God's Message in the Story of Joseph

By Jon Bowles

27 December 2003

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

Today, what I would like to do is I would like to continue where I left off because last week, if you remember, I touched on Joseph; but really it was just kind of a touch on Joseph, in regard to Jacob and how that final trial was so severe on Jacob. But the story of Joseph isn't there just as an aside to the story of Jacob by any means. There's a great deal within the story of Joseph as well. And today what I want to do is to show what God has to say to us through the story of Joseph. So it's really a continuation from the sermon from last week, or the Bible Study from last week. 'Unusually,' I've got five points today. [Laughs] No, I explained. Last night people were talking about all these 5 points. Yes. Well, it helps me to prepare. If I can get 5 points, then I can go down step by step; and then concentrate on one point at a time. It helps me to prepare the Bible Study or the Sermon or whatever else. Also it helps people to actually know where we're going as well.

THE STORY OF JOSEPH PICTURES US TODAY (PLAY FROM 3:31)

Turn over to Genesis 37 (and I would strongly recommend that you put a marker in Genesis 37ish because we'll be going back and forth all the way through the Bible Study). In this aspect that it's picturing us today, if we look at the beginning of the story of Joseph ...

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.

And the indication is that this was after he was converted. This was during the time when he was being converted, and therefore he trained Joseph. These other children very much grew up, they just grew up themselves; but he took time and trouble with Joseph, and also presumably with Benjamin as well (although the sorrow of Benjamin obviously had a marked effect). And it says:

Genesis 37:3 ... he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors.

There is speculation as to whether this was a tartan, a Scottish, again where you get the kind of Scottish idea of the tartan and the clan; 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.

Genesis 37:4-11 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, [laughs -- You'd think after the first one, he'd have learned; but he didn't. He kept on going. "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.

In other words, he said, "Well, perhaps God has got something for this particular boy." And, in fact, God did. When we look at this example, we need to ask ourselves a question: "Well, okay. Fine. Who were the dreams for? Were they for the brothers?" Well, no, they weren't for the brothers primarily. They were for Joseph because, the things that Joseph had to go through, 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).

There's a great deal ... When we look at the situation here and we start applying it to our own life now, what's our present goal for? I mean, is it for the people in the world? The answer is no, it's not. What's the dream and the hope that we've got for? It's not for people outside. It's for people 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. So, as I say, keep a marker in this area of Genesis; but let's go over to Hebrews 11. We find this chapter on faith. These people had this hope, this dream. They are looking forward, what they were actually looking forward to.

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off.

So there is what they're looking for. They are looking afar off. They are looking out into the future.

Hebrews 11:13 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.

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. We only see a certain amount. We don' see a full picture. And it's very similar to what Joseph had. I mean, he had these dreams and he was looking forward into the future. These dreams were for Joseph, but he couldn't keep his big mouth shut. [Laughs]

This is a problem with all of us. Particularly, early on in the Church when we're first converted, we do tend to disregard that. We don't realize, you know, what is this for? What is this position? The fact that God has to open the mind, and it is crucial. We have to understand we are in a unique position. That position is one of being trained, and being trained to be teachers, and understanding the ways of God, and being able to apply those ways in the future.

And it says that they say these things, they basically confess that they are strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They conduct their life in that regard, and they say that by their conducting their life. In that regard, 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 look at this particular life, you know, and we're 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.

Hebrews 11:14-16 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.

This one -- this Kingdom of God that is coming from God to us. Okay, if we turn back to II Corinthians 4.

II Corinthians 4:13-16 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.

We keep on our knees. It's sometimes very difficult -- particularly when you've got a full time job as well, or you've got children, young children. It's very difficult to keep on our knees every single day. There are times when, okay, you might not make it; but it won't be as good a day as if you had. It's not that "That's it. Now you're lost forever." It's not that way, but we need that constant contact with God. It's like if you fast for a day, you don't feel as good. [Laughs] You just don't. 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.

II Corinthians 4:16-18 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.

Now, Joseph had these dreams. He didn't necessarily know what they meant; but obviously he's talking about his brothers, and his father, and mother bowing down to him. But did he know what it actually 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, really, 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. We're very, 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 only see through a glass darkly. We have vision there, very much like Joseph had these dreams that he was seeing.

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

And so much 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.

II Corinthians 4:18 But the things which are not seen are eternal.

There is an eternal world that this one rests in -- on. Pssht! You know. I'm getting out of my depth. [Laughs] 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 this similar situation, similar to Joseph. He could not see where things were leading. He could only see what he had at that particular time, and all he had were these dreams that had been given. 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's all going to work out, he certainly could not see. He certainly couldn't see as much as we do. We see a great deal more.

1 Corinthians 2:7-9 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.

Human beings cannot see the future; and Joseph's brothers could not see (in any way, shape or form) the future. They didn't even believe the dream that he'd had at all, and yet that dream came true. That dream materialized, and his brother's perception of it was totally incorrect. Even though Joseph didn't understand it fully, his brothers' perception was completely off track.

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

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 go back then. Let's turn back to Genesis. You'll want to put a marker here in I Corinthians 2. It's talking about how it's being revealed by God. Let's go 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.

Genesis 40:8 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.

He recognized that the interpretation of a dream and the way in which these particular dreams ... And he's not talking about just any dream that we happen to have. 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.

Genesis 41:16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me.

Because, he was saying, "Tell him, interpret the dream for him." He says, "Look, that's not coming from me." The interpretation of this dream does not come from Joseph. It came from God Himself.

Genesis 41:16 God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

And, in verse 25, it mentions something similar:

Genesis 41:25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.

So he was recognizing the Source continually. He was recognizing that "No, it wasn't him that was doing this. It was God that was doing it."

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

Genesis 41:32 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.

But God's hand, in these particular dreams that they were given, Joseph recognized. And we also, if you go back now to I Corinthians 2:

1 Corinthians 2:9-10 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.

The dream that we have -- the goal that we have, the vision of the future that we've been given -- didn't come from a mere man. It has not come from a man. The understanding, to be able to take this Book and put it together in the way that it was put together -- 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 come 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 site of. They do not realize and really understand that "No, these things did not come from Herbert Armstrong. Mr. Herbert Armstrong. They came because they were revealed by God, because it was time for them to be revealed by God." It is essential that that clarity is there!

1 Corinthians 2:11 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. Herbert Armstrong was just a mere man. That's all he was. So, it did not come from him. "The things of God knows no man ... "]but the Spirit of God.

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

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 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.

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. He had a certain amount, it was a miniscule amount; but he had a certain amount of discernment that had been given to him specifically by God. Mr. Armstrong continually used to hammer the lectern and talk about John 6:44 -- "no man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draws him" -- and we must never ever lose site of that.

In the picture of us now, who were the dreams for? In the case of Joseph, the dreams were for Joseph. It was 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.

TRIALS FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS (PLAY FROM 24:28)

Secondly, it teaches about trials and specifically trials for righteousness. If you go back to Genesis again, this time even further. I read this during the previous Bible Study on Jacob.

Genesis 15:13-16 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.

Now God -- Jesus Christ as it was there, the God of the Old Testament -- could see all the way down 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 had to come out of spiritual Egypt? And, therefore, He's giving them a type; and He's giving them a type 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 are going through the very mind of God many, many years before. This 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 (in the case of verse 23).

Genesis 37:23-25 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.

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.

Genesis 37:26-28 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.

Now, he didn't. He didn't deserve that. He didn't. What he'd done -- the fact that he'd had some dreams and he'd gone ahead and said what he'd said -- it doesn'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. [Laughs] I think I've mentioned that before, them firing their Tutu rifles over my head while I worked [Laughs] just to reinforce the fact. But this was a 17-year-old boy. This is something ... Life isn't fair. But we're looking 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 picture. Joseph had nothing of that. Nothing at all! All he knew is that he was getting sold. He had some dreams and he was getting sold down the river. [Laughs] Just wait until he got back to his father, if he got half a chance. But he did not deserve what he had, what was given to him.

Genesis 39:1-2 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.

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.

Genesis 39:3-4 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.

So he certainly, within the confines that he found himself, he behaved himself correctly. He did as much as he could as far as what was right.

Genesis 39:11-12 And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house [because Potiphar's wife cast her eyes over him]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.

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

Genesis 39:13-14 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...

And lied through her teeth; and on she went, and when her husband came back:

Genesis 39:19 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.

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 here he was:

Genesis 39:20 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.

And you think, how does God possibly allow that to take place? And yet you notice here, within this section, that it was a certain type of prison. I mean, for a slave to find their way into a king's prison. Why? How? Okay, he was the king's servant -- Potiphar, Captain of the Guard. So probably he would put ... 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.

You think, well, couldn't God work it out some other way? Well, no. He was actually working with Joseph. He was using circumstances, which were none too pleasant, to work with Joseph. And, as I say, these things have not been recorded (and they have not been preserved) 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. The view that He had was so much greater. He could see the view that was beyond anything that Joseph could see at that particular time. So he found himself then in the prison of the king, in this particular prison.

Genesis 39:21-23 But the [Eternal] was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favor 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.

So, God was with him through this trial. But it was a trial. It was difficult. It was not easy. We can find this. Put a marker there. Turn over to Psalms 105. I've read this a few times; but it's necessary, I think, to go back. 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 Israel, the nation of Israel, and the way in which things happened.

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

Psalms 105:12-17 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.

So God actually was doing this. He was engineering it. He was actually allowing it. It says He sent the man before them. God sent Joseph before them. Now, okay, He probably used a situation; but He still did it. God allowed this to happen. He not only allowed it to happen, but He used it specifically. Notice what it says in verse 18. I've pointed out this before.

Psalms 105:18 Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron.

Tradition has it that he was crippled. Now how badly crippled? It's debatable, because there's another place that says that he actually, when he came out of prison, he ran. [Laughs] Now how fast he ran we don't know, but he obviously wasn't totally crippled. But he was ... Tradition has it (certain traditions have it) that he was crippled to some degree by this stay in prison.

Psalms 105:19 Until the time [notice] that his word came: the word of the [Eternal] [tested]him.

So God was using the time in prison to test Joseph, and this time was a time of testing. And we go through our time of trials, and our difficulties. And if you look at this, I mean he was a 17-year-old boy when he found himself going out into the field there, when he was taken. When he actually gave the dream 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. 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 off of now? What's the difference from 2003? So '92? What were we doing in '92? We were still with Worldwide. Was I? Did I have that fibrillation around that time? It was probably around that time, wasn't it? 11 years ago. So, you know, you just think about all that length of time that was actually taking place. There wasn't that length of time where here we are in our 50's looking back that length of time. This is a 17- year-old boy. I mean, 17 -- the prospect of 11 years -- I mean, 11 years is almost a lifetime. It's an absurdity to a 17-year-old boy; and yet, as far as he was concerned, that was it. He was there.

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 baker ... Was it the baker? He said, "Please, remember me." He said, "Make mention of me," verse 14 of chapter 40.

Genesis 40:14 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.

And then, almost like a casual comment, in chapter 41:

Genesis 41:1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed ...

So he got stuck there, and 2 years later he was still there. He had no concept whatsoever. He'd had these dreams way back when, you know, 11 years before and some. 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 knew ... He could see further forward. He could see what He was about to do. And having seen what He was about to do, He said, "Look! If Joseph is not ready, he cannot be used."

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. That's the difference. Trials forward as opposed to trials backwards are two entirely different things. God only 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. He knew what he dreamed. 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 motley group, and I'm not just talking about these good people here. [Laughs.] Included! But how on earth can we 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 trial 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. So, it's two years here in verse 1 of chapter 41:

Genesis 41:1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river [and on it goes].

Let's just remind ourselves of what it does say about these trials in righteousness over in James 1. Again, stick a marker in Genesis. ([sniffs] I apologize for my cold. I keep saying it's on the way out; but [Laughs], well, I'd like to hope it is anyway. I hope I haven't given it to anybody.)

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into [different types of trial].

And it is the "diverse" that you have to concentrate on. It's not just the trials. We're absolutely off our heads if we say, "Oh, how wonderful. We have a trial. That's just what I really need." No. [laughs] 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... You can have some comfort on that.

James 1:3-4 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith works patience. (4) But [allow that]patience have her perfect work.

Just give it the time. Give God the credit, that He knows what He's doing.

James 1:4 But [allow]patience have her perfect work, that you may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

You see, for Joseph to be ready to assume the command that he did within Pharaoh's household. Who were in the prison? They were people within Pharaoh's court. You know, the butler and the baker. Okay. Those are two mentioned, but who else was in there? He was rubbing shoulders with the high and mighty that weren't quite high and mighty at that time. [Laughs] They were the best of the prisoners, you know; but they were... These were people who were people of influence; and he probably learned a great deal there, in that prison.

And it was something where you hardly can credit that God says, "Right, I know just the perfect school for you." And He takes him out, and sticks him in this place for a number of years -- to teach him certain lessons. But he was. That's where he was. He put him in school. It's like Moses. "Okay, when you've done your General bit, I'll put you in another school." [Ha, ha.] Stick him in 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.

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

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... We've been called for reasons.

James 1:13 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.

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 God in us -- if God is really living His life in us, He is not, it says here that God -- cannot be tempted with evil. If God is in us, He cannot be tempted with evil. What is this, this heart? Are we converted? Are we 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 ... Well, just read what it says; but just have that concept in mind.

James 1:13-14 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.

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.

James 1:15-17 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's including 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.

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 down, right, 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.

James 1:18-20 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.

So what He's doing -- the perfectness and entire, lacking nothing -- is the righteousness of God. That's what He's looking for. 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. Heh, he could see the dream; and the dream was wonderful! But how on earth that dream was going to materialize, he hadn't the foggiest idea. He had no idea at all! 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 favor. 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. {1} Chances are that happened. And they probably thought, "Why me?" [Laughs] Well, one day you'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.

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

The whole creation! That entire creation we see out the window here now, and from the bedroom window; and we look across the road here and it's like ... African bush it looks like, on the other side of the road; and there's kind of a culvert. The grass of the lawn that's left, it goes down ... I say that's left. We had a digger, or a forklift truck, that actually got stuck on the lawn outside. But it goes down into kind of like a little ditch on the side of the road there, which is just a few feet from the house. One of the daughters went out and was trying to collect tadpoles, and there was a 7-foot alligator in that ditch. It's just literally right by the path as you come in through the door.

Romans 8:19 For the [entire creation is waiting] for the manifestation of the sons of God.

It's been made in a certain way. It's chewing on each other.

Romans 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity ...

And you go and look that up. Get your Strong's out, and go and have a look at your origins. I can't remember what the word is now, but the word literally means to chew on. In other words, just chew. 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. And it is. The entire creation is that way.

Romans 8:20-21 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.

Now God knew, with Joseph, the liberty that He was about to allow. 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 him [Joseph]. Exactly the same as him! The advantage is that we can look at the Book, and we can see what happens. It's like watching the ending to see if it's worth watching the film itself.

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

Romans 8:26-28 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.

And, sometimes, we can loose site of this. But that is in scripture. I know a lot of people kind of blandly trot it out, but it is in scripture.

Romans 8:29 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.

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 a dream. But it's not a dream. It's not a vision. It's something that we see through a glass darkly. We cannot see clearly; but it's very, very similar to the way Joseph was as well. It helps us 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.

CIRCUMSTANCES CAN CHANGE OVERNIGHT (PLAY FROM 54:15)

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 when God's put His hands down and He's engineered something; and it's clear that you had nothing to do with it. And the way that it was engineered was such that you kind of throw your hands up, go back and you say, "Look, hey, You do it -- cause 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:

Genesis 40:14 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.

And "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" That's basically what he was saying. He'd obviously ... That's the tip of the iceberg of what he's saying. He'd obviously told him about the problem that he'd had, and how he got chucked in there in the first place; but he was completely and totally forgotten about. When God's time was right -- when he had learned the lesson, when the Word of God had trained him ready for the responsibility he was about to be given -- then you look at what happened:

Genesis 41:14 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.

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:

Genesis 41:40-41 You will be over my house [This is Pharaoh talking to him in the same day, as he comes out of the dungeon, the same day.], 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.

And it 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 possibly done what he did -- to get the 7 years (the 7 good years and the 7 years of famine) and get 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! It was all part of the training, and it looked totally as if it were arbitrary. It wasn't. It was not arbitrary.

Genesis 41:42-46 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.

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 what we need.

Let's notice some other examples. Daniel's a good place to look now; because in these examples that God gives us (that we do need to go back and look at from time to time, and we need to just think about them): just read them and think a little bit, and realize that these are ordinary human beings -- like you and me -- who have done some extraordinary things, it looks like; but at the time they felt very, very ordinary. Undoubtedly!

Daniel 2:49 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.

Oh, Daniel 2; beg your pardon. Did I say 3? Oh, I didn't say what chapter? [Laughs] Did I do that again? [Laughs] Okay, there we go. My daughter gets very exasperated with me when I do that; and she lets me know as only daughters can, don't you Snoop? [Everyone laughs.]

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 would have never known about them. No concept of them at all. So God could have stopped the fiery furnace at that stage quite easily, without any problem at all.

Daniel 3:1 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.

God could have said, "Hang on a minute. I know what's in his mind. I'm going to change his mind." And [He could have] gone down and changed his mind and stopped it at that stage. Couldn't He? He could have stopped it, but He didn't. And you can go through all the stages as we go through here.

Daniel 3:4-5 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:

Now, to make a rule like that, 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 do it. And when you're looking at examples like this, you can see "Now, hang on a minute, God could have stopped it." At all these different stages as He goes down to a certain ... (and I'm not doing the ... ) [Laughs, as he evidently makes a gesture that those not in the room cannot see.] ... all these different stages as you go down.

This is another thing that is very difficult. When you're talking to one group here, and you've got another group down there; and when you give a gesture -- "It's about this big." -- which undoubtedly, they've got it on the other foot now. [Laughs]

At the sound of the coronet and so on, you've got to fall down and worship. But He could have stopped it there. He could have stopped the trial there, but he didn't. He chose not to. He chose to allow the trial. You know, you go on to the next stage:

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

Now, they didn't have to accuse the Jews. If they would have kept quiet, if God would have gone ahead and kept them quiet, then there wouldn't have been a problem; and Nebuchadnezzar would not have got astonied {2} or whatever he got in his rage and fury.

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

Now, who made the rule? Why didn't they say whoever didn't worship, they get 6 of the best or whatever? Or they get sent out of the province of Babylon, or whatever it was? No. We've got to have this fiery furnace. So He 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!"

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

He threw a wobbly [or, fit], to say the least. He really did! Then they brought these men before the king, and on it goes. They got him on this bad day. And, verse 16, {3} they didn't exactly handle it tactfully. And Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said, "You know, Nebuchadnezzar, let's not mince words. If our God wants to save us, He will. And if not, still, we're not doing what you said." And he was absolutely livid. He was utterly beside himself. You don't do this to the Idi Amins {4} of the ancient world. You just don't.

So he was full of fury; and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He was absolutely livid! He was just so angry. 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 of these stages all the way down; and yet He allowed it to go right the way through. He finally grabbed a hold of them; and it could have been that He said, "Oh, I've changed my mind" in that case, or whatever it is. He could have stopped it at that stage, but He went right through and got them chucked in; and it was in THAT that suddenly you see the actual deliverance. And, verse 29, the result of that:

Daniel 3:29 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 [Now, he's got a way about him, this Nebuchadnezzar, doesn't he?]:because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

But He could have stopped it. He could have stopped it at all these different stages as we go along. You can do exactly the same thing. I think we're going to have 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. You know, He could have stopped it at any stage.

I know that one particular story that sticks ... We were talking last night about all the various things that you need to almost make a note of when God intervenes in life. When this is very clear that this has happened, that you 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 as you go through another, you know, the different types of trial, [laughs] the next different type of trial.

We had this shed that I erected on our land. It was a decent sized shed. I actually built it out of ... There was a, somebody had knocked another shed down. They were going past with a tractor down to the dump about 5 miles away; and I said, "Do you want all those sheets?" And he said, "No." So I said, "Well, I'll build a shed out of it." So I built a shed out of it, which is all right. It worked out all right. There was plenty left over, and I took the remainders down to the dump.

But the problem was, the back wall was an earth wall. It was just an earth bank. I'd leaned the shed up against the bank. And I noticed there was rat droppings in the chicken run (because the chicken house was in there). And I left the light on there one night, or about 2 or 3 nights, so they'd get used to it. And when I went in, there were dozens and dozens and dozens of rats everywhere. The place was alive with them! So I tried ... I finally started poisoning them to try and get rid of them. Quite literally, as you put the spoon down the hole, you could see the rats eating the stuff off the spoon as you put it down. I mean, really, it was pretty gruesome. So I thought, "I've got to do something about this shed. There's no way. I've got to build a wall."

Now, the problem is the bank was rock. So I started walking up... I was inside the shed. How do you actually dig it all out, and all the rest of it? We had a JCB in for part of it. Do you know what a JCB is? Yeah? A digger? A mechanical digger? We had it in for part of the job before, and it actually dug the bank back; and the road actually went along top of this. So we dug the bank back and built the shed there; but we 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, really rain sometimes. There was one night it just chucked it down with rain. It was just so torrential. It was running down the road. There was water everywhere. It just so happened, they were digging a new telephone line beside the road; and it was coming down the back of the shed. It happened to be opened 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 [laughs] into the back of this bank; and, of course, this was sheared off. The drop is about 18 feet altogether, from the top to the bottom; and it's very solid. And I came over it to milk the goats one day, and I found this mud everywhere. I mean the mud was just beyond ... I got my shovel out, and I was digging; and I thought, "This is ridiculous. There's no way can I dig this out." because, again, it was all within the shed.

So I called the counselor and said, "Look! It's hardly my fault that the drain's blocked further up." I tried [laughs] pleading in that way. and he came down. It was amazing in that way. He said, "Oh, no problem. It's the telephone's fault." In fact, he looked almost pleased. I almost feel 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.

So, all this problem that we had -- and it was a disaster after disaster all the way through; but what then happened was, they came in and they cut the road half way, all the way through. 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 my shed back onto the resulting wall. So, we got this huge 18 foot wall, all the way along the back of the shed, that was built. It goes half way underneath the road, with a concrete block ramp, a block of mass concrete that was there.

I did a rough estimation at that time. It was about 18 or 20 thousand £. This was back in the 70's. And it was all, not only for nothing, but they said, "Well, we need to have some electricity from somewhere to put the traffic lights on; and so we'll pay you to have the electricity." And I made quite a fair amount of money out of it! [Everyone laughs] 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 those that help.

In Isaiah 30, we've got to remember that this Being that 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 have a child in the womb as a father, you are inordinately concerned about that child. There's no question about that. You are concerned about that child.

Isaiah 30:1-3 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!

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

Isaiah 30:8 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.

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

Isaiah 30:12-13 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.

And He's talking to these people that go down to Egypt -- who put their trust in the physical material things of this world. This world is what they put their trust in. 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, but there are [those] that are putting their trust in what the world says.

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

Therefore, it gives this incredibly sudden ... At 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:

Isaiah 30:19 For the people shall dwell in Zion ...

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

Isaiah 30:19 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 ...

So He's looking at the people that were in Israel. The Holy One of Israel, it talks about here. 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.

Isaiah 30:19-21 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.

That is what we're all about. This is the purpose of our trials, and 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 that he was taken, 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. We've got to be ready. And if we're not ready, He cannot use us. If we haven't gone through the full tuition, He cannot use us.

LOOKING INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD (PLAY FROM 1:14:56)

And it says: in patience possess you your souls. It says: let patience have its perfect work. Count it all joy when you fall into different types of trials. He's going ahead and He's teaching us. Listen! The wrath of man does not fulfill the righteousness of God. (All these things from James.) And yet, so often, we can get ourselves so off track on that. We can get ourself so ... we look from trial back. 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 glad darkly. This is very, very similar to what Joseph had. When we're looking in that trial forward, we're looking into the very Kingdom of God itself. Go back again to the story:

Genesis 42:1-9 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 t rained 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.

So here was the fulfillment of it. Here 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.

Genesis 42:9 And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, You are spies; to see the nakedness of the land you are come.

Genesis 42:17 And he put them all together into ward three days.

So he locked them in prison for three days. You tend to think, you know, it's something that they kind of came along. But no, he says "shove 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. The people that we tell our dreams to now and we get short shrift on, they are going to need converting in the future. And it may well be that the way to do it will be something along these lines -- because, when they come up, in many, many, many cases, they will come up and they 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 are going across to the right hand; and they look at this being and this being looks at them and says, "Right, you're going left." And their heart sinks. [Laughs] And this is the kind of thing that gets them stuck in there for three days (It could well be.) while they think about things. I mean it could be the most, very ... Well, if we read a little bit further on:

Genesis 43:17-18 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 [to get at us, and all the rest of it].

So here they were obviously being selected out for a purpose; but they had no idea what that purpose was, and they were frightened. 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.

Genesis 43:23 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.

Now, again, 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 -- where my uncle, (I never knew him.) Uncle Tommy, he died in a Japanese prison camp in Burma, the Burmese railway. But he will be presented to the rest of the family; and, as far as he was concerned ... He died age 20. Was he? He was only in his very early twenties, if that. He might have been late teens. They've never seen him since then. And yet, you know, he died at that time; and he'll be presented to these people who knew each other. 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. And it is a type. 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.

Genesis 45:3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they weretroubled at his presence.

It says, if you look at the margin, it says terrified. They were apoplectically terrified that this guy suddenly appeared on the scene. They really were. But you know, over in Revelation ... (Again, stick a marker in there.) Let's just remind ourselves of this. 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 stuff that came out of Worldwide, the various things.

Revelation 3:9 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.

Now, that really is the dream that we've got. And we could say, "Look! We've got this dream that we can see in the future, that we will actually be there; and we will have that dream at that time. So that will be a time, an incredible time." There is the aspect that it does talk in Luke 21, it talks about us being betrayed by the family, hated of all nations; but, when it comes to verse 19, it says:

Luke 21:19 In your patience possess you your souls.

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 what is going on, and understand what is actually going on there.

Isaiah 59:20-21 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.

There's no chapter break

Isaiah 60:1-2 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.

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

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

The whole creation waits in travail, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God. This is the same as is being said another way here in Isaiah.

Isaiah 60:4-5 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 [praise -- is a better rendition, your heart shall praise], and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto you, the [wealth]of the Gentiles shall come unto you.

We will see this in the future. We will see this actually occur; and at that time, then, there's the dream. There's 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 Joseph, eventually it will be materializing. And what it will teach us, what Joseph also teaches us, it teaches us about forgiveness. Let's go over to Genesis 45.

FORGIVENESS LEARNED THROUGH TRIALS(PLAY FROM 1:26:20)

Genesis 45:3-5 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.

Now he saw what the purpose of his training was, why he had been sent. It was God that had sent him before -- to preserve life. That was the purpose of it.

Genesis 45:6-8 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.

God 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. And these brothers, they still didn't look at it the way Joseph did. His brothers look at it in a slightly different way.

Genesis 50:15-21 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, [They probably made it up on the spur of the moment, but anyway ... ]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.

Now, we are going to have these cases in the case of, if you go back into Luke 21, we're 'hated of all men for My name's sake' and also that the brethren will go ahead and betray unto death. They then come up, they get presented before God; and all this is in the back of their mind (why they've gone left as opposed to right). And then you say, "Well actually, I'm whoever-it-is (Bob, or Sally, or whoever it is.)" And they are going to be terrified, absolutely terrified. "You mean you're God?" [Laughs] "How, how, how can that be? I didn't quite cotton that on at the time."

And it is -- it is phenomenal! It is the most phenomenal story; and yet God has put it in there, left it in there, to teach us lessons. You see, the Word of the Eternal tested him throughout this time. Was it always in Joseph's mind? Did Joseph always have this kind of approach? [Laughs] The chances are, when he got into prison, he was chomping mad; and he would have liked to have gone ahead and done whatever he might have gone ahead and done. But he never got the opportunity, because God worked with him. Ah! I'm speculating, purely speculation; but I speculate based on my own reaction of what would happen if my brothers ever did anything like that to me. [Everyone laughs.] But, his mind during prison ...

We need to learn forgiveness today to teach it in the World Tomorrow. We find in Matthew 6, you don't have to turn there. It talks about it as part of the daily prayer. Oh, yes. Turn over and we'll use that as the last scripture but one. We'll just remind ourself, it's not so much Matthew 6 I want to read here, but we'll just remind ourself of where it talks about the daily prayer, the outline prayer.

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

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And He reinforces that in verse 14:

Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

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 the 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 reconcile that? We can't. We can't adequately teach if we ourself 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, is on the opposite page -- in chapter 5.

Matthew 5:23-24 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.

And if we have a problem (husband and wife, we're at each other's throats for some reason), and we can then ... to get on our knees, we're going to have to go ahead and reconcile it. That's got to be reconciled. It is necessary. But this is such a vital area, and Joseph does teach us about forgiveness.

As I say, I don't ... My own personal gut feeling is I don't think that his reaction was always 'sweetness' and 'like' toward his brothers. I just don't believe that. I really don't. Not when it first happened. He had to learn that. 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. Final scripture:

1 Peter 2:20-21 For what glory is it, if, when you be buffeted [The actual context here is to slaves. I won't go into that.]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.

And why? Why on earth do we have to have this idea? I mean, David breathed threatening and slaughter in some of the Psalms. But you know, you go back and see David; and you see what God said to David, and you know, I Chronicles 22:8, it's because he had shed much blood, he was not allowed to build the temple. We have got to be part of that temple. He will eventually build a temple. He will eventually build a temple. But he couldn't have that physically. He 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 vengeful ... Well, as it says here:

1 Peter 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth ...

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

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

And we have got to learn that. We've got to learn that, and it's sometimes very difficult. I mean, this guy that I mentioned to you, who threatened me at one time, my thoughts were none too sweet. [Laughs] Believe you me. He owed me quite a bit of money as well, but he wasn't about to pay. These were 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 that's another story. I'll tell you later. But it's another story where he suffered enormously for what he did. Somebody out in the world suffered enormously. He lost absolutely everything -- wife, family, farm. Everything -- business, the lot -- disappeared.

But 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 it certainly is. It's not seen clearly by any stretch, but 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. And it's always trial forward with God. It's trial backwards with us. That seems to be the main problem with us, so many times.


{1} In this context also note: Isaiah 43:3-4 For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. (4) Since you were precious in my sight, you have been honourable, and I have loved you: therefore will I give men for you, and people for your life.

{2} Dan 3:24 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.

{3} Daniel 3:16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter.

{4} Idi Amin (c. 1925 August 16, 2003) was an army officer and President of Uganda (1971 to 1979). Amin's tenure witnessed much sectarian violence, including the persecution of the Acholi, Lango, and other ethnic groups as well as Christians in Uganda. Reports of the torture and murder of 300,000 to 500,000 Ugandans during Amin's presidency have been widespread since the 1970s.