“I Am With You” – The Joseph Story

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Series: Other Speakers

Sun am 29 June 2014 – Justus Swart

Col. 1:27; Gen. 37:1­-36(NIV); Gen. 39:1-23; 2 Tim. 2:22; Gen. 40: 1- 23;
Gen.41:1-43; Prov. 29:11; Prov. 16:32

Although Christianity has done a lot of good in the initial phase of evangelism, unfortunately it has subconsciously created a sense of an outward expectancy. It made us believe that the answer to whatever our question may be is somewhere else, but not inside of us. We wait for somebody to come to save or liberate us. In South America there is a liberation theology movement where the expectancy is that God will come liberate everyone from financial, political and social situations. This is appealing in the Third World considering the circumstances they are facing. But the wonderful message that Christ brings to us is not that He is far away but that He is near. Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27). The gospel teaches us that we all have the capacity to carry Christ in us. We all have a different idea of that that means.

We are introduced to Joseph the favourite son of Jacob for whom he made a rich robe setting him apart from his brothers. Joseph had his dreams in which he was elevated above his brothers (Gen. 37:1-11). His brothers were not supportive and hated him. Even his father became upset with him(Gen. 37:12-36). Joseph who was favoured among all his kin was soon bought and sold and finds himself as a slave.

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. The Lord was with Joseph so that he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned ….. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. When she saw that he had left his cloak in her hand and had run out of the house, she called her household servants. “Look,” she said to them, “this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us! He came in here to sleep with me, but I screamed. When he heard me scream for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” She kept his cloak beside her until his master came home. Then she told him this story: “That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house.” When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did(Gen. 39:1-23).

Temptation does not knock once, you can say “no” once but you have to be prepared to say “no” many times in all areas of life. You have to build fortitude and strengthen your own character. In all of these terrible circumstances, Joseph never lost his composure. Flee 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 (2 Tim. 2:22). But in all these things the word says that “the Lord was with him”. He put him in control in the house of Potiphar; the Lord’s favour was with him even when he was wrongly thrown in prison.

Sometime later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. ………… “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”………….. Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand— but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him (Gen. 40:1-23).

Joseph walks up to his fellow prisoners and notices how sad they are. He proceeds to take care of them. Many times we are consumed by our own trials that we do not notice others peoples’ trials. Joseph made it his duty to be responsible for those who were under him. We also forget others when things are going well just like the cupbearer. Fortunately for Joseph, this cupbearer was not the orchestrator of his life; and it was not dependent on what Joseph could do. Joseph keeps his composure through all the disappointments.

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up ……..Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings”. …. So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”…………. Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you (Gen. 41:1-43).

Two years later after liberating the cupbearer, and interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, the Scriptures reveal the appalling condition in which Joseph was detained, in a damp and dark dungeon. He was denied all the basic essentials except for food and water. It says that the Lord was with him and favoured him, but it did not seem that way at the time. Joseph was finally recognized as a man capable of great administrative qualities. It is amazing how God can change your situation. Joseph eventually goes on to rule the whole land of Egypt.

Looking back at this young man, he had a bright future ahead of him. He had dreams and aspirations and it was not his dream to be a slave. He did not ask to be put on this journey of misfortune, be we are reminded in the Scripture that God was with him. Joseph never questioned the unexpected turns in his life. He makes the most of every situation and even excels despite his circumstances. He never identified himself as a victim of his circumstances, although he could have done so. It seems that Joseph lost control of his life entirely. What control do we have of our future and over our lives? The circumstances did not define who he was. Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm in the end (Prov. 29:11); Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes acity(Prov. 16:32). When we lose control of our circumstances we think that somehow we have deviated from the plan of God. We start questioning and asking, “Where is God?” The Bible tells us that throughout the trials of his life God was with him. The Bible tells us “Christ is in us”. It is a proclamation of who we are. You have Christ the king in you. Your circumstances do not make you who you are. The people around you do not control your destiny. Despite what is going on around us, God is in us. You can be put in a dungeon but God will always restore you. It is His glory and He will defend it. God is in you and the hope of glory is inside you.