Article Based on a Sermon given 27 December 2003

God's Message in the Story of Joseph

by Jon Bowles


Last week I gave a Bible Study on Jacob. God does speak to us in several different ways over the course of time; and Hebrews 1 brings this out. Certainly, the story of Jacob is speaking not just to people at that time. The Bible has been preserved right the way down for our own time today. It's speaking very largely to us today with a very central message, and Jacob was a crucial personality within scripture.

Today I would like to continue where I left off, because although last week I touched on Joseph, the Bible Study was really in regard to Jacob and how that final trial was so severe for him. But the story of Joseph isn't in the Bible just as an aside to the story of Jacob by any means! There's a great deal within his story - and I want to to show what God has to say to us through the story of Joseph.

The five points I want to deal with are as follows:


Turn over to Genesis 37:1-3;

" And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. (2) These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report [or a report which was evil about them, the things that they were doing]. (3) Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age.(Genesis 37:1-3)

And the indication is that this was during the time when Jacob was being converted, and therefore he trained Joseph. These other children very much grew up by themselves, but he took time and trouble with Joseph, and also presumably with Benjamin as well. And it says: ...he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. (Genesis 37:3)

There is speculation as to whether this was a Scottish tartan; and it may well be that it was something along those lines. This is speculation, but it is speculation that has been around the Church for a long time.

" And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. (5) And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. (6) And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: (7) For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. (8) And his brethren said to him, Will you indeed reign over us? Or will you indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. (9) And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold,] the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. (10) And he told it to his father, [and he really spread it around] and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that you hast dreamed? Shall I and your mother [Obviously the 'mother' would have been Leah in this case, because his mother had actually died by this time.] and your brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to you to the earth? (11) And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying."(Genesis 37:4-11)

In other words, he said, "Well, perhaps God has got something in mind for this particular boy." And, in fact, God did. When we look at this example, we need to ask ourselves a question: "Who were the dreams for? Were they for the brothers?" Well, no, they weren't for the brothers primarily. They were for Joseph because of the things that he had to go through, and God knew he needed those dreams to keep him going right the way through. And eventually, when he saw them fulfilled, it actually helped him to handle the situation properly (as we'll go on and see). When we look at the situation here and we start applying it to our own life now, what's our present goal for? Is it for the people in the world? The answer is no, it's not. The hopes and dreams we have....they are for the brethren within the Church. It's for us, individually, to make sure that we do keep going. We need to make sure that we never lose track of that aspect.

Let's go over to Hebrews 11, the "faith chapter". These people had these hopes, these dreams. They were looking forward: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off... (Hebrews 11:13)They are looking afar off....they are looking out into the future.

"...but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." (Hebrews 11:13)

Now, the 'confession' is not just by word. It's by what they were doing and how they were acting that they confessed. Their life was actually governed by these dreams, and that is true of every single one of us. It's the hope for the Kingdom of God and what we see in the future. We have been given a foretaste of that. It's not a clear foretaste. It's almost like a dream. We are looking forward. We have the Holy days, and we go through them every year; but we only see through a glass darkly.(I Corinthians 13:12) We only see a certain amount and not the full picture.

And it's very similar to what Joseph had - he had these dreams and he was looking forward into the future, but he told everyone about them! This can be a problem with us also. Particularly, early on when we're first converted, we do tend to disregard the crucial fact that God has to open the mind. We don't realize what this understanding is for and that we're in this unique position. A position of being trained, and being trained to be teachers, and understanding the ways of God, and being able to apply and teach those ways in the future. And as it says in verse 13, by saying these things, they basically confess that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They conduct their life in that regard, and in that way they are declaring plainly that they are seeking another country. They are looking forward to that country because they are living as strangers and pilgrims now. All of us should look at this particular life and realise we're just passing through it. We've got to make sure we don't get off track in that, because it's so easy to do so. We are looking forward in that regard.

" For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. (15) And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. (16) But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly [country - that is one that is coming from heaven]: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."(Hebrews 11:14-16)

"We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written [as he who wrote], I believed, and therefore have I spoken [It's that same spirit, that same mindset that we have.]; we also believe, and therefore speak; (14) Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. (15) For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. (16) For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day." (II Corinithians 4:13-16)

We keep on our knees. It's sometimes very difficult - particularly when you've got a full time job, or you've got children, young children. It's very difficult to pray every single day and there are times when, okay, we might not make it; but it won't be as good a day as if we had. It's not that "That's you're lost forever." It's not that way, but we do need that constant contact with God. It's like when you fast for a day, you don't feel as good - in fact, you feel absolutely rotten. Well, that spiritually should be telling us something. We should be feeling spiritually rotten if we haven't managed to get on our knees that particular day. It's not going to kill us spiritually, but it isn't going to help us either.

"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."(II Corinthians 4:16-18)

Now, Joseph had these dreams. He didn't necessarily know what they meant; but obviously they are to do with his brothers, and his father, and mother bowing down to him. But did he know what that really meant? How it was going to be fulfilled? Did he know the great detail there? No, he didn't. Now, we know we're going to be in the Kingdom of God ahead of our relatives, and our friends, and the people that we work with; but do we really understand what that means? Do we really, understand what it's like to be a son of God? To be a spirit being? We don't. We're still very, very human and very fleshly. Yes, we've got certain things written here that we can understand 'through a glass darkly', but we're not there yet. We been given vision there, very much like Joseph had, with these dreams that he'd been given.

"For the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."(II Corinthians 4:18)

And so often we get it the other way around! We look at the things that are seen, and we say, "These are the things that are real." And we forget the things that we see rest on the spiritual. The spiritual does not rest on the physical, and yet the world certainly puts it the other way around. They say that anything spiritual is in our heads, which is physical; and that's not the way it is. The physical that we perceive is resting on a spiritual reality. Now what it exactly is, I don't know. Again, we're looking through a glass darkly. We see a certain amount. Yet it says here very clearly, the things that are seen are temporary. They are temporal. They are not going to be enduring forever. "..."But the things which are not seen are eternal." (II Corinthians 4:18)

There is an eternal world that this one rests in - or is it on? You know, I'm getting out of my depth! There is an eternal world there, and it is that which we're looking toward. That's what we're looking for ultimately.

So, if we go back to I Corinthians 2, we find ourself in a situation similar to Joseph's. He could not see where things were leading. He could only see what he had been given at that particular time, and all he had were these dreams. He could see that they certainly said some pretty big things; and he was featured very, very strongly within those dreams. But exactly how it would all work out, he certainly could not see. He certainly couldn't see as much as we do. We see a great deal more.

" But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: (8) Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (9) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."(I Corinthians 2:7-9)

Human beings cannot see the future; and Joseph's brothers could not see the future in any way, shape or form! They didn't even believe the dream that he'd had at all, and yet that dream came true. That dream materialized, even though Joseph didn't understand it fully initially.

"But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God." (II Corinthians 2:10)

Now, we see here that the Holy Spirit in fact has revealed those things to us; and we've got to be aware that we did not receive them in any other way. The only way that we have these things that we understand today is through the very Spirit of God; and God chose, and Christ chose, to reveal it through a particular individual. So, again, it's all to do with foundations.

Let's turn back to Genesis 40. Again, here's Joseph now. He's been given the perception of dreams, and he's giving it to Pharaoh's officers.

"And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them, I pray you."(Genesis 40:8)

As far as dreams go, in most cases, as Mr. Armstrong used to say, they're just random collections of thoughts; and most of it is totally daft. But in this particular case, Joseph had been given the ability to recognize that this was something which was outstanding; and this was something which was unusual.

"And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me. (Genesis 41:16) Because, they were saying, "Tell him, interpret the dream for him." He says, "Look, that's not coming from me." The interpretation of this dream did not come from Joseph. It came from God Himself.

"God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." (Genesis 41:16) And, in verse 25, it mentions something similar: "And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shown Pharaoh what he is about to do".(Genesis 41:25) So he was recognizing the Source continually, and pointing Pharaoh to it. He was recognizing that No, it wasn't him that was doing this. It was God that was doing it.

"This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he shows unto Pharaoh."(Genesis 41:28)

"And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass." (Genesis 41:32)

Joseph recognized God's hand in these particular dreams that he'd been were given. And we recognise His hand in our 'dreams!' Go back now to I Corinthians 2:

"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea, the deep things of God."(I Corinthians 2:9-10)

The dream that we have - the goal that we have, the vision of the future that we've been given - these didn't come from a mere man. To be able to take this Book and put it together in a way to reap the understanding of scripture - it is impossible. You cannot. All the seminaries are trying to look at it and trying to understand it, but they don't get this understanding out of it at all. They look at it on a purely superficial level. They do not see the consistency and the Word of God clearly coming through scripture because they're not keeping the Holy days; and, yes, they're not doing various other elements. It was the Spirit of God that revealed; and this is what so many of the fractures, within the Churches, have lost sight of. They do not realize and really understand that "No, these things did not come from Mr Armstrong. They came because they were revealed by God, because it was time for them to be revealed by God." It is essential we have that clarity!

"For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knows no man [Mr Armstrong was just a mere man. So, it did not come from him.]...The things of God knows no man; but the Spirit of God." (I Corinthians 2:11)

It had to be the Spirit of God that revealed these things to him, or through him.

"Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Ghost teaches; comparing spiritual things with spiritual [with those that have the Spirit]. (14) But the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (I Corinthians 2:12-14)

There was a certain amount of spiritual discernment within Joseph that was not there within his brothers. His brothers could not see at all, but he could. Maybe a miniscule amount, but a certain amount of discernment had been given to him specifically by God. Mr. Armstrong continually used to hammer the lectern and remind us; "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draws him" (John 6:44) and we must never ever lose sight of that. In the case of Joseph, the dreams were for him, personally. They were not for his brothers, but he went ahead and made himself thoroughly obnoxious by telling all and sundry. So this should, in fact, teach us all many lessons in that area, when we think deeply on the 'dreams' that we have been given.


Secondly, it teaches about trials and specifically trials for righteousness. If you go back to Genesis again, this time even further.

"And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; (14) And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. (15) And you will go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried in a good old age. (16) But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." (Genesis 15:13-16)

Now Jesus Christ as it was there - the God of the Old Testament - could see all the way down the ages and could see what was necessary. And there's more to it than that. You know, the coming out of Egypt, how much of that was also because WE have got to come out of Egypt? It's continually mentioned. Was He actually engineering it because He knew, right down at the end-time, there's going to be a group of people ready to be teachers who have to come out of spiritual Egypt? And therefore, He's giving them a type; and He's giving them an example of people that they can look back on and see how they could not keep the Law of God, which is spiritual. All of these things presumably are going through the very mind of God many, many years before. And it was to Joseph's great-grandfather that He was saying this to. So when we come over to Genesis 37, we see this 17-year-old kid. Basically, that's all he is. He's 17 years old. He's got some dreams, he's looking forward into the future, but he doesn't deserve what happens to him.

"And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colors that was on him; (24) And they took him, and cast him into a pit [presumably a cistern of some description]:and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. (25) And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt."(Genesis 37:23-25)

This trading route, it even existed right into the 1500's A.D. It was only when the Portuguese started to sail around the Cape of Good Hope that they actually broke this Arab trading route and the monopoly that the Arabs had on it in this area.

"And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? (27) Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. (28) Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt."(Genesis 37:26-28)

Now, he didn't deserve that. What he'd done in broadcasting those dreams to his brothers didn't justify what they did. In fact, they were planning to kill him. I mean, have we ever really gone through something like that? Okay, I've had people threaten to kill me. I think I've mentioned that before, them firing their .22 rifle over my head while I worked - just to reinforce their threat. But this was a 17-year-old boy. Life isn't fair. But let's look at it now, in context.

We're looking about the trials of the righteous. We're looking at a God who knew about the people of Israel coming out of Egypt 400 + years further down the line. And you're looking at a people being ready as the people of God, who have come out of Spiritual Egypt, and all the implications involved in that. I mean, you're looking at a whole picture, but Joseph had nothing of that understanding! All he knew was that he was getting sold - he'd had some dreams and now he was getting sold down the river. No, he did not deserve what happened to him.

"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. (2) And the [Eternal] was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian."(Genesis 39:1-2)

So, even though he was a slave, it mentions here that the Eternal was with him; and the Eternal helped him as a slave, but he was still a slave, he couldn't get away.

"And his master saw that the [Eternal] was with him, and that the [Eternal] made all that he did to prosper in his hand. (4) And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand."(Genesis 39:3-4)

So certainly, within the confines that he found himself, he behaved himself correctly. He did as much as he could as far as what he knew was right, and tried to avoid Potphar's wife and rejected her improper suggestions.

"And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within. (12) And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me [sleep with me]: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.(Genesis 39:11-12)

He was doing what was right. He had been trained by his father in what was right and what was wrong.. You know, you don't [naturally] do what he did. If he'd just been allowed to grow up, he wouldn't have done that; obviously he'd been trained by his father and the training was showing through.

"And it came to pass, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and was fled forth, (14) That she called unto the men of her house, and spoke unto them, saying, See, he hath brought in an Hebrew unto us to mock us; he came in unto me to lie with me, and I cried with a loud voice..".(Genesis 39:13-14)

And lied through her teeth, and when her husband came back:

"And it came to pass, when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke unto him, saying, After this manner did your servant to me [or, slave to me], that his wrath was kindled. (Genesis 39:19)

Undoubtedly, Joseph would tell the truth; and have said, "Look! I didn't do that." He would have protested his innocence if he had half the chance. I would imagine that he would, because he was a trusted slave within the environment of the house. He was doing what was right, and yet;

"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."(Genesis 39:20)

And you might think, why did God possibly allow that to take place? And yet you notice here, within this section, that it was a certain type of prison. I don't know how the structure worked at that particular time, but there must have been some reason for him getting into that particular position. He was a slave - albeit of Potiphar, the Captin of the Guard - finding his way into the king's prison.

Again, couldn't God work it out some other way? Well, presumably no. He was using circumstances, which were none too pleasant, to work with Joseph. And, as I say, these things have not been recorded for no reason. They've been preserved for us - so that we could go back and read them and say, "Hey! This guy, he did what was right yet he seemed to suffer for it." But all the time, God had a hand in it. God had seen all the things that were going on. The view that He had was SO much greater. He could see a view that was beyond anything that Joseph could see at that particular time. So he found himself then in the prison - but in this prison of the king.

"But the [Eternal] was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. (22) And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it. (23) The keeper of the prison looked not to any thing that was under his hand; because the [ETERNAL] was with him, and that which he did, the [Eternal] made it to prosper."(Genesis 39:21-23)

So, God was with him through this trial. But it was a trial! It was difficult. It was not easy. We can find this in our lives. Turn over to Psalms 105. I want to just point out one thing within Psalms 105, which I probably haven't brought out to the same degree before. But we find the hand of God on the nation of Israel, and the way in which things happened.

"He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations."(Psalm 105:8)

"When they were but a few men in number; yea, very few, and strangers in it [in the land of Canaan]. (13) When they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people; (14) He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes; (15) Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm. [And it's talking about the children of Israel.] (16) Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread. (17) He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant." (Psalm 105:12-17)

So God actually was doing this. He was engineering it, He was allowing it. It says He sent the man - Joseph - before them. Now, He might have just used a situation; but He still did it. God allowed this to happen. And He not only allowed it to happen, but He used it specifically. Notice what it says in verse 18:

"Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron." (Psalm 105:18)

Tradition has it that he was crippled to some degree by his imprisonment. Now how badly crippled? It's debatable, because there's another place that says that when he came out of prison, he actually ran. Now how fast he ran we don't know, but he obviously wasn't totally crippled.

"Until the time [notice] that his word came: the word of the [Eternal] [tested] him. (Psalm 105:19)

So God was using the time in prison to test Joseph - this time was a time of testing. And we go through our time of trials, and our difficulties. And if we look at his situation - I mean he was a 17-year-old boy when he found himself going out into the field there, when he was taken and sold. When he actually gave the interpretation of the first set of dreams in the prison, he was 28. That was 2 years before he was actually taken out. So it was 11 years from both being a slave and also being in the prison ward. It's a considerable length of time. It doesn't just happen that quickly. You know, we read these accounts here within scripture; and we can so often just read over them and not realize the time elements.

It was 11 years. What would we do? What's eleven years back from now? What were we doing then? So just think about all that length of time that was actually taking place. And this wasn't someone in their 50's or 60's... this was a 17 year old boy. And for a 17 year old, 11 years can seem almost a lifetime! It's over half his lifetime at least.

And yet, God was there; and His Word (the Word of the Eternal) was testing him, was trying him at that particular juncture in his life. Go back, then, to chapter 41. We find here that even after he'd actually asked the butler "Make mention of me, remember me....":

"But think on me when it shall be well with you, and show kindness, I pray you, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house.(Genesis 40:14)

And then, almost like a casual comment, in chapter 41: "And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed ..."(Genesis 41:1)

So he got stuck there - 2 years later he was still there. He had no concept whatsoever of what was going on. He'd had these dreams way back, 11 years or so before. Every single thing he could imagine, as far as his life was concerned, had gone wrong. He'd done what was right, and he got caned for it. And yet, with all of this, God was still working with him. God still was there, and it says His Word was trying him. His Word was testing him. He was making sure because He could see further forward. He could see what He was about to do. And knowing that, He said, "Look! If Joseph is not ready, he cannot be used."

And if WE are not ready for what is coming, we cannot be used! And so often we look at our trials, and we look at our trials backwards; but God sees our trials forward...what He plans to achieve. That's the difference. Trials forward as opposed to trials backwards are two entirely different things. Only God has the perspective of trial forward. Our entire concept is trial backwards, and this is our problem all the time. Joseph was no exception. He looked at his life backwards. He still had the dreams. Obviously, he must have rehearsed these dreams in his mind. The eleven stars, the sun and the moon bowing down, and the sheaves bowing down, what about this? How many times did he pray about that -"When, O Lord?" - without any prospect of it!

Look at us today as a group of people. How on earth can this small, diverse group do what we're supposed to do? How on earth can we do it? Well, we can't. We cannot do it; but GOD CAN, because God looks at trials forward. But when He puts the trials on us, we have got to make sure we understand that's what He is looking at and allow Him to do that. Allow that Word to test us. Allow that Word to have its full course, as it says over in James chapter 1.

So, it's two years here; "And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river..."(Genesis 41:1)

Let's just remind ourselves of what it does say about these trials in righteousness over in James 1. "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into [different types of trial]" (James 1:2) And it is the "diverse" that you have to concentrate on. It's not just the trials. We're crazy if we say, "Oh, how wonderful. We have a trial. That's just what I really need." No, that really is not the way our minds work! But the fact that we go into different types of trial. We are having a full education. Let's put it that way. Then you can take some comfort in that. "Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. (4) But [allow that] patience have her perfect work."(James 1:3-4) Just give it the time. Give God the credit, that He knows what He's doing. "... that you may be perfect and entire, wanting [lacking] nothing."(James 1:4)

Who were in the prison? They were people within Pharaoh's court. We know the butler and the baker - those are two mentioned, but who else was in there? You see, for Joseph to be ready to assume the command that he did within Pharaoh's household, he ended up rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty that weren't quite high and mighty at that time! They were the best class of the prisoners, you know... people who were people of influence; and he probably learned a great deal there, in that prison. It seems that God says, "Right, I know just the perfect school for you." And He takes him and sticks him in this place for a number of years - to teach him certain lessons. But that is where God put him ... in school. It's like Moses. "Okay, when you've done your General bit, I'll put you in another school." And God had him stuck with some sheep for about 40 years! It's not quite what we understand by school, but this is the way that God works. This is what He does.

"But let patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, [lacking] nothing." (James 1:4)

So you're going to be READY for when that time actually comes. So that God can use you, and use me, in whatever capacity that He has called us for. And we have been called for reasons.

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man." (James 1:13)

Now, I was looking at that the other day; and I was thinking, "Well, you know, one way of looking at that (which never really dawned on me before) is that if God is really living His life in us then it says here that God cannot be tempted with evil. If God is in us, He cannot be tempted with evil. What's in this heart of ours? Are we converted - really converted? I mean are we converted into the kind of God-being that God requires of us? If we're getting trouble, then the problem is us! Just read what it says; but just have that concept in mind.

"God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man. (14) But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." (James 1:13,14)

It's the human bit that's still there that gives us problems; and, in the case of trials, it certainly gives us problems. You see, God's idea of trial forward is different from our idea of trial backwards.

"Then when lust hath conceived [what we want], it brings forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. (16) Do not err, my beloved brethren. (17) Every good gift [That can include the trials, different types of trial.] and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."(James 1:15-17)

For whatever reason, because He's looking at trial forward, He sees that this is something that is necessary. Now, as I say, the perspective that He has is totally different than ours. He's looking right down through time - thousands of years ahead sometimes. He's looking at certain situations that He may want to use us in, in the Kingdom of God, in the Great White Throne Judgment. I don't know. But He does have a perspective that we don't have. And it's a case of "let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing" - that we might be ready for that time.

"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. (19) Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear [Listen to what He's saying through this trial, this difficulty.], slow to speak, slow to wrath [within this trial]:(20) For the wrath of man [Not "this wrath of God." But "the wrath of man"] does not work the righteousness of God."(James 1:18-20)

So what He's doing - that we'll be perfect and entire, lacking nothing - that's the righteousness of God. That's what He's looking for in us. So here's Joseph. He could not see forward. He could only see backwards. He could see his trial; and, yes, he could see the dream that he had, and the dream was wonderful! But how on earth that dream was going to materialize, he hadn't the foggiest idea. He had no clue! But his perspective was backwards. Yet God was there; and He was working it out; and He was training him, within that school, within that prison. He was actually instructing him, bringing him in contact with courtiers and people that had fallen out of favour. I would imagine that certain people got chucked in that prison that didn't really need to, purely because Joseph needed to get in contact with them. Chances are that happened. And they probably thought, "Why me?" Well, one day they'll find out. But it was the purpose; and the whole thing was engineered; and the whole thing was on target; and the whole thing was happening according to plan. If we turn over to Romans 8, we find ourself today in the same boat.

"For the earnest expectation of the [creation is waiting] for the manifestation of the sons of God."(Romans 8:19)

The whole creation! The entire creation that you can see out of your eyes, your window each day! It's been made in a certain way. It's chewing on each other. "For the creature was made subject to vanity ..."(Romans 8:20) Get your Strong's out, and go and have a look at the origin of that word 'vanity' I can't remember what the word is now, but the word literally means 'to chew on'. In other words, it's like you've got a small rubber ball in your mouth, and you're just continually chewing, and you're not getting anywhere. You can also apply it as the alligator eats whatever happens to stray anywhere near it. Everything is chewing on each other. Out to get. The entire creation is that way.

" For the creature was made subject to [chewing on], not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (21) Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God."(Romans 8:20,21)

Now God knew, with Joseph, the liberty that He was about to allow him. He knows what liberty is about to happen regarding the Church. We can't see, because we can't see trial forward. We only see trial backwards. It's exactly the same as Joseph! The advantage is that we can read this Bible, and we can see what happened - and what will happen.

"For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now."(Romans 8:22)

" Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. (27) And he that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. (28) And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."(Romans 8:26-28)

And, sometimes, we can loose sight of this. But that is in scripture. I know a lot of people kind of blindly trot it out, but it is in scripture and therefore it is the truth.

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."(Romans 8:29)

That's the purpose in our life. That's why we are called. This is the view forward. This is what we're looking at as far as the future is concerned. It's trial forward. But it's dim, it's like a dream. But it's not a dream. It's not a vision. It's reality! We cannot see clearly, but through a "glass darkly"; but it's very, very similar to the way Joseph was as well. It helps us in that we try and make sure that we maintain that big picture - that we realize that the plan of God is there, and that (as far as God is concerned) He's working it out, and He will cause these things to occur on target.


When we go back to Genesis 40, we then can see that when God does act He acts very swiftly; and things change overnight! If you've been in the Church any length of time, you should have seen certain "hands of God" - times in your life when God's stepped in and engineered something; and it's abundantly clear that you had nothing to do with it. And the way that it worked out was such that you kind of throw your hands up, and you say, "Look, hey, You did this! because I obviously couldn't have engineered or done anything like this at all." (I'll give you an example in a little while.) But in Genesis 40, we read, remember:

"But think on me when it shall be well with you, and show kindness, I pray you, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house."(Genesis 40:14)

And "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" That's basically what he was saying. That's probably the tip of the iceberg of what he'd been telling the butler! He'd told him about the problems that he'd had, and how he got imprisoned in the first place (verse 15) - and that he'd been completely and totally forgotten about. But - when God's time was right - when he had learned the lessons he needed to, when the Word of God had trained him ready for the responsibility he was about to be given - then look at what happened:

"Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh."(Genesis 41:14)

And if you look at where it says, "they brought him hastily" -- it says in Hebrew apparently "they made him run." That's why I say I'm not sure he was a total cripple. He could well have been partially crippled. But his feet hardly touched the ground as he came out of that situation! We look at what exactly happened in verse 40:

"You will be over my house [This is Pharaoh talking to him in the same day as he comes out of the dungeon] and according unto your word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than you. (41) And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt."(Genesis 40:40,41)

And Egypt was the major nation of the whole entire earth at that particular time. Now, if he was not ready for the responsibility, he couldn't have done it. How could he have organised what he did re. the 7 good years and the 7 years of famine and get all that sorted - if he hadn't have had the experience in Potiphar's house initially, and in the prison rubbing shoulders with the courtiers? This was all part of the training! At the time no doubt it looked totally as if it were arbitrary. It wasn't. It was not random at all.

" 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; (43) 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. (44) And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without you shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. (45) And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt. (46) And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt."(Genesis 41:42-46)

Until he was 30, until he had gone through the experiences that he had, he couldn't have done this job; and God was training him. So all this 'lead up' was training. It was like putting him through school, getting him ready for the job at hand. We can't see forward, but God can. He can see exactly what we need. Let's notice some other examples God give us. These are helpful to go back and look at from time to time. Read through them and think a little bit - realise these were just normal human beings - like you and me - but who have done some extraordinary things. But at that time, no doubt they felt very, very ordinary! Daniel is a good place to look now;

"Then Daniel requested of the king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, over the affairs of the province of Babylon: but Daniel sat in the gate of the king."(Daniel 2:49)

So here was Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Now, if they hadn't have been appointed to a position of authority, they would never have gone through the fiery furnace because they wouldn't have come to anyone's attention. So God could have stopped the fiery furnace at that stage quite easily, without any problem at all.

"Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, whose height was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof six cubits: he set it up in the plain of Dura, in the province of Babylon."(Daniel 3:1)

God could have said, "Hang on a minute. I know what's in his mind. I'm going to change his mind." And could have done so quite easily - and stopped things at that stage. Couldn't He? He could have stopped it, but He didn't. And think about all the stages as we read through here.

"Then an herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O people, nations, and languages, (5) That at what time you hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, you fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:"(Daniel 3:4-5)

Now God could have prevented that rule from being made. He's quite capable of doing it. He didn't have to allow that to occur, but He did. He chose to allow it. And when you're looking at examples like this, you can see "Now, hang on a minute, God could have stopped it here...or here...or here". At the sound of the cornet and so on, you've got to fall down and worship. God could have stopped the trial at that point but He didn't. He chose not to. He chose to allow the trial. Now, we go on to the next stage:

"Wherefore at that time certain Chaldeans came near, and accused the Jews." (Daniel 3:8)

Now, they didn't have to accuse the Jews. If God would have gone ahead and kept them quiet, then there wouldn't have been a problem; and Nebuchadnezzar would not have got into in his rage and fury.

"And whoso falls not down and worships, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace."(Daniel 3:11)

Now, who made the rule? Why didn't they say whoever didn't worship, they get caned? Or they get sent out of the province of Babylon, or another punishment? No. We've got to have this fiery furnace. So God could have stopped it at all these different stages. You read verse 13 and you think, "Hang on a minute. This guy's having a bad day!"

"Then Nebuchadnezzar in his rage and fury commanded to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Then they brought these men before the king."(Daniel 3:13)

He threw a fit, to say the least! Then they brought these men before the king, they got him on this bad day. "Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzaar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter." (Daniel 3:16) In other words, "You know, Nebuchadnezzar, let's not mince words. If our God wants to save us, He will. And if not, we're still not doing what you said." And he was absolutely livid. He was utterly beside himself! You don't do this to the Idi Amins, the gentile despots of the ancient world.

"Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego." (Daniel 3:19) He was absolutely boiling mad! He got the furnace as hot as he possibly could; and he said, "Right! We'll see. You reckon this God can go ahead and save you out of this?" And God could have saved them at any one of these stages all the way down; and yet He allowed it to go right the way through. He could have stopped it at this, that or the other stage, but He took the trial right through and got them thrown in; and it was THEN that suddenly you see the actual deliverance:

"Then Nebuchadnezzar the king was astonied, and rose up in haste, and spake, and said unto his counsellors, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king. (25) He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. (26) Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire."(Daniel 3:24-26)

And, verse 29, the result of that:

"Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill:[nice chap, this Nebuchadnezzar!] because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort."(Daniel 3:29)

But God could have stopped this trial at any of these different stages!. We can do exactly the same thing in our own lives. I think we're going to need to say "You do it, in Your own time." When you look at Daniel in the lion's den, the same kind of thing occurs. Again, God could have intervened at any stage.

I know that one particular story sticks in my mind. We were talking last night about all the various times when God intervenes in life. When it's very clear that He has stepped in. It's helpful to actually make a note of these things so that you remind yourself of them as you go through life - because it's very, very encouraging to look back on, and learn from as other trials crop up in our lives.

We had this shed that I erected on our land, and it was a decent size. There had been a farmer who'd knocked down his old shed and he was going past on his tractor to dump the corrugated iron sheets at the local tip. Money being very tight at the time, I stopped him and asked, "Do you want all those sheets?" And he said, "No." So I said, "Well, I'll build a shed out of it." So I did, and it worked out all right. There was plenty left over, and I took the remainders down to the tip. But the problem was, the back wall was against an earth bank. We kept some chickens in there and I noticed there were rat droppings in their run. And I left the light on for a few nights - so they'd get used to the light - and when I went in to check, there were dozens and dozens and dozens of rats everywhere - the place was alive with them! So I tried to get rid of them by poisoning them. Quite literally, as you put the spoon down the hole, you could see the rats eating the stuff off the spoon. So I thought, "I've got to do something about this shed. There's no way this can go on.... I've got to build a wall."

Now, the problem was the bank was rock. To make room for the shed initially, we'd had a JCB (a large mechanical digger) in to dig the bank back - the road actually went along top - and I built the shed there; but we really needed to go ahead and build a wall up the side, and I simply could not do it. It was just a huge, huge job. And I thought, "This is ridiculous. I've got to do something about these rats. How do I get rid of them all?" I was having to work at the same time.

Anyway, in Wales it can really rain at times. There was one night it just threw it down with rain - it was so torrential. The rain was running down the road and there was water everywhere. It just so happened, the telephone company were putting in a new telephone line in a trench beside the road; and it was coming down the back of the shed. It also happened to be open that night. They'd opened this trench up on the top, by the road; and the water ran down all night into this trench; and the whole bank gave way. Now, I had been nibbling my way with a shovel into the back of this bank; and, of course, this was sheared off with all the rain. The drop is about 18 feet altogether, from the top to the bottom; and it's very solid. And I came over to milk the goats the following day, and I found mud everywhere. I got my shovel out, and I started to dig - and I thought, "This is ridiculous. There's no way can I dig this out." because, again, it was a huge amount and all within the shed.

So I called our local councillor and said, "Look! It's hardly my fault that the drain's blocked further up." I tried pleading with him on the phone and he came down to check it out, which was quite amazing in itself. He said, "Oh, no problem. It's the telephone company's fault." In fact, he looked almost pleased. It almost felt that there had been some kind of friction between these two companies, the two groups, in the past; and this was his time to get even.

All these rats and then the mud problem ... it was a disaster after disaster! But what then happened was amazing. The council came in and they cut the road in half, not just the edge that had crumbled. And down to a decent depth as well. I said, "Look, I can demolish the old shed (It was just built from old rubbish that was going down to the dump anyway) as long as you let me put another shed back onto the resulting wall. So, we got this huge 18 foot wall built, all the way along the back of the shed. It goes half way underneath the road, with a concrete block ramp, a solid block of mass concrete. Cost-wise, I did a rough estimation at that time and it was about 18 or 20 thousand pounds. This was back in the 70's. And not only did it not cost us anything, but they said, "Well, we need to have some electricity from somewhere to put the traffic lights on while we're working on it; and so we'll pay you to plug into your electricity." And I made quite a fair amount of money out of it! And all of this happened out of what looked like a whole series of disasters, all the way, until finally, BANG! The last one, the whole thing resolved itself, the whole scenario. And there have been several things like that that we've found actually have happened within our life. It's going back to remember those that help us in the hard times. In Isaiah 30, we've got to remember that this Being is our Father ... And He is our Father now. It's the same kind of relationship as the child in the womb to a father; and, if you as a father have begotten such a child, you are inordinately concerned about that child!

"Woe to the rebellious children, says the [Eternal], that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin: (2) That walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!" (Isaiah 30:1,2)

And here we go, back to Egypt all the time! "Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion."(Isaiah 30:3)

"Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever."(Isaiah 30:8)

In other words, you make record of this (because this is not just talking about ancient Israel by any means). You go ahead and look forward, looking forward into a time in the future.

"Wherefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon: (13) Therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant."(Isaiah 30:12,13)

And He's talking to these people that go down to Egypt - who put their trust in the physical, material things of this world. The entire world does. And, unfortunately, so do, I would say, we within the Church - we within the Churches, the wider Church groups - unfortunately. We shouldn't be doing so, but there are those that are putting their trust in what the world says, what the world advises.

"And he shall break it as the breaking of the potters' vessel that is broken in pieces."(Isaiah 30:14)

Therefore, it will happen an instant, it says. When it actually comes, it will come suddenly - at an instant; and it will be a resolution. On one scale, it will be a complete and total disaster, a calamity. But, there is a group of people that will be ready. It flows then down and says in verse 19: "For the people shall dwell in Zion ...(Isaiah 30:19)

Now, it's talking about Israel. It's been talking about these people in the land generally, but here we're now talking about Zion, about the true Church.

"For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: you will weep no more: he will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry; when he shall hear it ...(Isaiah 30:19)

It's the Holy One of Israel talking here and He's looking at the people that were in Israel. The people in Israel who are then going to dwell in Zion, but the people of God will have prepared that location for them; and that is our job.

" You will weep no more: he will be very gracious unto you at the voice of your cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer you. (20) And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not your teachers be removed into a corner any more, but your eyes shall see your teachers: (21) And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand and when you turn to the left."(Isaiah 30:19-21)

That is what we're all about. This is the purpose of our trials, and remember, these things can change overnight. The end, when it comes, will be very sudden. But if we are ready (if we have learned through the various trials), just as Joseph was taken from the dungeon up to the level of just below Pharoah, we are going to be taken from this human level, which is of the earth, up to the very God level. But the only way that can be possible is if we are ready! And if we're not ready, He cannot use us. If we haven't gone through the full tuition, He cannot use us.


And as is says in Luke "In your patience possess ye your souls."(Luke 21:19) And again in James, we're told; let patience have its perfect work. Count it all joy when you fall into different types of trials. God's going ahead and He's teaching us. Listen! The wrath of man does not fulfill the righteousness of God. And yet, so often, we can get ourselves so off track on that, as we look from trial backwards. God's looking trial forward. We just can't see it. All we've got is something like a dream. We see it through a glass darkly. This is very, very similar to what Joseph had. When we're looking "trial forward", we're looking into the very Kingdom of God itself. Going back again to the story:

"Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do you look one upon another? (2) And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die. (3) And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. (4) But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, Lest peradventure mischief befall him. (5) And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. (6) And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: [having been trained ready for this particular task] and Joseph's brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth. (7) And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spoke roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come you? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. (8) And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. (9) And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed."(Genesis 42:1-9)

So now he could actually see the fulfillment of that dream. And the training that he had while in that prison house, while with Potiphar, all of that was leading up to this particular time. And it was all part of an even bigger plan that God had for the very children of Israel, and even for us today. And we find ourself in a similar kind of position. We're on the verge of the very Kingdom of God itself, the establishment of the Kingdom. And the government that must be there in the Kingdom has got to be applied in our own lives today; and, if we don't apply it properly, we won't be there because we're not going to be fit to be there. So it's got to be through certain difficulties and trials that we achieve that.

And Joseph remembered the dreams, accused them of being spies, and " And he put them all together into ward three days."(Genesis 42:17)

So he locked them in prison for three days. In the future, we are going to have a role to play in the conversion of the people that we might have told our dreams to now and got short shrift on. They respond totally negatively towards us. Well, they are going to need converting in the future. And it may well be that the way to do it - depending on the individual - will be something along these lines, because when they are resurrected, in many cases, they will come up and will present themselves before what, as far as they are concerned, is God - because that's what we'll be. This Being, this glowing Being! And an awful lot of people will start going across to the right hand; and they look at this Being and this Being looks at them and says, "No, you're going left." And their heart sinks. It might be that they need time to think things over for a few days, hence the "prison."

"And the man did as Joseph bade; and the man brought the men into Joseph's house [because here they're coming back the second time]. (18) And the men were afraid, because they were brought into Joseph's house; and they said, Because of the money that was returned in our sacks at the first time are we brought in; that he may seek occasion against us..."(Genesis 43:17,18).

So they felt they were obviously being selected out for a purpose; but they had no idea what that purpose was, and they were frightened. And this is a type of the Kingdom of God. This is a type of a situation that will arise when people come before us.

"And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money. And he brought Simeon out unto them."(Genesis 43:23)

Now I think of my own particular family. My eldest brother died of cancer. We have been without him for several years now. And it will be a case of bringing him out and presenting him to the rest of the family. And my Uncle Tommy, who I never knew... he died in a Japanese prison camp in Burma, on the Burmese railway. But he will be presented to the rest of the family; He was only in his very early twenties, if that. He might have been late teens. The family have never seen him since then. And yet, although he died at that time, he'll be presented to these other family members. My father and his sisters and brother, they knew each other all the way through their life; and they'll have a lot of catching up to do. There is a type here, right the way through, of what we will face and how we will do this.

And it is interesting, when we finally come to the point where Joseph reveals himself. "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence."(Geneis 45:3)

It says "troubled" but if you check the margin, it says terrified. They were apoplectically terrified that this guy suddenly appeared on the scene. But you know, let's just remind ourselves of something in Revelation 3. Now, I'm convinced this primarily refers to Mr. Armstrong; but I think it also has an application to us as well, because we have also had to put up with an awful lot of the aggravation that came out of the apostasy in Worldwide.

"Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you."(Revelation 3:9)

There is the aspect that it does talk in Luke 21 about us being betrayed by the family, hated of all nations; but, when it comes to verse 19, it says: "In your patience possess you your souls."(Luke 21:19)

Just be patient. James says it. He says, let patience have its perfect work. It talks about the patience of the saints. It's constantly saying, "Look, just be patient." Realize and understand what is going on there.

" And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, says the [Eternal]. (21) As for me, this is my covenant with them, says the [Eternal]; My spirit that is upon you, and my words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart out of your mouth, nor out of the mouth of your seed, nor out of the mouth of your seed's seed, says the [Eternal], from henceforth and for ever."(Isaiah 59:20,21)

There's no chapter break; " Arise, shine; for your light is come, and the glory of the [Eternal] is risen upon you. (2) For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the [Eternal] shall arise upon you, and his glory shall be seen upon you."(Isaiah 60:1,2)

And notice what it's talking about. The redeemed shall come to Zion. It's talking to us, the Church. We're Zion.

"And the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising." (Isaiah 60:3)

The whole creation groans in travail, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, as it says in Romans 8. This is being said another way here in Isaiah.

"Lift up your eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to you: your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. (5) Then you will see, and flow together, and your heart shall fear [praise -- is a better rendition,], and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto you, the forces [wealth] of the Gentiles shall come unto you."(Isaiah 60:4,5) )

We will see this in the future, we will see this actually occur; and at that time then, there's the fulfillment of the dream, the vision. There's the goal. We don't see perfectly now. We see through a glass darkly. But eventually it will materialize. Just the same as it did for Joseph, eventually it will all come together. And one thing it will teach us - what the story of Joseph also teaches us - is about forgiveness.

Let's go over to Genesis 45.


"And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were [terrified] at his presence. (4) And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. (5) Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. (Genesis 45:3-5)

NOW he saw the purpose of his training and why he had been sent. It was God that had sent him - to preserve life. That was the purpose of it.

"For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earring nor harvest. (7) And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (8) So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."(Genesis 45:6-8)

God had trained him for it. He engineered the entire scenario. He put him right through all of this, and He is the One that is ultimately responsible. So we're looking here at Joseph's approach to it. But his brothers, they still didn't look at it the way Joseph did. They looked at it in a slightly different way, especially after Jacob's death.

"And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. (16) And they sent a messenger unto Joseph [They weren't going to go themselves.], saying, Your father did command before he died, [Did they make this up on the spur of the moment?] saying, (17) So shall you say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray you now, the trespass of your brethren, and their sin; for they did unto you evil: and now, we pray you, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father. And Joseph wept when they spoke unto him. (18) And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be your [slaves]. (19) And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? (20) But as for you, you thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (21) Now therefore fear you not."(Genesis 50:15-21)

Back in Luke 21 we can read that the church will be 'hated of all men for My name's sake' and also that brethren will go ahead and betray one another unto death. They then come up in the resurrection, get presented before God; and all this is in the back of their mind. And then you say, "Well actually, I'm so-and-so (Bob, or Sally, or whoever.)" And they are going to be terrified. "You mean you're God?" How can that be? I didn't quite understand that at the time!"

And it is the most phenomenal story; and yet God has had it recorded and preserved to teach us lessons. You see, the Word of the Eternal tested him throughout this time. Was this positive outlook always in Joseph's mind? Did Joseph always have this kind of approach? The chances are, when he got thrown into prison, he was stomping mad; and he would have liked to have gone ahead and reaped some kind of reverge. But he never got the opportunity, because God worked with him. This is my speculation; but I speculate based on my own reaction of what would've happened if my brothers had done anything like that to me!

We need to learn forgiveness today to teach it in the World Tomorrow. Now turn to Matthew 6 and let's just remind ourself of where it talks about the daily prayer, the outline prayer.

"After this manner therefore pray you [And it gives us the outline prayer.]:Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be your name."(Matthew 6:9)

"And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors...."(Matthew 6:12) And He reinforces that in verse 14: "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you."(Matthew 6:14) Well, why? Why is that so important? You and I are going to have to be teachers of others who perhaps might be murderers and their victims. How are you going to reconcile people like that? I mean, if we're out to wreak vengeance all the time, how are we going to teach reconciliation? We can't. We can't adequately teach if we're are out for vengeance and to get even. We cannot be like that. It's impossible. We've got to handle it a different way. And Christ gives us the example as far as handling it is concerned. He says, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing." And He leaves that as an example as far as we're concerned. Interesting thing, again, in chapter 5.

"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother hath ought against you; (24) Leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."(Matthew 5:23,24)

And if we have a problem - maybe a husband and wife are at each other's throats for some reason, but in order to get on their knees and have God hear their prayers, they are going to have to go ahead and sort out the problem. They've got to be reconciled. It is necessary, it's such a vital area, and Joseph does teach us about forgiveness. My own personal gut feeling is I don't think that his reaction was always 'sweetness and light' toward his brothers. I just don't believe that, especially when it first happened. It was something he had to learn. He had to see God's hand in all of these things. And having seen God's hand in it, then he started to think, "Well, hang on a minute, the brothers were instruments. That's all. They were only instrumental in what actually occurred. It was God who was doing it!"

And you go all the way back to Abram - at that time the Eternal was testing him, the Eternal was training him.

"For what glory is it, if, when you be buffeted [The context here is to slaves] for your faults, you shall take it patiently? But if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (21) For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow his steps."(I Peter 2:20,21)

And why? Why on earth do we have to have this approach? What about king David who breathed threatening and slaughter in some of the Psalms? But you know, you go back and read what God said to David:

"But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight."(I Chronicles 22:8)

Because he had shed much blood, he was not allowed to build the temple. We have got to be part of that temple. But David couldn't be used as the physical builder of the temple because it was imperative that we understand that a man of blood cannot be there. A vengeful person is not going to be there. You lead a vengeful life? Well, as it says here: "Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth ..."(I Peter 2:22)

Remember, it says: "Leaving us an example that you should follow in His steps." So He didn't do any sin. No guile [deceipt, deception] found in His mouth.

" Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed [my margin says. : He committed His cause ... ] to him that judges righteously."(I Peter 2:23)

We've got to learn that, and it's sometimes very difficult. I mean, this guy that I mentioned to you earlier, who threatened me at one time. My thoughts towards him were none too sweet! He owed me quite a bit of money as well, but he wasn't about to pay. This was several years ago. But, still, if you allow your mind to dwell on it, you can get bitter. Even at this late stage, you can. But eventually he suffered enormously for what he did. He lost absolutely everything - wife, family, farm, business. Everything, the lot - it all disappeared.

But one day we've got to teach victims and murderers how to forgive, and we've got to be able to do it today. That's the purpose of this. It's because we are to be teachers. That's why we're here.

So I hope this story of Joseph does in fact teach us. We've got a dream for the future, and although it's not seen clearly we need to understand how this present world fits within that dream and make sure that we allow God to work with us the way that Joseph eventually did. He allowed God to work with him so he was then ready and prepared. It's trial backwards with us. That seems to be the main problem with us, so many times. And it's always trial forward with God.