Sermons by Marlin Harless

HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH

JOSEPH: "A MAN IN WHOM THE SPIRIT OF GOD IS"
HIS STERLING CHARACTER PROPELLS HIM TO BECOME THE PRIMEMINISTER OF EGYPT
(Genesis 41: 38)

INTRODUCTION: Joseph was the oldest son of Jacob and Rachel. "And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: And she called his name Joseph; ["may he Add," emphasis, mine, MLH], and said, The Lord shall add to me another son" (Genesis 30: 22-24).

I. JOSEPH AN EXAMPLE OF OBEDIENCE TO HIS PARENTS: "Now Israel loved Joseph more then all his children, because he was the son of his old age: he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him" (Genesis 37:3,4). Notice why Joseph's brethren hated him, it was because of Israel's partiality to Joseph! It is also the cause of much misery and wretchedness among people, today, both in, and, out of the church!

II. JOSEPH'S NOW FAMIOUS REPUTATION FOR DREAMING: Consider that Joseph's tests are multiplying, rather rapidly. "And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood straight; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words" (Genesis 37: 5-8).

Little did Joseph's brethren realize, at the then, present time, that their hatred of him and malicious purpose to get rid of him by any means; though ugly and sinful it was, the providence of God was set to order the future blessings of both, Joseph, and his brethren!! Selling Joseph was a dastardly, criminal act: however, it was the very means of thrusting him into the position of privilege and power of which Jehovah God informed him per his dreams!! What is really impressive here is that, he was humble, meek, and gave no evidence of resentment, or bitterness: his composure was that of a king, why? Because, he was "a man in whom the spirit of God is" (Genesis 41:38). Joseph would put many of us Christians to shame, and embarrassment!!!

"And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, what is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother, and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselve to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the the saying" (Genesis 37:9-11. Jehovah God revealed through Joseph's dreams, the astonishing and incredible track record or panoramic view of the future life of Joseph, his father, and his brethren!! To what degree did Joseph, himself, understand, and visualize his dreams, are matters of pure speculation!

"And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and we will say, some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what shall become of his dreams. And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potophar, an officer of Pharaoh's, and captain of the guard" (Genesis 37:18-20,36).

III. JOSEPH ADVANCED IN POTIPHAR'S HOUSE: "And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captian of the guard, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.

"And it came to pass that from the time he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the lord blessed the egyptian's house for Joseph's sake; and the blessing of the lord was upon all that he had in the house, and in the field. And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand, and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat. And Joseph was a goodly person, and well favored" (Genesis 39:1-6). Potiphar trusted Joseph completely, because he permitted God to guide him day by day, and oversee the events of his life, and mould his character!! Joseph, in his daily life, epitomized the following: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5,6).

IV. AN EXAMPLE IN WITHSTANDING LIFE'S TESTS! Joseph shines like new money! But Satan is poised, and ready to strike. "And it came to pass after these things, that his master's wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, lie with me. but he refused, and said unto his master's wife, Behold, my master wotteth, (knoweth not, emphasis, mine MLH), what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me, but thee, because thou art his wife: how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" (Genesis 39:7-9).

V. AN EXAMPLE IN PURITY: THE RIGHTEOUS MAN LETS HIS LIGHT SHINE IN THE FALLING DARKNESS! The Accusation of Joseph by his mistress. a. Though untrue, it was almost certain to be believed. b. If believed, it would certainly involve him in punishment. c. If deemed deserving of punishment, he would almost certainly be put to death. The bad woman's determination is thwarted!! Notice again the elevation of Joseph's character. d. His love of God. …"how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" e. His love for man. "My master…hath committed all that he hath to my hand."

How can I wrong him so? f. His confidence in the blessing of God on the holy and upright life. he knew that God would vindicate him! g. His self-conatrol. His circumstances were fearful temptation. Had he not been a virtuous man in his heart of hearts, he would have succumbed, and then pleaded, as so many do, the power of the flesh and of the tempting circumstances. Notice also how these characteristics do help one another when they are in the character, and how, when a man casts himself upon God, God makes the way of escape. Joseph was safer in the prison than he was in his master's house!!! 1(Cf.1 Corinthians 10:13).

"And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison. But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the lord made it to prosper" (Genesis 39:20-23).

VI. THE MERCY OF HIS GOD: As before, Jehovah went with Joseph to the prison, and COMFORTED HIM WITH GRACIOUS THOUGHTS concerning his affliction, with speedy favor in the sight of his keeper, so that the severity of his confinement was considerably mitigated, and with ultimate promotion to a position of trust within the prison, the charge of all the criminals being committed to his care! And finally, the Lord made him prosperous and successful as before in all undertakings!! 2 "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isaiah 26:3).

VII. AN EXAMPLE IN TRUSTWORTHINESS: PHARAOH'S TWO DREAMS: HE REVEALS HIS DREAMS TO JOSEPH; AND HE INTERPRETS THEM. "And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, the dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. And the seven thin and ill favored kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine. This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass" (Genesis 41:25-32).

"Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. And that food shall be for store in the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine. And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said unto his servants, can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the spirit of God is?" (Genesis 41:33-38).

"And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt" (Genesis 41:39-43).

"And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaeneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt. And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number. And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because the famine was so sore in all lands" (Genesis 41:44-46,49,56,57).

VIII. ACCORDINGLY, THE KING OF EGYPT PROMOTES JOSEPH TO BECOME THE PRIME MINISTER OF EGYPT!!! And, Joseph, for a period of time, served as the world economist!! "And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren: for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him. And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth!!! Then Joseph commanded to fill their sacks with corn, and to restore every man's money into his sack, and to give them provision for the way: and thus did he unto them" (Genesis 42:3,4,6,25).

VIV. UNEXPECTED KINDNESS FROM THE GOVENOR: Though he did not depart from his original demand that they should bring down Benjamin, and though he insisted on retaining Simeon as a hostage for their obedience, he yet granted their request for corn, and, unknown to them as yet, caused their money to be restored to their sacks. So Christ often deals with penitents, first blows and buffetings, then benefits and blessings! 3 "And the men took that present, and they took double money in their hand, and Benjamin; and rose up, and went down to Egypt, and stood before Joseph. And the man brought the men into Joseph's house, and gave them water, and they washed their feet; and he gave their asses provender. And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth!! And he asked them of their welfare, and said, is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive? And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance" (Genesis 43:15,24,26-28).

JOSEPH, AN EXAMPLE OF FORGIVENESS:

JOSEPH MAKES HIMSELF KNOWN TO HIS BRETHREN, AND COMFORTS THEM IN GOD'S PROVIDENCE!! "Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and Lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt" (Genesis 45:1,4,5,8).

"Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast come to poverty. And the fame thereof was heard in Pharoaoh's house, saying, Joseph's brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get ye unto the land of Canaan. And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land. Now thou art commanded, this do ye, take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come" (Genesis 45:9-11,16-19).

"Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, my father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen. And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly. But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying-place. And he said, I will do as thou hast said" (Genesis 47:1,11,27,30).

X. CONCLUSION: THE LESSONS OF JOSEPH'S LIFE Joseph's life remarkable for the variety of his experience, and for the consistency of his character through all. A man full of human sympathy, who also walked with God! Here the charm of his history! We can thoroughly enter into his feelings. In his boyhood, deservedly loved by his father, and on that very account hated by his brethren (1 John 3:13), "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you;" in his unmerited sufferings; in his steadfast loyalty to God and to his master; in his exaltation, and the wisdom with which he ruled Egypt; and in his forgiveness of those who had sold him as a slave, we feel for him and with him. But Joseph died. His trials and triumphs passed away. The scene where he had played so conspicuous a part is filled by other forms. And he who was the means of saving a nation must share the lot of the most commonplace life. "…One event happens to all" (Ecclesiastes 2:14,15).

XI. THE UNCERTAIN TENURE OF EARTHLY GOOD. No care can keep away misfortune, not even care to walk uprightly before God; but it is a great mistake to think that all sorrow springs from faults committed (Psalm 73:5) "They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plauged like other men." Joseph's slavery was because his Godward life condemned his brothers and made them angry. His being thrown into prison was because he would not yield to temptation. This is often a stumbling-block. If God really marks all that is done, why are his servants so sorely smitten?

We can neither deny the fact or trace the reason of the stroke. Enough to know that it is part of God's plan (Hebrews 12:6) "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth," to fit us for the end of our being. As Christ was perfected by suffering (Hebrews 2:10), so must we be. And just because to bear the cross is needful for a follower of Christ (Matthew 16:24)---and this is not the endurance of suffering at our own choice, but the willing receiving of what God is pleased to send---the uncertainty of life gives constant opportunity for that submission to his will which is the result of living faith, [and obedience, emphas, mine, MLH], (Romans 1:5;16:26).

XII. THE ONE END OF ALL LIVING "And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation" (Exodus 1:6). How varied soever the outward lot, wealth or penury, joy or mourning, one day all must be left behind. To what purpose then is it to labor for good, or dread impending evil? Can we not remember many whose name was much in men's mouths, full of youthful vigour or mature wisdom? And they were gone, and the world goes on as before. Joseph embalmed in Egypt with almost royal honors, was as completely separated from all his wealth and power as if he had never possessed them. Others filled his place and occupied his gains, in their turn to give them up, and awake from the dream of possessions to join the company of those who have left all these things behind. And is this all? Has life nothing worth striving for? Is there no possession that we can really regard as our own?

XIII. LIFE HAS ABIDING TREASURES: Was it nothing to Joseph that he possessed and showed a forgiving spirit---"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (Matthew 6:14,15), and singleness of heart, and earnest benevolence, and watchful consciousness of God's presence? These are treasures the world thinks little of. But these are treasures indeed, ministering comfort without care. And when earthly things slip from the grasp these abide, reflections of the mind of Christ, and tell of his abiding in the soul: "and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write, blessed are the dead which die in the lord from henceforth: yea, saith the spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them" (Revelation 14:13).4

THE QUESTION, "WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?" IS THE GREATEST QUESTION ONE CAN ASK!!
(Acts 2:37,38)

"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost". They were already believers, thus, peter told them what they must do to become Christians!

Beloved, "obeying the gospel," means to do what god says, to become a Christian! it is not so much what you think or feel, that is important, but, rather, what you do in faith and love for the lord!!! Jesus said, "and why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). "When you do "obey the gospel," Christ adds you to his Church!!! Moreover, you must be a faithful Christian, until death (Revelation 2:10).

BIBLOGRAPHY:

1. King James Version, The Thompson Chain-Reference Bible, Fifth Improved Edition

2. The American College Dictionary

3. The American Heritage Dictionary

4. Theological Dictionary of The New Testament

5. The Pulpit Commentary

6. The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology

ENDNOTES:

1. The Pulpit Commentary, Gen., pages 448-449; chapter 39:1-6; Homiletics & Homilies by various authors.

2. The Pulpit Commentary, Gen., page 452, chapter 39:7-23; Homiletics

3. The Pulpit Commentary, Gen., page 480, chapter 42:1-38, Homiletics

4. The Pulpit Commentary, Gen., pages 542-543, chapter 50:15-26, Homilies by Various Authors; "The lessons of life"

(E-Mail address: (mlharless@kvinet.com); Dear reader: in the event you find mistakes in this sermon, misspelling, scripture references, etc., please inform me at your earliest convenience! Thank you. MLH.

By Marlin L. Harless

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