- Sermon Notes
We have reached the last chapter of the book of Genesis.At this point, Jacob has now passed away. He blessed and prophesied over his sons, then drew his legs into his bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.Before he died, however, he charged his sons to bury him with his fathers in the land of Canaan in the cave that Abraham had purchased from the sons of Heth. Abraham and Sarah were buried there, so were Isaac and his wife Rebekah. Jacob’s wife Leah was buried there.
The rest of chapter 50 tells of the last years of Joseph’s life.I love Joseph because he is an example of a man of faith and steadfastness of character.Joseph’s example strengthens our faith and makes us want to hold onto our integrity the same way he did. Seeing the life of Joseph makes you want to run the race with endurance and to finish the race well.
When Abraham died, it says of him in Genesis 25:8, Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life.Abraham finished well.Though Joseph had many troubles and a difficult life, Joseph also finished well.
In these verses we will see the secrets of finishing well from Joseph’s life.
I. God’s Way is a More Excellent Way
- When the brothers came back to Egypt from burying their father in the land of Canaan, they said to themselves, “What if Joseph should bear a grudge
against us and pay us back in full?”
- They expected Joseph to be like many others, full of hurts and wounds that they hold onto and never let go of; bitter and unforgiving.
- But that’s not Joseph. There is a more excellent way to live -- God’s way.
1 Corinthians 12:31, Earnestly desire the greater gifts, but I will show you a still more excellent way.
A. Decide now to live God’s way
- It’s one thing to say that God’s way is a more excellent way, it’s another thing to say that that is the way you want to live your life.
- There is a common way to live. It’s common because many people live that way, but it’s not God’s way. God’s ways are higher …
Isaiah 55:7-9, Let the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord… “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
- No one would have blamed Joseph for bearing a grudge and paying the brothers back for all the wrong which they did to him. They deserved it. But Joseph lived differently. There is a more excellent way.
- You see the efforts of the brothers to manipulate a bit even here, coming up with a story of how their father gave this direction before he died.
- What a contrast there is in how they approach this.They try, by efforts of their own manipulation to seek forgiveness, rather than choosing God’s way.
- Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 13 to show them what that more excellent way was. It’s love.
1 Corinthians 13:2, If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
A. Have a sensitive heart
- Verse 17 – Joseph wept when they said this to him.He was stirred with compassion when they asked for forgiveness.
- Joseph wept many times. It makes us respect him even more when we see how tender and sensitive his heart was.
- When the brothers first met Joseph, they didn’t recognize him, but he recognized them, and he used an interpreter, so they didn’t know he understood
what they said. Later, when Joseph held Simeon in prison until they brought Benjamin from Canaan, the brothers said to each other, “We saw the
distress of our brother when he pleaded with us and we would not listen. Now comes the reckoning for his blood.” When Joseph heard his brothers
say these things, he turned away and wept.
- When the brothers brought Benjamin to Egypt, Joseph said, “Is this the boy of whom you spoke? God have mercy on you, my son.” And he was so moved,
he found a private place and wept.
- When Joseph set the trap so that Benjamin would stay in Egypt as his servant and the remaining brothers were free to leave, Judah responded, “Please,
sir, I will be a servant to you in place of the lad, but please let the lad go or it will bring the gray hairs of his father to the grave.” Hearing
Judah offer himself as a slave instead of Benjamin was too much. Joseph could control himself no longer, he ordered the Egyptians out of the room
and wept so loudly that even Pharaoh heard of it.
- When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he fell on Benjamin’s neck and wept. He then held each of his brothers, kissed them and wept.
- When Joseph met his father after so many long years, he embraced him and wept. When his father died, he wept deeply.
- It’s good for a man to be able to cry. Jesus also wept.
Illus-In the past, I held my emotions and didn’t like to cry at all. My wife thought I was a bit too much like Spock. I thought it might me to live long and prosper. But in my early 20’s, when I had one of my first opportunities to preach a sermon in church. I did so poorly I closed the message early, took Jordi’s hand and found a private room and wept.
When our daughter was murdered four years ago I cried more than I had ever known. Since then, my heart is easily broken. God has made me more sensitive to the hurts and pain of others.
- Joseph’s tears came out of the compassion and love he felt for those around them.He could see the burden of others; he had a sensitive heart.
- The opposite would be a hard heart.A hard heart feels nothing for those around him; and feels nothing for God.
Nehemiah 9:17, They refused to listen, and did not remember Your wondrous deeds which You had performed among them; so they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But You are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness; and You did not forsake them.
Illus – When Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him, he said, “How can I do this thing and sin against God?”
II. Seek God’s Perspective as Your Own
- When Joseph’s brothers fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants,” Joseph responded, “Do not be afraid, am I in the place of God?”
- “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result and keep many people alive.”
- He knew God’s perspective and he took God’s perspective as his own. He chose to see it as God saw it.
A. Never give up on God
- Verse 20 is one of the most important verses in this whole book.Joseph clearly saw that the intent of God is greater than the intent of man.
- There is great comfort in this principle. There is a lot of evil in this world, and to know that God’s sovereignty is over all encourages us in our faith.
App – But this requires looking beyond what we see with our eyes.The scripture tells us that we must walk by faith and not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:5-7, He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always confident; … for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Illus – Jacob thought everything was against him. He couldn’t see that God was orchestrating everything and that God was working all things together for good. These things were actually for him.
- This is trusting God’s perspective.We may not be able to see everything as God sees, but it is enough to know that God sees it.
- The key is this -- don’t give up on God. Don’t judge God’s love by your outward circumstances.
Lamentations 3:21-26, This I recall to my mind; therefore I have hope.The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions, they fail not.They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.”The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the one who seeks Him.It is good to wait silently for the salvation of the Lord.
B. See what God would do through you
- Your life will not be remembered for what you did for yourself, your life will be remembered for what you did for others.
- Verse 21 - Joseph told them not to be afraid; that he would provide for them and their little ones.
- This is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Jacob that Joseph would be a fruitful bough by a spring whose branches would run over a wall.
- This is another secret of finishing well, what God would do through you.
Colossians 1:10, Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
- The key to bearing fruit is being grafted into the tree of life. It’s God sap, God’s life moving through you which gives your life significance and
Illus – You can actually graft many different fruit trees onto the same tree and the sap will flow into every branch, producing many types of fruit from the same tree.
Psalm 92:13-14, Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green,
- Believe in God; and that God would work through you, that He wants to do great things through you.
Illus – In the Count of Monte Cristo, Abbe Faria tells young Edmond Dantes that when he finds the treasure of Sparta he must use it for good, only for good. “No!” says Dantes, “I will surely use it for my revenge.” Faria, breathing his last, says, “Here now is your last lesson. Do not commit the crime for which you now serve the sentence. God has said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ “I don’t believe in God,” says Dantes. “It doesn’t matter,” says Faria, “He believes in you.”
At the end, Dantes stands on the island that was once his prison and says, “You were right, priest, you were right. This I promise you… and God. That which I once used for vengeance I will now use for good. So rest in peace, my friend, rest in peace.”
- When Peter saw Jesus walking on the water, He believed that Jesus could do this, but could he believe that Jesus could do this through him?
“Lord, if it is You, command me to come out to you.” Later when Peter saw the wind and the waves and began to sink, Jesus took hold of him and
said, “Oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Mark 9:24, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
C. Believe that God will surely take care of you
- Verse 24, as Joseph was about to die, he said to his brothers, “God will surely take care of you, and will bring you up from this land to the land
which He promised.”
- Joseph then gave a charge to his brothers, saying, “You shall carry my bones up from here.”
- He knew that God would fulfill his promise, that He would take care of them, and bring them back home.
Illus – God took care of Israel by providing for them in Egypt, but it also kept them from intermarrying with the Canaanites so they could be kept separate and could grow into a great nation.
The story of Joseph and his brothers is a story of God caring for them even in spite of their failure.
- The words of Jesus encourage us when He said…
Luke 12:6-7, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
This is a key to finishing well; keeping the faith, believing that God gives you a future and a hope.
2 Timothy 4:7-8, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.
Genesis 45:9-28 NASB
Genesis 46:1-7 NASB