Sunday, October 30, 2011

ヨセフの夢 外套と乾いた穴/Joseph’s Dreams, a robe and a dry pit

The big picture. That is the whole idea of this series. 
God’s foot prints in the story of Mankind.  
 It is history --- His story.  Can you see a developing theme here of God choosing some one person and that one person struggles to live in both worlds?   

How does man respond to the leading of God in their life?  For some, it was hard.  Cain, who we did not cover, but the story might be already known, blew it big time when he got jealous of his brother as his offering was accepted but his own was not—so he killed his brother. He could not live with the fact that his brother did things right.  He made a bad choice and he paid dearly for that mistake.  In the life of the one we will be covering today, we can see that his 10 brothers made some serious errors in judgment causing great sorrow for their father and a teenager lost his life into slavery. We are talking about the life of Joseph, son of Jacob—or Israel.
Jacob was not the model of a great father.  In fact, he most likely did just about everything wrong.  But even though that was true, God was still interested in him and continued to bless him.  I don’t understand that but the Bible shows us that God blessed him over and over again.  Jacob was a man like none other and yet, was like so many men today.  But our talk today is not about him—some other time perhaps.

Joseph was from a broken dysfunctional family.  One father, three main wives.  The sons of Bihah and the sons of Zipah were not behaving so Joseph brought a bad report about them to their father. This did not go over very well with his brothers.  A tattletale! Why don’t you mind your own business?
Here was a 17-year-old teenager.  He was looking for acceptance at home and two mother types did not give him any attention. His half brothers could not even speak a kind word to him.  His father showed more love to him than toward his other brothers and they became deeply jealous. He was just a 17 yr old kid trying to be wanted; to belong! Very much like any 17 yr old today!

Then Dad gave him a nice new robe.  It must have been something else!  “Ornate robe” is how the NIV put it.  We heard from Sunday School times that it was a coat of many colors.  Whatever it was, it was an extravagant gift to give to a 17 year old but his father did not care.  He loved Joseph deeply.  Then something happened that got in the way.  Joseph had a dream.  In fact, two dreams and he told his family about them.  He was loved but he was not so bright!  

“In my dream, I saw all of you bowing down to me! Isn’t that amazing? Wow!  It was so cool!”

Not shared by his brothers.  “They hated him all the more because of his dream and of what he had said.”

You’d think he might have picked up on it with that first dream, but when he had a second dream, he still told them all about it!  This one even got his dad bent out of shape.  “What? You think your Mother and I will come and bow down before you?”  Are you crazy?  Who do you think you are?  What kind of authority do you think you have over us?

People said the same thing about Jesus, remember?  When He told them the Truth, they said about the same thing back to Him.  “Are you crazy? You think you are the Son of God or something?”  “Well, yes I am, as a matter of fact.”  “Oh yeah?  We are going to kill you and then see how that runs true to real life!”

His bothers were jealous of Joseph.  Why?  Might be because of Dad’s love to him but even more so when they saw that this Joseph had something they did not have.  He had direction.  This ‘dream thing’ gave him a sense of a future, and I believe they saw that and it made them angry.

Why should the youngest have these dreams that God was behind.  I believe they could see that God’s Hand was there!

A boy who was loved deeply! A boy who was hated deeply! A favorite son of his father.  And 10 brothers who really started to hate him. And they had a chance to change things in their family forever. They plotted to kill their brother.

Jacob told his son to go and see how the brothers were doing.  His response: “Very well.” “No problem. I’ll go!”

And when he is seen from a distance, they plotted to kill their own brother.

The dreams really had made them mad. They would not let it go. That is the fascinating thing about anger. It starts small—an offence, sometimes an unknowingly offensive remark or action. It gets planted in the heart, grows, gets bitter, and when the feelings have a chance to become physical, it erupts into rage or certainly evil actions.  We often self-talk ourselves into the pit of anger, it is never a good place to be nor is it easy to get out of that pit of anger.

It is not a sin to be angry or even to be tempted, for we read in: 

James 1:14ff  "…each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”   

These brothers ALLOWED that desire to not only to take root; they allowed it to come to full bloom. They were dragged away into their own pit. It ended with attempted murder.

Anger might be present here in our worship time at ICCS. If you have anger or bitterness in your heart RIGHT now, you will not be able to worship at all. Bitterness takes away any feelings of holiness. Anger and worship can’t co-mingle! The Holy Spirit of God can’t speak to us when we hold bitterness in our hearts. We are outside the Camp of God and only repentance for that anger and bitterness can allow us to re-enter the sanctuary of His blessings and really worship with a pure heart. If that is where you are today, you might not be even able to hear my words very well. If that’s you, check your heart and come back to the place of worship.

The brothers felt good enough about their deed that they had a meal. They broke bread together.  And while they were eating, distant relatives came by. The Ishmaelites. Ishmael was their grandfather’s brother. “Let’s give the brat to our cousins!  They could take this dreamer to Egypt and that will be the end of his dreams coming true!” After all, they really did want to kill the boy—just get rid of him.  Not much of a difference considering what slavery meant to anyone caught in it. And they sold him for 20 shekels of silver.

Slavery meant Death.  A slow death. And a death unnoticed by anyone who could be concerned.

So Joseph left the pit of gloom and entered another type of pit; the pit of human slavery. At the time of the Civil War in the US, four million slaves were forced to call America home with the population of over 31,000,000. Today, there is a reported 12 to 27 million slaves worldwide! Human trafficking is primarily for prostituting women and children into sex industries—and as young as five years of age. Egypt, with its fields of grain, felt they needed slaves to work those fields and enslaved many from all over the known world.  

The Ishmaelites sold him to someone and he found himself standing naked, in front of possible buyers.  Can’t you just imagine how he felt? A boy of 17, standing in front of total strangers and wondering what will become of himself.  Lost, away from his dear Father, in a foreign land. Not knowing the language, he could only look into the eyes or hear the tone and try to understand what the meanings were… All was lost-then he is bought by Potiphar, the captain of the guard.  His position was to punish all national prisoners with capital punishment.  He must have been a harsh sort of man who’d have such a violent job.  

Let’s stop there and consider the different situations Joseph faced and try and apply these things to our lives.  Not an easy task but well worth our time today as we look at the footprints of God on this story. 

First, God is looking for a family. God seems to work in groups, like a family, to show His plans, both to those who are in that family and for those who are on the outside looking in.  Many times, those going through the events have NO idea what is going on but God’s hand is there and with hindsight, they might be able to put it together.  God was calling a Family to follow Him. Imperfect people, but people God is willing to work with them. Some in the family were cunning, while others were cruel, while still others were kind and had a soft heart.  God was AND is looking for Families to live in.  Do you fit the bill? Are you willing to trust Him more—as we asked last week? Is your family important to God?  YES, it is! And He wants to be worshiped by your whole family to show that His Plans work in the lives of everyone He touches.

That was how it was with Jacob. Not a perfect man but a man who would be lead of God and was chosen as the leader of a clan of 12 to be focal in His plans for sending the Messiah.

••Members can teach each other Deut 6:4-9
4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
••Do not let sin effect family life  Ps 101:2
2 I will be careful to lead a blameless life— when will you come to me? I will walk in my house with blameless heart.
••Don’t bring trouble to family  Proverbs 11:29
29 He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind,
   and the fool will be servant to the wise.
••Faith is more important than family  Luke 12:51-53
51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
••Believers are members of God’s Family  Eph 2:19
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,
••Church leaders must have a good family life  1 Timothy 3:4-5 4 He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)
••Families should take care of each other  1 Timothy 5:3-4
3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.

Second, God is looking for a person. Joseph would be such a person. I have always enjoyed looking at this guy! He was SO good and nothing turned his head. Brothers who wanted him dead! Cousins who would sell him into a slave market. Working for an executioner. Being falsely accused of rape. Placed in a horrid prison.  And he kept his heart pure before the Lord and those who he served. 

Thirdly, God is showing us a shadow.  Joseph was a foreshadowing of The Christ. 

See 1 Peter 2:22  “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth.” When they hurled their insults at Him, He did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats. Instead, He trusted Himself to Him who judges justly.”

We just do not hear Joseph complain.  Not a word. His brothers sold him into slavery and we do not hear him protest!  (Overwhelmed, I am sure.)  Falsely accused of rape—not a protest.  He seemed to trust the One who gave him the dreams. His father, Jacob was a dreamer too.  Gen 28—runs in the family!  He took those communications from the God of his father as Truth. When we read and hear from God as we read our Bibles, do we put our trust in Him? Does it strengthen our fortitude! Are we strengthen in our Walk of faith!  

Another question I need to ask? Are you reading your Bibles at all?  Just once or twice a week is not doing your part in knowing Him better!  Read the Bible each day. Get a system of day to day reading and get started. If you stop, pick it back up again!  You need to be in the Word of God on a regular basis! 

Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver. 
Jesus was sold for 30.  
Joseph was sent into Egypt, so was Jesus. 
Joseph was sold into slavery-
Jesus died to set free men. 

Joseph is a great example for us as we face difficult situations. He held on to what was foundational in his Faith base youth. And so should we! 

Titus 3:5-7“He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His Mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His Grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”  

 Just what did he know of this God who takes him into places no one would want to go? We’ll hear more of that next week, when we finish this personal series of Joseph. (Please read ahead: Chapters 38~).

God is looking for such a person even today. 
Is He looking at you?