Sermon #31                                             Genesis Sermons


          Title:           Three Lessons From Joseph - A Picture of Grace

          Text:           Genesis 50:15-21


          Subject:     Grace, providence and brotherly love

          Date:          Tuesday Evening - April 7, 1992

          Tape #




          For the past twelve months I have been bringing messages on Pictures Of Grace in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, I will conclude this series of messages with what is, perhaps, the most important and most practical messge in the series. My text is Genesis 50:15-21. The title of my message tonight is Three Lessons From Joseph. Read the text with me.


          Joseph had now finished the work God sent him to do. All Israel had been saved from death and dwelt in the peaceable habitations of Goshen. Jacob ws now dead. Nothing remained but for Joseph’s brethren to dwell in the land in peace, pursuing their ordinary work as shepherds, with gratitude to Joseph for his goodness to them. They now had nothing to fear. All was well. But Joseph’s brethren were uneasy. Their former transgressions made them fearful. Their guilt caused them to be suspicious of Joseph’s goodness. In spite of all the kindness they had experienced at  Joseph’s hand, they were not assured of their acceptance with him. They feared that they might yet be made to suffer for what they had done to him. Therefore, they sued for mercy in the name of their father Jacob, whom they knew Joseph loved dearly.


1.    They sent a messenger to Jacob with a message from Jacob (15-17).

2.    When Joseph heard their request, his tender heart broke and he wept (. 17).

·        Because of his love for Jacob!

·        Because of his love for his brethren and their suspicions of him!

3.    Then Joseph’s brethren themselves came before him (17-18).

·        They confessed their sin.

·        They sought forgiveness in Jacob’s name, upon his word.

·        They bowed before Joseph as his servants.

This was the thing they had refused to do before. It was this very thing which had before been the cause of their hatred. When they heard that they must bow as servants to Joseph, they said, “Shalt thou indeed reign over us?” (Gen. 37:8). They they sold him into bondage. But now they are humbled. Now, they bow and say, “We be thy servants.” This is the issue that must be settled in the heart of men. We must bow to Christ!

1.    When they beowed before Joseph as their rightful lord and master, he assured them of his good intentions toward them and comforted them (19-21).


          What a tender picture we have before us! It is a scene that needs no explanation. And it is full of instruction for us. It clearly setsforth three lessons which we should each lay to heart.


I. The first lesson is a lesson about God’s abundant grace and forgiveness of sin in Christ.


          It is written, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Rom. 5:20). There is abundant grace for guilty sinners in Christ. Our God is a God who “delighteth in mercy” (Mic. 7:18).


          A. Let us learn from Joseph’s brethren something about the nature of true repentance.


          The spirit of God who preserved this event for us and caused itto be recorded by Moses, gives us no reason to question the sincerity of these men. Jospeh’s penitant brothers show us that true repentance involves...


1.    A terrifying sense of guilt! - (The Publican.)


          These men were afraid because they were guilty of great sin and they knew it.


          2. An acknowledgement and confession of sin (1 John 1:9).


          Pardon will never be granted until sin is confessed, confessed with a broken heart and confessed completely. I do not mean that we must list all our sins. That would be impossible. But I do mean that we must not cover our sins (Prov. 28:13). And we must completely confess our sin, offering no excuses for the evil of...


·        Our sin - Nature!

·        Our sins - Deeds!

·        Our righteousnesses - Good works!


          3. Surrender to Christ as our Lord and Master -  “Take my yoke upon you!”


          Someone once said, “He who abandons himself to God will never be abandoned by God.” We must lay ourselves at Christ’s feet if we would have him take us into his arms.


          4. Faith in the Word of God - “Thy father did command.”


          Joseph’s brothers came to him and made their plea upon the basis of his father’s word. And we come to Christ in hope of mercy upon the basis of what God himself has spoken in his Word (John 3:14-16). Believing God’s record, we cast ourselves into the arms of the crucified Christ in hope of life eternal.


          B. Let us ever remember the tenderness of our Savior toward us.


          As “Joseph wept when they spoke unto him,” so our Lord Jesus Christ is “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” Our Savior is as full of sympathy and tenderness for his saints now, though he is exalted, as he was when he dwelt upon the earth.


          C. Let us try to realize how thorough and complete God’s forgiveness of our sin is.


          We nailed our Savior to the cursed tree. We caused his blood to flow. His blood might justly be upon us forever. But so great, so thorough, so complete is his forgiveness that our Savior, rather than charging us with the sin and guilt of his death, blesses us through it!


          Joseph said to his brethren, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves...for God did send me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5).


“With pleasing grief and mournful joy

My spirit now is filled,

That I should such a life destroy,

Yet live by Him I killed!”  - John Newton


1.    Christ has forgiven us of all our sin.

2.    We need never fear that he will deal with us upon the basis of our sin - Neither by way of punishment, nor by loss of reward!

3.    Our great Savior, like Joseph, speaks comfortably to his people and assures us that he will nourish us - “Fear not!”


II. The second lesson in this passage is a lesson about he universal providence of our God (vv. 19-20).


          I am sure that Joseph, when he was in that pit, when he was cast into prison, when he lay at night on the cold earth, shackled like a common felon, must have often wept in his loneliness, wondered why he was made to experience so much pain and sorrow, and must have often wondered how his circumstances could be so bad when God had promised to bless him. But the end of his life vindicated God’s promise and explained the necessity for every event in his life. Joseph’s complicated life unravelled and was exhausted exactly as God had ordained it; and with profound simplicity, Joseph said, “I am in the place of God!” The lesson from this man’s life is “the Lord reigneth!”


          How I wish we could grasp this, rejoice in it, and take the comfort of it! How I wish I could learn to believe God, whose providence is so manifestly displayed to us!


          Here are five areas in which the sovereignty of God in providence is clearly displayed.


          A. God’s sovereignty, his absolute control of the universe is seen in the accomplishment of redemption by the death of Christ (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28).


          NOTE: Providence is the unfolding of God’s purpose. It is God bringing to pass in time what he purposed to do in eternity.


          Illustration: 1. Hezekiah’s prayer and the incarnation.

                                       2. Ceasar’s decree and Micah’s prophecy (5:2).

                                       3. Christ’s crucifixion rather than his stoning.


          B. God’s sovereign rule of providence is manifest in the exaltation and glory of Christ.


          Like Joseph, our Savior is “in the place of save much people alive.” And he came to be in that place by God’s sovereign employment of wretched, wiched men.


          C. Certainly, we see the greatness of God’s sovereignty in providence in the fact that he overrules evil for good (Psa. 76:10).


          What Joseph’s brothers meant to be evil, God used for good.


Illustration: The poor woman’s bread - “The devil may have

                              brought it with an evil design; but God sent it with

                              a good design, to feed his hungry child.”


      Illustration: 1. The sin and fall of Adam - To make way for


                           2. The slaying of the Hebrew children to bring Moses

                                to Pharaoh’s house and prepare deliverance.

                           3. The scattering of the church by persecution - To

                                preach the gospel everywhere.


          D. Certainly, the history of every chosen sinner is a revelation of God’s wise, good, adorable providence (Rom. 9:28).


1.    Providence prepares the sinner for grace and preserves him unto the appointed day of grace (Psa. 107; Hos. 2:8).


          How I thank God for what the old writers called “prevenient grace,” that grace that goes before and prepares the way for grace.


Illustration: 1. The prodigal son - His father’s eye was

                                       always upon him!

                                  2. Philemon (Phile. 15).

                                  3. Guardian angels (Heb. 2:14).


          2. And God’s secret providence orders all the affairs of our lives, yea, all the affairs of the world, for the good of his saints.


          a. To direct our steps.

          b. To keep us from temptation.

          c. To deliver us from evil.

          d. To open doors of ministry.


Illustration: The changing of a public school system.

                                    Dick Melton’s foiled plans.

                                    Seeing Mildred Selvy.

                                    Sandy Park’s conversion.

                                    “Grace For Today” - “The Church of God”.


E.  And God’s glorious providence will be so manifest at the conclusion of history that everything will render praise to him (Rev. 5:11-14).


A.  J. Gordon, the preacher who succeeded Spurgeon at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, said, “God’s providence is like the Hebrew Bible; we must begin at the end and read backward in order to understand it.”


III. The third lesson to be learned from this story is A lesson about brotherly love.


          Do you see how this man loved his brothers, so much so that he not only forgave their crimes against him, but spoke kindly to them and sought to remove all their fears. Joseph’s heart was so tender toward them that he wept when they suspected his kindness. May God be pleased to grant me that kind of love for my brethren in Christ.


          Let me show you just two things in this regard:


A.  When we have wronged a brother or a sister in Christ, we must with humility seek forgiveness and reconciliation with them. ‘Confess your faults one to another” (James 5:16).


          To wrong a friend is great evil; but to compound the wrong by refusing to acknowledge it is even more wicked. That will soon destroy a friendship (Matt. 5:23-24).


B. When we have been wronged, we must freely forgive the wrong and the wrongdoer (Matt. 6:14; Eph. 4:32 - 5:1).


          Nothing is this low, ruined world so beautifully reflects the character of the Son of God as forgiveness. As Joseph forgave his brethren, let us forgive one another. As God, for Christ’s sake, has forgiven us, let us, for Christ’s sake, forgive one another.




          Lay these three lessons to heart.

1.   God’s grace is abundant and free in Christ - Give thanks!

2.   God’s providence is always good - Be content!

3.   Brotherly love forgives - Forgive one another!