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True Repentance

This morning we are going finally wrap up our story of Joseph! It’s been quite a journey to get here, but we’ve finally made it. Last week, we ended right at the climax of the story – with Joseph’s brothers sure that all was lost and this would be the end of them…

But just in case you missed last week, let me give you a super quick summary of how we got to where we are.

Joseph is the second youngest among 12 brothers. He was the favourite of his father – but hated by all his older half-brothers. So much so, that one day when he was 17 years old, they sold him as a slave and he was taken to Egypt. To cover their tracks, they dipped Joseph’s special coat of many colours in blood, so that their father would believe that he had been killed by wild animals. But in reality, Joseph was alive and well in Egypt. He started off as a slave to a man named Potiphar, but Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of a crime he didn’t commit and Joseph ended up in prison.

In prison, Joseph used his God-given gift of being able to interpret dreams to explain the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and his chief baker. This experience is what eventually got Joseph out of prison, as he was called on by Pharaoh a few years later to interpret one of his dreams.

And this really was the turning point for Joseph. The interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream was that God was sending 7 years of great prosperity to Egypt – but they would be followed by 7 years of terrible famine. In order to prepare for that famine, Joseph recommended that someone should collect massive amounts of grain for the next seven years so there would be enough to survive the upcoming 7 years of famine. Seeing Joseph’s obvious and God-given wisdom, Pharaoh decided to give Joseph that exact job – giving him authority over the entire land of Egypt.

Well, several years later, when the famine began ravaging Egypt and the surrounding area, Joseph’s older brother’s all came to Egypt to buy grain – since Egypt seemed to be the only place that still had plenty!

But unbenownst to them, Joseph was the one from whom they would have to buy that grain. Now then they arrived, they didn’t recognize him (as this was 20 years since they had last seen him) – but he recognized them and put a plan in motion to put his brothers through the wringer to find out what kind of men they had become. 

After accusing them of being spies and throwing them in prison, he demanded that they prove their innocence by bringing back their youngest brother from Canaan to Egypt.  Joseph’s younger, and only full-brother, Benjamin, had become his father’s new favourite since Joseph had disappear, and so Benjamin had stayed home with his father.

So with Benjamin not being with the brothers, perhaps Joseph wondered if they had sold him as a slave too, or if they had even killed him. So perhaps this was one way for Joseph to find out. We don’t really know Joseph’s full motivations, but either way, Joseph’s command was that the brothers bring Benjamin back with them to Egypt or they would not be able to buy grain from him again.

And since Joseph was pretty much the only guy in the world selling grain at that time, they really didn’t have much of a choice.

As an additional guarantee that they would return, Joseph kept one of the brothers (Simeon) as his prisoner, while the other brother’s took food home for their starving families. Now remember that Joseph has done all this as the governor of Egypt – his brothers never had clue who he really was. They just chalked all this trouble up as God punishing them for what they had done to Joseph years ago.

So they returned home with the food (but without Simeon) and under the strict instructions not show up again unless their brother Benjamin was with them. Of course, Jacob was very much opposed to sending Benjamin to Egypt. With Joseph gone, and Simeon gone, he simply didn’t want to risk losing another son – especially not his favourite son! But when their food ran out, he really had no choice.

So after much delay and much moaning and complaining by Jacob, the brothers returned to Egypt with Benjamin. And true to his word, upon seeing Benjamin, Joseph released Simeon, gave them food for their families, and even enjoyed a meal with them. (Again, doing this all as the governor of Egypt – never telling them who he really was.)

But then as one final test, as he sent them on their way home, he secretly planted his personal silver cup in Benjamin’s bag. Once they had barely left the city, he sent his household manager to run after them and stop them and accuse them of stealing Joseph’s cup. What would happen next would truly be the test of his brothers’ character.

And that’s about where we left off last week. I’ll begin today by reading the last few verses that we read last week, so there will be a tiny bit of over lap, but I think these verses are important to set the stage for today. So we’ll begin at Genesis chapter 44 – verse 6.

6 When the palace manager caught up with the men, he spoke to them as he had been instructed.

7 “What are you talking about?” the brothers responded. “We are your servants and would never do such a thing! 8 Didn’t we return the money we found in our sacks? We brought it back all the way from the land of Canaan. Why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 If you find his cup with any one of us, let that man die. And all the rest of us, my lord, will be your slaves.”

10 “That’s fair,” the man replied. “But only the one who stole the cup will be my slave. The rest of you may go free.”

11 They all quickly took their sacks from the backs of their donkeys and opened them. 12 The palace manager searched the brothers’ sacks, from the oldest to the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack! 13 When the brothers saw this, they tore their clothing in despair. Then they loaded their donkeys again and returned to the city. Genesis 44:6-13

Now we didn’t really get into this last week, but I’m pretty impressed at how shrewed Joseph was in orchestrating this whole situation for his brothers. This really was a perfect way to test their character to see if anything had changed from when they faced a very similar situation some 20 years ago.

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Living in Fear

We have been taking an in-depth look at the life of Joseph throughout the summer. And it’s taken us a little while to get through it all… there’s a lot of information to cover – and a lot of good lessons to be learned from Joseph and from his family. However, we are nearing the end, and today, we’ll cover a lot of ground – probably about a chapter & a half.

Now even if you haven’t been with us for the last little while, I’m going to assume that most of you have heard at least the Sunday School version of Joseph’s story – so I’m not going to recap things from the very beginning, but I will just quickly help you get your bearings for where we are today.

Because of a wide-spread famine, Joseph’s brothers have just come to Egypt to buy food, but unknown to them, Joseph (whom they had sold into slavery many years before) had risen to be the second-in-command over all of Egypt – and it was from him that they would have to buy grain. 

Of course, they didn’t recognize him, (it had been about 20 years since they saw him last) but he certainly recognized them and instead of immediately revealing his identity, he decided to take advantage of this opportunity and put them to the test. We don’t fully know his motivations for why he decided to test his brothers, but we kinda assume it was to see what kind of men they had become in the years since they had sold him as a slave. Were they still heartless and cruel (men who would plot to kill their own brother) – or had they changed?

So to find out, this is what he did. First of all, he accused them of being spies and threw them all in prison for three days. (What youngest sibling hasn’t wanted to do that to their older brothers at some pointing their life….?) 

After those three days, he brought them out and told them that he would continue to hold one of them (Simeon) as his prisoner, while the other brothers were to take food home for their starving families. In order to prove their innocence and to prove their story of all being brothers from one family, they would have to bring their youngest brother back to Egypt with them when they returned the next time – or else Simeon would remain in prison and the brothers would not be allowed to buy any more grain in Egypt.

And Joseph comes across as being very harsh with them, but we can tell that he still cared very much about his family – as he sent them home with both the grain they bought for their families, as well as secretly giving them all their money back.

But of course, the brothers had not idea about this money – but when they discovered this it on their way home, they concluded that God was trying to frame them as thieves as punishment for what they had done to Joseph years ago and they were totally terrified about what would happen if the Egyptians though they were not only spies, but thieves too!

When they finally arrived home, and told their father, Jacob, about what had happened and what the governor had said, and Jacob certainly wasn’t happy either – as he had no intentions whatsoever of letting his youngest son Benjamin go with the rest of the brothers to Egypt. You see, Benjamin was Jacob’s favorite son, and he would not allow him to be put in any sort of risky situation.

And that’s about where we left off last time. Simeon is in prison, the famine is still devastating the land, and the food is very limited. But the brothers don’t dare go back to Egypt without Benjamin – and Jacob is absolutely refusing to let Benjamin go. It seem like they’re at a bit of an impasse – but something’s got to give! So we’re going to continue reading today in Genesis chapter 43, verse 1 to see how this all pans out.

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Believing Lies

After a two-week break, today we are getting back to our story of Joseph. We began looking at the life of Joseph back in May, so we’ve already covered a large portion of his story. By this point, we’ve worked through most of the Sunday school stories that are usually associated with Joseph. 

We’ve talked about how he was his dad’s favourite and how he had that beautiful coat of many colours that gave him special status far above his brothers.

We’ve talked about how his brothers hated him and how they sold him as a slave into Egypt when he was just 17 years old.

We’ve talked about how, even as a slave, he prospered in the home of his Egyptian master, Potiphar, and rose to to be the head of the whole house. We also talked about how he stood up for what was right when he refused to sleep with Potiphar’s wife and ended up being falsely accused and thrown into prison because of that.

We also talked about his dreams. You’ll remember that he had those dreams way back before his brother’s sold him as a slave – dreams that seemed to indicate that one day he would rule over his entire family.

But not only did Jospeh have these dreams about his future, he also also interpreted the dreams of others. While he was in the prison in Egypt, he interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and his chief baker. Both of those interpretations came true – the baker was executed and the cup-bearer returned to work for Pharaoh – just as Joseph had predicted.

And it was through that cup-bearer that Joseph was called on to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. You’ll recall how God had warned Pharaoh through dreams of cows and grain that there would be 7 years of great prosperity in Egypt, but afterwards, that prosperity would be followed by 7 years of terrible famine.

Of course, when Joseph explained to Pharaoh what his dreams meant, Pharaoh recognized Joseph’s God-given wisdom and He put Joseph in charge of the entire land of Egypt – giving him full authority to collect grain throughout Egypt during the 7 good years and then to distribute it to everyone during the 7 bad years.

And that almost brings us to where we left off. Just before we ended last time, we saw Joseph’s brothers actually come to Egypt to buy food – because they were facing the same famine as everyone else. Of course, they had no idea that Jospeh was alive – let alone that he was the 2nd most powerful man in all of Egypt and they had to buy food from him!

So when they showed up, they didn’t recognize Joseph, but Joseph recognized them. Taking advantage of the situation, Joseph decided to put them to the test to see what kind of men his brothers had become in the 20 years since they had sold him as a slave. So he accused them of being spies and he threw them all in prison for three days. After those three days, he told them that one of them had to remain in prison while the others could go home and take food back for their families. But they had to return with their younger brother, Benjamin, to prove that they were not spies, and that their story about having a younger brother at home with their father was indeed true.

So we ended last time with Joseph sending his 9 brothers home, still with no idea that they had been dealing with their long lost brother Joseph, and with a strict warning not to return to Egypt unless they had their younger brother, Benjamin, with them. 

So off they went, with Simeon left behind in prison. Joseph supplied them with food and supplies for the journey. He also secretly returned the money that they had paid for everything – and snuck it back into their sacks of grain.

And that’s just where we’ll pick it up today. The 9 brothers have just started their journey home and we read in Genesis chapter 42, verse 27….

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True Identity

Last week was a total game-changer for Joseph. If you’ve been with us for these past few weeks, you’ll recall that up until this point, it just seemed that no matter what Joseph did, something bad always happened to him. Even when things were going good, they quickly turned bad.

Because so far he’s been nearly killed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit, thrown into prison, and then completely forgotten about. And this was all before he was 30 years old. It has been a rough life for Joseph. But then, in just one day, everything changed.

Last week we read about how Pharaoh had a dream – well, two dreams really, and he didn’t know what they meant. These dreams obviously had some significance, but neither Pharaoh or any of his wisemen could figure out the meaning of these two dreams.

Now as it happened, Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer had been in prison with Joseph some time earlier and Joseph had accurately interpreted a dream that he had had – and so the cupbearer told Pharaoh about this Joseph guy that he had met in prison who could interpret dreams.

Well, with that information, Pharaoh called up Joseph out of prison and asked Joseph if he could interpret his dreams. And this is how Joseph responded:

16 “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” Genesis 41:16

Joseph knew that he didn’t have the ability to interpret dreams, but God certainly did. As we mentioned last week, Joseph had God-confidence – not self-confidence.

Well, to make a long story short, Joseph goes on to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, which in essence, were a warning from God that after 7 years of great prosperity in Egypt, there would be 7 years of terrible famine.

And this is where everything changed for Joseph. Because Joseph was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, Pharaoh determined that no one in Egypt was as wise as Joseph and so he gave Joseph full authority over all of Egypt – so that Joseph could make the necessary preparations for this upcoming famine. No one would be greater than Joseph in all of Egypt except for Pharaoh himself.

In one day, everything changed for Joseph. He went from being a slave in prison, to the second-in-command over all of Egypt. Pharaoh even gave him him a new Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife. What a total life change!

And it’s right at that moment of life-change that we pick it up today – with Joseph now the second-in-command over all of Egypt. The story of Joseph is far from over, so we’re going to find out what happened next. We continue reading in Genesis 41, verse 45.

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The Day That Changed Everything

Most of our days are filled with the routine, ordinary, and rather mundane events of life. Things like brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, driving to work, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, watching tv…. Just regular run-of-the-mill stuff.

And most of our days are like that. Just another day – doing pretty much the same thing as you’ve done hundreds of times before.

But every once in a while, we have a different kind of day… A day that changes everything.

Coleson and Dana had one of those days yesterday. They may not have even fully realized it, but for them, yesterday changed everything! As they stood before friends and family and said their marriage vows to one another, their lives headed down a brand new path and things will be forever different in their lives.

John & Wendy had one of those days about 45 years ago! They celebrated 45 years of marriage a week ago Saturday and I’m sure they would testify that when they said “I do” 45 years ago – that was a day that changed everything!

And it’s not just wedding days that change everything. Sometimes its the day of the car accident that changes everything. Or the day your little one was born. Or the day you started that new job. Or whatever it is… Everyone once in a while, we have those days – those days that change everything!

Well, Joseph was about to have one of those days.

When we last left Joseph, he was in the prison in the palace of the guard in Egypt. 

Some time before this he had been sold as a slave (by his brothers) and had been bought by a man named Potiphar. But Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph and he was thrown into prison for a crime that he never committed. But through it all, we were reminded last week that the Lord was with Joseph – even in the prison – and God caused everything Joseph did to succeed, causing him to quickly gain the trust of the prison keeper who then put him in charge of all the other prisoners.

As it happened, Pharaoh had thrown his cup-bearer and his baker into that same prison and so one day as Joseph cared for these two men, Joseph noticed that they seemed to be upset about something. They went on to tell Joseph that they had each had a dream that clearly had some important meaning, but didn’t know what that meaning was.

Well to make a long story short, God revealed to Joseph what the dreams meant and so Joseph was able to tell these two men the meaning of their dreams. He told them that in three days, the baker unfortunately would be executed by Pharaoh and the cup-bearer would be freed from prison and would get his job back. And then, as Joseph is explaining all this, Joseph also says this to the cup-bearer: (In Genesis chapter 40, verse 14…)

14 And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place. 15 For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it.” Genesis 40:14-15

It was probably a long-shot to hope for Pharaoh’s help, but that was probably Joseph’s only hope that he would ever get out of that prison. 

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Joseph in Prison

Today we continue looking at the story of Joseph. For those who may not have been with us for these past few weeks, Joseph was a young man, who, although the favourite of his father, was hated by his brothers. I won’t rehash the backstory of why that was, but they hated him so much that they were willing to kill him! In fact, one day they grabbed him and threw him in a pit and left him to die. But then, through the providence of God, a roving band of slave traders came by and so rather than leaving him to die, they decided to sell Joseph as a slave to these slave traders instead.

To make a long story short, Jospeh’s new owners took him down to Egypt where he was sold to a man named Potiphar – who happened to be the captain of the the guard for Pharaoh.

And as Mike shared with us two week ago, the Lord was with Joseph – even in slavery – and Joseph quickly rose in the ranks among the slaves in Potiphar’s house – eventually becoming the head of the household – with no one having more authority than he did (except of course for Potiphar himself).

Mike also noted that the Bible described Joseph as being very handsome and well-built. Potiphar’s wife made note of that as well and she tried relentlessly to convince Joseph to sleep with her. But Joseph wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t sin against his master Potiphar and he would not sin against God.

This didn’t sit well with Mrs. Potiphar and so one day, after her advances were once again rejected by Joseph, she falsely accused Joseph of trying to sleep with her. She painted him as the bad guy and Joseph ended up being thrown into prison.

And so that’s where we last left Joseph a couple weeks ago. And you’ve really got to appreciate the roller coaster ride that Joseph life has been so far. It’s just a series of highs and then lows, highs and then lows – over and over again.

  • He was the favourite of his father – but all his brothers hated him.
  • His dad honored him with a beautiful coat of many colours – then his brother’s threw him in a pit and left him to die.
  • He was was rescued from that pit – only to be sold as a slave.
  • He rose to be the head of Potiphar’s house – but then falsely accused and thrown in prison.

It’s just one thing after another after another….

But throughout the story we get this cool little reminder – there’s a phrase that keeps popping up: (I think it comes up 4 times in Genesis 39…) And it’s that phrase that I want to start with today. I think I’m overlapping a little bit with where Mike left off, but I want to start in Genesis chapter 39, starting at verse 21.

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