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Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost – 08/20/2017

Transcription – The Lord Provides For His People

My fellow forgiven sinners, word of God for our meditation this morning is the Old Testament reading from Genesis 41.

Pharaoh had a very bad night. He couldn’t sleep. He woke up from his first dream. He saw seven very fat very happy looking cows, California cows. They were grazing on the banks of the Nile River, but not for very long. Along came seven sick and gaunt looking cows and they gobbled up the seven fat cows, but they still were skinny and sickly looking. This woke Pharaoh up. He could tell this was not just a normal dream and he wondered what could the meaning be. Finally, he fell asleep a second time and again was woken up. There were seven very fat and very healthy looking stalks of grain. Bundles of grain tied up on the banks of the Nile River, the great river of Egypt. And as he was watching the grain, seven terrible looking grain sheafs walked up to the seven good grains and ate them up, but they still remain small and scant. And again Pharaoh woke up from his dream and he could not sleep again for the rest of the night. He called in all of his enchanters, all of his astrologers, all of his magicians, all of his wise men, and he asked them what could this dream mean. You and I know what the dreams meaning is because we read the story of Joseph in the Old Testament, don’t we? But God hid the meaning of this dream from Pharaoh and from all of his wise men, and all of his enchanters. They were stuck. They had no idea. Finally one of the members of Pharaoh’s staff remembered. Ahah! A young man that I met in prison about 10 years ago had told me the meaning of my dream, and I promised that I was going to report him and get him out of there and I forgot. Yet he spoke up he said, “Pharaoh I know the young man. He is able to interpret dreams.” So Pharaoh called for Joseph and Joseph reported to the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And the Pharaoh asked him, “Are you able to interpret dreams?” And Joseph said no He said, “I cannot do it, but the Lord Jehovah God whom I serve is able to do it. Tell me your dream.” Pharaoh told the dream.

You know this must have brought up some very bitter thoughts to Joseph. You know Joseph it had two dreams. Remember Joseph dreams when he was a child? The first of the dreams involved sheaves of grain, and there were there were two very big ones and 11 smaller ones, and they all bowed down before Joseph’s sheaf. And then a second dream that Joseph had was that there was the sun and the moon and 11 stars and they all bow down before him, the little star. And God had revealed to Joseph that the reason that he doubled the dream was because he had firmly established this in his divine mind. He said this is certainly going to happen. Joseph was able to say that the Pharaoh too. This is certainly going to happen. God has firmly decided these things, but what happened after Joseph had told this dream about God-glorifying him in front of his family? You remember the story, don’t you? What happened to Joseph? Maybe remembered better from the story of the Technicolor dream coat. Yeah, the brothers threw him into a cistern, a water pit. And they took away that richly ornamented coat, that coat of many colors. And they smeared pigs blood all over it so that his father would be fooled into thinking that Joseph had been attacked and killed by wild animals, and then nothing was left except that torn up bloodied coat. And as if that weren’t bad enough, then the brothers traded him into slavery, and they watched as a Midianite trading caravan took him off over the horizon toward the land of Egypt, where he was a slave in the house of a man named Potiphar.

And he was very faithful in working for Potiphar. God blessed everything under his control. He worked it up so that he was the Chief of Staff and Potiphar’s house, and then Potiphar’s wife took notice of him. An older powerful woman tries to seduce a 17-year-old boy, and what did Joseph do? He remained faithful to God. Mrs. Potiphar accused him of rape or attempted rape, and he was thrown into prison. See things go from bad to worse. While he was imprisoned God bless everything that he did as a faithful prisoner. See he wanted to be the best slave that he could be, and then he was going to be the best prisoner that he could be. God blessed him in prison but, he was still in the prison. When Pharaoh’s cupbearer and his Baker were brought in for intrigue inside the court, one of them would be killed. And it was revealed in a dream the other one would be released and re-established in the Kings service, and that is what happened. Joseph accurately predicted both things because God was in him. The Spirit of God was inspiring him. And yet he was forgotten. He languished in prison for 3+ more years I should say 10+ more years. Possibly up to 13 years. It doesn’t seem like God provides first church very well does it. During the seven years of famine, God was providing for his church. This is how it happened. See it didn’t seem like Joseph was in a very good spot at all. It didn’t seem at all as if God was providing for him and his family’s needs. It didn’t seem to him at all like God was keeping his promises. Quite to the contrary, it seemed like he was forgotten, like anybody sitting and pining away in prison would feel forgotten. As anybody especially a falsely, accused in a falsely convicted would feel abandoned even by God in the jail. Then God showed his hand. He showed his mighty hand. Joseph in a day is rewarded for all of his faithful service. Joseph in a day can see that God keeps his promises. See not only would 13 members of his family now bow before him but in our reading, it says the Pharaoh immediately made him second in command of all Egypt. He made him ride on the second biggest chariot, pulled by the second-best horse in the kingdom.Yet people shout before him here is the Kings chosen, Deputy. And as he rode before the people all of the people were commanded to bow down before him. Joseph was put in charge during the seven good years. He collected 1/3 of the people’s produce, and he had them stored away in barns. And then when the seven terrible years of famine and pestilence came, the Egyptians had enough food while all the rest of the Middle East suffered misery. Because of the suffering of the people in Canaan, Joseph’s brothers and father, who was still living travel to Egypt, and that’s an interesting story to that involves more details then we can get into now. But Joseph’s brothers and father came to Egypt and there they were wrapped up in God’s love. They were received by a very forgiving Joseph, and they were given food and a place to settle. They were given security for their generation. God was providing for his church at that time. He provided for his chosen family because they were to become the family of the Savior. The ancestors of God’s own son, Jesus Christ.

Putting the Right People in the Right Places

God provided the right person in the person of Joseph at the right time. We can see throughout history that God does this he raises up the right person at the right time. I shared with the youth group today about the story of Samson. He was the right man at the right time to save the Israelites from the Philistines. We can think about the Reformation when God raised up Martin Luther at the right time in history to purify the church from the evil practices and from the false doctrine that had so unraveled itself in them. We can think about times that God has raised up the right person at the right time in American history. A George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. The right people at the right time and in your life to perhaps you have the right person at the right time the God brings into your life to bring you a word of encouragement. To bring you a hand of help. To bring you the gospel when you really need to hear it, when you’re down in the dumps. God brings the right people at the right time into our lives for the good of the church. The right person at the right time for all people of all time, of course, is Jesus Christ. Jesus, when he was dying on the cross pronounced forgiveness for the whole world. He said father forgive them for they know not what they do. That wasn’t just the Roman soldiers are the Jewish leaders. That was all people we don’t know better. We don’t know what we do. Father forgive them. And when Jesus proclaimed on the cross it is finished, he was saying that the death of sin had been paid for in full. There was nothing that those who cling to Christ need to fear from God’s wrath any longer. It was done. It is finished. The debt is paid, and as Jesus died on the cross, he had in mind you and me. He said I will take care of those people. I will take care of my children. God makes the right circumstances turn out for our good. In Paul’s letter to Timothy says he wants all people everywhere to raise up holy hands in prayer. He says this is good and pleases God our Savior who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. It may not seem this way.

Producing the Right Situations at the Right Times

We look at the world around us, and we see White Supremacists and Antifa clashing in Charlottesville. We see police officers being killed in the line of duty around the country. We see churches ripped apart by internal squabbles and financial difficulties. We see people around us with wrecked lives, with bad health, with fractured family relationships. We look around us, and we see conflict and crime, disease. Oh sure there’s a lot of good things too, but don’t we often tend to focus on those negative things. Yes, even in those negative things it’s important for us to remember that God is working out the good for those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Certainly doesn’t seem like a good thing when I wreck my car. It doesn’t seem like a good thing when I have an ache of pain or when I have cancer or heart disease or when I find an addiction or when I have friends that betray me. None of those things seem pleasant, yet God says be still. Be still and know that I am God. Know that I will work this out for your good with my divine providence and governance of all things. I will make sure. You know how we can be sure about that? You know how I can be sure that even my friend Steve’s broken leg that he received yesterday is gonna work out for his good? Because of God’s promise. Sometimes that’s all we have to go on is God’s promise.

About 2000 years later, after Joseph and his family were in Egypt, another man stood before Jesus Christ, seemingly with no hope at all. Behind him a teeming mob of 15,000 people more or less. There were 5000 men we know besides the women and children. These people didn’t have enough food to eat what was going to sustain them on the way home. One of Jesus disciples held in his hands five loaves of bread and two fish he said how far will these go among so many it’s hopeless. I wonder if Jesus had the hint of a grin on his face as he said to his disciple all you have five loaves and two fish, bring them to me. And as Jesus blessed those loaves and fish he passed them on to the disciples who passed them on to the people. In this miracle that multiplied the loaves and the fishes provided more than enough so that all of God’s people gathered in that place were able to be filled and were able to make it home safely. And they had received really nice object lesson about how God can provide. God provided so well for Joseph and his family and all of the Egyptians during that famine that they stopped keeping track of all of the grain that was produced during the seven good years. If we’re honest about it and if we really look at all of the things that God does for us there’s no way that we can keep track of all of the blessings that God is done. They far out shadow any suffering that we might endure this life and any kind of grief that we might have. All of that will pale in comparison with the glory that will be revealed in us.

We’ll see that glory one day. It will be greater than the glory of Egypt. Greater than the glory of the feeding of the 5000 because we’re going to see our glorified Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We’re going to eat perfect food and that heavenly banquet we’ll eat even from the tree of life.

Amen

Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

  1. Putting the Right People in the Right Places
  2. Producing the Right Situations at the Right Times

SERMON TEXT:  Genesis 41:41–49

See First Lesson Below


Bible Readings

FIRST LESSON:  Genesis 41:41–49

Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “Look, I have appointed you over the whole land of Egypt.” Pharaoh took his signet ring off of his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand. He dressed Joseph in robes made from the best linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in the second best chariot that he had. Men went ahead of him crying out, “Kneel down!” Pharaoh appointed him over the whole land of Egypt. Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but in the whole land of Egypt no one will lift up his hand or his foot without your permission.” Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath Paneah, and he gave him Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, as a wife. Joseph went out and began to rule over the land of Egypt. Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh and traveled throughout the whole land of Egypt. During the seven years of abundance the earth produced plentiful harvests. He collected all the food during the seven good years in the land of Egypt, and he stored up the food in the cities. In every city he stored the food from the fields that were around the city. Joseph stored up a huge amount of grain, like the sand of the sea. Finally, he stopped keeping track, because it was too much to measure.

SECOND LESSON:  1 Timothy 4:4–5

In fact, everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5because it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.

VERSE OF THE DAY:  John 14:23

“If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

GOSPEL: Matthew 14:13–21

When Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place to be alone. When the crowds heard this, they followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus got out of the boat, he saw a large crowd. He had compassion on them and healed their sick. When evening came, his disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place and the hour is already late. Send the crowds away, so that they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said to them, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” They told him, “We have here only five loaves and two fish.” “Bring them here to me,” he replied. Then he instructed the people to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish. After looking up to heaven, he blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples. The disciples gave the food to the people. They all ate and were filled. They picked up twelve basketfuls of what was left over from the broken pieces. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not even counting women and children.

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