The Life of Joseph: The Christian and Suffering

Genesis  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:00:17
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Genesis 37-50 Joseph (The Christian and Suffering) Introduction: Here’s the difficulty that we face when we come to this last section of Genesis (37-50): The story of Joseph is one story; which spans 13 chapters of which only one is not dedicated to Joseph. We obviously cannot cover the story of Joseph in great detail in one sermon. However we tackle it; I encourage you to carefully read through the story of Joseph. Joseph is instrumental in God’s salvation for Jacob’s family and the peoples of the world from the unprecedented famine and the preservation of the people of God that Jesus Christ might come and bring salvation. The big theme of the story of Joseph is the sovereignty of God. Another big theme in the Joseph story is suffering. So let’s look at Joseph’s story from a birds eye view. 1. As a Christian you will Suffer. a. All Christians need to know that suffering is part of the Christian life. It isn’t a matter of if; it is a matter of when. i. 1 Peter 4:12 “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” ii. Philippians 1:29 “For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake.” 1. C.S. Lewis in response to the death of his wife said, “I had been warned - I had warned myself -not to reckon on worldly happiness. We were even promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told ‘blessed are they that mourn’.” a. And yet for many of us when we suffer we think that something has gone wrong; God has forgotten us, or that we must have done something to upset God. i. Much of this thinking really has nothing to do with Christianity but is more in line with our western ideas of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Which is based on the philosophy of John Locke. Why we mix the two up, I do not know? ii. Although the Old Testament speaks of monetary increase being a sign of God’s blessing. The New Testament does not speak in those terms at all. The Blessings of the New Testament our Spiritual blessings and one thing we are promised is pain and suffering. 1. Jesus, Paul, the rest of the Apostles, even the early church. 2. We need to get this idea of comfortable, trial free Christianity out of our heads. It is unbiblical! 2. As a Christian you will suffer injustice. i. As we look at the life of Joseph its interesting to note that he is portrayed as being blameless. 1. We clearly see the faults of Abraham, Isaac, and jacob, but Joseph is cast in a different light. I think it is because the Lord is seeking to give us a picture of someone who is righteous and yet suffers injustice. a. The Letter of the Hebrews deals with those who are suffering injustice; peter’s first epistle deals with those who suffer injustice or unjustly. b. Joseph isn’t necessarily suffering for something he did or something he needs to learn, he’s suffering for a whole other reason, that could not be known or seen in the thick of that suffering but only could be seen at the end, on the other side of that suffering. i. This shows us: 1. That suffering is not always the result of our own sin. 2. That there isn’t always immediate answers to our suffering. Suffering doesn’t necessarily make sense. 3. There isn’t always a personal lesson to be learned. 3. God is Sovereign. a. Although God may seem absent and apathetic to our suffering; he is not. God is with us. i. Joseph. 1. Genesis 39:1-5 “Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. 2 The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. 5 From the time that he made him overseer in his house and over all that he had, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had, in house and field. 2. Next, Joseph is stalked by his masters wife as she daily asks to sleep with him. He continually resist temptation and then he is finally falsely accused of attempted rape and thrown into Pharaoh’s prison. - “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. 23 The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed. a. We don’t really know if Joseph knew that the Lord was with him or that the author is the one that Knows; but the point is the same. The Lord was with Joseph and things were not what we imagine they would be when the Lord is near. 4. God Sovereignly uses suffering for good. a. Nothing, not even sin and great evil, can ever ultimately frustrate God’s sovereignty . b. Believers can be sure that God will one day defeat all sin, evil, and suffering. Until then, God can be trusted because he is wise, holy, sovereign and powerful and is always working out his plan to perfection. i. Romans 8:28 “ And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. c. Even human rebellion ultimately unintentionally ends up serving the perfectly wise purposes of God. d. It isn’t over until God says it is, so lets save our judgments and criticism until we see God’s end product! Conclusion: suffering and trials result in three things. 1. Revelation: a. “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear but now my eyes have seen you!” -Job b. Joseph had a revelation of God’s sovereign workings. “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for Good. Sovereignty and Human responsibility. 2. Sanctification: a. Again Job said that he saw the Lord and as a result he abhorred himself and repented in dust and ashes. The result of Job’s revelation was that he saw how really sinful he was in the light of God’s glory resulting in a change - repentance. b. For Joseph, if nothing else Joseph learned humility. - Psalm 105:17-19 “he had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. His feet were hurt with fetters; his neck was put in a collar of iron; until what he had said came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. i. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. a. Suffering produces character! 3. Consolation: a. Joseph says at the end of this story, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. Genesis 45:4-8 b. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” - Genesis 50:20-21 i. As I said earlier Joseph isn’t suffering for some stupid move that he made or some lack of faith or sin that he committed. Joseph is suffering for the sake of others. He suffers so that in the end his family and many, many others can be saved. He suffers for the comfort of others! ii. Job - how many millions of Christians have been comforted by Job's story? Or the story of Joseph? I believe that Job and Joseph suffered for our sakes for our comfort! 1. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” a. What if your trial, your suffering, your pain is not for your own sake but for the sake of someone else? For their comfort and encouragement? i. Rape, molestation, poverty, sickness, chronic pain, broken marriage, rebellious children, miscarriage, bankruptcy, the death of a loved one, hardship, b. Is this not also what Jesus has done for us?! It was not for his own sake that he came to earth, it was not for his own sake that he was despised and rejected a man of sorrow who was acquainted with grief; it was not for his own sake that he suffered the gruesome death of the cross! It was for the sake of his brothers!!!! You and I! c. The righteous suffered for the unrighteous! Can we then take our lives and say to God, “how can you let me suffer unjustly? “What are you doing to me? “God, do you love me?”
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