“Broken Pieces or a Puzzle of Purpose?”
Exploring The Messed up Family Life of Joseph and the Purposes of God
Genesis 34 – 45:15
Peter P. Lackey, Jr.
Many of us come from some pretty rough backgrounds. God is now and always has been in control and all of the circumstances of life are puzzle pieces of the picture of your life that God is putting together.
But WE do have a choice to make! WE can either look at your life as a:
BOX OF BROKEN PIECES
A PUZZLE OF PURPOSE
Our usefulness is dependant upon our view!
I do not know why God allowed the hurts and brokenness into my life, so I certainly do not know why He allowed the hurts and brokenness in yours. But I do know that He knew that they were coming which is why Jesus never left us alone, He sent another Counselor called along side us.
Now, I do not think that he would have sent us a counselor if He didn’t think that we would need one!
Now they say that “You get what you pay for” and this Counselor did not come cheap. He came at a price—the blood of Christ on the cross for not only your sins and mine which would be expensive enough, but for the sins of the world.
We are going to see how Joseph, seeing his life through God’s sovereign eyes as a PUZZLE OF PURPOSE, allowed God’s complete healing and restoration in his life. We are going to see how God was always present while Joseph was going through a struggle so that he would not fall to pieces and instead be utterly prepared to be used in fulfilling God’s purpose for for his life.
But before we do, I want to give you a little family background on Joseph. Now He grew up in a really messed up family! We will also see how throughout his life he was the victim of continuous injustices. Hey, there is nothing new under the sun—families have always been messy. Like many of us, Joseph has a messy family background that, good or bad, helped shaped him into the person that he is. So let’s take a look!
To begin with Joseph had 3 step-moms, 1 brother, 1 step-sister, and 10 step-brothers.
- Genesis 34 tells us that Joseph’s step-sister Dinah went to see her friends and was kidnapped and raped by the Prince of the land. Her brothers Simon and Levi got so angry about it that they got revenge and tricked the men of the city then murdered every one of them.
- In Genesis 35 God tells us that sometime during Joseph’s childhood his mother died while she was giving birth to his brother Benjamin.
- Genesis 35 reports that while his Dad was away after burying his mother, the oldest of all of the siblings Reuben went and slept with his step-mother Bilhah.
- Genesis 37 tells us that his Father played favorites. Clearly Joseph was his favorite and his brothers knew it. Listen to this: verse 4 –Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varied-colored tunic. His brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms.
To add insult to injury the Scripture says that Joseph brags to all of his brothers about a dream that he had where in the future all of them were going to bow down to him and serve him one day.
Genesis 37:5-8 – Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said to them, “Please listen to this dream which I have had; for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf.” Then his brothers said to him, ” Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
So this is Joseph’s childhood home:
- Step sister raped
- 2 brothers are mass murderers
- He loses his mom
- His oldest brother sleeps with his step-mom
- His brothers hate him
Pretty messy huh?
Not only is his childhood a mess, but from the time Joseph was 17 until he was about 30 he was a constant Victim of Injustice
Joseph goes to find his brothers and they see him coming:
Genesis 37:18-20 – When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. They said to one another, “Here comes this dreamer! “Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’ Then let us see what will become of his dreams!” (sparkling robe in the sun)
His brother Reuben tries to save Joseph from the plot:
Genesis 37:21-23, 25 – But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, “Let us not take his life” Reuben further said to them, “Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him” — that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father. So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; and they took him and threw him into the pit….then they sat down to eat a meal…
His brother Judah comes up with the idea to sell him to the Ishmaelites:
Genesis 37:26-28 – Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.” And his brothers listened to him.
So, here is Joseph only 17 years old:
(1) Stripped of the special tunic that his dad made for him
(2) His brothers want to murder him out of Jealousy
(3) He is Thrown into a pit
(4) And finally sold into slavery
Proverbs 27:4 – Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, but who can stand before Jealousy?
But God was with Joseph during his experience of injustice:
Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the Lord’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field.
Puzzle Piece #1: He is in Egypt
Puzzle Piece #2: God is developing his Leadership skills:
However, Joseph loses his place of leadership when he is falsely accused of rape
Let’s be blunt, Potiphar’s wife has the hots for him!
Genesis 39:6-8 – Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. It came about after these events that his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused…
So, she sets him up:
Genesis 39:11-14, 19-20 – Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. She caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me!” And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled outside, she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed….Now when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, “This is what your slave did to me,” his anger burned. So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail…
Ah, but notice that he was never alone:
Genesis 39:21-22 – But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer. The chief jailer committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it.
Here is Joseph in charge, as a prisoner, of the entire royal prison.
Puzzle Piece #3: He is in the royal prison where he eventually gains access to the Pharaoh.
Puzzle Piece #4: God continues developing his Leadership skills and,
(1) Joseph is approximately ~38 years old and his brothers are well advanced in years.
(2) Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dreams that called for 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine.
- So the Pharaoh does what? He makes Joseph second in command over all of Egypt!!!
Genesis 41:41-43 – And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck.
Puzzle Piece #5: Pharaoh makes him 2nd in command
All of the prep work of the last 20 years gave Joseph the leadership skills that he needed at just the right time.
(3) The years of the famine that God had revealed to Joseph in a dream have now begun,
- People from all of the countries surrounding Egypt have been coming to Egypt to buy grain that, under Joseph’s leadership, Egypt had stored during the 7 years of plenty.
God redeems Joseph’s Dream
Genesis 42:6-9 – Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, “Where have you come from?” And they said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him. Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them
- Richly dressed in a Robe of Redemption (God replaces his old robe)
- Dream fulfilled
“The God of the vision is the God of how to get there”
- Joseph tests them to see if his brother is alive
- He plants Silver Cup to keep Benjamin with him
- Judah begins:
Now let’s focus on Joseph’s response
(1) Joseph now saw his life through God’s sovereign lens as A PUZZLE OF PURPOSE.
(2) This set Joseph free so that:
- He could forgive his brothers
- He could comfort his brothers so that they wouldn’t feel guilty
- He could try and get them to see through this sovereign lens of God as well
- He paid the moving expenses to bring them nearby
- He provided land for them to live and provisions
- He could warn them to save their life even though they tried to take his!
It could have been different!
What if instead he saw his life as a BOX OF BROKEN PIECES:
“A tree of anger stands tall because of its bitter roots” – Pete Lackey
Sin is great—but He is greater still!
17 Years later. Joseph’s family has settled in the land of Egypt and Joseph’s father dies.
Listen to this:
Genesis 50:15-22 – When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ” What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”‘ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. “So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Conclusion: God The Comforter is with us!
The wounds were still fresh……the pain doesn’t go away, and the Comforter doesn’t either
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort , who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
- Are you a victim or victor?
- The victim says “my life is A BOX OF BROKEN PIECES because of what happened in my life”:
- The victim is a slave and his body is a prison
- The victor says “my life is a PUZZLE OF PURPOSE in the hands of a sovereign God”
- The victor is a free man and His body is a temple
How about you?
Are you a Victim or Victor?
Do YOU see your life as:
A BOX OF BROKEN PIECES
A PUZZLE OF PURPOSE
Until He Returns,
Peter P. Lackey, Jr.