"I Have a Dream"
This sermon will reflect upon the life of Joseph. This overview of his life will help us to reflect on the continuing message of God's sovereignty.
I Have A Dream
A. There is a small two word phrase we all need to remember. It is a response we to Satan’s challenge. It is the bottom line and the last word. These two words stand diametrically opposed to the negative roar of the world. Satan throws his darts, the world crashes down upon you, life treats you unfairly. The two words we as Christians need to remember and ought to shout – “but God.” “But God” climbs the highest mountain, traverses the darkest valley and sings songs of victory in the midnight hour.
B. Today I want us to walk through the life a man who understood and said, “but God.” When we look at life, not from our experiences or knowledge, but through the all-seeing eyes of God we can be people of fortitude, faith and forgiveness.
C. On Aug. 28, 1963 a black man marched on Washington. Standing in the shadow of the Lincoln memorial he began a speech that has captivated the world. One hundred years after Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation blacks continued to suffer. But this man stood on the steps of the Lincoln memorial and told the nation about his dream. That great dream of MLK was about a future America that practiced equality. A place where we could say, “Free at last, free at last! Thank God Almighty we are free at last!” His vision has been seen in many respects, but there are still times when the hearts of men are blinded by predigest.
D. That dream MLK came with a price. In just a few years after that speech, MLK would be murdered. With his death, many believed the dream would die also. But the dream lives on.
E. In Genesis 37 we read of a 17-year-old young man who was loved by his father, favored with a beautiful coat of many colors say to his brother who hated him because of the love the father showed him, “I have a dream.” He told of a dream where all the sheaves of grain of his brothers were bowing down before him. Now, let me tell you, that dream came with a price. In a second dream the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing before him. Yes, that dream came with a price. The story of Joseph is more than a dream it is the story fortitude, faith and forgiveness.
I. A Man of Fortitude
A. I have often thought that sharing the dream as he did only caused his brothers to hate him more. But I challenge you to find in Joseph anything evil or vengeful in telling. Dreams were important to people of that time for it was one of the ways God communicated to mankind. But what could God be telling this 17 year old kid in this dream and why did everyone despise him for it?
B. One day, while the brothers were out, Joseph was asked by his father to check on them. As he went searching, the brothers saw him coming and decided that life without this dreamer would be best. They conspired to kill him. Reuben, not wanting to see his brother killed, suggest they throw him into a dry well. Secretly, he planned to take Joseph back home. Reuben appears to have left the brothers for some reason, and while he was away the brothers saw a caravan of traders heading to Egypt. His brother Judah has the great idea that they could sell Joseph to these traders and at least make some money from him. And they did. But something had to be done to keep their father from blaming them. So, having taken the beautiful coat and shredded it, they dipped it in blood of an animal and decided to tell take it back to Jacob and let him come to his own belief that a wild animal killed his favorite son.
C. The story picks up in Genesis 39 where we find that Joseph was sold as a slave to officer of Pharaoh in Egypt. This man’s name was Potiphar. The Bible says “But the Lord was with Joseph.” Joseph, even though he was but 17, was a man of fortitude, moral fiber, spiritual strength. You see, even though he was technically a slave, God was with Joseph and all went well for Potiphar. In fact, Potiphar was so impressed he made Joseph his overseer and trusted him with everything.
D. The Bible says (Gen. 39:6-8). He could have had everything, including her and no one would know. But Joseph was a man of fortitude. His strength was founded in God. (verse 9)
E. That should have been enough, but she would continue to press him until one day she was alone with him. When he refused she grabbed his garment, but he fled from her. She then lied to her husband and said Joseph attacked her and showed him Joseph’s garment as proof. The lie worked and the man of fortitude was put into prison, the king’s prison.
II. A Man of Faith
A. But Joseph, a man of Fortitude was also a man of great faith. Most people would have blamed God, blamed their father, blamed their brothers, but we have no record of that with Joseph. I believe this young man was a man of faith.
B. The Bible simply says, “But the LORD was with Joseph.” Just like God was with him in Potiphar’s house (and Joseph’s fortitude kept him pure), God is with Joseph in prison where his faith see him through.
C. While Joseph was in prison two inmates had dreams. Joseph told them what their dreams meant, to the first he said, Pharaoh will lift you up and restore you to your place in three days, but when he does, please remember me. The second one then asked for an interpretation, this time Joseph said, within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head. Joseph was right on both accounts, but the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph.
D. Two years is a long time to spend in the dungeon of the king. Life got worse. Two years Joseph sat in prison. Then, one night Pharaoh had a dream. A dream about seven fat cows and seven thin cows. In his dream the thin ugly cows ate the seven attractive plump cows. In a second dream he saw seven heads of grain, healthy and strong and seven heads that were scorched by the wind and thin. The thin heads swallowed up the full heads. Pharaoh had to know what the dream meant.
E. He sent for the magicians and the wise men but no one could interpret the dreams. The cupbearer then remembered Joseph and said how he could interpret dreams. Joseph came and stood before Pharaoh. Pharaoh said, “I was told you can interpret my dream.” But Joseph took no credit for himself, “I cannot do that, but God will give you the answer.” He then told Pharaoh what the dreams meant: seven years of feast and then seven years of famine. Then Joseph told Pharaoh how to take care of the problem by taking a fifth of the harvest during the good years and storing them up for the famine. Pharaoh was impressed. So impressed that he promoted Joseph from the prison to the palace to be second in all of Egypt. The man of fortitude and faith now sat in triumph. For remember, years earlier, when Joseph was but 17 he had a dream.
III. A Man of Forgiveness
A. The famine came and Joseph’s family was hit hard. They came to Egypt and not recognizing Joseph bowed down before him. During the second trip Joseph reveled himself to his brothers.
B. The brothers are fearful for Joseph had power of life and death. But what we find is Joseph is a man of forgiveness. With his brothers bowing before him we read these words (Gen. 45:4-8).
C. While these verses help us to see Joseph, I want to share one more set of verses with you. (Gen. 50:15-21)
D. How is your ability to forgive people who sought to harm you, but in your distress you were blessed by God. Blessed because of your spiritual fortitude and faith. Will you also now show forgiveness?
E. Joseph’s understanding was “but God.”
A. What Joseph teaches us is that life is not about good times and trials. It is not about sickness and death or being made well and living a long time. It is not about whether you family likes you or hates you. It is not about whether you have nothing or are blessed with many things. It is about God. It is about our trust in God. For nothing will get us through those hard times but faith and obedience in God.
B. Christians faced the sword, the lions, and the lack of food and the hand of the Roman Caesars. But God delivered them – some in life and some through death. For when we get to heaven, we will receive the crown of righteousness. A crown that Paul says is for everyone who believes and does the will of God. But God… Are you willing to put your faith, your trust, and your hope in the unseen? There is no better place than God.