From Prison Cell to Palace

Scripture: Genesis 37:1-36, Genesis 38:1-30, Genesis 39:1-23
Lesson: 12
Jacob has twelve sons. One, Joseph, is sold into slavery by his brothers, but endures servitude and prison to become a ruler of Egypt.
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For a fresh, practical look into God's Word, join us now for "central study hour." Pastor Doug Batchelor and the pastoral team share new insights into the weekly lesson study. Receive power for practical living today. Good morning. Happy Sabbath. I'm so excited to see your smiling faces this morning.

And I'm back from india. Last week I was back physically, but I was stuck in some time zone between india and the u.s. And I feel like I'm all back now. And it's nice. It's a good feeling.

India was a life-changing experience. I cannot tell you in 2 seconds the experience that I had there. And if any of you get an opportunity to go on a trip, a mission trip to india, do it. It is--there's no words to describe it. And it was such a blessing.

And this morning I want to say special greetings to gibson and his family who are watching us from india. He is part of the maranatha team over there and it was a privilege to get to meet him and the rest of the team. So Happy Sabbath. And we're gonna sing some songs this morning, those of you who have written in. We're going to sing a favorite.

You'll find on 124 in your hymnals. This comes form pina and neth from western region, saudi arabia, peta from tonga and nathan from bursville, Minnesota. "Away in a manger," 124, all three verses... [Music] Thank you so much for picking that, 'cause that is one of my favorites. My most favorite is "silent night" and this one is my second favorite.

So thank you so much for requesting that. Our opening song this morning you'll find on 118, "the first noel," 118. This is a request from dr. Janet cynthia from tamilnadu, india, lydon Josephsky from queensland, australia and jasmine narlos from manila in the Philippines. , "The first noel," all three verses.

Oh, there's five verses, one, three, and five... [Music] Thank you for sending in another great Christmas request. Those of you that are watching live on the internet, please send in more Christmas songs. Those of you who are watching weeks delayed on the various networks, by the time you get this, it should be Christmas. And we'll only have, like, a week or so left to sing songs.

So if you hurry though, we might be able to fit it in. Go to our website at, click on the music link, and send in your Christmas songs. We want to hear from you and we want to do our best at singing as many as we can of your favorites. So please do that. Go to our website.

And we will try to get that done quickly on an upcoming Sabbath. At this time, let's bow our heads for prayer. Father in Heaven, it's another Sabbath and we're here again to worship you. And we're so thankful for the opportunity that we have to be here as a central family. And of course, our extended Sabbath school family who are joining us from across the country and around the world.

We pray that you'll be with each and every one of them as they are part of our family. And that you'll be with the speaker this morning as he brings us our lesson study. May we each listen carefully and have attentive ears and open hearts. And we thank you so much for just sharing your blessings down upon us. We have so much to be thankful for.

And at this holiday season, father, we want to thank you especially for coming to this earth so many years ago and giving us the hope of eternal life. It is a priceless gift and we thank you so much for that. And I pray that today we will be open and we will be willing to receive that gift. In Jesus' Name, amen. At this time our lesson study is going to be brought to us by our youth pastor here at central church, pastor steve allred.

Good morning. Happy Sabbath. I want to welcome all of you to Sabbath school this morning. And for our tv audience, I guess everyone here could probably call in for this too though, so not just for the tv audience. We have a free offer today.

It's offer number 174. And it's a little book here by Pastor Doug and steve wohlberg it looks like as well. And the number you can call is on the screen there, -788-3966 For this free offer. Would you pray with me once again as we open God's Word today? Heavenly Father, we thank you that you've given us this book, the Bible. And as we open it now to try to discover what you want to say to us for our lives today in a practical way, I pray that your Holy Spirit would come and speak to us through the story of Joseph.

We pray in Jesus' Name. Amen. It was January 8, 1956, and five American missionaries were speared and hacked to death by a group of auca indians in the jungles of ecuador, making headlines around the world. You remember the story? Five missionaries: jim elliot, pete fleming, ed mccully, nate saint, and roger youderian were these five young men who had gone and decided that they were going to try to reach this one tribe that was basically unreachable. In fact, this savage tribe, now known as the--let me see if I can say it right--the wuaorani tribe routinely killed any outsiders that came into their territory.

And so these five young men thought, "hey, no one's reaching these people with the Gospel. We've gotta try to do it. And so for--let me make sure I know what this--yeah, 12 weeks they would fly an airplane over the territory. And they would trail a rope, a long rope with gifts on the end of it. And so the tribesmen would come on out and they would take the gifts.

And they would even attach gifts of their own to this rope. And pretty soon they were able to learn some of the language from one of the tribal members that had escaped. And so they thought, you know, this is the perfect time. Let's go and see if we can meet these people. And so there they went.

On January 3, the group headed in and they landed on a sandbar there on the river that ran right through the center of the territory of the auca indians. They set up camp. And just a few days later, three of the tribe members came out to meet the five missionaries. And there was a friendly exchange for several hours. But just 2 days later, several warriors burst out of the jungle and killed the 5 missionaries.

And even though the missionaries had guns, they just shot them into the air, because they had agreed that rather than defend themselves; they would rather be a witness to these people. Wow. How do we make sense of stories like that? Someone that's willing to give their life in mission service and something like this happens. How do we make sense of these kinds of things in our lives? Have you had experiences--have we all had experiences where we ask God why? And we can't figure out a logical explanation. Has anyone here ever experience that? And so today the story that we're talking about here, lesson number 12 in your lesson study there, "beginnings and belongings," is the story of a man named Joseph.

And for me it's probably one of my favorite stories in the Bible. I don't know. There's something about Joseph that is incredible. I resonate with him in many ways. And so we continue the story of Jacob though, who was Joseph's father, right? And we've been studying this story and looking at Jacob's life.

Now, if you read the first page there, on my lesson quarterly it's page 137. It kind of gives us a synopsis of what has happened so far. And you can read about it. You can read about Genesis 34 there and how Jacob's daughter, dinah, was raped and defiled by one of the local--The Son of one of the rulers of shechem there. And how Jacob's sons, simeon and levi to go and make right would had been done, killed all the men of this city.

And you can read about Genesis 35 where God appears to Jacob there, and says, "come. Come up to bethel, to my house. Put away the foreign Gods." You can read about how Benjamin there was born and rachel died. You can read the story in Genesis 36 of esau's genealogy. And then we get to chapter 37.

Okay, it says, "now Israel loved Joseph," this is verse 3, "more than all of his sons, because he was The Son of his old age. And he made him a varicolored tunic." Verse 4, "his brothers saw that their father loved him," what? "More than all his brothers." And so they, what? "They hated him." What do we call this? It's called favoritism, right? And they said they hated him because he was his father's favorite, "and could not speak to him on friendly terms." Wow. And so the question we're asking is why did Joseph's brothers hate him so much. And I think it's pretty obvious, isn't it? That Joseph was daddy's little boy. Isn't that right? And he got everything he wanted.

He was a spoiled brat; I guess we could say in one sense of the word. Isn't that right? And so Joseph, verse 5, the Bible says, "then Joseph had a dream." And not only did Joseph have a dream, and you know what the dreams were, right? That Joseph, first of all, saw some sheaves of, was it grain, that were standing upright in the field. And then he looked and all the sheaves of grain started bowing down to his sheaf, right? And then he had another dream. And the other dream was that there were the sun, the moon, and 11 stars and they were all bowing down to him. I don't know how stars and the moon would bow, but they apparently did.

And not only did Joseph have these dreams though, which obviously seemed to have come from God, right? But he shared it with his brothers. Now, whether he should have done that or not I guess is debatable. But apparently, it must have aggravated the situation. Isn't that right? Because look at verse 8. It says, "then his brothers said to him, 'are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?' So they hated him," what? "Even more for his dreams and for His Words.

" And so you know the story. Not too long later, father said to Joseph, "hey, take some food. Go check on your brothers. Go see how they're doing." And so Jacob--or Joseph makes the long trip, right? To find out where his brothers are. And as they see him coming, they begin to plot.

They say, "hey, you know, this is our opportunity to get rid of this kid." Right? "He's a pain. I mean, look at. Dad gives him all the nice stuff. He's got this really cool coat. And let's get rid of him.

" Right? And as they plot to do this, one of them steps forward. And who was it who said, "wait, let's not kill him?" Who was that? Reuben. Now, they ask the question in the lesson. It was kind of interesting. They said, "what is the irony here in this situation that reuben would be the one that would step forward and defend Joseph?" What do you think the irony is? Why was that kind of interesting? What's that? Joseph actually takes reuben's place.

Joseph, okay. And probably was a threat to reuben, right? Because reuben's the oldest. He's supposed to get the, what? Birthright. Yeah. And so if Joseph is daddy's favorite, then obviously Joseph's probably gonna get it, right? And so reuben, remarkably, steps forward and says, "hey, let's not kill him.

Let's, you know, do something else." But then he kind of steps away. And so you know what happened, right? They had thrown Joseph into this pit. And as he was in the pit, they sit down to eat lunch and off in the distance they see the caravan of the midianites or the ishmaelites. These are kind of interestingly enough relatives of their grandfather Abraham or their, even their father, Isaac, that would be in. And so they decide, "hey, let's go ahead and not kill our brother, but," what? "Sell him to these people.

" You kind of wonder which would be the worse fate, right? To die or to become a slave. But they decide to sell him. And so, of course, now they've got to figure out how to cover up. And so they take the coat and they go and they dip it in the blood of a lamb that they have killed. And they take it back to their father, and they say, "dad, is this your son's coat?" And their father says, "yes, it is.

" Jacob had a history, couldn't we say, of in his family there was a pattern of deception. Isn't that right? Think back to grandpa Abraham. How many times had he used deception in his experience? Couple of times, right? Where he said, "hey, Sarah's not my wife, she's my," what? "Sister." What's another example? He did that a couple of times, didn't he? And of course, we know that there was an example there with Rebekah and Isaac where what does she--she deceived Isaac into thinking that Jacob was esau, right? And Jacob was also a partner in that deception. And we can see deception in Jacob's life and in his family history. And so the lesson in number 5 there on Sunday's lesson asks the question: "looking back over Jacob's life, in what ways might he have brought this tragedy on himself?" Interesting.

Do you--what do you think? In what ways might he have brought this tragedy on himself? Deception, possibly. But what else do you think could have brought this about? Yes, obviously it was the favoritism as well, right? And so right down at the bottom, this is a question that I want to ask you. And if we could get a microphone out here for those who'd like to answer. At the bottom of page 138 or Sunday's lesson, it says, "look how far uncontrolled sin," and in this case jealousy, right? Because the favoritism made the brothers jealous, "took these people. What message should this story have for each of us regarding where sin, unless it's dealt with, can lead?" What do you think? Is sin--what-- let's ask this question: if we decide that we're going to compartmentalize sin, right? Say, "you know what, I'm going to hold onto this little sin.

I'll push it over here to this part of my life." Right? Is it possible to contain sin ultimately? Is it possible to say, "you know what, I'm just gonna have, you know--" and we do that in our society, right? We have our spiritual life. We come to church, right? Once a week. We get dressed up, we look nice, we sit, we talk, we stand up, whatever we do; we come to church. It's our, that's part of our life, right? And then we have our work life, right? We go to work 8:00 to 5:00, :00 to 5:00, whatever. And that's another part of our lives.

And then we have our home life, right? Sometimes we compartmentalize our lives. That's very much a part of our western culture. And sometimes, I think, we think we can do the same thing with sin. But sin unfortunately is not something you can do that with. Isn't that right? Sin is like a cancer that eats away and it spreads.

And it can't be--if it's there, it's gonna spread. Isn't that right? Now, I think the story of Jacob, and I think the story of these brothers is a good example of that, because we see not only did it start with things that happened in the past and history in the family. But it also led to other things. And so in Genesis 38, the next chapter there, you know the story. Now, it's interesting because we know that at the very end of chapter 37, Joseph was taken down to where? To Egypt and he becomes part of this guy named potiphar's house, right? And he becomes a servant there.

Well, for some reason Moses, who was writing this story decided that right here, at the end of chapter 37 before we go on to the next part about Joseph's life there needed to be a story about judah and tamar. Now, we're not going to spend a lot of time here, but this is a really interesting story. Isn't it? What happened? Who was tamar? Daughter-in-law, thank you. Okay? So you know what happened. Judah had how many sons originally? I just showed you the answer.

Three, right? And the first one, he said, "hey, listen. Here, you know, this is your wife." So judah and shuah I think it was, or I'm sorry, tamar and shuah got married, right? He was a bad guy. And the Bible says that, "the Lord smote him," I think it says. Where does it say that? Yes. Right in verse 7, "but er," I'm sorry it was er, not shuah.

"But er, judah's firstborn was evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord took his life." Okay, "then judah said to onan, 'go to your brother's wife and raise up offspring for your brother.'" But he didn't want to do this. And so the Lord smote him as well, correct? And then, verse 11, judah's starting to get a little bit paranoid here, right? He's like, "man, this is not a good situation. Maybe something's wrong with this gal here." Right? "And then judah said to his daughter-in-law, tamar, 'remain a widow in your Father's house until my son shelah grows up,' for he thought, 'I am afraid that he too may die like his brothers.'" And so that's what tamar did. But judah had no intention of giving his youngest son to this lady, right? And so time passed. And you know the story, right? One day, judah, judah's wife, I think that her name was shuah, right? She dies.

And judah goes on a little trip. And he sees somebody he thinks is a prostitute. And obviously judah doesn't really think it's a big deal, right? So he thought, "yeah, I'm gonna go." And so he--and tamar, I kinda--I'm curious as to, he Bible doesn't tell us here, at least I don't see it, as to her part in this, whether she intended to be seen as a prostitute here or not. But that's what happened obviously. And so we know the story, right? Where she gets pregnant and judah says, when he finds out, stone her, right? Or burn her actually, right? Bring her out.

And she says, "hey, whose signet ring and staff are these?" And what does he say? "Oops" is right. He's like, "man." Now look at verse 26. Do we have a mic around here? Roy, you want to read that for us? Verse 26, Genesis 38:26. "And judah acknowledged them and said, 'she hath been more righteous than i, because that I gave her not to shelah my son.' And he knew her again no more." So I like--isn't this interesting? Judah, what can we at least give him credit for here? Acknowledging his sin. And you know, that is really, it's interesting today.

And I don't want to name names or anything like that. But isn't it interesting how in politics today, right, it's seemed to be a virtue to never admit that you're wrong. Isn't that right? And you know you can get up, you can say, "no, no, we didn't, we don't make mistakes, we don't--" and yet, it's a characteristic in the Bible that God over and over again says this person is a man after my own heart. Think David, right? Made mistakes, but yet he admitted he was wrong. And that, and here again, a man who did something wrong, but he at least admitted it.

Isn't that right? Nothing's wrong with saying, "hey, I made a mistake." In fact, I think it's really the only mature thing to do. And usually it's a sign that someone has at least, you know, the courage to be honest, right? And so judah, we can at least give him credit for being honest and admitting his mistake here and being humble. Now, if you turn to Matthew, I want to show you a quick, little, interesting thing here. This is just a side note. Matthew 1, because the two kids that judah had with tamar, their names were perez and zerah, interestingly enough are in the ancestry of Christ.

Isn't that interesting? At least one of them is. And in fact, judah was the one if you read Genesis chapter, was it 49? Yes, 49:10, I believe it is that it was predicted by Jacob that he would be the one who would bear, he would have the Messiah in his lineage, which is really interesting because obviously judah's past wasn't lily white. Isn't that right? And check this out. Look at Matthew 1:3, "judah was The Father of perez and zerah by tamar, perez was The Father of hezron," and so forth and so on all the way down to Christ. What does this tell us about God's rationale I guess we could say, in planning out who was going to be the forerunner of Christ? What does this tell us? What do you think? What's that? You don't have to be perfect.

Interesting. Okay. God doesn't cover up. Could God have chosen a more pure, you know ancestry, let's say than judah and perez and all these guys? I mean, that was an illegitimate child we could say, right? I mean, really it was, right? We've got perez here. And we got judah who has a problem obviously with deception.

He was also one of the chief players in betraying his brother, Joseph. Isn't that right? And he's immoral. So all of this coming together--and of course, there's others in the lineage of Christ, such as rahab, who was, her, what was her profession? And so we have other people down here as well, which is really interesting. So number 1, another thing we can notice is that Christ had a genetic makeup that included flaws. Isn't that right? Not only physical, but moral flaws apparently as well.

And we're not going to get into the whole nature of Christ thing here, because that could take a long time. But isn't that interesting that Jesus was--had ancestors like that? And so, let's go to our next page here on Tuesday's lesson. Let's go to Genesis 39. I'd like to get someone to read for us, please. Verses 1-6.

And jason, I think is ready to read now. And, Genesis 39:1-6. Yes, we're going to let jason read. "And Joseph was brought down to Egypt. And potiphar, an officer of pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, brought him of the hands of the ishmaelites 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 had 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, from the time that 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.

" Amen. Thank you. So, we're back to the story now of Joseph. A little interlude there with the story of judah and tamar, perhaps a contrast to the character and the life of Joseph, right? His brother, judah, the one who betrayed him is obviously it's contrasting his character with that of Joseph now we're going to find out in chapter 39, right. Interesting because here we are.

Joseph now he's been, you know, a basically good kid, right? Maybe spoiled, but decent kid, right? Suddenly his brothers take him and he's sold as a slave into Egypt; not a very pretty situation. And now as we're reading chapter 39 and look at verse 2. It says at the very beginning, "the Lord was," what? "With Joseph." Wow. You know, I don't know. I've read this before.

I'm just like, you know, wait a minute. Wait, wait, wait. I gotta get this here. It says, "God was with Joseph." And not only does it say it once, but it says it over and over again. And in fact, when we get down to verse 21 where Joseph now gets thrown into jail because he's been faithful to God.

I mean, really, that's why it was, right? Again, verse 21, "but the Lord was with Joseph." What in the world is this saying? I mean, how could God--is this how God reveals himself to us? Is it through trials sometimes? Wow. You know, and I guess sometimes as I'm looking at situations in other people's lives that I'm watching, or in my own life, there are times when we feel like we're going through so much that it's impossible for God to be with us, right? Where is God? Right? We ask that question. Where is God? In fact, I was just reading a book not too long ago. It's called, "night," by what's his name? Eli wiesel. I can't say his last name right probably.

You know who I'm talking about? The one from the holocaust, the Jewish writer. And he talks about as he was going, as he was in auschwitz there, and he went through all of these experiences. And on one page of his book there he asks the question, he says, "where was God?" He said, "my faith in God was consumed as I went through these experiences." He couldn't explain it. And as we look at situations like the holocaust, maybe it's something smaller in our own lives, we ask the question, "where is God?" But the story of Joseph tells us that "God is," where? "He's with us." Isn't that right? Can you say, "amen," to that? God is with us. And so here we have Joseph.

I mean, from Joseph's perspective, things went from bad to worse and later on they're going to get even worse. Isn't that right? But God was where? He was with Joseph. It's interesting there on Tuesday's lesson it talks about how--it has a little paragraph from Ellen white there in "Patriarchs and Prophets." If you haven't read that chapter along with this lesson, you should do that. It's a really, really interesting chapter. It says, "for a while the teenager, he was only 17 years old, gave himself up to uncontrolled grief and terror, but eventually he decided," he decided, that "you know what, listen, I'm gonna go ahead and I am going to stand for God.

" And Ellen white makes this interesting little statement there. She says that "in just a few minutes, Joseph learned more than he could have learned in years," in just a few minutes. Isn't that the way trials are sometimes? You know, we can be coasting along through life, everything's hunky-dory, right? And suddenly we have a big, big situation. And I just was talking to a friend this week. And this guy has been through-- you can use a lot of words to describe what he's been through the last 3 years.

It's just been crazy. And he was telling, sharing with me this week. He said, "you know what," and actually I took someone else to meet with him as well. And he was sharing. He said, "you know what? I wouldn't trade, though, that last 3 years for the peace that I have now.

" He's learned more in that terrible tumultuous 3 years than he could have learned probably otherwise. Now, we don't seek trials out. We don't, you know, say, "oh yeah, give me some more trials, God." But when God allows us to go through them, God's doing something. Isn't that right? And so Joseph decided he was going to stand up for God. Now, the interesting question here, let me ask it to you folks.

From Joseph's past, or at least what we know of it, what indication was there that Joseph was going to stand firm for God like this? I mean, a spoiled kid, right? Is there any indication in his past that he was gonna be like, be strong for God like this? I don't know. And in fact, we know what happened next, right? So Joseph gets a little bit older here. Verse 7, or verse 6, it says, "now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance." And after, of course, verse 7 there it says, "it came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph, and said, 'lie with me.' But he refused." And then here's our memory verse, "and he said, 'behold, with me here my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he puts all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than i, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife.'" And then these words, incredible words, "how then could I do this great evil and sin against," who? "God." Wow. You know, it's one thing, isn't it, to-- we can all impress other people at times.

Isn't that right? It's one thing, you know, in our own lives to say, "you know what? I'm gonna be good because," you know, "for my parents," or "for my husband or wife." Or it'd be a good example, "my kids." Right? Those are all good things. But when it comes right down to it, that doesn't hold up under every circumstance, does it? Because, you know, we always think, "I can get away with this, right?" No one's gonna see. But Joseph realized there was one who saw everything, first of all, right? And even if he couldn't see, he knew that there was only one that he really wanted to be faithful to ultimately and that was God. Right? This is the ultimate motivation I think right here. This is the place that God wants to bring us all to, isn't it? How could I do this great wickedness and sin against God? Wow.

And so if we contrast Joseph here with judah, what do we have? A little different picture, right? I mean, Joseph, think about his family's past. You know, reuben also had a problem with lust. And there were others in his past that apparently had problems in this area as well. And so Joseph wasn't some little, you know, what could we say? You know, perfect little kid who had no temptations, right? He obviously--this was not necessarily just a non-issue for him. And think about it.

Think of the benefits if he had committed adultery with potiphar's wife, I mean, you know, maybe, obviously a lot better than if he refused. Isn't that right? From a human perspective. But Joseph decided he was going to be true to God. And so, and let's just put this all together for a second. Let's go back.

Seventeen years old, you know, you've been going along, life's been good. You know, you've been faithful to God as much as you know, right? Suddenly, you're very own flesh and blood, your brothers decide that they're going to do the ultimate cruel thing and sell you as a slave. Okay? Seventeen years old. That's the time in life when most people are the most insecure, you need the most affirmation, right? All those things. Seventeen years old.

Gets taken to Egypt. He's put in as a slave. And he decides, "you know, I'm gonna be faithful to God." And so he's faithful to God and God blesses him. And so as he's thinking, "you know, I've been faithful to God. the Lord's blessing me.

Suddenly another temptation comes along. And now he has a choice. Is he gonna be true to this God who's allowed all these other bad things to happen to him and possibly die? And Joseph decides he's going to. And now things go from all of this down to where? Prison. Probably a lot of us, if we were Joseph at this point, I'm wondering, "what would I do?" You know what I'm saying? Would I have been faithful all along? And so Joseph, you know what he does? He goes to prison now.

And you know what happened. Verse 21, so, actually verse 20, "so Joseph's master took him and put him in the jail, the place where the King's prisoners were confined. And he was there in the jail." Again, "but the Lord was with Joseph." And the thing that strikes me about this, I don't know, is that through all of this Joseph had no clue what was going on. Isn't that right? I mean, did Joseph know that at the end of this he was going to become prime minister of Egypt? Did he know that that somehow at all of this stuff, God was working out his purpose? He didn't, did he? And so how many of you are going through trials in your life right now? Anybody here. Do you know the reasons why you're going through all those experiences? We don't sometimes.

But I think we can ask ourselves the question, is God--does God have a plan for my life? And I'm gonna finish up a story here at the end that I think that's gonna kind of bring that all home to us hopefully. Wow. And so they ask the question, , page 142, your Tuesday's lesson. How could God be with him when so many bad things were happening? Again, because God was working out his purpose. Can I get someone to read for us Genesis 45:8, 45:8? 'Kay, Michael right up here.

Can we get a microphone over here? Right here. Genesis 45:8 and I want to read this paragraph, as the mic's coming up here, at the bottom of Tuesday's lesson. It says, "one thing is clear. Problems and trials are no indication that God has forsaken anyone. Say "amen" to that.

You know, sometimes I think even today we're a little bit like the pharisees. And we see someone who's really down and out and we think it's maybe an indication of God's disfavor sometimes. Isn't that right? Uh, maybe not. But sometimes I think we do. But problems and trials are not an indication, I think either way, that God is with or not with someone.

And I like this. It says, "Joseph was unable to understand the providence of God." He didn't know why all of this was happening to him. He didn't have the story. The end of the story that we have now. But look what happened later.

Genesis 45:8: "so now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and he has made me a father to pharaoh, and Lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt." And so Joseph comes to the conclusion. Who's he talking to here by the way? His brothers, right? This is after the, you know, the whole thing. The drama kind of concludes here. He says, "it was not you who sent me," but what? But God. Interesting.

Going on. Asking another question. "Joseph's true character," this is in the teacher's quarterly, "emerges in extreme adversity." It reminds me kind of of, you've heard the story of the canary, right? They put the canary in the dark, they cover the little cage with a you know, whatever, sheet or something. And it's only when the canary gets enough time in the dark that when you take it off the canary starts to what? To sing. Is that true? Anyone here have canaries that they've experienced that with? And you know what, I was looking at these poinsettia plants.

You know poinsettias it's kind of the same way. Isn't that right? As I understand it, I used to-- I stayed with a family one time that they grew poinsettias. And they said that you have to have a certain amount of dark time. And if they get any light during that time, what happens? They won't bloom. You know, I don't know how that applies, but I'm thinking sometimes in our lives, does God have to allow us to go through the dark periods? And only then do we reach our full potential.

What would have happened if Joseph had never gone, let's say to jail? Would he ever have become prime minister? You know, we don't really know, do we? What do you think? His family would have starved to death. Wow. 'Cause it was only in jail that he met what? The butler and the baker. Isn't that right? And then the butler went back and said, "hey, by the way--" so, interesting; does God allow us to go through trials to meet our full potential? I want to read a little statement to you here. It's actually on the--if you take our your bulletin, it's on this green piece of paper, "the youth news.

" On the back of that, check this out. I pulled this out of "Patriarchs and Prophets," the chapter there on Joseph. And it makes a really interesting point here. First of all, up in the very top part of the, the very beginning of the statement it says, "but Joseph's real character shines out even in the darkness of the dungeon." Now going on down to the second paragraph there. It says, "Joseph gradually gained the confidence of the keeper of the prison.

And was finally entrusted with the charge of all the prisoners. It was the part he acted in the prison," listen to this, "the integrity of his daily life and his sympathy for those who were in trouble and distress that opened the way for his future prosperity and honor." Isn't that interesting? It was the part he acted in the prison that eventually opened the way. And in fact, she makes the point later on here; she says that, "it's oftentimes on the pinnacle of success that people fall." Isn't that right? But she said, "with Joseph it wasn't that way." Because Joseph had gone through such a dark valley I guess we could say, that by the time he got to the pinnacle of success, he knew how to deal with himself basically. Right? Now check this out. It says, "every ray of light that we shed upon others is reflected upon ourselves.

Every kind and sympathizing word spoken to the sorrowful, every act to relieve the oppressed and every gift to the needy, if prompted by a right motive will result in blessing to the giver." And so, if we're going through trials, what's the most practical thing that we can do? Pray. What else? Trust. And when we don't feel like trusting, I don't know about you, sometimes I don't feel like it. I say, "you know what, God, I don't even know why you're doing this." Hey, we want to know why, right? At least I do. What did Joseph do? He just kept doing what was right.

Isn't that right? Just kept doing the little things that were right. And sometimes that's all you can do. At least in my life, I've experienced that before where you feel so, you know, just discouraged, maybe disillusioned that all you can do is take one more step. Isn't that right? All you can do is say, "you know what? I'm just going to do what I know is right, the very next step. I don't know what's around the corner, but let's do what's right.

And so we go on in our story of Joseph here to chapter 40. And we're gonna look real quick at this story and then finish up with some thoughts here about how Joseph became prime minister. So you know what happened. Joseph is in prison. And let's get someone to read for us, okay over here.

Andrew, Genesis 40:6-8, let's read this story about what happened in prison. Remember it's the cupbearer and the baker now who we're talking about. "And Joseph came in unto them in the morning and looked upon them, and behold they were sad. And he asked pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his Lord's house, saying, 'wherefore look ye so sadly today?' And they said unto him, 'we have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it.' And Joseph said unto them, 'do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them, I pray you.'" Thank you. This is the story and we know it.

But what do you see about Joseph's character here, that we just kind of talked about here that stands out? Okay, what's that? Compassion. Okay. What's that? Empathy. Okay. What else? So he's compassionate towards these guys.

Before that though, what brought him to that place? He what? Acknowledge God, okay. Trust. You know, one of the things that's interesting here is that Joseph was--it kind of strikes me that he noticed that fact that they were sad. Isn't that true? I think sometimes, in my life I know I need to be more observant of how people are feeling. Because sometimes I think we rush through our lives, at least I do, and we miss people that are really, really hurting.

Isn't that true? And they need someone like Joseph to come and say, "hey, what's wrong? What's wrong?" You know and allow God to use you to encourage them. So this is a lesson to me. It's like, here's Joseph. You know, obviously this was preparing him as well to act a part later on in the important task that he was going to be doing. Isn't that right? And he showed that he wasn't so preoccupied with himself or with what he was doing that he neglected to observe other people's--yeah.

Compassion. I like that. So he had this attitude of trying to help other people. And so here we go. Going on down we find out that in verses 14 and 15 look what happens here.

As Joseph interprets the dream, he then adds these words at the end. He says, "only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to pharaoh, and get me out of this house." What do you think of that? What do you think? I mean, honestly, should we? And look what happens here. Joseph says, look at verse 15. He even justifies his statement. He says, "for I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews; and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me in this dungeon.

" Was he speaking truth here? So how should Christians deal with situations where we have been unjustly treated? Is this an example for us? Okay. So he says, when, when--you think he was trying to teach him and when he had learned it that's when God said, "okay, it's time that you can go." So obviously there's a-- interesting, it's interesting. 'Cause on one hand we have God's sovereignty, which overrules everything. On the other hand, though, we have a part to play. Isn't that correct? We could think of probably hundreds of stories in the Bible where you know, what would have happened if Noah had said, for example, "I'm not going to raise my hammer.

I'm just going to see if the ark comes together." Right? Well, never would have happened, right? It's kind of a cheesy example. But you know, examples here where--and now, what did actually happen here? Did the butler remember Joseph? Not right away. It was actually something that took place. But again, I like your point. Joseph did his part.

And then it was at the time when God--when everything was right, that God said, "all right, this is perfect." Right? You know, I don't know. Again, we have to leave things in God's hands. We don't always know why. We don't always know when. We don't always know all the reasons behind what's happening to us.

But little statement here I want to share with you. Listen to this. Worry is one option. Isn't that right? We can worry. We can say, "God, I don't know why this is happening to me.

So I'm gonna try to think of--" and we forget that we do our part and then we have to leave the results with who? With God. Isn't that right? So listen to this little statement. It says, "worry is blind." Did you know that? Worry is blind. Just imagine that I was gonna do this little illustration with you today, but I didn't know if it would work so well with adults so we do this with kids. But I thought we'd bring someone up here and blindfold them.

Okay. They're--we're going to name them "worry," okay. And over here we bring someone else up. And we blindfold them and that's just us, right? We're all kind of blind. Jesus said that we need him to guide us and give us sight.

Isn't that right? So now let's just say that we've got "worry," who's blind leading us who are blind as well, right? How well is that going to go? Not too well. And so who's the only one who can actually lead us? Listen to this. It says, "but Jesus sees the end from the beginning." He's the only one who can lead us. Isn't that right? If we're following worry, we're following a false prophet. Did you know that? Because worry doesn't know the future.

Only Jesus can predict the future and he's the only one who has the truth, right? And then it says, "in every difficulty he has his way prepared to bring relief." And I like this. This is in "Desire of Ages," page 330, it says, "our Heavenly Father has a thousand ways to provide for us of which we know," what? "Nothing." I mean, that's pretty deep. Now I don't know if that's just a little hyperbole there, a thousand ways. I don't know. I think it's true though.

A thousand ways to provide for us of which we know nothing. Then it says this: "those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish and a clear path made before their feet." And so God says, "listen. If you put me first, that's the one thing that's the most important." Isn't that right?" And so winding things up here today, let's go to where it talks about Joseph's release here. Could someone read for us Genesis 41:16? Okay, right here. We have a volunteer.

Genesis 41:16. And actually before we get there so you know what happens. Actually read verse 14 for us. "Then pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to pharaoh." Here he is. Suddenly things change.

You ever have things happen like this in your life, where everything's just going along, you think, "man, I'm never gonna get out of this situation." And then just bam, just like that, God changes things around. Isn't that amazing? Can God do that? And so Joseph went from being the lowest, not only was he a slave, now he was a prisoner and accused of a horrible crime, at the bottom of the totem pole so to speak. And now suddenly he's prime minister of Egypt. He's potiphar's boss by the way, right? I always kind of liked that part. I don't know it just kind of seemed funny.

Potiphar's wife's boss too, you know, so here's Joseph. Suddenly he becomes prime minister of Egypt. You know the story. He comes in before pharaoh and pharaoh says, "I heard," verse 15, "'I have had a dream, no one can interpret it. And I have heard about you that you can hear a dream and interpret it,' and Joseph answered and said, 'it is not with me--'" verse 16, "God will give pharaoh a favorable answer.

" You see all of this time something had been happening in Joseph's life. We can call it humility, right? I mean, this is the product of it at least, humility. And Joseph realized that it wasn't about him. It was about God. And sometimes I think we have to go through experiences like that before we get to this place as well.

Isn't that right? I mean, I can look back in my life and man, when I was a teenager, I was a cocky little teenager. I thought I was really cool and all this kind of stuff. You know what I'm saying? And I was like, "yeah, I'm gonna do this and that and the other." And God had to take me and he's still taking me, but he had to take me through experiences that really humbled me before I was able to even do anything for him. And he's gotta do that with all of us I think. You know what I'm saying? And he's still working on us, right? But look what happens here.

You know the story right? He relates his dream. And Joseph says to pharaoh, "hey, listen. This is what's going to happen." And pharaoh said, "wow. This is exactly-- this makes sense." Right? And you know what happened. This is interesting too.

Check this out. Verse 33, "now let pharaoh look for a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact /5 of the produce of the land of Egypt in the 7 years of abundance.'" And so on and so forth. And basically he says, "hey listen. Set somebody up to do all this stuff.

" Right? Another question they ask: do you think Joseph was kind of angling for a job himself here? What do you think? No. Yes. It's an interesting question. I don't know why they had to ask that, but it is an interesting question. Again, do God's people ever, you know, help God out I guess you could say in this area.

I don't know. It kind of made me think, "well, I don't know if Joseph actually would have done that." I don't really, I don't get the feeling that he was trying to set himself up. I think he was just trying to offer advice to the King and say, "hey, listen. This is the best thing you can do." And pharaoh said, "hey, by the way, I think that you're probably the best guy for it." Right? And God used him there of course to do that. Now, obviously what happened there, it says, "now Joseph was years old.

" How many years between when he became a slave and now? Thirteen years. We don't know exactly how much of this time he was in prison, how much of the time he was a slave. But he had been, I mean, years, going through this trial. Incredible. And now suddenly he is the prime minister.

It gives me a sense that when my life is not going the way I think it should, when I see someone else's life not going the way that it should, that God is still there. Can you say "amen" to that? God has not forgotten about us. And so to finish up this story here that I shared with you to begin with, the story about jim elliot and the five missionaries there to the auca indians. There they were. Their wives now and their little kids all realized that their husbands who had gone to be missionaries to this tribe, they were gone.

But you know what they did? Instead of leaving ecuador, three of them stayed after their husband's deaths. And not only did they stay, but they began to learn the language of this tribe that had killed their husbands. And eventually they began to translate portions of the new testament into this tribe's language. And one day someone else came from the tribe and escaped. And they decided that they were going to go back with this lady and become missionaries to this tribe.

And the ministry of these women resulted in a remarkable change in this 250-person tribe, some anthropologists said it was the "most violent tribe ever encountered." In fact, the homicide rate within the tribe was more than %. In this little 250-person tribe, the killings stopped. Stopped. And God was able to use those ladies. Today, there are ,000 wuaorani indians and 1/3 of them are Christian.

Jim elliot, the husband, of elizabeth elliot, one of the ladies who went back to that tribe had said this before his death. He had said, you probably heard those words before, he said, "he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to," what? "To gain what he cannot lose." And I think of Joseph. He is no fool to give his life to God, right? To give your devotion, your 100%. You know when temptation comes, say, "no, I'm gonna stand for God." When you're tempted to be discouraged and throw in the towel, "no, I'm gonna stand for God." He is no fool, she is no fool, who gives what they cannot keep. Because you just say, you know what? Your life really isn't your own anyway, to gain what you cannot lose.

Isn't that right? So how many of you today want to say, "I want to be like Joseph?" Just want to offer the little book here called, "spiritual Israel," once again to you. Call on in and get this book. It's a great book. The number is 866-788-3966. And we will send this book to you for free.

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