Jospeh – A Faith That Surpasses

Title: Jospeh - A Faith That Surpasses

Bible Book: Hebrews 11 : 22

Author: Steve Wagers

Subject: Joseph; Faith



I found an interesting and funny little piece the other day. It is someone's definition of

At age 4, success is not using the bathroom in your pants
at age 12, success is having friends
At age 16, success is having a driver's license
At age 20, success is getting a job

At age 35, success is having money
At age 50, success is having more money
At age 70, success is being romantic

At age 75, success is having a driver's license
At age 85, success is having friends
At age 90, success is not using the bathroom in your pants.

William F. Harley said, "There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced, by circumstances, to meet." I think of Shakespeare's famous work, "Twelfth Night," from which we have the immortal words:

"Some are born great,
Some achieve greatness
Some have greatness thrust upon them."

As we continue our journey through the hall of faith, we come to a man who could easily be considered a success, as well as a man of greatness. He is a man named Joseph. From the very beginning of his life we learn that he lived a godly life, as well as a guarded life. In Genesis 39: 2 we read, "the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man."

One-quarter of the book of Genesis is made up of the account of Joseph's life. Yet, there is no sin, failure, or mistake that is featured or recorded. He certainly was not sinless, but it seems that his life was spotless before men, and clean before God. J. Vernon McGee comments:

"There is not one in the Scripture more like Jesus Christ, in his person and experiences, than Joseph."

Abraham is an illustration of the principle of faith. Isaac is an illustration of the perception of faith. Jacob is an illustration of the purpose of faith. Joseph is an illustration of the persistence of faith. Someone has said:

"To have faith is a great tribute to any man. However, to have faith which triumphs in every situation of life is the mark of a great man."

Let's examine the life of Joseph, a great man with a great faith. Notice with me, first of all:


The story of Joseph is a saga of a man who went from the pit to the palace and from rags to riches. He was a man whom God had trusted with remarkable ability. For example, he was a man blessed with:

A. Physical Attractiveness!

Joseph is one of the few men of the Bible who was noted for the beauty of his appearance. In Genesis 39: 6 we read, "And Joseph was a goodly man, and well favoured." The word "goodly" means, "handsome, attractive in form and appearance." In other words, Joseph was blessed with inward beauty, as well as outward beauty. He was physically attractive through and through. However, his physical attractiveness, unlike many others, was never a snare to him. He was able to resist the temptation that comes along with being physically attractive. He was also a
man who was blessed with:

B. Spiritual Awareness!

One of Joseph's greatest gifts was his ability to dream and interpret his dream. It was a wonderful gift that God had entrusted to Joseph. He was gifted with spiritual awareness, and he gave God the glory for his ability.

However, the dreams Joseph dreamed pertained to his brothers, and they hated him for it. His dreams were not crude, lewd or rude, but they were for the future glory of his entire family. Nevertheless, his brothers despised him because of his ability to dream.

In Genesis 37: 5, 8 we read, "And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told this brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And his brethren said to him, shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words."

His brothers rejected him, refused him and ridiculed him because of his dreams. Their eyes were green with jealousy and their heart was black with sin over Joseph's ability to dream dreams. We read in verses 18-19, "And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh."

His brothers heard the words that Joseph spoke and they hated him bitterly because of them. However, their hatred of Joseph stemmed from a much deeper problem. We read in verse 4, "And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him."

Joseph's brothers hated him because Joseph's father loved him. God had blessed and trusted Joseph with great ability, and the jealousy of his brethren, like wildfire, blazed in their hearts.

I have seen many professing Christians (and I emphasize the word 'professing) who must be related to Joseph's brothers. They get mad, jealous or bitter because it seems that God has
gifted someone else more than He has gifted them.

They think because someone can sing better, preach better, teach better or give better then God must be showing favouritism toward the other person. They watch someone else being blessed with an abundance of things, and rather than rejoice over God's goodness, they get mad because they feel they have gotten the short end of the stick.

However, Romans 2: 11 reminds us that there is "no respect of persons with God." The things God has given me, and the things God has given you are no accident. He has given them to us on purpose to be used for one purpose: to honor, magnify and glorify Him.

As we continue to study the life of Joseph, we not only see that God trusted him with ability, but:


The life of Joseph is a life unlike any other, because he endured tremendous adversity in his walk with the Lord, and his work for the Lord. There are 3 main stages of the adversity that God used to test Joseph.

A. He Faced Unforeseen Abandonment!

Joseph's brothers hated him. Thus, they looked for the first opportunity to get rid of him. Instead of killing him, Reuben, the eldest, suggested that they strip him of his "coat of many colors," and throw him into a pit.

He was then sold to an Egyptian caravan, for 20 pieces of silver, and became the slave of man named Potiphar. Although Joseph was a dreamer, he never dreamed that he would have been abandoned by his own family.

Yet, in spite of his adversity, his faith in God remained unshaken. Again, repeatedly we're told that "the Lord was with Joseph," even in a pit of unforeseen abandonment.

B. He Fought Unexpected Allurement!

It didn't take Potiphar long to realize that there was something quite unique about Joseph. We read in Genesis 39: 3-4, "And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand."

Joseph came into Potiphar's house as a slave, but he ended up being a master. However, with his promotion came temptation. At the most unexpected time, Joseph found the temptation of sexual enticement and allurement by his master's wife.

Not only was he not given time to prepare for this temptation, but it took place "day by day." In other words, Potiphar's wife was relentless in her pursuit of young Joseph.

I need not remind you that we have an enemy who comes to attack us "day by day." He will not let up, he will not turn back, and he will not turn loose. He is relentless, and if one thing doesn't work, he will resort to something else.

Even though Joseph resisted the temptation, he paid a costly price. He ran out of the room so fast that he left a piece of clothing behind, which got him thrown in prison on false charges. But, I submit unto you that though he paid a great price for not yielding to temptation; he would have paid a much greater price had he yielded, and given in to the temptation. He would have forfeited the presence, power and prosperity of the Lord's hand upon his life.

Sin is fun, but it isn't free. It may bring short-lived pleasure, but it also carries a long-lasting price. It will cost us the blessings of God upon our lives.

C. He Found Unrivalled Advancement!

I believe that Joseph's greatest test of adversity came in Genesis 42. After his release from prison, he is made ruler over all the land of Egypt.

The king gives Joseph the signet ring, which marked legal authority. He was given linen garments, which were only worn by nobility. He also wore Pharaoh's ring upon his hand. He was 30 years, and yet had risen to the highest position in the land.

The test was to see if Joseph could resist the temptations which came with this new power, prestige, popularity, prominence and position. Joseph had passed the test of abandonment and allurement; however, now he faced the greatest test of all, advancement.

You see power, prestige, popularity, prominence and position often makes a man forget God. Often times the more blessed a man is with physical things, he tends to forget the importance of spiritual things. These matters often make a man dependent upon himself rather than being dependent on God.

However, Joseph did not give in to the temptation of advancement. He became a good and godly ruler in Egypt. His decisions caused the nation to prosper. He never forgot his family. And, he persisted in his dependence and reliance on God.

You could say that although God tested Joseph with adversity, Joseph passed the tests with flying colors, which leads us to consider that:


The last epitaph of Joseph's life is recorded in our text. In Hebrews 11: 22 we read, "By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones."

One of the most interesting things to me about the life of Joseph is found in the phrase, "brought down, or went down." We're told that he was "brought down into the pit;" he was brought down into prison;" and, "he went down to Potiphar's house."

However, every time that life "brought Joseph down," God would "bring Joseph up." God had rested his hand upon the life of Joseph, and what God had blessed, nothing could curse. I believe the life, and faith of Joseph is best summarized in two things. First, there was:

A. His Confidence in the Promise of God!

When Joseph died, he requested that his bones be carried back to the land which God had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the land of Canaan. Apparently, Joseph believed that God's promise would be fulfilled. He knew that God would keep His Word.

We read in Genesis 50: 24, "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob."

Joseph was making known his dying wish. He wanted the children of Israel to take his bones with them when they entered the land of promise. He wanted to be included, and be a part of the fulfillment of God's promise to His people.

Thus, when the Exodus occurred, 200 years later, Moses took the bones of Joseph with them. (C. p. Exodus 13: 19) His bones were carried during the 40 years in the wilderness and finally laid to rest by Joshua, in Shechem, a parcel of land purchased by Jacob.

Joseph believed the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word. His faith was directed to the Lord, his faith was developed by the Lord and his faith was demonstrated for the Lord.

I have always been somewhat humored to see people of great faith intermingled with people of little faith. The ones with great faith will drive the ones with little absolutely crazy. For example, Thomas, who was not present to see the risen Christ, had to live 8 days with those who had seen the risen Christ, and he was absolutely miserable.

Joseph was a man who did not allow the circumstances to dictate his walk with God and his work for God. He was determined, come what may, to serve God, and be faithful to God.

B. His Comparison with the Person of God!

No man in the Bible is given more "typology" to the person of Christ than Joseph. In fact, Joseph is the Old Testament type of the New Testament Christ. Think about these comparisons.

Joseph came through a miraculous birth; Jesus came through a virgin birth. Joseph was loved by his earthly father; Jesus was loved by His heavenly father. Joseph wore a "coat of many colors," which set him apart; Jesus was made to be "separate from sinners."

Joseph was hated by his brethren; Jesus was hated by his brethren. Joseph was betrayed for 20 pieces of silver; Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. Joseph was put in a pit, which represented death; Jesus was placed in a tomb, which represented death.

Joseph was raised up from the pit; Jesus was raised up from the grave. Joseph was tempted, and resisted; Jesus was tempted, and won. Joseph became the saviour of his own world; Jesus was the saviour of the whole world.

Joseph, as a ruler, gave bread to a starving world; Jesus, as a redeemer, is the bread of life who gives bread to a sinful world. Joseph took a gentile bride; Jesus is taking a Gentile bride, the church. Joseph forgave those who had betrayed him; Jesus forgave those who crucified him.

The life of Joseph is one that encourages every child of God to be faithful. It also teaches us that we are not to operate according to worldly standards, but according to godly standards.


An airline employee who was struggling through a long delay in a flight's departure kept her composure as the passengers grew angrier. Many of the  passengers were abnormally cruel to the lady, although the delay was beyond her control.

One man knocked the refreshment tray out of her hands. Another man pushed her down the aisle. Yet, another cursed her like no one had ever heard before. However, through it all, she remained calm, cool and collected.

When the ordeal was over a passenger, who had noticed the class act of the airline worker, asked her name so he could write a letter of commendation. However, she humbly, and graciously replied, "Sir, that won't be necessary. This airline may sign my check; but, the Lord meets my needs. I don't work for this airline. I work for Jesus Christ."

Although God may trust us with ability and test us with adversity, He will triumph us with authority if we will look to Him, lean on Him and live for Him. We will be belittled, betrayed; disappointed and disillusioned by people, preachers, churches and family. However, we should not do what we do for anyone else other than the Lord Jesus Christ.


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