Estimated reading time: 6 minute(s)
Jen & I are reading through the New Living Translation One Year Chronological Bible right now (how’s that for a title??) And, it’s awesome. We’ve read all this before, so sometimes it’s hard to keep on reading… BUT… I just read some amazing stuff today that makes me want to keep reading.
Do you remember Joseph? He was Jacob’s first son through his wife Rachel. (Rachel was the one Jacob loved of the two sisters, Leah and Rachel.) The sisters had started a baby war with each other… whoever had more babies – sons specifically – would be loved more by their husband. So, they even got their personal servants in on it. They each gave their servants to Jacob as wives (so he had FOUR! WHOA!) And everyone was having babies except Rachel. Until, God blessed her with Joseph.
So, with all of that history, and with Jacob’s love for Rachel, Joseph was pretty special to Jacob, and he was treated accordingly. He had 11 brothers… and they didn’t like that their next-to-youngest brother was so favored. So, after he had irritated them enough, they decided to kill him. When they were far away from home they were going to do it, but they ended up finding a group of Egyptians, so they sold Joseph to them to be a slave.
First of all, how crazy is that? He was their brother???! But, they did.
The next 20 years or more of Josephs’ life is INSANE. God is with him, in everything he does. He is so well respected by the man who bought him as a slave that he ends up putting him in charge of his whole household. Everything that matters to this guy was given to Jospeh to take care of. That’s when the whole thing with Potiphar’s wife happens… his master’s wife thinks he’s pretty amazing too, and wants to sleep with him. Joseph knows that’s wrong and amazingly (I think) stands up for what he believes (I am not sure he had much support in that… a man of God on his own in a country of people whose beliefs were not like his own.) He ends up running out of the house on one of her advances and then is falsely accused by the lady — and he ends up in prison!
So, ok, first his brothers betray him and he’s thrown in a pit – and sold as a slave. Then, even as a slave he rose to the position of prominence where he was… and he’s betrayed again and ends up in prison! What is going on! Wouldn’t you think he would be totally discouraged and flipping out?
He wasn’t. He was the "model prisoner" and the guard ended up putting him in charge of all the prisoners (it says that the guard didn’t have to worry about anything any more!) 🙂 Again, God blessed Joseph in everything he did… and Jospeh shows amazing patience and trust to just endure all of this extremely unjust, unfair life. It sure seems like Joseph was dished an unequal amount of unfairness in life.
So, more of the story… two other dudes were in prison with him and they had dreams. Joseph had some experience with dreams… God had given him some when he was a young boy that foretold the greatness that God had planned for his life. So he said, God can tell you what these dreams mean. So they explained their dreams to him and he interpreted them. And he was right. Their dreams told them that in three days one of them would be reinstated to their jobs in Pharaoh’s court… and the other would be executed. When they were released, Joseph said, "Remember me when you go to Pharaoh!" But… they didn’t.
Betrayed again. But, did Joseph give up trusting? Did he decide God was no longer trustworthy? Apparently not. Amazing.
Pharaoh ends up having a disturbing dream and no one can tell him what it means… and the dude finally remembered Joseph. That was the moment God was waiting for. Joseph not only successfully explains the dream… but he also gives Pharaoh a strategy to handle what the dream was foretelling. Pharaoh says, "I like you!" and puts him in charge of THE WHOLE COUNTRY.
OK, recap time…. Joseph was almost not born… took a long time for his mom to have a baby. Then he was despised by his family (brothers) and the betrayed him… ended up a slave. Then he rose to the top as a slave… and was betrayed again… this time ends up in prison. Betrayed again by a fellow prisoner set free… then finally remembered… and here we are. He is second in command only to Pharaoh.
He’s like Dick Cheney. 🙂
The dream that Pharaoh had told that there would be 7 years of abundance and then 7 years of severe famine. That did happen, and Joseph had a great plan to store up during the abundance, so everyone was coming to Egypt to get food… including JOSEPH’S BROTHERS!
Joseph ends up playing mind games with them, because they did not recognize him. But after all of that, he breaks down and just weeps at the sight of his brothers again (especially his full younger brother Benjamin.) They do some reminiscing and then Joseph invites them to come down with all of their families and live in Egypt happily ever after.
And what I read today was the end of Joseph’s life. There was so much more, but there are a couple of good lines I wanted to share. From what you have read so far (the much abbreviated version) there was a lot to be bitter about. A lot to hold a grudge for. A lot to be angry about – with all of those people and even with God.
But listen to what Joseph said upon revealing his identity to his brothers:
"But don’t be angry with yourselves that you did this to me(sold him into slavery), for God did it. He sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. … God has sent me here to to keep you and your families alive so that you will become a great nation."
And later when his dad died and his brothers were again afraid that Joseph was holding a grudge and would now act on it, he said to them in a completely humble and reassuring way, "As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil".
What an INCREDIBLE man of God. Seriously. He had really understood the big pitcure. Had he kept his eyes on himself and his circumstances he could have been really ticked off! But, he realized that God was magnificent and had a much larger plan in mind. And even though so much bad had happened… he was in charge of the most powerful nation in the world. Wow.
THEN, one more picture of God’s goodness to Joseph… When Jacob died, the whole country of Egypt mourned for 70 days. Seventy. And then, as per Jacob’s request, Joseph asked if he could take some time off to go and bury his dad’s body with his grandpa and great grandpa (Isaac and Abraham). Pharaoh not only agreed but it says "So Joseph went, with a great number of Pharaoh’s counselors and advisers – ALL the senior officers of Egypt." Again, that’s like being sent off with the President’s cabinet and all his top dudes. Don’t forget… this is a foreigner. They don’t much like foreigners. But he was treated as a king. That line just stood out to me as how much they valued Joseph… this former slave and prisoner.
God took this guy through the craziest circumstances and used him to preserve his people (whom God would later rescue in a big and amazing fashion) and put him in charge of the most powerful country in the world!
What an amazing story. What an amazing man. What an amazing God. I can only hope to be as faithful as Joseph. Though I don’t hope for his circumstances, I sure do hope for the way he handled them.
In case you haven’t read it in a while. Read Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-50.