Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Man Named Joe

A Man Named Joe
Genesis 50:15-21, Luke 19:1-10, II Thessalonians 1:1-4

Joseph looks at his brothers and says: You intended to harm me, but God intended for good to accomplish what it is now doing.

Now that is a line that reality tv shows search for. 19 Kids & Counting, Kate Plus Eight. The Jackson family…they got nothing on this bible verse.

The Story of Scripture…So Far:
A promise given, believed and seen
Promise given by God. Believed by people and seen in the world.
Creation as good
Humanity violating prohibition
Family furthering dysfunction
Noah: God’s new beginning
Abraham and a promise
Abraham believes the promise
Isaac: a child of promise
Jacob & Esau: blessing & curses

Today, Joseph, who I will call Joe. Do you remember Joe the plumber, the famous player in the 2008 presidential election? Well, we have another Joe today. A man named Joe.

Genesis: A Man Named Joe
If you like soap opera’s, then this family tree is something you will love.

Today’s Scripture reading is near the end of Joe’s story. The plot of the reading is that brothers are fearful that Joe will punish them now that their father Jacob has passed.

· Jacob (who is renamed Israel) sees the woman of his dreams: Rachel. He negotiates 7
years of labor for his Uncle Laban for her hand in marriage.
· Jacob is deceived by his Uncle into marrying Leah, then works for Leah’s sister Rachel.
· Jacob has 12 sons, by four different women: Leah (first 4), Rachel’s Maidservant Bilhah
(2), Leah’s maidservant Zilpah (2), Leah again (2, 6 overall) and Rachel (2).
· Rachel’s oldest Son is Joseph.
· Joseph was the honored son in Jacob’s eyes (33:3: in rear with Rachel as he meets Esau)
· Rachel dies in giving birth to Joseph’s brother, Benjamin

One point of all this: these 12 tribes, with different, competitive, insecure backgrounds, bring their family story into the mix.

· 37:4: When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they
hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
· his dreams: sheaves of wheat, stars and sun/moon.
· the plot to kill Joseph, the cistern alternative/sell to the merchants and fake his death
· Joseph is sold by merchants to Potipher a leader in Egypt
· Joseph and Potipher’s wife, he is thrown in jail, gains trust of warden
· the dream of the cupbearer and the baker (cupbearer forgets Joe)
· 2 years pass, Pharaoh has a dream “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings” the
cupbearer says)
· Joe speaks to Pharaoh about a coming drought/famine and advice for overcoming it,
pharaoh acknowledges wisdom, puts him in charge of palace and the land of Egypt
· Joseph leads wisely and navigates the people through the famine
· people from throughout the world visit Egypt, includes the 10 sons of Israel, looking for
food (Benjamin was kept at home the first time)
· a series of stories in which Joseph {teaches his brothers a lesson}
· Joseph reveals himself to his brothers
· the sons return to the land to get Jacob and all of the families, surviving the famine (and
ironically, setting up slavery)
· Jacob blesses Joseph’s sons as he is dying then Jacob blesses his sons
· Jacob dies, leading to the story today

At the end of the day, this is a really incredible story, with unbelievable ups and downs. But it is also a very human story, universal in its appeal.

Emotions/Situations that You and Joe have in common
--do you feel disliked?
--do you feel betrayed?
--do you feel unsafe?
--do you feel snubbed?
--do you feel forgotten?

Ways to you and Joe can honor God
*integrity when tempted (literal running away when necessary)
*waiting patiently when things are down
*speaking to those in power, even if with trepidation
*having wisdom to navigate difficult situations
*the courage to show who you are and resolve differences
*trust in the sovereignty of God (God meant it for good)
*the desire to have your loved ones blessed.

Luke: Jesus Names and Renames Zacchaeus
Salvation comes to an unexpecting house.
A wealthy man (by shady and culturally rejected means) is interested in Jesus as he comes through town. Goes to humble means to see him (climbing the tree). Jesus says come down: I’m staying with you.
What would you do in order to see Jesus?

The presence of Jesus, and that encounter, changes Zacchaeus for the good. He rights his wrongs. And through Jesus, salvation comes to him and his house.
What would you say to Jesus

Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. We are named and called by Jesus. And when we respond, are given our titles we had lost or misplaced: children of the living God, children of the king, sons and daughters of the living God.

II Thessalonians: Men and Women Named…
If Joseph is a story that speaks to all of us, and Zaccheus is given back his true name of Son of Abraham, then what about us? What are the religious titles that we bear? Paul’s words give us a few clues.
· A church
· Followers of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
· people of peace and grace
· people of a growing faith
· people of an increasing love
· people of a persevering hope

Today, is Reformation Sunday. Tomorrow is All Saints Day
The story of the church is that a bunch of men and women with everyday names like Joe who have changed the world. The world is changed for good when we remember the core of our faith, (as the reformers did five hundred years ago): Scripture Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone. We remember the saints who have gone into the presence of God.

Today, faith, hope and love
Tomorrow: a gift given by God
Forever: held in the arms of the Almighty

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