Summary: In this lesson, we introduce the person of Joseph, telling a little about his family background that caused his brothers to sell him into slavery.
A. This morning I want to start a new sermon series on the life of the Old Testament person named Joseph.
1. As we will see, he is a man of great faith, integrity and grace.
2. You might be surprised to know that the story of Joseph occupies more space in the book of Genesis than any other single individual in that book.
3. More space is given to Joseph’s story than to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, or even his own father, Jacob.
4. So we must realize we will not be looking at some obscure, lesser individual, but we will be looking at one of the ancient patriarchs whose presence casts a sizeable shadow across the colorful landscape of Jewish history and across God’s plan of redemption.
B. As you know, God constantly uses the lives of Bible characters to teach us, to encourage us and to even warn us.
1. Who can forget the lives of Moses, or David, or Paul, or Esther or Ruth.
2. Our Scripture Reading today reminds us: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)
3. 1 Corinthians 10 has a similar lesson to teach us.
a. Verses 6 and 11 say: Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did…These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. (1 Cor. 10)
b. The “these things” in verses 6 and 11 refer to the first five verses of that chapter, which point back to the people of Israel and to some of the things they endured and experienced.
4. What a treasure it is to be able to study the lives of God’s people and to learn valuable lessons from them.
5. Some of the characters are good / good examples. Others are good / bad examples.
6. We will see that Joseph is one of the good / good examples; perhaps one of the best!
C. Let’s start with a brief overview of Joseph’s life. His biography falls neatly into three segments.
1. The first segment is birth to Seventeen Years (Gen. 30:24-37:2).
a. During this time Joseph’s family was in transition – everyone was unsettled and on the move. A low-level of antagonism was brewing in his family during this period.
2. The second segment is Seventeen to Thirty Years (Gen. 37:2-41:46).
a. During this second segment, Joseph reaches young manhood. His life takes some very hard turns as he faced enslavement, unfair accusations, and imprisonment.
3. The final segment is Thirty Years to Death (Gen. 41:46-50:26).
a. Joseph’s last 80 years are years of prosperity and reward under God’s blessing. He had the power and opportunity to get even with his brothers, but he forgave and blessed them instead.
I. The Story
A. In order to get started into the life of Joseph, we really need to know something about the family he was born into.
1. Being a part of a family is an interesting part of life, isn’t it?
2. There’s an old saying that says: “You can pick your friends, and some other things, but you can’t pick your family.”
3. No one gets a choice about what family they get to be born into.
4. I like what Jeff Foxworthy, the comedian said, he said, “If you ever start feeling like you have the goofiest, craziest, most dysfunctional family in the world, all you have to do is go to a state fair. Because five minutes at the fair, you'll be going, ‘you know, we're alright. We are dang near royalty.’ ”
B. Joseph was born into a pretty dysfunctional family.
1. Joseph’s father is the patriarch named Jacob.
a. Jacob’s other name is Israel which means “God strives” – a name given to him after he wrestled with God, and clung to Him for a blessing.
b. The name Israel is a significant improvement over his original name, Jacob, which literally meant “deceiver.”
2. Jacob was born into a family where a lot of favoritism was shown.
3. Jacob’s older twin brother, Esau, was favored by his dad, while he was favored by his mother.
4. And as you might recall, Jacob cheated his brother out of his birthright and his blessing – the later with the help of his mother.
5. Unfortunately, Jacob didn’t learn anything helpful from his family’s mistakes of favoritism.
C. Joseph was born into a family with a lot of rivalry and favoritism.
1. Jacob fell in love with Rachel and worked for 7 years for Rachel’s father in order to be able to marry her.