Summary: our story this week is about a guy who had no supernatural strength. He had no halos. He never performed miracles. But he had a great heart of grace. The Joseph story is quite a lengthy story (Gen.37 – 45), so allow me to summarize. The dramatic narrative
Opening Statement: I have to tell you that I’m proud of my WV heritage, but over the years I have had to overcome a lot of adversity associated with my home state. People actually think that one leg is longer than the other and that people don’t wear shoes. In fact, I pulled out of my files an Application to Live in WV that just verifies all of the stereotypes. [Read application] You can see by that application that I have had to overcome a lot of adversity. We’re going to talk about a guy today who although he wasn’t from WV, he certainly had to overcome a lot of adversity.
Title: Joseph: A Hero of Adversity and Grace
Observation: Unlike last weeks story about the superhuman Samson, our story this week is about a guy who had no supernatural strength. He had no halos. He never performed miracles. But he had a great heart of grace. The Joseph story is quite a lengthy story (Gen.37 – 45), so allow me to summarize. The dramatic narrative takes place in THREE PRIMARY LOCATIONS – at home, in captivity, and when he was ruler over Egypt. This is in your notes and on the screen.
Joseph At Home – Favorite Son and Despised Brother (Genesis 37:1-8)
Joseph In Captivity – Faithful Servant and Diligent Inmate (Genesis 37:12-33; 39:1-6)
Joseph Over Egypt – Loving Brother and Gracious Leader (Genesis 41:39-40; 42:5-28; 43:15-34; 44:1-34; 45:1-15; 46:29)
Life Story Background: For the first 30 years of Joseph’s life, the adversity he faced was incredible; he’s a suffering servant. Young Joseph, the favorite of his father, was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. He ended up in Egypt and found gainful employment in Egypt and did a great job for an Egyptian leader named Potiphar and his household. But Potiphar’s wife wanted to cheat on her husband with Joseph. Joseph refused, she lied about him trying to take advantage of her, and he was thrown into prison for two years. But even there, Joseph made the prison better and interpreted a dream or two for some other prisoners, who when they were out of prison, forgot that Joseph had helped them. Joseph finally gets out of prison after he interprets Pharoah’s dream about a coming famine and becomes the second in command in Egypt. There’s a famine in the land so intense that it brings Joseph’s family down into Egypt to purchase food years after he was sold into slavery by his brothers. After a series of events where Joseph knew who his brothers were and they did not know who he was, we arrive at a very emotional moment where adversity and grace meet – where the bitter events of adversity meet head-on with the flow of forgiveness. As it turned out, these years of adversity mixed with periods of promise and greatness, were the formative years that would shape his next 80 years as an Egyptian ruler.
Key Word: So we arrive at our text at the moment of truth. After about 25 years of separation from his family, the tension of jealousy and sibling rivalry and personal rejection that began in Genesis 37 finds resolution in Genesis 45, our passage today.
[Judah so impressed Joseph with the sincerity of his repentance and the tenderness of his affection for Benjamin, Joseph’s biological brother, that Joseph broke down completely.]
Joseph Discloses His Identity
Genesis 45:1 Joseph was no longer able to control himself before all his attendants, so he cried out, “Make everyone go out from my presence!” No one remained with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. 45:2 He wept loudly; the Egyptians heard it and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. [At this point, Joseph’s brothers are probably thinking…this Egyptian ruler is little unstable. Never, ever be afraid to cry or honestly express how you feel. When years of accumulated heart-ache can be reconciled with forgiveness, it is a God-event. There are moments like this when God let’s his presence be seen through our emotions. I think God took the tapestry of Joseph’s life and flipped it over to the side that finally made sense to him.]
45:3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” His brothers could not answer him because they were dumbfounded before him. [Talk about angst and panic. I know they were checking out the nearest exits.] 45:4 Joseph said to his brothers, “Come closer to me,” [This is the last thing they wanted to do, but note the intimacy of the body language.] so they came near. Then he said, “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. [At this point, Joseph could twist the sword with bitterness, rancor and revenge, but notice what he does.] 45:5 Now, do not be upset and do not be angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. 45:6 For these past two years there has been famine in the land and for five more years there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 45:7 God sent me ahead of you to preserve you on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 45:8 So now, it is not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me an adviser to Pharaoh, lord over all his household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt.