- Alienation - Persecution - Desertion (chapter 37)
- Temptation (chapter 39)
- Incarceration (chapter 40)
- Recognition (chapter 41)
- Glorification (chapters 42-45)
We've looked in the weeks that have gone by at 'The Agonies of Abraham', we've looked at 'The Life Journey of Jacob' last week, this week we seek to look at 'The Jeopardy of Joseph' - the danger that Joseph faced right throughout his whole life. We don't have one specific reading this evening because there's so much ground to cover right from chapter 37 to chapter 50 - his whole life story spans the great majority of the book of Genesis. So we'll be looking at little passages and little verses as we go through this great study this evening, so please do bear with me.
I know that this life story of Joseph is one that is very familiar to you all. We've heard it from the very earliest age, if we've been brought up in a Christian home and in a Christian environment. We've been to Sunday School perhaps, and the children's meeting, and we've heard the great wonderful stories of this man called Joseph, and all the trials and problems that he went through, and how God went through them with him. Often familiarity with these Bible stories or Sunday School tales can bring distance in our hearts that prevents us applying these spiritual truths to our lives. It's like the singing of hymns, we can learn them off by heart, so much so that the spiritual truths and depths of them don't really sink down deep into our soul. It's always a good thing to sing a hymn as if it's the first time we're singing it, looking at the words, and it's the same as we read through the Bible stories that God has given us.
There are so many things to teach us in the story and the life of Joseph tonight that I don't want us to miss any of them. I want the teaching and the principles and the precepts that God has laid down in this man's life to really come home to us, I want us to take them and to apply them individually to our lives and to the things that we face within them. But of course, these things are written for our learning, but as we go into the New Testament we realise that these things, on many occasions, in the Old Testament are typical teachings of our Lord Jesus. They're pictures, they're paintings if you like, that are pointing forward to the Lord Jesus Christ who would come one day and would be the ultimate man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. As we go through this I don't want you just to apply these truths to yourself, but I want you to see our lovely Lord Jesus, and to see the great implications in Joseph's life that point towards His life.
As we look at this chapter, chapter 37, it's springtime in the plain of Dothan. To the south of the plain of Dothan there are the mountains of Samaria, and to the north there are the mountains of Gilboa. Standing just in the middle, on one of those lower ranges of the bordering mountains, you can almost see from a height little black dots against the green grass of the plain. Those little black dots are the tents of Jacob, Jacob that great man of God that we were thinking of last week - the father of Israel, his name was changed, of course, to Israel, and his twelve sons became the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. There those little tents are, Jacob and his wives and his sons, and they're feeding the flocks, they're tending the flocks on the plain of Dothan. All of a sudden, as you survey that great scene, like a rainbow darting out of the darkness on a cloudy day, this tall, dark, handsome young man in a multicoloured coat catches your eye. It is Joseph.
You will know from life's experience, and even from the reading of the word of God, that love sees afar off. Love sees afar off, you read the story of the Prodigal Son and you can see there that the father saw his son returning to him, it says, a great way off. The love that was in the father's heart for the prodigal son caused him, after seeing him afar off, to run after him, to put his arms round him and to kiss him on the neck. But you know, love is not the only thing that sees afar off, for in verse 19 of this chapter we find these words: 'And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh' - hate also sees afar off. Hate for one when you see him coming, and we see here in the brothers of Joseph, they see him coming: 'Behold, the dreamer comes' - they see him with the eye of envy, the eye of hate, and in their voice you can just hear that jealousy toward their chosen, blessed, beloved brother.
Everyone loves a dreamer, isn't that true? This world loves people with great imagination, you can see it in the whole Disney empire today, and the great movies that are being produced with computer graphics. Everybody loves a dreamer, but it's oh so different being a dreamer for God. Joseph was a dreamer for Jehovah. This is a wonderful story, and one of the reasons why it's so popular even in our secular world, and people make movies about it, is because it contains all of the elements of life - many things that you go through and I will go through within our life's experience. You have ambition of a striving young man; you've got great dreams, aspirations and hopes; you've got love; you've got sorrow, envy, hatred - temptation is at the centre of the plot. You've got lust, revenge, suffering, sin, and fighting. Great passions right throughout this story that we find right throughout our individual lives.
One thing it teaches us, friends tonight, is that this book before us may be thousands upon thousands of years old, but it never ever becomes irrelevant - and man, no matter what the church today says, or psychology today says, or anthropologists say, man never changes! From age to age he is the same, he has still the same joys, still the same sorrows and problems and obstacles - and what a joy it is for us this evening to take a man like Joseph, to look at his life story, to look at the jeopardy that is threaded right throughout it all, and to see within ourselves the same problems, the same trials, and - glory be to God - to see the same Lord who will bring us through them all. To know that what men, women, organisations, systems, may think toward us for evil, that God can mean it for good.
So the jeopardy in Joseph's life starts with your first point on your sheet: alienation, then persecution, and then desertion right throughout chapter 37. Joseph was a dreamer, and his dreams alienated him from his brethren - his brothers hated him for it. Now you remember, we don't have time to look at them in any detail, but you remember the extraordinary dreams that he had. One of his dreams was that the sheaves of his brothers that they had gathered in from the fields after cutting them down, that all those eleven sheaves bowed down to his one sheaf. In another dream he saw the sun and the moon and eleven stars all bowing down and bringing obeisance to Joseph. He was sharing, with great excitement, these dreams with his brothers - and they absolutely detested him! They resented it, that he should proudly come and dictate and declare how God in some way had chosen him above his brethren.
Jacob even rebuked his beloved son for doing it, but I believe, probably, deep down in his own heart he knew that this son was special, this son was chosen, this son was blessed from God, and that God was giving him these special dreams. You know, just before we go any further tonight, I want you to see that Joseph - even though perhaps he dealt with these dreams wrongly and he shared them with his brothers perhaps in an ostentatious, proud, puffed-up way - you've got to see tonight that right at the beginning of Joseph's walk he was a dreamer. Now, I don't mean an idle dreamer that sits in the classroom looking into space or looking out the window, I'm talking about a man who had a vision. This man's vision was from God, it was a prophetic vision, it was a vision for the glory of God in his life, and the testimony and the witness of God to shine throughout him.
Of course, you know, I hope you know, that the word of God teaches that without a vision the people perish. Without a vision the people perish, and that's not just talking about those who are not saved, it's talking about everybody. If you don't have a vision in life, and to us in our spiritual life, you will perish, you will starve. Clarence McCartney, a great preacher on character studies, says this about Joseph the dreamer, listen to these words: 'Our dreams are the golden ladders by which we climb to heavenly places. They are the mountain peaks of vision, whence we see afar off the country toward which we travel. They are the lantern by whose light we pass safely through the dark valley. They are the inner flame that gives us strength and energy for the struggle. They are the two-edged sword by which we cleave the steaming head of the dragon of temptation and leave him dying at our feet'.
Now, what we're talking about tonight is not dreams from God that we have in the night as we have our head upon our pillow, but how we are applying it generally to ourselves, I would say, has to be the word of God. The word of God is our vision, the word of God is our dream, our hope, our aspiration. All the promises, the great and precious promises that tell us of a home in heaven, that tell us of the glory that is laid out before us in our heavenly promised land, all of that must be what we take from God to be our vision. But the irony of it all is this: just like in the life of Joseph, our vision, our dream, even the word of God can be the very thing that alienates us from our brethren. It can be the very thing that causes enmity in our families, among our friends, in the workplace, in even the community, and sometimes sadly in the church of Jesus Christ.
Now, let me say before I go on any further: if you're here tonight and you were brought up in a Christian home, praise God for it! Thank the Lord for it! Oh, when you're going through those teenage years, perhaps you sometimes curse it because you can't get away with the things that others get away with - but I hope you're old enough now, and mature enough to look back in faith and see that God's hand of blessing was there that you didn't have opposition in the home for your walk with Christ and your testimony and sharing the Gospel. They didn't look down on you for opening the Bible, or singing, or praying. The fact that you thank God for it, there's a whole lot of other people - probably more - and they don't know what that is, they've never known what that is. In fact, they know more the words of the Lord Jesus Christ when He said: 'I have not come into this world to bring peace, but to bring a sword, to bring war. I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man's foes shall be they of his own household'. This is eternal truth, you can't dispensationalise this tonight, because what we see in the life of Joseph is exactly the same in hundreds of believer's lives - where they have enmity at home, they're alienated, they don't feel any longer part of their family because they've been converted.
It's easy for us who have been brought up in a Christian environment to forget about those people, to think that they don't even exist. That alienation that can come into a family or into a home or into a life, that alienation usually grows to become persecution. When these people that you've become alienated from begin to persecute you, that's what you find in this passage. They didn't just say: 'That boy's a weirdo, just ignore him. We'll get on with our stuff, and let him dream away', but it moved on to where they were grabbing him, they were taking him, and they were putting him down a pit - and if it wasn't for Reuben, they would have killed him!
Alienation leads to persecution, and then persecution leads to desertion for they went away and they didn't listen to his cries for help. They walked away, they went back to Jacob, they brought his lovely coloured coat, they covered it in animal's blood and they said: 'We think that a beast has got him, we think he's dead'. Some of you know what I'm talking about. You're the only one in the home, you're the only one in the marriage - your partner, your spouse is not converted. I don't know what that's like, but I imagine it must be a great turmoil and a great burden. I'm not saying there's not love in the relationship, but the trial that that must be, the hardship, the turmoil. Maybe it's the work environment: you're the only Christian in the office, or the only Christian in the class at university or school. Maybe it's even in a church! You're a dreamer for God, but nobody else seems to be thinking the thoughts that you're thinking, everybody else is downcast, discouraged, but you're wanting them to go onwards and upward!
Men with a dream for God have always been persecuted, that's why the Lord warned His disciples that they would be. In this very land in which we live, and in Scotland and in England, and right across Europe, not many hundred years ago the Reformers were persecuted, they were beheaded, they were burned at the stake - why? Because they had a dream for God, they saw all of a sudden by faith under the Holy Spirit's influence that justification was by faith alone. They died for it. Look what happened to Joseph: they saw this dreamer coming afar off, they said: 'Come now', verse 20, 'therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams'. 'Wipe Martin Luther out, and we'll see what will become of his dreams! Wipe Zwingli out, wipe John Huss and John Wycliffe out! We will see what will happen to their dreams!'. My friend, listen, if you have a vision for God like Joseph you've got to be prepared to have men pull you down when you stand up with your vision. If you're not prepared to suffer for your vision you might as well forget about dreaming about anything.
That story of William Carey is most poignant, isn't it? A Baptist Church in England had got themselves into such a hyper-Calvinistic quagmire that they didn't even go out and preach the Gospel any more. All of a sudden this young cobbler had a heart for souls, to win them in India. He stands to his feet among a room of what he thinks are godly, old, mature men and he says: 'I want to go and tell these people in India that Jesus died for them and that they need to be converted by the grace of God'. And they said: 'Sit down, young man, if God will convert the heathen He will do it without your help!'. He had a vision, and he suffered for his vision, but he was the first man in the modern era to take the Gospel to India.
Joseph, we will see tonight, remained faithful to his dream. All the circumstances that came into his life, he didn't let them deter him from the dreams that he had in his youth. Maybe you're alienated tonight, maybe you're persecuted and maybe all your dream is is trying to follow this book is closely as you can in your life, in your home life, in your family, in your school, in the workplace. I know that there are many homes now in our modern era, even Christian homes, and they have been smitten by this plague of divorce and desertion. In this age you can get divorced and your spouse has no say in it whatsoever, it's just something comes through the post! Desertion: somebody gets up and leaves - a father, a mother, a husband, a wife - the children are left, and this phenomenon is here! Young men and young women left on their own. Many undergo persecution and desertion and alienation of every type, and my friend if you're going through that in any shape or form, can I tell you: you've got good company with Joseph, but praise God Almighty you've got better company in the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. I never grow tired of reading this verse that I'm going to bring to you tonight, I never grow tired of preaching upon it. Listen to this, soul in alienation, persecution and desertion: 'You have not got a high priest who cannot be touched with the feelings of your infirmities', why? 'Because he was in all points tested as you are, yet he remained sinless' - hallelujah! Praise God, we don't just have a Saviour that saves from sin, but we have a Saviour that knows what the sinner goes through. He wasn't subject to infirmities, but He made Himself a little lower than the angels that He might taste death for every man.
My friends tonight, this is who Isaiah called the Man of sorrows, do you know why He was the Man of sorrows? Because He was alienated, He was persecuted, and He was deserted! 'He is despised, rejected of men, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. We' - the Jewish people - 'hid our face from Him'. 'He came unto His own', John said, 'and His own received Him not'. The Lord spoke of His own desertion and persecution in one of His parables: 'This is the heir, come let us kill him and the inheritance shall be ours'. Joseph's brothers said it, the Lord Jesus' brethren in Israel said it, and they caught Him and they cast Him out, and they slew Him, and they parted His raiment among them just like Joseph's brothers did. Joseph's brother sat and watched him in the pit, and sitting down there the Roman soldiers watched Him there.
Joseph's brothers sold him to the Gentiles, Judas sold our Lord Jesus for 30 measly pieces of silver to the Romans - the Gentiles. Joseph was innocent, but my friend the Lord Jesus Christ was separate from sin, undefiled - not just blameless, but spotless. The Lamb of God, the Son of God, the perfect Lord Jesus Christ - what a suffering Saviour we have! Don't cringe at the sufferings of Joseph, look to your Lord Jesus and see that one righteous as He went under greater suffering. Know that in all your pangs that rend the heart, the loving Saviour has a part. Satan meant it for evil, you remember that we have titled this series 'As Sparks Flying Upward' from the book of Job, and you remember that Job didn't know what was going on in heaven. God said, jibing Satan, 'There's not a man like Job in all the earth. Look at him!'. He says: 'Ah, a lot of nonsense', he says, 'any man will follow You, God, if You bless him. Do You think that Job follows You for nothing? He's following You for what he gets out of You. You're blessing him in abundance, his family, his flock, his riches - but just You touch him, God, skin for skin. Then You'll see who's his God'.
'Touch him and his vision will disappear', that was Satan's philosophy. 'Touch him, make him suffer, and his dream for God, his vision after God, his seeking after God will go. The same thing happened in Joseph's life, and the same thing happened in our Lord Jesus' life. It was the kiss of a friend that betrayed Him, but hallelujah He still went on to Calvary for your and my redemption. He was betrayed in the house of His friends, but He set His face as a flint to go to Jerusalem for you - what a wonderful Saviour!
Alienation, persecution, desertion, and then we see that it moves on to temptation in chapter 39. After his brothers throw him into a pit they decide that they'll sell him to Midianite merchantmen. The Midianite merchantmen take poor young Joseph down to Egypt. There's a captain of the guard who's walking up and down the line of slaves in the market, and he likes the look of Joseph, and he puts his hand on him and he takes him home to the palace. Potiphar was his name, the captain of the guard, probably meaning the head chief bodyguard in the royal palace. He's a member of the proud aristocracy, he's a rich man, he probably lived in a magnificent home. I can just imagine that young slave boy walking down the great driveway, then the great corridors of the buildings of that great palace, palm trees lining the way, the great Sphinx around him of Egypt, giant walls decorated with hieroglyphics and beautiful colourful paintings. There he is in all that splendour and dignity, but he is a young man who's alone, a young man who has been deserted by his brothers, his friends. He's away from his father, and how lonely he must have felt in a land of a different people, with a different colour of skin, with a different tongue that he could not understand, and I'm sure for young Joseph it was an earth-shattering time - but do you know something? You see what he's gone through already, that would be enough for us all - I doubt that some of us would even have gone through that - but take great joy tonight in the second verse of chapter 39: 'The Lord was with Joseph'.
He was with him. He was with Joseph. Older versions of the Bible say this, and I'm not necessarily going along with it, but it's very interesting - you know, and I've told you before, that the definitions of words change year after year even now in our modern era - hundreds of years ago one of the translations of this verse was this: 'The Lord was with Joseph and he was a lucky fellow'! Do you like that one? 'He was a lucky fellow'! It doesn't mean luck in the sense that we mean it today, chance. It means that he had a Midas touch, everything he touched in the palace seemed to turn to gold, everything seemed to go for him, it seemed to go well. He had success, and it followed him like a shadow. He was promoted in that household, not from a slave, but he was moved up the ladder and he became in charge of the whole household. He was approached to untangle every knot, every mess that came along in the politics and the domestics of the home, he was asked to untie it. Why? Because the Lord was with Joseph.
Now how come all this happened? OK, the Lord was with him, but let me tell you two things why this happened. Not just because the Lord was with him, but the implications of what happened in his life because the Lord was with him. The first thing was this: he might have been stripped of his coat, he might have been alienated, persecuted and deserted, but the fact of the matter is he couldn't be stripped of his character. His coat was taken off him, but he still has his character. He's in the slave house, he's doing all the dirty work, but he's working because he's not working for Potiphar, he's not working because he's obliged to, he's working because that's where God led him, that's where God called him, and that's what he would do.
As he said to his brothers later in life, as he stood before them as a great Egyptian dignitary, and we'll get to it later, he said to them there in chapter 45 and verse 5: 'God did send me before you to preserve life'. Right throughout his life, from beginning to end, he had this ethos: 'God has sent me here'. When he was in Jacob's tents as a young boy doing all his chores around the house he lived unto God, when he was moved as a slave into Potiphar's house he still lived unto God. Oh, that brings home the words of the Psalmist: 'I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise will continually be in my mouth'. Do you remember David? Oh, his faithful mighty men and his armies, but there was one point in David's life when he became greatly distressed, why? Because the people spoke of stoning him. Their family had all be taken away from Ziklag, and it's alright when you have friends - but blood is thicker than water, and at that moment they were picking up the stones, perhaps even bending over, and David was distressed. The people were grieved at him, and every man for his sons, for his daughters, but listen: 'David encouraged himself in the Lord'! It doesn't say he wasn't distressed, but it says that when he became distressed he decided: 'I'll encourage myself in the Lord'.
How often do we let our circumstances dictate our disposition? How often, come on now, are we blown about by everything like chaff in the wind? When something comes into our life we let it move our feelings, our emotions, and therefore our spiritual state suffers, our faith waxes and wanes. When the sun shines we're rejoicing, but when the storm comes we despair. We say, like the disciples in the presence of the Lord Jesus Himself: 'Do You not care that we perish?'. I tell you, this is some commentary, isn't it, on the words of the apostle Paul? 'I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content'.
The second thing was, not just that he was stripped of his coat but they couldn't strip him of his character, but the Lord made all that he had to prosper. That's what it says in verse 5: 'Joseph found grace in his master's sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand. And it came to pass from the time that he had made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake'. He didn't just bless him, He blessed everybody round him! He becomes the steward of this house, verse 6: 'He left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not ought he had', he didn't even take care of it, he trusted him so much that he didn't even know what was going on, because this man was such a goodly person and well-favoured.
But there are great tests in every character's life that we have come across yet. The first great test was Abraham taking his son, his only son, Isaac up to Mount Moriah and going to sacrifice him. Last week Jacob was wrestling with that angel, that Christophany, the Lord Jesus Christ - it wasn't just an angel, it was the Lord Jesus manifest. Here we have Joseph's great test, Joseph's great turning point, the making or the breaking of this man of God. You find, I hope you're seeing it as you come through these studies, that times of great blessing are often times of great testing. Now please note, verse 11 says: 'It came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within'. This was a golden opportunity to take this temptation, there was nobody around him, nobody can see him only the eye of God, and we're not conscious to that half the time - but as far as he was concerned there was nobody who knew what he was going to do, this was a well-timed temptation from the devil.
It was likely that she wouldn't declare her shame, she wasn't going to tell her husband that she was having an affair with this young man. She came, it's Potiphar's wife I'm sure you know, she came and the Bible says that she persisted day after day after day, saying: 'Come, lie with me, come, lie with me'. Jacob last week listened to his mother's temptation to dupe his father, Isaac, to take the blessing. You remember we heard that after the first command that she told him to go out and get a calf he didn't listen, but after the second voice of temptation he went. We're so like that. But for Joseph it was day after day after day after day, but yet Joseph stood firm! This is a great refreshment for me I can tell you, because in this world that we live in - and, young people, I have a great sympathy for you and what you're being bombarded with in your world through the media, through the internet, through magazines and newspapers and billboards - but we, as Christians who are saved by grace, just sinners, we can almost say that there are certain things in our life, certain pet sins, and they're impossible to resist! We sort of get it into our head that our body can't cope with them, that we just have to give in to them, and we almost sympathise with people when they fall into sin. Now, of course, we are to put our arm around people and we are to mark that but for the grace of God we go, and we're to mark that we too can fall into the same condemnation. But as a child of God with the Holy Ghost of God in his breast, there is no excuse for sin!
We can learn from Joseph, I'll tell you, it's a great refreshment - why? Because we learn that he stood his ground and he said to this woman: 'There is none greater in this house than I', verse 9, 'neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee', he tries to reason with her, 'because thou art his wife' - 'I'm in charge of this place, your husband has been so good to me, and you're his wife'. But he says: 'The ultimate reason why I can't lie with you: how can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?'. You see, you can't reason with sin, all you can do is run away. Listen, young person, I don't know what you're going through tonight, but maybe the temptations today you feel are too strong, they're too hard, and you're too young to resist them. We seem to get ourselves into this mentality that certain sins are an unavoidable necessity, and even Christian teachers are telling that today and writing it in books, preaching it from the pulpit: 'There are just things that you have to put up with today in the life of the Christian' - listen to God's word! Listen: 'There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man'. You're nothing special! What you're going through all men have gone through, but God is faithful - God is a faithful God who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but He will with the temptation make a way of escape. What does it mean? He'll not make the temptation too heavy that you can't hold up underneath it. He'll give you a fire exit, that when your whole body, bosom and mind is on fire with temptation He'll make you able to bear it! Don't you listen to the lie of the devil, the lie of this world, that you have to give in. Here is a successful young man in a foreign land, nobody's near him that he knows, he's in a palace, he's in a secret place, this woman is offering it to him on a plate: but he resisted! I'm glad this story's in the Bible: he could resist it and he did resist it, he could overcome and he did overcome, he could be pure and he was pure and chaste before God and before men.
Now this doesn't mean you lead yourself into temptation and you stare the devil out to test how this really works, that doesn't mean that. The Lord teaches us to pray: 'Lead us not into temptation', and therefore we ought not to lead ourselves into temptation. How do we know it? In verse 12 it says he took to his heels and he fled. As F. B. Meyer says, 'It's better to lose your coat than to lose your conscience'. We are taught to run from sin, not stare it out - for if we stare it out, it will master us. We're told to run from it. The angel said to Lot and his wife as they were going out of Sodom, listen: 'Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed'. Don't look behind you! If you really know your own weakness as a sinner, when you're faced with temptation flee from all appearance of it!
I told you before of the tragic story of the evangelist who used to go down to a beach, I think it was in Miami in the United States, and speak to the prostitutes about Christ. He said this, terrible testimony: 'I went down to win them, and they won me'. We've all been at the place where we've stared temptation too long in the face and temptation has got the better of us. Can I say to you tonight - I'm not going to get through everything but let me get through this - a greater than Joseph is here. Christ, in Matthew chapter 4, was tempted like us - but listen, He was not tempted in the same way as us - why? I'll tell you why, James 1:14: 'Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed'. We're tempted, if I can say it's a bit like metal that's drawn to a magnet. If the metal is you, right? The magnet is the sin. Your natural make up, like the metal, is naturally attracted to the magnet - you're naturally drawn to it - but there was no sinful nature in our Lord Jesus Christ. Do you get it? He was tempted from without, we are tempted from without, but we have a compulsion from within that meets that temptation from without, and He didn't have it.
There are people who preach the word of God, there are people who write books in so-called evangelical Christianity, and I don't know how they do it or how they find it, but they believe that our Lord Jesus Christ could have sinned! God forgive them! I think that is blasphemy. Let me show you how, and it should warm your heart tonight, how Joseph's temptation was different from your Lord's temptation. Joseph and you and me have to flee from it. When he tempts us, if we linger it gets the better of us, but in Matthew chapter 4 and verse 11 after the devil had come to the Lord Jesus, who was fasting 40 days and 40 nights, and offered Him bread: 'Man shall not live by bread alone'. Then he came to Him and told Him to cast Himself off the mountain and the angels would give charge over him, but the Lord's word says: 'give charge over him in God's ways', and He wouldn't have been in God's ways if He had done that. Then he took Him to a pinnacle on a high mountain and offered Him all the kingdoms of the world if He would just bow down and worship him, and He said: 'Thou shalt worship the Lord God and Him only shalt thou serve' - and the word of God testifies: then the devil leaveth him! Hallelujah! He did not need to run away from the devil, the devil ran away from Him!
Do you not see the difference? If you don't you're blind. Imagine, please, your Saviour, the only man ever in God's eye in humanity who had been born before God as God's Son, the only man ever that had lived a perfect life before God, the only man who had overcome the devil in the flesh, and all the works in His life, in His death, and in His glorious resurrection. He's the only man - let me tell you this: we major on the cross, and rightly so because Paul says we're to boast in nothing but the cross, but let me tell you this, the righteousness of Christ's life is of as much importance for your redemption and salvation as His death is. For if He had sinned once, and I'd say this: if He had one compulsion to sin, you're damned tonight! What a joy for God to look at the birth of this child, and to look at the death of it, to see His glorious resurrection, to see His ascension, to see Him coming through the gates of heaven with His own blood to sprinkle on the mercy seat and bring an entrance to you and to me. What a joy - I'll tell you this, this is the bit for us - what a joy that because of His victory, because He made the devil run, you have the power - whether you speak English, French, Dutch, German - to say this one word: 'No'! Is that not liberating? Because Jesus lived, because He died, and because He rose again, you can say: 'No'.
Do you want victory over temptation? Well, you need to pull that sword out of the sheath that Joseph pulled out. Do you know what's engraved on that sword? 'How can I do this great wickedness against the One who died for me?'. I couldn't find this hymn, I heard it on the radio today, but do you know what the chorus was? You can maybe refresh my memory: 'When Jesus comes the tempter's power is broken', isn't that wonderful? Next week we'll look at incarceration, as he goes to prison, recognition and glorification. Come back, and bring your study sheet - save us a bit of money and bring your sheet back with you next week!
Let's bow our heads, thank the Lord with me that no matter what befalls us in life we can say with Joseph: 'God is with me'. We thank the Lord that He has come in flesh to us, which He didn't to Joseph, and He's gone to Calvary for us, and He's risen again, and He's exalted in heaven waiting for us. He can't wait until we get there too. It's wonderful, isn't it? Let that soothe your heart tonight, whatever you're going through. They might mean it for evil, but God has your good at heart.
Father, we just want to thank You tonight, we want to say that we love You because You first loved us. You've chosen us in Christ, and justified us, and Lord You're going to one day glorify us - no matter what we're going through in this life, Father, help us to look to the end and to see that one day it'll be far, far better, for we will be with the Lord Jesus forever. Thank You for this tonight, we pray that we will take it with us and, Lord, that it'll help those that need helped, to the glory of Christ we pray, Amen.
Preach The Word
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the third tape in his 'As Sparks Flying Upwards' series, titled "The Jeopardy Of Joseph Part 1" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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