Summary: The first in a series on the life of Joseph, this three-point expository sermon focuses on the dreaming of Joseph, the despising of Joseph, and the deliverance of Joseph.
Joseph: Hope for Troubled Times (1)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 5/18/2014
ILL. A man came home after a rough day at work. It was one of those days where it seemed like everything that can go wrong, did go wrong. As he walks through the door, he says to his wife, “I’ve had a bad day. Please! If you have any bad news tonight, just save it for another day." To which she replied, "Okay, no bad news. Now for the good news. Remember our four children? Well, three of them didn’t break an arm today."
Bad days happen to everyone. They come more often that we think we deserve, and they sometimes last much longer than we think we can stand.
ILL. Have you ever read the children’s book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? Alexander knew it was going to be a terrible day when he woke up with gum in this hair. And it got worse. His best friend abandoned him. There was no dessert in his lunch bag. He had to make a trip to the dentist’s office, where they found a cavity. And, on top of all that, there were lima beans for dinner and kissing on TV! Did you know that book was first published in 1972 and has since sold over two million copies? I think that’s because parents and kids alike know what it’s like to one of those days.
Jesus promised: “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Some of us are thinking, “Thanks Jesus, like we didn’t already know that.” Maybe everything is going your way right now. Maybe life couldn’t be better. But in an hour or a day or a week or month, maybe next year or the year after that, the bottom is going to fall out and trouble is going to come your way. Someone once said, “Trouble is like home. Either you’re there, going to it, or coming from it.”
So the question is—how do you respond when trouble finds you? How do you live through a bad day? If there’s one person in the Bible who knows what it’s like to survive a bad day, it’s Joseph. His story is told in the second half of Genesis. In fact, more ink a papyrus is devoted to the telling of his tale than anyone else in Genesis, including Abraham. His journey takes him from the pasture to the pit to the prison, and eventually to the palace.
Joseph’s day got worse before it got better. Abandonment led to enslavement, entrapment, and imprisonment. He was sucker-punched. Sold out. Mistreated. Yet Joseph never gave up. Bitterness never staked its claim. Anger never congealed into hatred. His heart never hardened. His resolve never vanished. He not only survived, he thrived. And so can you. For the next few weeks, I’d like to take a closer look at the life of Joseph and, perhaps, find hope and help for troubled times. His bad day begins when he was just seventeen years old with his dreaming.
• THE DREAMING OF JOSEPH
The Bible says “When Joseph was seventeen years old, he often tended his father’s flocks… Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age.” (Genesis 37:1-3 NLT).
Up until now, Joseph was living the good life. He was adored by his parents. His father thought he was the best thing since sliced bread, and he showed it. At seventeen he was full of youthful optimism. Bolstering his optimistic outlook were his dreams of the future. One morning over breakfast, Joseph tells his brothers: “Listen to this dream…We were out in the field, tying up bundles of grain. Suddenly my bundle stood up, and your bundles all gathered around and bowed low before mine!” (Genesis 37:6 NLT). Just a few verses later, the Bible says:
Soon Joseph had another dream, and again he told his brothers about it. “Listen, I have had another dream,’ he said. “The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed low before me!” This time he told the dream to his father as well as to his brothers, but his father scolded him. “What kind of dream is that?” he asked. “Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow to the ground before you?” But while his brothers were jealous of Joseph, his father wondered what the dreams meant. (Genesis 37:9-11 NLT).
Can you remember what your hopes and dreams were when you were seventeen? Maybe you dreamed of having a successful career, finding love, finishing your education, or someday seeing the world. We all have different dreams and some of them change over time. But the difference between Joseph’s dreams and ours is that his dreams were actually given to him by God. These dreams weren’t the result of wishful thinking and bad pizza; rather, this was prophetic portrait of his future.