Joseph the Dreamer

This morning we'll take a crash course on Joseph. You may know this story, but Joseph is one of Israel's (Jacob's) twelve sons.

Sadly, not only did his father love Joseph more than his brothers, but his brothers saw too clearly that their dad truly loved Joseph more than them.

Genesis 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. 4 His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.

It’s bad enough to secretly favor one child over the rest but it’s way over the top to give him extravagantly expensive clothes (the varicolored tunic) that flaunt your favoritism before the others.

In the Big Picture, Joseph is not God's choice to be the son to carry out His kingdom purpose with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jesus will not be born to the tribe of Joseph but the tribe of Judah.

But a famine is coming that would wipe out all of Jacob's son's families. So through a series of dreams God shows Joseph he will be in a position of power—his parents and his brothers will bow to him.

It's important to see that Joseph trusted God for this. He didn't know any details, but this profoundly impacted Joseph's view on life.

We can learn from him: "No matter what happens, God has given me this promise. I trust that He will work it out." This is huge. "No matter what happens, I trust Him to use it for His good purposes."

This understanding of God, this way of seeing God's commitment to work everything you face for your greater good can liberate you from fear and empower you to love—to truly live. This is part of the good news that we receive in Jesus Christ. So, own it in Christ.

For with Jesus Christ, God has promised you an eternal destiny with Him; He's promised to all who believe that you'll share with Jesus in His glory, and in His kingdom. God the Father has given you this promise. So, like Joseph, you can trust God personally to walk with you, completely deflecting some things away, while allowing other things yet ensuring that He will use them, and trusting God with them, you will not be ruled by them. This is the understanding that God want you to see in Joseph.

Believer in Jesus Christ, no matter what happens in your life, you can trust your gracious Lord to work through it, and to bring a greater good out of it. Whether for you, your family, or the world around you.

But this is pretty hard to believe when we just live and struggle and don't see God. You may think, "I'm not there." Or "I see God in the good things, but not in the bad. I don't think of God that way." Well, to hold onto that belief system you need to ignore a lot of Scripture, pretty much everything we've covered in Genesis. And the alternative is that, if God has nothing to do with the hard things in life, then you are alone in the hard things. And the hard things happen apart from any good purpose.

Well, we might be getting ahead of ourselves. God reveals these dreams to Joseph, then he goes and shares his dreams with his family. Jacob rebukes him, and his brothers hate him more than before.

Genesis 37:8 Then his brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

Sometime after this, Jacob sends Joseph to check up on his older brothers.

Genesis 37:18 When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death.

Genesis 37:23 So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; 24 and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it.

But a caravan of Ishmaelite traders was headed to Egypt. So Judah said, "Bros, since there's no financial gain in our brothers' death, let's sell him to them."

So they sold Joseph, their half-brother. Then they doused his clothes in goat's blood and they told their father Jacob that he was mauled by wild animals.

Wow, what about God's promise that they would bow to him?! And who knows how these traders mistreated him. What he endured on the journey.

Finally, Joseph is sold in Egypt to the head of security for Pharaoh the king.

Genesis 39:1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there.

Fortune turned against Joseph, but the LORD was with him. Our Lord made it clear to Potiphar that God was with Joseph. He caused everything to prosper for Potiphar; so Potsy made Joseph overseer of all that he owned.

Genesis 39:2 The LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. 3 Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. 4 So Joseph found favor in [Potiphar's] sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.

Joseph is a slave, so it's weird to say he's blessed but he is. Our Lord's good fortune is once again smiling on him. But not for long…

The boss's wife starts making these super awkward sexual advances. Joseph makes it clear he's serious about God, and his job, and he's loyal to Potiphar. One day she grabs his tunic and says, "Lie with me," and he flees temptation, the appearance of evil. But she feels scorned and his clothes are in her hand, so she accuses him of sexual assault. What?! And he is sent to prison.

Every time he gets ahead, God's good fortune turns against him. Awful things happen. Yet the LORD is with Him even in prison. Even in the worst times…

The Pharaoh's top chef and the Pharaoh's top wine steward or cupbearer are also in prison. One of them tried to poison the king. Well, they each have a dream and God gives Joseph the interpretation: the baker is guilty and he'll be hanged but the cupbearer will be found innocent and restored to Pharaoh.

Then it happens; the head chef is executed and the wine steward is released. Well he said he'd tell Pharaoh all about Joseph except he didn't. Joseph could be thinking, "Come on man!" But two years later, yes, two years later, Pharaoh had a pair of dreams and he knows they are more than dreams, but nobody can decipher them. Finally the cupbearer tells him about Joseph.

Pharaoh speaks to Joseph, "I'm told you can see into the future, interpret dreams." Joseph says, "No man can do that! But the God whom I serve can."

So Pharaoh tells Joseph his dreams and Joseph nails it. Says there will be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of devastating drought.

Pharaoh sees God's grace on Joseph and puts him in charge. Gives him everything he needs to carry out his role. And He makes Joseph the second most powerful man in the world's most powerful nation.

Genesis 41:42 Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. 43 He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, “Bow the knee!” And he set him over all the land of Egypt.

And God was with Joseph. He led Egypt to store grain during the abundant years. So during the famine, he fed the Egyptians and built Egypt's economy.

Genesis 41:56 When the famine was spread over all the face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.

This brings us to Joseph's father and brothers. Israel too is hit by the famine. When Jacob (Israel) heard there was grain in Egypt, he sent his sons to purchase it.

Genesis 42:1 Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, “Why are you staring at one another?” 2 He said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die.”

After his sons arrived and waited in line forever, they were brought before Joseph. They bowed to him just like in the dreams that God showed him as a youth. He recognized them but he'd changed, they didn't recognize him.

Genesis 42:8 But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him. 9 Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them, and said to them, “You are spies; you have come to look at the undefended parts of our land.”

Joseph spoke shrewdly with them. He tested them. Accused them of being spies, demanded that they bring their youngest brother to see him. Long story short, and a lot of mischief later, all of his brothers were before him, and afraid…

Genesis 45:1 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, “Have everyone go out from me.” So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. 2 He wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. 3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence.

But they were afraid because of what they'd done. "How can you forgive us?" "Because of how I know God. Guys I trust that His hand is over everything."

Genesis 45:7 God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. 8 Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Brothers, what you did hurt me!

What you did derailed my joy for a while, but it did not disrupt God's purpose for me.

What you did changed my life, but my life did not that day…

Sometimes when the worst case scenario happens, we think our life ends. When an embarrassing secret gets out. When we cannot get into the school we dreamed of. When someone breaks up with us. We get divorced. A loved one dies.

While it may change your life, it does not end your life. In Christ, you are not a victim to circumstances.

Learn from this, nothing that happens is wasted. Your child's illness. A husband's callous words. A global pandemic. A government's response. False accusations. The hardest things life throws at you.

Trust God with it. Seriously, you can focus your trust in Christ to use whatever happens for your good, and you won't let fear or rage win. Trusting that He can restore the joy and beauty of life frees your heart to be kind, full of grace. Again there's Christ honoring power and freedom in this…

A while later, their father Jacob (Israel) passed away. His brother's fear that Joseph may lash out and pay them back for all that they did to him.

Genesis 50:15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!”

Genesis 50:18 Then his brothers also came and fell down before him  and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place?

"I'm not God." This is huge to see and admit. Nobody thinks we're acting in God's place, but this kind of calls us out. "I am not in God's place. I am not your judge. I am not going to take your life."

The Holy Spirit uses Joseph to point out that when we judge and retaliate and take revenge on those who mistreat us, we act in the place of God.

Joseph basically says, "Brothers, I love you. I forgive you. I'm free to do this because I trust that God is bigger than you or me. And I trust His intentions. I trust His sovereign goodness. Nothing is wasted…

Genesis 50:20 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. [The Lord our God does not commit evil. He does not condone evil. But He redeems evil, uses it for good. I see Him using you.] 21 So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones."

This understanding of God freed Jacob to love rather than hate his brothers. To forgive and more than that, to care for them and their families.

His belief that God is even in the hard things to use them for some unknown good allowed him to be used by God to feed his starving family and to feed millions of others.

His faith in God's providence allowed him to step into a role to accomplish God's purposes: Joseph saved the children of Israel including the tribe of Judah from which the Savior, Christ was later born.

Big as all of this is, God is the same God with you, no matter what happens to you. Whether it's coronavirus related illness or problems with your relationships, at school or on your job.

God is committed to you, and commits to redeem whatever happens. Trust this.

Your life need not be ruled by your circumstances or other people's actions. For nothing that happens can possibly end your life. Not exposure of your browsing history. Not your spouse's issues. Not your child's terrible choices. Not illness or death.

Our heavenly Father gives you every reason to confidently trust Him to work for good through whatever happens.

While Joseph is an incredible example, it's all about God. He's this way, whether you believe it or not. This isn't recorded for us to compare ourselves to Joseph—O I don't have the faith of Joseph!

This is meant to encourage you that God is working out His purposes. He's that way. Always.

Even if you can't trust Him enough!

Even if you're too stressed out, too busy, or the current home atmosphere is too tense—God is still working out His purposes.

Not because you have such great faith but because He has such great love. He's good. He's trustworthy. He's the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. As He loved Jesus, and Joseph, let Him love you.