May 12, 2019

A New Covenant 2019

Joseph – Living Up to the Covenant

Last week, at the end of our sermon time, we left Jacob hugging Esau. The last words we had heard from Esau, before this, was I am going to kill my brother for stealing my blessing. Years go by, when the twins finally get back together, Jacob sees the face of God in Esau. The face of forgiveness. The face of brotherly love. The face of God keeping his covenant through Esau. It is a touching scene of Esau blessing his brother. 

Jacob’s name has been changed to Israel. Israel is no longer a “heel grabber”. He no longer has to be deceptive. “Israel” means the one who wrestles with God and prevails. Jacob steps into the covenant. Jacob takes his family to live in the Promised Land. 

On the way to the Promised Land, God renews his covenant with Jacob. 

Genesis 35:1-7 God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau." So, Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone”… And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother.

Jacob returns to the place where he wrestled God… now named Bethel; the house of God! God appears again to re-emphasize that Jacob is no longer a heel grabber but the Prevailer! 

Genesis 35:9-15 God appeared to Jacob again… and blessed him. And God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name." So, he called his name Israel. And God said to him, "I am God Almighty: (El-Shaddai) be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you." Then God went up from him in the place where he had spoken with him. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. So, Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.

God wants Jacob to live up to the covenant. God wants Jacob to know that he is Israel. God renews the covenant with Jacob… accompanied with symbols and name changes and sacrifices and oaths… most of the Seven Elements of an Effective Covenant. 

Now, something different happens to the Covenant. You are going to go “Wow”.

--The Covenant was given first to… Abraham; an individual.

--The Covenant was passed on to his son; Isaac. Not his other son Ishmael. A single person.

--Then, the Covenant was stolen by Jacob from Esau. Esau could not get his father’s blessing. It went to Jacob; who stepped into it as Israel. 

--Now, the covenant is not given to a single son… but, it goes to 12 sons! Abraham’s covenant appears to be passed on to a family instead of an individual son. 

Let’s watch how this happens.


Jacob’s four wives have 13 kids. 12 sons and one daughter; Dinah. God is faithful to the Covenant blessings and Jacob becomes wealthy. His sons manage a massive cattle ranch, if it was in Texas… This is in Canaan so it was lots of sheep. 

Joseph, Israel’s 11th son, is 17 years old. We know the story… 

--The brothers are jealous of Joseph, his father’s favorite. He gets a coat of???

--They sell him into Egyptian captivity.

--He works for Potiphar until Mrs. Potiphar accuses him of sexual harassment. Because he wouldn’t.

--He goes to prison. Where he soon runs the place.

--He interprets dreams of the cupbearer and baker. 

--Joseph interprets dreams of Pharaoh about skinny cows eating fat cows… Sheaves bowing down.

--He rises from the prison to run Egypt. Joseph is second in charge of Egypt!

Watch… there is a covenant between Pharaoh and Joseph… “Seriously?”

Genesis 41:41-45 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, "Bow the knee!" Thus, he set him over all the land of Egypt. Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt." And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphenath-paneah. And he gave him in marriage Asenath… So, Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.

Covenants are all over the place in the Bible.

Then, once again, there is a famine. The covenant blessing is in danger for Jacob; aka Israel back at the house.

--The brothers go to Egypt and ironically, appear before Joseph to get grain. 

--Joseph tests his brothers to see if they have grown up to love their father. Joseph tested them to see if they were jealous of his younger brother, Benjamin. Joseph claims they stole his cup… “You stole my cup!”

--They pass the test… Joseph reveals himself in another touching scene of forgiveness.

Genesis 45:1-9 Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him. He cried, "Make everyone go out from me." So, no one stayed with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it. And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. So, Joseph said to his brothers, "Come near to me, please." And they came near. And he said, "I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life... So, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt. Hurry and go up to my father and say to him, 'Thus says your son Joseph, God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; do not tarry.

Joseph’s point, to his brothers is powerful; God is faithful to the covenant. No famine is going touch the power of God to keep his blessings from those in His Covenant! Israel is preserved! Israel is blessed by the covenant, even during a famine! 

Jacob brings his family, of 70, to live in Egypt. He is reunited with his precious son; Joseph; brought back to life, as all but king of Egypt! Wow, God is amazingly faithful to his covenant.

But it is what happens when Jacob dies, that is the point of this sermon. There is a change in the legacy of the covenant. 


As Israel travels to Egypt, God expands his covenant with him…

Genesis 46:1-4 So Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, "Jacob, Jacob." And he said, "Here am I." Then he said, "I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for there I will make you into a great nation. I myself will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also bring you up again, and Joseph's hand shall close your eyes."

The faithful God of Covenant accompanies Jacob to Egypt where he lives another 17 years.

Genesis 48:1-5 After this, Joseph was told, "Behold, your father is ill." So, he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And it was told to Jacob, "Your son Joseph has come to you." Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed. And Jacob said to Joseph, "God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a company of peoples and will give this land to your offspring after you for an everlasting possession.' And now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.”

“What? Say that again?” Joseph’s two sons are adopted by their grandfather to be his children. Wait, that means that Joseph, the 11th son receives twice the covenant blessing. The covenant is not just passed on to the oldest son, Rueben. The new legacy of the Covenant goes to all the sons and Joseph gets double! 

Jacob gathers all his sons together and blesses them. He brings each of his sons in one at a time and gives each of them a blessing

Genesis 49:28-33 All these are the twelve tribes of Israel. This is what their father said to them as he blessed them, blessing each with the blessing suitable to him. Then he commanded them and said to them, "I am to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave… he drew up his feet into the bed and breathed his last and was gathered to his people.

This is a fundamental change in the passing of the covenant. It was to Abraham. Then, to specifically to Isaac. Then, the Heel Grabber steals it from Red. Now, it becomes a covenant of a family with the blessings going to each offspring! 


Here is what this means to us. Let’s sneak a peek at the New Covenant. 

The Abraham/Isaac/Jacob covenant is unconditional. 

--God blessed Abraham even tough he lied to Abimelech about Sarah being his wife. 

--God blessed Isaac even though he forgot who he was and lied about Rachel!

--God blessed the Heel Grabber even though he stole the blessing from his, not too bright, brother.

--Then, God blessed all 11 of the other sons, even though they sold their brother into slavery and broke their father’s heart. They still get the blessing.

But, watch this, this is amazing, Joseph lived up to the covenant and received the double blessing. Joseph lived as a son YHWH’s covenant. He would not compromise himself with Mrs. Potiphar. He lived honorably, even in prison. He served the Pharaoh faithfully in their covenant! Joseph lived as a son of the covenant! God elevated Joseph to rule Egypt. Joseph’s sons were adopted by Israel. There are two tribes of Israel from Joseph; Ephraim and Manasseh.  He was double-blessed in the covenant! 

This is the nature of the New Covenant! Listen as Paul explains living up to the Covenant.

Colossians 1:10-14 So… walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

If you have entered the Covenant, through baptism, you receive the universal blessing of… 

--sharing in the inheritance

--being in the kingdom

--having redemption – forgiveness of sins

You have these blessings, fully, by being in the new covenant. Black-black-no-trade-back! 

Now, because of this, Paul encourages us to live up to the covenant… live in a manner worthy of the Lord.

--Live pleasing

--Bear fruit in every good work

--be strengthened by all power

What a wonderful thought… If you are in the covenant… it is unconditional… you get the inheritance, just like 11 of the sons of Israel. Only we get eternal life.

But on top of that… you can be like Joseph… you can live up to the covenant! You can live a life of pleasing… a life where you make a difference… a life full of power… You can live in the double blessing of the New Covenant! 

Listen to the actual words of Jacob as he blessed Joseph on his deathbed. Think of the double blessings you have when you live up to the New Covenant. 

Genesis 49:22-26 "Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob, by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.”

We can live in the double-blessings of the New Covenant! 

Tim Stidham

May 19, 2019

Los Alamos Church of Christ