him.

We know why…daddy played favorites…with his wives and with his sons…they got sick of it. It didn't help that Joseph was talking smack about them. Like John was saying a few weeks ago, he gave an 'evil report' about his brothers.

 

Then to add to that he says, "hey guys guess what, I had this dream that were like uh, gathering sheaves in the field and like your sheaves bowed down to mine. Now I don't know what the dream means …

 

And you can just picture them fuming, maybe bumping him on the way out. I'm thinking they must not have reacted vocally so Joseph just doesn't get it and he says, "check it out, did you know, did you know, did you know, I had this other dream that the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down me…it was so awesome. Like I said, I don't really know what the dreams about but you know pops here had that dream with the angels and stars and all and it was from God and I wouldn't be so bold but…

 

And all of a sudden…*BLAM* he gets a sandal thrown at him from the other side of the room and his dad says, "So, lemme get this straight, you're saying we're all going to bow down to you?” A little bit of tension there, ne. So, they sell him to a hairy bunch of Ishmaelites.

 

II.         Joseph's Vision

A.         A Dream from God?

Now, was the dream from God? Whatever it was it produced a vision and the search for a destiny. The text doesn't say that the dream was from God or that anyone encouraged him or told him it was so. I think he believed it though. Hindsight is 20/20. We know later on in the story that he interpreted Pharaoh's dreams, and thereby winning his destiny, the destiny that he dreamt about so many years previously--him being a ruler that his family bowed down to.

III.        Making it Big in a Foreign Land

A.         A Yokel in the City

In the meantime, Joseph was a country boy being carted off to a foreign land, sold into slavery. Perhaps at this point Joseph isn't thinking too highly of this "revelation" from God. It was just a dream. So Joseph goes to this city. He's probably scared. If you remember his family's last dealings with the city in Shechem, the men of that town had raped his sister, Dinah.

B.         Civilization

Joseph is in Egypt. He's a teenager in a big city, towering. I don't know, pyramids? It wasn't just 11 brothers and a bunch of sheep. Egypt had libraries… they had writing. Jacob and sons didn't have writing or books. Back in Canaan they didn't have anything to do but throw each other into a well for entertainment. Here there was civilization, there was beer, there were brothels and there was debauchery. This was a whole new world to Joseph. Remember last week I made reference to a young man who goes off to the city to sow his wild oats. That wouldn't be Joseph. After all, he came there as a slave and slavery in Egypt at that time, probably amounted to an equivalent ranging from sex trafficking to immigrant labor. There wasn't a whole lot of opportunity for someone like Joseph. He didn't have an impressive resume. I don't even know if he could claim that he had experience as a shepherd. He could say that he had experience giving evil reports about shepherds, because in Egypt shepherds were despised.

C.         Rags to Riches

Now, as dysfunctional as Joseph's family has been I gotta think he still sees this as worse. Remember, he's just a teenager. However, the text says that Joseph is successful in Egypt.

 

Genesis 39:2 through Genesis 39:4 (NASB)

2The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. 3Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.

 

Not only was Joseph, successful, but because God was with him, the people around him were successful. Joseph got a job working in the White House. Potiphar, Joseph's boss, was an officer of Pharoah. So, that be like got Spencer here getting a job as a shoe shine boy for a secret serviceman of Pres. Obama. Or maybe running sound for a presidential ball or something I don't know.

 

IV.        The Test

He's not the King of the world, but is doing okay. He is well fed and even though he doesn't own a lot of his own stuff he might as well. And he's a studmuffin. Not Spencer...Joseph.

 

Genesis 39:6 through Genesis 39:9 (NASB)

Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance.

In the ancient Hebrew. The words for form and appearance actually mean, stud muffin. I went to Bible school I studied this stuff. I know.

7It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” 8But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. 9“There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?”

 

You have to admit Joseph's answer was very gracious. The text doesn't say whether he thought she was a beautiful woman or not. But even if she wasn't, where does he get the sophistication to give her a rebuff like this?  "I'd love to but only God holds me back."

And she doesn't just let up after one try. This goes on for days.

 

Genesis 39:10 through Genesis 39:18 (NASB)

10As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her to lie beside her or be with her. 11Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. 12She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. 13When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. 15“When he heard that I raised my voice and £screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled and went outside.” 16So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. 17Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; 18and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”

A.         Overcoming Temptation

Joseph resisted the temptation. He was a young man in his late teens or early twenties who had the opportunity to have intimate relations with a woman and no strings attached. He didn't even say, "Mrs. Potiphar, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you?"

 

This is the point of the sermon when I am supposed to read you litany of Bible verses that encourage us to resist temptation. The sponsors of this sermon would insist that I do so at this time so without further ado all turn this presentation over to the sponsor.

 

Pray tell presents purity's greatest hits. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity only comes around maybe once or twice in a lifetime. You'll hear such hits as:

Psalm 119:9 (NIV)

9

            How can a young man keep his way pure?

 

            By living according to your word.

 

2 Timothy 2:22 (NIV)

22Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

 

Now how much would you pay? Don't answer that! There more. Don't forget the book of James, the book that Martin Luther highlighted in black:

 

James 4:7 through James 4:8 (NIV)

7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

 

Now, I don't want to take away from the Scriptures, because they're valid and useful. But Joseph didn't have these verses. He didn't have the 10 Commandments. You see, we have those things, we have the word of God, and we have the story of the gospel. We have the hope of the resurrection.

So, why did he do it, why did he resist temptation in the name of God? Think about it, think about the upbringing he had. Think about who his role models were. Think of the history of his family. His great-grandfather, Abraham slept with the maid and just about traded his wife's body for camels. His grandfather, Isaac did the same thing with Rebekah his wife. One one partner in bed wasn't enough for his dad, Jacob, he got four. His older brother Reuben was with his mother's maid, Bilhah. So, sexual purity is not a tradition here. Studying the word of God is not available. The society that Joseph now lives in is one that's very casual with its intimate relations, pedophilia and prostitution are not frowned on in that society. Some rather liberal commentators would say that this narrative must have been written by an author other than Moses because Joseph seems to differ so much from the rest of his family. Their deductions are incorrect, but that's how odd Joseph seems in context. So, this isn't just about a sense of what is right and wrong in God's sight for Joseph.

1.         A Vision

So, what is it about? It's about vision. God gave Joseph a vision and a dream. Nobody had to tell Joseph that his dream was from God. I'm sure God gave them that dream again. I'm sure God was communicating and reminding Joseph that dream constantly. This was why Joseph resisted temptation in the name of God.

Proverbs 29:18 (NASB)

18 Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained,

     But happy is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18 (NIV)

18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;

     but blessed is he who keeps the law.

This is the same verse from two different Bible translations, but you can see that they both make a distinction between a vision or revelation and the law. The law says thou shalt do or not do something. The revelation of the vision represents the goal or a destiny. If you don't have a vision of what God wants you to be or a vision for what you will be, there isn't a lot of motivation to be obedient to God's standards. I mean, if you know that your entry to heaven is paid for by Jesus Christ, why on earth would you want to live a life where you would deny yourself fleshly desires? Now, that vision might not be as grand as say... ruler of a country, but it might be as grand as having a happy marriage, being a good mommy or daddy, or the godliest, purest example of bachelorhood that you can be.

Those other verses James, Psalms, 2Timothy are useful guideposts to living pure. They are not salvation though. They're valuable, if they make you see your need for God, specifically Jesus Christ and the sacrifice he paid for your refusal to consistently live by godly standards. They are useful like the guard rail on a tight curve is useful. You can still plow right through it if you like, but they are there to keep you on track, on the road to...where...? Heaven? No, that's already been paid for by Jesus. You see, Heaven isn't our vision. What is our vision? I talked about this last week. Being conformed to the image of Christ. Christ is the perfect image of man living as he is meant to live, the perfect image of God. Man was created to be an image bearer of God. Christ is that image.

 

What happens before the vision is fulfilled? Refinement.

 

Moses who would follow after Joseph some 400 and some odd years later, had a vision to save Israel, but his first attempts failed and he ended up living in a wilderness for generations, until God was ready to use him to fulfill the vision that he placed on Moses heart in the first place.

 

King David, was anointed as the next King of Israel. Then, for a few dozen years, he’s serving the King that he is to replace and then he has to run from that King. You can read his story and first and second Samuel. There seems to be a consistent process of refinement. The Apostle Paul also had to wait a bit before going off into ministry after his miraculous conversion.

Did the Apostle Paul fulfill his destiny? Yes. Did he suffer hardship? But was he successful?

 

V.         Destiny

Your destiny is not sin management. If you are in Christ then your destiny is not a life of defeat. Jesus says:

John 10:7 through John 10:10 (NASB)

7So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8“All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

This doesn't mean that you're not going to have your share of hardships in this life and that there's not going to be toil for the vision. Jesus also says, "in this world you will have trouble but I give you my peace that where I am you may also be." Ultimately, Christ is the vision. Where he is, you may also be.

We've already got a glimpse of some of the hardship Joseph went through and because of his stand for righteousness, and ultimately the vision, he's about to spend a few years in jail.

 

Genesis 39:13 through Genesis 39:20 (NASB)

13When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, 14she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. 15“When he heard that I raised my voice and £screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled and went outside.” 16So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. 17Then she spoke to him with these words, “The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; 18and as I raised my voice and screamed, he left his garment beside me and fled outside.”

Joseph Imprisoned

19Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned. 20So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail.

 

So, it wasn't enough that he had sold the slavery now, he's going to spend a few years in the federal pen. But, let's fast forward about three or four years:

 

Genesis 41:38 through Genesis 41:45 (NASB)

38Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is a divine spirit?” 39So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. 40“You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you.” 41Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. 43He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, “Bow the knee!” And he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45Then Pharaoh named Joseph £Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, as his wife. And Joseph went forth over the land of Egypt.

 

Genesis 41:51 through Genesis 41:57 (NASB)

51Joseph named the firstborn £Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52He named the second £Ephraim, “For,” he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

53When the seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55So when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried out to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; whatever he says to you, you shall do.” 56When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57The people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth.

 

Wait a second, how does he go from being thrown into a well to being the King of the world? God gave this man a vision and the destiny. Now there is a lot that happens in between a dry well and the destiny so stay tuned. We'll talk about that in the next few weeks I'm sure. The point is that Joseph fulfills his destiny of being conformed to the image of Christ, yes. I said conformed to the image of Jesus Christ who hadn't been born yet. How can you say that? Some may ask. Was not Joseph buried in the earth as if dead and treated as if he was dead by his family. Did he not get raised up out of that earthly tomb? Did he not, in a sense, lay down his life so that the world may be saved? "The people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth."

 

All of Egypt came to Joseph because they were hungry.

A.         Seeking the Vision

Are you hungry? Are you hungry for a vision from God? Now, we know our vision is to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. But how that looks specifically for each one of us may differ slightly. Where God asks you to lay down your life for others, may differ. How God uses each of you to pour life and share his gospel with those around you may differ. This is the vision though. The vision is not a spouse, a car, a lifestyle, or a dollar figure. Those may be included in the vision. Husbands, if God is giving you a vision for ministry how you might be conformed to the image of Christ, it's going to involve your family. Keep them in the loop. Signpost. Don't just wake up one morning and say to your wife, we are moving to Japan tomorrow. That doesn't go over too well.

B.         Fulfilling the Vision

Since you've all gathered here At Mosaic, it can be assumed that yes, you are seeking God's vision for your life. Even though the church is made up of many individuals, it's also the church, a body of believers seeking to save the lost and to redeem brokenness. Our vision at Mosaic, is to raise up the next generation of believers (world savers) by experiencing God, intimately, connecting with each other relationally, and engaging the world, passionately.

You know, for months I’ve been receiving e-mails from Mark Cunningham. He’s like this body building guy. He’s always inviting me to these events that I don’t want to go to. I finally had to ask to not be included in his mailing lists anymore.

So, this week, I’m doing my regular core workout at the YMCA and I hear this grunting and groaning. I didn’t pay much attention because I usually hear those sounds coming from what I call the “beefcake” section of the YMCA gym. Anyway, while I’m getting a drink of water the chief groaner walks up to me…it’s Mark Cunningham! He tells me he’s the one making all the noise. In turns out that all this, “Extreme Strength Now” thing is a ministry of his. He has a vision to reach people of that sub-culture. He has a website and he wants to go pro..building relationships, etc. I saw him leg press 1700 pounds…amazing. The other beefcakes there were just shaking their heads and smiling. They were talking with Mark and helping him pile on the weight. That man has a vision and he is working it. He’s meeting people so he can share the gospel with them.

I had coffee with a young man earlier this week. God has laid it on his heart to lead people in worship. You may have heard of him…he led us all in worship earlier. Mike Siegel. That man is working his vision.

 

1.         Prayer

Ask God what he has for you. Ask Him what the vision is for your life. Ask Him what it looks like for you to be conformed to the image of Christ. And when he answers you, because God loves to answer this kind of prayer, write it down. He may not give you the whole picture. He may just give you the next step. He may tell you to wait. Remember a few months ago, we talked about toiling for the vision: stepping out, stepping up or stepping back -- stepping out in faith, taking that next step, stepping up to the plate to help somebody else's vision along or stepping back in prayer and letting God fulfill the vision or the next step.

2.         New Year's Revolutions

Around this time a year we hear talk of New Year's resolutions. What I propose to you is a New Year's Revolution. Seeking a vision from God, the vision of being conformed to the image of one who saves the world is not just a resolution, losing weight, being more organized, saving money, it's revolutionary.

So, I challenge you to make New Year's Revolution. Ask God for the vision and live for it, passionately.

3.  Application

If that's your vision too, get connected with one of our life community groups. Get to know us and let us get to know you. That way we could all help each other reach the vision that God's laid out for us, individually and as a body of believers. Let's pray.

 

 

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