So just as he says here, the history of Joseph, it wasn't at this point Judah, it wasn't at this point Ephraim or any of the others, it was Joseph... and we need to begin to learn from Joseph's story that the Father has a purpose for us.
But what we're going to look at, not just today but hopefully in the next few months, is this real fact? That though he was God's chosen purpose, and though he had those wonderful dreams -- he dreamt that his brothers would bow down to him; Joseph had a dream, he told it to his brothers and they hated him, and he said, “There we were binding sheaves in the field, then behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
And then again he dreamed another dream, verse 9 Genesis 37, “This time the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” And even his father was a little bit stumbled by this, but his father did put it in his heart and, if you like, study it, think of it.
And our start position needs to be this is the story of God's activity, Ross or John or Mary... He has purposes, He has good purposes for us. If you're on our China team, I can't mention your name because I don't have to mention everybody's name, but God's good hand is on you. God's purposes, God's goodness is there. It may not be entirely effortless, but the Father's purpose is there.
But immediately, Joseph begins -- remember, he's going to bind princes at his will, all of this kind of thing -- immediately, he begins having had the dreams. Everything, as you know, in Chapter 37 goes considerably south, considerably bad. His father, extremely unwisely, in my view, says in verse 14,
“Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me.”
Very unwise, because it says above that Joseph brought a bad report concerning his brothers to his father. So, the last thing you really want to do, when Joseph is bringing a bad report, is send him to bring another report. But his father did.
You know, he got lost and a man directs him -- that's interesting, isn't it? With all that’s going to come, God makes sure he gets there. The brothers in verse 19 say, “Look, this dreamer is coming. Let's kill him.” So they throw him in a pit. Reuben wants to rescue him, wants to come back later and rescue him, so they throw him in a pit. And they see the Midianite traders coming in verse 28. They pull Joseph out, and they sell him, and they go back. Astonishing, isn't it really? They go back and tell their father, “Here is his coat. Recognize this, and know that your son is dead.” Which he isn't. How people can lie barefaced like that is hard to know.
Then, in Chapter 38 it gets worse. You get Judah having three sons, and then because the first two are killed, you get the first son's wife dressing up as a prostitute and sleeping with Judah, getting pregnant by him, and he wanting to kill her for adultery and she proving that he had done it, and so on and so on. I mean, pretty sordid society.
Now, the point I want to make this month is a very simple one. God's call is real, but it isn't all plain sailing. God's call is real, but it is not effortless. God's power and grace and purposes and destiny are fantastic for every person hearing this, but please don't confuse effortless success with God's destiny.