Joseph The Great

Joseph The Great

Joseph is a strange figure in the Bible. He is not in the line of Christ, he is not in the priesthood, and even for tribes he is mentioned only by his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Yet his story dominates the end of the first book of the Bible, from chapters 37 to 50. He has more said of him than all of the other Patriarchs, but why?

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Joseph was given a dream as the word of God to him, and he believed it. Hebrews 11:22 showcases his faith in the promise made to Abraham with his dying breath. Joseph was faithful. But Joseph was something more: he was also a figure.

Joseph was a man of greatness. Nothing in his life was ever done by halves. He had a dream, so he told it. He had the favor of his father, and he wore it. He saw dishonesty in the family business, so he reported it. Everything that he did could have been done a softer way and would have been acceptable. But that was not Joseph’s way, and that is exactly why he was chosen to model the Greatest Man In History.

Joseph reflects the Man Christ Jesus in as many as 152 Scriptural similarities. No one could have predicted this tumultuous life would be such a picture of the coming Saviour of the world. No one at the time could see this either, yet here is the boldest declaration:

“There is none greater in this house than I;”

Genesis 39:9

foreshadowing The Man of whom the angel said,

“He shall be great.”

Luke 1:32

Yet even in his affirmation of his endowment, he maintains his integrity, displaying none of the pride commonly associated with greatness, but rather, meekness.

Joseph can teach us the secret of greatness, also.

Men are usually granted the title of “Great” posthumously. The title describes their bigness of impact on history, their eccentricity, their prominence in world affairs, or their wealth and investments into their communities. These characters could not be farther from ‘greatness’: Herod ‘the great’ (killed the babies in Bethlehem), Alexander ‘the great’ (obsessive military warlord), ‘Saint’ (Pope) Gregory ‘the great’ (propagator of damnable heresies) are just a sampling of those thus mislabeled. Greatness appears to the world to be a staircase made of the bone, painted with the blood, and christened with the names of predecessors and competitors. America is obsessed with being the greatest, hence: “MAGA”.

“Men cannot understand a hidden life. They press every advantage to make as much of themselves as they can. But here was something more than modesty in Jesus: He hid His face that He might manifest His Father’s; he sank into insignificance that he might be the express image of His Father, so service His purpose in everything. This is the way of the cross for us as (it was) for our Master.”

The Royal Insignia by Ed Harvey

Joseph was somehow able to make a claim of greatness that dignified the Lord, did honor to himself, yet did not swell into pride. Joseph was chosen to be like Christ. We who are saved have also been chosen. The moon in Genesis 1:16 is called a great light. It is no shame to shine as brightly as possible- you are a mirror. Our pursuit of greatness is directly related to Him. Without HIM we are NOTHING. And He that is higher than the highest regards the man who recognizes and receives His Son. John 1:12 “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” “Jesus came to reveal the character of God, not to display the grandeur of God.” Adrian Rogers. So did Joseph, and so must we.

Let us look at 8 seals of greatness in this chapter of Joseph’s life:

I. Acquired Favor- Accepting the changes forced in his life

Genesis 39:1-3
  • He was sold “BROUGHT”
  • He was purchased “BOUGHT”
    1. He didn’t have much of a family to look up to, back to, or forward to, but the Lord was with him.
    2. The presence of God promotes and prospers the quality of the person, regardless of the predicament.
      • Proverbs 22:29 “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings…”

II. Attentive Servitude- Willing to submit to the tasks given him

Genesis 39:4
  • Personal conduct seeks and draws favor “found grace”
    1. “Noah found grace” Genesis 6:8
    2. “There came a centurion… I have not found so great faith” Matthew 8:5, 10
  • Submission to order becomes a man “served him”
  • Observance of others becomes a man “overseer”
  • Delegation of trust becomes a man “put into his hand”
    1. Matthew 9:34-35 “Last shall be first… Greatest shall be servant of all”
    2. “Authority and submission are two sides of the same coin” -Adrian Rogers

III. Authoritative Trust- Striving to excel in less than excellent conditions

Genesis 39:5
  • Recognized position
    1. Responsibility
      1. Not entitlement
      2. Taken up “In the house… over all that he had… in the field”
  • Regulated Providence
    1. The Blessing of God can occur even in a BAD place because of a man with his heart in the RIGHT place
    2. Live for God, and leave the results up to Him

IV. Attractive Manners- Refusing to accept bribes or favors

Genesis 39:6-7
  • Tempered passions
    1. Charisma
      • Leadership=Stewardservant (stewardship to the power of servitude)
        1. The more you serve the more you can lead
        2. “It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to lead men into battle” Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf
    2. Not Control
      • A man who is not afraid of a challenge will also risk his morality, right?
        1. (James Bond, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Donald Trump)
        2. A worldly assumption
      • The confidence required to attract God’s attention is forever attached to a man’s conscience.

V. Asserted Conviction- Choosing purity over permission

Genesis 39:8-9 “with overcoming victory”
  • Sinful Aversion vs.
  • Godly Sensitivity
    1. No Commands Given Yet
    2. Fathers, Uncles all had many wives
    3. His respect for women came from his relationship to God

VI. Active Guardianship- Maintaining integrity by constant vigilance

Genesis 39:10-12 “day by day”
  • He thought so much of his vocation that he strenuously guarded it
    1. “There is a point, of course, where a man must take the isolated peak and break with all his associates for clear principle; but until that time comes he must work, if he would be of use, with men as they are.” –President Theodore Roosevelt

VII. Accused Character- Taking the high road when no one else does

Genesis 39:13-20 “here also have I done nothing” Gen. 40:15
  • The identification of true character is not that it is never tried, but that it is tried:
    1. Often,
    2. And consistently proven.

VIII. Assumed Responsibility- Caring for others who could care less

Genesis 39:21-23 “he was the doer of it”
  • Greatness did not need Potiphar’s house to flourish
    1. Nor did it take Pharaoh’s house to manifest
    2. Even in prison, greatness thrived
We have been called and chosen to be like Jesus Christ. He is great. Joseph shows us how greatness looked in Egypt. We should follow their example.
We lack Biblical greatness because we do not recognize, value, or follow the manliness of Jesus Christ, as foreshadowed in the life of Joseph the Great.

During the years of slavery in America, George Washington Carver emulated in his life the principle of greatness. After the war and the emancipation, he became a great scientist. Believing in God and the Bible and what God could do with him, he eventually developed more than 200 products from the common, ordinary peanut. He became an eminent scientist and well known.

One day Dr. Carver was standing in the lobby of the great Palace Hotel in 1870– 15 years after the end of slavery– when a big Texas businessman came down the stairs. He dragged his suitcases over to the reception desk to check out. Turning around, he saw Dr. Carver, a little black man, standing by the door, and he said, “Hey boy, come here and get my bags and take them out to the carriage. I’m in a hurry; I have to get across town right away.”

Dr. Carver could have said many things. However, he did not say any of them. Instead, he walked over and picked up that man’s bags, and with a smile said, “Happy to be of service to you, sir!” and he carried the man’s bags out.

Which man do you think showed true greatness?

Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things;
Give heart and soul and mind and strength
To serve the King of kings.

Rise up, O men of God!
His kingdom tarries long;
Bring in the day of brotherhood,
And end the night of wrong.

Rise up, O men of God!
The Church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up and make her great!

Lift high the cross of Christ;
Tread where His feet have trod;
As brothers of the Son of man,
Rise up, O men of God!

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