Joseph: How Faith and Character are formed
Opening the storehouses of God - Week 5
Sermon Date: 1 July
Sermon Reading: Genesis 41:41-57
Please read Genesis 41:41-57
From Zero to Hero
This passage tells us of Joseph's restoration by God. From the start of the story, we are told that Joseph was 17 years old and that is the time where his trials begun. He is now 30 years old. The thirteen years of rejection, slavery and imprisonment come to an abrupt end and he is thrust into a position of significant authority in probably one of the most powerful kingdoms at that time. Whilst it may be easy to read this nowadays with the benefit of hindsight, there is a risk that we might miss out on just how incredible, miraculous, substantial and amazing this turn of events was.
Q1 - Can you remember anything from last Sunday's sermon that struck you?
Q2 - Imagine someone walking out of Wandsworth prison and within 24 hours becoming the prime minister appointed by the Queen herself. Can you come up with similar examples? Reflect on just how huge this change is.
Please read verses 41-44
Q3 - What were the hallmarks or signs of the authority Joseph receives? (Hint * please look at the hints with your group)
Q4 - Reflecting on the level of authority given to Joseph. Why do you think Pharaoh trusted Joseph so much?
Q5 - Can you think of people these days who have had a lot of authority thrusted upon them? What could be positives and negatives of this?
Restoration of family
Joseph also receives a wife in marriage, which gives him the opportunity to start a family of his own (v.45 and v.50-52) and this is a partial restoration for the family that he lost now a few years ago. Although his complete restoration will come in subsequent chapters when he is finally reunited with his father and his whole family.
If we think generally about restoration in a wider context we can see that some biblical characters receive full restoration within their lives whilst others persevere in faith even if they don't receive restoration in this life and this earth but they looked forward for a restoration in a new creation with God.
Hebrews 11:13-16 “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”
Q6 - Have you or someone you know received partial restoration for something in your life?
Q7 - What is our attitude about this, do we wait patiently for God to do his work? Do we work tirelessly to see that restoration come? Or are we content and happy with the degree of restoration that god has given us?
The work begins
Please read verses 46-49
The passage indicates that Joseph was both diligent and purposeful in discharging his duties as he travels extensively throughout Egypt in the 7 years of abundance and makes preparations for the next seven years which he knows are going to be lean. As with most things timing is very important and Joseph recognised the times he was living in and made the most of it, the passage talks about so much grain that he stopped counting. It is possible that as the good years kept rolling along that the people of Egypt thought that this was the new normal and the plentiful years where here to stay. This is confirmed in subsequent verses because people had to sell their land and positions to buy grain from Joseph and the countries around Egypt also came to buy grain which suggests that people failed to make provision in good years.
As you approach this passage people may be in different stages in their life, so situations might be different. Some people might be experiencing a time of abundance, whilst others a time of relative lack. Some people might have quite detailed plans for their future, whilst others not so much.
Q8 - If you, like Joseph, knew that a certain period of abundance was coming followed by a lean period, what sort of practical things would you do?
Q9 - Do you have a plan for your future? Have you had situations in the past where you could have made provision for your future and you have not?
Spend a few minutes in prayer asking for God’s guidance in your planning. Pray together for those in our parish and in the World who might be going throw a hard time in their lives.
Q3 –Signet ring: in those days official communication from rulers or new laws had to be sealed with the sovereign’s signet ring as a way of signature. Pharaoh appears here to be granting Joseph power to make official proclamations and to change laws.
Robes with gold chains: whilst we do not know exactly what this new attire was it is safe to assume that it would have been of significant quality and would be plain to see just by looking at him that he was a person of standing. Wearing a gold chain is still done today by people in positions of civil authority (like mayors in borough councils)
Chariot: again, whilst we do not know the specifics, having your own personal chariot would have been a very clear signal of josephs status and authority and it would have allowed him in practical terms to exert influence over a wide territory.
Pharaoh's proclamation "only in respect of the throne will I be greater than you". All of this is confirmed by people who shouted “make way" as we went along.
Juan Carosio, 26/06/2018