"MANASSEH AND EPHRAIM"
I. THE TRIALS THAT JOSEPH ENDURED.
A. He was despised by his brothers.
1. Can you imagine how it would be to have 10 older brothers that all hated you?
2. The taunting and teasing that must have gone on.
B. His brothers hated him enough to kill him.
1. When they saw him coming to them they conspired to kill him.
a. His oldest brother did not want to go that far, so he suggested that they just throw him in a pit and let him starve to death, at least they wouldn't get their hands bloody.
b. They ignored his plea's for help as he was thrown into the pit in which there was not even water to drink.
2. They then decided to sell him to traders who were headed for Egypt.
a. They bargained and sold him for 20 pieces of silver.
b. As he was bound and being taken to Egypt, they by their own confession ignored the anguish of his soul and his pleading with them.
II. IN EGYPT HE WAS BOUGHT BY A OFFICER OF THE PHARAOH NAMED POTIPHAR.
A. He proved to be so astute and diligent in business affairs that he was placed over the whole affairs of Potiphar.
1. How long he served in that capacity we do not know for certain.
2. What we do know is that the wife of Potiphar became infatuated with him and sought to seduce him.
3. One day she caught hold of his robe while he was alone in the house, and tried to force him into bed with her. He freed himself from her clutches by leaving his robe in her hands and fled from tho house.
a. Being scorned she began to scream and falsely accused him of attempting to rape her.
b. She held his robe for evidence.
c. She reported this to her husband who had him put into a special prison for the king's prisoners.
4. While in prison he was made a trustee, and was put in charge of the prisoners.
a. The Pharaoh's butler and baker were accused of being a part of a plot to assassinate the Pharaoh and were placed in the prison with Joseph.
b. One day while Joseph was checking on the prisoners, he saw that they looked troubled and inquired as to their problem.
c. They shared that they had both had dreams and there was no one to interpret the dreams for them.
d. Joseph volunteered declaring that interpretations belonged to God.
e. The butler shared his dream of squeezing three grapes into a cup and bearing the cup to the Pharaoh.
g. Joseph told him the three grapes represented three days, and in three days he would be restored as the butler and would again serve the king. He told the butler to say a good word for him to the king, and he shared the false charges for which he was put into prison.
h. The baker shared his dream of baking three loaves bread for the king and as he was carrying them to the king in a basket on his head, the birds came and ate the loaves.
i. Joseph told him that the three loaves represented three days and that in three days the king would remove his head.
j. In three days the interpretation Joseph gave to them concerning their dreams came true, and the baker was killed and the butler was restored. However the butler forgot all about Joseph.
B. After two full years the Pharaoh had a dream, and called his wise men to interpret the dream for him, which they were unable to do. At this point the butler remembered Joseph and told the Pharaoh about his abilities.
1. Joseph was called to come in before the Pharaoh to interpret his dream.
2. The Pharaoh told of dreaming of seven very healthy cows coming up out of the Nile river and feeding in the meadow.
3. After them seven skinny cows came out of the river and ate the fat healthy cows but still looked skinny and sickly.
4. He then had a second dream of seven stalks of wheat with hearty shocks of grain, these were followed by seven shocks of wheat that were thin and blasted by the East wind, but the thin shocks of grain devoured the seven fat stalks of grain.
5. Joseph interpreted the dream of the Pharaoh as being seven good years that the land would produce bumper crops, but these would be followed by seven bad years in which the all of the grain would be used up.
6. He recommended to the Pharaoh that he appoint a wise man to oversee the storing up of the surplus in the good years so that they would be able to survive the bad years that were coming.
And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find a man so capable as this man who has the Spirit of God?
And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Inasmuch as God has shewed you all this, [there is] none so discreet and wise as you.
You shall be over my house, and according to your word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than you.
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.
7. At this time Joseph was thirty years old. He was 17 when his brothers sold him, so 13 years have transpired in Egypt. That means that from the time he became a slave to Potiphar till he stood before Pharaoh, 13 years had passed by. Just how many years he was in prison before the butler was put in prison we do not know. It was a long 11 year period from the time he began to serve in Potiphar's house till he met the king's butler in prison. How much of that 11 years was spent in prison, we are not told.
C. The Pharaoh also gave to Joseph a wife who bore him two sons.
1. The firstborn he named Manasseh which means forgetting. For Joseph said that the Lord had caused him to forget the bad experiences of his past.
III. THE HAND OF THE LORD UPON JOSEPH.
A. From this vantage point, you can now see how the Lord's hand was upon Joseph even in the bad experiences.
1. God knew in advance the 7 year famine that would hit that part of the world.
2. God wanted to preserve his servant Jacob.
3. He had caused Joseph's brothers to conspire to sell him to traders headed to Egypt.
4. He had caused an officer of Pharaoh to buy Joseph, so that when Joseph was placed in prison he would be in the kings prison.
5. He had the wife of Potiphar to file false charges against Joseph.
6. He had Joseph put into the kings prison.
7. He caused the butler of the Pharaoh to come into disfavor with the Pharaoh and be placed in the same prison where Joseph was.
8. He gave the dream to the butler so that Joseph could interpret the dream for him.
9. He gave the dream to Pharaoh, and caused the butler to not remember Joseph until the Pharaoh had his dream.
10. Had Joseph been released earlier, he would probably never been called upon to interpret the dream.
11. It is quite possible that he would have headed home.
12. Joseph could now see the hand of God in all these things.
B. Now blessed so abundantly, all of the sorrowful sad experiences of the past are forgotten.
1. All of the hurts.
2. All of the painful experiences.
3. All of the seeming tragedies.
4. They were all a part of God's plan.
5. All things were working together for good.
C. If you have committed your life to the Lord, you can be sure that "All things are working together for good in your life." God is working out His eternal purposes even in the seeming tragedies.
D. One day in the discovery of God's full purpose, you will forget all of the present painful experiences. "If we could see beyond today as God does see, Then all our tears we'd wipe away, our sorrows flee O're present griefs we would not fret, Each sorrow we would soon forget, For many joys are waiting yet, for you and me.
E. Joseph had a second son who he named Ephraim, which means fruitful. Because God had made him fruitful in the land of his affliction.
1. God gave a message to Jeremiah to send to the people who had been taken captive by the Babylonians. Jer 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
2. Herein lies a great problem. Many people when facing hardships that they do not understand turn against God and become bitter.
a. They thus never see the full cycle, they never see the fruitfulness that God intended to bring to them through the suffering.
b. Job in the midst of his afflictions declared:
He knows the way that I take: [when] he has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.
c. This was true, we read that at the end of Job's life:
So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning: for he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses.
He also had seven sons and three daughters. "If we could only see, if we could know, we often say, But God in love a veil doth throw across our way, We cannot see what lies before, So unto Him we cling the more, He'll lead us till this life is o're, trust and obey.
3. Years later when Joseph's brothers fell before Joseph asking forgiveness and offering themselves as slaves, Joseph answered:
And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for [am] I in the place of God? I know that you thought evil against me; but God intended it for good, in order to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save many people alive.