In our reading this week, we read about the first half of the testimony of Joseph. He is one of my favorite men in the Old Testament, as he models so well how to remain trusting in God despite incredible and ongoing setbacks and persecution.
Joseph is the son of Jacob and Rachel and lived in the land of Canaan with his ten half-brothers and one full brother.
We pick up the testimony of Joseph in Genesis 37, where we read that he has the favor of his father, Jacob. Joseph was given a very special robe of many colors by his parents and given the gift of prophetic dreams by the Lord. He is blessed and highly favored, but both of these gifts proved to be highly problematic for the sin of his jealous brothers.
Things take a terrible turn for Joseph in the latter part of Genesis 37, when his brothers' hatred and jealousy causes them to distance themselves from Joseph and even plot to kill him. Thankfully, Rueben convinces their brothers not to kill Joseph. Still, their anger and resentment propels them to throw Joseph into a pit and then sell him to some traveling gypsies, who would then sell him as a slave. Their father is broken when the brothers show him Joseph’s coat and deceive him into thinking Joseph had been killed by an animal.
What is sobering is that Joseph’s rejection by his family is not a rare testimony in the reality of sin in this world. Many people, maybe including you, know what it is like for sin to reign in a family and cause great division and rejection. I pray that if you have experienced this kind of abandonment from your blood family, that you would truly know our Father in heaven and the price that His only begotten Son paid to adopt you into their eternal family. While that would be more than enough, I also pray that you would truly come to know and value the blood-bought family God has brought you into, and that you would fully embrace and do life with a local church family for all the days the Lord ordains for you in this life. The good news of God’s saving grace is that we don’t have to be an orphan because of sin; we can joyfully be in His forever family. Praise God.
In Genesis 39, we read that Joseph ends up in a great situation for a slave. He is sold to Potiphar, Captain of Pharaoh’s guard, and he quickly earns Potiphar’s trust and is appointed to oversee his entire house. What an amazing turn from such life-altering, horrible events. But, it doesn’t last long, as things go horribly bad again. Potiphar’s wife lusts after Joseph and pursues him to sleep with her. When he tells her no, she screams out that he assaulted and raped her. This means the loss of everything good he had come to know, as Joseph is thrown into prison. Once again, many can relate to being lied about and even sold out, maybe by a boss or co-worker, a spouse or close friend. To be falsely accused and then unjustly persecuted for something you did not do is one of this lost world’s most painful realities. It is a true temptation to let injustice and unfair circumstances cause us to become bitter and cold. But Joseph kept trusting God. Instead of saying, “Why God,” Joseph would keep saying, “What do you have next for me Lord?” While we can’t control many of life’s happenings and the things that come our way, we can control how we respond. We can turn to our God who is always with us and will never forsake us. You can “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones” (Proverbs 3:5-8).
While Joseph had all the fleshly reasons for doubt after having now encountered yet another huge life set back, he kept seeking the Lord and trusting in Him while in jail. We see God at work in Joseph even in jail, as he earned the favor of the chief jailer, who ends up putting Joseph in charge of the entire jail. After some time goes by, in Genesis 40, we read that Joseph is given the opportunity to interpret the dreams of the chief cup bearer and Pharaoh’s baker. Unfortunately, the baker’s dream’s negative interpretation proves true, as he dies, and the cupbearer's positive interpretation proves true, and he is restored to his position and freedom.
Joseph sees an opportunity to be released, as the cupbearer’s positive dream could mean him using his connections and authority to put in a good word for Joseph and maybe get him released. But once again, Joseph is forgotten and left to remain in jail.
We will read the second half of Joseph’s journey next week, but let us not miss the example given to us this week. God can and will use us, even when the world and sin is absolutely working against us. He will not waste one day of our lives. If you are reading this and you have been knocked down in life or have experienced incredible injustice or abandonment by others, God has you in His sovereign grip. Trust in Him, and wait on Him. If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. Our lives are His. Let us remain faithful and know that He will use every day for His eternal glory and our eternal joy.