Sun, Jan 27, 2019

Joshua 5:1 God is For Us!

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JOSHUA 5:1

GOD IS FOR US!

            Please turn in your Bibles this morning to Joshua chapter 5 as we continue our study through the book of Joshua.

            And here on Sunday mornings we are taking our time going through this book, seeing the lessons that the Lord has for us.
            And, as I have said, this book of Joshua shows us how to live that victorious Christian life. Therefore, there are some powerful lessons for us to learn!

            In our studies we have seen that Moses has died and now Joshua was in charge of the children of Israel. Joshua was going to be the one who would lead them into the Promise Land.

            And this is important for us to understand. Joshua did not enter the Promise Land in the power of his might, but in the power of God. We see that God’s Spirit has been poured out upon Joshua, empowering him for the work that was before him.

            And now, under the leadership of Joshua, God has brought the children of Israel into the Promise Land. They are presently in Gilgal.

            Now, keep in mind that Gilgal will be their base camp as they prepare to come against the city of Jericho. As they begin to drive out the inhabitants of the land and take what God has given them, the land of Canaan!

            I have called our study this morning, “God Is For Us!” And that is important for us to understand. Let me share this story with you and then I will expound on it before we get to our text. We are told,

            Once there was an old man who lived in a tiny village. Although poor, he was envied by all, for he owned a beautiful white horse. Even the king coveted his treasure. A horse like this had never been seen before - such was its splendor, its majesty, its strength.

            People offered fabulous prices for the steed, but the old man always refused. “This horse is not a horse to me,” he would tell them. “It is a person.  How could you sell a person? He is a friend, not a possession. How could you sell a friend?” The man was poor and the temptation was great. But he never sold the horse.

            One morning he found that the horse was not in the stable. All the village came to see him. “You old fool,” they scoffed, “we told you that someone would steal your horse. We warned you that you would be robbed. You are so poor. How could you ever hope to protect such a valuable animal? It would have been better to have sold him. You could have gotten whatever price you wanted. No amount would have been too high. Now the horse is gone, and you’ve been cursed with misfortune.”

            The old man responded, “Don’t speak too quickly. Say only that the horse is not in the stable. That is all we know; the rest is judgment. If I’ve been cursed or not, how can you know? How can you judge?”

            The people contested, “Don’t make us out to be fools! We may not be philosophers, but great philosophy is not needed. The simple fact is that your horse is gone is a curse.”

            The old man spoke again. “All I know is that the stable is empty, and the horse is gone. The rest I don’t know. Whether it be a curse or a blessing, I can’t say. All we can see is a fragment. Who can say what will come next?”

            The people of the village laughed. They thought that the man was crazy. They had always thought he was a fool; if he wasn’t, he would have sold the horse and lived off the money. But instead, he was a poor woodcutter, an old man still cutting firewood and dragging it out of the forest and selling it. He lived hand to mouth in the misery of poverty. Now he had proven that he was, indeed, a fool.

            After fifteen days, the horse returned. He hadn’t been stolen; he had run away into the forest. Not only had he returned, he had brought a dozen wild horses with him. Once again the village people gathered around the woodcutter and spoke. “Old man, you were right and we were wrong. What we thought was a curse was a blessing. Please forgive us.”

            The man responded, “Once again, you go too far. Say only that the horse is back. State only that a dozen horses returned with him, but don’t judge. How do you know if this is a blessing or not? You see only a fragment. Unless you know the whole story, how can you judge? You read only one page of a book. Can you judge the whole book? You read only one word of a phrase. Can you understand the entire phrase?”

            “Life is so vast, yet you judge all of life with one page or one word. All you have is a fragment! Don’t say that this is a blessing. No one knows. I am content with what I know. I am not perturbed by what I don’t.”

            “Maybe the old man is right,” they said to one another. So they said little. But down deep, they knew he was wrong. They knew it was a blessing. Twelve wild horses had returned with one horse. With a little bit of work, the animals could be broken and trained and sold for much money.

            The old man had a son, an only son. The young man began to break the wild horses. After a few days, he fell from one of the horses and broke both legs. Once again the villagers gathered around the old man and cast their judgments.

            “You were right,” they said. “You proved you were right. The dozen horses were not a blessing. They were a curse. Your only son has broken his legs, and now in your old age you have no one to help you. Now you are poorer than ever.”

            The old man spoke again. “You people are obsessed with judging. Don’t go so far. Say only that my son broke his legs. Who knows if it is a blessing or a curse? No one knows. We only have a fragment. Life comes in fragments.”

            It so happened that a few weeks later the country engaged in war against a neighboring country. All the young men of the village were required to join the army. Only the son of the old man was excluded, because he was injured. Once again the people gathered around the old man, crying and screaming because their sons had been taken. There was little chance that they would return. The enemy was strong, and the war would be a losing struggle. They would never see their sons again.

            “You were right, old man,” they wept. “God knows you were right. This proves it. Your son’s accident was a blessing. His legs may be broken, but at least he is with you. Our sons are gone forever.”

            The old man spoke again. “It is impossible to talk with you. You always draw conclusions. No one knows. Say only this: Your sons had to go to war, and mine did not. No one knows if it is a blessing or a curse. No one is wise enough to know. Only God knows.”

- Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm, Word Publishing, 1991, pp. 144-147

 

            I think for the most part, as we read that we feel that is so true. We do not know if what is happening in our lives is a blessing or a curse. Only God truly knows.

            But I don’t believe that is true. Yes, things may seem difficult, they may not seem good, but do you really think what God is doing in our lives is bringing a curse upon it? I don’t think so.

            No, I should not say that. Let me be clear on this. God is not bringing a curse upon us and you can take that to the bank!

            And, if things are going well for us, do we need to fear, “I wonder what God is going to do? I wonder if this is not a blessing, but a curse upon my life?”

            Again, do you really think what God is doing in our lives is bringing a curse upon it? I don’t think so.

            No, I should not say that. And I will repeat myself again because I want to be clear on this. God is not bringing a curse upon us and you can take that to the bank!

            No some of you still might not be sure about that, but, as we go through our study this morning, I think you will see that God has good in store for you, even though you might not see it.

            You see, perspective is everything and having a correct perspective is vital if we are going to live out that victorious Christian life!

            And I think the Scriptures are very clear on this. Remember David and Goliath!

            In this story you have to have the right perspective.

            When Goliath came against the Israelites, the soldiers all thought, “He’s so big we can never kill him.”

            David looked at the same giant and thought, “He’s so big I can’t miss.” 

            The Israelites thought that this giant was a curse upon their lives!

            David saw this giant as a defeated foe!

            My prayer as we go through this study is that you would leave here knowing that God is for you and He wants what is best for your life. That may mean you will endure some difficult times, but He is for you, not against you as a believer!

            With that as our background, let’s begin reading in Joshua chapter 5 and let’s look at verse 1.

 

JOSHUA 5

VERSE 1

            Word has quickly spread that the children of Israel have now crossed over the Jordan River on dry ground and now nothing would stop them from coming in and destroying them.

            Not only was the God of the children of Israel with them on the east side of the Jordan River, drying up the Red Sea so they could cross through it, destroying Kings and Kingdoms on the east side of the Jordan River, but He is here now!

            You see, they now have crossed over onto the west side of the Jordan River, on dry ground, and the people in the land of Canaan knew they were no match for the God of the children of Israel.

            Fear quickly grew in the hearts of the enemy and it is a perfect time to strike, humanly speaking.

            Now, when we think of the heart of man melting, that is not a bad thing. The reason being is that it could lead them to repentance.

            But for the people of Canaan, their hearts melted when they heard these things and instead of repenting before the living God, their hearts even grew harder towards Him and now they were going to fight against Him!

            In knowing all this, that the enemy was fearful, their hearts were melting, they knew they were in trouble, what do you think the children of Israel should do here?

            Attack, attack, attack! But that would be wrong!

            You see, God has another plan before they do battle.

            He wanted the children of Israel to consecrate themselves unto the Lord and then they would do battle with the enemy.

            And as we will see over the next few weeks, God will lead them in three experiences before they are ready to enter into this battle.

            Why is that? Because God is more interested in the heart then our activities folks, and once our heart is right, then it is time to do battle!

            The first thing we see God instruct them to do is to be circumcised! And I know, “Are you kidding me? Circumcision and then try and do battle, I don’t think so!” But that is exactly what God was instructing them to do. A cutting away of the flesh, death to that old life. A RENEWAL OF CIRCUMCISION is the first experience.

            Then they were to celebrate Passover, a picture of their redemption and they were to look back at that first Passover and what God had done for them and see the work He is continuing to do in their lives. CELEBRATING OF PASSOVER is the second experience.

            And lastly, the Manna stopped and now they were to gather the food from the land. They are in the Promise Land, the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey! THE APPROPRIATION OF THE LANDS PRODUCE is the third experience.

            And, like I have said, we will be looking at these beginning with our next study and for the next few studies.

            But this morning, like I have said, we are going to focus on this topic – GOD IS FOR US!

            For the children of Israel, their trust was in the Lord and their enemies knew that and their hearts melted because the One they were trusting in was more than able to give them the victory!

            Have you ever thought of the battles you face that way? I think we do lose sight of that and because we are not trusting in the Lord, our hearts melt, and the enemy gets bolder.

            We are going to focus on Romans 8:31 this morning, and I know, it is not Joshua, but I believe it is so important that we understand this because we will face many battles in our lives and sometimes, they come one right after another.

            Listen to what Paul said in Romans 8:31, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

            The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, What then shall we say to [all] this? If God is for us, who [can be] against us? [Who can be our foe, if God is on our side?]  [Ps 118:6.]

            The Living Bible puts this verse like this, What can we ever say to such wonderful things as these? If God is on our side, who can ever be against us?

            To show you how this is played out by looking on both sides of the picture, we will look at the life of Jacob and the life of Joseph. They both had a difficult life, but their perspective of the situations was vastly different as we will see this morning.

            We first are going to look at the life of Jacob. He lived a hard life. Remember what Jacob said to Pharaoh about his life in Genesis 47:9, . . . ‘The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.’

            In other words, life is tough and as you look at me, you can tell the wear and tear, the toll it has taken upon me!

            And it was true, it was a hard life for Jacob. Some of his trouble was self-inflicted, but for the most part, it was just life and life is messy and it is hard!

            Jacob’s life began with a struggle and that struggle began in the womb. You see, Jacob and his twin brother were jostling for position and when they were being born, Jacob grasped his brother’s heel.

            And that jockeying for position continued on in their lives as they grew up. God told Jacob’s mom, Rebekah, that the older would serve the younger, but I don’t think they believed it, so they tried to help God out on this one.

            Jacob got the birthright from Esau for a pot of bean stew because he was starving to death from a hunting expedition that was empty!

            Now, as time went by, Jacob not only wanted the birthright from Esau, but he wanted the blessing from his father, Isaac.

            At this point in Isaac’s life his eyesight was poor, and Rebekah and Jacob were going to take advantage of that.

            Rebekah devised a plan to deceive Isaac into giving the blessing to Jacob, the blessing that was due Esau, the firstborn.

            And so, as Esau was hunting and preparing the meal for his father Isaac before he received the blessing, their plan is put into action. Jacob put on Esau’s clothes so that he would smell like Esau. He was an outdoors type of guy. He put goat skins on his arms, Esau was also a hairy guy. And Rebekah cooked a meal for Isaac and Jacob brought it into him.

            Isaac was surprised that Esau was able to hunt the game and cook the meal so fast but when Jacob, disguised as Esau, came close, he smelled like Esau and felt hairy like Esau, and Isaac was fooled, and Jacob got the blessing!

            When Esau found out what happened he wanted to kill his brother Jacob and thus, once Rebekah heard that, she sent Jacob to his uncle Laban’s house. And it was a long journey that Rebekah thought would only be for a short time, but it wasn’t! Rebekah would never see her son again.
            There in Haran, Jacob worked for Laban and Jacob fell in love with Laban’s daughter, Rachel. And Jacob said that he would work seven years to have her in marriage and Laban was fine with that.

            Then, on the night of the wedding, Laban substituted his older daughter, Leah for Rachel. And once Jacob found out, he was not happy. And Laban said that the custom was to marry the older daughter first and thus, you got her, Leah!

            But Jacob loved Rachel and was willing to work another seven years for Laban to have Rachel as his wife as well. And this caused much friction between Leah and Rachel because Jacob loved Rachel more.

            And for Jacob, out of the marriage to Leah and Rachel, and the handmaidens that they gave to Jacob, came forth the twelve tribes of Israel!

            And Jacob continued to work for Laban, but Laban was cheating Jacob, his wages kept changing and finally Jacob had enough and was going to leave with his family.
            Jacob left Haran, taking with him his wives and children and all the vast flocks he had accumulated. When Laban learned that Jacob left, he pursued him. But God told Laban in a dream to be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.

            Now twenty years had passed since Jacob left home, his mom Rebekah had already died. And now, how was Esau going to receive Jacob? Did Esau bury the hatchet, or did he still want to bury it in the back of Jacob!

            To check things out, Jacob sent messengers ahead of him with gifts, instructing them to tell Esau that he was following after. The messengers returned to Jacob, telling him that Esau was coming to meet him along with four hundred men! That did not sound good!

            At this point Jacob was afraid that Esau was coming to destroy him, and he divided his family into two groups, hoping at least one group could escape the attack. Jacob prayed for God to save him, reminding God that He had sent Jacob back to the land of Abraham and had promised to make him prosper and his descendants numerous.

            That night he sent his wives and sons away from him as well. While alone, in the middle of the night and afraid for his life, Jacob wrestled with a man who he later learned was God.

            And the Lord touched Jacob’s hip, putting it out of socket. No longer could Jacob be on the run from his problems but would have to trust in the Lord.

            And his name was changed from Jacob, heel catcher, schemer; to Israel or governed by God!

            And Esau and Jacob met, and they embraced each other, Esau had let go of that bitterness and anger he had towards his brother Jacob. But Jacob was still unsure and set up his home away from Esau.

            And things don’t get easier for Jacob. His only daughter, Dinah was raped by Shechem, and her brothers took revenge in a deceptive way and killed the males of the city!

            And Jacob was angry that his sons had placed him in a dangerous situation because when others found out what happened, they would come after him and his family! He didn’t seem upset that his daughter was raped!

            As Jacob and his family are traveling from Bethel to Eder, Rachel gave birth to Jacob’s twelfth son, Benjamin and Rachel died in childbirth!

            Of all the sons that Jacob had, he loved one more than all the others. It seemed that he could trust Joseph more than the others. The problem with that is that the brothers of Joseph knew that, and they hated Joseph for it.

            And one day, as Joseph was checking up on them, they took Joseph and threw him into a pit and then sold him into slavery, ending up in Egypt!

            Now, to cover up what they did, they told their father that Joseph must have been eaten by a wild animal. Now, they really didn’t say that, not exactly.

            What they did was they took the coat of Joseph and dipped it in blood and then they presented it to Jacob and he came to the conclusion that Joseph was dead, eaten by a wild animal. Not very nice.

            As time goes by there came a famine in the land and Jacob sends his ten sons, he kept Benjamin home, to go and find grain down in Egypt, since they had grain during this terrible famine.

            I won’t get into all the details yet about what took place, but the one in charge of the grain, it was their brother Joseph, but they did not recognize him, but he recognized them, and he wanted to see his younger brother, Benjamin.

            And he let them all go except for Simeon. He kept him knowing that they would bring their younger brother back or they would never see Simeon again.

            As they came home and told their father of all that happened, it was a difficult pill to swallow. Life was hard, he lost one son, Joseph and now Simeon is gone and this guy in Egypt wants to see Benjamin?

            And this is the response of Jacob, . . . All these things are against me. Genesis 42:36.

            Was that true? Of course not and I will explain in a minute.

            Listen again to what Jacob said, All these things are against me. Yes, his life was hard, it was tough, he faced much difficulty and it seems here he has just had enough and is throwing his hands in the air and giving up. “What is the use, everything is against me!”

            What is interesting here is that everything was not against Jacob and the reality is, God was for Jacob! All the things that has happened in his life were working out for good!

            Now I don’t know about you but as I read these stories in the Bible I am sometimes thinking, “How can they respond like that? What is wrong with them? How can they lack so much faith? Why can’t they just trust the Lord!”

            Isn’t it easy to sit back and think that way, and then the Lord comes in and says, “Joe, how can you respond like that? Joe, what is wrong with you? Joe, where is your faith? Joe, why can’t you just trust Me?”

            I think that is how we are to approach this, let the light that God is shining down upon this man Jacob, minister to us. We are to examine our walk, our faith, the way we live out our faith in the light of the Scriptures so that we may grow and learn to trust in the Lord. You see, not everything in your life is against you and I am here to say that everything in your life happens for a reason, God is working!

            And here is the thing. When we feel this way, we end up becoming hopeless in the situation we face. We become discouraged and even just want to throw our hands up in the air and give up!

            But hope and hope in what God has done, is doing and will do in our lives is important. Without hope we just give up. Let me share this with you and you will see what I mean. We are told,

            Vienna, Europe, the period leading up to WW2. Three Jewish psychiatrists, two learned masters in the field, one the young apprentice.

            The first master is a man named Sigmund Freud. He has spent years studying people, striving to understand what makes us tick. He’s reached the conclusion that the most basic drive in human beings is the drive for pleasure. It’s our need for pleasure that explains why we do what we do, how we live.

            The second master is Alfred Adler. He too has spent years studying human behaviour. His studies have led him to disagree with Sigmund Freud. Adler is convinced the bottom line explanation for human behaviour is power. All of us grow up feeling inferior and powerless. Life is a drive to gain control, to feel we are important.

            The third man is a young up-and-coming psychiatrist by the name of Victor Frankl. He hopes to follow in the footsteps of his mentors. But before his career gains any momentum there’s a hiccup – a little altercation called WW2. The Nazis invade and its dangerous for Jews. Freud and Adler are world renowned scholars and so manage to escape Europe before Hitler invades. Frankl is not so lucky. He is arrested and thrown into a Nazi concentration camp for 4 long years.

            After the war is over Frankl is released from the concentration camp and resumes his career. He reflects upon his time as a prisoner. He noticed something quite strange – the people who survived were not always the ones you’d expect. Many who were physically strong wasted away and died while others who were much more weak physically grew strong and survived. Why? What was it that enabled them to hang on through a living hell?

            Frankl reflected on the theories of his mentors. Freud’s pleasure principle couldn’t explain it. For four desperate and terrible years the men in that camp knew only pain, suffering and degradation. Pleasure was not a word in their vocabulary. It wasn’t pleasure that kept them going.

            What then of Adler’s theory about power being the basic human need? That didn’t fare well either. Frankl and his fellow Jews were completely powerless during their time in the concentration camps. Each day they stared down the barrel of a loaded gun, were treated like animals, felt jackboots on their faces. They had no power and no prospect of power. 

            Victor Frankl came up with his own theory. The difference between those who survived and those who perished was hope. Those who survived never gave up their belief that their lives had meaning, that despite everything going on around them it would one day end and they would live meaningful, purposeful lives. What is the basic human drive? The one thing that gives life value? The ability to live with a sense of meaning. Not pleasure. Not power. Meaning.

- Based on a talk given by Australian speaker Michael Frost

 

            I agree with Victor Frankl to a point. I don’t believe that life is about pleasure or power, but it must have meaning. 

            You see, why are we here? 

            And here is where I think he misses the point. It is not just to live with a sense of meaning, but to live a life that is focused upon God for He alone gives true meaning to our lives. 

            And, by focusing on the Lord He brings hope to the situations we are going through but, by taking our eyes off the Lord it will bring despair, a sense of hopelessness! 

            Look at Jacob here in Genesis chapter 42 and you will see something that is missing from what he is saying.

            He makes no mention of God. For the moment he has forgotten how the Lord had led him at first to Laban’s house, and had given him prosperity during his twenty year sojourn in Padan Aram; how He had cared for him when he left his father-in-law; how He had appeased the anger of Esau towards him; how He had blessed him at Penuel after the night-long wrestling; and how He had protected him at the time when the violence of some of his sons might have drawn upon him the vengeance of the Shechemites.

            Now God was in this new trial as much and as He was in these old ones, and if Jacob had remembered that, he would not have spoken as he did.

            What is interesting is that he does seem to come to his senses after some time.

            You see, the famine continued and as much as Jacob did not want to send his sons down there, he knew he had to. And when his sons were bidding him farewell on their departure for Egypt for more food, he came back to his old trustfulness, and offered for them this prayer: And may God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may release your other brother and Benjamin. If I am bereaved, I am bereaved!Genesis 43:14.

            That is not how he started out, as we have seen. When things were dark, when they were hopeless to him, when the shadow of trouble covered his life, God could not be seen. It wasn’t that God wasn’t there, it was that Jacob was not looking to Him and the problems he faced eclipsed the Lord from his sight!

            When you take God out of the picture, then there truly is no hope! 

            Paul, in Ephesians 2:11-12 tells us, Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh - who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands - that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 

            You see, there is no real hope apart from God. 

            Yes, people have hope in many things. For instance, they think the government is going to save them, but that is not what the government is doing. It is a false hope!

            But when you place your hope in God, no matter how bad things may look, there is hope!

            Let me give you this example to show you how we can let things get in the way and rob us of hope. I have used this illustration before but to me, it truly drives home the point.

            The sun is fairly close, only some 93 million miles away. It is over 5,500 degrees Celsius at the surface and 15 million degrees Celsius at the center.

            In terms of size, the sun is 900,000 miles across! 

            The earth is only 8,000 miles wide. 

            Think about this. It would take more than 100 earths to span the width of the sun. And, if we were to make the sun a hallow ball, you could fit about one million earths’ inside of it!

            As impressive as the sun is, some 900,000 miles across, do you realize I can completely obliterate the sun or reduce it to nothing with just my fist! 

            I know, I am a pretty big guy, standing in at 5 feet 6 inches tall with these massive hands that can palm a golf ball! 

            But 900,000 miles across the sun is and I can block it out with my fist? 

            You bet I can. I can move my fist close to my face and the sun is gone!

            We can do this with our problems where we have them so close to us that we block out, not the sun, but the Son of God! 

            Jacob blocked out God and everything was against him, or so he thought. 

            And when we block out God, it truly does seem like everything is against us. 

            Let me share this true story with you. We are told,

            One night at dinner a man, who had spent many summers in Maine, fascinated his companions by telling of his experiences in a little town named Flagstaff. The town was to be flooded, as part of a large lake for which a dam was being built.

            In the months before it was to be flooded, all improvements and repairs in the whole town were stopped. What was the use of painting a house if it were to be covered with water in six months? Why repair anything when the whole village was to be wiped out?

            So, week by week, the whole town became more and more bedraggled, more gone to seed, more woebegone. Then he added by way of explanation:

            “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.”

- Halford E. Luccock, Unfinished Business

 

            As Christians, when we take our eyes off of God during difficult situations, we tend to give up, what’s the use! 

            Hope is so important in our lives. God does not want us to be an Eeyore, moping around. He wants us to be more like Tigger the Tiger who has a spring in his step and joy in his heart. 

            Remember, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31.

            Thus, we have spent enough time in hopelessness; let’s look at the hope we are to have in our lives that is found in the Lord!

            And keep in mind that the other person we will be looking at, Joseph, had very difficult times, probably even worse than his father Jacob, but his perspective of the situations he was facing was far different because he is going to be focused on the Lord and not the situation!

            When Joseph was seventeen years old, the eleventh son of Jacob and the first through his favored wife, Rachel, he had a dream.

            And this dream was that his older brothers would all bow down to him. And he told them of this dream and, as you can expect, they were not thrilled with Joseph, to put it mildly.

            Not only that, but his father, Jacob, made Joseph a coat of many colors and this too irritated his other brothers.

            And Joseph had another dream and this time not only did his brothers bow down before him, but so too did his mom and dad. Things are heating up you might say.

            Then, sometime later we see Jacob send Joseph out to Shechem to see how his brothers were doing in feeding the flocks. I don’t think Jacob trusted his sons, except for Joseph and you can imagine how they are going to feel when they see Joseph come by and check up on them?

            It is not going to go well as you can imagine!

            When Joseph comes to them, they throw Joseph into a pit, and they were going to kill him, but instead, some Midianite traders were traveling through the area and they sell Joseph for 20 shekels of sliver; they figured they would make a profit off him even though it was not much!

            These Midianite traders sell Joseph to Potiphar down in Egypt. And now Joseph is a slave in the house of Potiphar, who is a captain of the guard for Pharaoh. It speaks of him being “chief of the executioners,” and thus, this is not the guy you want to mess with, especially if you were a slave!

            And God was blessing Joseph, things were going well down there in Egypt, even though he was a slave. Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his house, all that went on.

            And then Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce this young man to sleep with her and he flees for his life.

            When Potiphar finds out, instead of putting him to death, he sends Joseph to prison, which is interesting to me. It tells me that Potiphar knew his wife and she must have done this before.

            Now in prison, he is placed in charge of the other prisoners. God seems to be blessing him again. And one day, the butler and the baker who were in prison, have dreams. And Joseph interprets these dreams for these men.

            And Joseph tells the interpretation of the dream to the butler, that he was going to be released from prison.

            On the other end of the spectrum was the dream of the baker and since the butler had a good interpretation, he asks Joseph to tell him what his dream was about. And Joseph tells the baker that in three days his head is coming off.

            Both these interpretations came true, as the butler was restored to his position. And Joseph told the butler to remember him before Pharaoh, that he did nothing wrong and he wanted to be released from prison!

            But he forgot, and two years passed by with Joseph still in prison. Joseph could have said that all things were against him, but he didn’t. He trusted in the Lord. And God was working just as He is doing in our lives!

            Then Pharaoh had a dream and he did not know what it meant. And his butler remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh and Pharaoh called for Joseph and he interpreted his dream.

            There would be seven years of bountiful harvest followed by seven years of severe famine. Upon hearing this Pharaoh placed Joseph second in charge over all of Egypt and in charge of the grain to be taken in and stored during the plentiful years and then distributed during the famine years.

            And that is where Jacob sends his sons to gather grain during that time of famine in the land.

            Again, you read all that took place in the life of Joseph and you would think he had every right to say, All these things are against me.

            But Joseph knew that was not true. He saw the hand of God upon his life even during the darkest of times, the darkest of days, when there seemed to be no hope, his hope was in the Lord!

            Let me show you what I mean.

            Think about the life of Joseph. When we study his life, we too may wonder how God can allow this to happen in his life. Remember, God gave Joseph a dream where his brothers and even parents would bow down before him. How would that happen? Listen carefully to what God was doing.

                       If Joseph’s brothers never sell him to the Midianites, then Joseph never goes to Egypt.

                       If Joseph never goes to Egypt, he never is sold to Potiphar.

                       If he is never sold to Potiphar, Potiphar’s wife never falsely accuses him of rape.

                       If Potiphar’s wife never falsely accuses him of rape, then he is never put in prison.

                       If he is never put in prison, he never meets the baker and butler of Pharaoh.

                       If he never meets the baker and butler of Pharaoh, he never interprets their dreams.

                       If he never interprets their dreams, he never gets to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.

                       If he never gets to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams, he never is made prime minister.

                       If he is never made prime minister, he never wisely administrates for the severe famine coming upon the region.

                       If he never wisely administrates for the severe famine coming upon the region, then his family back in Canaan perishes from the famine.

                       If his family back in Canaan perishes from the famine, the Messiah can’t come forth from a dead family.            

                       If the Messiah can’t come forth, then Jesus never came.

                       If Jesus never came, you are dead in your sins and without hope in this world.

            You see, God’s perfect plan. It is as we are told in Isaiah 55:8-11, ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.’ 

            We may not always understand what God is doing but may we learn to trust in Him as Joseph did!

            Now, after the family of Joseph is with him down in Egypt, they all came down, even Jacob, his brothers are afraid that Joseph may kill them.

            And then, after their father Jacob dies, they are even more afraid. And listen carefully to what Joseph told them. Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.’ Genesis 50:19-20.

            Joseph saw the hand of God upon his life and as much as they wanted these things that they did to Joseph for evil, Joseph knew that God would use it for good and He did, as we have seen.

            Doesn’t that just fit in with what Paul said in Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

            The Amplified Bible puts this verse like this, We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

            Joseph did not see the good that was happening. He did not feel that these things were for good. But he knew it was for good because God had told him that very thing and he trusted in what he knew about the promise of God and so must we.

            I don’t know what you are going through this morning. But it could be a mess for you. At work, things could be out of control. Maybe in your home, the kids are out of control. Maybe it is your relationship with your spouse. Maybe it is a problem with a friend. Maybe it is finances. Maybe you could be losing your job. Maybe, maybe, maybe . . .

            And we can go on. And I am not saying that these things are not serious, they are. But refocus on the Lord. Trust in Him.

            Jacob and Joseph had the promises of God. Jacob saw that everything was against him, which was not true, and it brought him down, until he looked up to the Lord and had a correct perspective of the situation.

            Joseph, with all that he went through, saw the hand of God upon his life and he knew that somehow, someway God was going to use these things for good.

            Remember what Paul said, What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31.

            Also, remember what we read here in Joshua 5:1, So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.

            In other words, when we are walking in faith, the enemy will see our faith and they will be fearful of what we can do. They will see the living God and then, it is up to them to turn to Him or reject Him. But may we walk in the power of His might and see the salvation that He will bring to the situations that we are facing!

            And I will close with this. Never forget the fact that God is for you and is working out His plans and purposes in your life. He is not against you, HE IS FOR YOU!

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