If you were raised up in the church and you had the privilege to go to Bible class, I am certain that you heard about this wonderful young man named Joseph. Even if you were like me and was not raised in the church, no doubt you have read about him in the O.T.
As you think about Joseph, you might remember that he was the son of Jacob in his old age. His mother was Rachel. He also had one younger full-blood brother Benjamin. I am sure we all remember that he had some dreams that predicted the future and later on in his life he could also interpret other people’s dreams and tell them what the meant.
You might recall how he interpreted the butler’s and the baker’s dream. One turned out to be a good dream of restoration, but the other ended in death. The greatest dream the he ever interpreted was when he was able to interpret the Pharaoh’s dream when no one else could. Though Joseph could have demanded some high ranking position for the ability God gave him, he did not. Instead, after he told the Pharaoh about the 7 years of good and 7 years of famine, he suggest that the Pharaoh put someone in charge of collecting and storing the food during the good years so that the 7 years of famine would be more bearable. Pharaoh’s response was this:
Genesis 41:38 And
Pharaoh said to his servants, "Can we find such a one as this, a
man in whom is the Spirit of God?"
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Inasmuch as God has
shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40 "You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your
word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you." 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph,
"See, I have set you over all the
As usual, Joseph was being blessed in all that he did because of his great faithfulness toward God. Yes, his life had its ups and downs, but one thing we know for sure, God was always with Him and eventually made every circumstance work out for the best for him and for God’s people.
What I would like to do this morning is to briefly look at some the great things that we can learn from this faithful young man called Joseph. I hope that as we examine some of the challenges that he faced, that it will challenges us to learn from his example and to be encouraged to be more trusting and dedicated to God Almighty.
One of the first challenges Joseph had to overcome was not allowing his father’s favoritism ruin him.
Genesis 37:3 Now
As parents, we should not show favoritism over one child over the other. Typically when this happens, the favored child begins to feel more important than his siblings and as extension of that, they usually feel more important than anyone. This many times leads the favored child to being more self-centered and more prideful. It also leaves the other siblings feeling left out and less important to mom or dad. Sometime that favored child ends up being the biggest disappointment because of the path they end up choosing in life.
However, this does not seem to be the case with Joseph. Even in what we read, we can see that he was a young man the spoke his mind especially when it came to revealing what he dreamed. Of course, we know that his words became like a gasoline thrown onto a fire. One thing you can respect about Joseph is that even though he knew that he was favored by his father, he did not alter the meaning of his dream because he included his brothers and his parents saying that they would eventually being bowing down to him.
his father rebuked him for saying so, verse 11 says that he did keep the matter
in mind. We have the privilege to know that Joseph was simply speaking the
truth because God had given him this dream and its meaning, which does indeed
come to pass later when Joseph is 2nd in command over
What you and I can learn from this is that we must not be afraid to speak what we know is from God. Now I am not suggesting that we go around telling people about our dreams like Joseph did because God is no communicating to us that way, but what I am saying is that we all know what the future will be in that we know that Jesus is going to come back one day. If we want to be part of His heavenly kingdom for eternity, then we must be prepared for that day by living a faithful life toward God by having an obedient faith.
We must be willing to accept the fact that some people are going to angry at the message we give them though it is the truth. This is exactly what happened to Joseph because his brothers could not stand him any longer so then ended up selling him into slavery and lying to their father telling him he was eaten by a wild beast.
This lie they told and this dirty deed they did to their brother would end up haunting for many years to come, which is what most people experience when they carry out vengeful act because of jealously and anger.
This brings us to our second point:
Being sold into slavery and betrayed by his brothers did not break his faith in God.
Genesis 39:1 Now
Joseph had been taken down to
Some of you may be able to relate to this situation better than others. If you have ever been betrayed by a friend or a sibling then you can know little bit about what Joseph is going through. Not only does Joseph have to deal with all his brothers betraying except for Benjamin, he also has to live the life a slave. All these things combined together would be enough to break many people and cause some to doubt God, but not Joseph.
Certainly Joseph was not happy about what happened to him, but he did not allow it to keep him down. Instead, he made the best of the hand that was dealt him. He kept his faith in God in tact because he knew that it was his brothers and not God that did this to him. Since he moved forward and trusted in the Lord, God blessed him everything that he did. He was doing such a good job for his master that he had his master full trust.
We can learn from this that no matter how many people turn their back on us, God will always be there for us. As David said:
Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
As Paul said:
Philippians 4:11 … for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
You and I need to learn to continue to move forward in our lives no matter what may happen to us. Just keep your faith in tact knowing that God is with and will bless you in whatever you are doing. It is very comforting to know that even if everyone else walks out of our life, God never will.
Another challenge Joseph faced was temptation:
Genesis 39:6 … Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. 7 And it came to pass after these things that his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me." 8 But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. 9 "There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" 10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. 11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me." But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.
Every person has been tempted to sin in one way or another, but when Joseph was tempted by his master’s wife, he refused to take part in the temptation and his mind set that he would not do this to his master and he certainly would not sin in the eyes of God. This is a sin that he could have gotten away with, but Joseph knew that it was not right and that he could not hide his sin from God.
Certainly a great lesson we can learn from Joseph is that there will always be temptations that will try an lure us away from the righteous path, but we must keep our eyes open for them and if need be run as fast as we can away from them when they present themselves. We can know from verses like 1 Cor. 10:13 that there is always escape route from our temptations, but we must take that escape route, otherwise we will find ourselves engaging in sin.
Of course we know the rest of the story of how the master’s wife lies about the situation and makes it out that Joseph was the one who approached her. We have to understand that sometimes things like this might happen to you where you are innocent, but the guilty party will try and make you guilty. There much we can do about another person telling lies, but what we can do is simply remain faithful to God and allow our works and character to work for us as Peter said:
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; 16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. 17 For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
Now the Bible does not give us the details of what Joseph’s master was thinking when his wife made this false accusation against him, but in my opinion it seems to me that if her husband believed her 100% that he would have had Joseph put to death for such an act especially since he was just a slave. Instead, we see Potiphar put him into prison. Whether my opinion is right or wrong on, this brings us to our next point:
Joseph manages to keep his faith even though he is now in prison
Genesis 39:20 Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. 21 But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. 23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.
Though Joseph finds himself tossed into prison based on a lie, he still did not lose his faith in God. Because of his strong faith, God blessed him once again, and he was put in charge over the prison even though he was still a prisoner himself. Again, this is another example of making the best of the situation that is dealt to you.
We must understand that one bad thing can happen to us over and over. In fact, sometimes life’s problems feel like dominoes that are lined up and ready to fall. When that first problem comes, here comes the second and third. That is life sometimes, but we must not allow these problems to overwhelm us. Instead, we must continue pushing forward with whatever God blesses us with.
As the story continues,
we learn that Joseph ends up interpreting the dream of the butler and the
baker. The baker is killed, but the butler is restored back to his duty, but he
failed to tell the Pharaoh about Joseph like he promised he would. Well, that
is until the Pharaoh started having dreams that no one could interpret, then
the butler finally told the king about Joseph. As I mentioned earlier, this led
to Joseph interpreting his dream, which caused him to be put into a great
position of power over
Joseph’s next challenge would be forgiveness.
Those familiar with the
story know that when the 7 years of famine began, Joseph’s brother
are sent to
As the events unfold and Joseph realize how sorry his brother were for what they did and how that his father never came looking for him because he thought he was dead, it caused Joseph to soften his heart and he forgive his brothers for their wrong doing.
Sometimes it is not easy to forgive a loved one that has betrayed or a brother or sister in Christ that has betrayed you, but if Joseph could do it so can we. It is wonderful when we can forgive each other, so that we can move forward in our lives together.
The last thing we are going to learn about Joseph this morning is how he attributed everything in his life to the providence of God.
Genesis 45:4 And Joseph said to
his brothers, "Please come near to me." So they came near. Then he
said: "I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into
Later, after Jacob had died we also read in:
Genesis 50:15 When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him." 16 So they sent messengers to Joseph, saying, "Before your father died he commanded, saying, 17 'Thus you shall say to Joseph: "I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you." ' Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also went and fell down before his face, and they said, "Behold, we are your servants." 19 Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? 20 "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. 21 "Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
All these verses we just read have the recurring theme of Joseph trusting the providence of God. He understood that all these bad things that happened to him turned out to be a way for God save God’s people. What this teaches us is that God knows how to make good things happen from bad things. Sometimes we may not see it right away or maybe we have been hurt so bad that we do not allow ourselves to see it, but we must understand that God loves us and He is working in the background of lives through our providence. As Paul wrote:
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
We have learned a lot from this outstanding servant of God. Let us use faithful servants of God like Joseph to help encourage us to be faithful like him in the good times and in the bad. Many people today say we do not have any real heroes or role models, but I have to disagree with them. Just open up your Bibles and start reading it and you will find many heroes and good role models to follow.