Sunday 2 December 2018
Rev E Stegen
50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
The gospel needs to go out and we must wake out of sleep. The world is dying and people should propagate the gospel by the way they live.
Joseph had two sons before the years of famine. The firstborn was Manasseh, for ‘God has made me forget all my trouble and hardship and all the sorrows of my father’s household.’ His second son was Ephraim, for ‘God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.’
In Genesis 37, Joseph was born to Jacob in his old age. His father loved him and made him a tunic of many colours. His brothers realised that their father loved Joseph more than them and they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. When he was 17, he was sold to Midianite traders for 20 shekels of silver. They in turn, sold him to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard. Potiphar’s wife lied about him and he was thrown into prison. One day Pharaoh had a dream. The Lord revealed the interpretation of the dream to Joseph and Joseph interpreted it to Pharaoh. As a result, he was released from jail and put second in charge of Egypt. Pharaoh put his own ring on his finger and no one could act apart from Joseph’s permission in the kingdom. A wife was selected for him. His first son he named Manasseh which means ‘making me forget. God has caused me to forget all the trouble I experienced in my father’s household’. His second son was Ephraim meaning that ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of affliction’.
Joseph was an astonishing man who started at the bottom of the pit. He was abused and lied about because of his brothers’ jealousy. He was sold into slavery and put into jail because of false, evil accusations. Very few people have suffered like him. We may have suffered but we may not allow bitterness to take root. We may have to break up fallow ground and if we are willing to do it and plant good seed, we can expect a good harvest. In spite of suffering Joseph remained faithful to the Lord.
Suffering and unfair treatment will not influence a person who is spiritually alive and who has the spirit of God in him. The state of our hearts affects how we behave and the decisions we make. It is important that we guard our hearts and do not allow self-pity to enter. The question is: Can I forgive? Can I forget? Not – I forgive but I cannot forget. If you are like that you are not like Joseph, you do not have his heart and spirit. Some people are depressed, always burdened and miserable, like wet chickens in their misery, because they cannot forget what has happened in the past. They do not get anywhere in their spiritual lives. They do not make progress. If you cannot forgive your future does not look good. Paul said, “…forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…” (Philippians 3:13) Some people cannot forget what has happened in their father’s household. You should be free – beaming forth the glory of God. But if there are grudges and grievances in your heart, you will never have spiritual authority. Joseph named his first born Manasseh. It was written across his life. Pray that God will help you forget everything that has been done to you. Have you given birth to Manasseh? If not, do so now, in case you bring God’s wrath onto your life. Christians are specialists in remembering how they have been ill-treated and not greeted. Go to a man of God and ask for prayer in order to be set free from these demons. God is not in such a thing. Ask God for forgiveness.
When his brothers realised that the ruler was Joseph, they were afraid he would kill them but Joseph reassured them. He saw them as God’s tools which He used to get Joseph to where he was. He saw God in it all. Jesus said, “In the world you have tribulation and distress; but be of good cheer! For I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Paul said, “that the sufferings of the present life are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is about to be revealed to us and in us.” (Romans 8:18) Your attitude will determine your altitude – the level on which you find yourself.
Ephraim – God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction. In Hebrew it says abundantly, twice, doubly fruitful. Not everybody bowed to Joseph but everyone in the land of affliction did. If you are experiencing affliction, do you wear a long face? Are you on the point of a nervous breakdown? The affliction should lift you up and cause you to be doubly fruitful. Allow God’s glory be shown forth. Do not say that you cannot be victorious because of a certain person. God gave you that person in order to make you doubly fruitful. You should bear double the amount of fruit. It should give you wings to fly. James said “Count it all joy when you fall into various trials…” (James 1:2)
You should not be like other Christians but you should have a double portion love, joy, peace etc. If these spiritual gifts don’t fill your heart, cry to God and repent and become a Christian as you should be with rivers of living water flowing from your life, otherwise that is the reason for so much darkness in your life.
Are these two children, Manasseh and Ephraim, in your life? Forget what you should. There should be no trace of bitterness or depression in your life. It is no wonder Joseph could bear much fruit. If you do not forget, you will end in an asylum. You are good for nothing if you cannot forgive and forget. We want people like Joseph here. The Holy Spirit cannot fill a person’s life if he or she has these things in his/her life. Rejoice in affliction because then you will have a double portion of fruit in your life and not be a barren tree that must be cursed. If you are like Joseph, you will be like Jesus.
When Joseph saw his family again, he was a blessing to them, to those who had hurt him. When you become a blessing to those who have hurt you and do good to those who spitefully use you, when you can bless those who curse you then you have given birth to the real thing. Bear Manasseh and Ephraim in your life. It is time to give birth, be fruitful and full of joy because of God’s work in your life.
Friends, why is it that those who are blessed by God are hated and ill-treated? When he was 17 years old Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt. People lied about him. Potiphar’s wife lied about him and he was thrown into jail. Joseph was blessed by God but he was hated and spoken badly about because of jealousy. People who are blessed by God are hated by their fellow Christians or believers. Joseph was a man who should have been honoured and respected but he was thrown into jail. He did not die in prison. He was released and God blessed him and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. God lifted him out of the miry clay. A heathen Pharaoh put his ring on Joseph’s finger and said that no one could act apart from him in the kingdom. His own people hated and mistreated him but a worldly king put his ring on his finger. One cannot understand why men of God, spiritual giants, were persecuted by their own brothers. They hated their 17-year-old brother. The person whom they should have honoured, respected and praised God for, they went against. His own brothers, not the heathen, sold him. One cannot understand this.
Frequently, in church history, good people were persecuted and thrown into the pit, God’s people were put into jail but they did not die there. God was with them and that is why there was not even the smell of fire on their garments. The men of God who stood for the right were honoured by God’s presence. Those who were responsible for putting them in jail, ended there. Rather have God as your friend than ungodly or godless people standing by your side.
Joseph was a wonderful man who was unjustly jailed but he did not die there. God stood by him. He came out of the pit, he was released. God lifted him up out of his suffering. Very often, the persecutors of God’s people died, but God stood by His people and they came out of the pit. What was the end of the story? The persecutors were eaten by the lions. When Daniel was thrown into a pit full of lions, God kept him there and held the lions’ mouths closed because he was blameless before God. Those who opposed him were devoured by the lions while they were still in the air. Never oppose a man of God, you will pay a high price for it. When the king asked Daniel whether his God had kept him, Daniel said yes because God had not found a sin in his life. God did not find a sin in his life. That is the secret, dear friends, God tells us not to sin. Spiritual authority in your life is gained by breaking with sin. Do not sin. May God grant that you will not go against God’s people, forsake them or stab them in the back.
When God works, do not expect that you will meet up with flowers, you may meet with great opposition. Never go backwards, rather die. Stand for God. Do not speak about lies. Do not lie. Do not be ashamed. Be strong in the Lord, no matter what comes your way. Potiphar’s wife lied about Joseph. Even if your wife should go against you, stand and be strong in the Lord. Be wide awake because the devil may use your wife. If she does not want to go through with God, let her go her way but you stand like a pillar and let nothing move you. Be faithful to God until you die. Resist sin to the point of dying. Rather be hated here and welcomed in heaven, even if it should be difficult. Even if people go against you and spit at you, your reward shall be great.
Stand for the truth. Stand for the real gospel. Stand and be faithful until death.