Jun 11 2017 Redemption over Deception - Lessons from the Life of Jacob's Redeeming Son
12th June 2017
by Jeff Yackley - This message has taken several transformations – at first, I considered giving you a lesson from one of my recent quiet times in Jeremiah 13 – where God says He wants us to cling to Him like underpants. I thought it was great timing – because a new Captain Underpants movie just came out. But Melissa told me I need to save that message for when I am preaching to a group of Jr. High boys.
Then, I considered giving a message on what to say or not to say to someone who is grieving – but I realized that I would just cry through that entire message, and that was a bad idea. (By the way – the most important thing I learned in studying for that was to figure out ways to remind people that God can be trusted in their grief and grief can bring greater intimacy with God).
Then I considered just continuing where Mike left off...
A lot of times, on Sunday nights, we get pizza… I allow myself to get two pieces. But oftentimes, I find myself wanting MORE. So, sometimes, I’ll cut those pieces in half and load up the center of the plate with salad – and then when I finish those two (half) pieces – and I’m still hungry, I proudly announce, “Ha! I tricked me!” and go back and get those other two half pieces.
Over the past several weeks, Pastor Mike has been looking at How to Get Ahead – or rather, maybe, How Not to Get Ahead – while looking at the life of Jacob. Last week, Mike announced that we were wrapping up the life of Jacob. Well… Ha! I tricked you!
One thing we have discovered – is Jacob – whose name basically means deceiver or trickster (Yackley Translation) – comes from a family of tricksters. Remember Jacob stealing Esau’s birthright and Jacob’s mom Rebekah dressing Jacob up as Esau and then Jacob stealing the blessing - then Uncle Laban pulling the ole’ switcheroo on Jacob with Rachel and Leah… Then Jacob somehow tricking Laban to get the best of the flocks…
When last we left Jacob – he had just finished working for 20 years for his Uncle Laban – and in the meantime he had acquired 2 wives, and their handmaidens, 11 children, with a 12th on the way – and more livestock than you can imagine. Historically, Jacob had only looked out for himself – an example of which is stealing his brother’s birthright and blessing. As Mike shared last week, Jacob is now prepared to meet Esau, his brother, for the first time since stealing the blessing – and it is a fearful thing – but Jacob is changed - and he finally comes to a point where he puts himself in harm’s way ahead of everyone else. He is finally willing to put others first. But he needn’t have feared, because Esau was not out to kill him like he expected – but Esau showed him mercy and Jacob said seeing him was like seeing the face of God.
Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank You for this opportunity to worship You this morning and the opportunity to continue looking at the life of Jacob and his family. Help us to see Your hand at work in this story – and to recognize how Your hand is at work in our stories – so even when things seem to be going wrong – we can trust Your word that You work all things together for good to those who love You and are the called according to Your purpose. Help us to trust You with every aspect of our lives as a result of seeing Your work in this message today.
So Jacob had left Laban – and had met Esau, and while they were traveling back to Jacob’s hometown of Hebron, Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife, dies shortly after giving birth to Benjamin, Joseph’s only full-brother.
We’ll pick up the story there:
Genesis 37:3 Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other children because Joseph had been born to him in his old age.
Do you remember over the past several weeks, Mike has talked about how showing partiality and favoritism only causes division? First with Jacob and Esau, then with Rachel and Leah (and their maids), then with Jacob’s kids. When we show partiality to people, it can only cause division.
James warns against this in James 2:2 My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? …4 doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives?
So Jacob still struggles with showing partiality by having a favorite son.
3b So one day Jacob had a special gift made for Joseph—a beautiful robe. 4 But his brothers hated Joseph because their father loved him more than the rest of them. They couldn’t say a kind word to him.
Then Joseph has the dreams where, in effect, the whole family is bowing down to him – and the brothers are even more jealous.
So they go to tend the flocks – and Jacob sends Joseph to find them and give a report. When they see Daddy’s Favorite Son – they come up with a scheme to get rid of Joseph once and for all – at first they want to murder him – but the oldest, Reuben, talks them out of it, instead encouraging them to put him in a pit – with the idea that he would come rescue him at a later time and restore him to his father.
Well, after throwing him in the pit, the brothers sit down to eat (Reuben must have gone off tending the flocks while they ate) – and Judah comes up with another plan - They see some Ishmaelite traders coming – and they decide that rather than letting Joseph die in the pit of despair, they would sell him to the Ishmaelite traders (“After all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood!” Judah says).
How dysfunctional can this family be?
So that they do, selling him for 20 pieces of silver…
Incidentally – as we go through this story – see how many correlations you can pick up between Joseph and Jesus – Here Joseph is sold for a number of pieces of silver.
Remember how Mike described that Jacob’s name could mean – Deceiver? Well, now it is passed on to the next generation and comes back to haunt Jacob:
31 Then the brothers killed a young goat and dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood. 32 They sent the beautiful robe to their father with this message: “Look at what we found. Doesn’t this robe belong to your son?” 33 Their father recognized it immediately. “Yes,” he said, “it is my son’s robe. A wild animal must have eaten him. Joseph has clearly been torn to pieces!” 34 Then Jacob tore his clothes and dressed himself in burlap. He mourned deeply for his son for a long time. 35 His family all tried to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “I will go to my grave mourning for my son,” he would say, and then he would weep.
Jacob must have been inconsolable. This had a huge impact on his sons, as we will see later.
Jacob’s grief is the starting point for his sons to learn empathy.
I think this is the beginning of their repentance – where they realized that ACTIONS have CONSEQUENCES. Too often, we are not very good at seeing the consequences of our actions. Wise people are able to think through to the logical conclusion of a situation, where fools just start filming…
In the meantime, Joseph is sold to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, and captain of the palace guard.
Do you know the story of Joseph? It would take too long to read it – so I will rehash it here.
It is soon obvious that God is with Joseph – and everything he does brings a blessing to Potiphar’s household. So Joseph is given full responsibility over the household.
Then Potiphar’s wife takes notice of him – and tries to seduce him –
Instead of sinning with Potiphar’s wife, Joseph found the way of escape. He ran from the house!
A word of encouragement when you face temptation:
1 Cor. 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but that which is common to man. But the Lord is faithful He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able. But with the temptation He will provide a way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
When Joseph refused Potiphar’s wife, she accused him of trying to seduce her!
Gen. 39: 19 Potiphar was furious when he heard his wife’s story about how Joseph had treated her. 20 So he took Joseph and threw him into the prison where the king’s prisoners were held, and there he remained. 21 But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. 22 Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. 23 The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.
While Joseph is in prison, he has the opportunity to interpret two dreams – One for Pharaoh’s cupbearer, and one for his chief baker. It turns out well for the cupbearer – who is restored to his position – but not so well for the baker, who is executed by Pharaoh. But the cupbearer forgot about Joseph.
2 more years – Joseph is in prison – continuing to be faithful, continuing to trust God – and now Pharaoh has two dreams that no one can interpret. THEN the cupbearer remembers Joseph. Joseph is called out of prison to interpret the dreams – basically, the dream means that there will be seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine, and Joseph recommends that Pharaoh put someone in charge to make sure that there is enough food left over from the prosperous years to cover the years of famine. The interpretation makes sense to Pharaoh, so he puts Joseph second in command over the entire country, to carry out the interpretation of the dreams.
It happens just as Joseph said – and during the famine – who should come to Egypt looking for food but his 10 older half-brothers? Joseph recognizes them – but they don’t recognize him. So here is the perfect opportunity to test his brothers… (ah, another trickster in the family – but I think Joseph’s trickery is to see if his brothers have changed or if they would respond the same way they always had)
Genesis 42: He said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.” 10 “No, my lord!” they exclaimed. “Your servants have simply come to buy food. 11 We are all brothers—members of the same family. We are honest men, sir! We are not spies!” 12 “Yes, you are!” Joseph insisted. “You have come to see how vulnerable our land has become.” 13 “Sir,” they said, “there are actually twelve of us. We, your servants, are all brothers, sons of a man living in the land of Canaan. Our youngest brother is back there with our father right now, and one of our brothers is no longer with us.” 14 But Joseph insisted, “As I said, you are spies! 15 This is how I will test your story. I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you will never leave Egypt unless your youngest brother comes here! 16 One of you must go and get your brother. I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison. Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true. By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.” 17 So Joseph put them all in prison for three days. 18 On the third day Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man. If you do as I say, you will live. 19 If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison. The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. This will prove that you are telling the truth, and you will not die.” To this they agreed.
21 Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this trouble.”
Imagine the guilt these brothers must have been feeling. Over 20 years have gone by – and when something goes wrong – they were constantly living in fear of retribution. They allowed shame to dominate their thoughts and actions.
How often in your life – if something bad happens – do you feel like you are being punished for your sins? If you feel that way, then you, like the brothers, do not understand grace and mercy and forgiveness.
22 “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy?” Reuben asked. “But you wouldn’t listen. And now we have to answer for his blood!”
23 Of course, they didn’t know that Joseph understood them, for he had been speaking to them through an interpreter. 24 Now he turned away from them and began to weep.
Why do you suppose Joseph wept? Was it because his brothers finally grasped that what they did was wrong and they were sorry for it? That’s how I’ve always viewed it. But a new coworker of mine gave me more insight into this passage: Maybe it is because Joseph never knew that he had a brother who stuck up for him – who didn’t want the brothers to sin against him.
24b When he regained his composure, he spoke to them again. Then he chose Simeon from among them and had him tied up right before their eyes.
25 Joseph then ordered his servants to fill the men’s sacks with grain, but he also gave secret instructions to return each brother’s payment at the top of his sack.
So they go back to Canaan without Simeon – and told their dad Jacob the full story. When they finished telling the story…
42:35 As they emptied out their sacks, there in each man’s sack was the bag of money he had paid for the grain! The brothers and their father were terrified when they saw the bags of money. 36 Jacob exclaimed, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”
37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. I’ll be responsible for him, and I promise to bring him back.”
38 But Jacob replied, “My son will not go down with you. His brother Joseph is dead, and he is all I have left. (and the brothers say, WE’RE STANDING RIGHT HERE!) If anything should happen to him on your journey, you would send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.”
So Jacob’s response at this time is basically – Let Simeon rot in an Egyptian prison – you can’t have Benjamin too!
But eventually, they run out of grain and Jacob tells the boys to head back to Egypt –
Eventually Judah convinces Jacob that he HAS to allow Benjamin to go, or they will ALL starve to death.
He tells Jacob that he will be a surety – a guarantee – that they will bring Benjamin home safely. So he finally convinces Jacob to let Benjamin go to Egypt with them.
Here is one of those transformative moments that Mike has been encouraging us to look for –Reuben and Judah have reached a point where they are willing to put themselves on the line for Benjamin. I think they have passed Joseph’s tests.
Jacob is pretty smart as well – he sends a double portion of money, returning the money that was put in their sacks, along with some balms and spices – he knew the principle in
“Proverbs 18:16 A man's gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men” even before it was written!
Genesis 43:26 When Joseph came home, they brought into the house to him the present which was in their hand and bowed to the ground before him. 27 Then he asked them about their welfare, and said, "Is your old father well, of whom you spoke? Is he still alive?" 28 And they said, "Your servant our father is well; he is still alive." And they bowed down in homage. 29 As he lifted his eyes and saw his brother Benjamin, his mother's son, he said, "Is this your youngest brother, of whom you spoke to me?" And he said, "May God be gracious to you, my son." 30 And Joseph hurried [out] for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought [a place] to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there. 31 Then he washed his face, and came out; and he controlled himself and said, "Serve the meal."
The brothers are astounded when they sit down for the feast and they are seated in their birth-order, from oldest to youngest.
One of them (probably Levi, from whom Matthew, the Tax collector was named –you see, tax collectors were believed to be good at math…) could have estimated that the odds that Joseph would seat them in the proper order were 1 in 39,916,800. AND he heaps 5 times the portion onto his brother Benjamin’s plate.
Did you know that Arbys has a secret menu? For $10 you can get The Meat Mountain (Two chicken tenders, slices of roast turkey, pit-smoked ham, corned beef, 13-hour smoked brisket, USDA-choice Angus steak, roast beef, and pepper bacon. There’s also cheddar and swiss cheese somewhere in there.) And during the Lenten season they even add a fish-filet! Which seems oxymoronic, but…
I think Joseph was looking to see whether the brothers would be jealous of Benjamin if he were given special treatment…
As I read this story, I think – well – Go ahead Joseph – time to reveal yourself…
But Joseph has one more test in store for the brothers.
The brothers are sent off – and he tells his steward to put his special silver cup into Benjamin’s sack. In other words, he frames Benjamin, to see how the brothers would react.
Would they let Benjamin go to prison, or would they sell him off into slavery like they did to Joseph 20 years earlier…
18 Then Judah stepped forward and said, “Please, my lord, let your servant say just one word to you. Please, do not be angry with me, even though you are as powerful as Pharaoh himself. 19 “My lord, previously you asked us, your servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we responded, ‘Yes, my lord, we have a father who is an old man, and his youngest son is a child of his old age. His full brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him very much.’
21 “And you said to us, ‘Bring him here so I can see him with my own eyes.’ 22 But we said to you, ‘My lord, the boy cannot leave his father, for his father would die.’ 23 But you told us, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes with you, you will never see my face again.’ 24 “So we returned to your servant, our father, and told him what you had said. 25 Later, when he said, ‘Go back again and buy us more food,’ 26 we replied, ‘We can’t go unless you let our youngest brother go with us. We’ll never get to see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27 “Then my father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife had two sons, 28 and one of them went away and never returned. Doubtless he was torn to pieces by some wild animal. I have never seen him since. 29 Now if you take his brother away from me, and any harm comes to him, you will send this grieving, white-haired man to his grave.’
30 “And now, my lord, I cannot go back to my father without the boy. Our father’s life is bound up in the boy’s life. 31 If he sees that the boy is not with us, our father will die. We, your servants, will indeed be responsible for sending that grieving, white-haired man to his grave. 32 My lord, I guaranteed to my father that I would take care of the boy. I told him, ‘If I don’t bring him back to you, I will bear the blame forever.’ 33 “So please, my lord, let me stay here as a slave instead of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 For how can I return to my father if the boy is not with me? I couldn’t bear to see the anguish this would cause my father!”
This is the response that Joseph was looking for – a transformational moment to see if the brothers had truly repented of what they had done. NOW Joseph can reveal himself:
45 Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. 2 Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.
3 “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. 4 “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. 5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.
Joseph is a type of Christ – he endured a lot – The righteous response to temptation - the suffering in prison – the shame of being falsely accused – that he could bring salvation to the world. He didn’t see the harm that his brothers meant for him – instead he saw God’s good.
And the brothers are so much like each of us… The twelve ‘tribes’ of Israel started with a lot of dysfunction, but God still used them. But the brothers had to come to a transformational moment.
The twelve disciples had a lot of dysfunction – but God still used them. And each of them had to come to a transformational moment. And so it is with us - Even though there may a lot of dysfunction in your life, God can use you. But you must come to a transformational moment.
God can best use us when we are sensitive to His leading – Like Joseph.
24 So Joseph sent his brothers off, and as they left, he called after them, “Don’t quarrel about all this along the way!” 25 And they left Egypt and returned to their father, Jacob, in the land of Canaan.
26 “Joseph is still alive!” they told him. “And he is governor of all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned at the news—he couldn’t believe it. 27 But when they repeated to Jacob everything Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons Joseph had sent to carry him, their father’s spirits revived.
28 Then Jacob exclaimed, “It must be true! My son Joseph is alive! I must go and see him before I die.”
Imagine the emotional rollercoaster this must be for Jacob. He was so fearful that he would lose his ‘only’ son – only to find out that the ruler who had been testing his sons was Joseph himself!
Gen. 46: 28 As they neared their destination, Jacob sent Judah ahead to meet Joseph and get directions to the region of Goshen. And when they finally arrived there, 29 Joseph prepared his chariot and traveled to Goshen to meet his father, Jacob. When Joseph arrived, he embraced his father and wept, holding him for a long time. 30 Finally, Jacob said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen your face again and know you are still alive.”
Genesis 48 One day not long after this, word came to Joseph, “Your father is failing rapidly.” So Joseph went to visit his father, and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
2 When Joseph arrived, Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to see you.” So Jacob gathered his strength and sat up in his bed. 3 Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me. 4 He said to me, ‘I will make you fruitful, and I will multiply your descendants. I will make you a multitude of nations. And I will give this land of Canaan to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession.’
…8 Then Jacob looked over at the two boys. “Are these your sons?” he asked.
9 “Yes,” Joseph told him, “these are the sons God has given me here in Egypt.”
And Jacob said, “Bring them closer to me, so I can bless them.”
10 Jacob was half blind because of his age and could hardly see. So Joseph brought the boys close to him, and Jacob kissed and embraced them. 11 Then Jacob said to Joseph, “I never thought I would see your face again, but now God has let me see your children, too!”
12 Joseph moved the boys, who were at their grandfather’s knees, and he bowed with his face to the ground.
13 Then he positioned the boys in front of Jacob. With his right hand he directed Ephraim toward Jacob’s left hand, and with his left hand he put Manasseh at Jacob’s right hand. 14 But Jacob crossed his arms as he reached out to lay his hands on the boys’ heads. He put his right hand on the head of Ephraim, though he was the younger boy, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, though he was the firstborn. 15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,
“May the God before whom my grandfather Abraham
and my father, Isaac, walked—
the God who has been my shepherd
all my life, to this very day,
16 the Angel who has redeemed me from all harm—
may he bless these boys.
May they preserve my name
and the names of Abraham and Isaac.
And may their descendants multiply greatly
throughout the earth.”
17 But Joseph was upset when he saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head. So Joseph lifted it to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 “No, my father,” he said. “This one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.”
19 But his father refused. “I know, my son; I know,” he replied. “Manasseh will also become a great people, but his younger brother will become even greater. And his descendants will become a multitude of nations.”
Jacob had one final “I tricked you” up his sleeve – giving the younger brother the greater blessing.
I like to look at this as God having a special place for the disadvantaged. And yes, He can bless whom He chooses to bless.
Then Jacob gives a prophecy about each of his sons – and breathes his last.
49: 16 So they sent this message to Joseph: “Before your father died, he instructed us 17 to say to you: ‘Please forgive your brothers for the great wrong they did to you—for their sin in treating you so cruelly.’ So we, the servants of the God of your father, beg you to forgive our sin.” When Joseph received the message, he broke down and wept. 18 Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. “Look, we are your slaves!” they said.
19 But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. 21 No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them.
I think the brothers needed to learn to forgive themselves.
Lessons we’ve learned along the way:
Don’t show partiality – we are all guilty of it in different ways.
Realize that Actions have Consequences and learn to think through what the consequences of your actions might be.
Like Joseph being seduced by Potiphar’s wife – learn to flee temptation – look for the way of escape.
Trust God in every circumstance that He is working for your good. He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.
Believe that you are forgiven. If you think that you are being punished by God for every bad thing that happens to you, a) you don’t understand forgiveness and b) you don’t understand the nature and character of God. Study verses on God’s grace and mercy and forgiveness.
We each need to come to a transformational moment. Have you come to that moment? Have you realized the value in serving others? Have you found the value in considering others as more important than yourself? Do you come to things with an attitude of receiving or an attitude of serving?
God has a special blessing for the disadvantaged. He roots for the underdog. And don’t think that’s showing partiality – because we are all the disadvantaged underdog.
Learn to address your dysfunction – and see how God can use you in your weakness. Do you hesitate to be used by God because of your weakness? Your weakness should be a catalyst to be used by God.
We need to address our relationship dysfunctions – we may need to seek advice from a trusted friend or a counselor.
And, more than likely – there was a totally different message that God spoke to you through His Scriptures…