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Sibling rivalries and a lack of wisdom on his part caused the young Joseph considerable trouble, but because his faith never wavered God was able to use him to preserve life and reconcile his family.
Joseph, even as a young man, tried to obey God and do the right thing. His father Jacob loved him dearly and gave him a richly embroidered robe of many colours, arousing considerable jealousy from Jacob’s other eleven sons.
At this time in his life Joseph appears to have been rather naive and makes the situation worse by telling his brothers about two dreams he has had in which his brothers bow down to him and appear to be in subjection to him. As a result, when Joseph is working in the field by himself his brothers overpower him and sell him to passing merchants as a slave.
With an amazing lack of feeling for their father, the brothers then kill a goat, smear some of its blood on Joseph’s beautiful coat and show it to their father, implying that Joseph has been killed. When Jacob sees the coat he tears his clothes and goes into mourning for his favorite son, refusing to be comforted. (Genesis 37:35).
Meanwhile Joseph is transported to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officers. But God does not desert those who seek Him and we are told: “… And his master saw that the LORD was with him (Joseph) and that the LORD made all he did to prosper...Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority” (Genesis 39:3-4).
Joseph’s faith is then tried again when he rejects advances from Potiphar’s wife, who tries to seduce him. In order to cover up her behaviour she accuses Joseph of attempted rape and Joseph is thrown into prison. Once again God intervenes to protect Joseph: “But the LORD was with Joseph...And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison…and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper” (Genesis 39:21-23).
While in prison Joseph also interprets the meaning of two dreams for Pharaoh’s butler and baker. His predictions come to pass and when Pharaoh has a frightening dream he is told of Joseph’s ability. Joseph is bought from prison and tells Pharaoh of the seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine which will occur in Egypt and surrounding countries. Pharaoh then appoints Joseph to be second in command of his whole kingdom to manage this crisis.
Eventually as the famine becomes worse Joseph’s father and brothers journey to Egypt in the hope of obtaining food. Joseph recognises them, but they did not know Joseph. After Joseph tests his brothers and is satisfied they regret their former treachery, he commands his servants to leave the room and reveals his true identity, explaining God’s purpose for allowing him to be sent to Egypt: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt...for God sent me before you to... save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God …” (Genesis 45:4-8).
Jacob and Joseph’s brothers then settle in Egypt and are saved from the famine, ultimately fulfilling God’s promise that Israel would become a great nation bearing his name. From the seventy who came to Egypt with Jacob, “the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:1-7).
Joseph’s experiences mirror to a lesser extent those of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Like Jesus (John 8:42-47), Joseph was persecuted for telling the truth. Like Jesus (Luke 22:2), Joseph was marked for death, as Joseph’s own brothers plotted to kill him. Like Jesus (Ezekiel 37:15-28), Joseph was a reconciler and restorer. And, like Jesus (Isaiah 11:1-5; Amos 9:11-15), Joseph was a skilled and wise administrator.
Finally, our Saviour Jesus Christ, like Joseph, but in a much greater way, was similarly sent ahead to save mankind: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly … While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8).
Sometimes disaster can turn out to be a blessing in disguise if God is working out events (Romans 8:28). Learning to trust God is to learn one of the great lessons in life.
The Good News Magazine