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  1. Alienation - Persecution - Desertion (chapter 37)
  2. Temptation (chapter 39)
  3. Incarceration (chapter 40)
  4. Recognition (chapter 41)
  5. Glorification (chapters 42-45)

Now we're turning in our Bibles to Genesis chapter 40, and this is our fourth study in our series 'As Sparks Flying Upward' - as Job says: 'Man is born unto trouble as the sparks fly upward'. We've looked at the agonies of Abraham, the life journey of Jacob, last week we took our first glimpse at the jeopardy of Joseph - and I hope that you've got your study sheet from last week because we're continuing at point three this evening, and God willing we'll be finishing it in our fourth study tonight.

Out of the gloom of the darkness of temptation and sin, persecution, alienation and desertion, we have seen - just like his multicoloured coat - a rainbow of hope, to know that a man with God can resist temptation, a man with God on his side can stand firmly on the victory side - and that has given us hope

Last week we travelled with Joseph, we began the journey of jeopardy with him in his father's dusty tents on the plain of Dothan. Then we moved on with Joseph to Potiphar's magnificent palace, and as we've travelled with this young man Joseph we've felt his betrayal as his brothers threw him down into the pit, we've felt his hurt as they sold him to Midianite merchantmen, we have shared his loneliness as he entered into a strange land, a foreigner with a foreign language, foreign culture and customs. A young country boy slave dazzled by the splendour of the royal bodyguard's mansion. Then, as he has been in that house and climbed up the status ladder of power, given charge over everything in Potiphar's house, we have felt the red blood of temptation pulsating through his conscience as Potiphar's wife propositions him and lays herself on the plate for him. Then, as we have seen the great stand that this young man takes, our spirits have rallied with approval and admiration as we hear Joseph's great words, Genesis 39 verse 9: 'How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?'. Out of the gloom of the darkness of temptation and sin, persecution, alienation and desertion, we have seen - just like his multicoloured coat - a rainbow of hope, to know that a man with God can resist temptation, a man with God on his side can stand firmly on the victory side - and that has given us hope.

We have journeyed with Joseph, I think we've journeyed with him so closely and intimately and emotionally simply because his journey is our journey too. But I hope also we have seen a greater than Joseph, I hope that we have seen and we will see tonight the Man of sorrows acquainted with grief. What a journey of jeopardy Joseph went through in his life, last week we looked at his alienation from his family and his brothers, his persecution from them, his desertion of them when he was thrown down into the pit and later sold to those Midianite merchantmen, and then his temptation in Potiphar's house.

Where we pick up this evening is where his temptation costs him, the consequences of resisting his temptation and standing up for God, and standing up against Potiphar's wife - that's where we find him this evening: incarcerated. He goes through this experience of imprisonment, incarceration, as we begin our study at chapter 40. Here we have the consequences of Joseph's faithfulness to God and indeed to his earthly master. When we realise the passions that must have been in this young man's body and mind as he is offered such a tempting proposition, we begin to realise the strength of character that was in this young man - but as we see the reaction of Potiphar's wife against Joseph we also realise what William Shakespeare meant when he said: 'Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned'. Because she didn't get her way, and get what she wanted - her gratification - you know the story and I'm not going to go through everything tonight like a Sunday School teacher, you know the story, most of you. But you know that Joseph was falsely accused by that woman of raping her, she was able to produce the coat that Joseph left in her hand when he fled from sin and left it behind him. Because of that he is thrown into prison.

This young man has cascaded down a rollercoaster emotionally, spiritually and physically, and he now finds himself in a miserable hole

Now the prisons in Joseph's day are not like the prisons today - they're like the Hilton hotel today - but Joseph's prison was different. In chapter 40, if you look at verses 14 and 15, you'll read these words: 'But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon'. Now literally in the Hebrew language what he calls this prison is 'a miserable hole', that's what it literally is in the Hebrew. 'I have been put into this miserable hole, and I don't deserve it'. I want you to imagine it tonight, what it must have been like, this large gloomy dungeon - no windows, paved with cobblestones, black with filth, no light getting in, no air or ventilation, no amenities to clean yourself, no separation from the other prisoners around you - and all the day long you simply drag yourself from one corner of the cell to the other because of the fetters that are round your feet and round your hands. This young man has cascaded down a rollercoaster emotionally, spiritually and physically, and he now finds himself in a miserable hole.

Many-a-time - I don't know about you - but as a Christian, when you take your stand, men disregard you because of the truth that you stand up for. Joseph took a stand and men ostracised him, men relegated him and put him into oblivion, but the teaching of this book and the teaching of Joseph's story is this: what does it matter? What does it matter if your brothers turn away from you? What does it matter if somebody else's wife turns on you? What does it matter if God is for you? This is the message that we've got to get into our minds and into our hearts in the lessons that Joseph brings to us in our modern day and age, it is this: no matter what happened Joseph, God was with Joseph! God was with Joseph in prison.

When we go into the New Testament we find that the apostle Paul, now think about this for a moment, this great apostle, this great man who gave birth to so many souls spiritually speaking, who founded so many churches and tended the churches, and poured his whole life out in care of the churches, he says on one occasion: 'All those in Asia have forsaken me'. Now quantify that in your mind for a moment, every single believer and church in Asia had turned their back on the apostle Paul! Imagine that! Yet Paul was able to say again: 'Notwithstanding, the Lord stood with me'. What does it matter if everyone turns their back on you? What does it matter? As Paul could reckon in the book of the Romans: 'If God is for us, who can stand against us?'.

What does it matter if you go down in men's estimation? What does it matter?

Now there are many of us, especially as Christians, who are incarcerated by the opinions of others and by their estimation of you. I think this is so applicable, especially in evangelical circles and what is often called fundamentalist circles, where the grace that we have in our lives and the liberty wherewith we are to stand in that Christ has bought for us through His blood, we are robbed of it by the fact that we're looking over our shoulders because of what we think so-and-so will think of us - his estimation of us - and we're incarcerated by fear, and the fear of man bringeth a snare. We're not talking about biblical teaching, we ought to be afraid of breaking biblical principles and laws, we ought to walk that narrow road, but what I'm talking about is the tradition of the elders, what I'm talking about is the rules and regulations that men and women make up in their own minds and want to enforce on everybody else. What does it matter if you go down in men's estimation? What does it matter?

I'll tell you one thing: the man that forgets what other men think will break through with God, and break out for God. Let's focus our eyes for one moment on the Lord Jesus Christ, the Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief - we hid, as it were, our faces from Him. He came unto His own, and His own esteemed Him not. In fact, do you know what they said about Him? 'He's a winebibber, He's a friend of publicans, He's a friend of sinners' - in Matthew chapter 12 they accuse Him of being possessed by the prince of the demons, Beelzebub, and then they say: 'You're a son of fornication, we are not of fornication' - the inference being: 'You are'. I wonder how quickly each of us would run to our defence to prove our own parentage, but the Bible says of Him: 'When He was reviled, He reviled not again'. Philippians says - oh, this is awesome! - it can only be said of the Christ: 'He made himself of no reputation'. He didn't care what they thought of Him! When they took Him and nailed Him to that bloody cross, He was heard to say: 'Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do'.

Now let's look back at Joseph for a moment. He interprets the butler's dream, and we're not going to go into all the intricacies of it, but as he's in prison he interprets the butler's dream and he pleads with him and asks him that he'll remember him when he goes out into the court of Pharaoh - and as soon as the cell door is closed behind the butler, the years go by and the chief butler forgot Joseph! Verse 23 of chapter 40: 'Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but he forgot him'. Now listen, child of God, tonight, I want you to mark this: you may be here this evening and you're forgotten by men, you're forgotten by kith and kin, maybe by the establishment of a movement or a church, you're in suffering, you're in loneliness - but take great comfort this evening in this: though the butler forgot Joseph, the Lord remembered him! I wonder, I just wonder, as Joseph was lying on the cold damp floor of that prison cell, was the tempter coming to him and whispering in his ear: 'Joseph, if you hadn't been as true to your old dreams of your youth and your God, you wouldn't be in this mess!'. I'm sure many-a-time the accuser came to him and said: 'If you had slept with that woman you could have been Prime Minister of Egypt now! You wouldn't be lying in this den and dungeon!'.

The devil often does tell the truth...but he mixes truth with a little bit of error

I want you to notice something this evening - it's very pertinent, because the devil often does tell the truth, did you know that? But he mixes truth with a little bit of error, and I think, you know, that Joseph probably could be Prime Minister of Egypt by sleeping with this woman, he could have got there that way for he could have blackmailed her. He could have got right to the top of his profession, and if he had wanted to he could have got his ends by the wrong means. But listen: if he had done that he wouldn't have been fit to be a vessel for God to use, he wouldn't have been a fit deliverer for God to raise up and to interpret Pharaoh's dreams. He would have taken the credit for all that God was doing for him, but yet in chapter 41 and verse 16 when he interprets Pharaoh's dream he says: 'It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer. I'm not the one who can interpret dreams, I'm only God's vessel' - but he couldn't have been God's vessel if he got to God's position the wrong way. He couldn't have been the deliverer that God needed to deliver Israel from famine - and here, look please, this is such an important lesson for us. Paul in his epistles speaks of us running a race, and so many times he uses a race and athletics as a metaphor to speak of the Christian race and the Christian life. Paul says within his epistles in 2 Timothy chapter 2 and verse 5, listen carefully: 'If a man also strive for masteries', if you like, 'If a man is an athlete, and running in a race, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully'.

Have you got it? It isn't the finishing of the race that is all-important, but Paul is saying - and Joseph is bearing out - that it is also the keeping of the rules along the race. It makes it more difficult, doesn't it? As we look at this character, Joseph, we see it; as we look at Paul we see it; but I want you tonight to look to the Author and the Finisher of our faith - the Lord Jesus Christ. We were in Matthew chapter 4 last week, and if we go back there we see that in one of the Lord's temptations from the devil the devil took Him to a high place and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and he said unto Him: 'All these things will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me'. Now what did the Lord come into the world for? He had come into the world to save the kingdoms of the world, He had come into the world to save sinners - all nationalities, tribes, people, and tongues - He had come into the world to bring His kingdom to the world, and that's what He was there for. The devil came to Him and he offered Him a shortcut! But, my friends, it wouldn't do. He offered Him an easy way of getting those kingdoms, but if the Lord had taken it - and He couldn't have taken it in all of His holiness and righteousness - but if He had taken it He wouldn't have been striving lawfully, and ultimately He would have lost absolutely everything - but, of course, that is impossible! Why? This is why: because He was holy, spotless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and as we saw last week there wasn't that old sin nature in His bosom that was drawn after these temptations. That's why we can read that not only did the Lord Jesus get the prize, but the Lord Jesus Christ strove and kept the rules lawfully. That's why the writer to the Hebrews says, listen to these words: 'Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and now is set down at the right hand of the throne of God on high'. Do you know what that tells me as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ? Two things: one, there are no shortcuts in God's race; two, as the way of the cross was the way for Christ, the way of the cross leads home for us too.

It was painful, there were no quick-fixes for Joseph, for Paul, or for our Lord Jesus Christ. The word of God tells us that if we suffer with the Lord Jesus - if we suffer - we shall also reign with Him, but if we deny Him, He also will deny us. Now my friend tonight, what I'm wanting you to see this evening is: if you have started out in Christian life like Joseph, with all these dreams of what God is going to do in your life, praise the Lord for it - but perhaps, like Joseph, your dream has quickly turned into a dungeon! Can I encourage you to look at Joseph and see that his dreams were shattered, they became a dungeon, but all those shattered dreams were only a pathway to a diadem.

They thought they were destroying the Christ, but God was bringing into being your salvation and mine - isn't that wonderful?

The defining verse in the whole Joseph's life can be found in chapter 50 of Genesis, if you will turn to it, and verse 20. Racing on to the end of the story - you remember Joseph's brothers come before him, they're looking for food in Egypt, and Joseph's brothers didn't recognise Joseph but Joseph recognised them. After a few games and playing around with them, after a while he reveals himself to them, and verse 20 he says to them: 'But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good'. Now if you get nothing out of the story and the life of Joseph, get this please! The prime example is Calvary, men meant it for evil, the Romans meant it for evil, the devils and the demons who came out of hell and no-one knows what they did to the Lord Jesus Christ there on the gallows - nobody knows, it's hidden from us - but God, hallelujah, meant it for good! They thought they were destroying the Christ, but God was bringing into being your salvation and mine - isn't that wonderful?

It's the same in all of the plan of God - child going through pain tonight, what I want you to see is that one of the keys of surviving pain and trouble in life is to accept all that comes your way as being from the hand of God, believing that it is for some purpose of good, that it just hasn't come in willy-nilly and circumstances or fortune or luck has brought this into your life, or bad luck, but believing that everything that has come on your plate has come from God. Now I'm not talking about anything satanic, I'm not talking about sin or evil influence in your life, that clearly could not be of God's permission and it can be prevented in your life - but what I'm talking about is things that come across your path that you cannot avoid. Things that have come out of nowhere and you've had no choice in them, if you accept that from the hand of God my friend, I'll tell you this: it'll be a lot easier to deal with them. If you see them as God's guests it'll be easier.

I read a poem recently by Martha Snell-Nicholson, and I want to share it with you, and please take it to your heart tonight. It's called 'Guests', listen:

'Pain knocked upon my door and said
That she had come to stay;
And though I would not welcome her
But bade her go away,
She entered in. Like my own shade
She followed after me,
And from her stabbing, stinging sword
No moment was I free.

And then one day another knocked
Most gently at my door.
I cried, "No, Pain is living here,
There is no room for more".
And then I heard His tender voice,
"'Tis I, be not afraid".
And from the day He entered in --
Oh, the difference it has made!

For though He did not bid her leave,
(My strange, unwelcome guest,)
He taught me how to live with her.
Oh, I had never guessed
That we could dwell so sweetly here,
My Lord and Pain and I,
Within this fragile house of clay
While years slip slowly by!'

Now listen, there's an awful lot of tosh that is talked about suffering and pain within Christendom today - that everybody ought to be healed, and everybody can be healed. I believe that God can and does heal, but it's not for everybody! I'll tell you why it's not: because if you take away pain, suffering, anguish, trouble, heartache, I'll tell you what you do - you take away the cross! Personally and individually in each Christian's life you take away blessing.

If you're to be sustained through life, if you're to get through life, it's going to be only by the strength of God not the strength of your clay pot

Let me show you, 2 Corinthians chapter 4, if you're going through trouble at this minute please take this to your heart - this is for you tonight. If you're not going through it, you're going to go through it, so take it anyway and keep it, hide it in your heart like Mary did. Second Corinthians 4 and verse 7, this is what God has revealed to us that we might understand His purpose in our pain - there is a purpose in our pain - verse 7, he's talking about the life of God in us: 'We have this treasure in earthen vessels', clay pots if you like, that can break and that can crack and that can crumble, just like our old bodies, but God puts it in these vessels of clay 'that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us'. Right, if you're to be sustained through life, if you're to get through life, it's going to be only by the strength of God not the strength of your clay pot. 'We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed', now watch this, 'Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you'.

Do you see it? If you think of Gideon's pitchers filled with light, that's what being spoken of here, but covered with a bushel of a clay pot. But as we go through the years we get this knock, that bump, this turmoil, that journey that we don't like, and it starts to crack, it starts to get holes in it - but the more holes there are the more light gets out! Do you see the plan? Do you see it? This is from God, and it's so that the life of Christ can shine out of you and shine unto others, and bless others. If you and I could only see that, oh how we would see pain in a different light!

Incarceration was a blessing for Joseph, and it can be a blessing for you. Listen to those lines of the poem again:

'Oh, I had never guessed
That we could dwell so sweetly here,
My Lord and Pain and I,
Within this fragile house of clay
While years slip slowly by!'

It's wonderful, isn't it? Then we find that Joseph didn't live all the time in the prison, he got out of the prison. If you turn to chapter 41 we find his recognition, because for this man Joseph, his day came. You remember that Pharaoh couldn't interpret his own dream, he had this dream about the thin and the full ears of corn, the fat and the thin cattle - and the chief butler, when he couldn't interpret the dream and nobody around Pharaoh could interpret it, at that moment the chief butler remembered Joseph. Joseph was brought out of the prison into the palace, he interpreted the dream, he told Pharaoh that a famine was coming to Egypt and they were going to have to get hoards of grain put away for the future, and after that Joseph was swiftly promoted to the first place in the kingdom of Egypt beside Pharaoh.

Now imagine this, he's just come in a moment of a few months perhaps, he's come from the depths of a dungeon to the height and delight of the diadem of Egypt. He's wearing Pharaoh's ring on his finger, he's got Pharaoh's robe on his back, he's got Pharaoh's gold around his neck - what a lifestyle! Anything he would have wanted would have been given to him. His palaces, Joseph's palace's, would have consisted of numberless rooms, spacious courts and halls filled with palm trees, sycamores and acacia trees. Carved furniture out of every wood that you can imagine, adorned with ebony and gilded with gold. The scent of perfume wafting around the rooms, and flowers to be seen in every corner. Thick carpet for you to sink into of the finest wools and animal skins. Numberless servants, musicians and choristers filling the air with pleasure. This man Joseph, from the depths of hell to the heights - it's remarkable, isn't it?

It's hard to remember God in your sufferings and to remember Him in your success as well

What is more remarkable tonight, and this is what I want you to see, is: prosperity never changed Joseph! A full cup is hard to carry, and prosperity often makes men forget God, but not Joseph - why? I'll tell you why, the Psalmist tells us why - turn quickly to Psalm 105 and verse 18, speaking of Joseph in prison: 'Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron'. Now that literally could be translated like this: 'Iron entered into his soul', as he was in prison God strengthened this young man, and as he was in the palace he could look back and he could remember God in his sufferings and in his success as well. There's not many of us can do that. Oh yes, many a man cries out to God, I've heard them say it, they're lying on a sick bed really seriously ill and they say: 'David, if God would only raise me up again I would do anything and everything for God' - and God raises them up and they do nothing for God! It's hard to remember God in your sufferings and to remember Him in your success as well.

I think he was a little bit spoiled in his youth. His father loved him, he got special treatment. He was too proud, perhaps, of his multicoloured coat and of the great dreams that he was having, and about his brothers bowing down to him, but now he has gone through the school of suffering and now his hand is steady to hold the rod of rule. You see, suffering - this is what I want you to get - suffering not only let's the light shine out, but suffering does something else: negatively it purges the dirt and the sin and the dross out, and positively it brings into the life of the believer maturity and purity. It's not enough just for the light to come out, but God wants to take the sin out of us, God wants to purge away the dross and the dirt, He wants to make us grow up and mature in our faith and become more pure. Some of you men will know how metal is purified. If you don't know, it's simply heated so hot that the metal itself becomes white. Then, the hotter it gets across the top of the white hot liquid, there's like a skin or a surface, a portion of what is called slag or dross. That dross and slag needs to be wiped away by the worker, and he has to put on asbestos gloves to wipe it all away. But it is the removing of the slag that makes the metal pure, and it is the heat of our trials that brings to the surface our sin, the dross that binds us, and it is the nail-pierced hand of the Saviour that comes and wipes it all away.

I was doing a bit of research today and I found out that a bar of steel is worth about £3.50, an ordinary bar of steel. But when you make that steel into an ordinary pair of horseshoes it becomes worth £7.00. The blacksmith heats it and he hammers it, and it doubles in price from £3.50 to £7.00. That same bar that's worth £3.50, if it's manufactured into needles the value rises for the one bar to £250 - and yet if the same bar worth £3.50 is made into delicate springs for expensive watches, listen, it is worth £175,000! The same bar of steel is made more valuable by being cut down to its proper size, being passed through one blast furnace after another again and again, being hammered, manipulated, beaten and pounded, finished and polished, until it's ready for the work that it's intended for.

That is what Job meant when he said these words: 'He knoweth the way that I take, and when He hath tried me I shall come forth as gold'. Our Lord Jesus Christ, a greater than Joseph and a greater than all of us, as I have already said was perfect, separate from sinners, undefiled - but do you know what amazes me? It's an absolute mystery to me: He in His humanity still went through a process, He still went through a process. Hebrews 5 and verses 7 to 9, listen as I read it to you, speaking of the Lord Jesus in Gethsemane: 'Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him'. He became perfect! You say: 'I thought He was perfect?' - He is perfect, it's not talking about moral perfection. He couldn't get any more perfect morally, He is God incarnate, but what it is talking about in His humanity is the complete obedience of going to the cross. His life would not have been complete if He had not gone to the cross. Think of it, your Lord Jesus Christ had a process like that! It's wonderful.

Boy, if we would number our days, number our days and realise that everything is toward the end

Finally Joseph was recognised, and then we find in chapters 42 through to 45 that he's glorified. Glorification, for there was one day that the famine came to Egypt and it also came to the land of Israel - but the land of Israel had not prepared for it the way that Egypt had done. Joseph's brothers had come before him and appeared before him to buy some corn, and the years and the culture of Egypt had disfigured Joseph to them, he was disguised - but Joseph recognised them. We haven't got time to go into all the tests that he went through with his brothers, just to say that at length Joseph probed their consciences, aroused their fears and their guilt, and then eventually after all of it he disclosed himself to them and they wept together in repentance and in forgiveness.

Now what I want you to see tonight, without going into too much depth with the end part of the story, is simply this: all of Joseph's life was leading up to this one moment, everything was moving like great waves in his life's biography bringing him to that one point where he would feed the children of Israel with corn and the people of God would live on. Joseph had been born, he'd been given his dreams, he'd gone down into prison, he'd risen up into Potiphar's house, he was accused, tempted, put into prison and eventually into Pharaoh's house - all to get him to this moment in time, ultimately to make sure that Israel one day would give birth to it's Messiah.

Please see this tonight as you're going through troubles and trials in your life: if Joseph had not been sold into Egypt, if he had not resisted temptation, if he had not been cast into prison, if he had not been forgotten by the butler and everybody else, if he had not risen to Pharaoh's high ranks, you would not have your Saviour! Oh, we must learn above all things the providence of Almighty God in our lives - that everything that we go through day after day is related to the end of our lives. Boy, if we would number our days, number our days and realise that everything is toward the end - all of your life must be related to the end, and you can't judge what you're going through now because you don't know what it will be like at the end! That's why Peter said: 'Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory' - when? - 'at the appearing of Jesus Christ'. Do you see it? It's all toward the end! Your Lord's life was related to the end, for He being found in fashion as a man, humbled Himself, became obedient unto death - why? Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, given Him a name which is above every name - why? That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

Do you see that it's all related to the end? That's why we're told in Hebrews chapter 12: 'Look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God'. Listen: 'For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds - child, don't faint! Don't give up! Consider Him!

At the very beginning Joseph was a dreamer, and at the very end he's still a dreamer for God!

He was an overcomer, Joseph was an overcomer, and you can be an overcomer tonight. When Joseph's two sons were laid before him he named one of them Manasseh and he named the other one Ephraim. He named one Manasseh because he said: 'God has made me to forget all my toil'! How could you forget about all that he went through? How did Joseph end his life? Well, like his father who lay on his deathbed and said: 'Bury me not in Egypt', Joseph in chapter 50, if you look at it, and in verse 25 he says: 'Ye shall carry up my bones from hence'. He's basically saying the same thing as his father: 'Don't bury me in Egypt. You're going to one day go into the promised land, and you're going to take my bones with you'. The amazing thing is that these are the only words that are repeated in the New Testament, the only words of Joseph. In Hebrews 11:22 where it says: 'By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones'. He didn't want them left in Egypt, and the children of Israel on to the promised land.

Now that is tremendous to me, I'll tell you why: because at the very beginning Joseph was a dreamer, and at the very end he's still a dreamer for God! He's looking prophetically in faith at a day when Israel will have their own land. One hundred and ten years, as he lies on his deathbed, have stolen away his youthful excitement, and pain has left an indelible mark on his features. It's 93 years since he was lifted from the pit of Potiphar's prison, it's 80 years since he went before Pharaoh in all of his glory as the Prime Minister of Egypt, yet still at the very end of all of this hazardous journey his eyes are firmly fixed upon God. Isn't it wonderful? When Israel, as we read in the Old Testament, returns out of the exodus from Egypt into Canaan, Joseph's dust is brought with them to the promised land.

Do you know how I conclude Joseph? Listen: he never ever forgot that he was born of God, he never forgot that he suffered for God, that he reigned in Egypt for God, and as he lies with death engulfing him he dies for God. Roman 8 as we close, let me read it to you as you have in your mind that he was born for God, and he suffered for God, and he reigned for God, and he died for God - you take this to yourself tonight suffering soul: 'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose' - listen - 'For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called' - we are born of God! - 'and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who', or what, 'can stand against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?'.

It's wonderful, isn't it? They might mean it for evil, but God has meant for your good.

Our Father, we pray that we will finish the race like Joseph finished it. Our Father, we pray that not only will we finish the course, but that we will have kept the faith, that we will have kept to the rules along the way, and, our Father, that we will be crowned with glory so that we will take that crown and cast it at the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, let us not be empty-handed, but our Father let us live and run and finish and suffer and die for the glory of Christ we pray, Amen.

Don't miss Part 5 of 'As Sparks Flying Upward': "The Maze Of Moses Part 1"

Transcribed by:
Preach The Word
February 2002

This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fourth tape in his 'As Sparks Flying Upwards' series, titled "The Jeopardy Of Joseph Part 2" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.

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