As we have been studying the life of Joseph, we see his journey of ups and downs. His life was anything but ideal, yet the one constant in his life is that God has been with him. Joseph was given dreams as a young man, almost killed, then sold by his brothers, sent to an unknown land, accused of a crime he never committed, then recognized for the gift of interpreting dreams and having the Spirt of God in Him.
In Genesis 41, Pharaoh pulls Joseph out of prison and puts him in charge of everything in Egypt. At that time, Egypt was literally the most powerful nation in the world. Joseph became Pharaoh’s right-hand guy. He goes from a Hebrew slave to being second in command. The dream that God had revealed was coming to pass. There was seven years of plenty followed by seven years of extreme famine. The plan that Joseph carried out not only helped the country of Egypt, but the surrounding areas. He’s able to help keep families alive and keep things going well for Egypt. Joseph now has authority, power, money, success and respect. When things are just starting to look good for Joseph, look who comes back into his life?
The brothers are back! They haven’t seen Joseph in 13 years and most likely assumed that he died. Even though they were looking at Joseph, it had been so long and he had changed so much, they didn’t recognize him.
Genesis 42:3-9, 14-15 (NIV)
Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. So, Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also.
Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So, when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brother, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from? he asked.
“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.”
Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”
Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.
Benjamin was Joseph’s little brother and only brother from the same mother. Joseph hasn’t had the best track record with the rest of his 10 half-brothers, but little Benjamin was special to him. Joseph must’ve been wondering how the brothers have been treating Benjamin. Was he getting bullied and mistreated like he had been? Joseph needs to see Benjamin and test to see if his brothers have changed at all or if they are up to their same tricks.
Genesis 42:16-21 (NLT)
One of you must go and get your brother. I’ll keep the rest of you here in prison. Then we’ll find out whether or not your story is true. By the life of Pharaoh, if it turns out that you don’t have a younger brother, then I’ll know you are spies.”
So, Joseph put them all in prison for three days. On the third day Joseph said to them, “I’m a God-fearing man. If you do as I say, you will live. If you really are honest men, choose one of your brothers to remain in prison. The rest of you may go home with grain for your starving families. But you must bring your youngest brother back to me. This will prove that you’re telling the truth, and you will not die.” To this they agreed.
Speaking among themselves, they said, “Clearly, we are being punished because of what we did to Joseph long ago. We saw his anguish when he pleaded for his life, but we wouldn’t listen. That’s why we’re in trouble.”
What’s that called when you get a sense that you’ve done something wrong? The Bible says that every single human being is special, because we are made in the image of God. You have inherent value, because you were made in the image of God. Now, because we are made in the image of God, we are given a conscience that helps us recognize good from bad.
Romans 2:15 (NLT)
God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.
If you were to travel around the globe or observe different eras in history, you will always find humans with a moral compass inside them. That has kept us as a species alive, due to the fact that we sense there’s things we shouldn’t do. Now, if you don’t accept Jesus as your Savior and become born again, your conscience will still hopefully keep you from doing too awful of stuff. But if you ignore your conscience long enough, it can be silenced. That’s when we get into trouble. A lot of people in our generation believe sayings like, “Follow your heart,” or “Do whatever makes yourself happy.” Happiness should not be the radar or compass for us to live our life. If you follow your heart, you can also wind up just following your own selfish desires. If you’re looking for just what makes you happy, that can be at the expense of somebody else being happy. When God redeems you, he gives you a new heart from Him. It’s by God’s mercy that we have a conscience to being with.
Romans 8:28-29 (NIV)
We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.
You and I are in a journey when we’re born again of being transformed into the image of God. You are not transforming into the image of God until He takes care of your sin problem. So, your conscience is great if you’re just a human being. But when you’re born again, you get a conscience upgrade in the presence of the Holy Spirit who lives in you.
Joseph’s brothers are thinking over their life choices and figuring out why they are in the bottom of this dungeon. They’re like, “Man, this is all our fault! We’re going to answer for this blood.” They recognize that there’s a force out there. They know and understand that justice needs to be served. They know they deserve to be in this prison. “We killed our brother and lied to our dad about it. We dipped his jacket in blood and took it to dad and said, ‘Look, some wolves got Joseph.’” Meanwhile, Joseph’s in the other room thinking to himself, “Dude, what am I going to do?”
The number one way we can get this story wrong is if we read the story of Joseph and think we are Joseph. Joseph is faultless. Joseph is innocent. He’s done nothing wrong. When we read this story, we can’t imagine what we would do if our enemies were before us. We aren’t Joseph deciding if we need to show mercy or grace. We’re the ones that are in the dungeon with blood on our hands. We are the ones that are supposed to answer for everything that we’ve done.
Joseph is what’s called an archetype. In the Old Testament scriptures, there are stories of people that are foreshadowing God’s Son, Jesus. In these stories we know that Jesus is the better than Joseph, just like Jesus is the better, David. These Old Testament stories were saying that there will be a day when someone will come, who will decide the fate of all the guilty. Joseph stands here in this story and shows mercy. That’s a foreshadowing of only something God can do for us.
The cross of Jesus is him living the life that we were supposed to live. The life of Jesus is perfect, sinless, beyond temptation, not making any mistakes. He came and lived our life for us, when we could not pull off. He never deserved to be in a dungeon, yet he willingly die on the cross for us. God figured out how to make a way when where there is no way for us to continue in a relationship with Him. He comes and says, “I will atone for the sins of the world so that justice can be served.” Jesus dies a torturous death and in return asks that we give him our faith and life. An understatement would be that we ended up with the better deal. Jesus took all our sin for us. It’s an offence if we are still carrying around guilt for the sins he already died for on our behalf.
Romans 8:1 (NIV)
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
It’s the conviction of the Holy Spirit that says, “You’re better than that.” The Holy Spirit is our advocate, great counselor and helper. With the help of the Holy Spirit, He reaches into our heart, past our conscience and I to our DNA to remind us of who we really are in Christ. God doesn’t want to do things that push us away. He wants to do everything that pulls us up. That’s what we see on the cross. Conviction is not the same thing as a guilt trip. Conviction is when the Holy Spirit makes his presence known in our life. Then we can get a sense that what we’ve done is wrong, but he’s giving us a better way to go.
The Holy Spirit has three roles:
Hugs. High-fives. Headlocks.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit is my comforter just at the right time when I need a hug. Other times, I need a high-five. Occasionally, I need the Holy Spirit to put me in a headlock and I am grateful for those times too. I need the Holy Spirit in those headlock moments to remind me, “I created you and I’m telling you, you’re better than this.” The voice of the Holy Spirit is my best friend; he helps me before I get into trouble, when I ignore him and get into trouble, and helps me get out of trouble.
Conviction from the Holy Spirit is the presence of God.
Conviction of what’s wrong gives me direction to what is right.
Conviction gives you the choice of either running away from God, or running to God. Conviction is the line in the sand that says, I want more of your presence. When you don’t want to sin, but find yourself in the patterns of your old life the conviction of the Holy Spirt is important. The conviction of sin is not the gavel slamming down on you sentencing you to the punishment you deserve, that’s already happened to the cross. Conviction of the Holy Spirit, is God making room in your life for more of him.
Step 1: Invite His prescence
When you sense that Holy Spirit is saying, “I don’t know if you know you, you must’ve forgotten that you’re better than this.” That is when it’s time to invite more of Him. Humble yourself and ask the Holy Spirit for His help.
Step 2: Confess your sin
Joseph’s brothers begin to confess their sins and to finally talk about what happened and recognize that they deserve to be in the dungeon. I don’t know how long it’s been since they’ve talked about it, but they are taking ownership and responsibility for what happened. When’s the last time you confessed your sin?
In the Old Testament, we learn about King David. The Bible tells us that he was a man after God’s own heart. A large portion of the Bible talks about King David and includes his writings as well. Jesus is in the family line of King David. Do you know that he also majorly screwed up as a king? One day he was standing on his rooftop and watched as a woman was bathing on another building. He actually had armed guards go get her, bring her to him, then raped her. She then got pregnant with his kid. It continues to get worse as David learns that the husband of the woman was one of his lead commanders. Instead of confessing what he did, David had the husband killed in battle and tried to raise the baby. David eventually confessed his sin and wrote Psalm 32.
Psalm 32:3-11 (NLT)
When I refused to confess my sin,
my body wasted away,
and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally, I confessed all my sins to you
and stopped trying to hide my guilt.
I said to myself, “I will confess my rebellion to the Lord.”
And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone.
Therefore, let all the godly pray to you while there is still time,
that they may not drown in the floodwaters of judgment.
For you are my hiding place;
you protect me from trouble.
You surround me with songs of victory.
The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life.
The good news of Jesus Christ that you and I aren’t special. We’re not perfect. We’re not deserving of good things. No, we’re sinners, who’ve been selfish every day of our life. Yet we have a father who still loves us. He looks at you in your sin and says, “Dude, you’re broken. But I will heal you. You’re all over the place, but I can put you back together.”
Step 3: Receive God’s grace
Do you feel like you are in a dungeon? Accept God’s gift of grace and mercy today. Tell God the Father that you accept His gift of salvation and invite the Holy Spirit to help guide you. You don’t need to go one more day guilt tripping yourself. There is freedom in the price that Jesus paid for you if you’re ready to receive Him.