Sermon delivered February 15, 1997

by Pastor Don Gettys

McDonald Road SDA Church, McDonald, TN

Joseph in the Bottom of the Barrel

One day Jacob's worries overpowered his mind and he called 17 year old son, Joseph to his side. Jacob had not seen his 10 sons in months. It was natural for a loving father to grow concerned for these wayward sons. He knew of their bent for evil and of the dangers lurking where they were supposed to be tending to the flocks. So he wanted to send Joseph to see how they were doing.

When your 108 year old dad asks you to do him a favor you do it willingly. Joseph said: HERE AM I, send me. There was no hesitation. Joseph showed INSTANT OBEDIENCE. I like that about Joseph. The same about Jesus. There were no compliant about the distance or about the dangers. Joseph's great love in life (Like Jesus) was to do those things that were pleasing to his father. That's what life is all about, isn't it? To do those things that are pleasing to our heavenly Father because He loves us and because we love Him.

Joseph was sent of the father. In John 3:16 you read that Jesus was sent of the Father. In fact as we study Genesis 37 this morning, we are seeing in here Calvary in miniature. So is this a Christ centered sermon? Yes, it is, because it has a lot to do with Jesus. Jesus never tired of calling Himself the Sent of the Father. God so loved the world that He sent, He gave His only begotten Son.

It cost Jacob a lot to send his son. Which of us can imagine the cost to Jacob? And the cost to our Heavenly Father sending his Son to this old world. You know, God has feelings, and I imagine that God hurt when His Son was being spit upon, and being whipped. Our God is not passionless like the stone face of a Sphinx which stares unmoved over the vast desert waste. Our God has feelings. God hurts when His loved ones hurt.

Old Jacob, now called Israel, knew of the grave dangers that awaited his beloved son. It reminds us of a similar incident back in the roots of eternity where the Father and the Son sat down and faced a great problem that would looming over the horizon. They had basked in joy and fellowship of each other and of the angels as the eternal ages rolled by, an sin was yet coming. They had to deal with it. They had deep peace and happiness in their own experience. But now one of them must leave this delightful place and redeem a doomed race. And that path that lead from heaven would lead through the manger to Calvary's rugged tree. And yet, Jesus chose that path. I appreciate my Savior taking that path just for me, don't you?

Jacob foolishly said to Joseph: "Be sure to wear that coat of many colors." Would you say that to your son as he goes out to see his brothers? Why would Jacob do that? The lad was to seek his lost brothers and also report on the welfare of the flock. Why would Jacob send little Joseph, his son into sure doom? Why? I think he misread the intensity of the feelings of hatred among his 10 brothers. I don't think he knew. Most men have trouble sensing emotional feelings.

When men talk to each other we give out the facts. We love facts as men. We don't deal much with feelings. Men need a good Christian wife because our wives relate to feelings. If Rachel were still living, she would have wised up her husband as to the real danger. "Now Jacob. Just a minute. Have you thought this through. I Believe these brothers really hate Joseph enough to ... maybe they would kill him." But Rachel wasn't there. God gave us men a real blessing when He gave us Christian wives. Praise God for your Godly wife. Mothers are so important! Joseph did not have that blessing. Rachel had died by that time and Joseph didn't have a mother. Somehow, mothers have an insight.

The day came for Joseph to go. Jacob loaded him up with tasty delicacies to give to his brothers out there in the field. Little did Jacob know that it would be over 20 years before he would see his son again. Do we ever know? We say goodby and it may be that we will never see our loved one until we all get to heaven some day soon.

Look at Genesis 37 now, and I want you to notice, beginning with verse 14. I want to read several of these verses to you. "So he said to him, 'Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.' So he set out on the long journey from the beautiful valley of Hebron where the family had lived for 200 years. When Joseph arrived at Shechem, a man found him wandering around in the fields and asked who he was looking for. He said, "I'm looking for my brothers. Can you tell me where they are?" He said, "I think they've gone to Dothan."

He set out, he left Shechem looking for his brothers. Now Shechem was a dangerous area for Joseph to be. Shechem was where there were all kinds of trouble. Remember that Joseph had only one sister, and her name was Dinah. Dinah had been violated in Shechem. The strange thing about this rape was the reaction of Jacob. Look back here to Genesis 34:5 to see what kind of father Jacob was. Genesis 34:5 makes this interesting statement: "When Jacob heard that his daughter Dinah had been defiled, his sons were in the fields with his livestock; so he kept quiet about it until they came home."

Why keep quiet? If my daughter had been treated like that I would have reacted immediately, wouldn't you? Jacob was a weak father. In contrast when Jacob's sons heard what happened to their sister "they were filled with GRIEF & FURY" 34:7 They went out after trickery and killed every man in that town.

Do you know what Jacob's reaction to this slaughter was? 34:30--- "Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, 'you have brought trouble on ME by making ME a stench in this land ..." His first concern wasn't for Dinah but for his own reputation. We need fathers who place God and their family above their own wants and wishes. We need father who place their family first. Fathers who sacrifice and do without for their children---Unselfish Godly Fathers are some of the greatest need we have today!

After several days Joseph reached Shechem. But his brothers were gone. Guided by the word of an unnamed man he walked 15 more miles up to Dothan. Dothan was a small lush oblong plain where the brothers could find good food for the animals. It was right beside the freeway that ran down to Egypt from the North. Great caravans traveled this well used route.

Dothan means "The place of two wells". Apparently there had been a dry spell because one of the wells was dried up. Green pastures were hard to come by, hard times for sheep, so that's why they went there. At least one of the wells was working.

Joseph went from Hebron to Shechem to Dothan. He went from a place of fellowship; to a shoulder where burdens are carried; to a place of deep pits. When we leave the fellowship of God we shoulder our own load of sin and eventually we end up in the pit: the depths of a life of trials and woes. A sermon just in the names of these places.

Genesis 37:17 Joseph found his lost brothers. Like Jesus He was a good Shepherd. He went out seeking until the lost is found. He didn't stop until he found them. They weren't where they were supposed to be in Shechem. He had to go clear up to Dothan, but he found them. Are you lost? Is Jesus seeking for you today? At great risk Jesus sets out to seek and save the lost. Take courage, Jesus will not rest until you are found. And if He has found you, you should give your heart to Him.

Joseph brought food. He brought good news from home for his hard working brothers. He wanted to share the good tidings that their Father loved them and longed for their return. I can just imagine his first words to them: SHALOM! (Peace) my brothers. He had good intentions.

John 1:11-- (Like Joseph) Jesus "came unto his own, and his own received him not." In fact in Matthew 21:38,39 it says, "Here is the Heir, come let us kill him and then we can have the inheritance."

In Genesis 37:18 They saw him in the distance and before they reached them they plotted to kill him. Some sharp-eyed lookout spotted Joseph coming in the distance. And they said, "Well, guess who is coming for a visit!? Look over there! Here comes Daddy's little darling and he's wearing his pretty little coat! What are we going to do about this?" And just the distant sight of Joseph coming ignited in them a deep hatred. They said, "Let's kill him." How quickly the WIND of Anger blows out the lamp of the mind.

Genesis 37:19 Here's what actually bothered them, "Here comes that DREAMER"! It was Joseph's dreams that galled them the most. With them bowing down to him. That's what really bothered them. "We don't want to serve our younger brother." It was those dreams that galled them the most. "Well, let's just see who bows down to who today!" they said.

Like wild animals they tore into him. The same spirit that motivated Cain came over them. They ripped off that hated coat. They kicked, hit, and cursed. How often the earth is mute witness to awful crimes that are committed on her surface. Imagine 9 grown men tearing into a tender lad of 17. And yet that's what happened. What a depth of sin they had!

When the GERM of SIN first knocks...Quench it quick! Do not feed sinful ideas. Treat the thought as you would the first cold germ. Go and wash. You need to react instantly or it's going to get you. You need to have instant action. Pray that you may be cleansed in Jesus precious blood. James 1:15-- "After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin when it is full-grown gives birth to death." So you've got to quench it, you've got to nip it in the bud.

So they stripped him of his robe...Just like Jesus at Golgotha, John 19:24 "They parted my raiment among them." He was sold to the Gentiles. Both Joseph and Jesus were innocent. They had not done any wrong. The spotless Lamb of God was hung on the old rugged cross. They spit on Him. They lashed out at Him and He died for us. Luke 23:41 However only Jesus tasted death. Joseph's sufferings were personal, but only Jesus suffered the substitutional death for us atoning for our sin.

These brothers yelled out, "What did you dream about last night? Tell us another one of your dreams! We want to hear another one!" Just as they were about to kill Joseph (Genesis 37:21-22)---REUBEN stepped in. Wishy- washy Reuben proposed a weak compromise. "Let's throw him in this cistern instead of killing him." Why didn't Reuben just say, "Look, let's just stop all this nonsense. We're doing wrong here. He came with good intentions." No, Reuben was wishy-washy. He was weak. What was needed was a bold decisive stand for the right. But Reuben had lost his influence with the brothers because of his personal sin. PILATE was a New Testament Reuben, vacillating between right and wrong at the very time Jesus needed him the most. Never was any help.

Rudely they dragged him to a deep hole and threw him down into the depths of a dark muddy pit there beside their camp. Later in Genesis 42:21 his brothers described that awful scene: "We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen..." Like Jeremiah who was lowered down in a slimy pit, with deep mud in the bottom, that's where Joseph went. Jeremiah 38:6.

With Joseph in the pit they sat down to eat. You know, it was meal time, and we've got to have our food. If we don't eat, we'll die. So they sat down to eat some of the goodies Joseph had brought for them from home. During that meal they could hear his cries echoing from the depths of the pit. "Judah, save me. Brothers, help me. Dan, Gad, get me out! Help Me." With bitter tears he cried for his brothers help. He even prayed for divine aid, but God had a higher plan for Joseph's life.

The cistern was shaped like a giant bell, with the narrow end at the top. It was a cold, dark dungeon. Escape from this tomb was impossible. Life was over it seemed. But God has a way of using bad things to bring about His own designs. God was arraigning the ultimate fulfillment of Joseph's wildest dreams! And Joseph didn't even know it. I want you to know that sometimes when bad things are happening to you; you may say, "This is the worst moment of my life." But God may be arranging for the fulfillment of His ultimate plan for your life. So don't fret when those things happen. Just trust in God.

Now let's go to Genesis 37:25 "As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt." These sailors of the desert were Arabs, sitting high on a long string of patient plodding camels. These greedy vulture-like men had embalming spices, balm from Gilead, and human cargo to sell in Egypt. Most of the slaves they had were probably criminals.

Judah suddenly got a bright idea. "You know what? If we're smart here, we can kill two birds with one stone. We can avoid bloodshed and also make some money! Let's sell Joseph! They will take him away and we will never see him again. This is our lucky day. We will line our purses with money and his blood will be on their hands and not on our hands. Some nice folk will buy him and he will live a life of ease serving tasty food at a table made of gold. Don't worry about Joseph. He just won a lifetime vacation in the South.

So they ran and stopped the caravan. "How would you like to buy a good slave today?" "Well, what is the price? Let's see what you've got." So they pulled muddy, dirty Joseph out of the hole. The traders inspected his muscles, poked and prodded. Looked over his teeth, as if he were a mule or donkey. Judah said, "How about $30." "No! Way too much! We will offer $10." "No! How about 25 pieces of silver?" "NO! We will give you 20 and that is our top offer. Take it or leave it!" They said, "SOLD!" By the way, according to Exodus 21:32 the retail price of a slave was 30 pieces of silver. So this was the wholesale price. The Arabs would make some money when they went to Egypt.

But some bargains are bad bargains. These 10 men lined their pockets with silver, but I want you to know that they also lined their conscience with guilt. Guilt that they would carry the rest of their lives. From that day they were living lies.

Now where was Reuben in all this? Reuben wasn't there. When he got back he noticed that Joseph was gone. Why did he not immediately go after the caravan and redeem Joseph? Do you know why? MONEY! With Joseph gone, and Joseph was supposed to inherit the double portion of his father's money, who would inherit the money now? Reuben! So he doesn't go after Joseph. He stays right there because of selfishness! A selfish father produced selfish sons. Fathers, be what you want your children to become.

They had goats around there to help lead the sheep. Killing one and taking its blood it they baptized the robe in the red fluid. They rehearsed their lie again and again. Each one must tell the same lie. You have to get your story straight. But skeletons soon have a way of getting out of closets. One crime darkens the whole life.

Genesis 37:32 "They took the ornamented robe back to Jacob their father and said, 'We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son's robe.'" And poor old Jacob broke down. He was deceived with the goat. He thought the goat's blood was Joseph's blood, just like he had deceived his own Father with a goat many years ago. Putting the goat's hair on his arms. He was deceived with a goat. You know, what goes around comes around so quickly! What you sow, you're going to reap.

Genesis 37:33-- Jacob recognized the robe. "Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces." Indeed, the brothers had been like wild, ferocious animals when they tore into Joseph.

37:34--Then Jacob tore his clothes and put on coarse uncomfortable scratchy sack cloth. He covered his head with dust and cried his eyes out. He loved Joseph. All his remaining sons and daughter-in-laws were not able to comfort him. The free flow of tears came from a guilty conscience.

He never should have sent the lad on such a long trip alone. He shouldn't have sent that boy out there with that coat on. It was his fault. As the Patriarch of the family, he was shaken to the bitter core. He went to the tent that he and Rachel had shared and sobbed deeply. He was alone in the world. It was his fault and his suffering cast a pale of doom over the entire encampment for years. With Rachel and Joseph gone the lights of his life were both extinguished.

At that very moment Joseph was trudging off to Egypt in a long line of fettered slaves. At least he was alive. And do you know what saved his life In the hands of these cruel brothers? It was the Balm from Gilead. It became salvation for Joseph. The traders became salvation for Joseph.

Little did Joseph realize that later in life he would look back on this day as one of the most blessed of all the days in his life. In a long chain of heavenly providences, that day was the turning point of his life. One of life's extras is to be able to look back on the dark events of our life and trace the workings of God in each one of them.

As we close this chapter in Joseph's life, let us have confidence in God. You can trust Jesus. Your life is safe in His hands. Is Jesus your Jesus? Have you placed your life in his hands? If not do it just now. Rest on His promises. Then you can sing: 'Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus!

Opening Hymn-- 15---My Maker and My King
Closing Hymn-- 524--Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus
Scripture:  Galatians 6:7-8



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