Joseph was an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances.
Sometimes it is easy to read the stories of the ‘heroes of faith’ and think they must have had something special about them. Therefore we miss an important point.
Joseph is mentioned in the ‘hall of fame’ in Hebrews 11: 22 but like all the others in this chapter, he had much to overcome.
Joseph was the favourite son of his father,Israel. It was not by anything he had done – it was because he was the first son born after many years, to Israel’s favourite wife. His half brothers were all much older than him and since their father made no secret of his preference for this youngest son, were jealous. In the end this led to them putting Joseph in a pit, planning to murder him.
Do you think Joseph sat there and calmly waited? Probably not. Perhaps he called out to the brothers, who were sitting eating, “Okay, the joke’s over, let me out of here.” Maybe. When time passed he may have become afraid. He may have prayed.
God had His purpose though, and prompted Reuben to plan to rescue him, but Judah, on the spot, had the inspired idea to sell him to the passing traders.
Joseph learned the language and the customs and served his master well and God prospered him… till his master’s wife was the cause of Joseph landing in prison.
Having experienced the blessings, is it not possible that Joseph sat in prison and asked “Why?” However, he must have soon straightened out his attitude because God again blessed him and he was put in charge of the prisoners.
Next came the incidents of the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief butler and the chief baker. Joseph, giving God the credit, correctly interpreted both dreams.
All Joseph had asked of the chief butler, was when he was restored to his position, he would remember him.
“Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” Gen 40:23
So in the next two years Joseph continued as before in the prison, and would have had plenty of time to reflect.
Is he so different from us?
Prov 3:11-12 (NIV) My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.
Isaiah 48:10 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver;I have tried you in the furnace of affliction”
Whatever the source of the testing from God, it is to our benefit to undergo the trials. Hard to accept sometimes, but true nonetheless.
Did it take the whole two years for Joseph to realise that God was testing him for His purpose?
For us… it is hard sometimes to see the tests/trials as preparation for God’s plan for us, instead we often see it as punishment.
Unless we are out carousing every night, fornication, stealing, murdering… we should forget the punishment idea.
What else can we learn from Joseph’s life?
Gen 41:1 “Then it came to pass that at the end of two full years that Pharaoh had a dream… “
The dream troubled him. He sent for his wise men and magicians but none of them could interpret the dream.
Then the chief butler remembered…
He told Pharaoh about Joseph and what had happened, so Pharaoh sent for Joseph.
What was Joseph’s reaction? “Oh great out of here at last!” Or was he afraid? Remember he had seen what Pharaoh had done to two of his chief servants, throwing them in prison, then executing one of them. You may be sure that Joseph prayed on his way to his audience with Pharaoh.
When Pharaoh told him he had dreamed a dream no one could interpret and had heard that he had heard that he could understand and interpret dreams, Joseph replied…
“It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Gen 41: 16
Whatever Joseph’s thoughts before, he demonstrated his humility here. Now God could work with him. He had been tested, would continue to be tested but was ready for the next step in God’s plan.
How do we measure up in our lives?
Something to think about.
Till next time, tread softly and stay close to God. Even if you are asking “why”, you are keeping the lines of communication open. Listen for the answer.