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Enduring Trials and Tribulations

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The Story of Joseph

Who is Joseph?
Joseph was one of Jacob’s 12 sons. The 12 sons made up the 12 tribes of Israel. It was these sons that God had ordained to grow Israel into its own independent nation that would soon occupy the land that God had promised that He would give them.
The story of Joseph begins with God’s Word telling us how Jacob showed much more love to Joseph than the other sons. Due to this fact Joseph’s brothers develop a burning hatred toward their brother:
Genesis 37 (ESV)
Jacob lived in the land of his father’s sojournings, in the land of Canaan.
These are the generations of Jacob.
Joseph, being seventeen years old, was pasturing the flock with his brothers. He was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives. And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.
Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more. He said to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” His brothers said to him, “Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brothers indeed come to bow ourselves to the ground before you?” And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.
Joseph begins to gather these divine dreams, God is giving him glimpses of his destiny, he is sharing with his family and he is not met with support but much defiance. His family did not like the idea of them having to serve their son and brother.
Sometimes our callings are very great, and when others see God taking us places, they often begin to get jealous. Do not think that being a christian means that everyone will like you. In fact you must expect them to hate you.
2 Timothy 3:12 ESV
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
1 John 3:13 ESV
Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.
In the story of Joseph we will see many trials that He had to face to walk in the calling of God, but in the end of it we will see how God used all his pain and suffering to save the entire nation.
Now his brothers went to pasture their father’s flock near Shechem. And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers pasturing the flock at Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” And he said to him, “Here I am.” So he said to him, “Go now, see if it is well with your brothers and with the flock, and bring me word.” So he sent him from the Valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. And a man found him wandering in the fields. And the man asked him, “What are you seeking?” “I am seeking my brothers,” he said. “Tell me, please, where they are pasturing the flock.” And the man said, “They have gone away, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’ ” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan.
They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer. Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.” But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.
Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt.
When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” Then they took Joseph’s robe and slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. And they sent the robe of many colors and brought it to their father and said, “This we have found; please identify whether it is your son’s robe or not.” And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his garments and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father wept for him. Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.
Due to hatred developed in the hearts of Joseph’s brothers, they sell Him into slavery and then deceive their father and end up breaking his heart.
Genesis 39 (ESV)
Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. So he left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate.
Here we begin to see God’s hand on Joseph’s life. He had just endured some of the most heartbreaking experiences of his life, and now He is seeing that God is blessing Him through it, so he ends up owning his situation. He put’s his trust in God and in return God is bringing up to higher places.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her.
But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. And as soon as he heard that I lifted up my voice and cried out, he left his garment beside me and fled and got out of the house.” Then she laid up his garment by her until his master came home, and she told him the same story, saying, “The Hebrew servant, whom you have brought among us, came in to me to laugh at me. But as soon as I lifted up my voice and cried, he left his garment beside me and fled out of the house.”
As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison.
Just when things started going good for Joseph the heat is turned up again, once gain he has everything stripped from him and he is at the bottom again.
Some of you have experienced the same things that Joseph has in this story. You have people that hate you and talk all kinds of evil about you for no reason. People have sat and made up lie after lie about you. You may sit and question God why? Why are you allowing this to happen to me?
Like Joseph some of you have had everything you loved and cared about stripped from you, taken in a flash. You were at one time living your best life, then all at once it all comes crashing down. You may have thought, God why would you give me all these good things then just take them from me.
Some of you have found yourself in Joseph’s shoes when people have tried to get you to sin and you willfully said no and trusted in God, and for your faith they made fun of you.
Make no mistake friends if it hasn’t happened already you will be pressured by others to commit sin, you will face a fiery decision: consent and when their approval and sin against God, or faithfully say no and face the harsh words that they will throw your way. 2 Tim 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,”
You may face people talking behind your back when you desire to walk with God, you may see people who you thought loved you, in a moment quickly turn their backs on you. If we look at the story of Joseph we see that all these are a possibility.
John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.””
But that brings the question? What do we do to survive the trials and persecutions in this world?
Well lets see what Joseph did:
Joseph prioritized his faith, despite what others thought and said about him, he never wavered in his faith in God. Your faith in God must be first in your life before anything else. Like Joseph did you have to completely sell out for God. You have to boldly trust in the things that God has promised you in this life and don’t be afraid to speak it! Even when what you have to say may make others offended, if it is the Word of God speak it! When God promises you that if you will “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” that he will take care of all your needs, like Joseph did you have to stand by your trust in Him when everything you have is taken from you. God hears your crys and he can feel your pain. (we will get to that in a minute)
Joseph never tried to get payback on his enemies for doing what they did to Him, instead he allowed God to handle it. You have to let God fight your battles for you. This means not going after payback. Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”” Never try to fix the problem yourself. Trust me God has seen what has been done to you and whoever did it, he will teach them their lesson. When you go and try to get back at someone, you actually put God in a position to discipline you because your heart is not in the right place. Letting God fight your battles also means to go to Him in prayer and let Him take your burden off of you. Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”” What does it look like to give Jesus your burdens? Simply go to Him and express to Him your burden and tell Him that your giving it to Him and by saying that and believing in your heart that he will do it, simply stand up and walk away from it. And when that thing tries to come back to you, remind yourself that you have already given that to Jesus and He is taking care of it.
Joseph diligently tried to maintain Godliness and Purity through everything he went through. In all things in every situation you must try your best to walk in righteousness or simply follow what Jesus has said to do. This is so crucial because when we do not walk in righteousness and we are walking in sin, we can find ourselves actually being disciplined by God, or even worse: If we walk in sin too much for too long, God will turn us over to our sin and we could lose the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Romans 1:28 “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” As believers we cannot afford to sin, because not only are we sinning against God, but we could also bring judgement upon ourselves and lose the favor of God. One reason why God had so much favor on Joseph was because he diligently desired to follow God’s commandments. Proverbs 3:1-4 “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.”
So what about the rest of Joseph’s story.
Well in Gen 40 we see that while Joseph was in prison God gives him the wisdom to interpret two dreams of two fellow prisoners. One of the prisoners was pharoh’s baker and the other was his cupbearer. The dream of the baker stated that Pharoh would kill him. The dream of the cupbearer interpreted was that pharoh would pull him out of prison and give him back his job.
After two years of being freed from prison and back in Pharoh’s house pharoh himself has 2 dreams. These dreams frightened him, so he desperatly tries to find a interpretation so he calls all his magicians and sorcerers but no one can interpret it. It is here that the cupbearer remembers Joseph and he calls Joseph and he comes and God gives Joseph the interpretation: God tells Pharoh in his dreams that their will be 7 years of a great harvest, but after that there would be 7 years of famine. Not only does God give Joseph the interpretation, but He also gives him the solution to save the people in the land during the famine, so that the people wont starve. This pleases Pharoh so much that immedietly he gets Jospeh out of prison and sets him over the entire nation of Egypt, as far as authority goes he is 2nd behind pharoh!
Why is this promotion so huge?
Picking up in Ch. 43-45 Josephs brothers make a journey to Egypt, because they are in need of food during the famine, they are so low on food that they may die of starvation. Gen 45:7-8 “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.” Here the Word of God gives us the very reason why Joseph had to go through everything. It was all in the plan of God to get Him on the throne in Egypt so that he could save the lives of the Israelites. And by this sometimes unnoticed plan, God preserved the nation that would bring us our savior Jesus Christ.
Perhaps the greatest lesson we can all learn from Joseph is to never think that what we are going through at the time is all about us. It could be that sometimes God has to allow us to go through some things so that through that others can be saved. There is always a bigger picture to God’s plan in your life, when trials come, instead of getting beat down by the circumstances and questioning God, stop and question yourself and seek how what is happening in your life can be used to help someone else. Not only will it help you get through it but it will help you embrace it.
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