Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Few of us have ever faced the trials Joseph faced. Between this man and his dream lay injustice, treachery, slavery, and prison. Indeed, his dream was sorely tested.
How long could you hang on to your dream under circumstances like these? From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, what does it mean to say Joseph's dream was tested? Dave, I find that to be a very interesting question because the fact is that most of the people that God uses, they have dreams and those dreams appear to die when everything seems to be against you. And oftentimes, God in his sovereignty takes those dreams and despite all the circumstances and all the testing, he sees that they are fulfilled. I find this interesting because in my hands, I have a book entitled When a Good Man Falls. And the opening chapter actually is on the life of Moses. Well, his dream certainly died.
There he was next to Pharaoh, only to discover that because of an incident, he ends up in the desert for 40 long years. No dreams there, but eventually God takes him out of the desert and uses him mightily. So, I say to all those who are struggling today, keep your dream alive. By the way, this book, When a Good Man Falls, it is available to you for a gift of any amount. Here's what you can do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 and you'll learn the stories of many whose dream died and yet God revived their dreams.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. We're talking about dreams. Some of our dreams are fulfilled. There are many dreams that we have for ourselves that are being fulfilled and there are still other dreams that will never be fulfilled.
As you and I know, we don't have to go along very far in life before we realize that the world is filled, filled with broken dreams. Joseph had a dream. God gave him a dream that someday his brothers and sisters and even his parents would bow down to him.
That was his dream and they did all that they possibly could to sabotage it. And last time, we learned that in that experience, Joseph was taken and thrown into a pit and then he was sold and on his way to Egypt and that was the end of his dream and the brothers were happy because at last they had put to death this young man who had received his father's coat which was a sign of airship and above all, it was the end of his dreams. Today I want you to take your Bibles and let's turn to Genesis chapter 39.
Genesis chapter 39. If you were here last time, you know that we stress that Joseph, first of all, had to die to his family. He had to die to his family.
If there was any possibility that his dream would be fulfilled, it most assuredly wouldn't be because his brothers wanted it to be fulfilled and his father was powerless to help him. Joseph is going to die now another death and that death is going to take place in the land of Egypt. Remember when Joseph went there, God was leading him and we read in chapter 39, Joseph had been taken down to Egypt and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, brought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there and the Lord was with Joseph and he became successful. Potiphar began to trust this young man and entrusted everything into him for which he had responsibility because he said, here's a young man whom I know I can believe in. Potiphar, you remember, was responsible. He was the secret service for Pharaoh, had a very prominent position and because of his many duties, he was away from the house a great deal of the time and this meant that Joseph and Potiphar's wife spent an awful lot of time together, too much time as it turned out, within the house and that's where the second death that Joseph experienced took place.
Well, you remember what happened. The Bible says that Potiphar's wife began to try to seduce Joseph. Verse seven, it came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph and she said, lie with me. Well, let's put ourselves in Joseph's sandals. Think of the opportunity that he had and why was this such a powerful, powerful temptation? First of all, because he was exalted in Egypt. He had an important position and usually people who have positions of importance tend to make exceptions for themselves. Saul, you remember, put away all the witches from the land of Canaan and yet when he is in trouble, what does he do?
He goes to the witch at Endor. It is the principle of self-exemption. Joseph could have said, here I am in Egypt. God has blessed me and surely God, because he's merciful, will continue to bless me even if I commit this pleasurable sin.
That's what he could have thought. Let me give you another reason why it was such a sexual temptation that was powerful. It's because he was so vulnerable. Notice in verse six, the last part of the verse reads, now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. Joseph was tempted because he was tempting. Good looking hulk of a young man with much desire within his body and furthermore, every reason to believe that Potiphar's wife was very attractive and so you can just imagine the chemistry that could have been there between them as it was, it was all one-sided, but Joseph was in a position of great, great temptation.
In fact, you know what the text says? She said to him, day after day she pressured him and made her moves. This wasn't just a matter of one time and then Joseph walking away. No, he had to live with the possible fantasies and with her desires in the house as long as he was there day by day. Another reason is he was away from home. Mom and dad were long gone.
They were in the land of Canaan. None of his brothers or sister, the sister that he had, none was with him there. Nobody really knew him in this strange land with its strange customs. Nobody who meant a great deal to him would ever find out.
This could have been his trip to Fort Lauderdale during spring break. Nobody knows what's going on. I'm with students and nobody knows me. Here I am. I can have my fling. Put yourself in his sandals. He could have rationalized along with Potiphar's wife and said, look, let's do this and then let's make up a good lie so that if we are found out, we will come armed with a pack of lies that will be consistent and if we use those lies, we'll be able to talk our way out of anything, anything. Joseph could have thought to himself, well, I can handle the consequences. Whatever those consequences are, they are manageable.
In fact, I'll deal with those consequences tomorrow. You know, today there's a lot of emphasis on the need for abstinence and we need to emphasize that, but I think that many of our arguments are not being bought by our young people. We tell them, you know, remember that there is the fear of AIDS, that there's unwanted pregnancies. Remember there is guilt. Remember all of these consequences and the giving away of something so special has some very deep and lasting consequences, but many young people aren't buying it. Because remember, the human mind has the ability to rationalize anything that the human heart wants to do and you can bypass all that and say that there is an exception for me and I will take whatever precautions are necessary so that I won't get caught in the same trap that others have. I am smarter than all that.
I can do it and I can get by. I think Joseph would have said the very same thing, very same thing. Young man with burning desire as all young men have in a house that is empty with another woman, with a woman I should say who greatly desires him.
Perfect match. But there's one thing that Joseph could not rationalize, only one. He said to her one day, he said, how shall I do, last part of verse 9, how could I do this great evil and sin against God? That was the question. Joseph had a right view of sin. He didn't call it an affair. He didn't say we shouldn't really do this little hanky-panky on the side.
Today we live in an age of euphemisms. Adultery is an affair. Homosexuality is an alternate lifestyle. Joseph said it is sin. It is a great sin and he says I have a right view of sin and a right view of God. I can put up with the consequences.
I can live with the guilt. I can have my pleasure today and have my harvest tomorrow but there is one thing that I cannot rationalize and that is that it will break the heart of my Heavenly Father and I love him so much. I can't do this to him.
I can't do it to him. And that's the one thing you can never rationalize, never because no matter whether anybody knows or not, it matters not because God knows and he is offended and he is hurt. David learned that, the relationship with Bathsheba. He tried to cover it up of course and we all know the story and eventually he couldn't and Nathan the prophet came to him and said thou art the man. You remember the story and finally David said I tried to hide this sin from everyone in the palace. I didn't do a very good job but I tried to hide the whole thing to cover my shame but when he repented he said against thee and thee only have I sinned. God that which was hidden and that which I lied about and that which I tried so confidently to cover, it was all seen by you. Most women, if they had had a sermon like this from a young man, they'd have given up on this kid.
They'd have said you know he's so, he's so staid and traditional in his morals I'm going to give up. She didn't, she didn't. This lady really had it for Joseph. You'll notice it says that day after day she kept the pressure up even after he told her that he couldn't do this great sin against God. Finally one day she really made her move and she just grabbed for him and he of course, you know he's trying to get away and she grabs this coat and she ends up with his coat and there he is out the door. Well it's been said rather accurately I would say that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned and she said to himself I'll fix that guy. So she brings in all the servants and says look at, look at what this Hebrew tried to do. The guy tried to seduce me, in fact he was trying to rape me.
I've got his coat in my hand. Potiphar comes back and she tells him the same story and he believes it and the text says verse 19 it came about when his master heard the words of his wife which he spoke to him saying this is what your slave did to me that his anger burned and Joseph's master took and put him into jail. And of course he got on his cellular phone and called his attorney and immediately said I want to have my rights read, I want this investigated, I'm going to file a complaint and we're going to get this resolved and I'm going to sue him. Oh wow in those days there was no trial, there was no attorney, there was no justice, there was no hearing, there was no opportunity for him to tell his side of the story, nothing but jail period.
Bango. Let me ask you a question where in the world did this idea ever arise? Who hatched the idea? That if you do what is right things will always turn out good for you.
Where did that come from? Surely not the Bible. Joseph does what is right and gets two years in the slammer of false accusation against him for doing that which was right and sound and pure in the sight of an almighty God and that's what he gets for it. There's a verse in 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 20 who says you know if you do evil and you suffer for it no big deal you're getting what you deserve but if you do what is right and you suffer for it, such suffering finds favor with God. If you have ever had to suffer unjustly and you have done it graciously for Christ, God takes notice and says now that's something special to me. Don't you ever bypass an opportunity to suffer unjustly especially if it is for the Lord you love because God says I find a favor if you can handle it. What was God doing anyway?
Well it's a big deal here. Well you know it says in Psalm 105 verse 18 and 19, just listen, it says Joseph was put in the fetters and he was bound in the irons. Don't ever think that these prisons were lovely places to be.
They were terrible infested dungeons. He was bound in the irons. He was put in the stocks and there the word of God tested him, tested him.
God was trying to find out what Joseph was made of. Could he, well we know that he was a good administrator in success but could he handle failure? He was doing well in the palace but can he handle the desert?
He was doing well when he was receiving just recompense. Can he handle injustice? And furthermore can he hang on to his dream even though it dies in a prison cell?
That's the question can you hold on to your dream? Two phrases that you ought to underline in your Bible if you're in the habit of underlining it. Notice verse 2, Potiphar exalts Joseph it says and the Lord was with Joseph. Now he's in jail verse 21 and the Lord was with Joseph. Will you remember my friend today that God is with us in our exaltation and he is with us in our humiliation. He is with us when we are promoted and he is with us when we are demoted even if it happens unjustly. God is with us.
Alright how far have we come? He had to die to his family. If the dream was to be fulfilled it most assuredly would not be fulfilled through them. They tried to burst his dreams.
If there's a word like that, if not there is now. He had to die to his reputation. He had to die to his reputation. Everybody in the palace said well look at him hypocrite.
Seems so nice but look at what the guy did. Tried to rape Potiphar's wife and there was no way to straighten out the rumors and the gossip and the innuendos and the tabloids. There was no way to get justice. He had to die to his reputation. God still isn't through with him though. He has another death to die and that is mentioned in the 40th chapter. He's thrown into jail with two guys you remember, the cup bearer and the chief baker and they have their dreams and I'm not going to tell you what those dreams are because it's going to take too long and you can read those on your own but Joseph interprets the dreams.
He's really good at interpreting other people's dreams. He doesn't know what in the world happened to his own but he's a counselor in jail and they come to him and they say you know we both had dreams and Joseph said hey you guys guess what good news bad news. You'll notice it says that Joseph said to him that is he is speaking to the cup bearer. Verse 13 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office and you will put Pharaoh's cup into his hand according to your former custom.
Good news baker guess what three days and you are out of here and your head is cut off. But while he was talking to this cup bearer who is going to get out of jail he says in verse 14 only keep me in mind when it goes well with you and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house for I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon. Last verse of the chapter yet the chief cup bearer did not remember Joseph but forgot him. Do you have friends like that? They're in trouble and you help them and then you're in trouble and they don't even remember your address they never call on the telephone they never give you a kind word they aren't there to help you everything seems to be going wrong in your life and you are enduring it all alone and the people who verbally said yes we are your friends they don't come through at a time of need and they say well life is tough it's good for us it's bad for you but that's the way it is. The cup bearer forgets him.
Death to his friends death to his friends. If there's ever any way now that that this dream is ever going to come alive I'll tell you talk about an impossible dream God was going to have to resurrect it from the ashes and the stench the smell the grime and the vermin of a dungeon. Well you know it's interesting. Chapter 41 Pharaoh has a dream. Everybody's dreaming in here reminds me of a college class I had in psychology. Everybody's dreaming.
He has his dream. Fourteen cows come out of the Nile River. Seven of them sleek and fat and then behind them another seven skinny ones and the skinny ones eat the fat ones and they still stay skinny. Eat your heart out Jenny Craig.
Why this would make a slim fast commercial. So then finally the cup bearer says oh yo yo yo hop for gas and so they go get Joseph he says you remember I there was a guy in jail Joseph and and he could interpret dreams and Joseph comes and shaves and Pharaoh says what in the world tell me my dream and tell me what the interpretation is and Joseph says look you're going to get seven years of plenty and then there are going to be seven years of famine and if you're smart you're going to save during the years of plenty because the famine is coming. And of course God fulfilled the dream of Joseph in a remarkable way didn't he? You know as we look around the evangelical landscape we know that there are many men who have been gifted and have been called and yet they have fallen. Well I've written a book entitled When a Good Man Falls and I wrote this book actually based on some of the characters of the Bible both Old Testament and New Testament in order to show that even after someone has fallen God still has a future for them. It's a book actually of optimism and hope. For a gift of any amount this book can be yours go to rtwoffer.com that's rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. When you call us ask for the book When a Good Man Falls. I think that you will be encouraged as you read it. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337 and thanks so much in advance for helping us as we get the gospel around the world.
You can write to us at running to win 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard Chicago Illinois 60614. Well one minute Joseph's in jail the next he's vice regent of Egypt but he kept it all in perspective. He knew that God was working out a plan a plan placed into his heart in a dream. So how's your dream coming next time on keep your dream alive. Dr. Lutzer will tell more about Joseph's chance to interpret a Pharaoh's dream as recorded in Genesis Chapter 41. Thanks for listening this is Dave McAllister running to win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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