It's All Good

We have been exploring the character and mission of God through the founding of the nation, Israel.

  • Abraham -> Isaac
  • Isaac (& Rebekah) –> Jacob & Esau
  • Jacob (& Rachel) -> Joseph
    • Jacob/Israel has 12 sons in all, which are the 12 tribes of Israel

Due to 7 years of famine (an Act of God), Jacob (Israel) and his family end up in Joseph’s care in Egypt. How Joseph gets to Egypt is another dysfunctional family story. One that we are going to look at today.

The line up

As we jump into the life of Joseph, we get a pretty good introduction to the family.

2 These are the family records of Jacob. At seventeen years of age, Joseph tended sheep with his brothers. The young man was working with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought a bad report about them to their father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than his other sons because Joseph was a son born to him in his old age, and he made a robe of many colors for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not bring themselves to speak peaceably to him. 5 Then Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the field. Suddenly my sheaf stood up, and your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” 8 “Are you really going to reign over us?” his brothers asked him. “Are you really going to rule us?” So they hated him even more because of his dream and what he had said. 9 Then he had another dream and told it to his brothers. “Look,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun, moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” 10 He told his father and brothers, and his father rebuked him. “What kind of dream is this that you have had?” he said. “Am I and your mother and your brothers really going to come and bow down to the ground before you?” 11 His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind. // Genesis 37:2–11 CSB

Intro to Joseph

At age 17, this is like his resume:

1. He was a snitch

He would report back to his father what his brothers were doing wrong.

2. He was Dad’s favorite

It was quite apparent to everyone that Israel loved him the most. This passage says because he was a child in his old age. However, he is also the first born of the “wife he loved”, Rachel.  

4. He was a dreamer

He had dreams, from God. And those dreams did NOT make him popular with his brothers.

Intro to the Brothers

1. They HATE Joe

They could not even speak peaceably with him

2. They Are  JEALOUS of Joe

The brothers were jealous. Angry, heated up, enraged – all of the above. The last time we saw jealousy like this, it was when Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s was not. It led to the first murder.

Israel feed this division by making a special coat of many colors for Joseph.

Playing Favorites

That is the background. A family divided, because the parents, especially dad, was divided. Where did Jacob learn this behavior? He was his mom’s favorite and Esau was his dad’s favorite.

This is a great reminder to us as parents – do not play favorites! Our kids will ALWAYS accuse us of playing favorites, especially when they do not get their way. That does not mean it is true. However, if we blatantly play favorites we cause division in our own household.

How do you know if you are playing favorites?

  • Check your standards: when you continually compare one child to another
  • Check your planner: when you spend more time with one over the others
  • Check your vocabulary: when you only say good about one and bad about the other(s)
  • Check your heart: when you love being with one and have to work to be with the other(s)

We will all have a tendency to favor one child over another, especially at different seasons of life. However, each child is a gift from God, made in the image of God. We need to ask God to help us love and value each gift in the unique way that God has created them.

The PLOT: the lord of the dreams

One day, Jacob sends Joseph to check on his brothers. They see him coming and want to kill him. They even have a pet name for him, “the lord of the dreams” they call him in 37:19.  [that would be the best title for a movie about Joseph]

Reuben says, “don’t kill him, just throw him in a pit” – because he planned to recue him later. (Perhaps to get on Dad’s good side?).

23 When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped off Joseph’s robe, the robe of many colors that he had on. 24 Then they took him and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty, without water. 25 They sat down to eat a meal, and when they looked up, there was a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying aromatic gum, balsam, and resin, going down to Egypt. 26 Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come on, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay a hand on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh,” and his brothers agreed. 28 When Midianite traders passed by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph to Egypt. // Genesis 37:23–28 CSB

  • They throw Joseph into a pit.
  • Then the brothers go have a meal! [there is no remorse, this is a celebration!]
  • Then, some of them see an opportunity to make money, so they go back to the pit and sell their brother into slavery
  • They deceive their father by sending the coat, stained with blood, implying that Joseph was eaten by a wild animal.

Joseph’s New Resume

Jump to Genesis 39

1.    He works for Potiphar

  • God blesses him and all he does
  • He becomes head of the house and in charge of everything

5 From the time that he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house because of Joseph. The Lord’s blessing was on all that he owned, in his house and in his fields. 6 He left all that he owned under Joseph’s authority; he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome. // Genesis 39:5–6 CSB

  • He get’s framed by Potiphar’s wife because he will not sleep with her

9 No one in this house is greater than I am. He has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. So how could I do this immense evil, and how could I sin against God?” // Genesis 39:9 CSB

  • He goes to prison

2.    He works for the prison warden

  • God blesses him and all he does
  • He because head of the prison, as a prisoner

21 But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him. He granted him favor with the prison warden. 22 The warden put all the prisoners who were in the prison under Joseph’s authority, and he was responsible for everything that was done there. 23 The warden did not bother with anything under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him, and the Lord made everything that he did successful. // Genesis 39:21–23 CSB

  • He interprets the dreams of the baker and cupbearer

 Joseph said to them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” // Genesis 40:8b CSB

  • The interpretations are 100% accurate. The baker is killed, the cup bearer restored.
  • He is forgotten for 2 more years

3.    He works for Pharaoh

  • Pharaoh has 2 dreams and not on can interpret them
  • The cup bearer remembers Joseph and recommends him to Pharaoh

16 “I am not able to,” Joseph answered Pharaoh. “It is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” // Genesis 41:16 CSB

  • Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dream – 7 years of plenty & 7 years of famine
  • He becomes the head of the entire land of Egypt, only Pharaoh is more powerful
  • God blesses him in all he does

38 and [Pharaoh] said to them, “Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit in him?” 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one as discerning and wise as you are. 40 You will be over my house, and all my people will obey your commands. Only I, as king, will be greater than you.” 41 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “See, I am placing you over all the land of Egypt.” // Genesis 41:38–41 CSB

Where Famine & Family Collide

God sends the famine (this IS an act of God), and Joseph’s brothers go to Egypt to buy grain to help them get through the year.

5 The sons of Israel were among those who came to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan. 6 Joseph was in charge of the country; he sold grain to all its people. His brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan to buy food,” they replied. 8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Joseph remembered his dreams about them …” // Genesis 42:5–9 CSB

NOW, Joseph’s dream makes sense. Just like Abraham had to wait to see the promise of Isaac, Joseph had to wait and endure to see God’s fulfillment of his dreams. This probably was NOT the way that Joseph saw it playing out back when he was 17 and living at home.

Joseph torments his brothers a bit and after a while he finally reveals himself to them. They are terrified! My guess is that they felt much the same way Jacob did when he was getting ready to confront Esau. We’re doomed!

3 Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But they could not answer him because they were terrified in his presence. 4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Please, come near me,” and they came near. “I am Joseph, your brother,” he said, “the one you sold into Egypt. 5 And now don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. 7 God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt. 9 “Return quickly to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: “God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me without delay. // Genesis 45:3–9 CSB

In chapters 42-47 we read about the drama that eventually brings all 70 of Israel’s family members to Egypt. They are able to settle in the best lands and survive the famine.

Jacob gets old, blesses his sons (and the sons of Joseph) and then dies. They take Israel back to Canaan to be buried with Abraham and Isaac.

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said to one another, “If Joseph is holding a grudge against us, he will certainly repay us for all the suffering we caused him.” 16 So they sent this message to Joseph, “Before he died your father gave a command: 17 ‘Say this to Joseph: Please forgive your brothers’ transgression and their sin—the suffering they caused you.’ Therefore, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when their message came to him. 18 His brothers also came to him, bowed down before him, and said, “We are your slaves!” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people. 21 Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. // Genesis 50:15–21 CSB

As we read that last section of verses together, what jumps out to you?

Is it all good?

We often quote verses like Romans 8:28. But, do we believe it? When I read the majority of the stuff in the news or on Facebook I am thinking we do NOT believe this.

28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. // Romans 8:28 CSB

What we believe impacts how we live.

If I only look at my circumstances and fail to view life through the lens of God’s big picture, then I am very likely to make myself the victim or my circumstances. Especially if someone has wronged me for no fault of my own.

Joseph was able to literally spare the lives of hundreds of thousands of people – because he was hated by his brothers, sold into slavery, wrongly accused by Potiphar’s wife and put in prison.

It is NOT the external circumstances that defined whether or not Joseph was blessed. It was not his social position at any of these times that determined his success. It was his faith.

Unlike many other OT characters, we do NOT get a glimpse into the personal struggles that Joseph may have had. Nor do we get insight into his personal, devotional life. What we DO get are the statements he makes to some very important people, and these statements reveal what he truly believes.

When our faith empowers our actions, we see the kind of actions that were in Joseph’s life:

We say no to sin.

When faced with the lure of sex and power, Joseph said this:

9 No one in this house is greater than I am. He has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. So how could I do this immense evil, and how could I sin against God?” // Genesis 39:9 CSB

We say no to sin because we understand that living for God is much more pleasurable than living for the moment if that moment is in rebellion to God.

We point people to God.

When given the ability to interpret dreams, Joseph gave the credit to God:

 Joseph said to them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” // Genesis 40:8b CSB

 “I am not able to,” Joseph answered Pharaoh. “It is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” // Genesis 41:16 CSB

Because we understand that God is in control and he works everything out, then even my natural abilities, as well as any super natural abilities I have come from God. Even others will see God and give him the credit – like Pharaoh did. We point people to God.

We accept our circumstances.

When looking back at his time, his treatment, his brother’s angst against him, Joe had this to say:

5 And now don’t be grieved or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. // Genesis 45:5 CSB

It was not that God took a bad thing and made it good. It was that God had a plan, and part of that plan was going to be uncomfortable for Joseph for a while.

When we believe God is in control we can accept, and not complain about, our circumstances.

We forgive an bless others.

This is viewing life through the lens of God’s story. What happens to me always has a bigger purpose. The good and the bad can all be used by God to work out his plan and even for the benefit of others.

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result—the survival of many people. 21 Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your children.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. // Genesis 50:19–21 CSB

Our ultimate response must be to reflect God. Not to try to replace God.

ASK: What circumstances are you facing in your life that you do not like?

  • Do you believe that God is in control?
  • Do you believe that God is able to work it out for your good and His glory?

If not, what lies have you believed or what areas of unbelief do you need to confess?

The story of Joseph is a reminder that God IS in control and his plan, his story, his mission will be accomplished. And he can turn whatever happens in our lives to good. If we will trust him and honor him.

Join Our Mailing List

NCF was started in 1987 to minister to the growing population of Fort Drum and Jefferson County. Located in Carthage, just minutes away from Ft Drum, Lowville and Watertown, it is a blended congregation of local and military folks, single soldiers, young families and grandparents.

35206 Sayre Road
Carthage NY 13619
PO Box 823
Carthage, NY 13619
315-493-3958