"THE SECRET OF STRENGTH"
I. JOSEPH IS A FRUITFUL BOUGH.
A. He is like a branch that is loaded with fruit.
1. That is how God wants our lives to be. Loaded with fruit.
a. Jesus said: "Herein is the Father glorified, that you bear much fruit."
b. David spoke of the happiness of the man who walked not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stood in the way with sinners, nor sat in the seat of scorners. But he delighted in the law of the Lord and meditated on it both day and night. He would be like a tree planted by a stream, that brought forth fruit in his season.
c. It would seem that bearing fruit is not an option but a necessity. The story of the fig tree that was cursed by Jesus so that it died because it did not bear fruit.
d. Jesus said, "Every branch in Me that doesn't bear fruit he takes away."
B. His branch hangs over the wall.
1. This speaks of others being able to enjoy the fruit that comes from your life.
2. Growing up in Santa Ana when it was just a rural town in the middle of orange groves, many of the streets had alleys behind the houses. I knew about every alley that had fruit trees with limbs that hung over the fences into the public alleys. In summer we would ride our bikes around filling up on fresh fruit.
3. Down on Pacific Coast Highway near where the 5 Crowns Restaurant now is there was a Babcock peach tree that had the best peaches I ever had. Also on Grand Ave. on the way to the swimming pool in Orange City Park near Fairview there was a whole row of peach trees that we feasted on.
4. It is wonderful when a persons life is so fruitful that others are enriched by the over plusage from their lives.
5. Look at how many lives were blessed because of Joseph's close walk with the Lord. It was well said, that his branch hung over the wall.
II. THE ARCHERS HAVE SORELY GRIEVED HIM, AND HAVE SHOT AT HIM, AND HATED HIM.
A. Look at the arrows his brothers shot at him.
1. Rejection, they collectively hated him.
2. Scorn, when he shared with them his dream as to how their sheaves bowed down to his sheaf, they mocked him and hated him even more.
3. Their conspiracy to kill him.
4. Their selling him as a slave.
B. When he came to Egypt the wife of Potiphar who was an officer of the Pharaoh began to shoot her arrows.
1. The arrows of temptation as she sought daily to lure him into a sexual relationship with her.
2. The arrows of false accusations.
a. Joseph had rebuffed her every advance, and when she tried to force the issue, he fled from the house.
b. Furious because she had been scorned she accused him of attempted rape.
C. The arrows of unjust imprisonment.
1. There was no trial, no calling of witnesses, no opportunity of defending yourself.
2. Just thrown in jail, and for all practical purposes the key thrown away.
D. The arrows of forgetfulness.
1. When the butler of the Pharaoh was put into prison, Joseph had an opportunity to become acquainted with him. He had a dream that Joseph had interpreted for him. Joseph said that his dream indicated that in three days he would be back at his old job.
2. Joseph asked the butler to speak to the Pharaoh on his behalf.
3. Joseph had a glimmer of hope.
4. The butler was restored to his old position, but he forgot all about Joseph for two full years.
E. Arrows of loneliness.
F. Arrows of hopelessness.
III. HIS BOW ABODE IN STRENGTH.
A. In time he was brought before the Pharaoh and placed second in command over the whole nation of Egypt. Only the Pharaoh was above him.
B. He now could take full revenge against that wife of Potiphar who caused him so much grief with her false accusations.
C. He could get his revenge on Potiphar for throwing him into jail without even trying to find out the truth.
1. Potiphar and his wife had caused him many years of grief and misery.
2. He now had the power to have them placed in prison, but he didn't. His bow abode in strength.
D. The day finally came when he could take revenge against his brothers.
1. Pay back time for all of the misery and pain they had inflicted on him.
2. They were at his mercy.
3. They had shown no mercy to him when he was begging them not to sell him.
4. But rather than seeking revenge, his bow abode in strength.
IV. JUST WHAT WAS THE SECRET OF HIS STRENGTH.
A. The arms of his hands were made strong by the mighty God of Jacob.
1. This is a mental picture that unless one was familiar with archery might miss.
2. I used to teach archery at the Y.M.C.A. camps years ago so when my boys became big enough, I taught them the use of the bow.
a. I bought them real bows with about twenty pounds of draw.
b. I first taught them how to string it.
c. Then how to position their hands.
d. Then standing behind them I gripped their wrists with my hands and helped them to draw the bowstring back and to hold the arrow until they were able to take aim.
e. They had a tendency to release the arrow before they could take aim, for they were not used to holding the pressure created by the bow.
f. Some people are like that, when they are upset, they just let arrows fly, and many times innocent people get hit.
3. Joseph's bow was able to abide in strength because the arms of his hands were held by the mighty God of Jacob.
B. It was his faith in God and his commitment to God that sustained him through all of the trials. God was holding his hands firm in His grip.
1. Surely Joseph could not understand why God would let his brothers do such an ugly horrible thing as to sell him as a slave.
2. He could not understand all of the hatred that his brothers felt toward him. Their total rejection of him.
C. Think of his humiliation as he stood there on the slave block being auctioned off. We read:
And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmeelites, which had brought him down thither. And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man;
D. He could not understand why he should be incarcerated in that Egyptian jail under false charges.
1. In all of these adverse circumstances he maintained his faith in God.
2. God was with him holding the arms of his hands.
3. We read of his prison experience:
And Joseph's master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king's prisoners [were] bound: and he was there in the prison. But the LORD was with Joseph, and showed him mercy,
E. Joseph could see the hand of God in the events of his life. He said to his brothers, "You sold me, God sent me."
1. After his father Jacob died, the brothers were certain that now he would shoot his arrows at them and get even.
2. Listen to the end of the story:
When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will hate us, and now he will seek to get even with us for all evil that we did to him.
And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Your father commanded me before he died to say unto you, I pray that you will forgive the trespass of your brothers, and their sin; for they did evil unto you: and now, we pray that you will forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father. And Joseph wept when they spoke unto him.
And his brothers also fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we are your servants.
And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for [am] I in the place of God?
But as for you, you thought evil against me; [but] God meant it for good, to bring to pass, as [it is] this day, to save many people alive.
Now therefore fear not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spoke kindly unto them.
V. THE SECRET OF STRENGTH IN ADVERSE CIRCUMSTANCES IS TO KEEP FOCUSED ON GOD KNOWING THAT ALL THINGS ARE WORKING TOGETHER FOR GOOD BECAUSE YOU LOVE HIM AND HE HAS CALLED YOU ACCORDING TO HIS PURPOSES.