Summary: God can take anyone from where you are to where he wants you to be. This is how it happened in Joseph’s life. (1st of 2 parts)
Nov. 14, 1999 Genesis 41:1-40
Making a prisoner into a prince
I know that many of you men in the church today are beside yourselves because hunting season is here. I know that you are looking to be successful at providing food for your family and maybe even a rack for your wall. As a warning to you, I’m going to begin this morning by telling a true hunting story. A hunter was out in the woods when he met a bear. Tired of having hunters come after him every year, the bear finally had enough and raced up to the hunter. He grabbed the hunter’s gun so that he could not shoot it, got up right in his face and said, “What do you want?” When the hunter finally regained his breath, he said, “I want a fur coat.” To that the bear answered, “That’s a fair request for the cold winters that we have hear. I, on the other hand, want a full belly. Let’s see if we can’t come to some kind of compromise where both of us will get what we want.” Half an hour later, the bear got up and ambled away. On the ground lay the hunter’s gun which was all that was left of him. When you think about it, both were successful in receiving what they wanted. The bear got a full stomach, and the hunter got a fur coat. Success does not always come the way that we want it to.
Joseph, whose life we have been examining for the past several weeks, probably could easily identify with that story. There were many times that he felt like he was facing down a bear of a problem, and it seemed like every time, the bear always won. The first bear that he faced was the jealousy and hatred of his brothers. Their attitude toward him, which he helped to bring out, resulted in some time spent down at the bottom of a pit. Then, when he made out of the pit, it was only for him to be sold as a slave to an officer in Egypt. After Joseph had been in Egypt for a while, it looked like he was getting ready to get out of the belly of that bear only to be falsely accused and thrown into prison. There in prison, Joseph saw yet another opportunity to get out of the bear’s belly by helping someone else to get out. But that didn’t work either. So the last time that we saw Joseph, he was still serving in prison wondering what God was doing in his life- wondering what purpose there could be for all the sufferings that he was enduring.
Have you ever been there? You’re standing toe to toe, face to face, bad-breath to bad-breath with a bear, and it looks like you’re about to be swallowed up. You’ve got no where to run. You’ve already tried running, and when you couldn’t run anymore because you were exhausted and out of breath, your bear was still there. Only now, he was hungrier than ever. You’re trapped. You’re a prisoner to your problem. How do you react to that situation? May I suggest that you react with excitement and anticipation? What we may not recognize in that situation and what Joseph did not understand when he faced that kind of trial was that when a bear of a problem makes you a prisoner, God is preparing you to serve as a prince.