Hidden In Plain Sight (from the life of Joseph)

(*We have been engaged in a series covering the high points from the Book of Genesis on Wednesday evenings.  You can get the basic outline of this first and great book of Scripture by knowing: Creation, Fall, Promise of Redemption, Noah, Tower of Babel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.  The last main figure in Genesis is Joseph, and we took a look at his life through the framework of a message preached and newsletter delivered originally in March of 2020.  I hope it’s a fresh and new blessing, or perhaps a good reminder blessing, as you read it now in February of 2021…PS—If you’d like to hear any or all of the messages in this series, in our Sunday morning series on the Book of Galatians, or any other message from the past several months, you can go to Youtube.com, type in my name-Ben Strunk (*I wanted to get it under the church name, but haven’t been able to do it as of yet*), and then click on the channel that comes up which looks like me and/or the church.  Several recordings should be available that you can click on.*)

I don’t cook.  (Now I’ve got the eating thing down pat, as is painfully evident!)  However, there have been a couple of times when I’ve tried to help my wonderful wife with dinner by offering to get a can or box of something out of our pantry for her.  She appreciates my willingness to assist and tells me exactly where the item is; and I do mean EXACTLY where it is.  The instructions might be something as follows: “the can of corn is on the third shelf, the fourth row from the left, two cans behind the baked beans; and I’ll take the whole kernel which is right on top of the creamed variety.”  Sounds simple right?  Not so much for this directionally challenged husband!  I start out with a fair amount of confidence thinking I can find it straightway.  Then, when I don’t readily see it, I turn on the flashlight function of my cell phone.  I try this for a few seconds before finally giving up and telling my wonderful wife that I can’t find the can I’m looking for.  She patiently comes over and, without the aid of my flashlight, goes to “the third shelf, fourth row from the left, two cans behind the baked beans” and gets the can of whole kernel corn which was right on top of the creamed variety!  It was right where she said it was all along, but to me it was hidden.  Hidden in plain sight!  In this month’s newsletter we will look at some spiritual truths and connections to Jesus and the gospel from the life of Joseph, one of the most well-known figures from the Old Testament, which were hidden in plain sight!

We Don’t See/Recognize Our Own Sin and Pride (Gen. 37:3-8)…Joseph was the next to youngest of 12 brothers.  Their father, Jacob, loved Joseph best because he was a son of his old age.  The older brothers knew their dad favored Joseph over them as evidenced in many ways, including the famous coat of many colors that Jacob exclusively gave to their younger sibling.  This paternal favoritism bred hatred in the hearts of the 10 older brothers, a fiery hatred that was stoked to a destructive blaze when Joseph shared his dreams which implied that one day his older siblings would all bow before him!  This hatred smoldered over, leading the elder brothers to eventually concoct a scheme where they would throw Joseph into a pit, sell him into slavery, and then lie to their father telling him that his favorite son had been devoured by a wild beast.  The brothers no doubt could see the perceived injustice of their father favoring one of his sons over the others.  They could see the perceived pride and arrogance in Joseph’s dreams and words.  What they could not see, or chose not to see, was their own sin, their own pride, their own hatred, their own deceptive and murderous hearts!…Jesus spoke to this truth in Matthew 7:3-5 where He teaches that sinful humanity tends to focus on the splinter in someone else’s eye rather than the log that is in our own.  Until we see our sin, we will never see the Savior; until we own our sin, we will never receive salvation.

We Don’t See/Recognize God’s Word Coming To Pass (Gen. 42:6-8)…Joseph is sold into Egyptian slavery to a master named Potiphar.  Though a slave, he prospered in all that he did and his master promoted him to being over all his estate.  Potiphar and his household were greatly blessed because of Joseph and things were going well until Potiphar’s wife got her eye on the good-looking young man.  She propositioned Joseph to lie with her but he refused, citing loyalty to his master and, more importantly, faithfulness to God.  Not easily deterred, Potiphar’s wife ultimately took her sinful desire to the next level and made up a lie telling her husband that Joseph had tried to take advantage of her!  Potiphar was enraged and had Joseph tossed in jail.  While in prison, Joseph again found favor in all that he did.  The warden put him in charge of the prisoners and, through a series of events too long to describe fully in a single article, Joseph is ultimately promoted to second in command in all of Egypt!  Pharaoh commissioned Joseph to be in charge of a plan whereby food and provisions were stored up during 7 plentiful years to prepare for 7 lean years.  When the famine hit, it hit globally.  Egypt was well prepared because of the divine guidance given to Joseph, but other nations were ill equipped.  One of the people groups unprepared for the extended famine was Jacob and his descendants in Canaan.  The patriarch heard that Egypt had food and sent his ten eldest sons there to buy provisions to bring back home.  The brothers arrive in Egypt and humbly bow in desperation and respect before the man in charge, the man who happened to be their brother Joseph whom they had sold into slavery more than 15 years ago.  They did not recognize Joseph, but Joseph recognized them.  God’s Word that the elder brothers would bow before Joseph came true, and the elder brothers didn’t even notice…Scriptures proclaim that Jesus is Lord, that salvation only comes exclusively through Christ, and that one day every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father, even those of unbelievers (Philippians 2:5-11).  The world may scoff and not recognize, but every jot and tittle of God’s Word will come to pass!

We Don’t See That We’ve Sinned Personally Against God (Gen. 42:21-24; Gen.45:1-3)…The brothers come to a point where they confess to one another their sin against their brother Joseph (Gen. 42:21-24).  They also realize that the Egyptian leader before whom they stand multiple times throughout the account has the power not only to grant or withhold food without which they would perish, but also the power to grant them life or death at any moment.  What they don’t realize until Genesis 45:1-3 is that the one against whom they had sinned and the one who held their lives in his power was one and the same!…Many people wonder how God could, in their estimation, judge them so harshly when they’ve never done anything against Him personally.  Scriptures tell us a different story however.  Sin is always first and foremost against God! (Psalm 51:4)  It is cosmic treason perpetrated by the creation towards the Creator!  Jesus died on the cross because of the sins of humanity.  Those who repent and trust in Him will find that the One against whom they’ve sinned and the One who graces them with life eternal is One and the same! (Rom. 3:26)  Those who fail to repent and believe in Christ will find that the One against whom they’ve sinned and the One who condemns them to a place where the fire is not quenched and the worm does not die is One and the same! (Mark 9:42-48)

We Don’t See The Genuineness Of The Forgiveness of God (Gen. 50:15-21)…Joseph not only forgave his brothers, but he instructed them to go back to their homeland and bring their father and all of their families down to Egypt where he would see to it that they were well cared for.  Jacob enjoyed being reunited with Joseph for 17 years before he went on to be with the Lord.  After their father died, Joseph’s brothers became afraid that their younger sibling would now finally take his revenge for the evil they had committed towards him more than three decades ago.  They get together and decide to send a message telling Joseph that before Jacob died, he wanted Joseph to be told to forgive his brothers their transgression against him.  This “message” more likely than not was concocted in the minds of the brothers rather than really being commanded by their father.  Out of fear, the older brothers go so far as to fall down before Joseph and desperately declare that they will be his servants.  Now, Joseph had not only told his brothers years ago that he had forgiven them, but he had shown them the truth of his forgiveness by caring for them and for their families for the better part of the past two decades.  Yet still, as shown by their concocted message from their deceased father and by their bowing and pleading to be servants, the brothers did not believe Joseph had REALLY forgiven them.  But he had REALLY forgiven them, and through tears he tells them again to not be afraid and speaks kindly to them, promising to continue providing for them, for what they had meant for evil God had meant for good…We certainly should never take God’s grace for granted, we should never think that our forgiveness gives us license to flaunt any kind of sin.  That being said, when Jesus died on the cross, He REALLY paid the penalty for sin for all of those who would put sincere faith in Him.  When Scripture says that all who call upon the Name of the Lord will be saved (Rom. 10:13), that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9), that He will cast our sins as far as the East is from the West to be remembered against us no more (Psalm 103:12; Heb. 8:12), HE REALLY MEANS IT!  He’s not keeping the sin records of believers on file to lower the boom on us when we least expect it!  When He says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), HE REALLY MEANS IT!  He doesn’t offer a forgiveness He doesn’t want to extend!