Les Hawes - Joseph's Fruitful Life - Glencoe, New South Wales, Australia - 1980

I have been looking at the life of Joseph. Jacob, speaking in Genesis 49:22 said, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall.” What made him a fruitful bough? It was the well and the wall. John 15 speaks of the vine and the branches. They are two things that are important so that fruit might be consumed, the branch abiding in the vine and secondly, the purging and pruning. I spent a number of years working among vines. Some people say a vine can be killed by pruning but that is not true. The best is produced by heavy pruning, and very little by light pruning.


The pruning that Joseph passed through produced the fruit of the spirit. It was the spirit with which he faced his experiences that produced the fruit. I see the fruit of the spirit in the lives of God’s people and servants often. Many a time I have wished I had the fruit I have seen in them, but this is only produced as a result of experiences, or the way we go through the experiences God brings into our life.


We see Joseph at seventeen years of age and perhaps at that time there was very little fruit in his life. Some very nice things are spoken of him in his early days: a feeder, obedient to his father when he was called. He was naturally interested in doing the will of his father, and in the welfare of his brethren. Earlier he had brought an evil report to his father, not because he was a tale bearer trying to seek the favour of his father, but it was because he honoured his father’s name and didn’t like to see him let down. He might have found one of the brothers he could have talked to about that, but he didn’t do that. He went to the father and there is a lesson in that. Go to the Father, take everything to the Father. Go and pray when we see something wrong, someone doing something that ought not to be done. Don’t carry it to someone else. A lot of trouble has been caused like that.


We have heard about his dream. He saw his sheaf stand upright and what he learned from that was that, “God wants me to be upright.” In these meetings we have been dreaming, or given visions. God has been reminding us that He wants us to be like that sheaf that would stand upright. That vision remained a help to him through all those years of experience until his father could say, “He is a fruitful bough.” Many times he was tempted to lean. Not long after we leave Convention, we will be tempted to lean. God has given us a vision and it is His desire that we would stand upright.


The father loved him more than the others because he was the son of his old age but there was another son born after he. God loved David more than he loved the others; He loved Jacob more than Esau. Those brothers saw that Jacob, their father, loved Joseph more, perhaps, than they felt they should have been loved. If they were drawing from the well and protected by the wall Joseph was protected by, it would have had a different effect on them, and they would have said, “We want to seek the favour of the father, also.” If we see evidence that God loves someone dearly, it should cause us to want to act in such a way we might gain the Father’s favour.


When Joseph went to see his brethren, it was with nothing but love in his heart to do the will of his father. Don (McIntyre) said he has feeling for those brothers because some had very nice marks and that is true in the beginning. Reuben tried to save his brother from death and was very grieved when he found his brother had been sold. He did not know until afterwards when he went to look for him and could not find him, and had grief in his heart.


The time came when Joseph was sold and taken to Egypt and found himself in the house of Potiphar. He was faithful there. We could say the branch was being pruned. Jesus spoke of the branch that beareth not fruit He taketh away, but the branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it that it might bring forth more fruit. In my knowledge of vines producing fruit, there are branches that would never bear fruit no matter what you do. It was encouraging to me to realize that the Lord’s hand was on me to prune and correct me. I am comforted that He is hoping for a little more fruit, and then much fruit will be produced, too. If a vine is left unpruned, it will have a little bit of fruit. Twenty or thirty feet away from the stem, you will see a little bunch of fruit.


I was asked once to prune a vine and I said, “Yes, as long as you let me do what I know should be done.” The branches were twenty feet long and I cut off nineteen feet that were producing nothing. When I had finished the lady said, “Look at my vines.” I said, “Next year, you will have fruit.” I had a letter saying they had much fruit on the vine and sooner than I had thought. Joseph’s experiences were like pruning to him, and every experience produced a little more of the fruit of the Spirit. In the house of Potiphar, he was faithful.


I want to speak a little about the wall. There might have been two walls protecting Joseph’s life. In some places, we read of the wall of God’s presence and then there is the wall of separation we are encouraged to raise up. Perhaps there was an inner wall and an outer wall protecting his life. The presence of God was his greatest protection, and ours, too. The presence of God was with him because he was drawing from the well, abiding in the vine, in constant touch with God, and the wall of God protected him.


Temptation came to him in that home and he was able to say, “No.” “How can I do this wickedness against the LORD?” Joseph felt he was living before the people around him. He was a light to them, but he recognized he was living before God and it is good if we can continually remember this. There were no others to see him, not his brothers, but God could see and He recognized it and was able by the power of God to say, “No.”


He goes into prison and there behaves himself wisely because he is drawing from the well, and being protected by the wall of God’s presence. He gains the favour of the Master of the prison and the respect of the other prisoners. He was left there when he should have been released but there was no bitterness in his heart, no murmuring. He was two years longer there and they were very long years. Imagine how long it would seem with the knowledge he was not there because he had sinned, but he had done right. “Blessed are they that are persecuted.” The fruit of patience is being produced. Adam Hutchison once said, “We pray for patience and God sends tribulation and we wonder what happens to us.” Tribulation worketh patience. That is God’s way of working patience into our lives.


There are the fruits of meekness and of humility. He is brought to interpret the dreams Pharaoh had. He said, “It is not in me...” There would be a temptation to exalt himself and speak of his knowledge but he said, “God will give you an answer.” God used him to give the right answer. He showed the fruit of meekness and it was not very long before he is made ruler of Egypt and tempted in a different way. Experiences produced more fruit, the fruit of temperance. He was ruler over Egypt but was determined Egypt was not going to rule over him.There was a Brother in Victoria who has now passed away, and he was in a position of responsibility which took him often to Parliament House in Canberra. He made it clear to the Prime Minister and to everybody else there, that no matter what important business was being discussed on Saturday, he would be going home on Saturday. He said to them, “Every Sunday morning we worship in my home, and I am not going to be in Canberra.” He was respected for the stand that he took. He was a man who was a ruler over Egypt. Not many men in a position like he had could keep their head.


In a meeting at Booyong, advice was given to keep clear of politics and everything else that might affect or hinder. A butter factory manager in Victoria, whenever there was a board of directors’ meeting at the factory, he would go back to his house, go into his room, and spend time in prayer. He told me the reason, “I will be asked to do something today or partake of something, and I cannot do it as a God’s child.” He was getting strength to stand upright.


The time came when two sons were born to Joseph. He said, “God has given me these two sons. He has caused me to forget my father’s house and He has given me fruit in the land of my affliction.” He lived near to God and took no honour to himself. Perhaps we could say faith and goodness are being produced in his life in that experience. It is good to forget his father’s house, the toil of the past years. It is good for us to forget our father’s house and toil. God causes us to forget these things sometimes, because He wants us to be looking ahead to the days that are better.


The time came when Jacob heard there was corn in Egypt. He called his ten sons and said, “Go and buy for us that we may live; if there is no buying of corn we will die.” I heard about a sister Worker staying in a home. The lady of the house came in from buying bread and said, “The price of bread will go up tomorrow.” She wondered what effect that would have but the next day she noticed the same amount of bread was brought into the house. The price of bread had gone up, but bread was needed. We will notice Joseph noticed the price of bread had gone up. The brothers came to Joseph and he knew them but there was no change in them. They were like an unpruned vine, but they did not know him. Joseph was like a pruned vine and there was no comparison.


I do not think Joseph ever had a wrong spirit towards them. There was more evidence of fruit. It was twenty-one years later and he was now thirty-eight years old. They received the corn and went off but had to leave one of their brothers behind and going back to the father, they told him of their experience. Joseph had spoken roughly to them and had put them in ward for three days. Perhaps we could say this is a little bit of pruning beginning. No doubt they were changed later on. Three days in prison gave them something to think about and they did speak to one another. They were made to feel they had been guilty. “We are verily guilty.” Reuben said, “Spake I not unto you saying, 'Do not sin against the child.'”


Joseph is listening and is speaking to them through an interpreter and then he went out from them and wept. He had the fruit of love and the gentleness of spirit produced in him now. They had to go back and tell Jacob that Simeon was left behind. Jacob said, “Joseph is not and Simeon is not; and will ye take Benjamin away?” They said, “The man spake roughly to us and said if we don’t take Benjamin we can’t get any more corn.” The price of bread was going up.We experience that in the way of God. In our earliest days of our Christian experience, bread was provided for us. That is how I feel. It did not cost me so much to get bread because someone else gave it to me, but as the time passes, we find ourselves seeking for bread and it is no easier to get, but harder to get; it takes more time, costs us more because we realize what bread is. The time was, perhaps even when I began in the Work, I did not know very much about what bread was. It is more than words, and poor old Jacob says, “All these things are against me,” and it certainly looked like that, but he lived to know the truth of the words of Paul to the Romans, “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose.” Sometimes all things seem to be against us and we didn’t realize at the time that God was working for our good,  but later on we could look back and thank God for those experiences that seemed so difficult.


So, emphatically for a time Jacob said,”Benjamin is not going,” and his sons appealed to him, “If only you are willing to pay the price, we could go again,” so he said, “Go and buy, because we will die if we don't get corn.” When we realize we will die if we don’t get bread, it makes us more determined to get it, no matter what it will cost. Jacob said, “If it must be so,” and we find it must be so, that the price must be paid.


First of all he said, “Do this, take of the best fruits, balm and honey ...” They were very precious things but then he said, “Take also your brother.” He knew all the fruit, balm, and honey was not the price, and everything else was not the price, and we might be willing to give a great deal to God, but God forbid that we would withhold that which would prevent us from getting bread. There is a great tendency for us to keep back a little for ourselves.


When Joseph saw Benjamin, his heart was very, very soft. He wept, but not in their presence. He said to his servants, “Bring these men home. Slay and make ready.” There was going to be a great feast. He said, “They shall dine with me at noon.” Joseph went out and wept again. Compassion and forgiveness is being produced in Joseph as a result of experiences like unto pruning and because he is all the time drawing from the well of salvation. All the pruning alone could not bring fruit. The root system is so important. Joseph was living near to and drawing from the well, but willing for all the pruning God saw necessary.


What a wonderful day for them all when he said, “Come near to me.” He made himself appear to them rough, not because he hated them, but because he loved them, and God was using him to help them come to the place where they bowed themselves to the ground in his presence. We will some day appreciate those who have appeared to cause us to suffer, and will look back and say, “It brought me low, but it helped me.” “I am Joseph your brother .... be not grieved nor angry with yourselves.” He was still their brother. He kissed them all with true affection and then sends a message with them to Jacob to come.


When Jacob was told they had met Joseph and he was the ruler there in Egypt and they told him of their experiences, he didn’t believe it, and his heart fainted. He believed it not until he saw something. Often we are like that, we don’t believe until we see something, see the abundant provision God makes for us and then we believe. He saw the wagons sent back to carry Jacob and the others to Egypt, and loads of provision, and his spirit revived. When we see God’s wonderful provision, our spirits are revived and we take fresh heart. Joseph told them, “See that ye fall not out by the way.” He provided them with strength and all that was necessary for the journey. In chapter 46, Jacob was taking his journey. He came to Beer-sheba. Other faithful souls had often been there. He offered sacrifices and God spoke to him. “Fear not to go down into Egypt .... I will go down with thee .... and I will bring thee up again.” He did not understand what that meant, that his bones were to be brought up again. Others had been told, “Don’t go down into Egypt,” and Jacob knew about it. Then there was a wonderful meeting of the father and the sons when he gathered his sons together and told them to, “hear and harken,” to take heed. All these sons benefited from that meeting because they not only heard, but they hearkened. In chapter 49, there is a message for every one of them. He had been and was, a wonderful father to them. He was very concerned about his family and he blessed them all. A blessing to one was not a blessing to another, but it became a blessing to each as they took notice of it, and so it is in these meetings.


In chapter 50, Jacob had died now and Joseph’s brethren are troubled, still afraid that Joseph might take revenge. They didn’t understand his heart well. They could not see all the fruit on that branch that had come as a result of him drawing from the wells of salvation, and the experiences through which he had passed, he had allowed to work into his life through the spirit. They came to him afraid and said, “Our father said to us, you go to Joseph and say, 'Forgive the trespass of thy brethren .... For they did unto thee evil .... Forgive the trespass of thy servants of the God of thy father.'”


Now they wanted to be the servants of the God of Joseph’s father and were asking forgiveness, and afraid they still won’t be forgiven. Joseph wept. He had forgiveness, love, compassion, every fruit of the spirit in his life. I remember what it meant one time when a Sister in Victoria came to me and said, “I am sorry for thoughts I had of you and somebody else.” I did not know. I had never realised her attitude was anything but right toward me. I am glad for the times when I have been willing to go and say to others, “Forgive me. I did the wrong thing.” What a weight is lifted from our shoulders. Sometimes we can be guilty of speaking sharply or unkindly, and in my case, I have never had any peace until I have gone and said, “I am sorry,” and have not wasted much time in doing it.


Those brothers looked back to their attitude toward Joseph when he was but a youth and now they were bowing down before him, willing to serve him. He said to them, “Fear not, for am I in the place of God?” “I am not going to rule over you. I don’t want to be your master.” When Joseph had that vision of his sheaf standing upright they had said, “Do you think you are going to rule over us?” I don’t think that entered into Joseph’s mind because he knew the Lord was going to reign over him. He said, “God meant it unto good ... to save much people alive,” and they were alive because of what Joseph had been and done, and I am sure they recognized it and were grateful for it.


Joseph comforted them with the words, “Now therefore, fear not. I will nourish you ... and spake kindly unto them.” How often we have appreciated those who have spoken to us in a way that Joseph spoke to his brethren, so comforting.


I hope we will have more of that spirit and kindly word that can mean so much. An old Brother sought to encourage me when I went to Borneo and he said, “We all need encouragement.” You can encourage us and we can encourage you, and I hope we will all value our privilege of doing that.