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Summary: sermon on how Joseph is sold into slavery by Norval Koch for our worship service

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Sunday, July 7th, 2002

Sermon Text: Genesis 37:25-36

Today we begin a series of sermons based on the life of Joseph. Our first text in this series does not have what we’d call a very “positive tone,”as you may have gathered while listening to it. In fact, it describes a series of sins on the part of Joseph’s own brothers that leads from one evil deed to another. Along with those evil deeds come tragedy and heartbreak. If we didn’t already know the entire Joseph story and that it ends up with a happy ending for him, we might be left to question why we are having a series of sermons on the life of Joseph in the first place.

What happened in our text, however, is a situation that is not unfamiliar to us and the world in which we live today. Evil is all around us, it is within us, and it often seems to be coming out on top, so to speak. How, then, can we stay positive as Christians who continue to live out our lives in this world? How can we find strength to be positive influences in the world? How can we maintain a positive attitude as we continue with our mission as a church?

The first installment of our Joseph series invites us to take a good, hard look at such questions because in all honesty it is hard to avoid them. It is honestly hard, at times, to stay positive when we see the influence of all the evil in the world. But we can indeed answer these questions and learn some valuable lessons as we face evil in our world and in our lives today, just as Joseph did. Let’s begin our study then by asking this question:

WHAT CAN WE SAY WHEN EVIL SEEMS TO BE WINNING?

1–Sin’s progress must be stopped!

2–God’s plan cannot be stopped!

Joseph’s brothers must have thought that they had won a major victory. They got rid of the brother that they had grown to hate, and they did so without going too far (or so they thought). But what they had done was truly evil. It went far enough to be labeled nothing else. To grasp just how evil their actions were we need to back up a bit to see what led to their evil deeds. As we do so we will notice that there was a progression of sin in their hearts that gradually got worse.

Joseph was the son born to Jacob in old age and therefore a “favorite” son. Jacob showed this special love of his for Joseph by giving him that famous “richly ornament coat.” But Joseph’s brothers did not handle this special relationship well at all. They hated Joseph for it, to the point where they could not speak a kind word to him. And when Joseph revealed to his brothers the dreams that he had in which they were pictured as bowing down to him, it only infuriated them all the more. Little did they realize that Joseph was being given a prophecy of what was to come. For all they knew he was “milking” his father’s special love for himself for all it was worth!

Jealousy and hatred led them to plot further evil. They plotted to kill Joseph. If not for brother Reuben’s persuasion to throw Joseph into the cistern they may indeed have ended his life. Later on brother Judah comes up with the plan to sell Joseph to some traders on their way to Egypt, justifying that act by saying that at least they weren’t shedding the blood of their own flesh and blood. The other brothers, of course, agreed.


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