22nd Jan 2012

The Invisible Hand Of God-The world changer

By Andy Jarvis

Genesis 37-46
The story begins with human weakness:
•    Jacob’s efforts to fulfil his promise – sexual complicity in the battle between his two wives.
•    The victim of favouritism has a favourite.
•    Jacob is insensitive to all his sons and ‘feeds’ Joseph to them.
•    Joseph, like his father, insensitively handles his dreams, fuelling his brothers’ hatred. The brothers’ hatred explodes in intent to kill Joseph.

The hand of God:
•    The stranger who directs Joseph to Dothan.
•    Reuban’s  rescue plan.
•    Spice train.
•    Joseph is kept alive but taken to Egypt. He is sold to the Captain of the Guard, Potiphar.
39:2 ‘And the Lord was with Joseph.’ Vs. 2,3,21,23 ‘I will bless you. Those who bless you, I will bless. All the way down in Egypt, in the land of other gods, God’s hand is not too short to save.

More human weakness...
39:7-20 Potiphar’s wife wants to sleep with Joseph.
And strength...
Joseph’s response. He sees her – a wife, sees Potiphar – a Husband, sees God – sin. But his reward...
Hurt pride (more weakness). Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of rape and he is thrown into prison.
V21-23 – The Lord was with Joseph and made him prosper.

Hand of God:
•    Joseph is given responsibility for Pharaoh’s latest prisoners, his butler and baker, who have both had prophetic dreams.
•    Joseph interprets – God equips in difficult circumstances. God ‘vindicates’ Joseph.

Human weakness:
The butler forgets Joseph – for 2 years.
Joseph’s escape plan fails.

Hand of God:
•    Pharaoh’s dream and the Butler’s memory.
•    Timing – after everyone else has tried and failed to interpret it.
Joseph stakes his faith in God – “God will give you an answer.”
41:25-32 God gives Joseph the interpretation and the way to handle the problem.

The story unfolds.
Pharoah raises up Joseph to his 2nd in command. 41:50-52 Joseph names his sons after the actions of God (Hebrew names).
He makes Egypt his ‘home’ – left the past behind.
7 years of plenty are followed by 7 years famine, V57 , and ‘All the nations came to Egypt to buy corn.’ (A picture of God’s promise to Abraham ‘All nations will be blessed through you’).
Famine spreads to Canaan and Jacob sends the brothers to Egypt to buy corn.
Realities of human life in all its messiness:
•    Joseph remembers their cruelty – accuses them of spying, imprisons them, as they had put him in the pit.
•    Joseph weeps when they recall what they have done to him.
•    The memory of their cruelty comes flooding back.
•    Simeon stays until Benjamin is brought.
•    Jacob refuses to send Benjamin, until Judah talks sense and the corn runs out.
All the brothers return and bow before Joseph – his 1st dream is realized and he can’t cope with the emotion, leaving to weep in private.

44:1-5 Joseph, son of the deceiver, plots to keep Benjamin with the hidden cup. Benjamin must become Joseph’s slave. Judah offers himself in Benjamin’s place – a picture of Jesus (This shows the extent of change in Judah’s life – cruelty transformed to love). Jacob will die if he loses Benjamin too.
In this desperate situation they find out how much they care for each other.
45:1 – 46:7 God’s hand revealed...
45:1-4 Joseph, unable to contain his emotions, reveals himself.
5-8 God’s saving purpose is revealed... The one who was rejected becomes the Saviour. “to save your lives by a great deliverance. It was not you who sent me here but God.”
46:3 Jacob/Israel heads to Egypt. At Beersheba he offers sacrifices to God who encourages and speaks to him – “Don’t be afraid to go to Egypt for I will make you into a great nation.”

The hidden hand of God is a world changer.
•    God is working his purpose out.
•    God matures an individual through suffering.
•    God reconciles a dysfunctional family through grace.
•    God saves his infant nature through mighty power.
The ‘length’ of God’s arm challenges our faith. The pit, the distant prison and the passing of time, the power in the dreams and hands of the Egyptians.

The ‘height’ of God’s strength enables our ministry. The prisoner with no power meets the Pharaoh with all power and in weakness displays the divine power by interpreting the dream.

The depth of God’s reach heals our brokenness.
•    When Joseph sees Potiphor’s wife he sees wife, husband and God.
•    When Joseph looks at his family – saved, together, he having stayed close to God sees his purpose and  plan.  Those God has saved for a purpose, it is not for him to destroy –
And NOTHING gets in the way of God’s purpose!