Secrets of Finishing Well
September 23, 2018
This is the last chapter in the book of Genesis. I'm going to miss the book of Genesis, and I'm going to miss Joseph. Joseph is one of my favorite characters in the whole Bible. When you get to this point now in Genesis 50, their father, Jacob, has passed away. Remember we looked last week and he blessed and prophesied over those sons of his. It is interesting. It says that "he drew up his legs into his bed, he breathed his last and was gathered to his people."
Before he died, he charged his sons that he must be buried, "Die, don't bury me in Egypt, bury me in the cave of Machpelah that my father, Abraham, bought from the sons of Heth. For there Abraham and Sarah are buried, and Isaac and Rebekah are buried, and my wife Leah is buried there. You bring me and place me there in that cave in Machpelah." A great entourage from Egypt goes as all the sons and Joseph and many go with them in a great caravan, and it's a great scene of mourning.
When you get to these verses of chapter 50, however, they've now come back, and it tells us of the last years of Joseph's life. We're going to miss Joseph, he is such a man of faith, an example of enduring faith, that fastness of character. Here's the thing, when you read Joseph's story, your own faith is strengthened because he makes you, he inspires you to want to live your life well. He makes you to want to hold on to your own integrity and to endure in your faith like he did. He finished the race well. He ran with endurance. When Abraham died, it says of him, "Abraham breathed his last, died in a ripe old age an old man and satisfied with life." He finished well.
Though Joseph had life of troubles, difficult life, he finished well. See, this is something that we should really all desire, to live well, to finish well. This is what we read, what we see in Genesis 50. We're going to begin in verse 14 after they've buried their father. It says, "After they had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers and all who had gone up with him to bury his father." When Joseph's brothers then saw that their father was dead, now they're worried. They said, "What if Joseph should bear a grudge? What if he should bear a grudge against us and pay us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him?"
They sent a message to Joseph and they said, "Your father charged before he died, and he said, "Thus you shall say to Joseph, 'Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers.'" Now, whether Jacob said that or not is questionable, but they're saying that he said this. They're trying to get from him this forgiveness, and so they sent this message, "Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin for they did you wrong." Then the brothers, they say in their own words, "Now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of God of your father."
When Joseph heard these words, he wept. When he heard them asking for forgiveness, Joseph wept. Then his brothers came and they fell down before him and they said, "Behold, we are your servants." Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in God's place?" Now verse 20 is so key to understanding Joseph's life. "As for you, you meant it for evil," that's sure, "but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive. Therefore, do not be afraid. I will provide for you and for your little ones." He comforted them and he spoke kindly to them.
"Now, Joseph stayed in Egypt. He and his father's household and Joseph lived 110 years. Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim's sons," that's his son Ephraim, "and the sons of Machir, and the son of Manasseh. They were born on Joseph's knees." He was there when they were born. What a privilege and honor is that? "Joseph said to his brothers," they're summarizing here, this last portion of his life. He said to his brothers, "'I'm about to die, but God will surely take care of you and will bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.' Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear saying, 'God will surely take care of you,'" just like he said in other words, "'and you shall carry my bones up from this place. Don't bury me in Egypt.'"
Joseph died at the age of a 110 and he was embalmed, which was a very common thing in Egypt, and he was placed in a coffin in Egypt. There he remained. His bones will get moved, they will bury him, but that'll be many, many years later. This is the last verses of Genesis, and it's so key for us because we learn all these lessons about living well and finishing well, and great lessons for us to apply to our lives, starting with this, God's way is a more excellent way. We have to start by recognizing God's way is more excellent. When you think about how you are going to live and how you are going to finish, how are you going to do that? God's way.
The brothers came back to Egypt from burying their father. "What if he should be a grudge and pay us back in full?" See, what were they thinking? Well, they were expecting Joseph to act like so many other people act. They were expecting him to be carrying a grudge, to hold on to his offence, to take the opportunity because that's what a lot of people would do. They would hold on to that, they would not let go of it. They would be bitter, and they would be unforgiving, but they mis-judged Joseph. That's not Joseph.
There's a more excellent way to live. Joseph has chosen a more excellent way. That comes out of 1 Corinthians 12:31 where Paul is writing to this church in Corinth and he says, "Earnestly desire the greater gifts. Fine, but I'm going to show you a still more excellent way." Then he brings them into the famous 1 Corinthians 13, the chapter of love. There is a more excellent way to live. The point is this, it is one thing to say that God's way is a more excellent way, but it's another thing all together to say that that is the way you want to live your life. That's a whole other thing when you say, "I want that way for me." In other words, decide now to live God's way. If you want to live well, you want to finish well, He's giving us a great key, decide to live God's way.
You see, I say that because there's a common way to live. It's common meaning a lot of people do it, but it's not God's way. Just because a lot of people live a certain way doesn't mean that we should live that way. God calls us to live differently than everybody around us. We're not to be common, we are to be uncommon. In fact, He says in Isaiah 55:79, Isaiah 55 is famous. Dog-ear that page. "'Let the unrighteous man forsake his thoughts and let him return to the Lord. For my thoughts are not your thoughts and 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 and your thoughts.'"
I. God’s Way is a More Excellent Way
See, no one would have blamed Joseph for bearing a grudge and paying his brothers back for all the wrong that they did to him. After all, they deserved it. That's what a lot of people use as their guide. "After all, they deserve it," but see, that's the common way, that's the way the world lives. There is a more excellent way. A more excellent way. Paul, when he writes to the church in Corinth, he makes this contrast because the church in Corinth had a lot of problems, you might know this from when we studied the letters he wrote to the church, they had all kinds of problems.
He writes to speak about this immaturity in the church, and he says this in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. He says, "I, brethren, could not speak to you as a spiritual men but as to men of flesh, as infants in Christ." They're believers, but they're like infants in Christ. He says, "I gave you milk to drink, not solid food because you were not able to receive it. Indeed, even now you're not able for you're still fleshly. For since there's jealousy and strife and all kinds of conflicts, are you not fleshly? Are you not walking like mere men?" See, what is Paul challenging them to do? To walk as spiritual men.
A. Decide now to live God’s way
Even in the church at Corinth. All of these conflicts and all these problems were because they were not walking as spiritual men. Now, this is good for us because we get to decide how we're going to live our lives. How are you going to do your marriage? See that? Now we're getting right down to it. How are you going to do your marriage? How are you going to do your business? How are you going to do your relationships? We need some principles of God that are blessed of God, that are higher, that are better. That's what he's showing us, Joseph is showing us, that he has chosen. I'm going to live by these things.
You look at the brothers and it's funny, in a sense, that here they are, they're still up to their same old ways. They're manipulating a little bit here by saying that their father said this. Coming up with this story about how their father gave this direction before he died. What a contrast. They tried, by their own efforts, to seek forgiveness, but they could've just asked. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13, that famous chapter. That famous chapter is about love. 1 Corinthians 13:2 says, "If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and even have all faith as to move mountains but I don't have love, I am nothing." Love is what makes us something. Love is what defines.
B. Have a sensitive heart
You want a better way to live your life, you want to finish well, you need a more excellent way. Then we see this example out of Joseph's life. Joseph was a tremendous example, and one of the things we see is his amazing sensitive heart. Verse 17, "Joseph wept when they said, 'Please forgive us. We'll be your servants.'" He heard this, he was so stirred with compassion when they asked for forgiveness. He actually wept. That's an interesting part of the story. When you read Josephs life, one of the things that stands out is how many times the wept. Frankly, it makes us respect him even more when we see how tender and sensitive his heart was.
When his brothers first met Joseph, they didn't recognize him. He recognized them, and he used an interpreter so that they didn't know that he could understand them. At one point, they're all gathered, a conflict between them, and they say to each other, "Didn't we see the distress of Joseph when he pleaded with us?" You can imagine Joseph pleading, "Don't do this. You're my brothers. Don't, don't. Don't do this to me. Why are you doing this to me? Don't do this thing to me," and they were hard of heart. They didn't hear, they didn't listen. Then they say to each other, "Now comes the reckoning for his blood."
Joseph, he's standing there, he hears everything they're saying. When he hears, it makes him want to weep. He turns away and he weeps. Sensitive, sensitive heart. Then, when the brothers brought Benjamin from Canaan to Egypt, Joseph said, "Is this the boy of whom you spoke? God have mercy. God have mercy on you, my son." He met Benjamin, and as soon as he met Benjamin, it says "he went and found a private place and wept."
Then when Joseph set that trap so that Benjamin would stay in Egypt as a servant and the remaining brothers were free to leave, and then Judah came with that famous speech of his, "Sir, please let me speak. I will be your servant the rest of my life in place of the boy. I'm asking, please let the boy go. We'll bring his father's gray hair to the grave. Please, I'll be your servant. Let the boy go." Joseph heard these words, the speech of Judah, and it so touched him. He ordered all the Egyptians out and he wept so loudly even Pharaoh heard of it.
Then, when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, "I am your brother," he fell on Benjamin's neck, kissed him, wept. Held all the brothers, kissed each one of them and wept. When Joseph met his father when he came down, his first response was to weep. When his father died, it seems that Joseph wept more than all of them. He's an interesting example of a very tender and sensitive heart. You know, it's good for a man to be able to cry. Jesus wept. Men don't like to cry. In fact, I can tell you. In the past, I held my emotions, and I did not like to cry at all.
In fact, my wife thought I was a bit too much like Spock, she said. I didn't mind being like Spock. I thought it would help me to live long and prosper.
By the way, side note. You know that live long and prosper thing? That, actually, is a Jewish blessing. That is a sign of a Hebrew letter Shin, which is, the priest would speak these words of blessing from that-- Anyway, side note. My wife thought I was too much like Spock, I would hold my emotions, but things started to change. I remember in my 20s, I had one of my first opportunities to give a sermon. One of my first opportunities to give a sermon, and it was so bad. You say, "Well, how bad was it?" Yes, it was so bad. It was so bad I closed the message early.
I'm giving this message and while I'm giving this message, I'm having a conversation with myself, "This is bad. This is really, really bad." I just couldn't do it anymore, and I closed the message down early. I made it will appear a little spiritual, "Why don't we gather in small groups and pray?” We needed a prayer badly. I took my wife's hand, and I went to a side room, and I bawled like a baby. I was telling a pastor friend, a mentor, later how embarrassed I was. That it's such a failure that I took my wife and I cried. He said, "It's a good thing." I said, "Why?" He said, "Because it shows that it meant a lot to you. I'm glad you cried."
By the way, if we ever shut a message down early, I'll be in the room crying.
When our daughter was murdered four years ago, I cried more than I had ever cried in my life. Since then my heart is easily broken. I think when you go through many troubles, it gives you more sensitive heart to those around you. When I hear now of those who've gone through the loss of a child, particularly-- Somebody asked me a couple of years ago if I would do a funeral for their daughter who was killed, and I said, "I would love to do that, but I cannot do that. I cannot stand there and cry." They said, "I understand."
Joseph's tears, they came out of compassion and love for those around him. He saw their burden. He saw their hurt. See, that's what it means to have a sensitive heart. The opposite is a hard heart. We're talking here about the principles by which you can live well, by which you can finish well. These are principles of how to live. Opposite is a hard heart. A hard heart feels nothing for those around them, and by the way, it feels nothing for God because the sensitive heart of Joseph that you see is his heart for others and his heart for God.
It's interesting in Nehemiah, many years later, the Prophet Nehemiah is interceding. This is a prayer, it's a prayer of intercession, but he's recounting the hardness.
That's what got Israel into so much trouble, that hardness of heart, that not being sensitive to the Lord got them into so much trouble. Nehemiah 9:17. He's interceding in the Spirit, and he says, "They refuse to listen," He prays. "They did not remember your wondrous deeds which you'd performed among them. They became stubborn and they appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt." He blesses God and he says, "But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness, and you did not forsake them."
II. Seek God’s Perspective as Your Own
That sensitive heart that Joseph has is also sensitive to God. When Potiphar's wife tried to seduce him. "No. How can I do this thing and sin against my God?" His sensitive heart is a key to how he lived his life. This is the key for us to live well, to finish well. Then we get this out of Josephs life, to seek God's perspective as your own. Joseph's brothers, they fall down, "Behold we are your servants." "Do not be afraid," Joseph says. "Am I in the place of God? Now as for you, you meant evil, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result and to keep many people alive."
He chose to see it from God's view, God's perspective, and he took God's perspective as his own. He chose to see it as God sees it. This is a great key for us, to see as God would see, but then take that perspective as your own. How would God see it? It's a great question. A lot of times, many people struggle with how to interpret the events of life. "How do I interpret this thing that has happened?" This is a very key moment when you are processing through "What happened?" How do you interpret it?
One of the great prayers you can pray at that moment, one of the best prayers you can pray at that moment is, "God, how do you see this thing? How do you see it? Because I want to see it the way you're seeing it?" Take God's perspective as your own. One of the keys then is that faith because you see this in Joseph, never give up on God. Joseph never gave up. All the troubles against him, betrayals of his brother, false accusation of Potiphar's wife, thrown into the prison, years enduring, never gave up on God.
Verse 20 is one of the most important verses I think in the whole Book. "You meant it for evil but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result to preserve many people alive." See, Joseph clearly saw that the intent of God is greater than the intent of man. There's great comfort in this. There's a lot of evil in his world. You lived in this world very long, you know there's a lot of evil in this world. To know that God's sovereignty is over all encourages us in our faith because you can look back on your life.
When Jacob, his brothers came back from Egypt and they said, "The man spoke harshly to us. They took us for spies even though we said we were honest men, and then now he says that he must have Benjamin." At this moment, Jacob thought, "Everything is against me." Of course, they didn't know. In fact, everything was working for him, but he couldn't see it. Later, then he heard the news. "No. The man is actually your son Joseph, he's been given this amazing place of authority and stature. He is the one who is inviting you to come down. You won't believe his story."
Of course, Joseph at first doesn't believe it, then he sees all of these gifts that Joseph sent him, he's convinced, then he can see it. It's easy to look back and see it, but can you look forward and believe it? You see, there's a difference. Can you look back on your life and see that God has worked things together? Can you look forward and see that He will? See, that's faith, to look forward and see that He will. "I don't know how He will." Well, that's the point, that's what faith is. I don't know how He will. It requires looking beyond what we see with our eyes. Scripture tells us, "We must walk by faith and not by sight."
Second Corinthians 5:5-7, "He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us His Spirit as a guarantee." Like a, "I'm going to give you the Holy Spirit. He's a honest man, He's a guarantee, He's a down payment so that you can take that and stand on that and believe that." So, we are always confident for we walk by faith and not by sight. This is trusting God's view. We may not be able to see everything as God sees, but it's enough to know that God knows, that God sees.
A. Never give up on God
To look forward, the key is don't give up on God. Don't judge God's love by the outward circumstances. To me, people do that. They look at the outward circumstances, and then they interpret that as, "God, if you loved me, then I wouldn't be going through this present difficulty." Therefore, they conclude, "Well, then I guess God doesn't care." Well, if God doesn't care then I'm not going to care. Then they get themselves in trouble. If they would just hold on, be patient, don't give up on God. Jeremiah, who wrote Lamentations. He wrote Lamentations 3 at one of the lowest point in the history of Israel as the Babylonian army was coming to invade Jerusalem.
He penned these words, "This I recall to my mind, and therefore I have a hope, the Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. His compassions, they fail not, they are new every morning. Great is Your faithfulness." We capture that in one of the great hymns of the church, "Great is thy faithfulness, oh God our Father. There is no shadow of turning with thee. Thou changest not thy compassion as they fail not. As thou hast been, forever will be." It comes out of these verses.
"Your compassions," he writes, "they fail not. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness." Then he adds, "'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's good to wait silently for the salvation of the Lord." That's faith, to look forward. It's easy to look back, but to look forward with faith. Then this, you see, see what God would do through you. Your life will not be remembered, please hear this, your life will not be remembered for what you did for your yourself, your life will be remembered by what you did for others.
Verse 21. Joseph told them, "Don't be afraid." They bowed down, "We will be your servants all your life." "Don't be afraid. You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good to preserve many people alive. I will take care of you, and I will take care of your little ones." He's going to bless them in this amazingly big way. "Don't be afraid, He will provide." This is like a fulfillment of that prophecy that Jacob said of Joseph, "He would be a fruitful bough by a spring whose branches would run over a wall." Many people will be blessed.
B. See what God would do through you
See, I tell you, this is a secret of living well, and this is a secret of finishing well, what God would do through you. Like Colossians 1:10, "Walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord." How to live? How to finish? "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." See, your life will not be remembered by what you did for yourself. They will not, at your funeral, show a slideshow of the possessions you accumulated, but if you have blessed and loved on and serve those around you, they'll come one after the other to the microphone. "Let me tell you what she did." "Let me tell you what he did."
It's a great secret to live in wealth. The key to bearing that fruit of blessing other people's life is to be grafted into the tree of life. God's sap, God's life moving through you, that's the key to having a life of significance and a life of power. It's God's life in you. It's that relationship that you have with God that is inspiring you, that is infilling you, that is giving you life so that it overflows as an abundance to the people around you. I love this great fact of horticulture that you can actually graft many different fruit trees into the same tree and the same sap will flow into every branch, producing all kinds of fruit for the same tree because it reminds me of the Church.
All kinds of people grafted in the same tree, producing all kinds of fruit from the same sap. When I think of that, it reminds me of Psalm 92. It's a great encouragement to me because it says, "Planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God, they will still yield fruit in old age." See, right there, I love that part. "They will still yield fruit in their old age, and they will be full of sap and very green." Don't you find hope in that verse? Because the life of God, the life of God makes them abundantly fruitful in the blessing of other people. To believe in God and believe that God would work through you, to do great things through you, that's what gives meaning to life.
In The Count of Monte Cristo, the book, the movie, there's a scene Abbé Faria is in prison with Edmond Dantès who has been falsely accused, like Joseph in the sense that he was falsely accused and betrayed. Abbé Faria tells young Edmond Dantès that when he finds the treasure of Sprada, he says, "You must use it for good. Only for good." "No," says Dantès, "I will surely use it for my revenge."
Then this famous scene where Faria, breathing his last, he says, "Here now--" Okay, I won't do it-- "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.' Let it go, let it go. 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay.'' "I don't believe in God," says Dantès. "It doesn't matter," says Faria, "He believes in you." At the very end, Dantès stands on the island that was once his prison, and he says, "You were right, priest. You were right. This I promise you and God, that which I once used for revenge, I will now use for good. Rest in peace, my friend, rest in peace. A change has come over. Now I see I must do good, I must do good. You were right priest. You were right."
C. Believe that God will surely take care of you
We come to the point of recognizing that God's right. God's word is right, God's way is right. You're right. You're right, God. You're right. Then lastly, we'll close with this, believe that God will surely take care of you. Verse 24, Joseph is about to die. He says to his brothers, and it's to encourage them in their faith, listen to this, "God surely will take care of you, and He will bring you up from this land to the land which He promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." Then he gave a charge to his brothers, "Carry my bones from here because surely God will do what He said."
He knew that God will fulfill that promise that He would take care of them, He would bring them back. To believe that God takes care is a key element of our faith. Jesus said in Luke 12:6-7, He said, "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. Don't fear, you are more valuable than many sparrows." This is a key to finishing well, this is a key to living well, believing that God gives you a future, and that God gives you a hope. To believe, to take hold of that is to live well and to finish well.
Second Timothy 4, Paul is writing to his young son in the faith. He says, "I have fought the good fight, I've finished the course, I've kept the faith. In the future, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the Righteous Judge will award me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who loves His appearing." That's faith. I will live well, I'll finish well. I'll fight the good fight, I'll run this race because you're right, God.
- Sermon Notes
Secrets of Finishing Well
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 power.
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
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