Peninsula Community Church
Joseph: Dysfunction, Detours, and Destiny
September 27, 2015
This morning, we will look at the last of the three subjects related to Joseph’s life. So far, we have looked at Joseph’s dysfunctional family, and we have looked at the detours that Joseph faced. Today, we will look at Joseph’s ability to achieve the destiny that God had for him. You see God directed Joseph, but Joseph also exhibited characteristics and qualities that allowed him to be used for this purpose.
What was the destiny designed by God. When all is said and done, we come to find that Joseph is used by God to save Egypt and his family from certain death. That was his destiny. It was God’s plan all along to use him as a means to save Egypt and to save his family. While that was an awesome destiny, you see God had a bigger picture in mind. The bigger eternal picture for God was not just the salvation one person, or one family. He was about saving the whole world not from a food famine but a spiritual famine. Through the lineage of Judah, the Messiah would be born. Through Judah, in spite of his family’s dysfunctions and issues, God chose to use them to be the lineage by which Jesus the one and only Messiah would be born.
I heard Beth Moore say this week that sometimes we underestimate our purpose in the kingdom of God. In an effort to be humble, we underestimate what God wants to do through us and for that matter in us. We feel that we are not capable of anything more than what we are doing in the moment. We feel we are not able to achieve great things for Him. In her message, she made this proclamation. Too often, we are striving for excellence to the degree that we miss out on doing good things for God. Joseph did the right thing in spite of his past, in spite of his circumstances, and most of all in spite of his family. Joseph was used to bring the Father’s will into being.
Let’s look at the story for a moment. You will remember that Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. He was raised to prominence in Potiphar’s home. He was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and was thrown into jail by Potiphar. In prison, he befriends two of Pharaoh’s servants, the cupbearer and the baker. The baker and the cupbearer both had dreams and they came to Joseph to interpret the dreams. When the cupbearer had a positive outcome to his dream, the cupbearer promised Joseph that he would put in a good word for Joseph. But the cupbearer forgot his promise. But in time, Pharaoh had a dream and needed someone to interpret the dream. The cupbearer suddenly remembers his promise to Joseph. He tells pharaoh about Joseph and Joseph is summoned by Pharaoh. Pharaoh tells Joseph his dream and Joseph gives an interpretation. Pharaoh in turn promotes Joseph to be his right hand man and gives Joseph full reign over Egypt.
How did this come to pass? As we noted last week, God had positioned Joseph throughout this story to be at the right place, at the right time. He did what he knew to do in the moment with what he had to do with. Not only did Joseph interpret the dream, but he counseled Pharaoh that they should prepare for the coming famine by planting extra wheat and extra crops.
Listen to Joseph’s plan. Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land and take one- fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plentiful years. And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine. And that is what Pharaoh did. Once again, Joseph is positioned to fulfill the destiny to which he had been called.
Now fast forward a couple of years. In the middle of the famine, Joseph’s family was being negatively effected by the famine so they decided to head to Egypt because they heard that they had food. But when Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt, they had no idea what was waiting for them. Little did they know that the little brother they had sold into slavery was about to be their savior. The one they had mocked, spoken evil of, treated with disdain and bitterness, and the who had dreamed that he would be their ruler was about to become exactly that, their ruler. Joseph the one who had been rejected, falsely accused, and forgotten was now elevated to the place of rulership and governorship over Egypt. Nothing in Egypt was done without Joseph’s consent. For Joseph’s brothers, the very one they had despised was now their doorway for their survival. What would he do? How would he react to his brothers.
As we have noted in the past, Joseph could have been angry, belligerent, and intolerant to his brothers but he chose to walk in forgiveness and the grace that had been bestowed upon him. Joseph was an exceptional believer in God. How would you have responded to the things he went through? Would you have been angry? Would you have wanted to get even? How many would have had an “I told you so” moment? How many would have blamed their siblings for the path he took and the struggles they faced? But Joseph, being the man who had been transformed through the obstacles he faced, lived out of forgiveness and grace and not anger and retaliation.
As they are reunited, listen to the words of Joseph as he related to his brothers. Listen to the tone and verbiage he uses. We do not hear any anger in his voice nor do we sense there was a heart of revenge. So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over 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 of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry. You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near me, you and your children and your children’s children, and your flocks, your herds, and all that you have (Genesis 45:4-10).
And then five chapters later we find these words. When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50:15-21).
So the question that must be posed is how did he do this? How did Joseph survive? How did he reach his destiny without being tainted, bitter, or angry? I propose three key characteristics that defined his life. First, the dream kept him going. He had a vision of what could be. He had a dream that was so different than the reality he was living. We must understand today that this was a God-size dream. The Bible tells us that without a vision the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). Joseph’s God-dream and God-vision kept him going when everything around him was falling apart. This dream brought him hope. This dream gave him something to live for. Joseph knew the vision was from God and he did not give up and he did not give in.
The second characteristic of Joseph was that he was a man of integrity. Warren Wiersbe in his book the “Integrity Crisis” states there are three notable characteristics of someone with integrity. First, he had a single heart. He doesn’t try to love God and the world at the same time. Doing so sets us up for failure. Secondly, he had a single mind. His single outlook helped to determine his outcome. James 1:8 says that a double minded man is unstable in all of his ways. And thirdly, he had a single will. He seeks to serve one and only one master. Even though he served Potiphar and he served Pharaoh, he was in reality serving God. Peter T. Forsythe has stated “The first duty of every soul is to find not its freedom but it Master.” Once you find your master you will find your freedom and you will find what moves you and guides you.
Finally, Joseph recognized that God was with him and was orchestrating the events of his life. Over and over we hear the words that echo throughout the story “And the Lord was with Joseph.” God was with Joseph and Joseph knew that he could overcome anything because of that. Today, we not only have God with us but we have in Him us. He never leaves us nor does He forsake us. When Jesus left this earth, He left the Holy Spirit to abide with us and live in us.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2015 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom