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I AM JOSEPH
Intro: Every story has a climax. Every book that is written and every movie that is made has a climax. There is one moment in that story when everything comes into focus and the story begins to make sense.
Even biblical stories have a climax. Take the story of Job for instance. What do you think is the climax of that story?
· Does the climax come when Job prays for his friends and God restores Job, giving him twice what he had before, Job 42:10?
· Does the climax come in chapters 38-41 when God gives Job a revelation of His power and purposes?
· Is the pinnacle of Job’s story found in his swelling words found in Job 19:25-27, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me”?
A good case could be made for any of the above. To me, however, the climax of the story comes very early. I think the climax of the book of Job can be found in chapter 1. Job has just experienced the loss of everything he values in life. His children are dead and his wealth and possessions are all gone. At that very moment we are allowed to see the very heart of Job in action. His response to his calamities sets the tone for the rest of the book. When the bottom falls out of his life, Job falls to the ground in humble worship and he says, “Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
We have been studying the life of Joseph for several months now. This story has a climax as well, and we have just read about it. This is one of the most dramatic moments in all of history. In these verses the moment we have been building towards takes place. Joseph reveals his true identity to his astonished brothers.
I do not want to do a disservice to the text today, but I would like for us to see Jesus in this climactic scene. In this moment when Joseph reveals his true identity to his brothers, I see a parallel with how Jesus reveals Himself to those He would save by His grace.
You see, the real climax of any life is not when we reach the pinnacle of success. It is not when our children are born, or even when we become grandparents. The real climax of any life is that moment in time when Jesus Christ reveals Himself to a lost sinner and saves that sinner’s soul. Everything in a child of God’s life leads up to and flows out from that moment.
So, in this encounter between Joseph and his brothers I want you to catch a glimpse of Jesus today. I want to point out a few parallels between Joseph and Jesus as I preach on the thought: I Am Joseph.
I. THERE IS A PARALLEL IN
· Joseph knew his brothers a long time before they ever knew him. When they first arrived in Egypt, Joseph knew who they were. He recognized them, but they did not know him, Gen. 42:8, “And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew him not.”
Joseph knew Benjamin as soon as he laid eyes on him, Gen. 43:16. He knew Judah, Reuben, Simeon, Levi and all the rest. He knew them, but they had no idea who he was. To them, Joseph was just a mysterious Egyptian ruler. They would not know who he was until he revealed himself to them. When he cried, “I am Joseph”, v. 3, their eyes were finally opened and they saw him for who he was.
· It is an amazing thing, but lost sinners do not know God. They cannot recognize Him even though He is their Creator. They do not know Him, and they cannot know Him, until He first opens their eyes. Lost men are dead to Him, Eph. 2:1.
The Bible is clear, men do not know God. Isaiah 1:3 says, “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” Even when God robed Himself in humanity and was born in Bethlehem, the people around Him did not recognize Him. John says it this way, “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not,” John 1:10-11.
Men cannot see Him even though He is all around us. He is visible in every blade of grass; in every star in the heavens; in drop of rain; in every sunrise and sunset; and in every aspect of nature, Psa. 19:1-4. Mankind will never know Him until He reveals Himself to them. They are dead to Him, Eph. 2:1, and they are blind to Him, 2 Cor. 4:4.
· While men may not know Him, God intimately knows every man, Psa. 139:1-4, “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.”
God knows every word we say while it is yet a thought in our minds. He knows us deeply, profoundly and intimately. He knows what we think, where we go, what we do and how we feel. He knows us better than we know even ourselves.
Some people will come to church and hear a preacher preach. The preacher will hit their sins and talk about some secret thing they do. Then they will get angry because they think someone told the preacher. No, God knows what is in the heart of man, John 2:24-25, and He revealed what the sinner thought was a secret. There are no secrets with Him; He already knows all about it, Heb. 4:13.
· The brother of Joseph had already confessed their sin one to another, Gen. 42:21-22, but they did not know that Joseph knew it too, Gen. 42:23. Joseph knew what was in their hearts and he was in the process of bringing it all to light.
We may think we have buried some sin or the other from sight. We may believe that it is our secret. My friend, God knows where all the skeletons in your life and mine are hidden, and in His time, He will expose them all, unless they are dealt with in repentance and confession before Him.
· Like Joseph, Jesus knows the sinner long before the sinner ever know Him!
II. THERE IS A PARALLEL
IN HIS LOVE
· Joseph loved his brothers long before they ever loved him back. In fact, the last time they saw Joseph, as far as they are concerned, they hated him and wanted him dead, Gen. 37:4-5; 18-28. These boys had not seen Joseph in over twenty years, and as far as they are concerned, He is gone forever. There was no love in their hearts for Joseph.
Yet, as God worked in their hearts and on their consciences, they came to a place where they regretted their past actions. He kept working on them until they reached the place where they actually repented of their sin against Joseph.
· They did not recognize Joseph and they did not love him, but Joseph was loved them. He was busy working acting out his love for them, even though they could not see it. His love is seen in how he breaks down as Judah pleads for Benjamin, Gen. 45:1. He was moved with his love for his brothers.
This is a touching story! Here is Joseph, separated from his family for over twenty years. He may have wondered if he would ever see them. Then, out of the blue, here they are. Joseph must restrain himself and keep his emotions bottled up until the right moment comes. But, he is so filled with love for these men, and especially for Benjamin, that he has to find a place to weep, Gen. 43:30.
· Yes, this is great love, but it pales in comparison to the love of Jesus for the lost. He came to Israel as their Messiah and as their Redeemer, but they refused to have them. Still, He wept over them and longed to see them saved, Luke 19:41.
Joseph’s love for his brothers was great, but our Savior’s love for His sheep is boundless. His love caused Him to die for them on the cross, John 10:11, Rom. 5:8. Thank God for His boundless, matchless, eternal, saving love!
· Joseph loved his brother even when it seemed that he was acting in hate toward them. He spoke to them harshly when they first arrived in Egypt, Gen. 42:7. He accused the brothers of being spies and imprisoned them all, 42:17. Then, Joseph placed a heavy demand on them. He imprisoned Simeon and told the rest to go home and bring back their youngest brother Benjamin as proof that they were telling the truth, 42:18-34. Then, he had his own silver cup placed in Benjamin’s sack to break the last of their self-confidence, 44:1-13.
From our perspective, and from that of his brothers, his actions were anything but loving. Yet, as harsh as his actions seem, Joseph did all of these things out of love. If he had hated his brothers, he would have left them alone and allowed them to go to Hell!
· When you are lost and life turns against you it may seem that God is “out to get you”. In reality, He is acting in love! He may use a death, a cancer, a tragedy, or some other means to awaken your heart to your need. If He does this, it is because He loves you and wants to save you. Whatever means God uses to drive the sinner away from sin and into the arms of Jesus is an act of love.
· I praise His name that He loved me in countless ways before I ever came to know Him! I believe He loved me before I was born. I believe He loved me before He was born! I believe He never started loving me, He just always has, Jer. 31:3. Thank God for His love for sinners!
III. THERE IS A PARALLEL IN
· Here is an amazing parallel: Joseph saved his brothers before they ever knew that he had saved them. Everything that had taken place in the lives of these brothers up to now was God working to bring them to a place of repentance and salvation.
They have been brought to a place of confession and repentance, but they are still filled with fear of judgment. They have been saved, but they are unaware of it! They are still afraid as they stand before Joseph. They are sure that he is about to act out his vengeance and judgment in their lives.
· Consider the means God used to bring these men to a place of salvation.
Ø He used physical need. He sent a famine.
Ø He subjected them to harsh words and hard treatment. They were accused of being spies and were thrown into prison.
Ø They were given proof of God’s presence when they returned from their first Egyptian trip and found their grain money in their sacks.
Ø Joseph had worked in their lives to create a necessity for them to return to face him once again. He imprisoned Simeon and demanded that they return with Benjamin to secure his release. They could not return to business as usual.
Ø They were moved by the kindness of Joseph toward them.
Ø Their self-confidence was destroyed when Joseph’s silver cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.
They did not see it at the time, but these were the means God used to bring to a place of repentance ad salvation. Even in this text they are saved, but they do not realize it! In fact, they are afraid that they are about to face a terrible judgment!
Everything they thought was against them was actually God working to bring them to Him. He used all their tragedies to draw them to salvation.
· So it is in our lives. I know when I was saved. It was May 23, 1983. That is really the time when I became aware of my salvation. I was actually saved a long time before that.
In fact, As far as God is concerned, I was saved before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1:4 says, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world…” Before I even had an existence in this world, I was already in the heart and plan of God. He had chosen me and had already provided for my salvation, Rev. 13:8.
At every turn of my life, God was directing my path to being me to that moment when I would come to understand what He had already accomplished in me. Call me what you want to; label as you see fit; but I was saved before I knew it. God merely brought me to the place of understanding! Did I have to believe? Yes! But, He gave me the faith to believe in Him, Eph. 2:8. The day you and I got saved, God merely completed in time a process He began in eternity!
· All of the tragedies and events in my life that I thought were against me were God’s way of bringing me along to the place of salvation. He did in me what He did in Saul of Tarsus. God put some goads in my life to stick me, to cause me to come to Him, Acts 9:5.
Look back over your own life. Consider the events of your life before you came to Jesus. Can you not see the hand of God at work as He directed your path to bring you to Him? Of course you can! That is grace! That is mercy! That is love!
We deserved Hell and we deserved Judgment. Yet, God in His grace and love patiently drew us unto Himself and brought us to the place of salvation. You see, your salvation was not an accident! You salvation was the culmination of an ages old plan! Praise His name!
IV. THERE IS A PARALLEL
IN HIS CALL
· The last parallel I want to point out is this: Joseph called his brothers to come to him when they would rather have run away! He has just revealed his identity to them. There they stand awash in guilt for what they did to him all those years ago. There they stand more certain than ever that this powerful man, who is apparently their brother, is about to judge them and send them to their deaths. There they are in the naked of their sins and all they want to do is to get away from Joseph, and he commands them to come to him.
So they come in fear and in trembling. When they come, they find that Joseph does not react to them in anger over what they did to him. when they come to Joseph, they are greeted by love. They are greeted by one who understands the plan of God. They are greeted by one who loves them in spite of what they have done to him. I am sure that he called every brother by name as he embraced them and renewed their fellowship. What a blessing!
· This parallels our Lord’s call to sinners. God comes to the lost sinner and makes him aware of his lost condition, John 16:7-11. The first reaction the sinner has is fear of God. The lost person knows he has offended a holy God. The lost person knows he deserves Hell. The lost person is sure that God will reject him and turn him away.
Yet, the call comes and it cannot be denied! When the sinner comes to Jesus, he does not find an angry God; he finds instead a God Who had been satisfied by the death of His Son at Calvary. When the sinner comes, he is not cast out, but he is taken is, John 6:37. When the sinner comes, nothing is like he expects it to be, for Jesus does not call us to come so He can judge us. He calls us to come so He can forgive us and give us peace. He calls us to come so He can restore our fellowship with God. He calls us to come so we can experience His grace, His love and His peace.
· Do you remember when the Lord called you? Oh, I do! I remember the fear, the guilt, the feelings of dread and apprehension. But, I also remember coming to Him. When I came, He did not condemn me, but He forgave me and loved me and adopted me as a son!
Let me share a couple of thoughts about His call before I close.
Ø If you ever hear His voice it is because He has already chosen you as one of His sheep, John 10:1-5. He calls His Own to come to Him and they always do!
Ø Like Joseph Jesus usually calls in secret. No one knows what He is doing in the hearts of those He is calling. I praise the Lord for every profession of faith, but I must admit that I am sometimes concerned about the high pressure tactics some use to get professions. I am sure that some get saved, but I am sure that far more are saved as God quietly works in their hearts and draws them to Himself. (Ill. Like He did here a couple of weeks ago.)
Ø He calls us to come to Him for forgiveness and restoration. Joseph’s brothers had done him great wrong, yet he loved them and called them to him in forgiveness, v. 4. We have done far worse to Jesus, but He calls us to Himself in love, forgiveness and grace.
Ø He called them by their names, v. 14-15. (Ill. Imagine the scene!) When the voice of Jesus comes calling, it is not for your neighbor, for your spouse, or for your friends, it is for you! He calls individuals to come to Him for salvation. Do you hear His call? Come to Him! Have you heard His call and have come to Him already? Praise His for His grace!
Conc: There are many things about my life I have forgotten. There are many more things I will forget before I leave this world behind. But, there is one thing I do not think I will ever forget. I do not think I will ever forget the day Jesus revealed Himself to me. In essence He said, “I am Jesus!” I that moment of time by sins came crashing down on me. I knew I was lost. But, in that instant I also knew that if I could just get to Him, the past would be forgiven and forgotten!
He called. I came. He saved my soul. I praise His name for that today. Have you had a similar experience? If so, you should get before Him and thank Him. If not, you should come to Him, if He is calling you to come.