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Genesis 37:36; 39:1-6
THE LORD WAS WITH JOSEPH
Intro: When we left Joseph in our last message, he had been betrayed by his own brothers and sold as a slave. Joseph had been sold to some Ishmaelite merchants for less than $100.00. His brothers sold him for the price of a crippled slave! The Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt and put him up for sale in that land.
Try to put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment. You are seventeen years old. You are the favored son in a family of twelve sons. Your father had chosen you to be the head of the family and he had given you a beautiful robe to symbolize this fact. You are on the path to power, influence and prominence in your family.
Then, in a moment of time, everything is gone. You are stripped of your coat. You are betrayed by people who should have loved you. You are separated from your father. You are sold as a slave and carried off into a strange land. Imagine the humility of being examined and sold in a slave auction. Imagine the lies Satan must have told him.
In many ways, you are just a simple country boy from an unsophisticated family, and you find yourself transported to the capital city of the most advanced nation on the earth.
Imagine how Joseph must have felt as the camels crested the last hill and the wonders of ancient Egypt spread out before him on the planes of Giza. The great pyramids would have been standing in Joseph’s day. In fact, they would have been over a thousand years old when his great-grandfather Abraham visited that land many years before. Joseph would have seen the Sphinx, the great Egyptian temples and the opulent palaces of the Pharaoh and his people. It must have been a great culture shock to this young man from the country.
On the surface it seemed that circumstances could not have been worse for young Joseph. In truth, those difficult days were mere stepping stones along the path to greater glory. It may have appeared that all Joseph’s dreams had been shattered, but the God Who gave the dreams in the first place was working behind the scenes to ensure that they would all be fulfilled in His time.
What no one could see in all this trouble surrounding young Joseph’s life is stated clearly in Gen. 39:2. In that verses, the Bible says, “And the Lord was with Joseph. I want us to learn the great truth that our God is always with His people to see them through their trials; to accomplish His plans in their lives; and to use them point a lost world to Himself.
I want to join Joseph in the early days of his slavery. I want to show you the ways we know “the Lord was with him. As we study these truths please keep in mind that what the Lord did for Joseph, He will also do for you. Let me share with you the ways God blessed this young man.
I. 37:36 GOD PROTECTED HIM
A. As I stated a moment ago, it seemed that all had fallen apart for Joseph. Yet, if you will take a minute to examine the facts, it becomes clear that Joseph was in the hand of divine providence. Considering all he faced, too many things “just happened to fall into place for him. Consider:
· The intervention of Reuben Gen. 37:21-22.
· Judah’s idea to sell Joseph as a slave Gen. 37:26-26.
· The appearance of the Ishmaelite traders Gen. 37:28.
· The fact that he was sold to Potiphar Gen. 37:36. Potiphar is called “the captain of the guard. His position seems to have been that of chief executioner. He was like the head of Pharaohs secret police. He was responsible for protecting his boss and for dealing with those who dared attack the Pharaoh. Potiphar, by virtue of his position, would have been in contact with many of the dignitaries and political officials of Egypt. It is not outside the realm of possibility that Joseph would have been introduced to many of the influential people who would later serve him.
· God set everything up just like it needed to be so that Joseph arrived exactly where he needed to be at the exact moment he needed to be there.
· Joseph might have been a slave, but he was safe in the arms of divine providence. He might have been separated from his earthly father, but his heavenly Father went with him and before him into Egypt.
B. You can see how much control the Lord has by looking at the actions of the people involved in this account. Joseph’s brothers, the Ishmaelite traders, and Potiphar were all serving their own selfish interests. His brothers wanted rid of Joseph and his dreams. The Ishmaelites were out for a profit. Potiphar was just looking for a good deal on a slave. What they could not see is that they were all unwittingly accomplishing the purposes of a sovereign God.
Isn’t it a comfort to know that God can use lost people to accomplish His purposes? Isn’t it a blessing to know that all the events of our lives are part of God’s plan for us?
C. While the events of Joseph’s life appeared to be out of control, they were actually being controlled by God. You see, Joseph was being protected by the Lord. Notice how God protected him.
· By God’s presence Gen. 39:2
· From a bitter spirit There is no hint that Joseph was angry about his difficulties. He surrendered even to his hardships.
· By God’s providence The dreams God gave Joseph in Gen. 39:5-11 were not off track. They were being fulfilled, in God’s time and in God’s way. I am sure those dreams sustained Joseph during the dark days of his servitude.
You and I have the same protections that Joseph enjoyed.
· We have His presence Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20
· We have His help to deal with our past, our problems and our pain His way Eph. 4:29-32. (Ill. We do not have to become bitter, angry or unforgiving. We can display a sweet spirit, even during the most trying of times with our Lord’s help!)
We have Gods promise that all things work together for our good, Rom. 8:28. A lot of what happens in life does not make good sense, but it does not change the fact that God is in control of everything that happens to us, Eph. 1:11; Isa. 46:10; 2 Cor. 4:17-18; Rom. 8:18.
D. Obedience to the Lord may lead us into the eye of a terrible storm. This proved true in Joseph’s life. This was also true of the Lord Jesus, Ill. Isa. 53:10.
As I have told you before, God’s purpose in our trials is not to harm us, but to develop us. We can trust Him to protect us and grow us amid the hardships of this life, Jer. 29:11. Our God is in control!
II. 39:2-3 GOD PROSPERED HIM
A. When Joseph arrived in Egypt, he no longer had his coat of many colors. He may have lost his coat, but his character was very much intact!
The coat Jacob gave Joseph was a symbol of his position in the family. It marked him as the overseer. It marked him as the head of the family. It marked him as the one in charge of all things. It marked him as a man with authority. Joseph’s authority did not come from a robe. His authority did not come from some piece of cloth. Joseph’s authority came from his character! He was a godly young man who walked before his father in absolute integrity.
When Joseph lost his coat, he lost nothing that made him a great man. Joseph’s greatness did not come from the clothes on his body, but from the character of his heart. He may have worn the humble garments of a slave, but he was still a man of character and integrity!
(Ill. We ought to have the same testimony! We need to be people of character and integrity. Some people are different depending on when you meet them. You meet them at church and they are one person; meet them in town and they are someone totally different.
I would suggest to you that we need to be the same people regardless of where we go. We should strive to do the right thing at all times. We should determine in our hearts that we will have a good attitude and demonstrate Christlikeness all the time!)
B. When Joseph arrived in Egypt, he could have taken several paths. He could have adopted the ways and customs of his new land. He could have abandoned his God and embraced the polytheistic religion of Egypt. But, Joseph just stayed the course! You see, he may have been purchased by Potiphar, but Joseph belonged to God! He had already made up his mind how things would be in his life.
It made no difference to Joseph whether he was in his father’s house; in a pit; in the possession of slave traders; or in the house of his master, Joseph had purposed in his heart that he was always going to do the right thing. And, that is just what he did! Joseph was a man of integrity regardless of the situation in which he found himself.
(Ill. Like Joseph you and I need to establish some boundaries for our lives. We need to make up our minds that there are some things we just are not going to do. (i.e. drinking, drugs, bad language, premarital sex, adultery, pornography, gossip, etc.) Then, when a situation arises, we do not have to debate it, we just know what we will and will not do. We have already made up our minds and the issue is settled!)
C. We are told in verse 2 that Joseph was “a prosperous man. Verse 3 tells us that “the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” Some might have looked at Joseph’s advancement in the home of Potiphar as “good luck. They see a young man like Joseph and he has some bad breaks, then things turn around for him. Things start heading the other way. People look at that and they say, Man. He sure is lucky.” I want you to know that “luck had nothing to do with Josephs success. In fact, there is no such thing as luck. Luck is for fairies, gnomes, sprites and other mythical creatures; not for the children of the living God!
Joseph prospered because God blessed him! Joseph prospered because God saw in Joseph a man He could trust to do His will. What some would call “luck in a persons life may be nothing more than the manifestation of a good, godly character.
Maybe God blesses some people more than He does others because they have the right kind of character. Maybe they enjoy His blessings because they have integrity. Maybe they are blessed because He can trust them to do right!
D. What I want you to see here is this: Joseph was in a bad situation, but he still lived a life that was blessed by the Lord. I am sure that his life was a life of endless drudgery and service, but he was faithful to his tasks. His character caused him to be faithful to his God and to his human master. As a result, God blessed his life and his work.
Here are two thoughts I do not want you to miss.
· Just because you are going through trials and problems does not mean that God is not blessing you. You might not see Him moving in your life, but just trust Him and in His time, He will manifest His presence, His glory and His power.
· Joseph made the best of a terrible situation. He demonstrated a proper attitude in the midst of his trials. So should we! The secret to happiness in the hard times is how you respond to what is happening to you. Ninety percent of living a joyful life is simply responding well to your trials. Life is what you make it!
(Ill. You may have heard of the two grasshoppers that fell into a bucket of fresh milk. One was so upset that he quickly lost all hope. He sank and drowned. The other tried hard to get out. He kicked and he kicked, eventually he churched that milk into butter and walked out. It’s all about how you handle life! Either you will handle it or it will handle you!)
(Ill. The great Baptist preacher John Bunyan was thrown into prison in 17th Century England for preaching the Gospel without a license. He spent twelve years in jail because he would not promise the court that he would not preach if he were released. He could have become discouraged by so long an imprisonment, but John Bunyan was a man of character and integrity.
While he was in jail he had a stool that had three legs. He removed one of the legs and carved it into a flute. He would use that flute to play Gospel songs. While in jail, Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress, which is an allegory of the Christian life. It is the second largest selling book in history, only the Bible has sold more copies.
John Bunyan could have given up. Instead, he used his trials as a place to glorify his God. In turn, God blessed him! By the way, the Lord is still looking for men and women of faith, character and integrity. He is still looking for people that He can use in these days to get glory and honor to His name!)
(Ill. In the Ravensbruck death camp operated by the Nazis a young woman named Corrie Ten Boom was forced to endure the more appalling atrocities that you can imagine and many more that you cannot. She was starved, beaten and threatened. She was forced to live with lice, fleas and rats. She witnessed the death of her weaker younger sister. She saw thousands of Jews and Jewish sympathizers leave that place through the smokestacks of the crematoriums.
Surely she could not understand why she, along with thousands of others, was forced to endure such hardship and agony. But, Corrie Ten Boom, inmate number 66730, determined in her heart that while she was there, she would be the best Christian she could be. In barracks number 28 she started a clandestine Bible study and helped many others make it through those difficult years. Eventually she won her freedom.
Many might have become embittered by that kind of an experience. Corrie Ten Boom, however, was used by the Lord in a mighty fashion after World War II. She carried the message of Christ around the world and tens of thousands learned of the power of grace and of the forgiveness of God. She took her impossible situation and used it to glorify God!)
III. 39:4-6 GOD PROMOTED HIM
A. Potiphar saw that the hand of God was upon the life of Joseph, v. 3. He knew there was something special about this Hebrew slave. As he watched Joseph work, and as he saw the results of his work, Potiphar saw that everything Joseph touched turned to gold.
Potiphar promoted Joseph and made him the overseer of his entire household. Joseph was in control of everything that happened in Potiphar’s home and in his business interests. Potiphar learned that he could trust Joseph to do the right thing. He discovered that Joseph was a man of industry and integrity. He was a worker who did the best job that he could for his master. Joseph served Potiphar like he was serving the Lord!
(Ill. There is a word here for every person in this room. We all answer to someone! Whoever that person or group of people is we should give them our best at all times. That means giving eight hours of work for eight hours of pay. That means doing what they tell you to without complaint and without and attitude. That means serving your employer like you were serving the Lord, Eph. 6:5-9; Col. 3:22-4:1. It means working with industry and integrity for the glory of God.)
B. Like cream Joseph continues to rise to the top. Regardless of the situation in which he finds himself, he walks with integrity, seeking to glorify his God, and it showed in his life.
Even Potiphar the pagan Egyptian saw something different in the life of Joseph. Joseph didn’t have to blow his trumpet and tell Potiphar was a great believer he was. The life he lived proclaimed the glory of his God and Potiphar saw for himself the influence of God in the life of Joseph! The touch of God on his life opened the door for Joseph to share his faith with Potiphar.
(Ill. The same thing ought to be true of each of us! The lives we life should be so different from the world around us that the mark of God’s favor will be clear to see, Matt. 5:16.)
C. Joseph lived a godly life. He glorified God and God promoted him and used him in a powerful way. The Lord will do the same in your life and mine. If He can trust us with the tasks He assigns to us, He will entrust us with greater things down the road. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much, Luke 16:10.
When we bloom where we are planted and when we serve the Lord with industry and integrity, He will open up new avenues of service for us. He will use us when we get in a place of usability!
Conc: God used the sorrows of Joseph’s life to shape him into the man He desired him to become. The trials Joseph faced, and the trials you and I face, are never easy. They do, however, teach us to depend on God. Our trials help us to maintain a tender and compassionate heart. Our trials teach us the value of tears. Our trials make us useful to the Lord. We should never seek to shun the trials of life. In shunning our trials, we are also shunning the best of God’s blessings in this life. A.W. Tozer once said, “It is doubtful that God ever used anyone greatly without first hurting them deeply.
Some poet penned the following words. They fit well right here:
I walked a mile with pleasure,
And she chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser,
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But oh the things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.
We want to be used, but we do not want the heartaches that come first. I am afraid that we cannot have the one without the other. They seem to go hand in hand.
Here is a final word of encouragement. No matter how hard the way of life becomes, if you are saved, the same thing that was said about Joseph is true about you: “And the Lord was with him. you do not face your trials alone. You do not walk through your valleys alone. Every step you take you are in the path of divine providence and God is in the business of protecting you, prospering you and promoting you for His glory!