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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

August 31, 2016

Genesis 41:46-57, 42:1-5

  1. Our story closes with young Joseph preparing Egypt for the seven years of famine (41:46-49). Then in 41:50-52, God blesses Joseph with two sons before He hits Egypt with a famine. Joseph named his firstborn “Manasseh,” which means “God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household.” He named the second “Ephraim,” meaning “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” If the name of Joseph’s first son (Manasseh) focuses on a God who preserves, the name of Joseph's second son (Ephraim) focuses on a God who blesses. Joseph gave his boys Hebrew names that testified of God's faithfulness. No doubt these Hebrew names would have raised some eyebrows in Egypt. People may have asked, “Why did you name your kids that?” No doubt, Joseph told them. The notation of the birth of Joseph's sons is, of course, very significant in view of God's purposes for Abraham's family. An allusion to the blessing aspect of the patriarchal promises occurs in 41:49 (cf. 12:2-3).

  2. Verses 53-57. The seven years of plenty which had been in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said, then there was famine in all the lands, but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. God had set it up so that Joseph was in control of everyone's life. Isn't it funny how the one who life was thrown away, is the life that is responsible for everyone's life. There are five practical lessons here to remember: (1) God is always sovereign, even when it seems He has forgotten you. It's obvious that God was sovereign in all these events. He put these two men in the same prison as Joseph. He gave them their dreams. And even though it seemed like the timing was wrong, in that He “wasted” two years of Joseph’s life, God gave Pharaoh his dream at precisely the right moment. God was bringing all these things together so that all was working according to His schedule and not my schedule. Nothing is outside of His sovereignty, even though it seems like it to us as we sit in a dungeon for two more years. Never doubt God’s sovereignty. (2) God is never unfaithful or cruel, even when circumstances seem otherwise. God's people down through history have gone through terrible trials. A skeptic might say that God is cruel to allow such things. But a skeptic doesn't have God's eternal plan in view. A skeptic doesn't understand how God lovingly uses trials in the lives of His children. None who have hoped in Him have ever been disappointed. Don't doubt His goodness when He is lovingly purifying your faith through trials (James 1:2-4). (3) God's promises are true in His timing, not ours. if Joseph had been released from prison two years earlier, he never would have been appointed as second in the land to Pharaoh. God's timing is clearly best, although Joseph had to take that by faith until years later when he could look back on how God worked it all together for good. Like it or not, there are certain lessons, such as patience and endurance, which we cannot learn except through waiting on God. In God's time, His plans make sense. But we need to remember that sometimes we won't be able to discern God’s timing until eternity. (4) We are not responsible for others’ behavior, but we are responsible for our own behavior and attitudes. Joseph could have become angry toward the cupbearer and let his resentment burn into bitterness and revenge. Let's face it; he had good cause to be angry. The cupbearer wasn't willing to risk his neck enough to talk to Pharaoh about Joseph until it looked like it might gain him some advantage. But in spite of the flakiness of the cupbearer, Joseph had to deal with his own attitude. Later, when he was number two under Pharaoh, he never sought revenge against the man, nor against his brothers. People may have mistreated you and disappointed you because they were being selfish and uncaring. You have a choice: You can grow bitter and angry, blaming them for your troubles, or you can trust in the sovereign God and rejoice in His grace toward you. They will give an account to God for how they sinned against you. But you will give an account for your attitude and behavior in response to their sin against you. (5) God's grace is always sufficient if we will receive it. Joseph came through these trials stronger, not weaker, gentle, not bitter, because he hoped in God. Even though he was in prison, the Lord was with him. Even though the cupbearer forgot him, God never did. Joseph experienced what Paul and every other believer undergoing trials has experienced--that God's grace is sufficient for our need, if we will just receive it.

  3. Chapter 42 Verses 1-2. The seven years of famine that Joseph predicted are now in full force. The famine has spread throughout the entire known world, including Joseph's family in Canaan. For a while Jacob's family was probably able to live on what they had in reserve. But the weather is not changing and the supplies are almost depleted. The situation is becoming serious. Jacob hears that there is grain in Egypt, so he starts talking it up with his sons. But every time he brings up the subject, none of his sons will look him in the eye. They just stare at one another. Reuben looks at Simeon, Simeon glances at Judah, and Judah's eyes dart over to Levi. Jacob is getting frustrated. In a crisis situation, his sons don't seem to be doing anything. Why don't Jacob’s sons want to go to Egypt? For one thing, the trip to Egypt was long (250-300 miles) and dangerous, and a round trip could consume six weeks’ time. Even after arriving in Egypt, the brothers couldn't be certain of a friendly reception. As “foreigners” from Canaan, they would be very vulnerable and could even be arrested and enslaved. If that happened there would be no one to take care of their families and their aged father. Furthermore, the word “Egypt” went off like a bomb in their guilty consciences. The brothers could hear again the clink of the silver coins they received from the traders as they sold their brother into slavery. For 22 years these brothers had tried to silence their nagging consciences. But when God applied the pressure of famine, coupled with the word “Egypt,” the sleeping giants stirred. For these ten brothers, time didn't erase their guilty consciences. You can brush your sin under the rug and hope that enough years will take care of it, but one day, perhaps years later, God will apply some sort of pressure in your life and your conscience will stir. Maybe it will be a single word, spoken inadvertently by someone. “Egypt!” Your sin flashes as vividly in your mind as if it was yesterday. Far better to keep short accounts and deal with your sin now than later. Sin compounds with some serious interest!

  4. Verses 3-4. After their father's prodding, Joseph's ten brothers “went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Joseph's brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, ‘I am afraid that harm may befall him’”. It's evident that Jacob is a man controlled not only by favoritism but also by fear. He had already lost his favorite wife. Then he lost his favorite son. Here he is determined to prevent the loss of Benjamin who is his final link to Rebekah. Interestingly, it appears that over the years, since the death of his eleventh son, Joseph, Jacob apparently has grown suspicious of his ten older sons regarding either the manner in which Joseph “died” or the relationship that the older sons have with Benjamin, Jacob's youngest son. This suspicion manifests itself in 42:4, which records that Jacob does not send Benjamin with his brothers into Egypt to buy food for the family because he (Jacob) is “afraid that harm might befall him.” Of what is Jacob afraid? There is no reason for him necessarily to believe that Benjamin is in any greater danger from the Egyptians or from potential marauding bands along the journey than are any of the other of his sons. Thus, Jacob quite probably does not trust his older sons to treat Benjamin kindly. What gives solid support to the view that Jacob is suspicious of what his ten older sons might do is that he cannot be worried that Benjamin, as a young child, might accidentally be injured on the journey to Egypt since Benjamin is not a young child. Benjamin, in fact, is approximately 23 years of age at this time. As a young adult, Benjamin should not have difficulty taking such a long journey--surviving around his ten older brothers, however, is a different matter.

  5. Verse 5. The sons of Israel go to buy grain. As shocking as it might be, Ps 105:16 tells us that God Himself “called down a famine upon the earth.” It is important to see what God is doing. With this famine God gets their attention. It is easy to avoid God when we feel self-sufficient. It is easy to feel that you have no need of God’s touch when everything is running smoothly. These men were comfortable in their denial and their deceptions. As long as the status quo remained they would never change. So God provokes a crisis. This crisis would either harden them further or wake them up.

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