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Summary: Two 17-year-old Josephs, one 3900 years ago and one this week show us how God intends to bring good from even the worst human behavior. We must never let ourselves get so low or so high that we forget who we belong to.

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Two Josephs Genesis 37:2-50:21

Restorative Justice Series #3

Trinity United Methodist Church, Providence, RI

September 30, 2001

Rev. Anne Grant

The theme today is that God intends to bring good

From the worst human behavior.

As the deadline for deporting Liberians

has once again been extended yet another year,

many Liberians have told me they believe God is bringing good

out of the tragedy in Liberia.

And it’s true, because God intends to bring good

From even the worst human behavior.

I also believe we are going to see the mercy and sovereign purpose

of God worked out even in these horrific deeds of terror

we have witnessed this month, because

always God intends to bring good

From the worst human behavior.

We never will know how many were killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Reports suggest that more than 6,200 people may have been killed, and not just Americans, but people from over 50 countries

around the globe--

Sometimes two in a single family.

Over 15,000 children have been orphaned.

How can good come from that?

And yet, with assurance, we can say that

Even from this terrible massacre

And senseless loss of life that was

Intended for evil,

God intends to bring good.

Because that’s what redemption means.

That’s what it means to redeem the lost.

There are some people here today

who want to change the world in some way.

You may see many things in your world—in your family,

in your school, in your workplace, in your church—

that need to be changed. And you want to change it. That’s good.

But none of us can change our world

until we let God change us.

This morning we’re going to look at the stories

of two different Josephs—both of them 17 years old—

who changed their world.

The first one lived 3900 years ago in the

area around the Sinai Peninsula,

between Asia and Africa.

He was a very confident young man, and his brothers hated him,

because he was spoiled and self-centered,

He was their father’s favorite child,

born in Jacob’s old age to his favorite wife.

Young Joseph knew he was destined to be a leader,

But God had a lot of work to do in Joseph

Before he would be ready to lead God’s people

Because Joseph came from a troubled culture.

from a family full of deceit and lies,

Full of secrets, intrigue, manipulation and falsehood,

Full of favoritism and jealousies,

Full of anger and violence.

Joseph’s father, Jacob, when he was a young man,

Had tricked his older twin brother, Esau, out of his birthright.

Jacob had schemed with his mother to deceive his father.

He had covered his body with goat skin

To trick his father into believing he was the brother Esau

and giving him the blessing that belonged to Esau,

And Esau was so enraged that he vowed to kill his brother Jacob.

On and on the family story goes

With more deceit and more revenge,

A very troubled family—

there are many families like it today.

Gen. 37:2b-4 Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.

When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

Joseph had a symbolic dream of his brothers bowing down to him

and another of the sun, moon, and stars bowing down to him,

and he foolishly told it to his family,

so that his brothers hated him even more

and his father rebuked him.

Once when his brothers are out tending the flocks at quite a distance,

Jacob sends Joseph to search for them

and find out how they’re doing.

So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan.

Gen. 37:18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.

Gen. 37:19 "Here comes that dreamer!" they said to each other.

Gen. 37:20 "Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams."

The oldest brother Reuben knew this was wrong,

But he also knew his younger brothers would not listen to him,

So he secretly planned to rescue his little brother.

"Let’s not take his life!" Reuben said.

"Don’t shed any blood.

Throw him into this dry cistern here in the desert,

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