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Genesis 42:1-36

Perfecting Storms

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • September 02, 2018

This story is about God working in the lives of Joseph’s brothers. Clearly, there are issues that need to be worked out of their character and hearts. Is there any question that God needed to work in men who are so filled with such anger and jealousy that they sell their own brother into slavery?

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Perfecting Storms

Genesis 42:1-36

The story in Genesis now turns to Joseph’s brothers. Joseph had had two dreams that the brothers didn’t appreciate at all. The first was that they were
all binding sheaves in the field, but Joseph’s sheaf stood upright while the sheaves of the brothers gathered around and bowed down to his sheaf. The
second dream was that the sun, moon and eleven stars were bowing down to Joseph.

One day Jacob sent Joseph to check on the brothers as they were pasturing the flock a great distance away. When the brothers saw Joseph from a distance
they plotted against him, saying, “Here comes that dreamer! Let’s kill him and then we’ll see what will becomes of his dreams!” So they seized him
and threw him into a pit.

While they were having lunch they saw a caravan of Midianites coming from Gilead on their way to Egypt. Judah then said to his brothers, “What profit is
it for us to kill our brother? Come, let’s sell him as a slave.” They sold him for 20 pieces of silver. The Midianites took him to Egypt and sold him
to Potiphar, pharaoh’s officer; the captain of the bodyguard.

God was with Joseph and he became a successful man in the house of his master, the Egyptian. But in spite of finding success in the house of Potiphar his
master, Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of trying to lie with her. Potiphar became angry and threw Joseph into prison. Though he finds success
even in prison and is given the opportunity to interpret dreams for two of Pharaoh’s officials, he is forgotten for two more years while he remained
in prison.

Finally when Pharaoh himself had a dream that could not be interpreted, Pharaoh’s official remembered that Joseph interprets dreams and he was brought
from prison. He interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams in that there would be seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine. He then suggested
administrative ways to prepare for the famine. Pharaoh decided to essentially make him the prime minister of Egypt to oversee such preparations.

That’s where the brothers come back into the story; when the famine ravages even the land of Canaan, Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt and sent
the ten brothers to go there to purchase grain.

Spiritually, there is something important taking place. This story is about God working in the lives of these brothers. Clearly there are issues that need
to be worked out of their character and hearts. Is there any question that God needed to work in men who are so filled with such anger and jealousy
that they sell their own brother into slavery?

Jesus said that He would be with us to the end of the age. God with us means that He is committed to working in our lives the transformation He desires.He
is also committed to working out of our lives those things that are obstacles to godly character. In other words, God isn’t finished with you yet.

I. God Transforms Because He Loves

  • God is not through with these brothers. Why? Because in spite of their sinful immaturity, He loves them. The same is true for you and me.
  • God loves us and is committed to working out those things in our lives that are immature, selfish, sinful, and hurtful to others. 

A.God wants to set you free

  • These men have been carrying a burden for over 20 years. Imagine all the times Jacob mentioned Joseph’s name and they had to keep repeating the same
  • Verse 1 – Jacob asks the brothers, “Why are you staring at one another?” It suggests that the brothers are standing there looking at each other wondering
    what they are to do since they know that Joseph was sold into slavery there. Their consciences would also have bothered them at every mention of
  • God is not only providing for them in the famine, there is something greater still that He wants to do, He wants to set them free.

John 8:31-32, 36, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make
you free… And if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”

  • There is a famous story in the New Testament of a woman caught in the very act of adultery. Some Pharisees brought her out to Jesus and said, “The
    Law says that such a woman deserves to be stoned, what say you?” 

Illus – Jesus not only freed the woman from the condemnation of the Pharisees, He freed her from her sin, “Go and sin no more,” Jesus

Illus – When King David committed a great sin by taking Bathsheba and then giving orders so her husband would die in battle, he was deeply
ashamed and his soul was sick within.

Psalm 51, “Be gracious to me, O God. According to the greatness of your compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from
my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin, for my sin is ever before me. I have sinned, and done what is evil in your sight. Wash me, and I will be whiter
than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Deliver me from my guiltiness.
You do not delight in sacrifice otherwise I would give it. The sacrifices of God are broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not

B.  Things are not always as they appear

  • God brings about what He desires through many different ways and means. What you think is against you may in fact be something God is using for you.
  • He may use a storm; in this case God was using a famine to set them free from the burden of guilt they had been carrying and to reconcile the family
    back together.
  • The key is to understand that things are not always as they appear.
  • Verse 36 – Jacob looked at all these things as the perfect storm – that everything was against Him. He couldn’t yet see that all these things
    were actually for him. 

1 Corinthians 13:12, For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also
I am fully known. KJV

Illus – I remember my own perfect storm. Jordi and I were at a couple’s retreat when we were attending Beaverton Foursquare many years
ago, but then things took an awful turn… but God used it to accomplish what He desired and blessed us through it.

  • In truth, we don’t know what we think we know. We judge situations with such limited knowledge 

Illus – Einstein once compared our lack of knowledge to a ten-year old child coming into a library of foreign languages.

And then there are all those things we thought were true but turned out not to be true. For example, a dog year is not seven human years; no one eats like
a bird. If you did you would have to eat 25 to 30 pounds of food a day, or 45,000 calories. In other words, things are not always what they seem to

  • Joseph’s brothers had no idea that God was arranging things so they could be set free from their guilt and be reconciled to God, to their brother,
    and even to their father Jacob.

C.  You must want to be set free

  • In verse 21 their guilty consciences are clear. But they are not ready to own up to everything they have done, it seems that their hearts will require
    more before they are broken.
  • It’s important to come to the place where you trust God and want to be free.


Proverbs 3:11-12, My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as
a father corrects the son in whom he delights.

  • Many people say, “Don’t pray for patience” because God will put you in a situation where your patience will be severely tested.
  • Yet, if that is what we need, then trust that God will work in your life that which is truly best and do not have to be afraid of God’s hand. He loves
    you and is for you.


1 John 4:18, There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not
perfected in love.

Illus – When I was young and moved to a new place or went to a new school, I would try to find all the pianos I would be allowed to play.
One day I was sitting in a church that I found had a piano and the pastor happened to come by so I played a song for him that I loved. He interrupted
the song and said, “You shouldn’t sing that song.” I asked why not. “Because God will do it,” he said.

But God should do it if I needed it. The words of the song were, “Lord, take your plow to my fallow ground; let your blade dig down in the soil of my soul.
For I’ve become dry and dusty and Lord I know there must be richer lines below.”

  • We are being perfected in love and as a Father disciplines the son whom He loves, so God can be trusted to do what is needed in our lives
    because of His love for us.

II.Trust God in the Storm

  • The brothers wondered what God had done to them; Jacob thought everything was against him.
  • The key is to trust God in the storm, because He may well be using the storm for some greater purpose in your life.


A.Lack of faith is the issue

  • Verse 27-28 — When they stopped at the first lodging place, one of them opened his sack of grain and there at the mouth of the sack was the money
    that had given to pay for the grain.
  • He then asked, “What is this that God has done to us?” In other words, it must have seemed to them that God was out to get even with them, or was only
    bringing trouble into their lives.
  • Many people think this way. If they go through a difficulty they are convinced God is making life hard for them because He’s angry.
  • But the problem was their lack of faith.
  • The sinful secret they all shared was an obstacle to their faith. It kept them from loving God; it kept them from trusting God. Yet that is what God
    desires for each of us.

Illus – When Jesus and the disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee after ministering to a large crowd, they encountered a storm that
threatened to swamp their boat, but Jesus was asleep on a cushion, so they woke Him and rebuked Him for not caring. “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Mark 4:39-41, Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace, be still!” And the wind ceased
and there was a great calm. But He said to them, “Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” And they feared exceedingly, and said
to one another, “What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” NKJV

Illus – Do you think that Jesus was surprised by the storm? Perhaps the angel of storms got the dates wrong.

  • If their relationship to God was right perhaps Joseph’s brothers could have looked to God in faith.

Isaiah 41:10, “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will
help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

A.Faith works with love

  • It’s hard to trust God through a storm when your relationship to Him isn’t right.
  • There is a scripture that many quote, and I love to quote as well. It comes from Romans 8…

Romans 8:28, We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to
His purpose.

  • But see the part in that verse that says…to those who love God.
  • Faith comes from our relationship to God. In other words, loving God is essential to seeing that He is for you and working all things to together in
    your life for good.
  • God seeks to restore those who have fallen away. He desires to bring people into a place of trusting Him and walking with Him, because God is already
    walking with them.

B.Have a teachable heart

  • If we could just keep looking for what God is doing in our lives.
  • That’s the key when you’re going through a storm, or a famine, or a difficult time in your life.

Proverbs 3:5-8, Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and
He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear Lord and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your body and refreshment
to your bones.

Genesis 42:1-36    NASB

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.”
3 Then ten brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Joseph’s brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said,
“I am afraid that harm may befall him.” 5 So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those who were coming, for the famine was in the land of
Canaan also.
6 Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with
their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly.
And he said to them, “Where have you come from?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.”
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.” 10 Then they said to him, “No, my lord, but your servants have
come to buy food. 11 We are all sons of one man; we are honest men, your servants are not spies.” 12 Yet he said to them, “No, but you have come
to look at the undefended parts of our land!” 13 But they said, “Your servants are twelve brothers in all, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and behold, the youngest is with our father today, and one is no longer alive.” 14
Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you, you are spies; 15by this you will be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place
unless your youngest brother comes here! 16 Send one of you that he may get your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested,
whether there is truth in you. But if not, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.” 17 So he put them all together in prison for three days.
18 Now Joseph said to them on the third day, “Do this and live, for I fear God: 19 if you are honest men, let one of your brothers be confined in your
prison; but as for the rest of you, go, carry grain for the famine of your households, 20 and bring your youngest brother to me, so
your words may be verified, and you will not die.” And they did so. 21 Then they said to one another, “Truly we are guilty concerning our brother,
because we saw the distress of his soul when he pleaded with us, yet we would not listen; therefore this distress has come upon us.”
22 Reuben answered them, saying, “Did I not tell you, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Now comes the reckoning for his blood.”
23 They did not know, however, that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them. 24 He turned away from them and wept. But when
he returned to them and spoke to them, he took Simeon from them and bound him before their eyes. 25 Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags
with grain and to restore every man’s money in his sack, and to give them provisions for the journey. And thus it was done for them.

26 So they loaded their donkeys with their grain and departed from there. 27 As one of them opened his sack to give his donkey fodder at the lodging place,
he saw his money; and behold, it was in the mouth of his sack. 28 hen he said to his brothers, “My money has been returned, and behold, it is even
in my sack.” And their hearts sank, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?”

29When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them, saying, 30″The man, the lord
of the land, spoke harshly with us, and took us for spies of the country. 31But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32We are
twelve brothers, sons of our father; one is no longer alive, and the youngest is with our father today in the land of Canaan.’ 33The man, the lord
of the land, said to us, ‘By this I will know that you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me and take grain for the famine of your households, and go. 34But
bring your youngest brother to me that I may know that you are not spies, but honest men. I will give your brother to you, and you may trade in
the land.'”
35 Now it came about as they were emptying their sacks, that behold, every man’s bundle of money was in his sack; and when they and their father saw their bundles of money, they were dismayed. 36
Their father Jacob said to them, “You have bereaved me of my children: Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin; all
these things are against me.” 37 Then Reuben spoke to his father, saying, “You may put my two sons to death if I do not bring him back to you; put him in my care, and I will return him to you.” 38
But Jacob said, “My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he alone is left. If harm should befall him on the journey you
are taking, then you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.”


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