Sermon delivered March 8, 1997

by Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, TN

Joseph: Remembered and Rewarded

Today is part six and the last of the series on Joseph. There's more to Joseph, but we won't get it all finished today.

You know, Jesus is my most favorite character in the Bible. And my second most favorite character is Joseph. They both started their ministry at age 30. Many, many similarities, separated by almost 2000 years and yet so similar.

There are also similarities between Joseph and Israel: The Similarities---- Potiphar's house was blessed in Egypt because of Joseph. Later he was thrown into jail, his only crime being his moral integrity and his handsome looks. But finally God blessed Joseph and he is promoted to second in command in the whole land of Egypt.

The nation of Israel went down to Egypt and lived in the land of Goshen. At first, they were blessed. Later Israel was thrown into terrible bondage, her only crime being the blessings of God upon her. Finally God through Moses raised Israel to the most favored nation status. So you can see there are a lot of similarities.

Joseph had been innocently incarcerated for several years, and during that time it was easy to give up. "I'm behind these bars, I'll never get out." But he didn't give up. We should never quit God. WE should always have hope. Things are going to change. Let us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will someday be added to us. The tide will turn.

Genesis 41 tells the story of Joseph. One day Joseph woke up as usual in his jail cell. Like every other day, he probably got up, took the key ring off its hook and started to make his usual rounds because he was in charge of that prison. That day seemed just like any other. Little did he know that in a short time he would be no longer be a convict but he would be second in command, the Chief Executive Officer of all the land of Egypt, the most powerful nation in the world up to that point! Only Pharaoh, the president, would be above him. His long years of school were over. He didn't know but this was graduation day. He was through.

Suddenly a noise penetrated the thick walls of that dungeon. He heard the clatter of a chariot wheels racing over the cobblestones. You know, God moves in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. Joseph didn't know that the God's clock had struck the hour for Joseph's emancipation. Little did Joseph know what the future had in store for him. But God's master clock is always correct. It's never slow. It's never fast. Sometimes we think God's clock is slow. Sometimes we wish His clock were on daylight savings time, but it is best to trust it.

Like the sudden Close of Probation, God made His move! The plan of God had finally reached maturity in the great world outside Joseph's cell. And at the same moment Joseph was now fully ready. The whole situation was ready, and God put the plan into action.

When you are in the worst possible situation God can instantly deliver you. Genesis 41:14-- "So Pharaoh sent for Joseph and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved, and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh."

I would imagine the chariot driver got out and said, "I need Joseph." And so they sent for Joseph. He came, and said, "What have I done?" And the man said, "You are going before Pharaoh. Hurry up man, quick get a shower, shave and get into these things! Hurry!, the Pharaoh wants you Quick! Joseph said, "What have I done, Why does he want me?" "I Don't Know, Just hurry, I don't want to lose my head! We don't hold up Pharaoh! Jump in & fasten your seat belt, let's fly!!"

So Joseph was rushed! Joseph's heart must have been pounding. He had to shave. It's a wonder he didn't nick his skin with the razor knife. Egyptians detested dirty hairy men. Joseph "Shaved himself, for his hair had grown long"--PP220. Joseph got cleaned up and dressed up in a fresh set of whatever clothes could be scavenged for him. In this ill-fitting outfit he was rushed to the throne room. His face was pale from living down in the darkness, not being able to go out in the sun.

He ran with his escorts up the steps and down the long pillared halls. He finally entered a crowded room filled with puzzled sages and wisemen of Egypt. These wizards stood in robes that were embroidered with mystical symbols of astrology, astronomy, perhaps. Joseph stood breathlessly before Pharaoh. "What does Pharaoh want? What in the world have I done now?? I didn't do anything."

And PHARAOH, sitting on his great ivory throne. And in those days, polished marble steps led up to that ivory throne. And on the top step where it widened out for the throne to sit, beside that throne the Egyptians kings normally kept live lions. You might have a pet dog, if you're the king of the world, you might as well have a pet lion, and that's what they did. Slaves gently cooled the air with rich ostrich feather fans trimmed with gold.

The monarch said, (Verse 15) "I had a dream..." Is that true? Actually he had two dreams. By now, Pharaoh being a wise man had analyzed the two dreams and concluded that they are really one dream: it's a doubleheader. So he said, "I had A dream... that no one can explain to me. I have been told that you when you hear a dream, you can interpret it."

Now, Satan must have come up to Joseph about this time and whispered in Joseph's ear, "Now this is your golden opportunity. Don't blow it. Don't even mention the name of God now. Keep God out of this. When you come there, don't insult Pharaoh in front of all his friends and you'll be dead. This is your chance to make a big name for yourself. Leave God out of it. Be sure to ask Pharaoh to release you from jail."

So what did Joseph do? His very first words to the most powerful man in the world were: "I can't do it! (verse 16), but God will!" This seemed to impress the king favorably. Pharaoh then related his nocturnal visions. The Dream of the flocks and the crops.

Did you notice that these dreams were sent by God on his Pharaoh's Birthday! God keeps track of our birthdays! God connects Himself with our life in its joys or sorrows. God is like close friend to us.

DREAM #1 takes place in a pastoral setting, and DREAM #2 takes place in an agricultural setting.

The first dream: Pharaoh saw seven prize winning fat cows were wading in the reeds along the Nile river. Cows often did this to cool off and avoid insects. Suddenly the water of the Nile started moving and up out of it splashed 7 mangy, bony, starved, ugly cows that Pharaoh had ever seen in his whole life. They were cannibalistic carnivorous cattle. They chewed more than the cud! They walked up to the fat cows and started eating them alive. After devouring them--- horns, hoofs, hide and all, they were still utterly........skinny; "as thin (In Abraham Lincoln's words)-- as soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon, that had starved to death." Pharaoh awoke in Horror from his nightmare. His nightmare was terrible! But he got back to sleep again then he had a second dream.

The second dream: He saw Seven prizewinning golden heads of wheat tossing proudly in the breeze, basking in the fine Egyptian sun. Suddenly up sprang seven of the scrawniest, thin, heads of grain you have ever seen. ....scorched and dehydrated by the hot east wind. They swallowed up every bit of that good grain. And yet were as thin as before. I wish some of my food treated me like that! If I could eat all that I wanted to eat and still be as thin as ever, wouldn't that be great! of course you've got to be thin to start with.

41:8 Pharaoh's mind was troubled. Now if you had a dream like that can you imagine cows eating cows? He knew that the gods were trying to tell him something very important. He told Joseph to come. But before Joseph came, Pharaoh assembled all of the Einsteins of Egypt together, and all of those sages, soothsayers and wisemen could not plumb the depths of these two dreams. I think God hid it from them because He reveals His secrets to babes and He will reveal the Bible secrets to you. Finally the butler suddenly remembered Joseph. He said, "You know, I know a fellow whose hobby is dreams and if you get him... He's down at the jail, but he's a good man and if you'll get him I believe he'll help you."

So that is how Joseph came to stand before the king before the king that day. Now notice the perfect timing of God in this. God did not act until Pharaoh was ready, until Joseph was ready, until the butler was ready. God works behind the curtains of history and human events to bring about His ultimate will. And if you just trust your life into His hands His will will be done. God had prepared Joseph for this moment. Like a good teacher, God knows what curriculum each of us needs to prepare us for His high calling. We may not enjoy the long years of school, but they are just as much a part of His plan as when the grand success finally comes.

Genesis 41:25-32 "Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, 'The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do." Summarizing: 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years.... Verse 29 "Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 "but (after that) seven years of famine will follow them." Then in verse 32: ..."and God will do it soon." These things are imminent.

Now, seven is a perfect number. So what this indicates: you are going to have a perfect Famine. And we don't want to experience a perfect famine, do we? A perfect famine is coming; seven years in duration. You know the Nile river always floods. Egypt didn't have hardly ever have a famine. Even to this day, along the Nile River it's always green and lush. And so for people to believe in Joseph's fourteen-year-long prophecy they would really have to have faith in Joseph. By the way, Elijah's famine lasted 3 1/2 years, exactly half of seven. And I think it was short because of Elijah's intercessory prayer.

After explaining the dream, instructor Joseph proceeded to give Pharaoh a short lesson in the economics of Agriculture. He was even so bold as to suggest a comprehensive blueprint for a national plan of food conservation, food storage and food distribution. Joseph was an organized man. I think any time you give a person you need to give that same person good council. And that's what Joseph did.

As Joseph stood there speaking, Pharaoh could sense that before him was a man of integrity. This man was different. He had the spirit of the gods in him. He was perhaps sent of God to be the saviour of Egypt. So Pharaoh got this impression that he could trust Joseph. For some time the king thought about Joseph's proposal. He interviewed the butler who gave the warmest praise for Joseph. Further research confirmed Joseph's abilities. (See PP 221) The king was convinced that God was with Joseph.

The bonds of Joseph's faithfulness in the little things of the prison were now maturing with big dividends. God's red lights were now turning bright green for Joseph.

It sort of makes me a little bit flabbergasted that you could have a prisoner, this man was a convict one minute and just a very short time later here he was; second in command in the whole country of Egypt. That can only happen by the hand of God. I believe God led Joseph up to that point, and God impressed the people to put him in charge. I think that's amazing. And I think the Bible explains that very well in Proverbs 21:1: "The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, he directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases." God had President Bill Clinton in His hands. The king's heart is in God's hand. Let's never forget that. Some bad things happen, but over all, God's ultimate will is going to happen. Let's have faith in God.

What a wonderful day when things have been going bad, suddenly you can see with your 20/20 hindsight (hindsight always has great vision). What a great day it is when you can come out of all the troubles of your life and finally focus on what has happened in your life and you can see that it was all working out for the good. God was in charge after all. When the events of your life make sense for the very first time it is a great moment. I think we need to look at that. For some of us this insight might not happen until we all get to heaven and then we will finally understand why the events of our lives were the way that they were.

Potiphar had put him In Charge of all his house, the warden had put Joseph in Charge of all the prison, Now Pharaoh puts him in charge of all the land of Egypt! -41:41.

    Look at the extent of Joseph's authority. Joseph had control:
  1. GEOGRAPHICAL control-- the whole land of Egypt.
  2. MONETARY control--Pharaoh took the signet ring off of his own hand and put it on Joseph's hand. That's like saying, "Here's the check book."--- unlimited budget.
  3. POLITICAL control-- 41:4- "without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt." Joseph was given a royal robe. Now I said before that Joseph had trouble keeping his robe on. First the brothers took his robe, then Potiphar's wife took his robe. But this way this robe was never taken from him like he lost the first two. He was give his own private chariot; (Genesis 41:43), like the presidential limousine.
  4. RELIGIOUS control-- Joseph's new name was Zaphenath-Paneah and his wife's name was Asenath. So the name, Nath, was in both names, which is the head of the religious god of Egypt.
And so, here they had Pharaoh wanted all to believe that Joseph was sent of the gods.

I believe that when Joseph was elevated to this position that Potiphar was there. He must have witnessed this miraculous promotion. Imagine the table talk that night when he told his wife. "Do you remember Joseph the slave that's been in jail all this time?" "How could I ever forget what he did to me!" she says. "Well, you will never guess what happened today. Joseph is now the vice president of Egypt." She says, "You've got to be kidding!?" Potiphar replies, "No, I'm not kidding. He's in charge!" And then Potiphar says, "I hope your charges against him were the truth." It would be pretty bad to have to fire up the guillotine for your own wife.

But Joseph was forgiving. I think every Christian should be the same way. Jesus is forgiving. You can hurt Jesus one minute and He will be there to help you the next. That's the kind of Saviour we serve. True Christians do not seek revenge.

Genesis 41:45 Joseph at this point was still single. He was young, he was handsome, and what happened to Joseph? God provided a wife, a fit companion for Joseph. Finally a companion. Asenath was her name. Joseph was also given that new name, and his new name meant "The saviour of the world" in some versions. Joseph was a saviour to that land just like Jesus is the Saviour of us today. He would save his people from certain death.

Asenath, his wife, was a preachers kid. Her father was the Egyptian Pope, because he was the head priest of the city of ON. Today this is 10 miles southeast of Cairo in the Delta. ON was the religious capital of Egypt. in that city they worshiped the sun god, Ra. They had the pagan sun rites there, and he was the head priest of that whole place. He was the Pope of the land of Egypt. And here, Joseph married the Pope's daughter. That's about what it would be like.

How would you like to be married to a pagan priestess whose name meant---"I belong to the god called Mother Earth." I'm sure that Evangelist Joseph must have had some long talks with her about the true God. I think she must have finally said, "Your God will be my God and your people will be my people." I believe they had a united home.

The record shows that Joseph only had this one wife. Jacob was a big time polygamist with 4 wives. Joseph did not repeat the sins of his family. God can break the cycle of abuse, alcoholism, drugs or lust.

Genesis 41:46 --- "Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh's presence and traveled throughout Egypt."

Joseph considered his work as a "Service". His predictions of bumper crops came true. This really built up his credibility. Everybody associated record harvests with Joseph. Then later during the famine they regarded Joseph as their saviour.

I think Joseph was a remarkable man. He could have gotten proud in his new position. He could have forgotten God. You know, when people get high honors, sometimes they get proud. One cannot stand upon a lofty height without danger of falling. A storm will leave the flower in the valley totally untouched, but that same storm will knock down many a stately tree upon the ridge-top. Joseph stood the test of both adversity and prosperity.

Let me conclude by bringing out a few lessons. Maybe you are facing a great famine in your home or work or health or marriage. Maybe you're facing a great problem. Or It could be that many years of famine have already been devouring those things that you have accumulated in life. You have been left stripped of all that you had toiled for.

Then I want you to listen, and I want to conclude this story by letting Pharaoh, himself, be your teacher here. I want you to close your Bibles. I want you to imagine what happened to Pharaoh. Egypt was in a crisis. The only way Egypt could be saved was to put Joseph in the throne room. Perhaps somewhere in the chambers of your heart you have a neglected Jesus, sitting down in the dungeon of your heart. Do you know that the only way that you can come out of your life situation is to go and seek Jesus in a corner of your heart. Run to him like Pharaoh ran to Joseph. Ask him for advice. Trust Jesus. Place Him high on the throne of your heart, your life. Put Him totally in charge. Take off your signet ring and give your finances and your means to Him. Totally surrender your whole lot to Jesus. Give Him the reins of power. And Jesus will carry you through the tough times ahead. You will be blessed with an abundance so great that you can share it with others in need.

Opening Hymn-88 I sing the mighty power of God
Closing Hymn--508  Anywhere with Jesus
Scripture reading--  Psalm 37:5-9

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