Joseph in Egypt (2)

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Joseph in Egypt (2)

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: Genesis 47-50


PPT Outline


Patriarchal Period (8)

Tonight, we continue our journey through the Bible.  In this lesson we will conclude our study of Joseph and the patriarchal age, the 4th of 17 time periods of Bible history.

In our last lesson we addressed Joseph rising to prominence in Egypt and revealing himself to his brothers. Specifically, we addressed Genesis 37-45.  We noted that the account of Joseph is related to “the history of Jacob” (Genesis 37:2).  A little later in this lesson, we will review some of the events in the life of Joseph to make a point.   Today we begin with Jacob’s journey to Egypt to see his son.

  1. Jacob journeys to Egypt
    1. It has likely been about 22 years since Jacob has seen Joseph (thinking he was dead all that time). 37:2 records Joseph at 17 when sold into Egypt, 30 when appears before Pharaoh (41:46), and 9 years after that (7 years of great prosperity and 2 years of famine – 45:6).  That means Joseph is now about 39 years old.  39-17=22 years.
    2. Genesis 46 records the journey of Jacob from Canaan to Egypt. Jacob knows that Joseph is alive and his countenance is revived. (Gen. 45:26-28).  Remember that there was still to be 5 years of devastating famine so he would need to move, heeding the words of Joseph.
    3. 46:1-4 – he goes to Beersheba and offers sacrifices to God – he worships God in gratitude. God appears to him and assures him there – promising to be with him and (in time) bring him (his descendants) out of the land.  He also assures him that he will see Joseph.
    4. 46:5-27 – they together leave Beersheba and travel to Egypt. Genesis 46:26-27 records there were 70 people who went to Egypt.  A substantial entourage.  26 notes 66 people – but add to that Jacob, Joseph and his 2 sons and you get 70 (remember Moses is recording this later).   This number did not include the wives of his sons (thus the number was a little larger).
    5. 46:28-34 – They come to Goshen and Joseph prepares his chariot and goes there where he meets his father, embraces him and weeps. Israel is now content (vs. 30 – “Now let me die…”).  He will not die for another 17 years.  Joseph the gives instructions to his brothers that when they appear before Pharaoh they were to declare that they were shepherds (Egyptians saw shepherds as an abomination – why????).  This would help to facilitate their separation from the rest of Egypt in Goshen.
    6. 47:1-12 records their appearance before Pharaoh. Joseph presents 5 of his brothers who tell him they are shepherds and request to live in the land of Goshen.  It will be granted to them.   47:7, Jacob brings in his father and sets him before Pharaoh.  Jacob blessed Pharaoh (vs. 7, 10).  Pharaoh asks Jacob how old he is.  He said he was 130 years old (noting that his fathers ages were even greater (Abraham dies at 175 and Isaac at 180).  Jacob described his days as “few and evil” – while blessed by God, he had dealt with much adversity in his life.   Joseph continued to provide for his family in the land of Ramses (which would have included Goshen).
    7. 47:13-26 – Joseph continues to manage the land of Egypt during the rest of the famine. As a result of his wisdom, the people survive, but by the end Pharaoh owed most of the land and the people served Him.   The people are grateful because Joseph saved their lives.
    8. 47:27-31 – Jacob has been in the land for 17 years (note this would include 12 years AFTER the famine as the land returned to normal). He is 147 years old and calls for Joseph and requests that he not be buried in Egypt.  He wanted to be buried with his fathers in Israel.  He made Joseph swear he would do this.  He did.
    9. 48:1-22 – records Jacob blessing Joseph and his 2 sons – Manasseh and Ephraim.  Jacob gives them what would have been the firstborn blessing – the double portion.  Joseph is told that Ephraim and Manasseh would be as his brothers.  Note vs. 5, And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.  Reuben and Simeon are the oldest brothers.  They will be addressed in the next chapter.  We see this recognition continually throughout genealogies as the Old Testament unfolds.   As Israel sees Joseph’s sons he blesses them. Though his sight was dim, Joseph presents them with the understanding that Menasseh, the firstborn, would receive the greater blessing.  Jacob reverses this, crossing his hands and putting his right hand on Ephraim’s head.  Note the blessing in vs. 15-17.  Joseph tries to change this but Jacob tells him that Ephraim would be greater.  It is prophetic.
    10. 49:1-28 records Jacob’s final words – blessings to his sons. The words are prophetic and mostly deal with their possessions of the land and strength.   But notice a few of the blessings:
      1. NOTE: They are in order based upon wives – first Leah, then Bilhah and Zilpah
      2. 49:3-4 – Reuben the firstborn is described as unstable as water and would not excel – because he went into Jacob’s concubine (Bilhah – Gen. 35:22) and defiled her. For this he forfeited his firstborn birthright.
    11. 49:5-7 – Simeon and Levi. They are described as instruments of cruelty. Recall they led the destruction of the Hivites – Shechem, his father and their city (Genesis 34).  They would be divided in the inheritance.  Consider – Simeon would share their inheritance with Judah in southern Israel.  Levi would be the father of the Levites – the priests who would be scattered throughout the land (though their place was certainly one of honor).
    12. 49:8-12 – Judah – the one whom his brothers would praise.
      1. He would conquer enemies and his brothers would bow down to him.
      2. Described as “a lion’s whelp” (cub) – the lion is “the king of the jungle”. He would grow into that leadership role.
      3. The scepter shall not depart. This is ultimately Messianic prophecy.  Recall that Jesus is from the tribe of Judah, and a descendant of David.  Judah would clearly out rule all the other tribes and eventually bring redemption to the whole world through Jesus.
      4. “Until Shiloh comes” – Shiloh is a term for peace. Jesus is the prince of peace and our peace.
    13. 49:13-15 – Zebulun and Issachar are mentioned next. These are the later sons of Leah (after the 4 sons of Bilhah and Zilpah).  Their descriptions are related to placement and prosperity.
    14. 49:16-21 – The next brothers mentioned – Dan-Asher are the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah.  Most of their prophecies also deal with their placement and strength as the land will be divided AND as they develop.
    15. 49:22-26 – describes the blessing to Joseph (this applies to his 2 sons). Described for his faithfulness and overcoming adversity.  Blessings of help are promised to him.
    16. 49:27 – Benjamin was described as a ravenous wolf who would devour its prey. In the book of Judges, we find that Benjamin is almost completely wiped out because of sinful conduct.  Furthermore, Benjamin would be the tribe of King Saul who is again described in these terms.
    17. 49:29-50:15 – Jacob dies – his dying request was that be buried at the cave of Machpelah. We note in 49:31 who was buried there.  It is significant and shows tremendous faith.    After this he dies and was gathered to his people.  Joseph weeps and has him embalmed, a 40 day process.  The Egyptians also mourned for him for 70 days.   After the period of mourning, Joseph requests to bury his father in Canaan.  Pharaoh grants his request and send with him “all the elders of the land of Egypt.”   NOTICE the honor this Pharaoh gives to Israel and Joseph.  In Canaan they mourn another 7 days and realize the greatness of this occasion.  Even the Canaanites honor him.
    18. 50:15-21 – Joseph’s brothers are fearful now that Israel has passed and thus they go before Joseph and plead appealing that their father wanted Joseph to forgive them. 18, they fell down before his face – NOTE: This time they KNOW what they are doing!  Joseph’s response is memorable: 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. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.  (50:19-21)
    19. 50:22-26 – we are told that Joseph lived in Egypt 110 years. That means that he lived there another 54 years after Jacob died, and then he dies.  But as he dies, he gives final instructions concerning his bones.  He too wants to be buried in Canaan.  As he dies, he too is embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt.  NOTICE that the fanfare for Joseph is not recorded.  It could be that Joseph and Israel were beginning to be forgotten.  They will dwell in the land of Egypt for a few hundred years before scripture picks up on them again.  But that is our next lesson.
  2. Lessons from Joseph’s later life
    1. A lesson in providence. In our last lesson we began a brief discussion of providence.  Providence is God working through natural means (as opposed to supernatural ways).  Joseph is a great example of things “working together for God…according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).  Consider Genesis 50:20.  It is amazing to consider the number of events that occur in the life of Joseph that lead to their deliverance.  Far too many to be just coincidence.  Consider:
      1. Joseph dreams dreams and his brothers despise him
      2. Rather than killing him, they sell him to traders headed to Egypt
      3. He is sold to Potiphar where he faithfully serves for a few years
      4. He ends up in prison because of Potiphar’s wife
      5. In prison God is with him and he interprets the dreams of the butler and baker
      6. The butler is released and serves Pharaoh
      7. Pharaoh has his 2 dreams
      8. None of his magicians can interpret the dreams
      9. The butler remembers Joseph as an interpreter of dreams
      10. He appears before Pharaoh
      11. He interprets Pharaoh’s dreams and gives him sound advice to prepare for the years ahead
      12. Pharaoh promotes Joseph to care for the coming events
      13. Joseph excels in making preparations
      14. The famine occurs and INCLUDES the land of Canaan and Egypt
      15. Jacob hears of grain in Egypt and sends his sons to gather grain
      16. They appear before Joseph and he recognizes them
      17. Circumstances cause them to return to Egypt where Joseph will reveal himself (the famine was long enough for this to happen)
      18. After revealing himself to his brothers, he sends and has Israel and his family move to Egypt
      19. Pharaoh graciously accepts the Hebrews and gives them choice land.
      20. They are cared for and protected. They will remain in Egypt while the iniquity of Canaan continues to spiral out of control.
      21. Joseph realizes this and responds accordingly to his family vowing to protect them.

        Here we have recorded 21 events that HAD TO occur for Israel and his family to go to Egypt and be preserved (yes God could have chosen some other way, BUT we find His hand at work in the process.
        Joseph realizes all these things AFTER the fact – which is a characteristic of providence.
        So let us understand, that while God may not be working directly and supernaturally in our lives to accomplish some purpose, do NOT think for a moment that He cannot accomplish what He desires.  This is why we must continually pray to God and keep serving Him no matter what.

    2. Remember God in the good times – and always. Jacob, after 22 years of sorrow, as he prepares to go see Joseph, offers sacrifices to God.  He is thankful and not blaming God for all his misery.  When we are suffering, we ought to remember God, but do NOT forget Him when things are going well also.  1 Thessalonians 5:17 calls for us to “pray without ceasing.”   Many, in times of despair, will turn to God, but as soon as their troubles dissipate, they forget Him again.
    3. The need to forgive – Joseph clearly forgave his brothers. We may not know exactly when, or how much he struggled with it (considering his treatment of them when he saw them the first time in Egypt).  But we know that in time he COMPLETELY forgave them and even found good in what had happened.  We see in Joseph the power of forgiveness.  It does no good to harbor bitterness toward one who has wronged you.  That causes the harm to continue.   Forgiveness is a quality we MUST develop if we want to see the Lord (Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:13).  The Bible has much to say about forgiveness.
    4. Am I in the place of God? Joseph’s response to his brothers when they come to him as recorded in Genesis 50:16-18. Joseph’s response is powerful?  When we act, we need to make sure that we are NOT putting ourselves in the place of God.  I see that in the condemned judging of Matthew 7:1-5.  It is seen in Romans 12:19-21 where we leave the vengeance to God.  It is seen when we respect His boundaries for all that we do.
    5. The faith of Joseph in death – he gave instructions concerning his bones (Gen. 50:24-25). This was a demonstration of his faith.  In fact, of all Joseph did, this is what is mentioned in Hebrews 11:22.  It is remarkable to consider the faith in death of the patriarchs.  The only piece of land scripture records Abraham purchasing is a burial site in the promised land.  Jacob wanted to be buried there and not in Egypt.  These are manifestations of great faith.  Consider Hebrews 11:13-16.  How much trust do we have in God as we face the end of our lives?  Are we genuinely ready to leave this earth and stand before God?  That is a probing question.

And thus we see the life of Joseph as he interacted with Jacob his father.  This brings to a conclusion the patriarchal period of Bible history.  What have you learned from these fathers of faith?  Is it merely an academic exercise, or is it impacting your life for good?  Is it drawing you closer to God?  Think about it!