Last time we were together, we noted Joseph occupies some prominent real estate in the book of Genesis. I want you to just think for a moment that the Holy Spirit allotted one-fourth of the Book of Genesis to the subject of one man named Joseph. One-fourth, 25% of the book is dedicated to Joseph. Compare that with the 10 words that God allotted in explaining the first statement about creation. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. Ten words, followed by two chapters of a very undetailed account of the creation of the universe.
It seems like you'd want to reverse that because it would seem that most people would really be interested in origins, where we came from, how did it all happen. And yet, we're arrested that the Holy Spirit has a different priority and emphasis than we might. We might want to make it all about origins. The Holy Spirit wants to make it all about people. Especially a very unique person of whom nothing bad is said. There's only two people in the bible that has nothing bad to say about. That is Joseph and the other is Daniel. It doesn't mean they were sinless, it just means that it's not recorded. There's a lot in contrast to what is recorded about Joseph's brothers for example. But nothing evil is said of Joseph. And as we mentioned last time when we have communion, it's because Joseph looks a lot like Jesus and that is Joseph is a unique type of Jesus Christ.
So when you put the big picture together, it doesn't really surprise us that the Lord would spend that much time and that much focus on one person. The story of Joseph is a classic story. It's a rags to riches story. An obscure kid introduced here at the age of 17, becomes the second most powerful person in the world. The Prime Minister of Egypt, second only to Pharaoh. But more than that, in line with that but more than that, it's a story of providence. Now, some of you know what that is. Others of you have only heard that word but you're a little bit unsure as to what that means. I want you to be sure. I want you to understand the meaning of providence in the bible.
The idea of God's providence means that God takes ordinary events and arranges them. That's providence in a nutshell. Sovereign God, superintending or arranging natural events for a pre-determined outcome.
It's different than the miraculous. When we talk about providence, it doesn't necessarily mean the miraculous. Let me explain. A miracle is when God intervenes in natural law or contravenes natural law. Providence is where God utilizes natural law. Whereas a miracle is God acting supernaturally unnaturally, providence is where God is working supernaturally naturally. Natural events, normal events, the stuff that everyday is made out off. But when you look back and you see the Providence of God. God's hand overruling leading people through events. You realize this isn't circumstantial, it's providential. We all have examples of providence.
I look back on my life. It just so happen that one night I was invited by a previous girlfriend to a potluck where I noticed a young girl across the room. I asked her name, her name was Lenia. It wasn't circumstantial, it was providential. That was the Lord. It just so happened that I was good friends with a guy years ago who said to me one night, 'I'm thinking of moving to Albuquerque.' That started the chain of events in my own heart. As I look back on it, that wasn't circumstantial that was providential. It just so happened that the landlord at our previous building, wanted to charge more rent we weren't willing to pay it. And he was going to kick us out of that building and it just so happened at the same time, this place was up for sale and vacant. It wasn't circumstantial, however, it was providential. God's hand was in it. And so to with Joseph.
Here's a young man as you'll see despised by his brothers and bad things happen to him. But God is going to weave all things together for good to this one who loves God and is called according to his purpose. It's a beautiful testimony of that scripture, Romans 8:28.
Joseph will go down to Egypt. Now I'm telling you something in advance before we get into it because I want you to see a big picture. Joseph is going to be down in Egypt and come to a place of great prominence and power. Why? Because God needs to fulfill a promise that he made back in Chapter 15, that is still left dangling. Since you have your bibles with you, just go back a couple chapters, to Chapter 15 and notice something. Genesis 15:13 'Then he, the Lord said to Abram...' -- that's his name before it was changed to Abraham '...know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs and will serve them and they will afflict them for 400 years. And also the nation whom they serve, I will judge afterward, they shall come out with great possessions, but as for you, you will go to your father's in peace. You will be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation, they shall return here for the inequity of the Amorites is not yet complete.' Did you get that?
There's Abraham in the land God promised him. He says, actually your descendants are going leave this land and be in another place for a period of time. And then, I'm going to bring them back here. Which begs the question, why bother? I mean, once they're there to begin with, why not keep them there. Why do you have to take them out to a different place? Well number one, to teach them a very important lesson which I'll show you why before we end tonight. But number two, because, God is a Merciful God. You see the inhabitants of Canaan, the Canaanites called in Verse 16, the Amorites, chapter 15:16 The Amorites was the chief tribe of the Canaanites.
God would give the Canaanites an opportunity to change, to repent. You see, God's going to judge them and he's going usurp their authority and position in the land by bringing the Israelites to take over. But he's not just going to do that without warning. He's going to give them 400 years so they're going to have Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and you're going to have that testimony to the Canaanites of the monotheist of God who loves people and wants to change their world. That message will be able to resonate in Canaan for 400 years. But then, when the inequity or the sin of the Amorites reaches the level at which God says, 'Now I have to act.' Then God will act in judgment.
So do you understand that God is patient? Four hundred years, I would say is a long time to wait for somebody to change. I think after 400 years ago, no I don't think it's going to happen. How about judgment time? Well that's what happens. Four hundred years later, God will kick the Canaanites out and the Israelites will take over and God gives to them the land of Canaan. God is a very patient and merciful God. So that's a prediction. They have to leave the land and so to prepare for them leaving the land, so that it's favorable at least at first, Joseph will go down to Egypt and providentially become second in command to get it all ready. So that the children of Jacob can go down there, be given the Land of Goshen, prosper, increase in population until they become slaves in Exodus Chapter 1 and 2 and then they will take the Exodus in Exodus 10, 11, and 12 and get back into the land.
Now back to Chapter 37 where we are trying to begin. Verse 1 now, 'Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a stranger in the Land of Canaan.' His father, Isaac was indeed a stranger in Canaan much more so than his son Jacob was a stranger. It would seem that if you were to look at Jacob's life, he resembled in his value system the people of Canaan more than Isaac, his father. Isaac wasn't perfect but Jacob was far removed from even the righteous standard of his father. Do you know the bible says that we too are strangers in our land? That's how Peter writes his first epistle. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ to the strangers scattered throughout Cappadocia, Galatia, Bethania, etcetera.
Same book, Chapter 2, Peter says, 'I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims abstained from fleshly lust which wore against the soul.' We live in this world, we're in this land but we're called to be strangers. I get worried that sometimes my life isn't strange enough but I become at home in this place that I am to be a stranger in. We're to be different, we're to be separate. And Jacob as we have already seen and we'll be reminded of even here. He and his family, their lifestyles are resembling more and more the people of Canaan rather than being a stranger like his father. This is the history of Jacob.
Joseph being 17 years old was feeding the flock with his brothers and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives and Joseph brought a bad report to his father that is about them. Now, Israel that is Jacob with his new name loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son of his old age and he also made him a tunic of many colors. You would think that with Jacob's experience with favoritism, that is his father showing favoritism, and he the son experiencing that, then he would enter into this. You know, just think back several chapters. When Jacob was younger and still at home and he would have remembered how his father, Isaac, favored his oldest brother Isaiah over him. And he saw the effects that that kind of favoritism could have in a family. When one sibling realizes my dad loves my older brother way more than me. He experienced that.
And you would think there's no way he's going to make the same mistake. News flash, he makes the same mistake. It is true. Often times the sins of parents are passed on to their children not willingly but unwillingly. It's an interesting fact that people that come from abused situations when they're younger, they've been abused by their parents often become the ones who abuse as time goes on. They replicate that, it's what they're used to seeing. It's what's been modeled to them. So Jacob loved Joseph more and all of his older brothers could see it.
Think back a few chapters but not as far. Think back when Jacob met Isaiah after he comes back from Padanaram and he finds out that Isaiah wants to meet with him and he is all paranoid, remember that? So remember how Jacob lines up the people who were going to meet him first. The infantry, the frontlines will be the livestock and his slaves because they're the most expandable. Then, there will be the sons of Leah, the sons of Bilhah, the sons of Zilpah and that whole family thing finally at the very end will be his most loved, Rachel and his loved son, Joseph. Way in the back to protect them. Favored status and that causes the division in the family.
So Israel loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son of his old age. And Rachel was the only woman he loved. We know that from previous scripture. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. A tunic of many colors or a multi colored robe, a robe of royalty. One commentator said it had sleeves and it went down to his ankles. A multi colored robe that showed favored status like a prince from a king would wear.
Now, it's pretty obvious if you're wearing something like that, you can't do much manual labor right? Because the work outfit a few thousand years ago was a sleeveless shortened tunic, so your legs and arms could move and you can do some work but this is like going to work with a tuxedo. Obviously, the statement his father is wanting to make is, 'Joseph you don't have to do hardwork like your brothers. You can just sort of supervise them. I know you're the youngest but just tell me how you think they're doing.'
Verse 2, he brought back a bad report. It's going to get worst really quick. It goes from bad to worst really quick. When his brothers saw, verse 4, that their father loved him more than all of his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably unto him. They couldn't even say, 'Shalom.' That's the idea. They couldn't extend 'Shalom!' greetings to him.
Can you remember back when you grew up, was there somebody in your neighborhood or in your class or at your school who was pampered maybe from a very wealthy family, got everything they wanted and they were the talk around school? Was there anybody like that in your neighborhood? I think back to a girl who was just down the block from where I lived and she was 15 years of age. Her dad was a wealthy attorney in town, in California. And when she was 15 and she just got her learners permit, her dad bought her a brand new red Porsche. Now, that's stupid. But in that kind of treatment, that kind of favoring toward her, he set her up for misery. She had a miserable existence. People around her didn't like her. Nobody liked her, sort of like Joseph.
So back again, they couldn't speak peaceably to him and remember back in verse 2, Joseph was out there in his nice coat watching them working, brought back a bad report. 'Dad, they're not doing a very good job.' Now Joseph had a dream and he told it to his brothers. And they hated him even more. And you'll see why when you hear the dream.
So he said to them, 'Please hear my dream which I have dreamed. There we were binding sheaves in the field and then behold my sheaf arose and stood upright and indeed your sheaves stood all around them bow down to my sheaf.' There's something's that if you know you just keep quite about. I'm not Joseph so I really can't speak for him but if this were me and I had a dream like this, I think I'd probably just kept it inside and just really see if it was the Lord or maybe I had a dream because of lox and bagels and onions the night before. I want to make sure before I announce it that it's really the Lord because this is going to get him into trouble. They wouldn't receive this.
Listen, Joseph was young. He's 17. Excited about life as most 17 year olds are and naïve. So here's his dream, he's all excited, 'Hey guess what you guys? You guys like all bow down to me, isn't that cool?' No. Now, I'm going to give away my age but I remember back and maybe some of you do if you're the ancient of days like I am. Do you remember Leave it to Beaver. Any of you here remember Leave it to Beaver, hands up, really? That many of you do. Okay so, Joseph was like the Beaver. Remember the beave how innocent he was? 'Hey well like Wally.' You know just so innocent about life and you know, it wasn't until like Eddie Haskell and Lumpy beat him up a few times that he just sort of wised up. It took him a while. This is the beave of the Old Testament.
His brother said to him, here's the reaction, 'So you indeed reign over us or so you indeed have dominion over us?' So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Joseph the dreamer of dreams, it's pretty interesting that Joseph's own dreams get him into trouble. And keep this in mind, 13 years later, someone else's dreams will get him out of trouble. Because God will give him the ability to unlock the secret meaning of other people's dreams. And what will be accurate is from the Lord. Verse 9, 'Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers.' See what I mean by naïve? And he said, 'Look I dreamed another dream. And this time the sun and the moon and the 11 stars bowed down to me.'
The first dream, if his dad would have heard about it, maybe he though, 'Well, he's just a kid, you guys come on, brush it off, give him a break, get over it, he's just 17 years old. He's a kid.' But now, he's got his attention. Now he's troubled over this. This is getting personal. So he told it to his father and his brothers and his father rebuked him and said to him, 'What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?' What's the answer to that? Will they? Yes, yes, yes. Everything he is dreaming will happen. They will bow down to him as he occupies that notable position in Egypt.
Now watch this, and his brothers envied him, that's to be expected but his father kept the matter in mind. Maybe this isn't from a late night lox and bagel episode the night before, maybe really this dream is from God. After all if somebody would know about God speaking through dreams, it would be Jacob. Yes? Chapter 28, he had his own dream of the angels of God descending and ascending from Earth to heaven. And the Lord spoke to him. The covenant God made a promise to him. And he woke up the next day and called it Bethel, the house of God, the place where God is. God is in this place and I knew it not. So he's thinking, okay maybe this is from the Lord. And indeed it was.
Now, there's a very important passage and we're going to stop here. Here we are in the first book of the bible. The very last book of the bible mentions also the sun and the moon and the stars, remember that? If you don't, either write in your margin to look at later or look at now if you are quick to turn the Revelation chapter 12, where it says, 'Now a great sign appeared in heaven. A woman clothed with the sun and with the moon under her feet and on her head a garland of 12 stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor in pain to give birth.' And another sign appeared in heaven behold a fiery red dragon having seven heads and 10 horns and seven diadems in its heads and he drew the third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the Earth and the dragon stood before the woman who is ready to give birth, to devour her child as soon as it was born. And so she bore a male child who was to rule all the nations with a rod of iron and the child was cut up to God and to his throne.
I've always been fascinated as to how many interpretations for the woman in Revelation chapter 12 exist. One of the most prominent and popular ones is that the woman in Revelation 12 represents the church. Is the church going through tribulation? Is the church suffering during that era? Well, if it's the church she's got a problem because she's pregnant. And that doesn't fit the description given by Paul as the virgin bride of Christ.
Here's what's great. There's only one other place in the bible where sun, moon, and 12 stars are given and the interpretation is given. And that's in our passage in Genesis 37 and Jacob, Joseph's father gives the interpretation because he knows exactly what the sun, the moon, and he stars are. It represents himself Jacob, Jacob's wife or Joseph's mother, Rachel, and all of his brothers which are the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel. So now, we don't have to guess what it is and just pull out some random interpretation because we think it fits best our isogetic theology. But we can say, 'Oh I know what the answer is, it represents Israel.' And you would be right. It represents the nation of Israel.
This is why knowing the bible is so important because when you know the bible, it makes the last book of the bible a whole lot easier to understand. It's not a tough book, the Book of Revelation. All of the idiomatic expressions are already unlocked in previous books of the bible. And so when you're familiar with them, you go, 'Oh I remember that.' And therefore, that's the interpretation. And so that's just an important tie-in from Genesis 37 to Revelation Chapter 12.
Now back to Chapter 37 of Genesis. 'Then his brothers...' verse 12 '...went to feed their father's flock in Shechem.' now that's 60 miles north, and Israel said to Joseph, 'Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.' And so he said to him, 'Here I am.' And he said to him, 'Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks and bring back word to me.' That is not a really wise thing he's doing. So he sent him out from the valley of Hebron, out of the Valley of Hebron and he went to Shechem. It's quite common for people who have flocks and herds and are feeding them to look for pasture land in greener areas. And Shechem was higher elevation and times of the year would have much more verdant possibilities for the animals.
However, do you remember what happened in Shechem? Shechem was the place where Simon and Levi, two of the sons of Jacob committed mass murder when their sister Dinah was raped. And do you remember that Jacob had to leave and flee in a hurry because he was afraid, the blood is really bad here, and we got to get out of town. But now years have passed, and he sends his boys back to Shechem because he still owns a piece of property back there, it's his land. So he sends them up to his land. But now he's having second thoughts because there is no doubt bad bloods are still between the Shechemites and my boys. I better send Joseph up there with this fancy little coat and see how they're working.
Verse 15, there was a certain man found him and there he was wandering in the field and the man asked him saying, 'What are you seeking?' and he said, 'I'm seeking my brothers. Please tell me where they're feeding their flocks?' The man said, 'They've departed from here. For I heard them say, let us go to Dothan.' So Joseph went after his brothers and found them in Dothan. Dothan is 10 miles north of Shechem. So if Shechem is 60 miles north of Hebron, go another 10 miles, you go to the city of Dothan. But Dothan happened to be on the caravan routes. This is why it's important, Dothan was on the caravan routes, they went from the Mediterranean westward, eastward inland and it would connect with the main caravan route that went from Syria Damascus all the way down to Egypt which brings us to really the highlight and the mystique of our story.
Now, verse 18, when they saw him afar off, even before he came near to them, they conspired against him to kill him. And they said to one another, 'Look this dreamer is coming. Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit and we shall say some wild beast has devoured him. We'll see what will become of his dreams.' But Reuben heard about it and he delivered him out of their hands as the eldest, the first born. And he said, 'Let us not kill him.' And Reuben said to them, 'Shed no blood if we cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness and do not lay a hand on him.' that he might be delivered from out of their hands and bring him back to his father. They see Joseph, they remembered the dreams. It's as if their saying, 'Look, you might be a dreamer but we're a bunch of pragmatist. And we're going to make sure that your dream never comes to pass. We're going to kill you.'
Reuben had already messed up. And he wasn't in great terms with his dad. So I think in order to win back his father's favor, he goes, 'No, we can't do this.' Seeking to deliver Joseph from out of their hands. And it says that he might deliver him out of their hands and bring them back to his father. So it came to pass when Joseph would come to his brothers that they stripped Joseph off his tunic, tunic of many colors that was on him. And they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty and there was no water in it. Why they stripped the robe off of him? Because that robe -- now it shows the very focus of their disdained. That robe represented the special relationship that this young boy had with this father. And that was what they were envious of, they didn't' have that relationship. Dad didn't love them as much as dad loved him. As shown by that coat, every time we see that stupid coat, it reminds us of that. So take off that stupid coat. And they did, they stripped him and they put him in a pit.
Now the pit was a cistern. If you've read through the scriptures, you're familiar with the term cisterns but really until you go to Israel and see a cistern, you have no clue what a cisterns is like. Cisterns were dugged out of the ground. Now the ground in Israel is usually most every where solid rock like concrete. So what they would do is they would dig out by hand, hammer and chisel and it will take months or years to dig this huge cavernous hole to store water because in the Middle East, it's the rain from heaven, Deuteronomy 11 that God says, 'I will water the Earth with.' So in the ancient days, they could walk in to their kitchen and turn the faucet and have water come out of the sink and because they didn't have an abundance of water in that land like in places where there are great rivers, they had to collect rain water. So every time it would rain, they would build diversion channels and the channels would empty into these holes or cisterns. Once they would dig them out, then a plaster would come in and lay a nice layer of sealant plaster around that cisterns.
In Israel, in the garden tomb, a place where some people believed Jesus was buried and then rose from the dead. There's one cistern they discovered that could hold 250,000 gallons of water.
Now, you have an idea of this huge hole and this is the background for some very important scriptures. Like in Jeremiah where the Lord said in Chapter 2, 'My people have committed two evils. Number one, they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters. Number two, they have dugged out cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water.' You can imagine how frustrating it would be if you spent months and months digging out of solid rock your cistern only to discover that there's a fissure in the rock. And then maybe even buy a little bit of seismic activity was made worse. So you put water in it, it all empties out.
My people have left me a fountain of living water on Artesian well and they're drinking out of broken cisterns that can't hold water. So many of our experiences can't hold water. And yet, we try to drink from them and be refreshed by them. So that's the cistern which is big, empty pit. And it was empty because it wasn't the rainy season, it hadn't rained so there's no water in it. And it's a great place to store a prisoner. So they put him in a cistern because it says there was no water in it. And then he sat down to eat a meal. They lifted up their eyes and look there was a company of Ishmaelite's coming from Gilead with their camels bearing spices balm, myrrh on the way to carry them down to Egypt. That's the caravan route I was telling you about.
So Judah said to his brothers, 'What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood. Let's make some money out for this. Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelite's and let not our hand be upon him for he is our brother and our flesh.' And his brothers listened. Then Midianite traitors passed by. So the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmeelites for 20 shackles of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt.
Okay so which group was it? They got Joseph, was it the Ishmeelites or the Midianites? I mean it's a bit confusing. If you read it, it says the Ishmeelites were coming out so they sold them to the Midianites. And then the Ishmeelites took him. So it's like, so which one? Answer, both. Here's how it worked. If you remember Ishmael was the son of Abraham through Hagar, the Egyptian hand maiden of Sarah. Midian was also the son of Abraham through his second wife, Keturah. Both children of Abraham, both became sizable nomadic nations. But in the early stage, which is now in their nuisance stages, they're just small groups of people. And typically when caravans would travel down to do commerce, business with any notable empire like Egypt it will travel together in bands, they would form alliances together. It would add to the strength of bargaining. So both were together. The Ishmeelites and the Midianites and they took Joseph down to Egypt. That's just to clarify that if you're wondering.
They sold him for 20 pieces of silver. Now that's the price of a handicapped slave. That is what he was worth to them. They were making a statement about how they did not value him. Then Reuben returned to the pit and indeed Joseph was not in the pit and he tore his clothes and he returned to his brothers and said, 'The lad is no more. And I, where shall I go?' So they took Joseph's tunic, killed a kid of the goats and dipped the tunic in blood.
Do you remember a few weeks ago when we skipped ahead to Genesis 49 and that's the scene when Jacob was on his death bed and he's prophesying saying over all his kids? Remember what he says about his son Reuben? He says, 'Reuben is unstable as water.' Sort of like what it says in the Book of James, 'A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.' That was Reuben. He hates his brother, he wants them out of the picture, he doesn't really want to kill him, then leaves for a while and then he comes back. Here's the point, this guy was so vacillating in his life he now lacks the ability to exert any meaningful influence on people around him. And here's the principle, half-hearted godliness can never withstand active wickedness.
If a person is not filled with conviction and lies down what he believes in and how he'll behave in what's important to him. It was just sort of yeah, kind of, when he's around other people like the brothers, they'll sway him. He won't be able to influence them. They'll influence him in fact. So half-hearted godliness can never withstand active wickedness. That sort of sums up this man's life. Oh, but there will be more of him before we are done.
Something in verse 31, 'They took Joseph's tunic and killed a kid of the goats and dipped the tunic in blood.' How did they deceive their dad by killing a goat? Ring a bell? How did their dad deceive his dad? By killing a goat. Remember Rebekah said, 'Quick go get a goat, kill it and put the skin's around your arm because you're such a smooth kid and your brothers so hairy.' And so he came in with this goat skins on and he would feel rougher like he has a lot of hair. And he would smell horrible like his brother. So when Dad who didn't see very well. He said, 'That's the smell of Isaac, the smell of Oak field.' He smells like a goat field. Anyway, the point here is that you reap what you sow.
And they sent the tunic of many colors and brought it into their father and said, 'We have found this. Do you know whether this is your son's tunic or not?' And he recognized it. He said, 'It is my son's tunic.' 'A wild beast has devoured him.' Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces. Now he's going to believe that for 20 years. Then Jacob tore his clothes, put sack cloth on his waist and mourned for his son for many days. And all his sons, all his daughters rose to comfort him.
Just a couple of lessons before we finish out these verses in the chapter. Number one, be very careful about envying other people. Who they are, what they have, what their status is, what their position is, how your parents or the boss treats that one or those individuals. Because envy which turns to jealousy is like a time bomb. It stays there but it is waiting to detonate. It was James who said in Chapter 3 of his little book. He said, 'Where envy and self-seeking exist, there will be confusion in every evil work.' They were envious and it exploded into a very rushed decision to a do away with their brother.
Then the second lesson is Romans 8:28, 'All things were together for good to those who love God.' Now, we're going to follow that principle and the life of Joseph. We typically see that from an analytical view point. Here we are analyzing Joseph's life thousands of years later. So easy for us to look at his life and say, 'Oh yes, that's so marvelous. How Romans 8:28 works.' Now think of it from Joseph's vantage point right here. Everything he had known is gone. He's now on the way to a place he's never been. He has no idea of what's going to happen with to him. At this point, he doesn't know Romans 8:28. He didn't have a New Testament. Now he does trust the Lord and God providentially will work and it's amazing how he clings to the Lord. But that's the second principle. All things work together for good.
So all of the sons, all of his daughters arose to comfort him but he refused to be comforted. And he said, 'For I shall go down into the grave to my son in mourning.' And thus his father wept for him. Now, the Midianites sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of pharaoh and a captain of the guard. The pharaoh that is mentioned in that verse is probably Amenemhet II who reigned in the 12th Dynasty of Egypt from 1929 B.C to 1895 B.C.
The capital of Egypt at that point was Memphis, not Tennessee. Memphis Egypt, 12 miles out of Cairo. This wasn't like the pharaoh Elvis that's not that Memphis we're talking about, a whole different deal. Now Potiphar is the termed Potiphera. And Potiphera can be translated that means 'He whom was given by Ra, the sun god or given by Ra Potiphera' Josephus tells us that Potiphera was the chief baker in the house of Pharaoh. Whether that sure or not we don't know but he gives them that title as well or the chief cook, not the chide baker. That will come in Chapter 39, the chief cook.
Chapter 38, it came to pass. Let's see how far we get before we have to close. It came to pass at this time that Judah departed from his brothers and visited a certain Adullamite whose name was Haira. Now, I'm going to warn you that this chapter seems very out of place because we're starting with the life of Joseph and then it sort of like this long, weird, bad story like this parenthesis in the middle of Joseph's story and then we get back to Joseph in Chapter 39. Why is it here? For two reasons.
Number one, to show us a contrast between Joseph and his brothers, between light and darkness, between good and bad. Number two, to provide for us the genealogical background of the most important person in the bible who is Jesus Christ, from the lineage of Judah. And what you discovered about his tribe of Judah that we put such mystique around is that once you find out Judah and the descendants of Judah, if you were picking a lineage for your Messiah, you would stay away from Judah. It's surprising that Jesus has this lineage and that Matthew includes some of those names in his genealogical record in Matthew chapter one.
So all of these happens, Chapter 38, covers a period of about 20 years while Joseph is in Egypt simultaneously, these are some of the events happening back home. And since it's really a story of Jacob's family, part of Jacobs's family is Judah. It says Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite whose name was Shah and he married her and went into her. So you can see Judah has problems already. He's marrying a Canaanite. He knew the wishes of his father and grandfather and great grandfather, 'Stay away from the people of this land. They have worshipped different gods. They have different value systems.' Nonetheless, he doesn't care. She's a chick, she's beautiful, good enough for me, I'll marry her. So she conceived and bore a son and called his name Er. Well that's his name. What's your name? Er. Easy to spell.
She conceived again and bore a son and called his name Onan. She conceived again and bore a son and called his name, Shelah, you could pronounce it Shelah but that just wouldn't be right for a guy. So I'll use the Hebraic and fastest and say Shelah because that's how it probably would be pronounced. He was in Kezeb when she bore him, that's about eight miles outside of Hebron and Judah took a wife for Er's first born and named her Tamar. But Er, Judah's first born was wicked in the side of the Lord and the Lord killed him.
Now, this is interesting because this is the very first time, the bible indicates or comes right out and says that God kills someone, takes an active measure to do away with somebody's life because they were wicked. That's not the last but it's the first. And when I told what his wickedness was, we can suppose but it will only be a supposition we don't know. Now it's the first but I mentioned it won't be the last.
One of the notable ones in the New Testament is in Act Chapter 5, a couple by name of Ananias and Sapphira who claimed that they were giving all that they had to the Lord and they were really lying about it.
And so, the husband comes in and says, 'We're pledging so much to God's work.' And he didn't have to pledge anything that the amount wasn't the issue, just the fact that he lied was the issue. So the bible says he just killed over dead and they dragged him out and buried him. His wife comes in later and says, 'Hey you know, my husband and I were dedicating so much money to the Lord for his work.' And Peter says, 'Now why is it that you and your husband have both conspired a lie to the Holy Spirit? You haven't lied to men, you've lied to God. Behold the hands of those who have taken their husband out to bury him. They're going to wait for you to kick the bucket and then they're going take you out and bury you.' So she dies and they take her out and bury her.
Another notable time is at the Lord's Supper in 1Corinthians Chapter 11, when Paul the Apostle indicates the people in the church actually died because they abused the Lord's Supper. And in that chapter, 1Corinthians 11 he said, 'For this reason many are weak, have become sick and have died as a direct judgment.'
Now it seems in all of these cases, if I may try to interpret why, it seems that all of these cases something new was beginning. God was doing a new work, there was a new dimension operating, a new thing happening, unlike the early church, it was so pure up to that moment. And the first time hypocrisy entered into the church. It was so grave in offense to the Holy Spirit that is the divine response. And they just kill over that. It obviously doesn't still happen. You imagine if it did happen. Can you imagine if God was as severe with us as he was with the Ananias and Sapphira? You know what that would mean? That would mean if we're in a worship service and we come to that song, 'I surrender all...' some people will go because if they said they were surrendering all but they weren't surrendering all then like Ananias and Sapphira. We'll be doing a whole lot more funerals.
So Er dies which leaves his wife with the problem. She has no offspring. Now I can just tell you we won't be able to make it to this chapter. But we can pick it through a couple of verses. So it says, Verse 8, 'Judah said to Onan, this is number two son, 'Go into your brother's wife and marry her and raise up an heir to your brother.' This was a common practice even before the Law of Moses, as you can see way before. This is a common practice. In Asia, in Africa, but it originated in Mesopotamia where Abraham was from. It became known as the liberate law of marriage. If you want to find out how God treats it through Moses, just go ahead and read Deuteronomy 25 not right now but later on. Deuteronomy 25 outlines it.
And so here's the deal, you got brothers and one brother gets married and that means that his son will have the right of inheritance, the name goes on, and everything the father owns will go on from family to family. But if they're married and he has no son, then, that patriarchal authority cannot pass on. And so, the brother of that one who died would take his wife and have physical relations with her and produce a son. Name it after his brother's son and it will assume all the rights of his brother not his. And thus, his name would live on. That means the land, the property, the name would stay. And that again is outlined the perimeters at Deuteronomy Chapter 25.
If you want to find out the practical out workings of how that works practically, read the Book of Ruth, Ruth is all about that. Because Elimelech and Naomi and their two boys Mahlon and Chilion which means sickly and pining left Bethlehem and went over across the Dead Sea to Moab because there was a famine in Bethlehem. Elimelech died, Mahlon died, Chilion died, leaving Naomi with two Moabite girls. They go back to Bethlehem.
The land that was there was left. But there's a chance to redeem the land, but to redeem the land, a kinsmen, since there were no brothers, there was only a relative of Naomi named Boas to take the land from herself but also have to marry Ruth to produce offspring.
Fast forward, Matthew 22, this is the very law the Sadducees try to trap Jesus with when discussing the resurrection. Remember the Sadducees in the New Testament did not believe in resurrection. Only the Pharisees, and the Sadducees were liberals and they didn't believe in that heaven hocus pocus or literal bodily resurrection. So trying to trap Jesus one day because they knew he believed in physical resurrection. They said, you know, 'Master, the law says that if a man marries a woman and then he dies that his brother has to marry her and raise up an offspring.' Well there were seven brothers they said. And the first one married a gal and then he died. And so the second brother took her and he died and then the third brother took her and he died. And the fourth died, and the fifth did die, the sixth married her and died, the seventh died. At that point you're wondering what is she putting in the eggs? Stay away from that chick.
It was s high pathetical case. It was crazy, it did really happen but it was a hypothesis and they said, 'Okay. So if you believe in resurrection Jesus, in the resurrection whose wife will she be? Which of those seven?' And Jesus response was classic. He said, 'You're ignorant.' Not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they're not male and female, they're like the angels. They don't marry, they're not given in marriage. They're in a whole different dimension but they try to use to trap Jesus.
Well here's the beginning of that whole law in practice in Israel. Even before the codification of the law under Moses. So brother number two, Onan, has to step in. But Onan knew that the heir would not be his. And it came to pass, when he went in to his brother's wife that he emitted on the ground, lest he should give an heir to his brother. And the thing what she did, displeased the Lord. Therefore, he killed him also. And because, the time's up, we're going to have to wait for next week to unravel that one. A convenient place to end.