Summary: Encouragement to stay faithful in adversity.
When Life is the Pits
A Study of the Life of Joseph
Sermon # 2
“Dealing With Disaster”
Last week we introduced our study of the life of Joseph entitled “When Life is the Pits.” We saw how Joseph was a model of faithfulness even though he came from a very dysfunctional family. Today I want to look at how Joseph remained faithful even when things got worse. We saw how messed up Joseph’s family was, yet Joseph seems to have turned out ok. He was able to rise above his imperfect family situation. But at the age of seventeen Joseph’s world is about to come apart at the seams.
I want today’s message to encourage you as you face adversity to remain faithful. We need to remain faithful whether the adversity is something fairly minor such a car problem or maybe a bad test score in school or something major such as the loss of a loved one.
Many who call themselves Christians today are finding it very easy scuttle those parts of the faith that call for commitment and to settle into a peaceful coexistence with the thinking and actions of our modern equivalent of Canaanite society, a society that does not know nor honor God.
I. Sometimes Life Is Not Fair vv. 12-17
“Then his brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. (13) And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.” So he said to him, “Here I am.” (14) Then he said to him, “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me.” So he sent him out of the Valley of Hebron, and he went to Shechem. (15) Now a certain man found him, and there he was, wandering in the field. And the man asked him, saying, “What are you seeking?” (16) So he said, “I am seeking my brothers. Please tell me where they are feeding their flocks.” (17) And the man said, “They have departed from here, for I heard them say, ‘Let us go to Dothan.’” So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.”
If we remember the “bad report” that Joseph had brought to his father (37:2) it is not hard to understand why Jacob would have sent Joseph to check up on his sons and his flocks. He was concerned for their physical welfare and because of their past performance he did not trust them to stay out of trouble. Who knew what kind of trouble they might be up to, particularly in the area where they had created so many enemies as they had with their murderous act against the Shechemites.
But whether or not Jacob realized it, he was sending Joseph into a very dangerous situation.
Joseph complies with his father’s wishes and goes to find his brothers. After a two-day journey he finds that they have moved the flocks (v. 17). Joseph does not give up but travels at least another days journey to catch up with his brothers.
Next I want you to see what he gets for all his effort!
II. Sometimes Our Family Can Hurt Us the Most
“Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. (19) Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! (20) Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!” (21) But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, “Let us not kill him.” (22) And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father. (23) So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. (24) Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.
His brothers were certainty not glad to see him, at least four of his brothers are most certainly still angry regarding Joseph’s bad report to their father after his last visit with them. And it is certain that all of the brothers still remembered his dreams that clearly predicted that they would be subservient to him. But it would seem there was more to it than that. Perhaps Joseph had shared his dreams (37:5-10) with his brothers trying to gain their acceptance and encouragement concerning his divinely appointed future. Unfortunately, things rarely work that way. If Joseph’s brother’s had thought that his dreams were merely a product of his own fertile imagination they would have simply dismissed them as such and gone on their way. The fact that they were enraged by these dreams indicates that they detected the voice of God in them. And by rejecting the dreams they were in effect rejecting the will of God. As far as they were concerned their future happiness depended on finding a way to rid themselves of Joseph and the righteous way of life he represented. They said, “let us now kill him and ….. We shall see what will become of his dreams!” (v.20).