Summary: Trustworthiness was Joseph’s main character trait, but it didn’t come easy. Find out the three enemies of faithfulness and trustworthiness in this overview of Joseph’s life from Genesis 37-50.
“Trusted: Lessons from the Life of Joseph”
Week 1: An Overview
INTRO: Panarama plan at FFC (distribute guide)
I’ll not read this to you, but I would encourage you to take a look at it later, maybe even post it for future reference. It describes the “what and the why” of our preaching/teaching philosophy pretty well and walks you through the journey we’re on as a church – a journey to know God better by undestanding the book he left us, the Bible.
TRANSITION: And today we begin a new series from the very first book of the Bible – Genesis! Why don’t we all turn to that book, put a finger on Genesis 37, and let’s play a little “Did You Know.”
GENESIS: Did you know…
• Genesis is all about beginnings? In fact, the very first phrase in Genesis 1:1 is the Hebrew word for ‘beginnings.’ However, ‘Genesis’ is actually the Greek word used later in the Septuagint, and that’s how we have come to know it as Genesis. It could just as easiy be called ‘Beginnings.’ And no small wonder – in this book we know of the beginning of the earth, the beginning of man and woman, the beginning of marriage, the beginning of family, the beginning of sin, the beginning of redemption, the beginning of law and order, the beginnig of human government – truly it’s a book of beginnings!
• A key word is ‘account’? This word divides the book into ten major sections, with each section giving an account of someone’s beginning or history.
• Moses probably wrote the book during the 40 year wilderness wanderings of the Israelites?
• Faith is a common theme in Genesis as well? No doubt these new beginnings called for great faith on the part of the follower. So it’s not surprising that over half of the people in Hebrews 11 – the hall of faith – are people first mentioned in Genesis.
• Numbers figure prominently in Genesis? Though we’re not sure why, it is intriguing nonetheless. For instance, in addition to the number ten being the number of sections into which the book is divided, it is also the number of names appearing in the genealogies of chapters 5 and 11. The number seven also appears frequently. Genesis 1:1, in the Hebrew text, is actually seven words, and Genesis 1:2 is exactly 14 words. There are seven days of creation, a sevenfold promise to Abraham, seven years of abundance and also seven years of famine. Other numbers such as 12 and 40 also seem important.
• There are four main characters in Genesis known as the Patriarchs? They are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. These are the pillars of the Israelites, the ‘four horsemen’ of the Jewish nation. These were the men God elected to start with. Oddly, after Abraham, none were first born. Isaac followed Ishmael, Jacob followed Esau, and Joseph was the 11th of 12. Yet, though they weren’t firstborn humanly, they were selected by God’s providence and given a trust as his first choice – the responsibility of an entire nation. God must have known he could trust them and so he sovereignly chose them as his leaders for a specific time and purpose.
TRANSITION: It is the patriarch Joseph at whom we going to look for the next few weeks. And his story begins right where your finger is placed – in Genesis 37.
JOSEPH: His story, in fact, is one of trust: how he trusted God in the face of great adversity and great success, and how God trusted him with great responsibility. It’s a drama filled with incredible passion and tension, and it is played out on the stage of Genesis 37-50.
Textually, when you look at the progression of Joseph’s life and the things he was trusted with, the drama breaks down into five acts. I won’t say much about these “acts” right now because we’re going to be looking at them in depth in the next few weeks; but I want you to see the progression of his responsibilities and how God trusted him incrementally with more and more year after year.
Act 1: Gen. 37 - “Trusted with a Vision”
Genesis 37:5-11 says, Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it. His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.