The following is from a November 29, 2022 article on A Texas woman who was kidnapped as a baby more than 50 years ago has been reunited with her family members thanks to a home DNA testing kit. Melissa Highsmith was just 22 months old when a babysitter allegedly kidnapped her from her parents’ Fort Worth apartment in August 1971, according to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. Highsmith's mother, Alta Apantenco, who was working as a waitress at the time, placed an ad in a local newspaper to find childcare for her daughter. After a woman answered the ad, Mrs. Apantenco hired her without meeting her first. The woman allegedly took her daughter and never returned. Alta, and her husband, Jeffrie Highsmith, and her family members spent the next five decades searching for the missing child, even turning to social media in the digital age by creating a Facebook page called “Finding Melissa.” After a recommendation from a genealogist, the family decided to use the home DNA testing kits Ancestry and 23andMe in an effort to track down Melissa. The idea worked: A promising DNA match turned up on 23andMe. Melissa Highsmith's sister Victoria told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth that the DNA matched samples from Melissa Highsmith’s children. Her parents then provided their own DNA samples. Within three weeks, the Highsmiths were reunited with their long-lost daughter, now age 53. “It was like, ‘Boom, boom, boom,’ we found her,” Victoria Highsmith said. “I couldn’t stop crying. I was overjoyed and I’m still walking around in a fog trying to comprehend that my sister is right in front of me and that we found her,” she added. “It’s a Christmas miracle! It’s amazing meeting her. It was like looking into myself; she looks like me, like us. She’s overjoyed to be in our lives.” According to NBC Dallas-Fort Worth, Melissa Highsmith, who grew up believing her name was Melanie, lived most of her life in Fort Worth and had no idea she had been kidnapped. A spokesperson for 23andMe told NBC News that the company had never heard of an account like this one. “There are really no words to describe how incredible this story is. We are so grateful Melissa and her family were able to reunite after such a long period of time, and we wish them all the best in getting to know one another.”

This morning we are going to see another family reunion with a similar theme. It’s been twenty-two years since Joseph’s brothers kidnapped him and sold him into slavery. Their father was shown his bloody robe and thinking he had been killed by a ferocious animal, had no hope of ever seeing him again. Over the past several weeks we have followed the story as Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt looking to buy grain during the worldwide famine. They unknowingly encountered their brother, who was now the second-in-command of Egypt. The brothers were put through a series of tests, by God through Joseph, to remind them and convict them of their sin and bring them to repentance. These tests have reminded them of their guilt believing that God was punishing them for what they had done to their brother. Last week, Judah made an impassioned plea to take Benjamin’s place as Joseph’s slave. Judah showed how much he cared for his father, wanting to keep him from having to deal with the loss of another favored son. Judah, as the spokesperson for himself and his brothers, proved that they had changed and were sorry for what they had done to Joseph all those years ago. This morning we will see a family reunited with embracing, kissing and tears made possible because Joseph had forgiven his brothers for what they had done to him and because his brothers had repented of their sin against him. They were able to be reconciled and have true fellowship with each other once again, which brings us to the big idea this morning that Forgiveness and repentance bring reconciliation and fellowship. When we are willing to forgive and repent, we can be reconciled and have true fellowship with other human beings. And when we repent of our sins God forgives us and we can be reconciled and have true fellowship with our heavenly father.

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, as we open your Word today, give us wisdom and insight from your Holy Spirit. Help us to grow in love for you and your Word and in wisdom and knowledge. Give us a heart for all your creation as we navigate our everyday lives on this earth you have placed us on. Help us to fall deeper in love with you as we surrender our lives to you and follow your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

There are three points this morning. The first is Pardoning Grace found in Genesis 45:1-4 and 14-15. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it. Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

As I already mentioned, Judah makes an impassioned plea on behalf of his father. He refers to him fourteen times in a loving and caring manner at the end of chapter 44. “Simply, Judah so feels for his father that he begs to sacrifice himself for a brother more loved than himself.” (Sternberg). Joseph realizes that what he has hoped for has come true. His brothers have changed. Judah is willing to become a slave to Joseph in Benjamin’s place and they care for their father, not wanting to see him hurt anymore. They have also seemingly treated Benjamin differently than they treated Joseph and there is repentance for what they had done to him. Speiser says, “Joseph’s brothers have passed a critical test which is all the more revealing since they did not know they were being tested.” That’s important, isn’t it? This showed that a true transformation had taken place in his brother’s lives. Once Joseph was convinced of their transformation, he could no longer control his emotions. In order to keep this a private family matter, he commands his Egyptian attendants to leave, and he reveals himself to them. Joseph is so overcome with emotion that he weeps tears of joy and love because he could now be reunited with his family. He wept so loudly that the Egyptians in his household, outside the room, could hear him and the news of his weeping even reached Pharoah’s household.

Joseph tells his brothers that he is their long-lost brother. He then asked them if his father was still living. This question showed his compassion toward his brothers. He didn’t want them to feel more guilty about what they had done to him, so he directed their thoughts to their father, not focusing them on himself or what they had done to him. Now this question about his father may seem strange because right before the feast in chapter 43 he had asked if his father was still living, and they answered that he was alive and well. And Joseph knows they never made it back home before being stopped and questioned about the silver cup. But this time he asks about “my father” as opposed to “your father.” He didn’t want to know literally if his father was alive or not because they had already told them he was. He wanted to know all the intimate details about his father that he had missed in the last twenty-two years.

His brothers are stunned by this revelation and are left speechless. They are terrified of him because if this is really their brother that they sold into slavery and if he is really the second-in-command of Egypt, they are terrified that he will have his revenge against them. Their guilt is brought to the surface again. Joseph, seeing the panic in their faces, tells them three things to encourage them. First, he tells them to “come close to him” so they would feel more at ease. This was in the plural meaning all his brothers. They may have been reluctant at first because Egyptians and Hebrews didn’t have close intimate contact, but he needed them to see that he was sincere and that he was one of them. Second, as they came closer to him, he again tells them that he is Joseph, and adds that he is their brother. Third, he qualifies his previous statement that he is “the one you sold into Egypt.” He didn’t do this to make them feel more guilty but to further identify who he was. This would prove who he was because no one else would have that particular information.

Moving down to verses 14 and 15, we see the pardoning grace that Joseph extended to them. He started with his full brother Benjamin. He embraced him and wept over him. And Benjamin reciprocated by embracing him and weeping over Joseph as well. He then kissed all his brothers and wept over them. His weeping showed them this was not a trap and that he held no resentment, bitterness, or grudge toward them. He had already forgiven them, and they didn’t need to feel guilty or be afraid anymore. Lastly, they were able to fellowship together and even speak to one another, which was important. Genesis 37:4 says that his brothers hated him so much that they couldn’t speak a kind word to him. Now that Joseph had forgiven them and they had repented, they could be a family again, being reconciled and enjoying fellowship together. (BIG IDEA).

Our second point this morning is Preserving Grace found in verses 5-8. This is what God’s Word says, “And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.”

Joseph didn’t want his brothers to be distressed, meaning grieved, and he didn’t want them to be angry with themselves for selling him into slavery. There was no reason for them to keep feeling guilty for what they had done to him because God was in control, and it was part of his plan all along. He mentions four times that God was behind the events of his life. In God’s preserving grace he sent Joseph to Egypt ahead of his family to save lives. This was why Joseph was sold into slavery and rose to second-in-command of Egypt. This was why God gave him the knowledge of the seven-year famine and the plan to save Egypt, Canaan and the world from starvation. The famine has been in effect for two years and there will still be five more years of no significant harvesting taking place. Yes, the brothers hated Joseph and sold him into slavery, but God used their hatred to further his plan to preserve a remnant on the earth and save their lives by a great deliverance.

This great deliverance speaks to this present saving and the future saving of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. It also speaks of the future coming of Jesus, the Messiah. Joseph’s family, who would become God’s chosen people, were the remnant from the earth, that would deliver the world from death and sin through their descendant, Jesus Christ. Jesus would save lives by a great deliverance by dying on a cross for the sins of the entire world and resurrecting on the third day. This was why God made Joseph father to Pharaoh, meaning he was Pharaoh’s advisor, and made him lord over his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. It was to fulfill his plan and purpose to save the world. It was the sovereignty and providence of God that sent Joseph to Egypt not his brothers. We don’t know exactly when in Joseph’s journey he realized the hand of God in his life but when he did, he was able to extend forgiveness to his brothers for what they had done to him.

Sometimes I believe that we don’t give God enough credit for what he is doing in our lives and in the world. We feel like we are in total control of our lives, and he is not influencing us at all. Now do not get me wrong. We are not puppets to God the puppet-master. We still have free will and can make our own decisions. And we still have a human responsibility for our actions. But I can fully testify that God’s hand has been all over my life from the day of my birth and he has directed my paths even as I have sinned against him. I believe that he still does every single day and wouldn’t want it any other way. I also I think we are fearful and anxious about what is going on in our lives and the world because we feel God doesn’t really care about us. We don’t fully believe that he loves us and wants to be in fellowship and in relationship with us. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Matthew 10:29-31 says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

When we realize that God loves us, wants a genuine relationship with us and wants to move in our lives we can truly have fellowship with him and an abundant life on this earth following his will. When we totally surrender our whole lives to him, we will see the events of our lives in a different way and will be able to go through life with hope and peace instead of fear and anxiety. Maybe you struggle for some reason with these concepts this morning that God loves you, cares for you, and wants to be in fellowship and relationship with you. Maybe you struggle with the idea of God’s sovereignty and providence in your life or in the world. That brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card which is to totally surrender to God, embracing his love and care for me and his sovereignty and providence in my life.

Our third point is Promised Grace found in verses 9-13. This is what God’s Word says, “Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

Joseph tells his brothers to hurry to Canaan and bring their father and their families back to Egypt. But he realizes that Jacob may have a few problems with this message from his sons. First, Jacob will probably not want to leave the Promised Land. He did that once before at the urging of his mother after Esau threatened to kill him and he ended up being gone for twenty years. Now that he is again living in the Promised Land that God gave his grandfather Abraham as his inheritance, why would he leave? Canaan is where he is supposed to be. Joseph’s brothers will need to make a compelling argument for Jacob to realize his need to leave Canaan and that God’s hand is in it. They are to tell their father about the honor that God has given Joseph. He is lord of all Egypt and because of that he has a place for them to live. “Part of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:3), especially the promise of a great name, was being fulfilled in Jacob’s son, Joseph, because God had made him lord of all Egypt.” (Gangel & Bramer).

In Goshen, Jacob, his children, his grandchildren, their flocks and herds and all they have can be comfortable and safe. Goshen was the best of the land and was unpopulated because it was reserved for royalty. They would also be able to be near Joseph and would not lack for anything. He promised to provide for them for the remaining five years of famine and he could make this promise because God put him right where he needed to be, right when he needed to be there. They were also to tell their father that if he didn’t come down to Egypt his household and all who belong to him would become destitute. During times of famine families would have to mortgage their lands and even sell themselves and their family into slavery causing them to become destitute. Joseph didn’t want this for his family.

Second, Jacob may not believe them that Joseph was alive. He would probably be a little skeptical. Joseph’s brothers were going to have to do a hard thing. They were going to have to tell their father that Joseph didn’t die but that they had sold him into Egypt. Then they would be able to testify that they had seen him with their own eyes, and had heard him with their own ears. Joseph had sent everyone out in verse one including the interpreter, so he has been speaking Hebrew to his brothers during this whole time. This was evidence that he was truly their brother. Joseph singles out Benjamin because their father would more readily take his word for it, being Joseph’s full brother by the same mother. All of this would be compelling evidence for Jacob to believe that Joseph was still alive. Lastly, Joseph tells them again to tell their father about all the honor, status and power, he has in Egypt and that they have seen this with their own eyes. He finishes with “bring my father down quickly.” This reunion with his brothers has been sweet, especially with Benjamin but now what he really wants is to be reunited with his father. He thought he would never see his father again and Jacob thought he was dead all these years but now a full family reunion can be had, and fellowship can be rekindled because there has been forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation. (BIG IDEA).

Before I close this morning, I want to pass on four principles of forgiveness we can glean from these last couple of chapters. One, forgiveness should be done privately. Matthew 18:15 says, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Second, forgiveness should be given freely and unconditionally. We may ask how can this be done when someone has hurt us or wronged us badly? Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” We must forgive others because we have been forgiven by God. Three, forgiveness seeks correction and restoration of the offender. Too many times restoration never happens because either the offended or the offender doesn’t want it or doesn’t think it’s important. Reconciliation and restoration are what can bring us back into fellowship and relationship. Four, forgiveness must be permanent and not brought up again. It may not be humanly possible to forget the sin perpetrated against us but in order to have true forgiveness and reconciliation, once the offense if repented of and forgiven, you must live and act like you have forgotten it in order to have fellowship with that person.

A father and his teenage son had a stormy relationship. So the son ran away from home. His father began a journey in search of his rebellious son. Finally in Madrid, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in the newspaper. The ad read, “Dear Paco, meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you, Your father.” The next day at noon in front of the newspaper office eight hundred “Pacos” showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness and love from their fathers. Joseph didn’t require that his brothers make the first move in seeking forgiveness. Even before their repentance Joseph had treated them generously and graciously when he had every right to treat them with bitterness and vengeance. He wanted to be reconciled. Once he knew their hearts were ready, he revealed the truth to them. He held nothing against them but desired to hold them close and to see his father again.

Our families and churches are full of many broken relationships that beg to be mended. But reconciliation requires the conviction that something is wrong, the confession of that wrong, and forgiveness offered and accepted. So what are you prepared to do to repair the broken relationships in your life? Are you willing to take the first step? What is your desire – to be vindicated or to be reconciled? May we be like Joseph, seeking reconciliation. That brings us to our final next step this morning, which is to forgive and seek reconciliation in the broken relationships in my life.

As the praise team comes to lead us in a final song and the ushers prepare to collect the tithes and offerings, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank you this opportunity to be in your house with your people learning from your Word. Help us to be willing to surrender our lives to you. Help us to embrace your love and care for us and your sovereignty and providence in our lives. And I pray that we would be willing to forgive other first seeking reconciliation in the broken relationships in our lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Change of Heart

(Genesis 44:1-34)



“‘Be sure your sin will find you out,’ Numbers 32:23 tells us. But in the case of this story, we could also say ‘Be sure your Cheetos will find you out.’ During the early morning hours of January 6, 2013, county deputies were called to the Cassatt Country Store in Cassatt, South Carolina to investigate a burglary. The deputies determined that someone had broken into the store and stolen beer, cigarettes, snack foods, and energy drinks. The burglar only stole $160 worth of goods, but caused about $2,500 in damages.


The store manager, Howard ‘Buck’ Buckholz, said, ‘He knocked out our front door, he knocked out the beer cooler, and stole beer, cigarettes, Slim Jims, and in his haste, he punctured two or three bags of Cheetos.’ That was the burglar's undoing. Buckholz said, ‘Cheetos were all over the parking lot, at the place where he parked his car, and at the residence.’ The police followed the trail of cheesy dust right to the house where the burglar was staying with a friend. As investigators approached the front door of the home, they observed more fresh Cheetos on the front porch. Buckholz added, ‘He was very easy to catch. It was a very quick deal.’”


Source: Kevin Dolak, "Trail of Cheetos Leads to Store Robber," ABC News (1-19-13).





  • ME

    • Change of mind about communicating our financial standing

        • When my boys were younger and they would ask if we could buy a certain item, my go-to answer was always, “we don’t have the money to buy that.”

        • I always thought that was a good answer, but it left our boys thinking we were poor

        • When our oldest son was college age, he read a book about finances and the author said something profound that he shared with Judy and I

        • The author said that instead of saying, “we don’t have the money for that,” we should said, “we are choosing not to spend our money on that.”

        • I wish I had read that book before I started telling the boys that we didn’t have the money

        • We actually had the money, but it was in savings and we were choosing not to spend it on that item

        • It would have helped them to understand that we were not poor

        • We are frugal, but not poor

        • We are not wealthy, but God has provided

    • Change of heart

        • Over the years God has changed my heart as it pertains to His plan, purpose, and timing

        • In the past, I would fight like crazy to try to accomplish something, even when barriers kept preventing me from doing so

        • By God’s grace, I more readily acknowledge that something may not be God’s timing when I can’t seem to accomplish what I would like

        • I’ve learned to trust Him for His timing, plan, and purpose

        • It took many years of heartache and wasted time, on my part, to have a change of heart to trust God always


  • WE

    • Every one of us can probably recall a time in our lives when we had a change of heart

        • Take a moment to reflect on one of those times

        • Perhaps it was about an individual (teacher, coworker, neighbor, friend, family member, fellow church attender)

        • Maybe the change of heart took place concerning a restaurant or other business

        • As a follower of Jesus Christ, we have all experienced a change of heart from rebellion to repentance


Joseph continued to test his brothers to see if they had a change of heart. ​​ Twenty-two years before, they were dealing with selfishness, jealousy, envy, and anger at the favoritism shown to Joseph. ​​ Have they grown? ​​ Have they been transformed? ​​ How would they react to Benjamin being the favored son? ​​ Would they stand by him and protect their father’s feelings, or would they abandon him and watch their father fall deeper into despair and probably death? ​​ What we will see today are hearts transformed by God. ​​ We will learn that . . .


BIG IDEA – God transforms our heart.


Let’s pray


The titles for the main points and sub points came from Wiersbe’s Commentary. ​​ I could not top his alliteration, so I am giving him credit today.


  • GOD (Genesis 44:1-34)

    • Confrontation (vv. 1-13)

        • Overjoyed

          • Joseph’s brothers had a lot to be joyful about

            • They were not arrested for stealing the grain money, but were told that God had given them treasure in their sacks

            • Simeon had been released from prison

            • Benjamin had been safe during their travels

            • They were getting ready to leave for home

            • They were feasting and drinking freely with the ruler of Egypt (Gen. 43:34)

            • The ruler of Egypt was sending them home with sacks full of grain

          • What they did not realize was this was all a façade

          • Everything was about to change

        • Overtaken (vv. 1-6)

          • Joseph gave his steward some instructions as the feast was probably winding down

            • Fill their sacks with as much food as they can carry

            • Put their silver in the mouth of their sacks

            • Put my silver cup in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack

            • Joseph’s steward did everything he was asked to do

          • The next morning, Joseph’s brothers were sent on their way, but they did not get very far

          • Joseph gave his steward more instructions

            • Go after those men at once

            • When you reach them ask them why they have repaid good with evil by taking my silver cup

              • It is likely that Joseph had used the silver cup in their presence at the feast

              • It would have been easy for one of them to conceal the silver cup in their robe and then put it in their sack

              • Divination

                • Using a silver cup for divination was part of the culture of the day, especially by those in positions of authority

                • There were multiple forms of divination using a cup or goblet

                  • Oleomancy (pouring oil into water)

                  • Hydromancy (pouring water into oil)

                  • Lecanomancy (observing the actions of liquids in some kind of a container, like ripples or reflections)

                  • “When water and oil are mixed, configurations form which are then studied and interpreted by the diviner.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 559]

                • Divination was used to understand what the gods wanted concerning the future, the source of trouble, whether someone would live or die, whether or not to go to war, and many other matters

              • It is unlikely that Joseph actually used divination, since he received revelation from God alone (Gen. 37:5-9; 41:16) [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 560]

              • It was probably all part of the ruse Joseph was creating to make sure his brothers did not recognize him before he was able to determine if they had had a change of heart

            • Joseph’s steward did everything he was asked to do

          • The steward’s accusation caused confusion

        • Overconfident (vv. 7-12)

          • Character quality – honesty

            • The brothers are confused by the accusation, because they did not do things like that – they were not characterized as thieves

            • They even reminded the steward that they brought back the silver they found in their sacks from the first visit

            • They were honest men, who would never think of stealing silver or gold from his master’s house

          • Penalty for anyone found with the silver cup

            • They are so confident that none of them had taken the silver cup that they proposed the death penalty for the offender and slavery for the rest of them

              • We saw the same confidence in Jacob when Laban caught up with him and accused him of stealing his household gods

              • But if you find anyone who has your gods, he shall not live. (Gen. 31:32)

              • “But one can be generous with proposals when one is convinced that little is at stake.” ​​ [Hamilton, 563]

              • The brothers, like Jacob, are willing to put the death penalty on the table, because they are unaware of the deception that has taken place

            • If the silver cup was found in any of their sacks, that person would be put to death and the rest of them of would become Joseph’s slaves

            • The steward agrees with the principle that the thief should be treated differently than the rest of the brothers, but he counters their penalty by saying that the thief would be his slave and the rest of them would be free from blame

            • He had some insider information and knew that the death penalty for Benjamin would not accomplish Joseph’s purpose

          • Search

            • The speed with which they lowered their sacks to the ground speaks of the certainty they had of their innocence

            • The steward begins his search with the oldest and proceeds to the youngest

            • Laban searched Rachel’s tent last, but did not find his gods there (Gen. 31:33) because she had hidden them

            • The steward finds Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s sack

            • The steward is not surprised, because he was the one who placed it there – imagine if he had not found the silver cup

            • The brothers are surprised!

          • Their reaction shows a change of heart

          • God transforms our heart.

        • Overwhelmed (v. 13)

          • The brothers tore their clothes

            • “Spontaneously, the brothers ‘tore their clothes,’ which was the sign of deep emotional distress (e.g., Num 14:6). ​​ That all the brothers suffered such distress is a telling sign of the new sense of unity they had developed.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 800]

            • “They now show affection for their father and brother (contra 37:34).” ​​ [Waltke, 560]

              • Twenty-two years earlier, they were plagued with selfishness, jealousy, envy, and anger

              • They didn’t even think or care how Joseph’s death would affect their father emotionally

              • All they cared about was appeasing their jealousy, envy, and anger

              • That had changed!

              • God had transformed their hearts over the twenty-two year period

              • They are distressed and filled with grief over the unexpected turn of events

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Grief over our sin honors God.

              • Biblical support

                • Read Romans 7:14-25

                • Read Psalm 51:13-17

                • Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-11

              • Application

                • Joseph’s brothers were experiencing godly sorrow that brought repentance and led to salvation with no regrets

                • Are you grieving and sorrowing over your sins?

                • Are you genuinely repentant of your sins, which means you are willing to turn away from them?

                • When we recognize how our sins grieve the Lord, we should be willing to truly repent, so that we can experience salvation without regret

                • Take a moment to examine yourself and be honest with yourself and with God

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Honor God by grieving over my sin, so I can experience salvation and forgiveness without regret.

            • Joseph’s brothers expressed godly sorrow by tearing their clothes

          • The brothers loaded their donkeys and returned to the city

            • “This time they would not leave a younger brother, a favorite of their father, to become a slave. ​​ This shows they had changed since selling their brother Joseph into slavery about twenty-two years before.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 349]

            • Benjamin was not only Jacob’s favorite, but also the Egyptian rulers favorite (Joseph gave him five times the amount of food at the feast)

            • The brothers passed the test by not being envious and showing self-sacrificing love by giving up their own freedom and lives for Benjamin [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary of the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 234]

          • They were definitely overwhelmed by the chain of events that had just transpired

        • Judah takes the lead to represent the brothers as they come before Joseph again

    • Confession (vv. 14-34)

        • Submission (vv. 14-17)

          • The brothers reaction

            • When they arrived back in the city, Joseph was still in the house, because he already knew they would be back

            • They threw themselves to the ground

              • The first two times they came into Joseph’s presence they bowed in respect of his position – that would have been the appropriate thing to do

              • This time they prostrated themselves – they are lying flat on the ground, which showed submission

            • They were prepared to serve Joseph as slaves

          • Joseph’s response

            • Joseph continues the ruse by asking them why they did it

            • He also continues to play along with the idea about divination – didn’t they know he could find things out by divination

            • We know it wasn’t divination that gave Joseph the knowledge about his silver cup being in Benjamin’s sack

            • Joseph had staged everything to expose his brother’s true feelings about their father and his favorite son, Benjamin

          • Judah’s confession

            • Judah admits that they don’t have a defense

            • He acknowledges that God has uncovered their guilt

              • The uncovering of their guilt goes far deeper than the silver cup and payment for the grain being found in Benjamin’s sack

              • Judah’s conscience had been pricked and he realized that God was holding he and his brothers accountable for how they treated Joseph and their father all those years ago

              • “It’s when guilty sinners’ mouths are shut and they stop defending themselves that God can show them mercy (Rom. 3:19).” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 157]

              • Romans 3:19, Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Our sins are not hidden from God.

                • Judah and his brothers recognized that their sin was not hidden from God, therefore, God was holding them accountable – they would become slaves

                • Biblical background

                  • When the Israelites were getting ready to go into the Promised Land, the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh wanted to remain on the east side of the Jordan. ​​ They came to Moses, Eleazer the priest, and the leaders of the community to ask permission. ​​ They were given permission on one condition – their men would arm themselves, go ahead of the other tribes into the Promised Land, and help them defeat the inhabitants. ​​ Moses warned them with these words, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out. (Num. 32:23). ​​ The Israelites sin would not be hidden from God

                  • In Joshua 7:1-26 we read about how Achan coveted a beautiful Babylonian robe, 200 shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing 50 shekels from the plunder at Jericho that was devoted to the Lord. ​​ When the Israelites tried to attack Ai, they lost, because there was sin in the camp. ​​ No one else knew about, but God did!

                  • “This is God’s way, says Judah, of visiting their past misdeeds upon them. ​​ They withheld mercy from Joseph (42:21). ​​ Now God will withhold mercy from them. ​​ They deserve what is happening to them even if they are not guilty of this particular crime. ​​ Here is a graphic illustration of the Bible’s emphasis on God’s justice. ​​ The wrongs one does will be repaid someway, somehow, somewhere.” ​​ [Hamilton, 566]

                • You and I have to recognize that our sin is not hidden from God

                  • The principle is the same for us – God knows when we sin, it is not hidden from Him, even if it is hidden from everyone else

                  • Are you dealing with a “hidden sin” that only God knows about?

                  • Are you recognizing today that God is holding you accountable for that sin?

                  • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my “hidden sin” to the Lord and embrace His forgiveness.

              • Judah acknowledged their sin and knew there was consequences

            • Judah states that all eleven brothers are now Joseph’s slaves

          • Joseph’s justice

            • Joseph knew that he could not hold all eleven brothers accountable

            • Only Benjamin would become his slave

            • The rest of the brothers could go back to their father in peace

          • Judah knew the outcome of Benjamin not returning to his father, so he asks to speak with Joseph privately

        • Surety (vv. 18-34)

          • Addressing Joseph

            • Judah refers to Joseph as his lord, which is a sign of respect

            • Judah recognizes Joseph’s position, equal to Pharaoh

          • History recounted

            • Judah then recounted everything that happened to them

            • During their first visit, they answered Joseph’s questions about their father and youngest brother and another brother that had died

            • They also explained that their father loved the youngest brother because he is the only one of his mother’s sons left

            • Joseph told them to bring Benjamin down as proof that they were not spies, but they told him that their father would die if he and the boy were separated

            • Joseph warned them not to return to Egypt without their youngest brother

            • When Jacob told them to go buy a little more food, they refused unless he sent Benjamin with them

            • Jacob agreed, but cautioned his sons that he would die in misery if anything happened to Benjamin

            • If Benjamin is not with them when they return, their father will die in sorrow

            • Judah had guaranteed Benjamin’s safety to his father or he would bear the blame the rest of his life

            • God transforms our heart.

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – “True repentance involves a change of attitude and action, not just tears and regret.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 352]

              • What a change and transformation that had taken place in Judah’s heart and mind

              • He was no longer thinking about himself, but was concerned about his father’s well-being

              • He was no longer consumed by jealousy, envy, and anger, but rather love and concern for his father’s favorite son, Benjamin

              • It had taken twenty-two years, but an incredible transformation had taken place

              • Jesus transforms our heart, so that the motivation behind our actions are pure and not selfish

                • Our love is transformed

                  • We no longer love someone because they love us in return

                  • We love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19)

                • Our forgiveness is transformed

                  • We forgive others whether or not they seek forgiveness or apologize

                  • Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32)

                • Our actions are transformed

                  • We no longer do things out of selfishness only thinking about ourselves

                  • Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. ​​ Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4)

                • Our whole lives are transformed

                  • We no longer desire to follow the patterns of this world

                  • Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. ​​ Do not conform any longer the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. ​​ Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2)

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Truly repent of my sins and allow God to transform my attitudes and actions.

            • That is what happened to Judah – he had been transformed by God

          • Judah’s plea

            • Please let me take Benjamin’s place as your servant, so he can return home with my brothers!

              • Judah was substituting himself for Benjamin – he was his surety/guarantee

              • Jesus substituted Himself for us – He was our surety/guarantee

              • Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant (Hebrews 7:22)

              • Jesus took responsibility to make sure we would come to God the Father (Read John 14:1-6)

              • Are you ready to come to the Father through Jesus Christ?

              • Gospel

                • Admit you are a sinner (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23)

                • Believe in Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

                • Choose everlasting life (John 3:16)

                • Send Me Info About: ​​ Becoming a follower of Jesus

            • Don’t let me return home without Benjamin and see the misery on my father’s face

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – “Leadership means speaking up and taking a stand.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 352]

          • God had transformed Judah’s heart

        • God transforms our heart.


  • YOU

    • Are you ready to honor God by grieving over your sin, so you can experience salvation and forgiveness without regret?

    • Is there a “hidden sin” you need to confess to the Lord?

    • Is it time to truly repent of your sins and allow God to transform your attitudes and actions?

    • Are you ready to follow Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life?


  • WE

    • We need to honor God by grieving over our corporate sins

    • We need to confess any “hidden sins” to the Lord

    • We need to truly repent of our sins and allow God to transform our attitudes and actions



“Anne Rice, whom the media has called the Queen of the Occult, has sold millions of novels about vampires and witches. Several of her books have also been made into movies, even starring Hollywood big-shots like Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. But since a near-death experience in 1998, Anne has had a change of heart—she's turned to Christ.


In 2005, she stunned her fans by declaring, ‘I promised from now on that I will only write for the Lord.’ Her November 2005 release, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, portrays Jesus as a 7-year-old, and the veteran author worked painstakingly to avoid contradicting Scripture in her interpretation of Jesus’ life.


The book was released in November 2005, and as of December 7, 2005, it remained on the New York Times bestsellers list at #8. In the afterword of Christ the Lord, Rice summarizes what she has found in Jesus, calling him ‘the ultimate supernatural hero’ and ‘the ultimate immortal of them all.’


In an interview with Christianity Today in December of 2005, Rice said, ‘Christianity achieved what it did because Jesus rose from the dead.’”


Source: Jennie Yabroff, "Anne Rice Has Gone from Goth to God," (11-21-05); Cindy Crosby, "Interview with a Penitent," Christianity Today.






The following is from A.J. Swoboda’s Subversive Sabbath. In 1991, a yet-to-be-identified flea market enthusiast discovered a simple picture frame to his liking. Securing the purchase, the shopper returned home only to discover an ancient document hiding inconspicuously behind the frame. Thinking little of the discovery, he continued about his life. Two years later, a friend stumbled on the document and investigated its origin. The rest is history. The four-dollar frame had hidden a first – edition copy of the Declaration of Independence reportedly worth north of one million dollars. This accidental discovery is not isolated. There was the contractor who found $182,000 in a bathroom wall he was remodeling. A three-dollar Chinese bowl later sold at Sotheby’s for $2.2 million — it was a treasure from the Northern Song Dynasty. Then there was that California family who stumbled on a can of ancient gold coins in their backyard valued at $10 million. This was all hidden treasure just waiting for someone to find it. Have you ever found money in your pants pocket that you forgot you had? Maybe it went through the wash and the next time you put them on there it was. Or maybe you get your winter coat out and find money that has been there the whole summer. Maybe you found some change in your car or in your sofa cushions that allowed you to get that morning coffee. These are hidden treasures that you may have forgotten about but were just waiting to be found.

Grace and mercy are a lot like hidden treasure. God’s grace and mercy is all over our lives but sometimes we struggle to see it or feel it. We get so caught up in our lives and the world we live in that it’s hard to recognize the grace and mercy He gives us. Sometimes it’s hard for us to accept it because we think we don’t deserve it. And really, we don’t. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve, and mercy is not getting what we do deserve. ​​ God in his infinite love sent his son to die on a cross for us extending grace and mercy to us all. And it can fully be ours, but we must embrace it, we must accept it, and the great thing is that it is free. One reason why we don’t fully embrace grace and mercy is because of sin in our lives. Unconfessed sin causes us to react negatively to situations blinding us to God’s grace and mercy. These negative reactions can cause us to sin but when we confess our sins we can be forgiven. Once we are forgiven, we are better prepared to react positively and rightly to situations in our lives. When we ask forgiveness from God, he gives us grace and mercy and when we ask for forgiveness from others it allows us to fully embrace grace and mercy from them without feeling any guilt or shame. Which brings us to our big idea this morning that Forgiveness brings grace and mercy.

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, as we open your Word this morning, we ask for your Holy Spirit to illumine our hearts and minds to what you want us to learn and what you want us to share with those we encounter this week. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This morning there are three points, and in each point, we will see how grace and mercy is extended even in the midst of negative reactions and sin. Our first point this morning is Jacob Prays for Mercy found in Genesis 43:1-15. This is what God’s Word says, “Now the famine was still severe in the land. So, when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’” Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?” They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?” Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.” Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. And may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.” So the men took the gifts and doubled the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph.”

The famine that sent Jacob’s sons on their first trip to Egypt is still going strong and is still severe in the land of Canaan. We should not be surprised since Pharaoh's dream foretold that the famine would last for seven years. The family has eaten all the grain that was brought back from Egypt on the first trip. And now Jacob asked his sons to go back to buy a little more food. This was a very different Jacob than we saw last week when he rebuked them for not taking the initiative to go to Egypt and buy food so the family would live and not die. Now he is asking them politely. It’s as if he is asking them to just run down to the corner market and grab a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread. We see Judah speak up as he seems to have taken on the role of spokesperson for the brothers. He immediately reminds his father that the man (talking about Joseph) “solemnly warned” them that the only way to “see his face” again would be to bring their youngest brother to Egypt. In the last chapter they downplayed Joseph’s threats but this time he tells his father that the man “solemnly warned” them meaning that it was no empty threat. The word “solemnly” would have made it even more ominous. In order to get an audience with “the man” Benjamin would have to be with them. Notice that Judah mentions this warning twice. He wanted to let his father know that taking Benjamin back to Egypt was non-negotiable.

Judah also gives his father an ultimatum. He tells him if he sends Benjamin, they will go to Egypt but if he won’t send him, they will not go. Judah will not overstep his father’s authority and go against his wishes. It will be Jacob’s decision to make. Hamilton asks, “Will he consign his family to starve to death, losing Benjamin in the process or is he willing to release him and take his chances?” Once this ultimatum has been delivered, Jacob reacts negatively. He continues to wallow in self-pity and accuses his sons of bringing this trouble on him. He is still acting selfishly, not seeming to care for the rest of his family and what will happen to them. This “trouble” is having to make a decision about sending Benjamin to Egypt or not. He blames his sons for telling “the man” that they even had another brother. He seems to imply that they should have lied about it. The old deceiver seems to be making another appearance. Jacob is not taking responsibility for his family and in fact he is shirking his responsibility as patriarch of the clan. In his heart, he knows that he is going to have to allow Benjamin to go, but he’s not going to be happy about it and he sins against his sons in the process.

Then we see that all the brothers reply to their father. They tell him that the man questioned them closely about their family, asking if their father was alive or not and if they had another brother. They say they just simply answered his questions. “What else were we to do? How were we to know?” How do we reconcile this with what we learned in chapter 42? We saw in Chapter 42 Joseph accusing his brothers of spying but never asking them personal questions. The brothers seem to volunteer the information about their family. It is possible that chapter 43 gives us a fuller picture of the dialogue than chapter 42. But I still believe in the premise that I put forth last week. That they volunteered this family information in order to prove that they were not spies. Each time Joseph accused them they became more desperate to convince him he was wrong. They kept volunteering more and more information about their family. Also, when we look back at what they told their father when they first returned from Egypt, we see that they didn’t mention that the man questioned them closely. It’s almost like they got their story straight once they were home and had a chance to talk about it. They didn’t want to upset their father, so they use the excuse that it was the “man” who questioned them so closely and they had no choice but to be honest.

Judah again takes the lead asking his father to send the boy with him and they will leave at once. This leaving at once will get Benjamin back quicker and would save three generations of the family from dying. Judah is reminding Jacob of his duty to protect the younger, more vulnerable generation. Notice Judah calls Benjamin “the boy” showing a change in affection and a softening of his attitude toward his youngest half-brother. Judah guarantees Benjamin’s safety, saying he can be held personally responsible and will bear the blame forever before Jacob. In the least he would live in shame for the rest of his life and at the most he placed his own life at risk if he didn’t not return with Benjamin. This pledge by Judah would not have been entered into lightly. Last week we saw that Reuben offered his two sons as surety for Benjamin’s life. The differences were, one, Judah offered his life for the life of Benjamin whereas Reuben offered the lives of his two sons. Judah was willing to put his own life on the line not anyone else’s. Two, Reuben was speaking from a place of guilt and shame for his part in what happened to Joseph. Judah was speaking from a place of leadership and responsibility. Judah then accuses his father of procrastinating just as his father had accused the sons before. If they had not delayed, they could have gone and returned twice already. Judah is reminding Jacob that they wanted to leave right away for Egypt after returning home, but he would not let Benjamin out of his sight.

Once again, Jacob resigns himself to what had to be done (if it must be). He is lacking in faith and not trusting in the sovereignty of God for a joyous outcome. But then he takes charge in getting a gift ready for his sons to present to the man. This is reminiscent of Jacob sending wave after wave of animals to Esau as a gift to him so his brother would find favor in his sight in Gen. 32. This gift was not as extravagant but it was for the same purpose which was to placate the man so he would show mercy to his family and allow Simeon and Benjamin to come home. It seems the famine had affected just their grain and not the other things that Canaan produced. They took the choicest products of the land of Canaan and put them in their bags. The list of items: balm, honey, spices, myrrh, pistachio nuts, and almonds would have reminded the first hearers of what the Ishmaelites were taking to Egypt in their caravan when the brothers sold Joseph to them.

Jacob also told his sons to take double the amount of silver so they could repay what was found in the mouths of their sacks. Jacob is still a little wary of his sons as he hopes finding the silver in their sacks was a mistake. In his mind, the alternative may have been that they sold Simeon for the silver or stole it. He doesn’t see the providence of God in this and is allowing the emotion of his losses to dictate his theology (Gangel & Bramer). Lastly, he says “take your brother and go.” Notice he doesn’t mention Benjamin by name, believing that if he doesn’t say his name he’s not really going. In the midst of his self-pity, pointing fingers and procrastination, Jacob prays for mercy. He prays to God Almighty, El Shaddai, to give them mercy before the man so he will allow the other brother and Benjamin to come back to him. Notice he doesn’t use Simeon’s name, still only concerned with Benjamin. Jacob is able for a few moments to turn to God and ask for his mercy hoping that it all turns out well. The moment doesn’t last very long though as he immediately refocuses on himself with “As for me.” That is not a statement of faith. He has resigned himself to being bereaved. In the midst of negative reactions and sinning against his sons, Jacob prays for mercy, but he doesn’t really expect to receive it. His unconfessed sin is blinding him to what God wants to do in his life. All he needed to do was confess his sin to the Lord and he would find the hidden treasure of grace and mercy. BIG IDEA. That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is to Confess my sins to the Lord uncovering the hidden treasure of grace and mercy in my life. Jacob’s prayer will still be answered by God even in his sinful condition. That is the grace and mercy of God on full display. The brothers then leave Canaan to go to Egypt taking the gifts, double the silver and Benjamin. And they hurried down to Egypt to present themselves before Joseph.

This brings us to our second point this morning, God Gives Mercy, found in Genesis 43:16-25. This is what God’s Word says, “When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.” The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house. Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.” So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. “We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.” “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.”

When the brothers present themselves before Joseph, he immediately recognizes that Benjamin is with them. He has the steward take his brothers to his house, slaughter an animal, and prepare dinner for them because they were going to eat with him at noon. When they arrive at Joseph’s house, they become frightened, convinced that they were being detained or worse for the silver that was found in their sacks. They believed that the man was going to attack them, overpower them and make them his slaves. Which, ironically, is what they did to Joseph. Their guilt was making them paranoid. If Joseph wanted to arrest them and take their donkeys, he could have done it at the border. Even though they knew they hadn’t stolen the silver they still believed God was punishing them for what they had done to their brother. Joseph wanted to give his brothers this meal as a show of grace and mercy to them. He had forgiven them for what they had done, but their guilt hid the treasure of grace and mercy from them. If they had just confessed what they had done to Joseph, they would not have been frightened and could have embraced the grace and mercy he wanted to give them. BIG IDEA

They had brought double the silver with them to return it, so they went to the steward to state their case. They spoke to him at the entrance to the house because they thought if they went inside, they wouldn’t be allowed to leave. They explained to the steward that on the way home from the first trip they found silver in the mouth of their sacks, and it was the same weight they had brought to buy food with. They wanted to return that silver back and had brought extra silver to purchase more food. They tell the steward that they have no idea who put the silver in their sacks. The brothers were expecting judgment for stealing the silver not mercy so were surprised when the steward said “it was alright.” He told them to not be afraid because their God, the God of their father, has given them treasure in your sacks. They would have been astonished that this Egyptian knew anything about their God. The steward also said he had received their silver from before.

This treasure given to them by God was not just the returned silver but his grace and mercy. The treasure was hidden to them because all they could see was their guilt, shame and judgment. God gave them grace and mercy even in the midst of their guilt and shame for what they had done to Joseph. But they needed to confess their sin against Joseph and ask for his forgiveness in order to fully accept and embrace God’s treasure. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to Ask forgiveness from those I have sinned against uncovering the hidden treasure of grace and mercy they want to give me. Then the steward brought Simeon out to them, answering part of Jacob’s prayer to God Almighty for mercy. The steward then extended the finest hospitality to them. He gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. After offering to return the silver they felt more comfortable with the arrangements and prepared the gifts they had brought for Joseph.

The third point this morning is Joseph Extends Mercy found in Genesis 43:26-34. This is what God’s Word says, “When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?” They replied, “Your servant, our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him. As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.” Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there. After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.” They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.”

When Joseph arrived at his home the brothers humbly presented their gifts to him, bowing down paying homage to him. This fully fulfilled Joseph’s first dream in chapter 37 where the eleven sheaves bowed down to his. Again, this would have given Joseph confidence and trust in God’s plan. Joseph continued to show hospitality to his brothers by inquiring into their welfare. He cared for them and was genuinely concerned with how they were doing. He also asked how their aged father was and if he was still alive. With the famine ravaging the land he couldn’t be sure if his father was still living. Notice he asked about their father who “you told me about” not “who I asked you about.” Maybe that is just semantics, but I think it is telling. They referred to their father as a servant of Joseph’s, meaning they were dependent on him and informed him he was alive and well. Joseph then “looked about” and saw Benjamin. To “look about” indicates that what is about to be seen is most important. Benjamin is identified as his “own mother’s son” emphasizing the bond between them as two born from the same womb. He rhetorically asked them if this was the younger brother that again “they had told him about.” He didn’t need an answer because he knew who he was. Joseph blessed Benjamin asking God to be gracious to him. This display would have astonished the brothers like the steward’s news did. Joseph is so overwhelmed with emotion that he must hurry out looking for a place to weep. He ends up going to his private room to weep there. We assume that God has not finished his testing of the brothers or Joseph would have told them who he was.

After Joseph washed his face and had composed himself, he told the servants to serve the food. Egyptian customs would not allow them to eat at the same table as Hebrews because it was detestable to them and would have made them unclean. So, Joseph was served by himself, the brothers by themselves and the Egyptians who were eating with them by themselves. But Joseph’s table was close enough to the brother’s table that they could interact with each other. Joseph extended mercy by giving them a lavish meal that very few foreigners had probably ever seen. As the brothers were seated, they were again astonished because they were all seated in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest. All these astonishments would have alarmed the brothers thinking that God’s judgment was not yet finished. The seating would have highlighted Benjamin as the youngest in order to set them up for what would happen next. That the portions were served directly from Joseph’s table signified that he would be the source of the family’s survival (Mathews). When the portions came out Benjamin received five times the food that the brothers did. He was being favored and singled out receiving an extravagant amount of food. This would have equated to Joseph’s coat of many colors given to him by his father. Joseph was testing the brothers to see if there was any jealousy in them for Benjamin. Ross says, “Envy and hatred among God’s people would be disastrous to the unity of the nation and so could not be left unchecked.” Joseph will continue to put pressure on the brothers to see if they have really changed, but for now they passed several tests. The brought Benjamin to Egypt, they brought the silver back and they did not show envy or jealousy toward Benjamin. Lastly, they were well fed and satisfied having communion and conversation with Joseph. Joseph was able to extend this mercy to them because he had already forgiven them for what they had done to him, not holding it against them. BIG IDEA

The closing this morning is from Preaching Today: The famous and luxurious Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina, was originally owned and managed by George and Edith Vanderbilt, an elegant couple known for their exceptional treatment of their rich and famous guests. But they were also known for the way they treated their staff. For example, there’s the story of how George Vanderbilt treated a young employee named Bessie Smith. Smith was a teenager when she began working at the Biltmore, and she was intimidated by its opulence. On her first day as a server, she walked into the house's grand banquet hall and, startled by the vastness of the room, dropped the tray of monogrammed china she was carrying. George [Vanderbilt], a professorial figure with dark hair and a slightly curved mustache, rose from his chair as his guests looked on, wondering what this great man was going to say. But he didn't say anything. Instead, he got down on his hands and knees and helped her pick up the shards. Then he told her, “Come see me in the morning.” Bessie Smith assumed she was going to be fired. Instead, [George Vanderbilt] promoted Bessie to housekeeper, so she wouldn't have to carry such heavy dishes. That’s the kind of man he was, and that’s the kind of God we serve. When we mess up, He doesn’t condemn us, no! Because of Christ, He promotes us! He uses us for His glory! That’s what grace and forgiveness are all about; and if you have never experienced that kind of grace, please trust Christ today, who died for you and rose again. Trust in the One who loved you even while you were still a sinner. That brings us to the last next step on the back of your communication card which is to Accept Jesus as my Savior, uncovering the hidden treasure of His grace and mercy. I hope that if you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus today that you will make that decision and embrace the grace, mercy and forgiveness that only God can give to you.

As the praise team comes forward and the ushers prepare to pick up the tithes and offerings, let’s pray: Lord God, help us to realize that we need to confess our sins to you. Humble us so we can ask forgiveness from those we have wronged. And open our hearts to accept you as our Lord and Savior if we haven’t already. Help us to uncover the hidden treasure of grace and mercy and embrace it in our lives. To your honor and your glory, in Jesus’ name. Amen.



Steve Farrar, a Men’s discipleship teacher, tells this story on his podcast: One night a cab driver picked up a nun as one of his fares. After a few minutes the cab driver started to make conversation with her. He told the nun they have a lot in common, as they are both catholic and single. The nun replied that’s nice. After a few more minutes the cab driver says this may seem forward but I have always wanted to kiss a nun. The nun doesn’t seem taken aback by this, stating that maybe it had something to do with an emotional event in his childhood. She tells him that it would be okay if he wanted to kiss her. So, the cab driver pulls over, gets in the back seat and they share a kiss. The cab driver gets back in the front seat and continues to drive. After a few minutes the cab driver tells the nun that he needs to make a confession. He says that he’s not really catholic, in fact, he’s not religious at all, and he’s not single but happily married. The nun says that’s ok. I also need to make a confession. I am also not a catholic and am not a nun, my name is Bruce and I am on the way to a Halloween party.

That would be a rude awakening, wouldn’t it? These men were not men of principle. They weren’t living by any fundamental truths that served as a foundation for their behavior. Whenever behavior is based on an absence of principles you will have major problems. They were also men without scruples. They had no trouble with lying and deceiving. It didn’t bother them in the least. So why do I tell this story? When I heard this story last week, I was reminded of Joseph’s brothers. They were also men without principles or scruples. They were jealous, envious, hateful, rageful, murdering, scheming liars. Joseph’s brothers seemingly had no consciences. This morning we are in Genesis chapter 42 and we are going to see God and Joseph testing the brothers as part of God’s plan. They needed to be tested as they were going to become the leaders of the tribes of Israel. They needed to be tested to see if they’ve changed or if they are the same jealous, envious, murdering, scheming liars they were when they sold Joseph into slavery. They needed to be tested to see if they have consciences and can their consciences be awakened. And if their consciences can be awakened, will they remember their guilt and sin against Joseph and be led to repentance? These tests are going to be rude awakenings for the brothers but that is what they will need to be transformed. For us, as Christians, God will also test us and when the Holy Spirit speaks, convicting us, it is imperative that we listen, be reminded of our sin and be led to repentance. Which brings us to our big idea this morning: God tests his people to remind them of their sin and bring them to repentance.

As we think about our big idea, let’s ask God to open our hearts and minds to his scripture and to make us more like his son Jesus. Heavenly Father, we ask you to open our hearts and minds to your scripture this morning. Let us be attentive to your Holy Spirit and what he wants to say to us. Let us remember that your testing in our lives is good and is always for our benefit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Our first point this morning is Commission and is found in Genesis 42:1-6. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.” Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also. Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.”

We need to go back to Genesis 41:57 to find out what was happening in the beginning of chapter 42. A severe famine is everywhere and all the world is going to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph. First thing we can notice is this is a worldwide famine. This would have been most unusual and uncommon. For famine to come to Egypt it meant that there had been no rain to the south so the Nile River was not able to overflow her banks. And for famine to come to Canaan it meant that no rain had fallen on the land itself. There has been a famine in Canaan a number of times so far in our study of Genesis but up an until this point we have not seen a famine in Egypt. In fact according to Wikipedia, in the last 2500 years there have only been eleven recorded famines in Egypt. For famine to be in both Egypt and Canaan at the same time was a supernatural event sent by God to fulfill his plans and purposes.

Jacob learns that there was grain in Egypt to be bought so he commissions his sons to go down and buy grain for the family. He questions his sons about why they are “looking at each other” and not doing something about their “lack” and “need” of food. The same root word for “learned” and “looking” in verse 1 means “to see” and in the Greek means “idle” as in being indecisive. His sons do not notice what is obvious and is contrasted with Joseph’s insight in chapter 41 whose plan would save Egypt and the world from famine. For some reason Jacob’s sons have not come up with the same brilliant idea that Jacob had to go to Egypt and buy food so they can “live and not die.” It may have been because the trip to Egypt was 250-300 miles long and the round-trip would take six-weeks. It would have also been a dangerous journey with bandits prowling and lurking about. But I believe that God was bringing back memories of their sin against Joseph. Just the mention of “Egypt” probably brought up memories of what they did to their brother. These were memories that they didn’t want dredged up, but their lives were at stake. They needed food and if they didn’t get it, they and their families could die. God needed to see if their consciences could be awakened and if so, could they be moved to repentance. If their consciences couldn’t be awakened, repentance could never happen. BIG IDEA

God was using the famine to test the brothers. He was testing them with the “lack” or “need” of food. The brothers needed to obey their father and trust in God to provide. They also needed to trust God as he ​​ brought memories to light. Of course, the famine was the impetus to drive the brothers to Egypt in order to meet Joseph so they could be tested further. Sometimes God will test us with the “lack of or the need of something” so we will trust and rely on Him to provide our needs. Maybe it’s a financial need. I have a friend who is getting married soon and needs to find a full-time job and a place to live. A full-time job is seemingly opening up but it hasn’t happened yet. Time is short in their mind but God wants them to trust him for his timing and provision. Maybe it’s a relationship need. Maybe you are looking for that perfect someone that God has for you to spend your life with as a married couple. Sometimes God wants us to wait on him and his timing for that perfect someone. Maybe it’s a need for guidance or direction. Maybe you feel that God is calling you to something different, but the doors are not opening for you as you think they should. Again, God wants you to wait on his perfect timing. That brings us to the first NEXT STEP on the back of your communication card which is to Trust in the Lord to provide for me in the times of “lack” or “need.”

The brothers obey their father as the patriarch of their family and go down to Egypt to buy grain. We notice that Jacob doesn’t send Benjamin with them. Benjamin is identified as Joseph’s brother, not theirs continuing the favored status of Rachel’s sons in Jacob’s life. He didn’t send Benjamin because he was afraid that harm might come to him. This is the first inkling we have that Jacob was suspicious of his sons about what happened to Joseph and he is not about to let that happen to Benjamin. Jacob may not know what actually happened, but he knows his sons’ character and will keep Benjamin close. The mention of possible harm to Benjamin would have also reminded the brothers of their sin against Joseph. Another subtle reminder used by God to awaken their consciences, remind them of past sins in order to bring them to repentance. We also notice that Jacob’s sons are referred to as “Israel’s sons” informing the first hearers and readers about how the nation of Israel came to be in Egypt in the first place.

Stating that Joseph is the “governor of the land” and is in charge of selling grain to all the people sets up the meeting between him and his brothers. When they arrive in Egypt they bow down to him, fulfilling his first dream in chapter 37. Seeing his first dream fulfilled would have given him confidence that God was in control of all that had happened and would happen in his life. You may ask how it is possible that Joseph would just happen to be in the right place and the right time to meet his brothers. It is not impossible to believe that Joseph would have been notified when foreigners came to buy grain. He would have been tasked with making sure Egypt wasn’t overrun with spies. Of course, the main reason Joseph was there was because of the sovereignty of God. It was God’s plan to draw the brothers to Egypt in order to come face to face with Joseph.

That brings us to our second point this morning, Confrontation, found in Genesis 42:7-26. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” 8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.” 12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.” 14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 And he put them all in custody for three days. 18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do. 21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.” 22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. 24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes. 25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.

Joseph recognizes his brothers immediately but pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. He also questioned them about where they were from. They said they were from Canaan and had come to Egypt to buy food. We are told that the brothers didn’t recognize Joseph even though he recognized them. We may ask how it was possible that they didn’t recognize Joseph. We need to remember they haven’t seen him in twenty years, and they think he is dead. He would also have been clean shaven, wearing Egyptian garments and the royal dress of being second in command. Mathews says, “The author is portraying the brothers as spiritually blind.” Why didn’t he tell them who he was right then and there? Because they needed to be tested. It was God’s plan for Joseph to test his brothers to see if their consciences could be awakened, reminding them of their sin and readying them to repent for what they had done. BIG IDEA These were to be the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. Were they changed men having Godly principles and scruples? Were they going to do what was righteous and teach their families to do the same? God’s testing would eventually answer these questions.

After this initial questioning, Joseph remembered the dreams he had about them. When his first son was born he named him, Manasseh, which means “forgotten.” Does this mean he had forgotten his dreams what his brothers had done to him? To “forget” meant that he wasn’t holding what they had done to him against them. God had brought Joseph to a place of forgiveness so that his dreams and what had happened to him did not consume him and make him bitter. Joseph, through God’s help, was able to accomplish this. Joseph accuses his brothers of spying in order to find where Egypt’s borders were vulnerable. The brothers deny Joseph’s accusations and reiterate that they are there to buy food. They also volunteer personal information about themselves and their family. The brothers probably said this thinking that a family of brothers dressed like foreigners would be the worst spies ever. And Joseph probably scoffed because what he knew about his brothers was anything but honest. Then we see the cleverness of Joseph as he accuses them of being spies a second time. This causes the brothers to divulge more personal information about themselves and their family. They admit that they were once a family of twelve brothers all sons of one man who lives in Canaan. They added that their youngest brother is back at home with their father and one brother is no more, meaning they thought he was dead. Again, this would have reminded them of Joseph and what they had done, awakening their consciences even more.

This was an honest account to a point but left out that the one brother was dead because of their actions. Joseph took notice of the information, and it gave him hope, cause for concern and an idea. Joseph had hope because his father and his full brother were still alive. Until now, he had no idea whether this was true or not. It also gave him cause for concern because he didn’t know if they had treated Benjamin as badly as they treated him. It also gave Joseph the idea of how they could prove their honesty. For a third time he accuses them of being spies and tells them how they will be tested on this. He begins by making an oath on the life of Pharaoh. They would not be able to leave Egypt until their youngest brother is brought there. One of them must go home and bring that brother back while the rest will stay in prison. He was going to see if they were as honest as they claimed to be. Had they changed or not? If they are not telling the truth then on the life of Pharaoh they would be considered spies, and punished as such.

Joseph then put them all in prison for three days. God was testing the brothers by having them “reap what they had sown.” Remember back in chapter 37 when Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers, they accused him of being a spy. Now he is accusing them of being spies. Joseph was put in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and now they are also put in prison for a crime they didn’t commit. They are being treated the same way they treated Joseph in order to connect their circumstances with God’s judgment of them. God was testing them to see if they were changed men. He wanted to know if they would be willing to turn away from their sin and do good. He wanted to know if they could be trusted with being leaders of the tribes of Israel and leading his chosen people.

Next we notice that God tests them with “kindness” shown to them by Joseph. After three days in prison, Joseph seemingly changes his mind and is willing to let nine of the brothers go back to Canaan and require only one to remain in custody. He shows this kindness because he fears God, meaning he was “honest”, and they could trust him to keep his word. This statement of honesty by Joseph would remind them that they weren't always honest men even though they were portraying themselves as such. Again, awakening their consciences to what they had done. This kindness would allow them to take the ten sacks of grain back to their starving family in Canaan. It would also be safer as they traveled the three-week journey home. If they brought their youngest brother back to Egypt they would pass the test and prove that they were honest men like they said. There was still a sentence of death hanging over their heads but if they proved to be honest men they would not die but live. They proceeded to carry out Joseph’s orders.

The results of “reaping what they had sown” and Joseph’s “kindness” to them was that their consciences were awakened. They felt guilt for what they had done and realized they were being punished for it now. We also learn a few things we weren’t told back in chapter 37. Joseph was in distress when they threw him in the pit and pleaded for his life, but the brothers would not listen. They feel that is why they are now in distress. We are also reminded that Reuben was against killing Joseph. He convinced his brothers to throw him in a pit and he planned to come back and rescue him. But before he could the others sold him to the caravan going to Egypt. He accuses his brothers of not listening to him and now they would have to give an accounting for his blood meaning that more judgment was to come.

We notice that this conversation amongst the brothers was overheard by Joseph. He had been using an interpreter to talk with his brothers but of course he didn’t need one but his brothers didn’t know that. After they had admitted their sin against him and seeing their remorse, Joseph was moved to tears. We may think that Joseph was doing all this out of spite or for revenge. But the proof that he was following God’s will and plan is shown by his “kindness” to them and his display of weeping. He cared deeply for his family and did not want them to starve to death. He wanted them to live, not die. God is leading Joseph in testing his brothers to see if they have a conscience and can their consciences be awakened in order to bring them to repentance. BIG IDEA

Joseph gathers himself and has Simeon taken away and bound before their eyes. This would have made Joseph’s threat seem real for them. Why did Joseph choose Simeon? We aren’t told for sure, but he may have chosen Simeon, the second born, after learning of Reuben’s role in trying to save him from the rest of the brothers. Again, we see “kindness” shown by Joseph to his brothers. He gave orders for their sacks to be filled with grain and that the silver they brought to pay for the grain be returned to their sacks as well. He also made sure they had provisions for their journey back to Canaan. He realizes that the famine is not going to be over soon and they will need money for the next time they need grain. They loaded their donkeys and started home.

That brings us to our third point this morning, Consternation, found in Genesis 42:29-38. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, 27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?”29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’ 33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade[a] in the land.’” 35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” 37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.” 38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”

When they stopped for the night one of the brothers opened his sack to feed his donkey and found the silver that had been given back. Consternation, the feeling of anxiety, dread and distress, filled their hearts. They were “distraught”, and they were all trembling, meaning they were “paralyzed with fear.” This appearance of silver would have reminded them of the payment received from selling Joseph into slavery. Notice they don’t accuse the brother who found the silver but realize that God’s hand is in what is happening. They knew they were guilty and that God was punishing them. Realizing that God’s hand was in this was another step towards repentance. But living with unconfessed sin and guilt caused them to react negatively to the kindnesses shown to them. Maybe you have seen this in your life? Something good happens but you don’t think you deserve it and you react negatively to it. Or you don’t attribute it to God believing it was just by chance. Maybe you have even used the word “karma” to explain it. Or something good happens but you don’t give God the praise and glory for it. We forget about God’s role in it and take him for granted. We need to repent of these attitudes and realize the working of God in our lives. That brings us to the second NEXT STEP which is to realize the hand of God in my life and to give him the praise and glory for it.

The greatest act of kindness, of grace and mercy shown, was when Jesus willingly went to the cross for everyone of us. If you are still rejecting that kindness today, focusing on the judgment and not his love, grace and mercy this third NEXT STEP is for you: Accept Jesus’ act of grace and mercy for me: Admit that I am a sinner, believe that Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and confess that he is Lord.

The brothers arrive back in Canaan and report to their father all that has happened to them in Egypt. This was another test for the brothers. God was testing them to see if they would give an honest report to their father. In their report they don’t lie to their father but exaggerate the positives and leave out the negatives. They leave out that they were thrown in jail for three days. They mention the “lord over the land” twice to convince Jacob to let Benjamin return with them. This was how they could prove that they were not spies but honest men and be able to get their brother, Simeon, back. They also added that they would be allowed to trade in the land. The brothers realize that asking their father to allow Benjamin to go Egypt was going to be a hard sell so they embellish a little bit. They were hoping that by invoking “the lord of the land” twice and the promise of trade with Egypt would loosen Jacob’s grip on Benjamin.

We will never know if Jacob was thinking of allowing Benjamin to go to Egypt because as the brothers were emptying their sacks, each one found that his pouch of silver had been returned. Again this “kindness” shown to them by Joseph did not produce gratefulness but fright. This kindness brought great consternation. The brothers’ sense of guilt and divine judgment was heightened. Jacob was also frightened and fell deeper into the depths of despair. He accuses them of depriving him of his children. Joseph was dead and now Simeon was dead and they wanted to take Benjamin away from him. They have now returned home twice without a brother but with extra silver in their pockets. For Jacob this was not a coincidence. As their father he knew what kind of men they were and had his suspicions about what happened to Joseph and now Simeon. Jacob dramatically states that “everything is against him.” Jacob can’t see beyond his trouble and is only focused on himself and his losses in life, not God.

Next we see the guilt that Reuben must have been feeling. He tells his father that he may put his two sons to death if he doesn’t bring Benjamin back from Egypt. He asks Jacob to entrust him to his care and he will not let his father down. Notice, that Reuben doesn’t offer one of his sons’ life for the life of Benjamin. He offers two of his sons’ lives; one for Benjamin and one for Joseph. This was a telling sign in all that had happened since chapter 37. Wenham says, “The brothers are trapped by their past lies and aroused consciences. How could Reuben say that yes we lied and did away with Joseph but no we have had nothing to do with Simeon, our hands are clean and our hearts are pure. So to demonstrate his sincerity he offers to put to death two of his sons if Benjamin does not return.” Jacob is still distraught stating that under no circumstances will Benjamin go to Egypt. Joseph, his brother, is dead and Benjamin is the only son left. Again, we see the favoritism that Jacob had for the children of Rachel, his preferred wife. Jacob finishes in dramatic fashion in that if any harm comes to Benjamin “you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.” There is foreboding in his words: he will die dejected and not be able to find rest in death. Wiersbe in his commentary says, “Benjamin must be protected even if the family starves and Simeon rots in jail in Egypt.”

Today’s conclusion is from Preaching Today called “Guilt Is a Warning.” In the May 15, 1995 edition of The New Yorker, Sara Mosle recounts that on March 18, 1937, a spark ignited a cloud of natural gas that had accumulated in the basement of the London, Texas, school. The blast killed 293 people, most of them children. The explosion happened because the local school board wanted to cut heating costs. Natural gas, the by-product of petroleum extraction, was siphoned from a neighboring oil company's pipeline to fuel the building's furnace free of charge. London never recovered from the blast that turned the phrase "boom town" into a bitter joke. The one positive effect of this disastrous event was government regulation requiring companies to add an odorant to natural gas. The distinctive aroma is now so familiar that we often forget natural gas is naturally odorless. There is a tendency these days to classify all feelings of guilt as hazardous to our self-esteem. In reality, guilt can be valuable, an "odorant" that warns us of danger.

Joseph’s brothers have been tested by God in order to awaken their consciences, remind them of their sin in order to bring them to repentance. BIG IDEA They felt guilty for what they had done and realized that God was working in their hearts and minds. The same goes for us. The Holy Spirit within us will convict us of sin and awaken our consciences to our guilt, shame and sin. Sometimes his tests will be rude awakenings but it is then up to us to confess that sin to the Lord so he can cleanse us from all unrighteousness. That brings us to the fourth NEXT STEP on the back of your communication card: to allow God’s testing to awaken my conscience, remind me of my sin and bring me to repentance.

As the praise team comes to lead us in a final song and the ushers prepare to pick up the communication cards, let’s close out our time in prayer. Heavenly Father, help us to trust in you to provide for me in the times of “lack” or “need.” Help us to realize your hand working in our lives and give you praise and glory for it. Open our hearts to your Holy Spirit as he awakens our consciences, reminds us of our guilt and sin and leads us to repentance. In Jesus’ name. Amen



Fruitfulness Through Faithfulness

(Genesis 41:39-57)



“In 1940, Clarence Jordan founded Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, as a haven for racial unity and cooperation. In 1954, the Ku Klux Klan burned every building on the farm except Jordan's home.


In the midst of the raid, Jordan recognized the voice of a local newspaper reporter. The next day, the reporter showed up for a story about the arson while the rubble was still smoldering. He found Jordan in a field, planting seeds. He said to Jordan, ‘I heard the awful news of your tragedy last night, and I came out to do a story on the closing of your farm.’


Jordan just kept planting and hoeing. The reporter continued his prodding, with no response from Jordan. Finally, the reporter said, ‘You've got two Ph.D.'s, you've put 14 years into this farm, and now there's nothing left. Just how successful do you think you've been?’


With that statement, Jordan stopped hoeing. He said to the reporter, ‘You just don't get it, do you? You don't understand us Christians. What we are about is not success, but faithfulness.’”


Source: Kevin Conrad, "Wisdom for Faithful Living Today,"





  • ME

    • Gardening

        • Judy and I enjoy gardening, but it takes a lot of work

        • We have to be faithful in watering and weeding in order to have a garden that is fruitful

    • Spiritual growth

        • We have found the same to be true in our spiritual growth also

        • If we want to experience spiritual fruit, we have to be faithful in watering our walk and weeding out sin

        • If we want to see friends and family believe in Jesus Christ for salvation, then we have to be faithful in watering those relationships with God’s Word


  • WE

    • Gardening

        • How many of us have or are gardening?

        • What is your favorite part of gardening? (watering, weeding, harvesting)

        • What happens when we are not faithful in watering or weeding? (no harvest)

    • Spiritual growth

        • How many of us are faithful in watering our walk with the Lord?

        • Are we currently weeding out sin in our lives?

        • Are we watering relationships with family and friends, so they will hear the Gospel and believe in Jesus for salvation?


Last week we learned that the Spirit of God was with Joseph, so that he was able to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. ​​ Joseph had faithfully watered and weeded his relationship with God, so that he would experience fruitfulness in God’s time. ​​ We once again learn from Joseph’s example that . . .


BIG IDEA – God blesses those who are faithful to Him.


Let’s pray


We are going to see how Joseph was fruitful in his profession, with his progeny, and during paucity.


  • GOD (Genesis 41:39-57)

    • Profession (vv. 39-49)

        • Pharaoh’s approval (v. 39)

          • Pharaoh recognized God’s hand at work in Joseph’s life

          • God had given Joseph wisdom and discernment in interpreting Pharaoh’s dream

          • Pharaoh wanted someone with the spirit of God in them to help run Egypt

        • Pharaoh’s appointment (vv. 40-45)

          • First appointment

            • Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of his palace and everyone in the palace

            • The only thing that would separate Joseph from Pharaoh, as it pertained to greatness, was the throne that Pharaoh sat on (Joseph would not have access to that)

            • Pharaoh was still in control, but he delegated the daily responsibilities to Joseph

          • Second appointment

            • Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the whole land in order to accomplish the plan that Joseph had shared with him

            • Pharaoh’s seven steps to proclaim Joseph’s position and power [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 334]

              • “A verbal appointment by Pharaoh.”

              • “The giving of a signet ring.” (Joseph would have the power to validate documents in the name of Pharaoh, to do business with Pharaoh’s authority)

              • “The dressing in robes of fine linen.” (it was the “byssus” or Egyptian linen; notice again that Joseph is being honored with special clothing)

              • “The placement of a gold chain around his neck.” (in addition to the fine linen robes, the gold chain would identify Joseph’s rank, status, and office)

              • “His public display in a chariot.”

              • “The verbal charge to the Egyptians to Make way! before Joseph.”

              • “The assignment of a new name to Joseph.”

                • Zaphenath-Paneah (tsof-nath’ pah-nay’-akh/sof-a-nath pah-nay’-akh)

                • This Egyptian name may mean “treasury of the glorious rest” or “God speaks and lives” or “the god has said: he will live”

                • “That the narrator does not interpret Joseph’s name means that Joseph’s Egyptian name—whatever the best translation—assumes no significant role in the narrative.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 508]

            • Joseph was now in charge of all of Egypt

              • He went from being a royal prisoner to second in command

              • No one would do anything without Joseph’s word

              • “The expression ‘hand’ and ‘foot’ is a figure (merism), meaning that every activity must meet with Joseph’s approval.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 763]

            • Joseph also received a wife from Pharaoh

              • Asenath (aw-se-nath’/awh-say-nath’) means “belonging to the goddess Neith”

              • She was the daughter of Potiphera (po-tee feh’rah)

                • His name means “he whom the Ra gave”

                • He was the priest to the sun god Ra and served in the city of On (one/own)

                  • “At this time the priest of On officiated at all major festivals and supervised lesser priests who served the sun god Re in the temple city of Heliopolis.” [Gangel & Bramer, 334]

                  • On was also known by the Greek name Heliopolis, which means “city of the sun”

                  • “The city ‘On’ was the prestigious religious center of Re and Atum, the Egyptian solar deities.” ​​ [Mathews, 764]

                  • Heliopolis/On was seven miles northeast of Cairo [show map]

              • Joseph’s status in Egypt was firmly established when he married “into the elite of Egyptian nobility.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 534]

            • Joseph went throughout the land

          • We see Joseph’s achievements as he travels throughout Egypt

        • Joseph’s achievement (vv. 46-49)

          • Joseph was 30 years old when he began serving under Pharaoh

            • He has been a slave in Egypt for 13 years

            • He was probably imprisoned for 3 of those 13 years

          • We see again that Joseph went out and traveled throughout Egypt

            • He was probably traveling to the various cities doing two things

              • Appointing commissioners in each city

              • Setting up storehouses in each city

            • During the seven years of abundance, Joseph collected all the food produced in the fields surrounding each city and then had it stored in the city

              • When the seven years of famine would come, the commissioners in each city would distribute the food to the individuals in their area

              • The Lord’s plan through Joseph was so successful that he stopped keeping records, because it was immeasurable

          • God’s abundance

            • I skipped over verse 47 because I wanted to come back to it, so we could discuss God’s sovereignty, power, and control at work

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is in control!

              • God provides for His plan in Egypt

                • During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully (Gen. 41:47)

                • “Years of average production are replaced by seven abundant years.” ​​ [Hamilton, 511]

                • God is the One who gave Joseph the plan to ensure that Egypt would not be ruined by the famine

                • God then provides abundantly for them

              • God provides for His plan in our lives

                • When we are faithful to the Lord and follow His plan, He will provide for that plan

                • How have you seen that worked out in your own life?

                • How have we seen that worked out in the life of the church?

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship God for being in control of His plan in my life.

        • Joseph was fruitful in his profession, because he had been faithful to God

        • God blesses those who are faithful to Him.

    • Progeny (vv. 50-52)

        • During the seven years of abundance in Egypt, Joseph also saw fruitfulness in his family

        • Joseph’s two sons

          • Joseph and Asenath (aw-se-nath’/awh-say-nath’) had two sons

          • Manasseh (men-ash-sheh’/men-esh-eh’)

            • His name means “causing to forget”

              • Joseph gave his firstborn this name, because God had made him forget all his trouble and all his father’s household

              • “Joseph didn’t forget his family or the events that occurred, but he did forget the pain and suffering that they caused.” [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Pentateuch, 150]

              • We know that Joseph had not forgotten his family or heritage, because he gives both of his sons Hebrew names

              • “The reason of this forgetfulness and silence can only be found in the fact, that through the wondrous alteration in his condition he had been led to see, that he was brought to Egypt according to the counsel of God, and was redeemed by God from slavery and prison, and had been exalted by Him to be lord over Egypt; so that, knowing he was in the hand of God, the firmness of his faith led him to renounce all willful interference with the purposes of God, which pointed to a still broader and more glorious goal (Baumgarten, Delitzsch).” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 227]

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God enables us, through His grace, to wipe out the pain and bad memories of the past, so we can make a new beginning. ​​ [Wiersbe, 150]

              • God’s grace means that we get something that we don’t deserve, which is forgiveness of our sins and salvation through Jesus Christ

                • Because of God’s incredible grace, we, as followers of Jesus Christ, can and should extend grace to others

                • That’s exactly what Joseph is doing here in naming his son Manasseh, and will be evident when he confronts his brothers

              • Application

                • Hurts of the past

                  • How many of us have hurt from the past that we are still dealing with?

                  • Have we extended grace and forgiveness to those involved?

                  • “. . . grudges are like weeds in a lovely garden or germs in a healthy body: ​​ they just don’t belong there.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 150]

                  • “While the Bible depicts forgetting mostly in dire terms related to apostasy, it also presents some instances when it is a blessing. There are some things we should forget. We do not want to be like the fifty-five individuals in the U.S. who have been diagnosed with hyperthymesia, also known as Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory, HSAM. These people spend an excessive amount of time thinking about their pasts and display extraordinary ability to recall specific events.

                    Alexandre Wolfe is one of the fifty-five. In an interview for National Public Radio, she described how she remembers every detail of a mundane activity like driving to Target for groceries which occurred more than ten years ago. She remembers what she wore and ate every day for the past decade. She remembers if the fan in the bedroom was running on this date last year. Sometimes this extraordinary ability is an advantage, but at other times—many other times—it is a curse.

                    One interviewee in the NPR report says that he remembers all the wrongs done against him and all the wrongs he has committed, and that very scenario is the basis of an episode from the television show 
                    House. A middle aged character with hyperthymesia remembers everything she said and did since the onset of puberty. She also remembers the wrongs people have done to her and those memories haunt and harass her. The episode demonstrates, as the NPR story states, that ‘we need to forget as much as we need to remember.’”

                    Source: Alix Spiegel, "When Memories Never Fade, The Past Can Poison the Present," NPR (12-27-15); House, Season 7, Episode 12, "You Must Remember This."


                  • We certainly need to extend grace and forgiveness to past hurts, but we also need to do the same with current hurts

                • Hurts of the present

                  • Perhaps we are currently dealing with some hurt that needs to have grace and forgiveness applied to it

                  • Don’t let another day go by without extending grace and forgiveness

                • We can make a new beginning!

                  • Philippians 3:13-14, Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. ​​ But one thing I do: ​​ Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

                  • Read Ephesians 4:20-32

                  • Read Colossians 3:1-17

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Strive for a new beginning by allowing God’s grace and forgiveness to be extended to my past and present hurts.

              • That is exactly what Joseph did

            • “If the name of Joseph’s first son (Manasseh) focuses on a God who preserves, the name of Joseph’s second son (Ephraim) focuses on a God who blesses.” ​​ [Hamilton, 512]

          • Ephraim (ef-rah’-yim/ef-rye’-eam)

            • His name means “double ash-heap: ​​ I shall be doubly fruitful” or “made me fruitful”

            • Joseph gave his second son this name, because God had made him fruitful in the land of his suffering

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God still blesses in suffering.

              • It can be difficult to see and understand when we are going through suffering

              • Many times, after we have come through the suffering, we are able to look back at the suffering and recognize God’s blessing in and through it

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship the Lord for His blessing in my suffering.

            • Joseph recognized God’s blessing in his life

        • Joseph experienced fruitfulness with his progeny, because he had been faithful to God

        • God blesses those who are faithful to Him.

        • Finally, Joseph experienced fruitfulness even when things got scarce

    • Paucity (vv. 53-57)

        • Paucity means the condition of having very little or not enough of something, scarcity

        • The seven years of abundance came to an end, just as the Lord had said through Joseph when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream

        • The seven years of famine began, and it didn’t stop just in Egypt, but spread to all the other lands

        • Because Pharaoh listened to God’s plan through Joseph, there was food in Egypt

        • We don’t know how long it took for the Egyptians to feel the pinch, but when they did they cried out to Pharaoh for food

        • Pharaoh pointed them to Joseph

          • He told them to go to Joseph and do whatever he told them

          • Joseph didn’t open the storehouses immediately, but waited ​​ until the famine spread over the whole country

          • When he did open the storehouses, he sold grain to the Egyptians

          • He also sold grain to all the other countries

        • Joseph experienced fruitfulness even when there was scarcity of food in Egypt, because he had been faithful to God’s plan

        • God blesses those who are faithful to Him.


  • YOU

    • Do you need to worship the Lord for being in control of His plan in your life?

    • Is it time for a new beginning? ​​ Are you ready to extend God’s grace and forgiveness to someone who has hurt you?

    • How has God blessed you even when you are suffering?


  • WE

    • We can worship the Lord for being in control of His plan and for blessing Idaville Church

    • Whom do we need to extend God’s grace and forgiveness to as a body of believers?


I am grateful that God blesses those who are faithful to Him.



“George Lucas’ 2012 film Red Tails provides a dramatized version of the true events behind a group of World War II soldiers called the Tuskegee Airmen. Formally, they belonged to a 332nd Fighter Group and the 477th Bombardment Group of the U.S. Army Air Corps. The nickname ‘Red Tails’ was coined after the group painted the tails of their aircraft red.


The Tuskegee Airmen became famous for two reasons. First, they were the first African-American military aviators in the United States armed forces. But the Red Tails hold a special significance in American history, not just racially, but militarily. In the European air war, U.S. bombers were getting shot down at increasingly alarming rates. The problem arose when the enemy attacked. Fighter pilots, protecting the bombers, would leave the bomber to engage enemy aircraft. Though this seemed like the obvious response, it meant leaving the bombers vulnerable to attack. Each lost bomber carried a crew of 10 or 11 Americans.


The Tuskegee Airmen were brought in and given a different strategy: Never leave the bombers. Never. Regardless of what was happening around them. When the enemy attacked, stay the course and defend your charge. The result of their steadfast devotion? Only 25 of the hundreds of bombers they protected during the war were lost. Their stellar reputation became legend: If you flew a bomber, you wanted the Red Tails with you. On the movie screen, the Tuskegee Airmen gather around each other on an airstrip in a foreign land and shout their motto: ‘The last plane, the last bullet, the last man, the last minute, we fight!’


The Tuskegee Airmen are celebrated, not just because they were excellent pilots, but because they never wavered from their duty; they never left their charge. No matter what happened, they stayed faithful to their calling.”


Source: Wayne Drash, "A Midair Courtship: Tuskegee's Historic Love Story," (1-22-12).





Too Soon To Quit!

(Genesis 41:1-38)



“According to the Encyclopedia Americana and other biographical material, the following facts describe a man born February 12, 1809:


  • Age 7—His family was forced out of their home on a legal technicality.

  • Age 7—He had to go to work cutting trees, plowing, and harvesting to help support his family.

  • Age 9—His mother died and his family lived almost in squalor.

  • Age 12—His new mother, a widow with three other children, sought to have him receive some formal schooling, but he attended school less than a year.

  • Age 22—He worked as a store clerk in a failing business, then joined the army for eight months.

  • Age 23—He ran for the Illinois legislature.

  • Age 24—He bought a store on credit with a partner.

  • Age 25—He was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives (and again at ages 27, 29, 31).

  • Age 26—His business partner died, leaving him with a huge debt that took years to repay.

  • Age 27—He obtained a license to practice law.

  • Age 28—Legend claims that after courting a girl for four years, she refused his proposal of marriage.

  • Age 29—He was defeated for speaker of the state legislature.

  • Age 31—He was defeated for elector.

  • Age 33—He married.

  • Age 37—On his third try he was elected to U.S. Congress.

  • Age 39—He was defeated for reelection to Congress.

  • Age 41—His four-year-old son died.

  • Age 46—He was defeated for U.S. Senate.

  • Age 47—He was defeated for vice-presidential nomination.

  • Age 49—He was defeated for U.S. Senate again.

  • Age 51—He was elected President of the United States.

  • Age 56—He died April 15, 1865.


That’s the record of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States. It is a brief history of a man whom most consider to be one of the greatest leaders in the history of this country.

What if Abraham Lincoln had quit at 22, or 31, or 49? We would have been deprived of the privilege of having one of the greatest presidents this country has ever known. God’s timing is his timing and is seldom known to humans until after the fact. But it’s always too soon to quit pursuing what is right and good.”


[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 331-32].



  • ME

    • Judy and I have trusted the Lord for His timing, wisdom and plan . . .

        • When I have transitioned from one position to another and one ministry to another

        • When we moved from one state to another

        • When we bought our first home and then sold our first home

        • When Judy stayed home with our children and when she returned to teaching

    • We knew we could trust God to guide and provide


  • WE

    • Individuals

        • All of us can probably look back over our lives and see how God provided His perfect timing, wisdom, and plan for us

        • Because of His faithfulness in the past, we can trust God to do the same in the future

    • Idaville Church

        • We have trusted the Lord for His timing, His wisdom, and His plan

        • We have trusted the Lord in those three areas when looking for a pastor, when needing finances, when deciding on what missionaries to support, when determining what mission trips to take, when we added on the gym, when we will expand again, etc.


Joseph had been trusting God since being sold into slavery by his brothers. ​​ He trusted God when he was falsely accused and then incarcerated. ​​ He trusted God to give him wisdom in interpreting the dreams of the chief cupbearer and chief baker. ​​ He waited patiently for God’s timing to be released from prison, especially since the chief cupbearer forgot about him. ​​ He trusted God for His plan even while he was in prison. ​​ Joseph will once again trust God for His timing, wisdom, and plan, as we will see today. ​​ Through Joseph’s example, we realize that . . .


BIG IDEA – God can be trusted.
(He can be trusted with His timing, His wisdom, and His plan)


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 41:1-38)

    • God’s timing (vv. 1-14)

        • Time stamp (v. 1a)

          • Two full years have passed since Joseph interpreted the dreams of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker

          • Joseph has now been in prison for ten years

          • Joseph had trusted God during those ten long years

            • While it may have seemed like an eternity, Joseph could trust that God’s timing was perfect

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s timing is perfect!

              • How many of us would have been impatient and critical of God?

              • The Israelites struggled to trust God when they were wandering through the desert

              • They complained often about the leaders that God had placed over them, the lack of water and food, and much more

              • Is there a situation you are currently going through that seems like it will never end or ever happen?

                • Are you still waiting for Mr. or Mrs. Right?

                • Is that injury or illness still plaguing you?

                • When will school ever be done?

                • Will I ever find a job?

                • Will I ever have get out from underneath this debt?

                • I wish we could buy a house

                • I’m tired of constantly dealing with drama in my family

                • Will God ever answer my prayer about salvation for my . . . (spouse, child, grandchild, parent, coworker, neighbor, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc.)?

              • As we wrestle through those scenarios, we can trust that God’s timing is perfect

              • Don’t doubt His sovereignty or timing—trust Him!

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust God’s perfect timing to accomplish ________ in my life.

            • God can be trusted!

          • Joseph was still waiting to be released, since he was innocent of the chargers brought by Potiphar’s wife

          • Everything was about to change

        • Pharaoh’s dream (vv. 1b-7)

          • In Pharaoh’s dream, he was standing by the Nile River

          • What Pharaoh saw first would not have been unusual

            • There were seven sleek and fat cows that came up out of the water and started to feed on the reeds

            • In the hot climate of Egypt, cows would submerge themselves in the river to cool off and to escape the insects

            • When they got hungry, they would come up out of the water and eat the reeds along the bank of the river

          • What Pharaoh saw next was unusual

            • Seven more cows came up out of the river, but they were ugly and gaunt

            • They didn’t start feeding on the reeds, but instead stood by the seven sleek and fat cows

            • Then something completely bizarre happened!

            • The seven sickly cows ate up the seven healthy cows

          • Perhaps the scene that Pharaoh just saw startled him enough that he woke up, but he didn’t stay awake

          • When he fell asleep again, he had another dream

            • Seven healthy and good heads of grain were growing on one stalk (that symbolized abundance)

            • On the same stalk, seven other heads of grain sprouted that were thin and scorched by the east wind

              • “Resembling the Palestinian sirocco, the Egyptian khamsin blows in from the Sahara desert (see Hos. 13:15) in late spring and early fall and often withers vegetation (see Isa. 40:7; Ezek. 17:10).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 530]

              • Judy and I experienced something like this in Southern California – they are called the Santa Ana winds and are warm, dry winds that blow in from the desert during the fall and winter months

              • The Santa Ana winds are always a concern, because they can contribute to the fast moving wild fires

            • The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads of grain

          • Pharaoh woke up again, probably because the dream was so disturbing

          • By God’s providence Pharaoh and his magicians and wise men did not understand the significance of the dreams

            • With hindsight we understand the importance of the symbols represented in the dream

            • “For the cow was the symbol of Isis, the goddess of the all-sustaining earth, and in the hieroglyphics it represented the earth, agriculture, and food; and the Nile, by its overflowing, was the source of the fertility of the land.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 225]

            • “The river was the source of Egypt’s—and so Pharaoh’s—power, fertility, and life (cf. Ex. 7:15-18).” ​​ [Waltke, 530]

          • We have the whole story, so we know what the Nile, cows, and grain represent, but Pharaoh and his magicians and wise men did not

        • Egyptian magicians and wise men (v. 8)

          • Pharaoh’s mind is troubled

            • Pharaoh probably understood that something fantastic had taken place in his dream

            • He may have even understood that the dream had something to do with the plentiful resources of Egypt, but he didn’t know what it meant

            • So, Pharaoh calls in the magicians and wise men of Egypt

          • Magicians and wise men

            • It was part of the culture of Egypt to have “magicians” that would interpret dreams

            • “The training center for the craft was the ‘House of Life,’ where guidebooks for dream interpretation were produced. ​​ These ‘dream books’ are known from the twelfth dynasty, which involved the interpretation of dreams by discerning puns and symbolic images.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 757]

            • So, the magicians were trained while the wise men were educated and intellectually capable – perhaps experts in logic (they were probably able to discern what made sense and what didn’t)

            • Having both magicians and wise men working together would be very beneficial

          • God’s perfect timing had arrived

        • Chief cupbearer (vv. 9-13)

          • Confession time

            • The chief cupbearer was probably in the court while Pharaoh shared his dream with the magicians and wise men

            • When he realized that the magicians and wise men could not interpret the dreams for Pharaoh, a light bulb lit up in his head

              • He remembered that Joseph had interpreted his dream and the chief baker’s dream

              • He probably also remembered Joseph’s request

              • Genesis 40:14, But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.

              • Now that he remembered Joseph, he mentioned him to Pharaoh

            • He mentions his shortcomings to Pharaoh

              • It is important for us to remember our shortcomings too

              • When the Holy Spirit brings to mind something we have done wrong or something we have neglected to do, it is important that we confess that shortcoming to the Lord and to those we have wronged

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when we confess our sins.

                • James 5:13-16, Is any one of you in trouble? ​​ He should pray. ​​ Is anyone happy? ​​ Let him sing songs of praise. ​​ Is any one of you sick? ​​ He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. ​​ And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. ​​ If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. ​​ Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ​​ The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

                • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

                • Hebrews 10:19-23, Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. ​​ Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess my shortcomings to the Lord and to anyone I have wronged.

            • After the chief cupbearer confessed his shortcomings, he tells Pharaoh what happened to him two years ago

          • Remembering

            • He reminds Pharaoh that he and the chief baker made Pharaoh angry

            • Their punishment was to be imprisoned in the house of the captain of the guard (Potiphar’s house)

            • They both had a dream the same night

            • Both dreams had their own meaning

            • A young Hebrew, who was a servant of the captain of the guard was there with them

            • They both told Joseph their dreams and Joseph interpreted them

            • Both interpretations turned out exactly as Joseph had said

              • The chief cupbearer was restored to his position

              • The chief baker was hanged

          • This was just the news Pharaoh wanted to hear

        • Joseph’s release (v. 14)

          • Pharaoh sent for Joseph

            • This was what Joseph had been waiting for

            • God can be trusted for His perfect timing

            • “Never think you could do something if only you had a different lot and sphere assigned to you. ​​ What you call hindrances, obstacles, discouragements, are probably God’s opportunities.” ​​ [Horace Bushnell cited by Gangel & Bramer, 330]

          • Joseph got ready to meet Pharaoh

            • He changed out of whatever clothing he was wearing to probably nice linen clothes

            • He also shaved, which probably meant both his hair and beard

              • This would have been part of the Egyptian culture, perhaps for hygiene purposes

              • Most Hebrews would have had hair and beards as part of their culture

              • To shave the head and/or the beard was reserved as an insult (2 Sam. 10:5) or to show deep grief (Isa. 15:2; Jer. 41:5) [Mathews, 758; Gangel & Bramer, 333]

              • Joseph was able to be clean shaven, like the Egyptians, without compromising his beliefs, just as Daniel was able to do the same in the Babylonian empire

        • Joseph is ready to meet Pharaoh

    • God’s wisdom (vv. 15-32)

        • Pharaoh tells Joseph what he has heard about him

          • First, he tells Joseph that he had a dream and no one could interpret it

          • Second, he tells Joseph that he was told that when Joseph hears a dream, he is able to interpret it

        • Joseph sets Pharaoh straight

          • Joseph is not afraid to correct Pharaoh, because he knows he does not have any ability to interpret dreams

            • He had not trained as a magician and did not have any “dream books”

            • He was not highly educated and intellectually capable like Pharaoh’s wise men

            • Joseph knew that God could be trusted to give him wisdom and understanding

            • Joseph also knew he could not accept recognition for something God did

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Humility brings glory to God.

            • Biblical background

              • James 1:16-17, Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. ​​ Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

              • Proverbs 2:6, For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

              • James 1:5, If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

              • Matthew 23:12, For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

            • Joseph knew that God was the One who is the source of dreams and their interpretation [Mathews, 759]

              • Joseph witnessed for the true and living God before a king who ruled over a culture that was polytheistic (they worshiped God’s creation, but not Him)

              • He witnessed in a very humble way, by simply pointing to God and not himself

              • That was going to bring glory to God, when Pharaoh acknowledged Joseph’s God as the interpreter of his dream

            • Application

              • Where are you today?

              • Do you recognize that God is the One who has given you specific gifts and abilities, or are you taking the credit yourself?

              • Are you exalting yourself?

              • Do you need to humble yourself before a great and mighty God, who created you and gifted you?

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Humbly acknowledge that God has gifted me, so that He receives the glory.

          • Joseph did, what we all should do, and pointed Pharaoh to the source of all dreams and interpretations

          • God would give Pharaoh the meaning of his dream

        • Pharaoh’s dream retold

          • Cow dream

            • Pharaoh recounted the dream he had about the cows

            • He shared about the healthy cows and the lean cows both coming up out of the water

            • He added that he had never seen such ugly cows, in all of Egypt, as the second set of seven cows that were scrawny and lean

            • He shared again that the scrawny, lean, and ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows

            • He also added that even after the lean cows gorged themselves on the fat cows that you could not tell a difference in their appearance—it had no effect

          • Grain dream

            • He explained again about the seven full and good heads of grain growing on a single stalk

            • They were swallowed up by the seven withered and thin heads of grain that sprouted on the same stalk

          • Pharaoh had told his magicians, but they could not explain the dream to him

          • Joseph then explained that both dreams were one and the same and that God was revealing to Pharaoh what He was about to do

          • God can be trusted with His wisdom

        • The interpretation

          • Number seven explained

            • The seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain represent seven years

            • The seven lean, ugly cows and the seven worthless heads of grain represent seven years

          • Condition of the cows and heads of grain explained

            • The seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain represented seven years of great abundance

            • The seven lean, ugly cows and the seven worthless heads of grain represented seven years of famine

              • The seven years of famine would be so great that the seven years of abundance would not be remembered

              • The Egyptians would not remember “the good old days”

              • They would be so consumed by the hardship and difficulty of the famine

              • As we will see, the seven years of famine would strip them of everything they had, including their freedom

          • Once the meaning of the dream was explained, Joseph also explained why Pharaoh had the dream in two forms

        • Purpose of two forms of the dream

          • It was firmly decided by God that there would be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine

          • God would do it soon

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is sovereign!

            • Joseph tells Pharaoh twice that God has revealed to him what He is about to do (vv. 25, 28)

            • Joseph also tells Pharaoh that God will do it soon (v. 32)

            • The sovereignty of God is that He has the right to rule and He rules rightly

            • God had determined that there would be seven years of abundance and then seven years of famine

            • As the narrative about Joseph unfolds, we will see that his family travels to Egypt to get food, which opens the door for restoration and forgiveness

            • God is orchestrating everything in His sovereignty to accomplish His plan and purpose for Joseph and ultimately Jacob’s family

        • Joseph knew that God could be trusted to give him wisdom about the dream

        • Finally we see God’s plan communicated through Joseph

    • God’s plan (vv. 33-38)

        • Overseer

          • Pharaoh needs to appoint a wise and discerning man to be in charge of the land of Egypt

          • He would oversee the commissioners as they executed the plan

        • Commissioners

          • The commissioners would be accountable to the overseer

          • They would collect a fifth of the harvest during the seven years of abundance

          • They would store the food in the various cities and then distribute it during the seven years of famine

          • This would ensure that Egypt would not be ruined by the famine

          • God knew what He was about to do, but He was not going to leave the Egyptians, or the other nations around them, without hope or a plan

          • Joseph knew that God could be trusted with a perfect plan

          • God can be trusted to help us with a perfect plan to deal with the difficulties we are currently experiencing

        • Pharaoh’s approval

          • Pharaoh and his officials thought the plan sounded like a good idea

          • Pharaoh then asked his officials if they could find anyone like Joseph, who had the spirit of God in him?

          • Pharaoh realized that he did not have any wise and discerning men in his court, because none of the magicians and wise men could interpret his dream [Waltke, 532]

          • “Pharaoh wisely receives God’s words and responds accordingly.” ​​ [Waltke, 532]

          • Had Pharaoh not received God’s words, Egypt would have faced God’s judgment—the famine would have wiped them out


  • YOU

    • What do you need to trust God’s perfect timing for in your life?

    • What shortcomings do you need to confess to the Lord and others?

    • Where do you need to humbly acknowledge God’s gifting in your life, so He will receive the glory?


  • WE

    • What do we need to trust God’s perfect timing for in the church?

    • What shortcomings do we need to confess before the Lord?

    • Where do we need to humbly acknowledge God’s gifting in our church, so He will receive the glory?



“I have a friend who has done a very interesting thing. He has lived frugally and saved sacrificially in order to have a cash account larger than his yearly salary. I'm not going to tell you the interesting name of his account. But here we'll just refer to it as his good-bye-to-you account. When he had finally accumulated more money than a year's pay, he took his bank statement and showed it to his boss. He explained it as his good-bye-to-you account. He wasn't quitting his job; he was just saying if ever the boss doesn't treat him right or if things ever go wrong, he's not dependent upon the boss. He has this money, and he can say good-bye. He has independence.”


Source: Leith Anderson, "The Lord Is My Shepherd," Preaching Today, Tape No. 136.





Basic Training

If you were thinking about joining the Marines and you went to their website, this is what you would read about their boot camp or basic training: There are few reputations more storied and none more deserving than that of Marine Corps Recruit Training. The difficulties this process presents to every recruit are as deliberate as they are legendary, as physical, mental and moral toughness are prerequisites to fight among our ranks. During these 13 weeks of intense battles, it is not enough to simply endure, you must prevail. Pushing through surrender’s pull. Pulling together to prevent all from falling apart. Tapping into the purpose that brought you there. There is no room in our ranks for those who fall behind. Because of this, we constantly and continually take recruits to the brink of exhaustion in ways that test their toughness physically, mentally, and even ethically. What doesn't stop them only makes them more purposeful. And the hardships they overcome together only makes them more resilient. It is a demanding process, but also an exacting one.

This story is from There was a Marine Sergeant who was recuperating from wounds he received when an explosion damaged multiple vertebrae, his left hip, and parts of his legs. His entire left side absorbed a large portion of the blast, and his fellow Marines, who were also injured, pulled him out of the vehicle to safety. He had difficulty standing or sitting for long periods of time, and usually had to alternate between those positions as the pain increased. He was told he would suffer from chronic pain for the rest of his life. While he was in the hospital, they had their annual POW-MIA 5-K Run. This sergeant completed the run, shuffling through the three miles with his cane in about 52 minutes. To this sergeant, and many others, being a Marine means completing the mission despite any obstacles, pushing yourself past where others would quit, always keeping the goal in mind and pressing ever forward, one small step at a time until you reach victory.

When I think about the training required to be a marine and the mentality of that sergeant, I think about Joseph. Joseph must have been physically and mentally tough and we know from last week’s message that he was morally tough. He was thrown into a pit, by his own brothers, for who knows how long and was then sold into slavery by them. He was morally tough in refusing the sexual advances of Potiphar’s wife, was wrongfully accused by her and thrown in jail. He must have been faithful and obedient to the Lord because the Lord was with him and to Potiphar because he was put in charge of his entire household. He continued to trust in God despite all the obstacles that came his way and was patient waiting on God to deliver him, never quitting or giving up. He knew that God had something great in store for his life and kept pressing forward, one small step at a time until his mission and purpose came to fulfillment.

Every experience, every hardship and every adversity he went through, was basic training or boot camp, if you will, in the Lord’s Army. For those who have faith in God and in his purposes for their lives, they will experience his testing which is designed to develop a physical, mental, and moral maturity that puts steel into faith so that it becomes steadfast and mature. James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” Today, we will learn that Joseph continues to be incarcerated and two officials of Pharaoh's court are put in jail with him. He is assigned to attend them and when they both have dreams on the same night, he is able to interpret them with God’s help. Both dream’s interpretations come true, and Joseph hopes to gain his release from jail, but he is forgotten and the testing of his obedience, patience and faithfulness continues. Which brings us to our big idea that God tests his people through adversity to mature them in obedience, patience and faithfulness.

Before we dive into Genesis 40 this morning let’s ask the Holy Spirit to illumine our hearts and minds to what he wants us to learn and what he wants us to apply to our lives today. Dear Awesome God, as we open your Word this morning, we ask for your Holy Spirit to open our hearts and our minds to this passage. As we learn about going through basic training in your army, Lord God, I pray that we would allow you to mature us in obedience, patience and faithfulness even when it means going through adversity and trials of many kinds. Help us to persevere, becoming mature and complete, not lacking anything, for your honor and your glory, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

There are three points this morning. The first is Incarceration and is found in Genesis 40:1-8. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “Sometime later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

We begin with the timestamp, “sometime later” which means that Joseph was in prison for a considerable amount of time before the cupbearer and the baker offended their master. Their master was the “king of Egypt” who was the Pharaoh. That title was used when referencing his servants. The cupbearer and the baker were probably foreigners who had been previously enslaved and were now trusted officials in Pharaoh's court. This reminds us of Nehemiah, the cupbearer of King Artaxerxes while in exile in Persia, who was a man of influence and ability. These were important positions of power, temptation and danger. If someone wanted to assassinate Pharoah, one way would be to poison his food or drink. These officials would have been the first to come under suspicion. They are also called the chief cupbearer and chief baker, meaning they would also have the responsibility of ensuring that their respective staffs were wholly trustworthy as well.

Both of these officials “offended” Pharaoh. The word used translates to “sinned against.” We aren’t told what their specific offenses were meaning that God in his sovereignty was probably orchestrating these events. The phrase “sinned against” is probably to connect and contrast the last chapter where Joseph was thrown into prison for refusing to “sin against” God and this chapter where the officials were thrown into prison for “sinning against” Pharoah. Pharoah was angry, or “enraged.” Wenham says that Pharoah “lost his temper” but it would not have been an overreaction or over something trivial. He put them under “house arrest” in the house of the captain of the guard, pending an investigation into the charges against them.

By God’s sovereignty, they were confined in the same prison that Joseph was confined in and he was assigned by the captain of the guard to attend to them. Potiphar is not named here but it makes sense that Joseph, who was once in charge of his household, and who was now in charge of and responsible for all that was done in the prison, would be assigned to attend these officials. This reinforces the overarching theme of the Joseph story – the providence and sovereignty of God. God is in control of what is happening to Joseph. If Joseph is not put in charge of Potiphar’s house he doesn’t have the opportunity to be wrongfully accused by Potiphar’s wife and he doesn’t get sent to prison. If he is not in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, and if God isn’t with Joseph and grant him favor in the eyes of the prison warden, then Joseph is never assigned to attend to the prisoners, and he never hears and interprets their dreams. We can praise the Lord this morning because He is sovereign and his sovereignty is amazing. Only God can work all things out perfectly, even though it brings trials and adversity to his people, for his purposes. Only God in his infinite wisdom can use these trials and adversity to bring his people to maturity in obedience, patience and faith, and all for his glory and honor. (Big Idea)

Again, we see a timestamp, “after they had been in custody for some time.” We don’t know how long before they had their dreams. It seems that God was giving Joseph time to work on being patient. We are told that the cupbearer and baker both have dreams on the same night and each dream has a meaning of its own. The following morning when Joseph comes to attend them, he notices that they are dejected or sad. The word translated “dejected” is used for a “raging sea” giving us the sense that they were distraught. Seeing themselves as participants in a dream where no one is speaking would have been unnerving and would have added to their feeling of dread. Joseph, instead of ignoring them, inquires why their faces are so sad. We should also be aware of the “faces” of those we come in contact with. God may be wanting us to reach out to them to comfort and care for them as Joseph did here. This brings us to our first principle this morning which is “God is pleased when we notice the hurt in others and try to comfort them.” We see this in the following verses: Philippians 2:3b-4: “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Galatians 6:2: “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfill the law of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:4: “(God) comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Joseph was not so preoccupied with his own struggles that he didn’t notice that they were struggling as well. Instead of ignoring their faces, which would have been easy to do, he went the extra mile and inquired as to what was happening with them. I believe God wants us to go the extra mile when we notice someone is having a bad day or struggling with something. All it takes is asking “why” or “what” and being ready and willing to listen and help in any way we can. Which brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to notice those who are hurting, not ignoring them, but listening to and comforting them.

They both answer they are sad because they have had dreams and there is no one to interpret them. There was no one to interpret because they were in prison. It would have already been a bad omen they both had dreams on the same night but to not have access to someone who could interpret them would make it worse. They would have thought their dreams were about their futures and not having an interpreter would have upset them more than being in prison in the first place. Hamilton says, “A dream without an accompanying interpretation is like a diagnosis without a prognosis.” And I would add “a diagnosis without a treatment.” Egypt was well-known for having magicians who could interpret dreams. They believed that dreams came from the gods, but interpretation came from human beings. They had “dream books” that would have contained sample dreams along with the keys to interpreting them. These books would contain thousands of dreams, the symbolism used in them, and the interpretation of those symbols to tell what the dreams meant. These magicians would use the symbols, an understanding of the person who dreamed the dream, and current events to interpret the dream.

Next, we see the faithfulness of Joseph. How do we know he was faithful? Because he is in prison for being wrongfully accused and still he puts his faith and trust in God having full confidence that he will give him the interpretation. Why? Because God has done it before. Joseph’s relationship with God has not waned or wavered. He knows God will give him the interpretations of their dreams because he had already proven faithful by giving him the interpretation of his dreams. Joseph also believed that God was all-powerful and had authority over all things. Joseph was humble as he told the officials that it was only God who could interpret dreams and not himself. He then asked them to tell him their dreams, putting himself in a position to be used by God. Which brings us to our second principle this morning which is “God is pleased when we allow him to use us to fulfill his plans and purposes.” This is a principle we have seen all throughout our study of the book of Genesis. Joseph, even though he is in prison, is obedient, patient and faithful as he allows God to use him to fulfill his plans and purposes. (Big Idea)

That brings us to our second point which is Interpretation found in verses 9-19. This is what God’s Word says, “So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.” “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.” When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”

The first dream Joseph hears and interprets is the cupbearer’s dream. In his dream, we notice that the cupbearer is fulfilling his occupation. He was responsible not only for opening and tasting the wine but also for the quality of what he put in Pharoah’s cup. This would include the production of the wine seen in the budding, blossoming, and ripening of the grapes. Next, we notice some sets of threes. There is a vine with three branches on it. There are three actions of the branches - budded, blossomed and ripened. We see that the cupbearer is holding Pharoah’s cup, squeezing the grapes into Pharoah’s cup and putting the cup in Pharaoh's hand. “Pharoah'' is referred to three times and “cup” is mentioned three times. Joseph immediately after hearing the cupbearer’s dream starts to interpret it. The immediacy proves that Joseph is truly interpreting the dream – he is not faking it. The rapidity with which the actions happen show that the dream’s fulfillment was imminent. The three branches stood for three days meaning the interpretation would be realized in that time. The ripening of the grapes, the cupbearer’s interaction with Pharaoh and the three-fold mention of Pharaoh, shows their close relationship. The interpretation of “lift up your head”, in the case of the cupbearer, meant that he would be “restored” to his position in Pharaoh's court. He would be putting Pharaoh’s cup in his hand just like he used to.

Joseph then takes the opportunity, after giving a favorable interpretation, to ask a favor of the cupbearer. This showed his confidence in God’s interpretation and was smart on Joseph’s part. One of the best times to ask a favor of someone would be after giving them good news. He asked the cupbearer that once he got released, to “remember him and show him kindness” by putting in a good word for him with Pharoah, so he could get out of this prison. He must have realized at some level that he is there because God wants him there but that doesn’t mean God wants him to stay there. His own dreams prove that he would not wallow in prison forever. We may debate whether Joseph was patient and waiting on God or putting his future in the hands of a man. The phrase “remember me and show me kindness” is more common to divine than human action so maybe Joseph felt that through this true and favorable interpretation given to him by God he would gain his release. Ultimately, he was right but he would have to be patient a little while longer and wait on God’s perfect timing for his release. Joseph gives two reasons why he wanted to be released. First, he was forcibly carried away from his homeland – the land of the Hebrews. Second, he has done nothing wrong to be in this dungeon – he is innocent. The word “dungeon” is the same word for “pit” or “cistern” reminding us of the pit his brothers threw him into. Notice he doesn’t mention his brothers or Potiphar’s wife or blame them for his present state.

When the baker hears Joseph’s favorable interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream he proceeds to tell Joseph his dream. Again, we notice that the baker is fulfilling his occupation having three baskets of bread on his head. In the top basket is “all kinds of baked goods” for Pharaoh but there is no mention of him giving the bread to Pharaoh. In fact, it’s not Pharoah who eats the bread but the birds. This would have been a picture of impending doom for the baker. Again, immediately after hearing the dream, Joseph interprets it. As in the cupbearer’s dream the three baskets stood for three days. And like the cupbearer, Pharoah will “lift up his head” but this time instead of “restoring” him, he will “lift up” the baker’s head meaning the baker would be beheaded and his body would be impaled on a stake. The meaning of the birds eating Pharoah’s bread was that the birds would feast on the baker’s impaled body. This picture may have reminded the first hearers of Abraham fighting off the predator birds in his dream in Genesis chapter 15. The birds of prey signified oppression which Abraham was able to fight off, but the baker will not. This would have been a harsh punishment relegated to the worst kind of criminal. The Egyptians believed that the soul in the afterlife was dependent on the body and this kind of damage to one’s body would have major repercussions. Goldingay says, “While impaling shames a person and dissuades others from imitating the offense the birds suggest that the punishment continues after death. There will not be enough to bury and he will not be able to rest with his ancestors.” This vivid picture shows that Joseph was certain his interpretation would come true.

That brings us to the third point this morning which is “Implementation” found in verses 20-23. Here we see the fulfillment of the interpretations of the dreams. This is what God’s Word says, “Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand—but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

We start this section with another timestamp. The fulfillment of Joseph’s interpretations on the third day would coincide with Pharaoh's birthday. This could have been his physical birthday or the anniversary of the day that he ascended to being Pharoah. It was not uncommon that the celebration of Pharaoh's ascension be accompanied by granting amnesties. The celebration included a feast given by Pharaoh for all his officials. We see the fulfillment of Joseph’s interpretations as Pharaoh “lifted up the heads” of the chief cupbearer and chief baker in the presence of his officials. He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so he could continue to put the cup into Pharaoh's hand, and he beheaded and impaled the chief baker just as Joseph interpreted. The exact implementation of the dream’s interpretations showed that they came from God. The punishment of the baker indicates that his sin or offense against Pharaoh was grave. The text does not recount their reactions or why one is set free while the other is condemned to death. This silence I believe continues to show the sovereignty of God. He has the right to rule and he rules rightly and was in control of all that happened to the cupbearer and baker. Then we are given this final caveat. The chief cupbearer, knowingly or unknowingly, did not remember Joseph and in fact he forgot him. The cupbearer’s neglect is doubly emphasized by the verbs “did not remember” or “ignored” and “forgot.” We know that God was with Joseph because he spoke through him to interpret these dreams. He has been forgotten by man but not by God. Joseph will continue in prison for another two years until Pharoah has his dreams and the cupbearer finally remembers him.

Earlier, one of our principles were “God is pleased when his people are faithful in adversity.” The following comes from Gangel & Bramer’s commentary. What will be your response to unfairness, mistreatment, and misfortune? In the eyes of the skeptical world, the manner in which a believer meets difficulties by means of the grace of God is a powerful apologetic for faith in God. F.B. Meyer said, “The child of God is often called to suffer because there is nothing that will convince onlookers of the reality and power of true religion as suffering will do, when it is borne with Christian fortitude.” William Sangster, a well-known British pastor of the last century, was told by a doctor that he had progressive muscular atrophy; his muscles would gradually waste away, his voice would finally fail, and he would lose the ability even to swallow. He made the following resolutions and stuck by them for the rest of his life: I will never complain, I will keep the home bright, I will count my blessings, I will try and turn it to good. Sangster devoted himself to the work of British home missions, figuring he could still write and he would have even more time for prayer. He wrote articles and books and helped organize prayer cells throughout England. He turned misfortune into triumph because he believed in the God of the Bible. Someday we may also be called upon to face unfairness, mistreatment or misfortune. Will we respond with faith and faithfulness or with complaint and compromise?

As Christians, some time or another, we will have adversity in this life. So the question before us today is how will each of us face those adversities. How will we face our own unfairnesses, mistreatments or misfortunes? Hopefully, we will face them like Joseph did. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to face adversity with obedience, patience and faithfulness. When we do this God will bring us to Christian maturity and we will be better equipped to notice the hurting and bring them comfort and to allow God to fulfill his plans and purposes in us and through us.

As the praise team comes to lead us in a final song and as the ushers prepare to collect the tithes and offerings, let’s close our time in prayer: Lord God, by the power of your Holy Spirit help us not to leave this place the way we came but to be transformed by your Word. Give us your eyes to see the hurting in our world and to not ignore them but to comfort them. ​​ Mature us in obedience, patience and faithfulness for your honor and your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.




Loyal, Strong, and Faithful

(Genesis 39:1-23)



“Here are ten ways you can tell it’s going to be a rotten day:

  • You start brushing your teeth with muscle relaxant cream.

  • You see the 60 Minutes news team in your office.

  • You realize the hair spray you just used was really your new can of hair-removal spray.

  • You turn on the news and they’re showing emergency routes out of the city.

  • You come out to find your car parked right where you left it, but there are no tires on it.

  • Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell’s Angels on the freeway.

  • Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat.

  • Your income tax refund check bounces.

  • You get passed on your morning jog by a little old lady with a cane.

  • You look down to see you have on one black shoe and one brown shoe and you remember seeing another pair just like them in your closet before you left home.


[Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 321].



  • ME

    • Loyalty

        • I worked for Child Evangelism Fellowship for ten years

        • I probably would have worked their longer, but I got laid off

        • I was very loyal to that ministry and I am grateful for everything the Lord taught me through ministering with them

    • Strength

        • The Lord has been developing this character quality in my life

        • I wasn’t always strong, especially when it came to certain things

        • I had to have accountability in order to overcome a weakness

    • Faithfulness

        • Through all of the difficulties in my life, I have remained faithful to the Lord

        • I know He is the One who will carry me through

        • He will never leave me or forsake me, so I can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper!” (Heb. 13:5-6)


  • WE

    • How many of us have been loyal (brand, employer, person, team, school, etc.)?

    • All of us are strong in certain areas and weak in others. ​​ How has God developed strength in us?

    • When we experience hardship and difficulties, have we remained faithful to the Lord?


Joseph experienced the Lord being with him and enabling him to prosper and be successful in everything he did. ​​ Because he knew God and His character, Joseph was able to remain loyal to his master, strong in the face of temptation, and faithful to Him when things appeared bleak. ​​ Joseph is a great example and model of how . . .


BIG IDEA – Our character should reflect loyalty, strength, and faithfulness. [Gangel & Bramer, 326]


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 39:1-23)

    • Loyalty (vv. 1-6a)

        • The narrator reminds us of what happened to Joseph

          • He was sold to the Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar one of Pharaoh’s officials who was captain of the guard

          • It is close to what the narrator said in Genesis 37:36

          • There was this little vignette about Judah, sandwiched in between

          • Now the narrator is ready to continue the Joseph story

        • The Lord was with Joseph

          • This statement is also found in verses 3, 21, and 23

            • I am certain that Joseph already knew the Lord was with him, because He had rescued him from his blood thirsty brothers

            • The same is true of us as followers of Jesus Christ

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – The Lord is always with us.

              • Biblical background

                • Isaiah 41:10, So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. ​​ I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

                • Deuteronomy 31:6, Be strong and courageous. ​​ Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

                • Matthew 28:20, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ​​ And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

                • Hebrews 13:5b-6, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” ​​ So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. ​​ What can man do to me?”

              • The Lord is always with you

                • When you are feeling alone, anxious, and depressed – the Lord is with you

                • When you are feeling angry and frustrated about a relationship – the Lord is with you

                • When you are struggling with finances and wondering where the money is going to come from – the Lord is with you

                • When you are scared about the future – the Lord is with you

                • When you don’t know or understand what is happening to you physically – the Lord is with you

                • In every circumstance that you face, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you can have confidence that the Lord is with you

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim the truth from God’s Word that the Lord is always with me.

            • Some pretty amazing things happened for Joseph as a result of the Lord being with him

          • What happened because the Lord was with Joseph

            • He prospered

            • The Lord gave him success in everything he did

            • He got promoted

            • Caution!

              • I want to caution us today that what happened with Joseph is not universal for all people at all times

              • God was accomplishing his perfect plan and purpose through Joseph

              • He was going to use Joseph in Pharaoh’s household in order to save the Egyptians, other nations, and even Joseph’s family

              • The Lord is always with us, but that does not mean we will always prosper, be successful, or get promoted

              • He is with us even when we are struggling and having difficulties

          • It is amazing that Potiphar recognized that the Lord was with Joseph

        • Potiphar’s recognition of the Lord being with Joseph

          • When Potiphar recognized that the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in everything he did, he promoted him to his personal attendant – second in command in his household

          • Potiphar’s smart move of placing Joseph in charge of everything paid off

            • The Lord blessed his household

            • The Lord’s blessing wasn’t reserved for just part of Potiphar’s holdings, it was for all of his holdings, both in the house and in the field

            • “In the house and in the field” is a merism to explain everything (it is two contrasting parts of the whole that refer to the whole)

          • It was because of Joseph that Potiphar’s household was blessed

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God keeps His promises!

              • Genesis 12:2-3, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. ​​ I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

              • Genesis 22:17-18, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. ​​ Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

              • Genesis 30:27, 30b, But Laban said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. ​​ I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.”… The little you had before I came has increased greatly, and the Lord has blessed you wherever I have been.

              • As part of the line of Abraham, Joseph’s presence, in Potiphar’s household enabled his household to be blessed

              • God still keeps his promises today, so we can trust Him no matter what

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Thank God for keeping His promises.

          • Potiphar left everything in Joseph’s care and didn’t worry about anything, except what he was going to eat

        • Joseph showed incredible loyalty to Potiphar as he handled all of his affairs

        • In our work environment and volunteer positions, we should also reflect the character quality of loyalty

        • Joseph’s loyalty would also be coupled with his strength in resisting temptation

    • Strength (vv. 6b-19)

        • Joseph was a good looking guy (some scholars believe he got this attribute from his mother – Gen. 29:17, …but Rachel was lovely in form, and beautiful)

        • Potiphar’s wife’s proposition

          • Potiphar’s wife noticed that Joseph was muscular and handsome

          • I used to be the same way – most of us were in our 20’s

          • She asked him to come to bed with her – she wanted to be intimate with him

        • Joseph’s refusal

          • Joseph gives her three great reasons why he can’t do what she has asked

            • Proper view of responsibility [Gangel & Bramer, 322] – breaking trust – Potiphar had entrusted everything to Joseph, except his wife

            • Proper view of marriage [Gangel & Bramer, 322] – violation of marital rights – Potiphar was her husband and therefore he had the marital rights to intimacy, not Joseph

            • Proper view of sin [Gangel & Bramer, 322] – falling short of God’s expectation – adultery is a sin

          • Joseph’s refusal did not stop her

        • Potiphar’s wife’s persistence

          • She asked him the same question every day

          • Her persistence does not pay off like she had hoped, because Joseph doesn’t even want to be with her or be around her

          • So, she probably sets the stage for her next attempt

            • It is likely that she released the other household servants or told them to leave the house

            • With the house empty, surely she will be able to seduce Joseph into being intimate with her

          • She doesn’t just ask Joseph to come to bed with her, but grabs him by his cloak

          • Perhaps she is directing him towards her bed or a couch

          • Proverbs warns young men about a wayward wife and her temptations (Read Proverbs 6:20-35 and Proverbs 7:10-20)

        • Joseph’s flight

          • Joseph knew exactly what to do, because he had probably determined, in advance, what action he would take if something like this happened

          • Joseph left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – “Our ability to overcome temptation depends more on character than on circumstances.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 326]

            • “Temptation is not a part-time experience of the believer. ​​ Calvin commented, ‘Holy Joseph, therefore, must have been endowed with extraordinary power of the Spirit, seeing that he stood invincible to the last, against all the allurements of the impious woman.’” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 734-35]

            • 2 Timothy 2:22, Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

            • Galatians 5:24, Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

            • Joseph knew not to put himself in a position to be tempted – he didn’t even want to be around her – and he knew that if the advances progressed, he would flee

            • This showed Joseph’s character of strength in resisting temptation

            • Our character should reflect strength in resisting temptation

              • There are all kinds of temptations bombarding us today

                • Adultery and affairs (physical & emotional), pornography, premarital sex, same-sex attraction, etc.

                • Addictions (smoking, vaping, drugs, alcohol)

                • Overspending, oversharing, overeating, etc.

              • Success in resisting temptation comes when we have a plan in place before the temptation comes

                • What will I do when sexual temptation comes? ​​ (flee, put protective software on all of my devices, not be alone with my boyfriend or girlfriend, etc.)

                • What is my plan when confronted with smoking, vaping, drugs, and alcohol? ​​ (flee, say no, don’t attend certain parties, etc.)

                • How will I avoid overspending, oversharing, and overeating? ​​ (don’t go shopping or work with a budget, hold my tongue, walk away from the ​​ table, only prepare a regular portion, or don’t buy certain foods)

                • When we plan ahead for any temptation, then we will be guided by our character instead of the circumstances

                • “Self-control is an important factor in building character and preparing us for leadership.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 147]

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Determine what my plan will be to overcome any temptations I am currently facing. ​​ (accountability is one very important key to success)

        • Potiphar’s wife’s prevarication (lie, deception)

          • When Potiphar’s wife did not get her own way, she twisted the truth

            • Her intent was to get Joseph in trouble

            • She also wanted to take the attention away from her sin

            • She didn’t keep Joseph’s cloak in her hand, but put it beside her

            • If she had kept it in her hand it could have incriminated her and shown the truth of what had really happened

            • She does not use Joseph’s name, but rather is nationality when referring to him – perhaps this was a tactic to create an “us verse him” scenario (she was trying to garner sympathy and support against Joseph)

            • How she words her report to the household servants also attempts to create division and separation between them and Joseph (Look, this Hebrew has been brought to us to make sport of us?)

            • She reversed what actually happened

              • Joseph did not come in to sleep with her, but to do his work

              • Perhaps she screamed after Joseph left to help make her case, but Joseph didn’t leave his cloak because she screamed

            • Blaming her husband

              • She kept Joseph’s cloak beside her until her husband came home

              • Then she told her “story” and basically blamed her husband for what happened (he brought the Hebrew slave into their home)

              • She is desperately trying to shift the attention and blame away from herself

          • Another cloak incident

            • If you recall, Jacob gave Joseph an ornamented robe that elevated him above his brothers – it showed that he had authority

            • His cloak made him an easy target for his brothers when he visited them in Dothan

            • Now Joseph has another cloak that probably identified him as second in command under Potiphar

            • Potiphar would have recognized the cloak as being Joseph’s

        • Potiphar’s reaction

          • Burned with anger

            • At first glance, it seems as though Potiphar is very angry with Joseph for his alleged attempted rape of his wife

            • Perhaps that is not the case

            • Background

              • The normal punishment for Joseph’s offense would have been immediate execution

              • Potiphar, as captain of the guard, was over the soldiers who carried out executions

              • So, it would make sense that Joseph should have been killed

            • “Potiphar responds by ‘burning with anger’ (39:19). ​​ Given his wife’s slander of his own motives, the proven trustworthiness of Joseph, the fact that he is going to lose the services of a competent slave, and his knowledge of his wife’s character or lack of it, his anger arguably burns at his wife, not at Joseph. ​​ This is further suggested by the fact that Joseph is only put in the king’s prison. … The action he takes against Joseph is as minimal as it can be and still retain his family’s honor.” ​​ [Walton, 671-72]

          • Put Joseph in prison

            • The prison where Joseph was put is where the king’s prisoners were confined

              • This wasn’t the same prison that the commoners were confined to

              • In fact, Genesis 40:3 makes it sound as though the prison Joseph is confined to is attached to Potiphar’s house

              • Genesis 40:2-3, Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined.

            • God continued to be with Joseph even when he was falsely accused

        • PRINCIPLE #4 – “God’s blessings do not insulate our lives from hardships or injustice.” ​​ [Gangel & Bramer, 326]

          • Joseph certainly experienced that in his own life

          • The same is true for us

          • Jesus never promised his followers that when they believed in him that everything would be cotton candy, sunshine, and rainbows or prosperity, success, and promotions

          • He did warn his disciples about a few things:

            • Read John 15:18-25

            • James 1:2-3, Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

            • Matthew 24:9, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.”

          • Sometimes we experience hardship, because of our own poor decisions

          • We can rest assured that the Lord is still with us during those times of hardship and injustice

        • Joseph experienced God’s presence and mercy while in prison

    • Faithfulness (vv. 20-23)

        • The Lord was with Joseph

          • This phrase begins and ends these three verses

          • Because the Lord was with him, the warden put him in charge of all the prisoners and everything that was done there

          • The warden did not have to pay attention to anything under Joseph’s care

          • Joseph’s character reflected faithfulness

            • Even though he was now in prison, for no fault of his own, Joseph faithfully worked hard and advanced in the prison

            • We shouldn’t be surprised by this, because this was part of his character when he served as Potiphar’s personal attendant

            • Our character should reflect faithfulness no matter where we are working

              • Even when we don’t get the promotion at work that we thought we should have gotten, we need to remain faithful

              • Even when we are asked to serve in the church in a position that seems below our gifts and abilities, we need to remain faithful

              • I remember reading in one of Chuck Smith’s books that when he was approached by an enthusiastic person about serving in the church, he would ask them to clean toilets. ​​ Depending on how they responded, determined whether he would have them serve in the church in other capacities. ​​ If they were willing to serve in a lowly position, he knew their heart was in the right place

              • Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

        • The Lord was merciful to Joseph

          • The Lord showed Joseph kindness

          • The Lord granted Joseph favor in the eyes of the prison warden

          • The Lord is merciful and kind to us also

          • He does not give us what we deserve


  • YOU

    • Do you need to claim the truth that God is always with you as His child?

    • Do you need to thank God for keeping His promises?

    • Do you need to determine what your plan will be to overcome temptation?

    • Does your character reflect loyalty, strength, and faithfulness?


  • WE

    • The Lord is with us as a body of believers

    • We can thank God for keeping His promises to us



“When life seems to be going terribly wrong, as it did for Joseph on a few occasions, it is difficult to affirm God’s sovereignty. ​​ Joel Sonnenberg is a modern-day illustration of someone who had cause to question God’s sovereignty and love. ​​ He was not yet two years old when a tragic chain-reaction car accident changed his life. ​​ A truck crashed into the back of a line of cars that was stopped at a toll plaza, and the car Joel was riding in was engulfed in flames. ​​ Agonizing minutes went by before he could be rescued. ​​ Though he survived, he was faced with excruciating pain, and even then the fifty-plus surgeries have still left him severely disfigured.


Bitterness would have been easy. ​​ But instead of rejecting God as powerless or cruel, Joel has allowed God’s love to fill him, and he has had opportunity to testify to what God can do in someone’s life. ​​ He has been featured in national news programs such as 48 Hour and Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel. ​​ Special reports by Chicago anchor Carol Marin have also followed Joel’s story over the years. ​​ He graduated from Taylor University in the spring of 2000. ​​ The university’s website listed some of Joel’s achievements and honors: ​​ Eagle Scout, Discover Tribute award winner, Western North Carolina Citizen of the Year, and high school student body president, to name just a few.


Like Joseph, Joel could not have known what God would eventually accomplish through the crises and tragedies of his life. ​​ We are not in a position to argue with God about why he sovereignly allows the difficult things that come into our lives. ​​ As the prophet says in Isaiah 45:9-10:


Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker, to him who is but a potsherd among the potsherds on the ground. ​​ Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘He has not hands’? ​​ Woe to him who says to his father, ‘What have you begotten?’ or to his mother, ‘What have you brought to birth?’


Unlike Joseph, Joel’s troubles were not caused by someone’s evil intentions. ​​ The fact is, however, that even when evil intentions are involved, whatever people intend for evil God can use to bring about good. ​​ God does not promise to shield us from all evil. ​​ But we can believe that whenever evil comes, God is able to accomplish good through it.”


[Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 697-98].




Caught in the Palm Tree

(Genesis 38:1-30)



“An Indian bride called off her own wedding after getting a look at her groom for the first time on their wedding day. At a reception preceding the ceremony, the bride and groom both lifted their veils and saw one another for the first time. But the would-be bride didn’t like what she saw. According to local news reports, the woman complained the man was too dark-skinned and appeared to be too old. After the woman called off the wedding, the families that had arranged the marriage began fighting, stopping only when police were called to the scene.


Source: Staff, “Bad First Impression,”, (1-18-20) p. 15.





  • ME

    • Deception

        • Trash can veil

          • Our two oldest boys were wrestling in one of their bedrooms in the house we were renting

          • Judy heard a loud noise and went to investigate

          • Both boys were sitting on the bed

          • When Judy asked them what had happened they weren’t immediately eager to share

          • Judy saw the trash can sitting in the middle of the room along the wall, instead of where it normally was

          • When she moved the trash can, there was a hole in the wall from one of our boys back ends

          • It was a textured wall and I knew I couldn’t repair it and match the texture

          • We had to call a professional who did an amazing job of matching the preexisting texture

        • Clay veil

          • I’ve mentioned before that I bought Judy two vases while I was in Hungary in Romania

          • When we moved from California to Pennsylvania, I was packing up the items on the mantel over the fireplace

          • One of the items was the black vase I had bought Judy in Romania

          • I noticed that it didn’t quite look the same

          • One of the boys had broken a piece out of the vase and repaired it themselves

          • I never noticed because the repaired section was facing the wall

          • They had used clay to repair it and even painted it the same black color as the rest of the vase


  • WE

    • Perhaps all of us have experienced some kind of veiled deception in our lives

    • We have to be careful how we react when the deception is revealed, because we may be guilty of the same kind of deception


As we will see today, Judah and his family were plagued with sin and deception. ​​ Two of Judah’s sons were disciplined by the Lord and lost their lives. ​​ Judah was repentant when his sin and deception were revealed. ​​ He received forgiveness through the grace of God. ​​ We will see in this passage that . . .


BIG IDEA – God’s grace is amazing!


Let’s pray

  • GOD (Genesis 38:1-30)

    • Descent (vv. 1-11)

        • Judah’s marriage (vv. 1-5)

          • “At that time” refers to the time after Joseph was sold to the Midianites and they took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar

          • While that is happening to Joseph, Judah leaves his brothers and goes down to Adullam () and stays with Hirah (khee-raw’)

            • It is assumed that Judah is still living in Hebron with his father Jacob

            • Even though Adullam is northwest of Hebron, Judah is going down

            • Hebron is in the mountains and Adullam is in the lowlands

            • They are about 2.5 miles apart

          • While in Adullam, Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua (shoo’-ah)

            • Her name is never revealed in Scripture

            • They had three sons together

              • Their firstborn son was named Er (ayr/air), which means “awake”

              • Their second son was named Onan (o-nawn’), which means “strong”

              • Their third son was name Shelah (shay-law’), which means “a petition”

            • Jacob and his wife were in Kezib (kez-eeb’/kez-eve’) when Shelah was born

          • This sets the stage for the next part of the narrative about Judah’s sons and Tamar (taw-mawr’)

        • Judah’s son’s marriage (vv. 6-11)

          • Arranged marriages were not uncommon, so Judah got a wife for Er

            • Her name was Tamar, which means “date palm” or “palm tree”

            • She was most likely a Canaanite, like Judah’s wife

          • Er was wicked in the Lord’s sight

            • We are not told what wicked thing(s) he did in the Lord’s sight

            • We do know that the Lord removed him from the earth, because of his wickedness

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – The Lord punishes the wicked.

              • The Lord is holy and just, therefore He has to punish sin

              • Romans 6:23 tells us that what we earn or deserve for our sin is death – it’s not a physical death, but a spiritual death – a separation from God for all of eternity

              • He does not always require the life of the sinner, but sometimes in Scripture He did

                • Aaron’s sons Nadab (naw-dawb’/naw-dawv’) and Abihu (ab-ee-hoo’/av-ee-hoo’) for offering unauthorized fire (Leviticus 10:1-2)

                • Korah (core’-rack), Dathan (daw-thawn’) and Abiram (av-ee-rawm’), their families and possessions and the 250 men that followed them in their rebellion against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:1-35)

                • Achan, his family, and possessions for not obeying God’s command to destroy everything in Jericho (Joshua 7:1-26)

                • Ananias and Sapphira for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11)

          • Levirate marriage

            • After Er died, Judah went to his second son Onan and asked him to fulfill his duty as a brother-in-law to produce an offspring for Er

              • This was a common practice that was active up to the time of Christ

              • It was obviously something that was practiced prior to the Mosaic law, but we see the regulations in the Mosaic law for the Israelites

              • Read Deuteronomy 25:5-10

              • When a brother died without any offspring, it was the duty of his next closest brother to marry his wife and produce an heir for him

            • Onan’s wickedness

              • He was selfish and greedy

              • Onan understood that if he produced an heir for Er that the child would receive the firstborn sons share of Judah’s inheritance

              • Onan was only thinking about himself and what he stood to inherit

              • He faked his obedience

                • “The syntax of v. 9 does not refer to one time ‘when’ Onan had sex with Tamar, but to whenever he had sex with her.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 436]

                • Every time that Onan was intimate with Tamar he practiced coitus interruptus, so that she would not get pregnant

              • This was considered wicked in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord required his life

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – The Lord punishes the wicked.

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Selflessness is pleasing to the Lord.

              • That is not what Onan was practicing

              • He was practicing selfishness – he was coveting what he perceived would be an incredible inheritance

              • While levirate marriage is not practiced in our culture today, there are others ways we can be selfless in our relationships (family and friends)

                • 1 Timothy 5:3-4, Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. ​​ 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.

                • Philippians 2:3-4, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. ​​ Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

                • Matthew 7:12, So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

              • Is there a family member or friend that could use some help right now? (physical, financial, etc.)

              • Your selfless act may be just what they need

          • Judah’s deception

            • What he said

              • Judah tells Tamar to live as a widow in her father’s house until Shelah grows up

              • This would have been unusual in their culture

              • Judah should have taken her into his household and provided for her, but what he said was not what he was thinking

            • What he thought

              • Judah is afraid that if he gives Tamar to Shelah as his wife, that Shelah will die too

              • “The sudden death of his two sons so soon after their marriage with Thamar made Judah hesitate to give her the third as a husband also, thinking, very likely, according to a superstition which we find in Tobit 3:7ff., that either she herself, or marriage with her, had been the cause of her husband’s deaths.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 219]

              • “Alternatively, women who seemed prone to become widows were in danger of being suspected of witchcraft.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 668]

            • What he missed

              • His two son’s deaths were not Tamar’s fault

              • It was their fault – they were wicked

              • Judah did not recognize the sin in his own children

              • Had he done that, he could have cautioned them

              • The same is true for us as parents

                • We need to recognize the sin in our children

                • We need to lovingly confront our children about their sin, even as adults

                • As adults, they are ultimately responsible for their sin

            • We will see that Judah’s deception will backfire on him

        • Some time passes as the narrative continues

    • Deception (vv. 12-30)

        • Judah’s wife’s death (v. 12)

          • Waltke believes verse 1-11 covers a period of twenty years, while vv. 12-30 covers a period no longer than a year [Waltke, 506]

          • At the beginning of this year long period, Judah’s wife died

          • After Judah recovered from his grieving period, he resumed his regular activities

            • One of those activities was to participate in the celebration surrounding the shearing of his sheep

            • He took his best friend Hirah (khee-raw’) with him

            • They traveled north to Timnah (tim-naw’)

              • [show map]

              • Scholars are divided on the exact location of Timnah

              • Some believe it is in the lowlands (Timnah)

              • Others believe it is in the highlands (Timnah-serah)

              • Either way, Judah and Hirah would have gone up to Timnah from Adullam

          • Next we see that Tamar has continued to grieve the loss of her two husbands – her time of mourning hasn’t stopped

        • Setting the trap (vv. 13-23)

          • We do not know who told Tamar about her father-in-laws travel plans, but this was perhaps the opportunity she had been waiting for

            • She recognized that Judah had lied to her about giving Shelah (shay-law’) to her as a husband

            • She took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself and sat down at the entrance to Enaim (ay-nah’-yim/ay-nam’)

            • “According to a Middle Assyrian law (ca. 1200 B.C.), the daughters, wives, and concubines of free Assyrian males, as well as sacred prostitutes, must be veiled in public, but a whore must not veil herself.” ​​ [Waltke, 512]

            • Tamar had to think about her future, since Judah was not fulfilling his duty as her father-in-law – she was part of Judah’s family now

          • The proposition

            • Judah saw her and assumed she was perhaps a shrine prostitute, because she had covered her face

            • Shrine prostitutes would cover their face with a veil as a symbol of being the bride of the god/idol [Walton, 669]

            • Judah approaches her and propositions her to sleep with him

            • Judah has no idea that she is actually his daughter-in-law, Tamar

          • The price

            • Tamar asks what Judah will give her to sleep with him

            • Judah promises to send a young goat

            • The fact that Judah did not have money or a young goat with him, is probably an indication that his act of sexual immorality was not premeditated

            • He was acting impulsively and gave in to the temptation of being satisfied sexually, especially since his wife was now dead

          • The pledge

            • Tamar does not want to be deceived and lied to again, so she presses Judah to give her something as a pledge until he sends her the young goat

            • Judah does not suspect anything, so he asks her what pledge he should give her

            • Tamar knows exactly what she is doing, so that she will be protected in the future

            • She asks Judah for his seal and its cord, and the staff in his hand

              • The seal would have been made of metal or stone and was probably a cylinder [show picture]

              • The seal would have had a design or marking on it that was unique to Judah

              • He would use the seal in business transactions and communications

              • He could roll the cylinder seal over soft clay and impress his unique mark on it

              • The cylinder had a cord that went through it, so it could be worn around the neck

              • Judah’s staff represented authority and probably had his unique identifying mark etched on top of it

            • Once the pledge was exchanged, Judah slept with Tamar

              • “Her demand that her father-in-law father a child by her, since he refuses to give her his son, is probably consistent with accepted ethical practices at her time. ​​ Both Hittite (fourteenth—thirteenth century B.C.) and Middle Assyrian laws legislated that if a married man died and his brother also died, then ‘his father shall take her …. There shall be no punishment.’ ​​ The Mosaic law did not go this far, but her actions are not inconsistent with the principle: ‘[the deceased brother’s] widow must not marry outside the family’ (Deut. 5:5).” ​​ [Waltke, 511-12]

              • Of course, Judah was not knowingly agreeing to this law

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – Sexual immorality is wrong.

              • Even though Judah was no longer married, it was still wrong for him to use a prostitute to satisfy his sexual desires

              • Sexual immorality comes in many forms

                • Exodus 20:14, “You shall not commit adultery.” (any sexual activity outside of marriage)

                • The Lord told the Israelites not to participate in the sexual practices of the Canaanites

                  • Leviticus 18:1-29 lists quite a few

                  • Most of them have to do with sexual relations with various family members (close relative, mother, father’s wife, sister, grandchildren, aunt/uncle, daughter-in-law, brother’s wife, neighbor’s wife, homosexuality, and animals)

                • Jesus elevated the command to “not commit adultery” from the physical act to the heart when He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ ​​ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27-28)

                • Paul, writing to the Corinthian believers, tells them not to unite their bodies with a prostitute (1 Corinthians 6:13-20)

                • Hebrews 13:4, Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess any sexual immorality in my life (physical or mental) and seek help to stop it.

            • What his first two sons were unable or unwilling to do, Judah unknowingly does

          • The pregnancy

            • Tamar becomes pregnant from the single sexual encounter with Judah

            • When she returned to her father’s home, she changed back into her widow’s clothes

          • The promise

            • Judah keeps his promise by sending a young goat with his friend Hirah (khee-raw’), so he can get his seal, cord, and staff back

            • “He has the honor to keep his obligation to a prostitute but not to his daughter-in-law!” ​​ [Waltke, 513]

            • When Hirah arrived, he could not find the woman, so he asked the men of the town where the shrine prostitute was

            • They told him that there had not been a shrine prostitute there

            • Hirah reported back to Judah about not being able to find the woman and that the men of the town said there was not shrine prostitute there

            • Judah told Hirah to forget about the woman, because he did not want to become a laughingstock to the people of Enaim (ay-nam’)

            • “Judah is like a reputable gentleman who unwittingly ‘loses’ his credit card in a brothel.” ​​ [Waltke, 513]

            • He told Hirah that he attempted to keep his promise to the woman – he did his due diligence

          • We are given a time stamp at the beginning of verse 24 – three months have passed

        • Springing the trap (vv. 24-26)

          • Judah is informed about Tamar’s pregnancy

            • The informant is again left unnamed, just like informant that told Tamar that Judah was going to Timnah

            • They told him that Tamar was guilty of prostitution and had become pregnant

            • At three months, Tamar would no longer be able to hide the fact that she was pregnant

            • Why was Judah informed?

              • “Such news would readily be passed along to Judah, for she evidently still had marital obligations to Judah’s family. ​​ He had not released her to marry another, which later was an option provided in Deut 25:5-10.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 722]

              • Whether Judah wanted to admit it or not, Tamar was now part of his family and his responsibility

              • It did not matter that he tried to pass off his responsibility to her father

            • Judah had to deal with the situation

          • Judah’s reaction

            • He asks that Tamar be brought out and burned to death

              • This seemed like a pretty harsh punishment

              • In the Mosaic law burning someone to death was reserved for a man who sleeps with a woman and her daughter at the same time (all of them were burned to death), and for a priest’s daughter who acts as a whore [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 590]

            • PRINCIPLE #4 – It is easy to condemn others for the sin we struggle with.

              • Judah had no problem condemning Tamar for being sexually immoral, even though he had also been sexually immoral

              • The same happens with us today when we condemn others, whether openly or in our hearts and minds for the same sin we struggle with

                • We may look at family members, friends, colleagues, neighbors, fellow believers and condemn them for doing any number of things

                • We may condemn them for gossiping, being spend thrifts, not being as spiritual as we are, being sexually immoral, struggling with an addiction, being prideful, coveting things, lying, stealing, using God’s name as a cuss word, not handling relationships well, etc.

                • This is so easy to do and sometimes we don’t even recognize it in ourselves

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my sin and extend grace to those who are struggling with the same sin.

            • Judah is about to be confronted with his own hypocrisy

          • Tamar’s defense

            • Tamar uses Judah’s pledge to protect herself from being burned to death

            • She sends a message to Judah with the seal, cord, and staff and asked him to identify the owner

            • She states that the owner of those items is the man she is pregnant by

          • Judah’s repentance

            • Judah recognized his seal, cord, and staff

            • He acknowledges that Tamar’s defense was right

            • “Judah’s remark did not mean necessarily that her action was approved; rather, Judah acknowledged that her motivation was consistent with the purpose of levirate marriage, whereas Judah had attempted to circumvent the custom.” ​​ [Mathews, 723]

            • He had withheld his son, Shelah from her

            • PRINCIPLE #5 – Repentance brings forgiveness.

              • Judah’s response to Tamar shows that he was repentant for his sin of lying and deceiving

              • The fact that he did not sleep with her again is also evidence of his repentance

              • It is important that for you and I to repent of our sins, so that we can experience God’s forgiveness

              • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

          • There is another time stamp for us as we see the birth of Judah and Tamar’s sons

        • Judah’s (grand)sons (vv. 27-30)

          • When the time came

            • We can assume that six months have passed

            • It is now time for the Tamar to give birth

          • Twin boys

            • Tamar was not as fortunate as Rebekah, who inquired of the Lord about the jostling in her belly and found out that she was having twin boys (Gen. 25:22-24)

            • Tamar found out the day of their birth that she was carrying twins

            • Jostling for position

              • One of the babies put his hand out and the midwife tied a scarlet thread on his wrist to identify him as the firstborn

              • That baby pulled his hand back inside

              • The other baby then came out first

              • This is similar to the happened with Jacob and Esau, except that Jacob came out second holding on the Esau’s heal – eventually Jacob was chosen as the covenant carrier

            • The boys names

              • Perez (peh’-rets/pair’-rets) – “broken out” or “breach”

              • Zerah (zeh’-rakh) – “rising,” “scarlet,” or “brightness”

          • “Tamar, a wrong wife (i.e., Canaanite), saves the family by her loyalty to it. ​​ The four women in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba) all come from outside of Israel and have a highly irregular and potentially scandalous marriage union. ​​ But because of their faith, God deems them worthy to carry royal seed.” ​​ [Waltke, 516]

          • Matthew 1:1-3, A record of the genealogy of Jesus ​​ Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham: ​​ Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar, Perez the father of Hezron, Hezron the of Ram, . . .


  • YOU



  • WE




“It is utterly astounding that Judah in connection with the twelve sons of Jacob has his name written on the gates of heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21:12). ​​ He stands as a witness to God’s amazing grace. ​​ He fails as a son of the covenant (i.e., intermarrying with Canaanites and behaving like them), as a father (i.e., his sons are wicked), and as a father-in-law (i.e., deceiving Tamar). ​​ Even the worst sort of sinners can enter heaven by God’s redemptive grace.”


[Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 515].


That is true for every one of us too.

  • We are all sinners (Rom. 3:23)

  • We all deserve to be separated from God (Rom. 6:23)

  • We were all created by a loving God (Rom. 5:8)

  • Jesus died for all of us (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

  • We can all receive God’s redemptive grace (Eph. 2:8-9)

  • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive God’s free gift of salvation by believing in His grace through faith in Jesus Christ.




Going Once…Going Twice…Sold!

(Genesis 37:12-36)



“Harriet Tubman was born into slavery on a Maryland plantation in 1822. As she grew up, she was made to work driving oxen, trapping muskrats in the woods, and as a nursemaid. Harriet's owners frequently whipped her. And she endured the pain of seeing three of her sisters sold, never to be seen again. But when her owner tried to sell one of her brothers, Harriet's mother openly rebelled. The would-be buyer gave up after Harriet's mother told him, ‘The first man that comes into my house, I will split his head open.’


Her mother's actions likely implanted in Harriet the idea that resistance to evil was right—and could sometimes be successful. As a child, Harriet herself … would run away for days at a time. But there were rays of joy in her life, as well. Harriet's mother told her stories from the Bible, which developed in her a deep and abiding faith in God.


When Harriet was about 26 years old, she learned that she might be sold away from her family. The time had come to try to escape. She made her way some ninety miles along the Underground Railroad. She traveled at night to avoid slave catchers, following the North Star, until she reached Pennsylvania, and freedom. Once there, she dared to make a dangerous decision: She risked her own freedom in order to give others theirs.


For eight years, she led scores of slaves north to freedom. During these trips she relied upon God to guide and protect her. She never once lost a runaway slave. As Harriet herself later put it, "I never ran my train off the track and I never lost a passenger."


She gave all the credit to God, explaining, “‘Twant me, 'twas the Lord. I always told him, ‘I trusts to you. I don't know where to go or what to do, but I expect you to lead me,’ and he always did.” Her faith deeply impressed others. As abolitionist Thomas Garrett put it, ‘I never met with any person of any color who had more confidence in the voice of God, as spoken direct to her soul.’”


Source: Adapted from Eric Metaxas, "Harriet Tubman, on the Money," Breakpoint (5-6-16).





  • ME

    • Estate auctions in Ohio

        • Judy and I went to several estate auctions when we lived in Ohio

        • We were able to get some pretty nice furniture pieces for a little bit of nothing

        • We had those pieces for a long time before we got rid of them

        • I was always hopeful that the bid would not go too high, since we did not have a lot of money

    • Winners Fellowship Auctions

        • When we used to have the Winners Fellowship Auctions, there were a few things I always bid on

          • I would bid on the large jars of pickled eggs and beets

          • I would also bid on artwork, like photographs and paintings

        • I don’t think I ever won the bid for one of the large jars of pickled eggs and beets, but I did win the bid on a couple of artwork pieces


  • WE

    • Winners Fellowship Auctions

        • How many of us have experienced the excitement of the Winners Fellowship Auctions?

        • What items were bid on the most? (Nancy Tate’s hog maul, Leonard Tate’s raspberry ice cream, Lucy McNair’s pickled eggs and beets, Connie Tate’s paper-thin cookies, and perhaps some other items)

    • Slave trading

        • My guess is that none of us have ever been part of slave trading

        • Slavery is still prevalent today, even though it is no longer legal

        • compared slavery from 1860 to today (2012)

          • There were 25 million slaves worldwide in 1860 and there were 27 million slaves worldwide in 2012

          • The median price for a slave in 1860 was $134 and the median price for a slave in 2012 was $140

          • 78% of slaves were legal in 1860 and 0% of slaves are legal in 2012

          • []


Last week we talked about the hatred that Joseph’s brothers had toward him. ​​ Their hatred grew and eventually turned into jealousy/envy when Joseph shared his dreams with them. ​​ We will see today the result of having their hatred unchecked. ​​ It went beyond more hatred and envy to something much more serious. ​​ We will see again today that . . .


BIG IDEA – Unchecked hatred leads to greater sin.


Let’s pray


  • GOD (Genesis 37:12-36)

    • Pursue (vv. 12-17)

        • Last week

          • Joseph’s brothers hated him, because he was the favored son of Jacob and he had been given a special robe

          • They hated him even more when he told them his first dream about their sheaves bowing down to his

          • They were envious and jealous after he shared his second dream with them about the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him

          • Jacob rebuked Joseph, but also kept the dream in his mind

          • After all that happened, Joseph’s brothers went 50-60 miles north of Hebron to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem

        • Israel’s request

          • Israel/Jacob reminds Joseph that his brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem

            • Warren Wiersbe asks a couple of good questions for us to consider [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Old Testament, Genesis-Deuteronomy, 143]

              • “Why were Jacob’s sons pasturing their flocks fifty miles from home when there was surely good grassland available closer to Hebron? [Possible answer: ​​ They didn’t want anybody from the family spying on them]”

              • “Why did they return to the dangerous area near Shechem when Jacob’s family had such a bad reputation among the citizens there (remember that Simeon and Levi murdered the Hivites after Shechem raped their sister Dinah)? (34:30) [Suggested answer: ​​ The brothers were involved with the people of the land in ways they didn’t want Jacob to know about]”

          • Israel/Jacob tells Joseph that he is going to send him to his brothers near Shechem

            • “Knowing that his sons hated Joseph, why did Jacob send him out to visit them alone and wearing the special garment that had aggravated them so much?...The answer is that the providential hand of God was working to accomplish His divine purposes for Jacob and his family, and ultimately for the whole world….God had ordained that Joseph would go to Egypt, and this was the way He accomplished it.” [Wiersbe, 143]

            • The reason that Jacob gives for sending Joseph is so he can see if all is well with his sons and the flocks

        • Joseph’s response

          • Joseph is compliant

          • Joseph’s response can be translated as “very well,” “here am I,” “I am ready,” or “I will go.”

          • Joseph’s obedience to his father’s request is amazing, especially in light of the fact that he knows his brothers hate him – they will not even talk to him or greet him

          • This should be an interesting interaction

        • Hide and seek

          • Joseph leaves the valley of Hebron and heads to Shechem [show map]

          • When he arrives in Shechem he can’t find his brothers, so he’s wandering around the fields on the outskirts of Shechem looking for them

            • “The Hebrew word that the NIV translates ‘wandering’ is generally used when someone is lost or straying from the right path. ​​ This same verb described Hagar’s wandering in the 21:14.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 664]

            • Roaming may be a better word to describe what Joseph is doing

          • Anonymous man

            • We are not given the name of the man that finds Joseph roaming around the fields outside of Shechem

            • “Whether the ‘man’ is an angel or a human, the unseen hand of the Lord is apparent here. ​​ He is directing Joseph to discover his brothers so that the divine plan for the salvation of Jacob and many peoples (50:20) might be realized, although it meant a troubling time for the house of Jacob.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 695]

            • It is not by chance, but by God’s providence and sovereignty, that this man appears and directs Joseph

            • It is also not by chance, but by God’s providence and sovereignty, that this anonymous man overhears the brothers’ plan to go to Dothan (do’-thawn/doth’-a-en)

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – Helping others is pleasing to God.

              • Galatians 6:9, Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

              • Ephesians 2:10, For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

              • Philippians 2:4, Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

              • Hebrews 13:16, And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

              • Is there someone you can help today or this week?

          • Joseph follows the man’s advice and travels another 13 miles northwest of Shechem to Dothan (doth’-a-en)

        • Joseph doesn’t see his brothers yet, but they recognize him as he approaches

    • Plot (vv. 18-24)

        • Murder and deception

          • Their initial plot was to physically kill Joseph, throw him in one of the cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him

          • They were still very angry about his two dreams and they figured that if they killed him his dreams could never come true

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Sin in the heart can lead to sin outside the heart.

            • Unchecked hatred leads to greater sin.

            • Joseph’s brothers had taken the hatred and envy they had been harboring in their hearts and were now openly talking about taking it to the next level – murder!

            • Had they dealt with the hatred in their hearts, it is most likely that they would not have gone to the next level – they probably would have started talking to Joseph again

            • Most of us have probably never been so angry with someone that we openly talked with someone else about killing them

            • Listen to the words of Jesus as he taught about anger – “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgement.’ ​​ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgement. ​​ Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. ​​ But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” (Matthew 5:21-22)

            • Jesus teaches us that if we are angry with our brother, we deserve the same judgment as someone who has committed murder.

            • We need to confess the sin in our hearts, so that it doesn’t cause us to sin outside our heart

            • Anger is not the only sin in our hearts that can leak

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess the sin I have been harboring in my heart, so that it doesn’t leak outside my heart.

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – Murder is wrong!

            • “You shall not murder.” ​​ (Exodus 20:13)

            • Murder comes in many forms today

              • Actually taking another person’s life

              • Abortion is murder (taking the life of an unborn baby)

              • Euthanasia (taking the life of an elderly person or a terminally ill individual)

              • God’s Word tells us that murder in any form is wrong

          • At least one of the brothers was not blinded by hatred and envy

        • Neglect

          • Reuben’s suggestion

            • When Reuben heard what the other brothers were plotting, he made a suggestion

            • He encouraged them to not take Joseph’s life or to shed any of his blood

              • PRINCIPLE #4 – Confronting sin is always right.

                • Whether or not Reuben saw it that way or not isn’t important

                • He was confronting his brothers about taking Joseph’s life and shedding his blood

                • Confronting sin in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ is always right, but it must be done in love, after we have first examined ourselves

                  • Matthew 7:3-5, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? ​​ How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? ​​ You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

                  • Galatians 6:1-2, Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. ​​ But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. ​​ Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

                  • Ephesians 5:11-12, Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. ​​ For it is shameful to even mention what the disobedient do in secret.

                  • 1 Timothy 5:20, Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.

                  • James 5:19-20, My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: ​​ Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ In love, confront a fellow believer about their sin, after I have examined myself first.

              • That is basically what Reuben was doing by making the suggestion he did

            • He recommended throwing Joseph into one of the cisterns

            • Perhaps what Reuben was suggesting to his brothers was that without food and water, Joseph would die from natural causes

            • Joseph would still die, but it wouldn’t be from their hands – he would simply die from neglect

          • Reuben’s plan

            • Reuben’s real plan was to rescue Joseph and take him back to his father

            • We are not told why Reuben was hesitant to kill Joseph

              • We know that Reuben had fallen out of Jacob’s good graces, because he had slept with Bilhah, Jacob’s one wife

              • Perhaps Reuben is trying to gain his father’s blessing and good graces again

            • God’s providence and sovereignty at work

              • I believe that God is using Reuben and his suggestion to protect Joseph from death

              • God is orchestrating everything that is happening to accomplish is plan and purpose for Joseph and ultimately, Jacob, his family, and even other nations and peoples

          • The brothers obviously agree with Reuben’s suggestion

            • When Joseph met up with his brothers, they stripped off his special robe and threw him into the empty cistern

            • That was probably the extent of what they were going to do to him

            • They would let nature take its course

          • God had another plan in mind

        • As the brothers sit down to eat, God initiates the next step in His plan

    • Plan (vv. 25-30)

        • Ishmaelites

          • The Ishmaelites are also called the Midianite merchants (37:28) and the Medanites (37:36)

            • It is probably referring to the same group of people

            • “When first sighted the ‘Ishmaelites’ were seen (v. 25) and then as they come nearby they are identified as ‘Midianites’ (v. 11:05 AM28).” ​​ [Mathews, 698]

            • “Midianites are descendants of Abraham through Keturah (25:2), while the Ishmaelites descended from Abraham through Hagar, so these are kinfolk…these traders are second and third cousins to Joseph and his brothers. ​​ It is not unusual to find the two clans together since both occupy the Arabian desert region.” ​​ [Walton, 665]

          • Travel route

            • They are traveling from Gilead to Egypt

            • They had been traveling the east-west trade route, but were now picking up the north-south trade route that would take them to Egypt

            • Dothan (doth’-a-en) was right on that trade route – coincidence, no – providence, yes

          • Trade contents

            • Spices

            • Balm (native to Gilead)

            • Myrrh (southern Arabia)

            • These merchants didn’t trade exclusively in spices and balm

            • They were also willing to trade human beings, as we will see in a moment

          • Before the merchants arrive, Judah has a suggestion

        • Judah’s suggestion

          • Probably the reason that Judah speaks up at this point is because Reuben is not with them

          • Judah also recognizes that murder is wrong and perhaps uses his suggestion as an opportunity to confront his brothers about their sinful desire to kill Joseph

            • The Lord is using Judah’s conscience to accomplish His plan and purpose for Joseph

            • Judah is looking at what they can gain by not killing Joseph, but instead, selling him to the Midianite merchants

            • One other interesting note about what Judah says

              • If they don’t kill Joseph, they will not have to cover up his blood

              • “Judah is primarily concerned that he and his brothers not shed innocent blood (v. 26). ​​ His apprehension is that spilled blood cries out from the ground for vengeance when one attempts to cover it (Gen. 4:10; Job 16:18; Isa. 26:21; Ezek. 24:7, 8).” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 421]

              • Genesis 4:10, The Lord said, “What have you done? ​​ Listen! ​​ Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” ​​ (Cain and Abel)

              • Job 16:18, “O earth, do not cover my blood; may my cry never be laid to rest!”

              • Isaiah 26:21, See, the Lord is coming out of his dwelling to punish the people of the earth for their sins. ​​ The earth will disclose the blood shed upon her; she will conceal her slain no longer.

          • Sell Joseph

            • The brothers agree to Judah’s suggestion of selling Joseph to the Midianite merchants

            • When the merchants get close, they pull Joseph out of the cistern and sold him for 20 shekels of silver

            • This was close to the going rate for slaves and probably left some room for the Ishmaelites to make a profit

          • The deal is done and the merchants have left with Joseph

        • God’s providence and sovereignty

          • We are not told where Reuben was during the meal and the deal with the merchants

          • We once again see the providence and sovereignty of God

            • Had Reuben been there during lunch and the arrival of the merchants, he would have protested and refused Judah’s suggestion

            • In God’s providence, he was not there and the deal with the merchants was completed

          • Reuben is beside himself

            • He tore his clothes as a sign of grief and despair

            • He returned to where his brothers were – probably finishing up their meal

            • He tells them that Joseph is gone, which wasn’t news to them

            • He doesn’t know where to turn, because he feels personally responsible for Joseph’s safety

            • How will he be able to gain his father’s approval, since Joseph is gone

        • The brothers simply follow through with the deception they had already thought about when they first plotted to kill Joseph

    • Prevaricate (vv. 31-36)

        • The definition of prevaricate is to, “deceive,” “lie,” or “stretch the truth”

        • Deceived by a goat

          • The brothers slaughtered a goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in it to make it look like Joseph had been attacked by a ferocious animal

          • They took the bloodstained robe to Jacob and told him they had found the robe in this condition

          • They then asked him to identify the robe – was it his son’s robe?

          • Jacob positively identified it as Joseph’s robe

          • The brothers did not have to share their “story” about Joseph’s demise, because Jacob immediately draws his own conclusion – some ferocious animal has devoured him and he has been torn to pieces

          • NOTE – Jacob had deceived his father, Isaac, by preparing a goat just the way he liked and by wearing goat hair skin on his arms and neck to make his father believe he was Esau – now he is being deceived by goat’s blood

        • Mourning

          • Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and mourned for his son many days

            • We are not told how long “many days” is, but Jacob says that he will mourn for Joseph until he dies

            • “But God had a better outcome for Jacob because ‘many days’ (v. 34) proved to have an end—twenty-two years until they were reunited (cf. 41:46; 41:3; 45:6).” ​​ [Mathews, 701]

          • Jacob refused to be comforted by his sons and daughters

            • We cannot forget that Joseph was his favorite son, born to him by his favorite wife

            • “That Jacob refused his children’s consolation was uncommon, revealing the intensity of his grief (cf. Isa 22:4), for his rejection of comforters meant the most aggravated anguish (e.g., Ps 69:20[21]).” ​​ [Mathews, 701]

            • This is another result of unchecked hatred leading to greater sin

            • Jacob’s sons were going to have to continue the deception for the rest of their lives

          • PRINCIPLE #5 – Deception causes heartache.

            • Jacob’s sons probably knew how devastated he would be when he learned of Joseph’s death

            • Perhaps they did not realize to what extent it would affect him – he would not be comforted and would never stop mourning until his own death

            • Honesty is always the best policy

              • There will be hurt, anger, and distrust for a little while, but eventually healing and restoration will come

              • Being honest also means we do not have to keep up the ruse, the lie, and the deception

              • Perhaps there has been some deception in your family, at school, at work, or in your neighborhood

              • Healing can begin when we come clean

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Begin the healing process by coming clean with the individual(s) I have been deceiving.

          • While Jacob is mourning, Joseph is traveling

        • Joseph’s fate

          • The Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials

          • He was the captain of the guard, which meant that he and his soldiers were in charge of executions


  • YOU

    • Is there some sin you need to confess today?

    • Is there a fellow believer that you need to confront in love?

    • Is there some deception you need to reveal?


  • WE




“Years late, Jacob would lament, ‘All these things are against me’ (v. 36, KJV), when actually all these things were working for him (Rom. 8:28). ​​ This doesn’t mean that God approved of or engineered the brothers’ hatred and deception, or that they weren’t responsible for what they did. ​​ It does mean that our God is so great that He can work out His purposes even when people are doing their worst.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 144]


“A young man from an impoverished background dreamed of a better life for himself and his family than the hardscrabble existence he had known growing up. He saved all he could and went deeply into debt to launch a grocery startup in a town called New Salem. His partner had an alcohol problem, and he ended up so far in the hole that he referred to his financial obligations as ‘the national debt.’ He gave up on ever being a successful businessman, and it took him more than a decade to pay off his failed dream.


He went into law, and then politics, and in 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected president. He was an avid Shakespeare fan, and his favorite quote came from Hamlet: ‘There is a divinity that shapes our ends, roughhew them as we may.’ He came to believe this deeply about his own life, but also about the nation he led. His entire second inaugural address is an amazingly profound reflection on how God was at work in the Civil War in ways more mysterious and profound than any human being could fathom. What a loss it would have been—not just to him but to a whole nation—if the doors of that little grocery he started in New Salem hadn't closed.”


Source: John Ortberg, All the Places You'll Go. Except When You Don't (Tyndale, 2015), pp. 216-217.