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                       "THE CHARACTER OF JOSEPH"

                           Genesis 37:1-50:26

INTRODUCTION

1. When we think of "the patriarchs", the following likely come to
   mind...
   a. Abraham, man of faith
   b. Isaac, son of promise
   c. Jacob, father of the twelve tribes of Israel

2. Yet consider this about the patriarch Joseph...
   a. More space in Genesis is devoted to him than the others
   b. There is not a single word of reproof against Joseph

3. Indeed, "The Character Of Joseph" is worthy of careful study...
   a. His nobility of character, his purity of heart and life
   b. His magnanimity as ruler and brother
   -- Make him, more than any other of the Old Testament characters, an
      illustration of that type of man which Christ was to give to the
      world in perfection (ISBE)

[Let's review the life of Joseph, and be reminded of the wonderful
character displayed by this man of God.  We begin with..]

I. JOSEPH AS A SON IN CANAAN

   A. HATED BY HIS BROTHERS...
      1. Telling on his brothers didn't help - Gen 37:2
      2. Favoritism by his father certainly hurt - Gen 37:3-4
      3. His dreams made it worse - Gen 37:5-11
      4. They eventually sold him as a slave - Gen 37:12-36
         a. Spared initially by Reuben who intended to free him - Gen
            37:21-22
         b. Spared death by Judah, who suggested slavery instead - Gen
            37:26-27

   B. FAITHFUL TO HIS FATHER...
      1. Some children rebel against their parents to win approval from
         their siblings
      2. Joseph remained faithful to his father, willing to obey his
         wishes - Gen 37:13

[One might think such ill treatment, followed by separation from country
and kin, would produce bitterness and hopeless in such a young man.  Yet
"The Character Of Joseph" really shines as we consider...]

II. JOSEPH AS A SLAVE IN EGYPT

   A. OVERSEER IN POTIPHAR'S HOUSE...
      1. Blessed by God, Joseph found favor in Potiphar's eyes - Gen 39:
         1-6
         a. Though a young man, he proved industrious and trustworthy
         b. He made the best of the situation, and God blessed him and
            Potiphar
      2. Handsome in appearance, Joseph was tempted by Potiphar's wife 
         - Gen 39:6b-20
         a. She tried time and again to seduce him
         b. He resisted, out of faithfulness to Potiphar and God - Gen
            39:8-9
         c. Her advances spurned, she spitefully accuses him wrongfully
            1) Angering her husband
            2) Resulting in his imprisonment

   B. OVERSEER IN PHARAOH'S PRISON...
      1. Blessed by God, Joseph is favored by the keeper of the prison 
         - Gen 39:21-23
         a. Placed in charge of the other prisoners, with complete trust
         b. Prospered in his new role by God, who was with him
      2. Interpreter of dreams, Joseph is forgotten then remembered 
         - Gen 40:1-41:36
         a. He interprets the dreams of the butler and the baker
            1) Acknowledging God as the interpreter - Gen 40:8
            2) The dreams are fulfilled, yet Joseph was forgotten - Gen
               40:20-23
         b. He interprets the dreams of Pharaoh
            1) Again acknowledging God as providing the answer - Gen 41:
               16,25,32
            2) Offering advice in regards to the dreams' fulfillment 
               - Gen 41:33-36

[Falsely accused, then forgotten by man, many might wonder "Why bother
to be righteous?"  But Joseph maintained his integrity and was not
forgotten by God.  Just as he found favor in the eyes of Potiphar and
the keeper of the prison, so he enjoyed favor in the eyes of Pharaoh...]

III. JOSEPH AS A PRINCE IN EGYPT

   A. WISE IN HIS SERVICE TO PHARAOH...
      1. At the age of thirty, Joseph is exalted to rule over Egypt 
         - Gen 41:38-46
      2. His wisdom manifested in his administration
         a. Showing foresight during the years of plenty - Gen 41:47-49
         b. Showing shrewdness during the years of famine - Gen 41:
            53-57; 47:13-26
      3. Mindful of God's blessings - cf. Gen 41:50-52

   B. MERCIFUL IN HIS TREATMENT OF HIS BRETHREN...
      1. Finally reunited with his brothers and father - Gen 42:1-45:15
      2. Arranged for them to live in Goshen - Gen 46:16-20,28-34;
         47:1-12
      3. Reassured his brothers that he has forgiven them
         a. When he first revealed himself to them - Gen 45:4-8
         b. When their father Jacob died - Gen 50:15-21

   C. BELIEVING IN THE PROVIDENCE OF GOD...
      1. That God could make good things come out of evil intentions 
         - Gen 50:20
      2. That God would keep His promises made to His people - Gen 50:
         24-25

CONCLUSION

1. In the life and story of Joseph, we see the value of a character...
   a. Centered in faith and trust in God
   b. Devoted to serving God and man with honor and dependability
   c. Unwilling to be deterred by the hatred, betrayal, and
      forgetfulness of others
   d. Willing to forgive the wrongs committed by others
   e. Able to see the big picture, God's wonderful workings in the
      affairs of men

2. This noble character can be useful in all the seasons of life...
   a. As a youth, tempted and tried with no help from family or friend
   b. As a mature individual, charged with important responsibilities
   c. As an aged person, knowing that death is imminent

May "The Character of Joseph" serve to inspire us to develop our
character as well, that in some small way we too can be...

   "..an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in
   spirit, in faith, in purity." (1Ti 4:12)

Certainly this is the case with the patriarch Joseph!
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