Joseph wasn’t stuck, he was sent!
The First Message in the “Stuck?” series.
Find the other messages here.
Joseph found himself enslaved and imprisoned though he did nothing wrong. Throughout the whole ordeal Joseph maintained his integrity because it was based upon his faith, not his circumstances. This same faith gave him perspective to see that God had used all of the evil around him for good.
One of the most iconic lines in the Star Wars franchise, and in movies in general is
“Luke, I am your father.”
But if you don’t know the story that leads up to that moment and that line, you can’t appreciate it fully.
However, if you know that the storyline starts off with the main character, Luke seeming to be a simple farming kid on this non-descript planet who ends up being a part of this intergalactic war and has a show down with the ultimate bad guy- to find out in that moment, at the end of the second film no less, that he’s actually Darth Vader’s son is a shocking and powerful moment.
The passage that we are going to focus on this morning is really, really similar. Joseph, who is the 2nd most powerful man in all of Egypt tells a group of 10 brothers who tried to kill him but instead ended up selling into slavery….that what they meant for evil, God meant for good.
You can’t fully appreciate this moment if you don’t know the whole story. So let’s start at the beginning.
Joseph’s father Jacob ended up with 4 wives. That was pretty customary in that day for someone as rich as Jacob, but it was wrong. The reason that Jacob married the first two is because Jacob’s father-in-law, Joseph’s grand father tricked Joseph’s dad into marrying the wrong woman.
How? In that culture the bride wore a veil…
Jacob ends up with 4 wives, one of whom he married on accident, and he has 12 sons and several daughters with these women and they fight with one another.
Joseph’s family could have had their own episode of Jerry Springer or their own reality TV series.
Because of all this fighting and playing of favorites, Joseph’s brothers hated him.
So they decided they would kill him.
When the time came, they threw him in a pit but before they could work up the courage to carry out the act, a caravan happens by and they decide to instead sell him into slavery for 20 pieces of silver.
2 pieces of silver each…
This is just the beginning of Joseph’s saga. This is merely how he ends up a slave, and his story would take several more twists and turns, which we will look at in a moment, but I want to draw us back to what Joseph said in Genesis 50:20.
“You meant it for evil.” That was no exaggeration. They did intend evil for him.
- This world intended evil for Joseph.
I want us to take a moment and think of the feeling that Joseph must have had as he rode away with that caravan. As he was forced to walk alongside some cart that he was tied to… His mind was full of questions and doubts… wondering what lay ahead for him, what kind of people would he be sold to. What kind of work would he be forced into when he got to Egypt. He must have felt completely stuck, trapped, and enslaved. He must have been heartbroken that his own brothers had betrayed him in this way.
There are different types of stuck.
There’s the stuck feeling of having to wait. There’s the stuck feeling of being behind someone at the grocery store who’s using the new chip reader credit card machine for the first time….There’s the stuck feeling of being at a red light at 4AM when no one else is on the road….
But in those stuck feelings, we’ve got a expectation that it’s going to end. That we won’t be stuck forever. It feels like forever because we are waiting on what is supposed to happen next-
Joseph’s brothers didn’t intend inconvenience for him, they intended evil for him. That wasn’t an exaggeration.
Siblings exaggerate a lot, but Joseph wasn’t exaggerating when he said this- you meant evil for me. Because they did intend evil for him. When Joseph was walking away with that caravan headed toward Egypt, he wasn’t looking at being stuck until the light changed or until the line got moving, he was looking at being stuck for his entire life.
Scripture teaches us clearly that we have an adversary in the devil. That he is the personification and promoter of evil. That he is a liar, the father of lies…He seeks to ruin us. He intends evil for us.
Everyone here, you’ve experienced evil. You have had evil done to you, you have been hurt, you’ve been enslaved by evil…You can on some level commiserate with Joseph in this moment… But the story is just getting started for Joseph.
You see Joseph goes into his work in Egypt with integrity. He is a hard worker, he is trustworthy, he’s dependable, so much so that Genesis 39 tells us that Potiphar, an important figure in Egypt put Joseph in charge of his entire household and trusted him so much that 39:6 says this:
6 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.
So Joseph has done well given his circumstances.
But evil is intended for him again.
Potiphar’s wife notices Joseph. She likes what she sees, and she invites joseph to sleep with her, he declines but she is desperate. She grabs his clothes, so he runs. She tears his jacket off in the process.
When Potiphar returns home, this woman with a now bruised ego accuses Joseph of forcing himself on her and says that his jacket was left because he had taken it off but fled when he heard people coming into the house… So Potiphar throws Joseph into prison.
But once again, Joseph works hard, shows integrity, and the Lord blesses him for it.
22 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.
23 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.
Both in slavery and in imprisonment, Joseph never allowed his circumstances to dictate his character.
Our character is determined by our faith, not our circumstances.
9 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 then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
Every time that Joseph’s circumstances changed, his faith remained the same. When he was living with his messed up family, he believed in God. When he was sold into slavery, he believed in God. When he was thrown in prison, he believed in God. Many times people think, well I would do the right thing but I got all this other stuff I got going on right now…
I hear excuses all the time. If you want to become an expert on excuses, become a pastor because people are all the time giving me excuses.
Joseph’s character wasn’t determined by his circumstances, it was shaped by his faith. You identity is not what you do for a living, where you live, or how much you do or don’t have. Joseph not only did the right thing no matter his circumstances, he cared about people no matter his circumstances.
When Potiphar’s wife enticed Joseph he said, how could I do that to Potiphar? When he was serving in the prison, he noticed two guys were down in the dumps so he asked them what was wrong. We had bad dreams and we don’t have anyone to interpret them… Joseph said, interpretation belongs to God, so tell me your dream and perhaps the Lord will reveal to me the interpretation and I can help you out. Now this actually ends up being the key in Joseph being release from prison and becoming 2nd in command in Egypt. One of these men ends up being pardoned and is serving Pharaoh when Pharaoh has a troubling dream… He says, oh there was a guy in jail that interpreted my dream for me once and it all came true… So Pharaoh calls for Joseph and he interprets Pharaoh’s dream, gives him excellent counsel, so good that Pharaoh gives responsibility, and Joseph does so well with that, that Pharaoh keeps giving him more… For many people, the reason that they are stuck is that they are waiting for their circumstances to change before they do the right thing, when actually it is doing the right thing that might actually change their circumstances…
Plus, let me point out that when Joseph’s circumstances did change for the better, he still had the same character.
The character you display when you’re stuck is the character you’ll display when you hit your stride.
If you’re greedy with the little that you have, you’ll be greedy with more if you ever get it. If you’re irresponsible with your time when you have very little free, you’ll be irresponsible with your time when you have plenty. If you never volunteer when you’re working, you’ll never volunteer when you retire.
Your character is not based on your circumstances, it’s based on your belief.
- God intended good for the world through Joseph.
So at the very end of the story, when Joseph is in power, his brothers that sold him into slavery are dependent upon him, Joseph says, you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good for many, to save many lives…
Joseph could see that God had taken their evil and used it for good. Joseph could see that because of his belief.
You see, our faith not only changes the way we act, it changes the way we look at the world.
The entire time that Joseph was stuck, he didn’t believe he was stuck. He believed God was good and there was a purpose.
Joseph wasn’t stuck in Egypt. He was sent to Egypt.
The moral of Joseph’s story isn’t that you need to act more like Joseph, rather it’s that you need the same faith that Joseph had, that God is good and gives purpose to all things.
Joseph looked back on his life and it didn’t seem like a crazy life that just happened to work out alright in the end. He saw purpose in it because he believed God had given in purpose.
This past week was a crazy week which was complicated by the storms. The power outage fried a computer… The gym flooded twice… The culprit on the flooding was maple tree propeller seeds. Some people call them whirlygigs. They are seed attached to a wing so that they fall slightly slower and are more apt to be moved along by the wind. They disperse seeds broadly, carrying the fruit of the tree forward to the next generation… It doesn’t just merely spin to spin. It has a purpose.
Joseph believed in God’s goodness and he only had a fuzzy picture of what can see so clearly.
You see, you and I, we are able to look on the life, work, and death of God in the flesh in Jesus Christ.
We are able to look at his life and know that He is good in a much clearer fashion than Joseph could.
We are able to see that Jesus was stuck to a cross so that we would not be stuck. We don’t have to be enslaved or imprisoned by our sin. We don’t have to be stuck, because Jesus was stuck.
Because Jesus was stuck to a cross, we don’t have to be stuck in our sin and shame.
Lot of similarities between Joseph and Jesus.
Sold for pieces of silver.
Charged with crimes they didn’t commit.
Fed and saved the masses…
If you want to be free from the circumstances that you’re stuck in, place your faith in Christ and watch your life no longer be shaped by the circumstances you’re in, but rather live a life shaped by your faith.