The Bible is filled with amazing stories.
Many of them are called, Clinging to Hope. In this next study, we're invited to recall the stunning moment when Joseph, the ruler of Egypt, was reunited with his traitorous brothers. It is easy to forget that in all of these epical events, nobody expected the main character in each is the living God.
There are human elements in all the stories, but the main character is God. He is at work. He's fulfilling his purpose. He's using different individuals. His plan is unfolding.
None of that changes in the passing of time. So as we look together at Genesis 45, and then a few verses in the middle of chapter 50 of Genesis, you'll again realize, though the name of God, or I should say the actual presence of God may be absent, He's there. He's there all the way through the story of Joseph.
Over and over and over, God is there. No one knew it better than Joseph. Genesis 45, I'll read for you the first several verses, and then we will look at chapter 50 together.
Genesis 45. Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, out, all of you. So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh's palace. I am Joseph, he said to his brothers.
Is my father still alive? But his brothers were speechless. They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them.
Please, come closer, he said to them. So they came closer, and he said again, I am Joseph, your brother whom you sold into slavery in Egypt, but don't be upset, don't be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. Verse 7, God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive. Verse 8, so it was God who sent me here, not you. He is the one who made me an advisor to Pharaoh, the manager of his entire palace, the governor of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and tell him, this is what your son Joseph says, God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. We move ahead to chapter 50 and we pass through a little over 17 years of time, and the brothers are still trying to believe that they are forgiven. Look at verse 18, 50-18.
Then his brothers came and threw themselves down before Joseph. Look, we are your slaves, they said. But Joseph replied, don't be afraid of me. Am I God that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.
No, don't be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children, so he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. Listen to me. This is an adult abused man and there isn't evidence of any emotional baggage from the abuse because his focus was on the living God who erased the pain of yesterday to bring about the beauty from those ashes. So today I dedicate these words that will be preached to all of you who have been abused, and I do so with deepest feelings of respect for you and understanding and compassion. You're listening to Insight for Living.
To study the Bible with Chuck Swindoll, be sure to download his Searching the Scriptures studies by going to insight.org slash hope. And now the message from Chuck titled When God Gives Grace to Endure. Epical events nobody expected. That's what we're spending our time on these days. Each of these events is ancient because they're all found in the scriptures and all of these scriptures we turn to are ancient. But the more you spend time in each event, the more it feels timeless. You don't feel like it's an old story out of date, out of touch.
It's like today, ancient but in touch with now. Each of these events is truly momentous. You couldn't have imagined their happening had Joseph been your neighbor or your best friend. Nor could you have ever guessed that what would happen ultimately to him. Which brings up the fact that all our studies in contrast, they begin with an impossibility.
A situation that is so bleak and broken, you can't imagine good coming from it. And each ends where God intervenes and brings about beauty out of the ashes, purpose out of the pain. And each is amazingly relevant. You will see yourself again and again in each epical event because the fact is they still happen. They still occur. And because it's you or because it's me, we don't see them as epical. But we look back and realize, look at that. Remember when? And now look at this.
Look at this that's happened in spite of that. Last time we spent our time with an aging father, probably between 115, 120 years of age, who had been given a son when he was 100. And Abraham and Sarah loved that boy. And then God broke through in that epical, unexpected, unpredictable moment and said, kill him. Without hesitation, without argument, without reluctance, Abraham followed God's directions all the way through to the point of taking the knife to plunge it into his son. And the angel intervened another contrast in the story. What looked like death became not only life for Isaac, but for the seed of Isaac and the Jews for centuries to come. Now I know, said the Lord, that you fear me more than you love him.
Now I know. Today is the story of an abused 17-year-old boy. According to Genesis chapter 37, we know precisely that is his age.
So as I've asked you all along, put yourself in the sandals of each person we meet and imagine your 17-year-old, or when you were 17, still in your formative years, out of the blue, because of jealousy, since he was the father's favorite, being the youngest in the family, the brothers hated him and decided to murder him. None of it known to Joseph, of course. As Joseph makes his way to where they all were, they ambush him, discuss how to kill him, throw him in a cistern with plans to take his life until one says, no, we can make some money out of this. And they see a caravan coming from Canaan, going to Egypt, and they think, let's sell him. When you stop, study the story, you realize it is an ancient case of human trafficking. Abuse sold to others who were strangers and who knows what must have happened to Joseph from Canaan to Egypt in that caravan. We don't know.
Most acts of abuse are done in secrecy. We don't know what scars Joseph lived with or how the Ishmaelites in that caravan treated their slave. So they bring him to Egypt. Egypt, how different from where he had been in the quiet, quaint little village where he lived with his father, Jacob, and his brothers. He is now thrust into a country who speaks a language he doesn't know, who observed customs.
He's never observed. And worshipping gods of other names with strange animal faces in this weird setting, fast paced Egypt. He's a slave, bought by Pharaoh's captain of the guard named Potiphar, put into the house as a house slave. What a shock from favored son to forgotten boy, from pampered child to enslaved. Young man, unknown, living now with his memories, I let my mind run free. As I said in my study, and I thought of Joseph on a hard mat on the floor of that house or maybe outside the house where he slept. And looking up into the night sky with no moon, how easy it would have been for him to nurse a grudge. And to lick his wounds as he rehearsed the abuse, none of which was deserved.
And as he lay there before he could go to sleep thinking, you just wait. You just wait. My day is coming. I look up abuse in Webster's new collegiate dictionary. Everything I read turned my stomach. It's ugly. It's unfair. And I'll give you just the high points.
It goes on and on. To abuse is to use wrongly or improperly. To injure by maltreatment. To force sexual activity on another. Rape, molestation. To assault with abusive words. Physical maltreatment. A corrupt practice or custom forced upon you. Coarse and insulting language.
I'll stop there. I'll risk a hard question as I probe into the vault of your labyrinthine secret world of private anguish. Your emotional scars as they still ooze the pus of your past.
It was horrible. Have you known such cynical cruelty? Have you been a victim of life-altering abuse? Does the pain linger in unguarded moments? Does it emerge and take charge of your mind?
Control your thoughts. If so, then you can understand how Joseph could have handled the abuse, but he did not. Not once.
I've looked and looked and looked and looked. Not one reference to a lingering hatefulness or statement of revenge or moment to get even. I hit the pause button here at this epical event and remind you of his remarkable ability to deal with his inner pain. He's 17, 18, 19, 20.
No daddy, no family, no Canaan. He's a tool in the hand of a seductive woman who attempts to seduce him and make him her sex slave. Doesn't even fall for that. She accuses him of rape. Her husband believes her.
Maybe. I've always wondered if Potiphar, knowing his wife as he must have known her, if he really did believe that there had been a rape. I believe that he had believed that he would have killed Joseph on the spot. He's the captain of the guard. This is one hardened veteran. A battle. But he puts him in the king's prison and leaves him.
That's still unfair, but back to Joseph. You know what? I looked at his life and I erased all the things I knew that would come and I just thought.
What kind of guy is this? I found myself thinking we could put a halo over him, make him half human, half angelic. And then he could withstand it. But he wasn't that. We could put a cape on his back and a triangle on his chest and call him Super Saint. But he wasn't that.
He was just a red blooded Jewish young man who came from Canaan, just a country boy, thrust into this setting, knowing nothing of what he was facing. Well, then maybe he was in denial. You'll hear that. Maybe he just blocked it out of his mind. Like you've been told to do.
It's not denial. When you get toward the end of the story in chapter 50, he says to his brothers, you intended to harm me. I know that. I knew what you were doing when it happened. In fact, in one of the dialogues as the brothers are reliving and trying to patch up their lives and deal with their guilt, one of them says, I still remember how he cried out and said, don't do this. It was painful.
The abandonment, the selling him off to the caravan. He's not in denial. You meant it to be for evil. But my God, greater than all of us and the whole world put together, intended it for good. You won't get that from the social media. You won't hear that from the great majority of psychiatrists or psychologists. You'll get it from the scriptures. You'll see it in a man who was no more superhuman than your 17 year old or mine.
And you'll see the amazement of what God did. Well, we left him in prison a moment ago, so we'll go back. And he's forgotten. He is. He's there with he's a model prisoner.
Not surprising. He wins the heart of the warden. He wins over the friendship of fellow inmates.
And when you read through the story, it's like, good night. What kind of a guy is this? Not a word of bitterness.
Not one. This man is living large the life of a believer. In spite of the injustice, Joseph was a model prisoner. We urge you to keep listening as his amazing story unfolds. To learn more about this ministry, we invite you to visit us online at insightworld.org. In addition to these daily programs, Chuck has written a brand new 12th chapter book by the same title, and it's available to you right now. Anyone who's dealing with disappointment, discouragement, or disputes will greatly appreciate Chuck's inspirational book, Clinging to Hope. When chaos and calamities strike, sometimes we begin to question if God even knows about our troubles. In his book, Chuck reassures us that God not only knows, but he truly cares. To purchase a copy of Clinging to Hope, go to insight.org slash hope. Or call us.
If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Those who suffer can find comfort in the fact that we serve a compassionate God who understands our pain because he endured the cross. In fact, we often hear from grateful listeners who tell us they find solace in this program because it reinforces their confidence in God. For instance, we heard from a friend in South Carolina who said, Chuck, as my parents went through major end-of-life illnesses, God particularly used the ministry of Insight for Living to grow my faith. Often, it was as though God handpicked the messages just for me.
Even the lighthearted moments of a well-timed joke were great medicine for my soul. Well, if you're among those who have supported Insight for Living, God used your contribution to touch lives just like this one. And when you give today, your donation will be channeled directly toward bringing the hope-filled message of the Bible to people who need encouragement. To give a gift right now, call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. Or you can give online when you go to insight.org slash donate. I'm Bill Meyer. Join us when Chuck Swindoll continues his message about Joseph's betrayal and the shocking reunion with his brothers. That's Friday on Insight for Living. The preceding message, When God Gives Grace to Endure, was copyrighted in 2019 and 2022 and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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