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    Feb 28, 2010

    God’s In It All…Tough Love, Too!

    Passage: Genesis 41:1-45:28

    Preacher: John Repsold

    Series: Are you hungry?

    Category: Old Testament

    Keywords: tough-love, suffering, repentance, god's presence, growing through trials


    God was working with both Joseph and his entire family to grow them up. Seeing God's presence in the darkest times was Joseph's pattern and what allowed him to be God's instrument of "tough love" towards his brothers. Ultimately, their hearts were changed, their family experienced healing adn God moved his people into a place of salvation.


    God’s In It All…Tough Love, Too!

    Genesis 41-45—February 28, 2010

    INTRO:  How many of you have seen the movie, The Ultimate Gift?  In it, a man named Red Stevens (played by James Garner) leaves his multi-billion-dollar fortune to his dysfunctional and terrible spoiled children and grandchildren.  But when it comes to one of his grandchildren, Jason Stevens (played by Drew Fuller), whose own father’s death has left him bitter towards his sugar-daddy grandfather, instead of leaving him some multi-million dollar trust fund he gives him a very unusual inheritance:  12 tasks, which Red calls “gifts.”  Each one is introduced by a pre-recorded message from Red and something that Jason must do and experience in order to advance to the next “gift” and finally the “ultimate gift.” 

                In the process, Jason learns things his privileged lifestyle up to this point has never taught him, things like the value of a hard day’s work, the value of money, the value of real friendships that don’t depend upon money, the value of family…and compassion…and love.  It’s a great story that shows just what a blessing hardship, difficulty and planned growth experiences can be…especially for people who already have been blessed with too much. 



    Well, our Father isn’t dead…but he did leave us plenty of his riches…and he isn’t about to let those blessings destroy us, spoil us or ruin us.  His “will”…a living one…is operating behind the scenes to mold and shape us.  What looks temporarily like a disaster and may feel like worse, is all part of the Father’s plan to bless us, not destroy us. 


    For the past few weeks, we’ve been immersed in the life of one of the Bible’s best examples of that very truth. 

    • Sold into slavery by his own brothers, we’ve watched him go from favored son at home to condemned slave prisoner in Egypt
    • Whether it was his hateful brothers or a lustful woman, what happened to Joseph at the hands of other people is not anything any of us would choose for anyone we loved…certainly not our own children. 

    But God chose it for Joseph…and God dearly loved this young man. 


    TODAY we come to a part of his biography that is hard to break apart.  It covers several chapters, all of which deal with the same family in the same encounters but from wildly different perspectives. 


    We pick it up in Genesis 41:50.  Joseph has been put in charge of Egypt by the Pharaoh.  He’s #2 in the Administration.  His primary responsibility right now is to oversee the stockpiling of huge harvest that are rolling in for the first 7 years of his tenure. He’s taking 20% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) as a tax and storing it away each year in a national food-bank.

    Some 13 years have elapsed since he last saw his family in Canaan.  He’s in his early 30s and just got married to the daughter of a very important priest in Egypt.  He’s got a new Egyptian name:  Zaphenath-Paneah. (That’s really a Repsold family name:  we named our pet duck that when I was a kid!)


    Joseph becomes the father of two sons, one named Manasseh and the other Ephraim.  Their names are significant because they tell us something about what is happening in Joseph’s heart


    Manasseh means “forgetting”.

    Ephraim means “doubly fruitful.” 

    Even that order is significant.  There has to be a letting go, a “forgetting” of pervious hurts, in order for God to be able to give us fruitfulness…to make us “doubly fruitful.” 

    First Joseph is declaring in the name Manasseh that “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household” (Gen. 41:51).  Really?  Did he really “forget” that terrible betrayal by his brothers? Did he really “forget” all about his family and not remember their names any more? 

    Well, certainly not in the sense that he couldn’t remember the past painful experiences or the people involved with them any more.  He certainly still had memories of the unjust events and wicked people who perpetrated them.

    But what had changed was that he had learned to forgive the injustices perpetrated against him by his “father’s household” AND he had learned to let go or “forget all [his] trouble”…all the life experiences that had been so unfair, so unjust, so painful, ugly and dark.   The current blessings and joys of a new life and new family had eclipsed that painful hole in his heart that for years had tried to dominate his life. 


    How does that kind of “forgiveness” and “forgetfulness” take hold in a person’s heart?  How is it possible to really forgive the bad, evil, unjust, hurtful and harmful things others have done to us?  How does one go about getting to that place where you no longer live out of that hurt?  You no longer react out of those wounds?  You no longer view the world and life events as capricious acts of evil which make no sense and which only hurt when you think about them? 


    As we see how God did that in Joseph’s life and probably wants to do it in ours, I want to ask you to let the Spirit of God bring some things and some people to mind right now.  You may or may not want to write them down. 

                If you were to have asked Joseph at this time, “Joseph, what memories of people or experiences are painful to you,” what do you think he would have mentioned?  If you asked him, “Write down the names of people and events in your life that have caused you pain or heartache,” what would have been on his list?

    • “My brothers…all 10 of them…and their hatred, their betrayal, their meanness and evil in wanting to kill me but instead made money off of selling me into a life of slavery.”
    • “Those Midianite merchants who bought me, dragged me to Egypt and made a profit off of me by selling me like a piece of meat.”
    • Potiphar’s wife who lusted after me, tried to seduce me and then lied about it all to her husband and had me thrown into the state penitentiary for doing what was honorable.”
    • Potiphar himself who knew I was a more reliable man than that… and who probably knew that his own wife was less honorable and less faithful than I was as his slave…but he took out his anger about it all upon me and sent me to the national penitentiary.”
    • “The cupbearer to the king who used me to interpret his dream and then kicked me to the curb and forgot me completely.  That robbed me of more than 2 years in the prime of my life, years I will never get back.” 

    These were not small offenses to “forget.”  They were not insignificant people to forgive.  These were mean, spiteful and evil acts that had been perpetrated against Joseph in such a way that the entire direction of his life and the very life that he lived was changed every single day of his life, some of it in very difficult, hard ways. 


    APPL:  So take a moment and let God bring to mind those people who have brought some sort of pain or frustration or hurt into your life be they family or strangers, distant relatives or close confidants. 


    Now, let’s look at what made the difference in Joseph’s life.  What was it that enabled him to continue constructing a faith in God when he had every reason in the world to lose faith in people?  How is it that he could come to this place in his life at age 35 or so and give his children names that would remind him every day that GOD had enabled him to let go of that pain and, in fact, God had made him doubly-blessed in the very place where he had been doubly hurt?


    Beginning in chapter 39, we will see a consistent pattern of action on God’s part as well as Joseph’s. 

    39:1ff--1 Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh's officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.

    2 The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. 3 When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, 4 Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. 5 From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.

                NOTICE how many times that phrases “the LORD was with Joseph” or “The Lord gave him success” or “the Lord blessed such and such…because of Joseph.” occur.  FIVE!  In the worst experience of his life, Joseph still recognized…as did even the people around him…that the Lord God was with him, helping him and blessing the people around him because of it. 


    APPL:  That is one of the keys to finding freedom from past hurt:  coming to the place where we acknowledge that God has not abandoned us no matter how dark the time.  While God was not responsible for the evil that may have been perpetrated against us, he still has not abandoned us.  He was there in the worst moments of our life…and he enabled us to endure them, survive them and triumph through them. 


    ILLUSTRATION:  A woman I know who grew up in a home where ritual abuse was a constant experience—sexual, spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical.  She shared with me that one of the most important healing pieces in her life was coming to the place where could see that God was still there even in her childhood…in the person of her African-American nanny…and how God since then used her to help SO many other abused people out of that dark, dark pit.  No matter how dark life is, God has not abandoned us.


    Where is God next in Joseph’s sordid story?  Genesis 39:9ff--

    9 No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" 10 And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her.    

                Though Joseph lived among people who had NO knowledge of the God he served, his every action and most difficult decisions always went directly back to his bedrock belief that God was there and his own life needed to be calibrated to and aligned with God’s holy character. 


    In a world where no good deed goes unpunished, Joseph, as we know, ends up in prison for his good behavior.  So where is God then?  Gen. 39:20ff--But while Joseph was there in the prison, 21 the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. 22 So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. 23 The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care, because the LORD was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

                What would have happened if Joseph had gotten all bent out of shape about being in prison?  What if he’d grown cold and hard against God about that experience?  What if he’d cursed God and concluded that God hated him, had abandoned him and was not worth serving because of the crap coming his way in life? 

                We don’t know because that isn’t what happened.  But I’ve known enough people who chose that route to know it’s not one you want to go down.  And we DO know that when Joseph lived in the reality that God was still with him, it enabled God to bless him and even the people around him.


    We don’t have time to go through all the passages where Joseph acknowledges that it is God who has his hand on him even in the hard places of life.  From interpreting dreams in chapters 40-41 to blessing his own servants and his own brothers with his firm conviction of God’s sovereign working in his life, Joseph held onto one core, bedrock conviction:  God is here, even in the darkest days of my life, and he will bless me and give me what I need to move forward. 


    Just look at his words in Genesis 45:3ff--3 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.

     4 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! 5 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. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

     8 "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. 9 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.


    Joseph was able to let go of the pain of the past because he was able to see God’s presence and work in the past.  He was able to embrace the new blessing of the present—a wife, children, new responsibilities in a new country—all because he chose to allow God to make His presence known right where Joseph was, in an experience he had never dreamed he would be in.  And he did it over and over again.


    God wants to do the same with us.  He wants to show us how to let go of painful, evil, damnable things of the past.  He wants to show us that he never left us through those experiences.  He wants to bring us to the place where we affirm, “God, I trust your presence…even when I can’t see you.  I trust your word that you have never and never will abandon me.  I let go of the pain and evil of the past and take my place of refuge in Your sovereign purposes and plan for my life.  I will wait and keep working hard until you reveal what you are up to some day in the future, whether sooner… or much later.  Please help me let go of and “forget” the pains of the past.  Please set me free to fully embrace and rejoice in the blessings of the present.” 



    • Invite people to surrender their life to the God who loves them and wants to show them his presence and power to forgive.
    • Invite believers to re-surrender to God’s sovereignty in their lives, choose to forgive the people who have wounded us and invite God to pour out his favor and grace on our lives in ways that enable God to use us again to bless others. 


    MESSAGE—PART 2—God Is In the Tough Love Too!

    Tough love:  I don’t know which is more difficult—being on the receiving end really needing someone to give you tough love OR being on the giving end and having to dish it out to someone you love.  If you have lived with an addictive personality, you know what I mean.  This story in Genesis is all about God…and Joseph …exercising tough love towards a whole family of dysfunctional addicts.


    When you come to Genesis 42, you find Joseph’s God-given dream from childhood becoming reality.   It’s probably been over 25 years ago now that he had that dream.  He’s no longer talking about it.  I doubt if he even has any desire, let alone idea, for how this dream is going to be realized.   


    Then one normal work day, in about the second year of the famine, out of the blue, Joseph finds himself face-to-face with the same 10 brothers who sold him into slavery. 

    Gen. 42:6ff--6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 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."


    Time does not allow us to read the next 4 chapters here today to get the full story.  But what I would like to do in the minutes remaining is identify several tough-love experiences that God takes Joseph’s brothers through which He also takes most of us, his children, through.  He does it in order to move us out of our natural selfishness and grow us into people who actually share his heart and character.   


    While God has been growing Joseph through great hardships and great blessings, He has also been working on Joseph’s brothers.  That’s the way it is in God’s family.  He cares about ALL of his children, no matter how far away they may be from him.  He has plans for our growth no matter how messed-up we are.  As we’ve seen over the past weeks, there was plenty of “mess” in Joseph’s family that God needed to work on—favoritism, incest, genocide, lying, hatred, disdain for their father, hard-heartedness towards family pain in the face of their cold-blooded betrayal of Joseph… the list goes on.


    In chapter 42, God uses famine to pressure Joseph’s brothers to confront the character issues of their lives that needed repentance and rebuilding.  Their father, Jacob, rebukes them in 42:1 for sitting around “just looking at each other.”  They knew there was food in Egypt.  But none of them really wanted to go there.  Perhaps there was a subconscious sense of guilt they didn’t really want to face.  Egypt, after all, was the place where they probably knew their brother had been made a slave.  Who wants to face their sins after over two decades of guilt and shame about them anyway?


    Here’s the 1st tool of tough love God employs to move these men closer to genuine repentance:  the tool of physical want.  The famine was into its second year.  The food supplies were running very low.  Jacob & Sons still had money and some other supplies, but you can’t eat coins, no matter what metal they’re made of.  In a famine, it’s food that’s king, and they had very little of it left. 


    When it comes to famine and God’s children, God often takes direct responsibility for allowing his children to experience deep trials.  I can’t speak for every famine or natural disaster, but the Bible is pretty clear:  if Israel experienced famine, it was a sign that God was disciplining them.  And when it comes to the believer in Jesus, the N.T. is equally clear that “the trial/testing of our faith” (James 1:2) is there to make us mature and complete in our faith.  This famine in the land of Egypt and Canaan had a divine dimension to it.  God was working on the hearts of his kids.  


    APPL:  I’m not a prophet but I think it’s pretty safe to say that God is working on the hearts and lives of his kids in America these days.  Many of God’s people are hurting.  Many are unemployed.  Maybe God has gotten tired of our selfishness and lives that not only consume most everything he blesses us with but often consume more than we can afford.  (We’re certainly doing that on a national scale like never before!)  God has been very gentle with us until now. 

    But this “famine” of financial chaos, of bankruptcy, of foreclosures, of unemployment and government irresponsibility may just be in its infancy.  What will we do if things get worse? Will we seek God first, asking him to change our hearts and make us into people who really lay down our lives for each other?  Will we value what He values more than wealth and financial security, things like love, kindness, generosity, compassion, integrity and the like? 

    When we begin to feel the tool of God’s tough love called “physical need,” it’s time to stop staring at each other and start calling out to God.  It’s time to ask, “What selfishness is God wanting to root out of my life and what righteousness is God wanting to work into my heart?” 


    The 2nd tool of tough love in this story is the tool of time alone.  In vss. 6-18 we have the bothers showing up in Egypt, Joseph recognizing them but them not recognizing Joseph.  Though he knows the truth, Joseph accuses them of being spies from Canaan bent on finding Egypt’s weaknesses.  They assure him they are “honest men” (vs. 11)…which must have made it hard for Joseph to keep a straight face…or not explode.  Honest men, my foot!  For 25 years they had been living the deepest, most horrible of lies about the fate of Joseph that had left him in Egypt and their father, Jacob, in despair. 

                So Joseph gives them a little time in prison to think it over. He tells them he will keep them all in prison except one whom he will let return to fetch their youngest brother whom they had mentioned to Joseph earlier. Vs. 17 tells us that he “put them all in custody for 3 days.”  It was nothing compared to the 3 years he had been there, but it was apparently enough to get some heart-work going in them.  (I wonder if he might not have put them in the same dungeon he spent so much time in years earlier?) 


    APPLIC:  God often needs to take us to prison to get us to really take a good hard look at our hearts.  Sometimes it might be actual prison.  Many very good people have come to their senses and to God in prison.  Many of God’s people have spent lots of time in prison.  Or it might be some other tool of solitude that forces us to stop the merry-go-round of life as it usually is long enough to face heart issues.  It could be the tool of unemployment… or illness, of loneliness…or broken relationships.  It might be the tool of financial problems or family issues.  God is creative.

    The potential or real loss of some freedoms we may have taken for granted are often the very thing that God wants to use to get our souls oriented towards Him again. 


    Notice what the effect of that time was once Joseph’s brothers were brought before him again.  Joseph informs them that he is going to change his demand a bit. Instead of having all of them stay in prison, he’ll keep just one and send the rest back to fetch their youngest brother and bring him back to prove their story. 


    Vs. 21 lets us know that all the brothers are suffering from an acute sense of delayed guilt over their earlier treatment of Joseph.  They all interpreted the current mess they were in as punishment for what they had done decades before to Joseph.  “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 upon us.”  Reuben even goes on to talk about how they had “sinned against the boy” (vs. 22). 


    It’s interesting to note how Joseph responds here.  They didn’t realize he understood them as they spoke Hebrew to each other.  But upon seeing them begin to put two-and-two together and begin to interpret their problems in the light of their sins, Joseph begins to weep. 

    Why such deep emotion?  If Joseph had been angry or vindictive, would weeping have been the emotional outlet?  I think not.  I think God had so enabled Joseph to forgive his brothers before they got there that these are the tears of a man who has missed his family deeply and has been robbed of the sibling connection he longed for his whole life.  He’s hearing and seeing for the first time the guilt they have lived with and the reality that they have never been able to forget their sin against him…nor him. 


    Tough love is using another tool:  the tool of delayed guilt.  I don’t think it was all that easy for Joseph to not jump in and rescue them from their guilt.  Everything in this text tells us that he was not harboring hatred or vindictiveness against them.  But he was standing in the place of God in their lives.  And God knows that when we get rescued too quickly from a recognition of our sin, there is often some deep heart-work that gets short-circuited. 

                God will not wait one day longer than is absolutely necessary for us to experience his reconciling presence.  But he will not jump in one moment early as long as he knows there is still some heart work that still needs to be done by letting us face the pain of our past sins, particularly against people we should have loved and laid down our lives for. 


    So Joseph picks Simeon to be put in shackles in front of his brothers and hauled off to prison before he sends the rest on their way.  What imagery that must have held for them.  Here they are, watching for the second time a brother be bound and hauled off into servitude.  But how different were their feelings about it now.  Where before any twinges of guilt at seeing Joseph carried off into slavery were buried beneath layers of hatred, now they feel real compassion for their brother who is taking every one of their place in this family plan gone bad nightmare of a rescue party. 


    Moses tells us that Joseph ordered that the money they had paid for the grain he would give them was to be repacked in their grain sacks unbeknownst to the brothers.  Where a vindictive man would have taken every last coin from brothers who had made a profit off of selling him into slavery years earlier, Joseph extends mercy and grace, giving them not what they deserve but, quite the contrary, far more than anyone would have thought to give to a pack of blood-guilty next-of-kin. 


    It is an act of kindness that, when just one of the brothers discovers at the end of their first day’s journey back to Canaan, is met with fear.  Where good relations and guiltless hearts would have seen such a surprise as a huge blessing undeserved, their guilty hearts feel only fear and see only trouble. 


    But it is at this point that we see these brothers referring to God for the 1st time in the whole story.  Vs. 28 says, “Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?””  They are beginning to connect the dots and see the hand of God in the midst of their own troubles. 


    APPLIC:  Are we willing to do that?  Are we willing to admit that some of our sins may, in fact, be producing some of God’s discipline?  That’s the right response to life problems.  God’s intent, just as Joseph’s, was not to send them off feeling horrible and fearful.  It was to see that real, true heart change happened that would, perhaps for the first time in their family, bring them together on the right terms…as the right kind of men. 


    Well, if one pouch of money returned was bad news, 8 others was worse.  It was not until they reached home after the 250 mile journey, had told the sad tale of why Simeon was not with them and had unpacked the rest of their sacks of grain that they discovered the truth: that ALL their silver had been returned to them…and now they had an even bigger problem than they ever anticipated. 

    Upon hearing the demand of Joseph for their next trip to Egypt to include Benjamin, their father Jacob drew the line.  These sons and their actions had already deprived him of 2 sons.  They would not deprive him of another.  To do so, he said, would surely kill him in his old age. 


    So, God waited for them to get hungry again. 

    Simeon waited for them to get hungry again. 

    Joseph waited for them to get hungry…again. 

          And when they finally did, Jacob was finally ready to face his greatest fears—that of losing both sons by the woman he had loved most, Rachael. 


    God was still working on Jacob too.  That propensity in him to play family favorites was still controlling him.  So God used the tool of hunger, in this case literal hunger, to get Jacob to release his grip on his family and face his fear of loss for the final time. Jacob had certainly heard the stories from his own father Isaac about how his grandfather Abraham had let go of the son dearest to him, Isaac, and cast himself totally upon the wisdom and mercy of God.  Perhaps this model was what finally gave him the courage to face his fear of losing Benjamin.   


    APPLIC:  God sometimes has to bring us to the end of our resources and confront us with some tool of hunger to get us to grow up in ways he has been trying to grow us for years.  Jacob should have faced his unhealthy favoritism decades earlier.  If the family was to be healthy, he needed to lead the way.  And extreme need finally did lead him into a changed heart. 

          Is there some extreme need in your life that is inviting you to face some needed changes in your character?  Is God asking you to let go of some unhealthy patterns?  Is that scaring you to death?  Then it’s time to really let go and cast yourself on the good graces of God to get you through. 


    Chapters 43-45 go on to show how God used other tools too:

    • The tool of undeserved kindness and abundance at the hand of Joseph when they returned with Benjamin to fetch Simeon.
    • The tool of total failure when they discovered Benjamin’s sack contained Joseph’s special cup for which they were all probably going to spend the rest of their lives in prison in Egypt.
    • The tool of fear about the future to face the reality that their callous actions through the years had wounded their father deeply and that their current actions would probably kill him. 


    All through these chapters we finally see a beautiful transformation taking place in the lives of men who were terribly hard-hearted for years. 

    • Men who years earlier had sold their youngest brother into slavery were now willing to take each other’s places in prison or become slaves for life to win the freedom of their father’s favored son.
    • Men who had guarded a lie for 25 years about the fate of their brother, Joseph, now face the truth and tell the truth to their father whom they had made suffer unnecessarily for all those years.
    • Men who had watched their father slip into despair and grief and done nothing to alleviate that pain were now broken at the prospect of causing him further pain or possibly death at the possibility not returning with Benjamin. 
    • Jacob, so long caught up in his dysfunction family favoritism, finally abandons it all to God and, in the process, has both sons restored to him in ways beyond his wildest dreams. 


    It makes me wonder, “What tools of tough love is God using in my life right now to get me to grow up in Him and get rid of those harmful and hurtful selfish traits I still hang on to so fervently?” 

    May God open our hearts and eyes to the transforming work of tough love he is doing from time to time in and around us…and may we be open to letting go of those sinful traits that he wants to free us from.



    The life and heart of Joseph in this passage stands as one of the Old Testament’s strongest sign-posts pointing us to the life of Jesus Christ. 

    • Joseph was betrayed by his brothers for a few pieces of silver.  Jesus was betrayed by his own disciple and friend for a few pieces of silver.
    • Joseph suffered in prison because of the false accusations of a sinful woman.  Jesus suffered under the whip and on the cross because of the false accusations of sinful people.
    • Joseph returned blessing for curses when his brothers were in need.  Jesus has given us salvation in place of our sins, eternal life in place of eternal judgment, grace and mercy in place of judgment and wrath. 


    Joseph’s story is one of history’s great stories of grace and family transformation ever recorded.

    This Table of the Lord is OUR greatest story of grace and transformation that we will ever have. 


    Jesus suffered for our sins…and we end up being saved by his death.

    Jesus deserved none of the mistreatment because for our sins…and we deserve none of the love, generosity and compassion God has shown us because of His sacrifice. 


    When Joseph’s brothers realized who he was, the text tells us that Joseph threw his arms around his younger brother, Benjamin, and wept (45:14).  “He kissed all his brothers and wept over them,” (45:15). 


    That is what Jesus did for us at the cross.

    That is what God does over anyone who humbly comes to him at asks for mercy. 

    That is what we are doing here today in celebrating Communion.