Summary: This sermon deals with the situational irony in the life of Joseph.
The workweek seems to have more hours in it than it used to have. A housewife with three children she adores becomes tired, exhausted, and wondering why she ever married in the first place.
A healthy, robust man suddenly becomes ill and has to be rushed to the nearest hospital for evaluation and a week-long stay. College students just beginning what will be a four-to-six-year stretch of going to classes, listening to lectures, taking tests, and trying to squeeze in hours for a social life that appears virtually non-existent regrets the day of enrolling at college. The scenarios are as many and as varied as there are people in the world. The common link with all these folk rests in the presence of bad situations that cause anxiety and frustration.
Joseph in the Book of Genesis could fit right in with modern man’s constant barrage of problems and difficulties. Joseph was a dreamer, an idealist, and an optimist whose cheery personality and positive approach to life aggravated his jealous brothers. The brothers saw Joseph dressed in the coat of many colors that his father had made for him; they were outraged at the love Joseph seemed to be receiving and the neglect that they seemed to be experiencing.
So, Genesis tells us, they physically overpowered Joseph and threw him into a pit where he was later found and sold into Midianite or Egyptian servitude. The fellow with all the breaks in life became a broken man – the bad intentions of his brothers catapulted him into a life of imprisonment – especially after Potiphar’s wife (Potiphar was the ruler of the land of Egypt) falsely accused Joseph of molesting her. Through the dreamer’s ability to interpret dreams by the power of god, Joseph was released from jail and became second in command in Potiphar’s regime. Through his newly-acquired position, Joseph helped Potiphar and Egypt during a time of extreme famine. Joseph’s brothers go to Egypt in hopes of securing food that could be puchaed and stored for their survival – totally unaware that Joseph was still alive and certainly unaware of his royal status.
Through a paln that Joseph developed, all his brothers – and his aged father – were brought before him and the secret that Joseph was still alive became known. Near the end of Genesis, Joseph says these words in chapter 50, verse 20 (to his brothers): “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is in this day, to save much people alive.” Bad intentions were changed into wonderful blessings.
Now, how does this story have relevance today?
This story shows that God’s people undergo hardships that often come as a result of circumstances beyond their control. People who love God are not immune to troubled marriages, divorce proceedings, rebellious children, job and financial pressures, and poor health. One could say that evil seems to intend that God’s people suffer. Even Jesus Christ, God’s Son, had to die on a cross to redeem sinful mankind and to shed His actual blood for our salvation.