Sermon delivered February 1, 1997

by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road SDA Church, McDonald, TN

JOSEPH'S DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY

Of the 14 different Joseph's in the Bible, my favorite two are the ones that spent time in Egypt resulting from a heavenly dream. Let's look at the first Joseph.

Genesis reserves 25% of its space just for Joseph! That's amazing! Why so much? I think because Joseph so much represents Jesus Christ. Are you aware that there are almost 100 similarities between Joseph and Jesus! I wish that could be said about me. Joseph was a wonderful young man, seventeen years old. I think a lot of our young men are very fine. Some of them have some problems, but they get a hold of their life and they come out of it all right. And Joseph never did fall. You are going to be enriched by this series of sermons on Joseph!

Our Awesome God keeps His promises. In Genesis 12:2 God promised to make childless, 75 year old, Abram into a great nation. 25 years later Abram finally had a son- ISAAC. And 215 years after the promise was made there were still just 70 total descendants in existence (see Genesis 46:27). Not very many for someone who was supposed to have a great nation after him. This little band was almost an endangered species.

It looked like God would not keep His promise. And it looked as if God would not keep His promise. Does it ever look to you like God won't keep His promise to you? Soemtimes we pray and we pray and it doesn't work out. But God has plans that we know nothing of. God always keeps His word. Your future is safe in His hands!

After 215 years the Israelites were just a small band of desert-dwelling Bedouin gypsies, eking out a bare existence in the desert sand. They were not strong enough to drive out the inhabitants of Palestine let alone attract their attention much, or even get their attention. Famines and hard conditions took their toll. But God had a master plan. Two hundred fifty years, more or less, prior the crossing of the Jordan and the entrance into the promised land, God manipulated history so that His people would be accepted in that land. God allowed a great famine to come which would thin the ranks of the wicked who lived in the promised land. Remember the famine that Pharaoh dreamed about and Joseph interpreted the dreams: Seven years of famine. God allowed that famine. It was in His master plan, and the purpose of it was to weed out and to thin thee ranks of all the wicked in Palestine, to help thin those ranks so that God's people could go in without as much trouble

God moved His small struggling band of gypsies down into the lush Southern Kitchen of the Egyptian Delta, and there they had plenty of food to eat, and so they started multiplying. And they multiplied into great numbers. They were down in Egypt 215 years. And while they were there they multiplied. Exodus 1:7 "but the Israelites were fruitful and mutliplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them." And eventually when they came out of Egypt, 215 years after they got there, (which is interesting, that's the exact number of years they were in Palestine.) there were almost two million of them: 600 Israelite men plus all their wives and children, plus a band of many others that came with them.

In advance of the coming crisis God sent a man ahead of his little flock to prepare for their survival and their acceptance in this foreign land. That man was JOSEPH! But even before God could send Joseph down there He had to smooth the way for Joseph. Can you imagine how God has to work things in order to have His will worked out? You see, Egyptians hated Jews. They hated the Semitic people.

God had to pull a few more strings. Wars in Northern Egypt caused an amazing thing to just kind-of- happen. Non-Egyptian "Pharaoh's" were ruling the very area of Egypt where God wanted to send His people. God controls the events of History. Like a divine chess player God put the Asiatic HYKSOS in charge. These non Ethnic Egyptians would easily accept a Palestinian like Joseph into power, being eventually second in command down there. Like a Russian being VP of USA!

Of course Joseph did not know anything about his great destiny. About all he could see was the evil conditions of life with his bad brothers, evil uncles, and unhappy home. The Holy Spirit chose not to cut off the ugly branches from Joseph's family tree so that we can relate to his situation and gain hope. If you live in a dysfunctional environment there is hope. Your genes do not doom you to failure.

As a boy Joseph was placed on the back of a fast camel, which was urged to it's swiftest speed while his family fled for their lives. He could never forget the panic that struck when they heard that Evil Uncle Esau, his fathers twin brother, was marching out to get them with 400 of his strong men. Joseph would always remember that next morning when his dad limped back into camp, crippled in body, but with a look of a peace and joy on his face. From that day on his dad was a new man.

Joseph was really a Nobody. He came from a dysfunctional family. He was raised by a step mother and two concubines (might as well be raised by porcupines as well as concubines), none of which loved him much.

The dysfunction was rooted deep in this family from day number one. Jacob loved Rachel but her older sister was still single. So, Joseph's uncle Laban pulled a fast one and substituted his aunt Leah on the wedding night. Jacob did not realize what had happened until the next morning. He had worked 7 long years for this moment only to be deceived. Finally after another 7 years he was married to Rachel. Actually Jacob was reaping the deception He had sowed. Galatians--6:7.

His home was bad. You think single parenting is bad, but you don't want to even think of the evils of polygamy. Rachel was Jacob's favorite wife. I've never had to worry about having a favorite wife. I just love my first wife. But Leah was not loved, but she was the only one who was able to have children. (Genesis 29:31) After Jacob had four sons by her, Rachel in desperation gave her maid to her husband and two more sons were born. So in retaliation Leah gave her maid to Jacob and two additional sons joined this off-kilter family. Four women in one tent!!! Bad situation! Sin does not bring happiness. Most of the time if we really examined our troubles, we would find our own name stamped on them as the manufacturer.

The list could go on and on. Yet God chose a man out of this conniving, abnormal mess as a saviour of His people in that day.

You know, I appreciate Joseph for many reasons. And one reason is: He broke the cycle. You are aware that if your father was abuse as a child, he will probably abuse you and you will probably abuse your own child. That's a cycle that continues on from generation to generation. Jacob continued the cycle of disfunction. They had a lot of dysfunction in their family and nobody seemed to be able to stop it. Genesis 37:3 Jacob favored Joseph above all his other sons. He unwisely showed open favoritism. But he had been the favorite son himself years before. Like father like son. He was repeating the mistakes of his parents. Joseph broke the cycle. Jesus can help you to break out of the cycle of sin and into His beautiful will.

Jacob and Rebekah manipulated Esau into trading the spiritual Birthright for a bowl of red soup. Esau was deceived. Jacob then had to run for his life with only the clothes on his back. Joseph never saw his mother alive again. It was the time of Jacob's trouble. But I want to tell you, that one dark night Jacob finally met God and after a long struggle he gave his heart to him. That night he promised God he would serve Him forever. I think every young person needs to come to that point where you struggle with God and where you submit yourslef to God. He took "Jacobs Pledge", promising to return a full TITHE to God. Jacob became totally faithful to God. Jacob was saved. Jacob found God and served God the rest of his days.

Genesis 37:1- "Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan." So he never left the area, did he? In fact all of them lived in one commune, one area. They were all right there. The only one that made anything out of himself was the one that moved away. verse 2- "This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his fathers wives, and he brought their father a BAD report about them."

What else could the 17 year old lad say and be honest? His brothers and the sons of his fathers concubines were bad. They were a gang. Two of them were already murderers. The whole family for generations was bad. Dishonest, adulterous, cheating, lying, having other gods, sexual abuse, incest, you name it. They broke every commandment except perhaps the Sabbath commandment.

They were not a good family. Yet these were God's chosen people! And Joseph was chosen out of them, to save his people. From this evil home came forth 12 men who will have their names inscribed on the gates of the New Jerusalem. Do you realize that all of those men eventually had a turning point in their life? I mean you can't have your name on the gates of the New Jerusalem, on the wall up there. Those men changed.

I believe that God, today, can take a HOME that is far from ideal and He can bring out of that home a great blessing. God can change that home, He can change your home if your home is not functioning well. God can change that. Jacob started out as a very imperfect father, but was converted and eventually saw most of his whole family change into God's divine plan. Fathers here today: If you have lived a life of shame, rise above it. Through God's power you can still influence your children for the right. The only way we can change is by inviting God into our hearts, and He will change us by living in us and through us.

God recognized the great change that came over Jacob and changed his
name.
      Old name---Deceiver        (JACOB)
      New name--VICTOR of God.   (ISRAEL)

1)--God wants us to rise above all this evil, above the pit in which we are born. He will give us strength and power to do that. It is not God's will that we continue the evil lifestyle we inherited. If you have a father who is an alcoholic, you don't have to be an alcoholic. You can break that cycle by giving your life to Jesus Christ. If your father smokes, you don't have to die of lung cancer, you can change through the power of Jesus Christ. God can help you that cycle of dysfunction. God can help you break the cycle and function normally. You can join a church that is even closer to God's word. You can be different. Philippians 4:13-- "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength".

2)-- God can change you despite your past. Joseph's family tree had rotten roots. He had every reason to continue the cycle of disfunction. The daily example he saw was evil. He was trained to do wrong. He could have been a mental wreck and spent years in counciling to deal with his repressed anger, and his deep inclinations to be dishonest, immoral, lying, and manipulative. Joseph had every excuse in the book for turning out bad. But he didn't, he rose above it by giving his life to Jesus Christ.

Instead Joseph was one of the most Christ-Like of all the characters in the entire Bible! We need the story of Joseph to see that if God can change Joseph, God can change me.

Jacob was born again at the foot of a ladder. Jesus was there. There at Bethel he saw that Jesus was the ladder! I believe the ladder was moving, it was like an escalator carrying us to heaven. Jesus is the WAY--John 14:6. A power elevator-type ladder. Not something we climb up by our own efforts. Salvation is totally by Jesus or not at all.

Jacob changed that night. He was a new man. II Corinthians 5:17- "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." We're brand new. We're not the same person we used to be, because Jesus is in our hearts. Until we can see that we are saved totally by God's grace and that it is He who makes the transformation we will live a life of discouragement and futile effort. We don't have the strength to make that transformation, but jesus does.

I believe that at some point in Joseph's young life, he, too, accepted God and was given a new heart. My young friend, if you're seventeen years old or whatever age you are, if you give your life to Jesus Christ, He will come in to you and He will accept you no matter what you have done in the past. He will transform you and change you into His beautiful love. Joseph did not fall into the same dysfunctional mold as his brothers. Joseph was different. He was a new person. He accepted God as His Father.

Normally the sins of the parents are passed on to their children up to the third and fourth generation--Exodus 34:7. Joseph broke that pattern. He may have been a product of the past but he was not a prisoner of it!

I Corinthians 10:11---Paul says: "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come". These things are examples for each of us, they're warnings for us. We can change.

If you are a teenager today and your life has been hard, out there in the desert of sin, I urge you to look to Jesus. Send the root of your existence down deep into the oasis of Jesus the water of life. You will be changed. You will bloom and bear rich fruit for Him.

Friend, the God of Joseph is still alive and can give you victory over the inherited tendencies of the past. God can still save your children. Sometimes it looks hopeless, but our God is in charge. Trust God.

I want you to see something very special about God. If you missed the whole sermon today, I want you to get this one point: How did God view Joseph's dysfunctional family? How did God make such a bad mistake and choose such a bad family to be His people? Are you aware that this was one of the worst families that probably He could have chosen? A lot of sin in that family. A lot of evil things. I want you to see that God doesn't see things the way we see things. How did God view Joseph's dysfunctional fammily? NUMBERS 23:21(NKJV)- "He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has he seen wickedness in Israel!" Do you get the implication of what that means? When God looks at Jacob's family, what does He see? It says, "He has not observed iniquity in Jacob." When God sees Jacob, He doesn't see a dysfunctional family. He sees it as a potentional of being. What a wonder that God sees no sin when He looks at this family. The Bible does not say they were sinless, but that when God looks at them, the sin was gone.

What a wonder that God sees no sin on you. He doens't see you as you are, He sees you for the potential of what you can be. It says when he saw Israel He didn't see any wickedness in Israel. I love that. That says a lot about my God, doesn't it? When God looks at me, He doesn't look on the outside, He looks on the heart and He looks on the potential of the heart. He sees is that I am covered by the precious blood of the Lamb. God has laid on Jesus the iniquities of us all.---Isaiah 53:6. We are saved totally by Jesus righteousness. Praise God!

In Christ we are a new creation. We are forgiven. Let us pray to God that His way will be our way.

Opening Hymn- #1 Praise to the Lord
Closing Hymn-- $567 Have thine Own Way, Lord.
Scripture-- II Corinthians 5:16-17



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