The Story of Joseph
"Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves ... for God did send me before you to preserve life." Genesis 45:5
The life of Joseph is one of the most amazing stories of a person's struggle in life that is a text book example of keeping your faith in times of trouble. His story is found beginning in Genesis 37.
Joseph the Teenager
Here the chapter begins with Joseph reporting to Jacob an evil report of his brothers. Jacob loved Joseph more than any of his other sons and it was causing such strife between Joseph and his brothers that they could not speak peaceably with him. To make matters worse God revealed prophetic dreams to Joseph and he told these dreams to his brethren.
Here we can see several problems that were being neglected:
● Jacob showed obvious favoritism toward Joseph which was wrong. He should have had seen the problem ahead of time and corrected it.
● Joseph was put in a form of authority over his brothers. He was expected to give Jacob reports of their activities and their whereabouts.
● Bitterness was demonstrated in the lives of his brothers in the following ways:
1. It can cause someone to lose their focus
2. It causes someone to justify murder within a family
3. They became so self-centered that they did not care about the fate of their brother nor their father Jacob who had mourned many days for Joseph.
Joseph the Slave
Joseph, now 17 years of age, watched as his brothers sold him into slavery with the intention of never seeing him again. All that Joseph had was two dreams and they brought him rebuke from his father. Joseph was seeing the death of a vision: He had neither Bible nor a fellow servant in the Lord to encourage him. Thinking that he would never see his father again, Joseph knew that God had a purpose for his life. He determined that whatever life brought him he would make the best of it.
Joseph was sold to Potiphar, who was a captain of the guard, an officer of Pharaoh. Joseph purposed to work hard and the Lord who was with him, caused Joseph to prosper at whatever he did. Soon Potiphar saw that the Lord was with him and eventually promoted him to the overseer of all that he possessed.
Joseph the Framed
Soon as things were looking good another problem surfaced; Potiphar's wife had loose morals and her eye was on Joseph. When she approached him and tried to get him to lie with her, he told her how he could not commit this wickedness before God. Joseph looked to God for all his daily needs. Day after day Potiphar's wife continued to seduce Joseph, but he would not bend. One day as he was in the house attending to business she made another attempt to seduce him. When he left, she grabbed his garment and framed him saying that he tried to embrace her. Some commentators believed that Potiphar knew Joseph did not do this because it would have meant death and the character of his wife would have been known to everyone. Potiphar had to put him into prison because of the politics of the day.
One ancient document entitled "The Tale of Two brothers", tells a story very similar to that of Joseph, in which the woman who framed Bata (Joseph) was later killed for her actions.
While in prison, God gave favor with Joseph to the prison-keeper and soon Joseph was running the prison. When the Pharaoh was angry with his butler and baker he sent them to prison. It was there that the butler found out about the gift of interpreting dreams that God had given to Joseph. He later told the butler that he would soon be released and restored unto Pharaoh.
Joseph the Governor of Egypt
Years passed and then one night Pharaoh had a dream that worried him. He knew that something was going to happen. He sought out his magicians and wise men but none could tell him what the dreams meant. The chief Butler remembered Joseph and he was brought to Pharaoh. Joseph told the pharaoh that the dreams meant that there would be seven years of plenty and seven years of famine. He stated that pharaoh needed to find a wise man who would prepare the land for the seven years of famine so that there would be enough food for everyone.
Joseph tests his brothers
Once the famine hit it affected not only Egypt but Canaan as well. Soon Joseph's brothers were sent to get grain for their cattle. Once they arrived in Egypt, they met the governor, but did not recognize him as their brother. They bowed to him thus fulfilling the prophecy of the dream that he had concerning his brothers. Joseph tests them to see if they had changed since they sold him into slavery.
First he accuses them of being spies. They must bring them their youngest brother to Joseph to prove their innocence. This was a job in itself due to the fact that Jacob holds tight to Benjamin. When Joseph was supposedly killed, Benjamin became very close to his father.
When the brothers convince their father that Benjamin must go, Joseph receives them and provides a feast for them. On their way out Joseph has his silver cup hidden in the bag of Benjamin. When they are searched, the cup is found in Benjamin’s sack They fall to their knees in sorrow. Joseph saw in them that:
● Their thoughts were not on themselves but on their father and their brother.
● They confess that what is happening is because of what they did to their brother Joseph.
● They are willing to sacrifice their lives to save their fatherfrom more grief. Seeing their brokenness, Joseph could not keep from crying. It is then that he revealed to them that he was their brother. Joseph told them that it was not them that sent him to Egypt but God and that he was sent to preserve a nation. He told his brothers to come and bring their families to Egypt. After 22 years, Joseph is reunited with his father. God blessed Joseph with 17 years with his father before Jacob died.
Joseph died at the age of 110. A granite statue in Vienna, dedicated to Isis (an Egyptian deity), has an inscription which reads: "Fulfill 110 years on the earth while thy limbs are vigorous". Even though there is no mentioning of Joseph, the impact of his life was still felt for hundreds of years.
Lessons learned from Joseph
Joseph put his trust in the Lord in a way that what ever happened to him he knew that God was with him. Joseph had no Bible to encourage him with verses like Romans 8:28. Most people would have sought revenge seeing that his brothers hated him and sold him into Egypt. Joseph had wisdom from God that he soon realized that it was God sending him and he used his brothers as tools to accomplish it.
When we become bitter or angry, it is because we are unable to see the bigger picture. The scriptures tell us to give thanks in all things. If we love God everything that comes in our lives is either because of God or because of our blunders. Therefore if there is any blame it is to ourselves and that is where the blame should stop.
After Jacob died, Joseph's brothers came to him and were willing to be his slaves. They thought that Joseph was going to wait until their father died before he would enslave them. They were not able to understand the depth of wisdom and forgiveness that Joseph had. Let us remember this the next time we are tempted to be angry.