Joseph’s Troublesome Coat, Part 5
By Pastor Hal Mayer
I’m so thankful for how God has worked in our lives to bring about reconciliation. He first reconciles us to Himself and our Heavenly Father and then to those around us.
This month we will conclude the story of Joseph. We began this series in August of this year, and it is fitting that we end this year with its last part. It is hard to imagine that this is part 5 already, but it has been a wonderful personal blessing to me to prepare these messages on the life of Joseph and its practical application to our experiences as God’s children. I hope you have gained as much of a blessing listening to them as I have had in preparing them. If you want to refresh your mind on the story where we left off last time, go back and listen to the last sermon in this series.
Jesus is the center of this story even though He is not mentioned by name at all. The cross of Christ is also portrayed in the experience of Joseph though it is never mentioned. Yet the parallels to the plan of salvation and our relationship to Jesus come through loud and clear.
So, before we begin, let us bow our heads and ask God’s blessing on our time together. Our Father in heaven, how grateful we are for your love and providential leadings, even through pain and tragedy to triumph in Christ. Help us to grasp it more fully. Help us learn to depend upon you and patiently wait for you to work out the counsels of your will. May our hearts be open to your ordained tools to mold and shape us into your image so that you can be the one that people see when they see us. By your grace, restore the image of Jesus in your people in these last days. Now help us as we study to more fully see your hand in our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.
After coming to Egypt, Jacob lived another 17 years. Jacob does not want to be buried in Egypt and asks Joseph to make sure that he is taken back to the cave where he buried Rachel, Joseph’s mother. Joseph readily agrees not to bury him in Egypt.
Their parting at the time of Jacob’s death is so moving. You can read it in Genesis 49. Jacob has taken sick and is sitting on his bed. Joseph brings his two sons. Joseph’s brothers also come to see Jacob before he dies. Jacob blesses them and then calls all of his sons to his side and prophesies about them. Notice what he says of Judah. It’s in Genesis 49:10: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” This is saying that Judah would be in the lineage of Jesus.
Turn to Matthew 1:2 and you will see it. Let me read it. “Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judas and his brethren.” The word translated “Judas” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Judah. It is very interesting that a Judas was the betrayer of Joseph just like Jesus was betrayed by his disciple Judas. Joseph’s brother, however, was changed by the power of God and he was restored. Do you think Judas could have been restored if he had turned from his selfishness and pride like Joseph’s brother Judah? In addition to being restored by Joseph, Judah was also restored by the God of heaven and was given the privilege of being in the direct line of ancestry to the Son of God. What an amazing restoration! What a powerful witness to the forgiving power of God. Judah was restored to the lineage of Jesus, the great Deliverer of which Joseph is a type.
When Jacob is finished with blessing his sons and prophesying about them, he pulls his feet up on the bed, closes his eyes, and gives up the ghost. Chapter 50 verse 1 opens with these words: “And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.” His farewell is reminiscent of his reunion with his father after so many years apart, but now Joseph has to let his father go. Have you ever let go of a loved one in death? Parting is very hard. I know because I experienced it with my mother. I knew she would not live more than a few more days when I last saw her. I wept as I left her home for that last time. I believe I’ll see her again, but I know a little of the sorrow Joseph felt at the loss of his beloved father. There is a lump in your throat that is hard to swallow. Tears flow freely and your heart feels as if it is going to break. I can imagine that Joseph felt like that. It is hard to let go of a loved one.
After Jacob’s death Joseph got Pharaoh’s permission to bury his father in Canaan. What an entourage. A huge procession wended its way up the now-familiar road between Egypt and Hebron, the same road that Joseph many years before had traveled in another procession as a prisoner and a slave. His heart was crushed with sorrow. But now the procession is a different kind of sorrow. Verses 8 and 9 of chapter 50 tell us that there was “a very great company” with chariots and horses and all the house of Joseph, his brothers, and all the house of Jacob. Only their children and flocks and herds were left behind. The Canaanites have never seen such an imposing sight, an Egyptian state funeral in Canaan of all places. Important Egyptians aren’t buried outside the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. But the deceased is no Egyptian. He is a humble shepherd, a Hebrew, returning to his homeland, but with Egyptian state honors.
Imagine Joseph’s thoughts as the great stone was rolled back in front of the cave of Machpelah. He must have sat quietly there for a long, long time, thinking about the events of his father’s life. He must have thought about how God had taught him to trust Him, not vicariously through his father, but with his own personal walk with God. The same God of his father and his father’s father would be with him and his brothers. He must have thought about his brothers and the history of their relationship and how God had worked everything for their good. He must have thought about the sweet restoration that had brought them all back together.
The lump in his throat must have been thick as he turned and left the grave site to return to Egypt. Slowly and with his shoulders bent, he makes his way back south. He is wearing the mourning clothes of proud Egypt, but he is humble and acts quite differently from the Egyptians. He is in his homeland. He is not an Egyptian. He is a child of the God of gods, the Mighty One of Israel. He looks upon the hills of Hebron, his childhood home, probably for the last time and the only time in nearly 40 years.
That night he again looks into the heavens and sees the stars—the same stars that he saw when he was a slave trudging south to Egypt for the first time. Now he is turning south again for the last time, not as a slave but as a ruler, the prince of Egypt. As he looks into the heavens, he is reminded of God’s promises and is greatly comforted that God will be with him just as He was with his fathers. He renews his faith and his covenant with God.
You know, my friends, it doesn’t matter who you are or how high your position or how strong you appear in the eyes of others, we all face times in our lives when we need comfort and encouragement. We all face times of loss and sorrow. These are times when through faith we can have Jesus close by our side. These are times when we can look at the stars and can have the confidence that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph will be with us just as He was with them.
After Joseph buried his father, his brethren became concerned. They think that now that their father is dead, Joseph will take revenge on them. They are afraid to come to him themselves, so they send a messenger to him.
“And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, so shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father” (Genesis 50:15-17).
Joseph wept when he heard this. He was no doubt disappointed that his brothers did not trust his previous forgiveness and the magnanimous symbols of his love.
Though his brothers were good men, they hadn’t learned the strength of faith in God that Joseph had. Nor did they understand the character of Joseph. But Joseph was gracious to them. He spoke kindly to them and reminded them of God’s providence. He has no interest in revenge.
The Scriptures say in verses 19 to 21, “And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”
Joseph doesn’t need justice. God has given him justice, both real and poetic. His dreams have been fulfilled. He is practically in charge of the greatest nation on earth. He doesn’t need any further justice. His heart is pure. He has learned how to forgive. He leaves his brothers with God. He can see that God has transformed them and that they are no longer what they once were.
My friends, this is exactly what Jesus does with us. When He forgives us, He changes us from what we were into what He is. He transforms us. His work in our lives becomes obvious to all. And it makes Him sad when we bring up our past and fear that He has not really forgiven us.
Joseph lived approximately another 70 years until he was 110 years old.
He asks that he not be buried in Egypt but put in a coffin until the departure of Israel for the Promised Land. Little did they know that it would be 400 years until he is finally buried and that a terrible slavery would intervene. Why the slavery? God did not want them to get too comfortable in Egypt. He wanted them to long for the land promised to their fathers. It is interesting to note that Joseph’s coffin was there to remind the Egyptians of what Joseph had done for them. Yet they eventually turned against Israel (in the providence of God) and forgot Joseph. I think it is ironic that the children of Joseph’s brothers were put in bondage like Joseph. Their lives were made hard like his was. They learned what it was like to suffer unjustly. Do you remember the Scripture that says that God visits the “iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments”? That is Exodus 20:5, 6.
The story of Joseph is an amazing story of forgiveness and Christ-likeness with types and symbols as well as personal, practical applications to our own lives. But it is also a story that reveals the principles of the Great Controversy and especially speaks to the Last Generation. Perhaps as you study the story yourself, you will see more examples of this than what we will cover today. This month I want to challenge you to think beyond the immediate, wonderful story of Joseph and to grasp the deeper significance.
There is a powerful text in Scripture that speaks of those living in the last days. 1 Timothy 3:16 says, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” My friends, the mystery of godliness was fulfilled in Christ when He became manifest in the flesh. But it is also to be fulfilled in the Last Generation when they are filled with the character and the glory of God through Jesus dwelling in them. They become the mystery of godliness as they live in holiness unto God. Don’t you want to be a part of that great movement at the end of time?
The stories of the Old Testament are often illustrations of all or part of the plan of salvation or of the Great Controversy between Christ and Satan. Each story illustrates a different aspect of how God deals with His church throughout time. The Scriptures tell us that the stories of the Old Testament were examples to us. In 1 Corinthians 10:11 we read, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.” History repeats itself. The principles, characteristics, and conflicts in the stories of the Old Testament have great meaning for us because they happen to us too.
Joseph was also a type of Christ manifest in the flesh, particularly in his role as a reconciler with his brothers. But there are many parallels between Joseph and Jesus. Let us look at them and also the parallels to the Last Generation.
The Great Controversy between Christ and Satan, with the involvement of everyone on the earth as well as the unseen angelic hosts, is a theme that runs through Scripture. Many of the people in the stories of the Old Testament illustrate the characters in the Great Controversy, though not always in exact detail because they are fallen men; but in the positions that they hold in relation to each other and the events that occurred, they are types of the larger conflict going on in the universe. The story of Joseph is no exception.
Jacob is the head of the family. He is the father and represents our loving Heavenly Father whose interest and care for His children and His church is great. As the story unfolds we see the squabbles and unsavory issues going on in God’s church in their day.
Joseph is given two prophetic dreams. He then becomes the prophet to his brothers, who were the church of their time. They hate their prophet and want to do him harm. Isn’t this what Christ was to Israel—their Messiah, their greatest Prophet? Yet His church despised and hated Him and did Him harm. Micah 7:6 says, “A man’s enemies are the men of his own house.” The remnant church is identified in Scripture as having the Spirit of Prophecy (Rev 19:10). There are many who hate God’s prophets and messengers today in the same way. They mistreat them and deal with them in ways that often reflect the same characteristics that Joseph’s brothers revealed in their treatment of him.
You see, my friends, it is not the world that you have to worry about sometimes as much as those in God’s church. Those that will betray you are the ones who know you, the ones that know your secrets. You can actually expect better treatment from those that aren’t members of the house of faith than those with whom you worship each week.
Joseph’s brothers become envious of him. They became so hateful of him that they had to take their flocks and go a long way for a long time. Their father became worried about them and sent his son to see how they were doing. He sent gifts with his son for them, as well. They persecuted Joseph, squandered the gifts, and sold him as a slave.
God’s church went astray, too. He was worried about them so He sent His Son Jesus on a journey to find His lost brethren. He sent spiritual gifts which they squandered and wasted while persecuting Him; and like Judah, Judas sold Him for the price of a slave to their enemies. Do you think this kind of betrayal will happen at the end of time? I do. In fact, Jesus predicts it in Matthew 24:10: “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” You see, my friends, the time of trouble is going to be more trouble from fellow believers than from the world. So we’d better get used to it. You can’t expect your fellow church members to protect you. Some of them will stoop to the lowest level of human indignity to make your life miserable. We need an experience like Joseph so that we will respond in Christ-like ways.
Joseph’s brothers ate the food their father sent but rejected and persecuted the messenger. They lived on the benefits without being accountable to their father for their behavior. Isn’t that what Israel did? They partook of the benefits of being God’s church but rejected the One that had given them those very benefits. Jesus described the rebellion of His church in Matthew 21:33-39: “Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.”
Do you think that the same problem exists in God’s church today? Do we not proclaim to work for the divine Husbandman, but in reality we are doing our own thing, and when He sends us messengers of warning, we ridicule them, accuse them, and assassinate their reputations? I don’t know about you, but I have seen this many times.
Joseph is crucified twice in the story, first by his church, that is, by his brothers (symbolically at least) in their effort to rid themselves of his influence. Though they didn’t actually kill him (even though they had planned to at first), they crucified him in their minds. They sent him to Egypt as a slave, thinking that they would be rid of him forever. They never thought about the principle that after every crucifixion, there is a resurrection. They could not appreciate the value of the act that they had so wickedly accomplished.
Joseph’s brothers despised the prophet Joseph and his message. This led them to treat him with disrespect and dishonor. When they sold him into slavery, he became dead to them for all intents and purposes. They thought they got rid of him and would never see him again nor ever hear of his dreams and prophecies again. Joseph suffers for his brothers, just as Christ suffered for us even though we mistreated Him. Yes, it is true, our sins—the sins of the Last Generation—have done to Christ what the Jews did to Him when He was here on earth.
Do you remember when Christ was treated this way by His church? When Christ was crucified, didn’t the Jewish leaders think that they would never see Him again? They thought they were rid of Him forever. Yet one day they will see Him coming in the clouds of glory. Jesus Himself said to them, “Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” That’s Matthew 26:64. Just before Jesus comes again there is to be a special resurrection, which we find in Revelation 1:7. Here it says that “every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him.” This includes Herod, Caiaphas, the soldiers that drove the nails into His hands and side, and the mocking crowd; all of them will see the glory of Christ coming in the clouds of heaven. When they see Jesus again, it will be too late to repent and be reconciled. They will see Him in all His glory, in all His majesty and power. When Joseph’s brothers saw him, he too was seated at the right hand of power. After the redeemed have spent 1,000 years in heaven, they too will be seated at the right hand of power when the wicked see them again.
Secondly, Joseph was crucified by Mrs. Potiphar, who represents the secular world. She wanted revenge and to be rid of the man who had spurned her lawlessness in the name of his God. Yet that plot was also foiled. She never imagined in her wildest imaginations that Joseph would one day soar above her own husband in power and authority. Nor could she appreciate the significance of what she had just done.
Christ went through exactly the same kind of crucifixion on the cross. He was crucified in the hearts and minds of the Jews (His church) who orchestrated his death by the cruel hands of the Romans. Both the church and the secular world were at odds with Christ and His mission. Neither could appreciate the importance of what they had done in accomplishing His mission. They were so blinded by malicious hatred or cunning politics that they could not break through the darkness to understand and appreciate the light. The light shined in darkness, but “the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5).
Another lesson should be clear to us. When we are crucified by others, when we are mistreated, judged unjustly, maliciously villainized, or cruelly characterized, we have Christ by our side just as Joseph did. We are to shine as he shone in the darkness, even if those who have done those things to us cannot comprehend the light. He will raise us up after humbling us in the dust, just as He did for Joseph. It was as if Christ was showing Joseph, and us, something of the cross and His character through Joseph’s own experience.
Here’s another parallel. Joseph and Jesus were both misunderstood and misrepresented by the very ones who should have known better. But Joseph, like Jesus, remained true and loyal under temptation, abuse, and pressure.
Here is another. Joseph’s character was not stained by the wickedness of godless Egypt and neither was Christ’s character stained by the wickedness of this earth.
And another. While in Egypt Joseph took ignominy and punishment unjustly for the good of his master Potiphar, who symbolizes Caesar or the secular state. Likewise, Jesus took ignominy and punishment unjustly from the state for the good name of His Father, as well. Joseph was innocent but was punished as a wrongdoer. So was Jesus. Both of them were matured or made perfect through suffering. Both of them strengthened their future ministry through injustice and suffering, Joseph to Prime Minister and Prince of Egypt and Jesus as Prince of Princes, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Neither Joseph nor Jesus could see the future, but they trusted in the love and goodness of their God to bring them through.
When Joseph was brought before Pharaoh, he made himself of no reputation. Like Christ he always glorified the God of heaven. Both of them made decisions against their own interests—on principle. Both were silent under false accusation.
Both Joseph and Jesus returned good for evil. Joseph tested his brethren and Jesus tests His spiritual brethren to develop their loyalty and restore them. Both Joseph and Jesus became the savior of their own brethren.
Joseph gave his brothers princely coats as if to honor them as fellow rulers with him. Jesus is going to do the same thing for the redeemed. Even now we are given His princely robe of righteousness, but He plans to have us sit with Him on His throne and rule with Him, as well.
Joseph never said anything about the alienation or the trouble his brothers had caused him. Likewise, Jesus treats us as if we had never sinned and departed from God or caused Him any trouble at all. Isn’t that wonderful? What assurance!
It is wonderfully obvious that Joseph is a type of Christ! There are clear and heartwarming parallels that give us the assurance that Christ is doing the same for us. Joseph’s life is an illustration of the plan of redemption in many, many ways.
Now let me draw your attention to another important point. God’s prophet to the remnant has been despised and widely ignored. While there are those that openly ridicule and condemn God’s end-time prophet, most simply ignore God’s messages of instruction to the Last Generation. This is as serious as what Joseph’s brothers did to him. We cannot physically hurt the prophet, but we show just as much disrespect by ignoring and rejecting the message. Could we not crucify the prophet in our minds today? Today’s church is no different from the church in Joseph’s day. We think we can get rid of the prophet by ignoring God’s clear counsel. But God still holds us accountable for the light He has been so gracious to give.
When Joseph’s family hungered, they came to Joseph. When we are spiritually hungry, we must go to Jesus. He feeds us and nourishes us as did Joseph for his family.
Now let us talk about the Last Generation for a few more minutes.
The Last Generation has the prophetic gift, but it is largely ignored or rejected. God also sends other messengers to the church with spiritual food, warnings, and reproofs. But they are rejected for the most part.
God’s people live on the spiritual blessings that He has abundantly provided His church, but they often turn from His messengers and sometimes turn on them. God’s end-time messengers must tell the truth both to the church and to the world just like Joseph told the truth to his brothers and the chief baker.
Joseph’s message as prince of Egypt was present truth at that time. It was a message for the world. It was a message of warning and a message of salvation. But it was also a message of preparation for the coming crisis. It is exactly the kind of message that God’s people in the last days have to give. If God is going to preserve a people unto Himself, He first sends a message of warning so that they can take the appropriate measures to protect themselves. And in the last moments of earth’s history, God now sends another warning to make the final gathering of His people and prepare them for the last crisis. You are the messenger. You are the one whom God has chosen to bring to light the preparation that needs to be made for the crisis and the time of trouble that is coming upon the world. That message includes the Sabbath message and other neglected truths such as the sanctuary message. Similarly, Joseph was the one sent to explain the preparation that needed to be made for Egypt’s time of trouble.
Notice that the message had to do with food. The Egyptians were to store up food for themselves against the day of famine. Joseph was the one who had all the food during the time of crisis. The message in the last days is also about storing up food, spiritual food in your soul, so that in the time of spiritual famine, you will not be lost. Your soul must be fortified with the truths of God’s Word. Listen to this statement from The Great Controversy, page 593: “None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men? The decisive hour is even now at hand. Are our feet planted on the rock of God’s immutable word? Are we prepared to stand firm in defense of the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?”
The people came to Joseph for the food which was present truth for that time. Here, my friends, is an interesting lesson. The Last Generation, like Joseph, will be the ones who have present truth, spiritual food, at the end of time and to whom the world will come to be fed. They will have many questions when they see the chaos, confusion, and turmoil, and God’s faithful remnant people will be the only ones with the answers. They will feed them spiritually, similar to how Joseph fed the multitudes physically. Jesus will guide them and use them to save “much people alive,” just as He did with Joseph. They are to provide the hungry, both the world and the church, with present truth.
Joseph’s present truth was not heard by the church until they were surprised by the crisis. Some of God’s people will hear the message beforehand, particularly those who come from the world. But those who grow up in the church generally don’t respect the message as they should. They may not recognize it at all until it’s too late; or by God’s mercy, they recognize it when they are surprised by the crisis.
It is interesting that Joseph brought his brothers food, but they refused to give him any. In a way, he had his own little famine there in the pit while they ate the food he brought them. They also sent him into a land of spiritual famine. But in order to be restored, God had to take Joseph’s brothers through a physical famine of their own as well as a spiritual famine of guilt. It is amazing how God brings things around full circle.
The world in Joseph’s day was more ready to hear and heed the warning than was the church. The church was not fully prepared to yield and humble themselves until the crisis came. Do you think that is likely to happen to the Last Generation? Incidentally, many things in the life of Joseph have not yet been fulfilled in God’s remnant church, but they are prophetic and will come to pass.
During the coming crisis, there will be a famine in the land, not for bread and water but for the hearing of the word of God (Amos 8:11). The Last Generation, like Joseph, will be there with spiritual food from the spiritual storehouses of God to provide for the people.
The storehouses were the places where the people of Egypt brought their excess production. During the time of famine, they became dispensaries of food to nourish and preserve the people. The people would come to the storehouse to gather food for themselves and their families. Likewise, God’s remnant people will be like storehouses with spiritual food to dispense to those who are spiritually hungry. So my friends, while we are in a time of spiritual plenty, let us store up in our hearts the truths for this time so that we will have something to dispense to the people in the time of crisis.
Joseph had dreams. The Last Generation will also dream dreams and see visions. You probably remember reading that in Joel 2:28. Here it is: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.”
Joseph was sent from his home church in Hebron into the world by the persecution of his brothers so that the world could hear the truth and be prepared for the crisis. God often allows the Last Generation to be despised, rejected, and betrayed by their own fellow believers so that they can scatter and reach the world with the love of God and His last message of warning. Think about it. Persecution always spreads the message. If you are persecuted in one place, go somewhere else. You’ll find ample work to do to win souls to the truth. Perhaps in our day we suffer often at the hands of our fellow believers in God’s providence so that we will not become spiritually lazy.
The world doesn’t realize how much they owe to the preservation of God on behalf of His people. They turn on them just as the Egyptians turned on the Hebrew church and made them slaves. The same spirit rules the world today, and when it is advantageous, they will try to enslave God’s people by forcing them to obey man’s laws instead of God’s laws.
There are some personal lessons that we can learn from Joseph. When you are cut down, plan on God expanding your work for the Lord. When you are cut down, don’t complain; let him purify your character.
Don’t become discouraged. The very ones who have turned from you and rejected you in the crisis may well come back one day for answers. Be kind to them. They are going to need you one day. Perhaps God will give you a mission to them, and great restoration can take place.
If you are alienated by someone, forgive. If you are mistreated, you can hope in God. He obviously sees something in you that is worth purifying and refining. And He will raise you up. Remember that with every crucifixion, there is a resurrection. But we must learn patience and learn to trust in God. We must learn to turn from evil and learn personal submission to injustice. That is a hard one for me.
When you are misunderstood, learn graciousness and respect. When you are treated unkindly, learn to be kind in return. Injustice is a good lesson book, don’t you think?
Sometimes after testing you, God wants to surprise you and others by giving you special responsibilities—and sometimes very quickly. It may even surprise your enemies. Think about what Mrs. Potiphar must have thought as she saw Joseph elevated to prime minister, the prince of Egypt. Joseph had gained through his integrity the very freedom and power that she had suggested would be his if he sinned with her. Perhaps she trembled as she thought about what she had done to Joseph. Would he now take revenge? But Joseph was not that type. He had been vindicated; but what is bigger and far better is that he had forgiven her, even while he was languishing in prison.
Perhaps one of the most important personal lessons we can learn from the life of Joseph is that forgiveness takes away the bitterness of the heart. It takes away the envy, hatred, and jealousy. It takes away feelings of anger, resentment, and retaliation. Forgiveness is a wonderful thing. When you forgive, it heals your own soul and brings relief to sin-burdened hearts.
Joseph went from the pit to Potiphar. He went from Potiphar to prison. He went from prison to palace, and he went from pauper to prince. Do you think Jesus is going to do the same for you? I believe so. I believe that Jesus is going to take you and me through hard experiences so that we can learn these lessons of faith. Faith is a principle that forgives even when you are being crucified.
Brothers and sisters, don’t give up. Don’t become discouraged.
When your friends turn against you, don’t give up.
When your circumstances press you down, don’t give up.
When your family pressures you, don’t give up.
When your money runs out, don’t give up.
When your ministry is limited, don’t give up.
When your home is repossessed, don’t give up.
When your reputation is besmirched, don’t give up.
When you make mistakes, don’t give up.
When you get into trouble, don’t give up.
When you are slapped, beaten, stripped naked, hung up on a cross, or sent to prison, don’t give up.
When you are abused, accused, or misused, don’t give up.
My friends, don’t give up. Look at the stars. Look to Jesus. He will sustain you through the trial. Don’t pray that you will not have trials. Pray that you will survive them spiritually and that God will honor your prayers.
In the time of trouble, it is character alone that will get us through. Some may not have had the time to develop the strong faith of experience in the truth and in the message. But if you are in Christ now and living by His law and yielding to His grace and power, you will be prepared.
Look at the stars, my friends. They are symbols of God’s providence and His promise to bring you through what it takes to prepare you for heaven. Look at trials and misfortune as opportunities to grow. Look at abuse and mistreatment as a chance to forgive more deeply.
Let us pray. Father in heaven, what a blessing to study the life of Joseph! Help us to be like him in character. Help us to turn from our pain and bitterness and look at the stars. Help us to see beyond the challenges we face at the moment and look to Jesus to sustain and keep us in His care. And may we have compassion towards those who are persecuted and mistreated by others. May we lift up the broken. May we enlighten the benighted. May we encourage the disheartened. Keep us faithful, we pray, no matter what happens to us. In Jesus’ name, amen.