February 2018  
Bible Search

Genesis 45: 1-15                     “I Will Provide For You”                     8/20/2017                                               Rev. Jerry W. Krueger                    Boardman UMC

Those of you who know your ancestry, your genealogy, it’s interesting to learn facts about family.  Genealogy can tell us about our past.

Today we talk about Joseph from the OT genealogy. Joseph, one of 12 sons, a son of Rachael and Jacob. Joseph is a dreamer, the guy with the many colored coat.  To locate Joseph, we start at Genesis chapter 37, to touch on events and names so we can recall, Joseph.

We know Abraham and Sarah, old folks who had a son named Isaac.  Father Abraham follows God‘s voice in Genesis 22, and takes his son Isaac to sacrifice him before God. But a ram caught by the horns in the thicket, is a God provided substitute.

Later Isaac, son of Abraham, spies beautiful Rebekah, and marries her. They have two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob cheats Brother Esau out of his rightful inheritance and flees Esau’s wrath. Jacob, son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham, sees Rachael and wants to marry her, but is tricked into marrying Leah, the less attractive sister first.

Jacob pledges 7 years of servitude to father in law Laban, to marry Rachael also. Rachael & Jacob have a son named Joseph. Joseph’s dad, Jacob, was Abraham’s grandson. That means that Joseph, is Abraham’s great grandson. Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob, then Joseph.

Joseph and Benjamin are the only two sons of the 12 from their Dad Jacob, and the beloved Rachael. The other sons are from Leah, and two maid servants. Many Half-brothers. Jacob favors his son Joseph, and Joseph makes matters difficult by letting his brothers know that he has dreams about them, and their future. And in the dreams, young Joseph is lifted above his older brothers.

His dad Jacob shows favoritism to son Joseph by giving him a fine coat, unlike anything the others brothers have received. And they hate Joseph. They are sent out to tend sheep, and they plot against Joseph. Rage and anger fill their guts with that acidic mix of adrenalin and simmering, tar like, stench filled hatred.

The brothers take the flocks to new pasture, and tired of being second fiddle step- brothers, let the plot go full bore. A convenient empty cistern becomes Joseph’s new residence. Left to die, we can only wonder what he thought, what he prayed.

A passing caravan presents two opportunities to the murderous brothers. To get rid of the body, and make some money. They sell Joseph as a slave, make some money, and make a body disappear.

But Joseph thrives greatly in his new home in Egypt, and is elevated by Pharaoh to second in command of all Egypt. The reason being Joseph is able to interpret dreams, and interprets the dreams of Pharaoh. A side note, Joseph while in prison having been falsely accused of sexual advances on his master’s wife, encounters a disgraced government official who he successfully interprets his dreams. Later this restored to power government official, informs Pharaoh, that Joseph is an accurate interpreter of dreams.

Pharaoh shares his 7 fat cows and 7 skinny cow dream to Joseph. The verdict, 7 years of bumper crops, followed by 7 years of crushing famine. Pharaoh elevates Joseph to second in charge and says, “Prepare us for this disaster,” which he does.

We pick up with the brothers who have years later journeyed from Canaan to Egypt, begging for food for their families.  They appear before Joseph, but do not recognize him. Joseph has every opportunity, every justification in paying back his brothers for what they did to him. “Left me for dead in a cistern, then sold me as a slave, I was imprisoned because of you. Falsely accused because of you.” A lesser person might have taken the opportunity to exact revenge, retribution, or payback to the extreme. Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers who have no recognition of Joseph with Egyptian clothes, hair, and speech.

“”Do not be afraid. It is I your brother, Joseph.”  Angels visit Mary, the shepherds, the disciples, and the women at the tomb with, “Do not be afraid.” This is God berthed language. Joseph is ruler, lord and in a father like setting. Joseph assures family he will provide for them.

Joseph abandons power and prestige in favor of reconciling. He sets aside position as second in command because he would rather be reconciled with no malice to his brothers, than to Lord it over them.

Throughout this incredible story, God acts independently of the brothers evil actions.  God through Joseph, acts so that life, rather than death, abounds.   God is the dynamic power here, not the sinful brothers. Their actions had far reaching consequences for them, and for Joseph.

I saw an ad on TV for University of Phoenix educational opportunities. It showed a woman working a job and going to school, with the subsequent generations, benefitting from that education with more opportunities. It portrayed to the 4th generation what educational risk taking could mean.

Our faith actions have consequences for our kids, our grandchildren and the generations that follow. Are they being taught about Christianity?

Joseph never abandoned God while in the pit, or in slavery or in prison. God rewarded Joseph’s faithfulness, his righteousness, despite circumstances that others exacted upon Joseph, through their sinful human action. God through Joseph continued to manifest himself in his daily life.

Hindsight is always 20/20. It is easy to look back and denote this happened here, and this happened there. But in the midst of turmoil or crisis it can be difficult to see God’s faithfulness to us. In life’s turmoil we may only see the deep, steep, wall of the cistern looming over us, blocking out the light of Christ.  But we are not abandoned.

I think of Senator John McCain who in 1967 was shot down over Vietnam, and was a prisoner of the North Vietnamese regime for 5 years. Cruelty, starvation, beatings and torture failed to break him. Even when offered early release if he would scorn the US Government, McCain refused. Did God abandon John McCain in prison? No. With hindsight McCain recalled his darkest times, but stated that God never abandoned him.

How long do we/YOU, choose to not forgive? How long will we allow hate and anger to define us? Joseph was victimized, but didn’t play the victim.

Joseph instead relied on God and when opportunity presented, he made amends, and he reconciled brokenness. This is not about forgetting what has occurred to you. This is saying, “That is part of my life story, and I acknowledge that, and I choose to be restored.

When crisis intersects our lives we can choose to sink into it and never recover, or we can see God alongside of us, in the trouble, in the swirling life around us, never abandoning you.

It can be difficult to release that soul crippling hate, anger or rage, and to allow Christ to fill that voided space with love and care.

Many of you have been on a Joseph like journey in your life. Some may be journeying there now.

But when we read this text and hear these words of restoration and hope, we examine Joseph’s life, and we see a life invested in God.

So I ask, “Are you invested in God? Are you, despite difficulties or burdens presented to you, are you remaining faithful to Christ who journeys with you, who saves you, rescues you, guides and loves you , even when life comes at your obliquely?

Joseph never faltered in his belief in God, and we hear these words in

 2 Corinthians 4: 7-9, But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

People of God, know that as victors in Christ, we are never defeated, never overcome, never abandoned or destroyed. Because each of you who profess Jesus Christ, have life eternal, and go with a Savior who never forgets us, or leaves us alone.

This morning, re-commit yourself to the knowledge that your life now, makes a difference for those in the future, especially when you accept and remain faithful to Jesus Christ always.

And all of God’s faithful and restored, loving and redeemed people, proclaimed, Amen.