Tribulation, Part 5
August 9, 2019
Let’s see if we can wrap us this series today and talk about the blessing of tribulation. Can’t think of anyone I’ve ever talked to over the years who suggested that tribulation was an absolute blessing, but it is.
No affliction, no trial, no false accusation, no trouble of any kind seems to be joyful at the moment you are going through it, and when all hell breaks loose around you, you often look for a hole so you can crawl into it and hide. Doesn’t seem to work that way, does it?
Let’s consider a man whose experiences are well documented in the Word. He went through things that none of us ever want to experience (and yet many have in this day and age) but they came out victorious and a blessing, not only to himself but to his family and the world around.
We will pick up the narrative of Joseph in Genesis 37 as a beginning point.
You’ll recall Joseph’s vision experience of seeing the sun, moon and stars and how they bowed down to him. When he shared that vision with his father and mother and brothers, except for his father and mother, his eleven brothers became extremely jealous. His parents weren’t really pleased, but they filed it away for future reference.
Things only grew worse in the family relationship between Joseph and his brothers when Jacob called Joseph one day and place an elegant and exceptionally striking coat of many colors on Joseph. That robe was representative of the royalty that would come upon Joseph in the years to come, and he wore it proudly. It was also prophetic and a confirming prophecy to his vision of the sun, moon and stars bowing to him.
In their hearts, his brothers began conspiring together to rid themselves of him. Nothing really happened, however, until some time later when the brothers were out in the fields tending their father’s sheep. Jacob decided to send Joseph out to find them and check on their welfare, as well as that of his many flocks. The brothers turned out not to be where they told their father they would be, and Joseph wandered about until a stranger he stumbled across told him that his brothers had gone to Dothan.
He made the trek to Dothan, and his brothers saw him at a distance. Immediately they began to conspire to kill him. Reuben, the oldest, thought to spare Joseph’s life, not wanting Joseph’s blood on his hands, and suggested that they strip him of his clothing – especially the coat of many colors – and kill a lamb, and dip the coat in the lamb’s blood. They would tell their father that a wild beast had killed him.
That’s exactly what they did! They stripped Joseph of his coat and his clothing and threw him into a pit in the wilderness, leaving him and believing he would die there. They sent the coat to Jacob with their lie of what had happened to Joseph.
Meanwhile, while they are enjoying themselves and the treachery they had just initiated, a band of Ishmaelite traders passed by. This presented a ”better” solution to their original plan. They pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him to the traders for 20 pieces of silver, who thereupon took Joseph into Egypt and sold him as a slave to an officer of Pharaoh, Potiphar by name, who was also a captain of Pharaoh’s guard.
Think, now about all that has happened to Joseph in a short period of time.
1. He has a dream or vision of himself in a place of rulership. When he shares it with his family, he gets nothing but hate and jealousy from his brothers.
2. That situation is magnified when his father places a coat of many colors on him.
3. When he goes out to check on his brothers’ welfare, they plot to kill him. That plot is intercepted when Reuben comes up with another plan to strip him of his coat, throw him in a pit, dip his coat in a lamb’s blood and send it back to their father with the lie that Joseph was killed by a wild beast.
4. Instead of being left to die in the pit, Joseph gets sold to a band of Ishmaelite merchants for the paltry sum of 20 pieces of silver, who immediately take him with them into Egypt.
5. Joseph now gets sold as a slave to the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, Potiphar.
How do you like it so far? Sound like tribulation to you? Just wait! It’s going to get worse – a lot worse!
Throughout all of this, so far, Joseph has behaved himself. He has shown himself to be a young man of integrity and honor. We don’t see him railing at his brothers or his family, or even God, for the miseries that have befallen him.
Potiphar takes a liking to Joseph and soon entrusts him with more and more responsibility for the oversight of his business affairs. We are told that the Lord was with Joseph and caused him to prosper in everything that he put his hands to. It isn’t long before Potiphar makes Joseph the official Overseer of literally everything that he had, his personal possessions, his business affairs, and the care of his household.
Now we have a real problem in the making. Potiphar has a wife who really lusts after Joseph. She attempts to entice him and seduce him in order to get him to take her to bed. Joseph’s response again is the response of someone whose character and nature are absolutely above reproach.
“But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. “There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:8-9, NAS)
Notice that Joseph’s concerns are not so much that he would be sinning against Potiphar, but that he would be sinning against God! That was his priority!
But Potiphar’s wife is so overcome with lust that she won’t leave Joseph alone, pestering him day after day after day. A day comes when Joseph goes into the house to take care of Potiphar’s business. For once, there are no other men in the household. Potiphar’s wife grabs Joseph by the arm and attempts to force him to come to bed with her. He won’t have any of it! He breaks loose from her grip and runs out the door but in the process, loses his cloak. Bless Potiphar’s wife’s pointed little head! She screams “Rape.” Too bad there weren’t any medical doctors who could have immediately proved her to be a liar!
Potiphar comes home and listens to his wife’s lying tale of supposed woe, and without taking into consideration Joseph’s character and integrity, and the fact that he has completely trusted him; without taking into consideration his own knowledge of his wife’s predilection for infidelity, he becomes emotionally enraged.
Once again, Joseph is bound and – this time – cast into prison. This is not just any old common prison where ordinary slaves or law-breakers are cast. This is the prison of “the King’s prisoners” – where those who have committed treason are kept, where those who are generally under a death sentence for serious crimes against the crown. Nevertheless, we are told that “the Lord was with Joseph!”
Once again, Joseph finds favor, this time with the jailer. Over a period of time (we are not told how long it took) Joseph has the same kind of authority and responsibility given to him that he had held with Potiphar. We are told the following in Genesis 39.
Genesis 39:23 NAS: The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper.
Even in the midst of his afflictions, his persecution, his “tribulation,” because of his purposed integrity towards God, he had incredible favor. Nevertheless, Joseph is going to be in prison for the better part of 13 years.
Some time after Joseph was given charge over the prisoners, the king’s cupbearer/chief butler and the king’s baker both committed offenses towards Pharaoh. We are told that Pharaoh’s rage was explosive towards them and he threw them both into the prison where Joseph had charge.
Joseph was given charge over these two officials and things progressed peacefully until they both had visions. The cupbearer/chief butler had a vision of three branches of grapes that flourished and brought forth luscious grapes. He pressed the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup and handed the cup to the king.
Joseph interpreted his vision and told him that he would be restored to his original position in three days. He then asked the chief butler to remember him to Pharaoh because of his unjust imprisonment.
The baker saw this favorable response to the chief butler’s vision and decided to tell his vision. He told Joseph that he also saw three baskets of bread and cooked foods but the birds were eating them. Joseph told him that within three days he would be taken out of prison and hanged by Pharaoh.
Just as he had prophesied, the chief butler was restored to his position and the baker was hanged. As often happens in circumstances like this, the butler completely forgot his assurances to Joseph and did not mention him at all to Pharaoh.
Two more years go by. Joseph has now been imprisoned for most of 13 years. The Lord has been with Joseph and he has prospered nonetheless but it was still prison, no matter how you slice it. Now it is Pharaoh’s turn to have a vision. He relates that vision to his wise men and magicians and complains that there is no one to interpret it. All of a sudden, the chief butler remembers Joseph and relates his vision experiences to Pharaoh and the outcome that Joseph prophesied.
Pharaoh calls for Joseph to be released from prison. He is hastily cleaned, shaved and dressed in better clothes and made to stand before Pharaoh. Pharaoh relates his twin visions of the 7 fat cows and the 7 lean cows with the lean cows eating and devouring the fat cows – and still remaining in horrible condition. His second vision is of corn in a field. There are seven fat, full, wonderful ears of corn on a stalk. He then sees a hot, east wind come along and blast another stalk of seven ears of corn, leaving it dry and useless for consumption. The seven blasted ears then eat up the seven luscious ears.
Pharaoh lets Joseph know that he has related his visions to his magicians and wise-men, and that none of them had a clue as to the meaning. Joseph lets him know that God is the revealer of secrets and visions, and that the visions are really one vision representing seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. He proceeds to give Pharaoh a God-given strategy for dealing with the famine and recommends that Pharaoh choose the wisest man from his country to oversee this preparation process.
Watch, now, how God turns all these years of tribulation into the most spectacular blessing for Joseph – and not just for Joseph, but his family and the whole land, as well as the surrounding nations.
Genesis 41:37-46: And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah (which means: treasury of the glorious rest); and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.
How’s that for a blessing? Think you can top that?
It really is time for God’s people to get over the tribulation mentality and look at the blessing that is being prepared for them in the midst of their afflictions and pressures. It is time for believers to focus on remaining true to their priorities in God, their integrity and their faithfulness to the Word of the Lord – even if the circumstances are the exact opposite of God’s promises to them!
In case you are missing out on real fellowship in an environment of Ekklesia, our Sunday worship gatherings are available by conference call – usually at about 10:30AM Pacific. That conference number is (712) 770-4160, and the access code is 308640#. We are now making these gatherings available on video using ZOOM. If you wish to participate by video on ZOOM, our login ID is 835-926-513. If you miss the live voice-only call, you can dial (712) 770-4169, enter the same access code and listen in later. The video call, of course, is not recorded – not yet, anyway.
Blessings on you!
Regner A. Capener
RIVER WORSHIP CENTER
Temple, Texas 76504
Email Contact: CapenerMinistries@protonmail.com
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