Lessons from The Story of Joseph – Gen 37:1-4

Gen 37:1-4


Today I want us to learn that not everything in life is about us and I pray that we would get the bigger picture, we would see things through the eyes of God, we would understand that everything is about God.

We live in a world that preaches over and over again that everything is about us and unfortunately, we get to the point where we start to believe it. We look at things that bother us and demand that they change.

We all have things that bother us. We all have our pet peeves.

In school, we would always have that student who at the end of class would raise his hand and say – teacher, you forgot to give us our homework assignment. Dude, put our hand down and shut up. Or aren’t we supposed to have a test today?

In traffic, it bothers me when someone goes 35mph in a 45mph speed zone. Or people who do not use their turning signal…

It bothers me when I try to get a hold of someone who is home and call my wife’s cell and no one answers, call my daughter’s cell and no one answers, call my son’s cell and no one answers and you wonder why you pay for cell phone service?

It bothers me, when I preach and a cell phone goes off right in the middle of the sermon, or right when I give the invitation.

The truth is things bother us because we love us more than we love our neighbor, I love myself more than I love those around me.

Maybe you say, I am not like that, I don’t care about me – yet when we look at a picture we are in, the first person we want to make sure looks good is us. Ladies, how many times we have to redo the picture because you did not awesome in that picture.

Even though we live in a society that promotes our ego, I want us to learn a lesson that Joseph learned – and that is – not everything is about you, not everything revolves around you.

Joseph grew up to be a very spoiled kid. Verse 3A – “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age.” Joseph was protected by his father, he would get the bigger piece of pie at dinner, the brothers could not go anywhere without Joseph. You want to go play ball, great, take Joe with you. You want to meet with your friends, take Joe with you.

The problem with that was that Joseph would come home and tell his father everything that his brothers did wrong. – Verse 2B – “And Joseph brought a bad report of them to their father. Dad, let me tell you what my brothers did… I didn’t do it, but they did. Let me tell you how they talked, let me tell you how bad they behaved. Not me daddy, I did not do anything evil, only my brothers did.

To make matters worse, his dad made him a coat of many colors. Verse 3B – And he made him a robe of many colors. I can see Joseph wearing that coat everywhere. Where is my coat? I have to have it or I can’t go. I can see Joseph washing his coat to have it clean for the next day. I can hear Joseph say: hey guys, do you have a coat like mine? No, you don’t. Did dad give you a coat like mine? He must not love you as much as he loves me.

Verse 4 – But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.

Joseph started to believe that everything is about him, that everything revolves around him. That he is the most important kid in that family. He believed it so much that he began to dream dreams about it.

In verses 6-7 we have Joseph’s first dream.

He could have kept his dream to himself but no, Joseph decided to share it with his brothers,

Verse 8B – So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

In verses 9-10 we have Joseph’s second dream which he shared with his brothers twice. Once in Verse 9A – Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers. Second time in Verse 10A – But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him.

If you know that they hate you so much why don’t you use a little common sense and keep the dream to yourself? No, but Joseph shared his second dream twice. He wanted everyone to know that he is the center of the family, he is the jelly in the donut, he is the bellybutton of the earth as we say it in Romania.

Verse 11A – And his brothers were jealous of him,

Over the next 13 years God is teaching Joseph the opposite. He goes through a very harsh school in which he learns that not everything is about him, that he is not the most important, and not everything revolves around him, but everything is about God, everything revolves around God and around what God wants. He learns that God is the center of the universe and he should be the center of our lives as well.

To learn this God used 3 things in the life of Joseph

1. The Pit

Verses 23-24 – So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it.

a. When you are in a pit you might feel lonely

I am sure Joseph felt all alone in the pit, I am sure he wondered where is God, I am sure he felt the absence of his father, I am sure he felt the betrayal of his brothers, their hate and envy. But in the pit Joseph started to learn that it is not all about him.

During communism, many of the people who decided to trust Christ, would go through persecution but not only from society but from family as well. They would be treated as the pariah of society. When my dad got saved, and lost his job, his family left him, would not have anything to do with him.

One of my uncles came to visit a friend who lived next door to us but did not knock on our door to simply say HI. All friends left him, would not talk to him because no one knew who was watching and who was listening. And it felt lonely.

Maybe you are in the pit this morning and you cry about your situation, and you look toward you, you feel sorry for yourself, you are the center of all your tears, of all your mourning’s.

But I pray that you will realize that you are not alone and God is with you and he wants what’s best for you and he wants to prepare you for His dreams for your life. He said: I will never leave you nor forsake you.

b. When you are in the pit you might be doubtful

I am sure that Joseph had doubts, especially about his dreams. I had 2 dreams and I ended up in the pit. Why did God give me those dreams if I was going to end up in the pit? Why would God give me those dreams when it looks like this is the end of my life?

During communism many lost their jobs, many were fined for coming to church, many lost their freedom for choosing to follow Christ. And I sure doubt crept into their hearts – have done the right thing professing publically my faith in Christ? Maybe I should have chosen to be an undercover Christian. But they knew that it’s not about them, but everything is about God. And God is bigger than any doubt I might have.

When we are in the pit we have the tendency to question God, to ask for explanations to make things about us. Let me say that it is not wrong to ask God why –Jesus did – My God My God why have you forsaken me? Rather than asking God for an explanation ask Him for His revelation. In the pit ask God to show himself in his power and greatness.

Don’t ask for an explanation but ask for a revelation.

2. The Problems

Joseph ends up in the house of Potiphar where God is with Joseph and everything he touches turns into gold for his master. Potiphar notices this fact and places Joseph over all his house, all his affairs and God’s blessings fall upon him. Except that for Joseph, problems show up. Temptations, traps, obstacles.

Genesis 39: 7-9 – And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, Behold, because of me my master has no concern about anything in the house, and he has put everything that he has in my charge. He is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”

Joseph did not say – it’s all about me, I can have a little pleasure, after all, I have been through so much, I have endured so much, I can reward myself with a little pleasure. No, in the middle of his temptation Joseph made God the center of his life. Joseph made God the most important person in his life – How could I sin against my God? Everything is not about me but about God.

Joseph did not give up the dream God gave him for a few moments of pleasure. He did not settle for temporary satisfaction but desired eternal reward.

During communism, we did not know who was a secret informant and who was not. It is said to say that some people when problems, temptations, traps came their way, and instead of trusting God they compromised, they made everything about them and that is how we ended up with priests, pastors and deacons reporting on the people they were to serve, and through the years they gave information to the communist party about all that went on in the church. While there were others who kept their mouth shut and paid with their life.

One of the former pastors of the church I pastor every Monday morning would be asked to come to the offices of the secret police and report on what went on in church on Sunday. He would sit in a room for 8 hours with a paper and pen not writing anything. Little did he know that through the vents he was being radiated. And a few months later he died.

When temptations come your way don’t compromise, don’t destroy God’s dream for your life but stay strong, steadfast, unmovable. Realize today that the only person who can destroy God’s dreams for your life is you. I thought Satan can. Satan destroys God’s dreams for your life only with the weapons that you put in his hand.

3. The Prison

I am sure we all know the story, we know that Joseph leaves his coat and runs as fast as he could, except that when Potiphar comes home, he is greeted by his wife who falsely accuses Joseph of rape.

As I studied this passage, I realized that Potiphar did not really believed his wife. Yes, he did take measures, but he did not throw Joseph in the same prison with all the other thieves, murderers and rapists, but he placed him in a prison that was under his control, a political prison if you please where the butler and the baker of the king would end up later on in the story.

Genesis 39:20 – And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. (ESV)

Genesis 39:1 – Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. (ESV)

Genesis 40: 2-4 – And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody. (ESV)

Genesis 41: 9-12A – Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “I remember my offenses today. When Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, we dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own interpretation. 12 A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard.

It looks to me that the prison was in Potiphar’s house, and Joseph was still under the authority of the Potiphar, still a servant of Potiphar who was trying to protect Joseph from his wife and not the other way around.

In prison, Joseph learns another lesson that is so important – not everything is about us but about others, Joseph learns that it is not all about him, but about those who go through problems and trials and need our help. Here Joseph interprets the dreams of the butler and the baker. Joseph could have cared only for himself but I truly believe that if Joseph would not have served in the prison, he would not have gotten the opportunity to serve in Palace.

One of the greatest preachers during communism was placed in prison because of his stand for Christ. In that cold and damp cell, he had no clothes on, but a simple blanket and a bucket for his waste. On more than one occasion he was taken out by one of the guards during the night and receive extra beatings. One night, this guard tied the preacher on a chair, took his waste bucket and while he was quoting the Lord’s supper text, dumped the waste down the preacher’s mouth.

One evening the preacher noticed that the guard was without his coat shivering due to the coldness of the prison. The same moment God told his preacher, please give him your blanket, because the guard is cold and he forgot his coat at home.

The natural answer was NO; never; please give him your blanket. Father, don’t you know what he did to me, don’t you remember how he blasphemed the sacrifice of my Savior; how he made fun of Christ body broken for me and his blood shed for my forgiveness? NO. Please give him your blanket, I gave My Son for him, all I ask you is to give up a simple blanket. When he realized that it was not about him but it is all about God, he threw the blanket to the guard at God’s command. – sir, you need it more than I do.

After all I’ve done to you, how can you give me your blanket? That was the moment when the preacher was able to share God’s love, who gave His Son for the guard. That night the guard trusted Christ, and later other guards got saved because the preacher gave up his blanket.

In Mat 22 a Pharisee comes to Jesus with the question – 36-39 – “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

This is what Joseph learned – love God, and love others. It is not all about us but about God, and about those around us.

And I want to show you how God blessed Joseph.

Genesis 37:23 – So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. (ESV)

Genesis 41:41 – 42 – So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. (NIV)

God gave him robes of fine linen.

I pray that we would all leave here today understanding that while we are still alive we should love God and love others, not everything is about us. Yet God will bless and reward our faithfulness.

Would you be willing to exchange your coat of sin for Christ’s coat of righteousness? – For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Author / Preacher


One comment

  1. Indeed no one can re-arrange what God has arranged,although he passed through many troubles,challeges and obstacles but it was not over for him until God fulfilled the plans He had for Joseph.
    We thank God and may He help us to understand His word.

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