Joseph’s Life and Lessons, Part 4

February 13, 2019 at 12:08 PM 1 comment

Previously, we followed Joseph from his homeland and family, to Egypt, carried there by a Gentile caravan, who were descendants of Ishmael. From there, Joseph was sold to a high official and captain of the guard in Pharaoh’s kingdom; Potiphar. We also learned that after Joseph had been falsely accused of raping Potiphar’s wife, he was sent to prison for an indeterminate period of time.

While in prison, he was put in charge of the prisoners by the warden of the prison, who saw integrity and wisdom in Joseph. When two men in service to Pharaoh – the cup-bearer and chief baker – were sent to this same prison for alleged crimes against Pharaoh, it was Joseph who attended to them.

In the course of time, both men had dreams that left them fearful and confused since they did not know what the dreams meant. Joseph was very quick to point out that only God alone provides the interpretation to dreams He sends. He then said that the two men should tell him their dreams and if God saw fit, He would provide the interpretations through Joseph. The men saw wisdom in this and told Joseph about their respective dreams. God provided the interpretation almost immediately. God was glorified because of Joseph’s actions. We learned all about this from Genesis 40.

As Christians, we all face difficult times, don’t we? I am glad to be able to say I’ve never been falsely accused of something that could have sent me to prison. One can only wonder about the people who did go to prison on the testimony of some person who later either recanted or whose testimony completely fell apart. Couple that with DNA and forensics testing that has exonerated many who had previously been ruled guilty by courts of law and one can only realize how devastating a situation like that can be for anyone to live through. It’s one thing to actually be guilty of a crime and found guilty and sentenced. It’s quite another to be completely innocent of a crime, but be found guilty and incarcerated.

In Joseph’s case, there was never a trial. Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph and she was believed. I wonder if Joseph had not been in such a hurry to leave her presence (and part of his clothing), if things would have turned out differently? There have been movies made of Joseph’s life which dishonestly portrayed Joseph as being attracted to Potpihar’s wife and even being on the bed with her. After a few moments of emotional entanglement with her, Joseph gathers up his resolve and commitment to God and flees the scene. According to Scripture, it never got that far. Joseph was stalwart in his rejection of Potiphar’s wife’s sexual advances. He did not want to sin against God and he didn’t.

So Joseph remained in prison even after the cup-bearer was restored to his position in Pharaoh’s service and the chief baker was executed. Joseph had asked the cup-bearer to remember him before Pharaoh because he was unjustly imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. This the cup-bearer failed to do.

For the next two years (Genesis 41:1), Joseph remained incarcerated. What could he do? He knew his situation was unfair and it must have been extremely difficult for him. Yet, it is also clear he made the best of it and tried to live in a way that allowed him to exercise integrity.

All of this has to do with God’s timing, not humanity’s. Why did God let Joseph languish in prison for over two years? Because of God’s timing. What did Joseph learn in the meantime? He likely learned to trust God unequivocally. Let’s be completely honest here, Christian. It is extremely difficult to trust God at all times and in all circumstances, isn’t it? We fail. We cave to our fears and desires. We often want situations to change because they are unpleasant.

Joseph learned a great deal, I’m sure. There is no indication that he got angry with God, that he lashed out at anyone, though I’m sure he suffered from the same thing we would suffer from if we experienced what he went through: tremendous fear. In the end though, there is every indication that though he likely trusted God before, he learned to trust Him more deeply.

Finally, after two more years of incarceration, a situation occurred according to God’s timing that prompted Pharaoh to turn to Joseph. One morning Pharaoh woke troubled because of two disconcerting dreams he’d had during the night (Genesis 41:1-7).

Upon awaking, Pharaoh did what any leader in those days would do; he called all of his wise men and asked them to interpret his two dreams (v 8). No one could offer any suggestions as to the interpretation of the dreams. Fascinating, isn’t it? These wise men couldn’t figure out the two dreams that Pharaoh had the night before.

Of course, we know this was part of God’s plan, because as Joseph had told both the cup-bearer and chief baker two years prior, interpretations of dreams comes from God alone and God had chosen not to provide the interpretation to any of Pharaoh’s so-called wise men.

At this time also, the cup-bearer finally remembered Joseph (v 9) and with chagrin, mentioned him to Pharaoh. Pharaoh of course was intrigued and wanted this Joseph brought before him to see if he could in fact, offer an explanation as to the meaning of his two dreams.

Joseph was quickly called, cleaned, shaved and dressed in better clothing and brought before Pharaoh (v 14). Verse 15 tells us what Pharaoh said to Joseph.

I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it. (ESV)

Joseph replied and please notice once again, he gives God all the glory.

It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer. (ESV)

By “favorable answer,” Joseph was simply saying that God alone would provide the interpretation through Joseph if He decided to do that. The meaning of “favorable answer” here is not that the interpretation would necessarily please Pharaoh, but that the interpretation would be given.

Verses 17 through 21 provide us with Pharaoh’s explanation of what he dreamed. The dreams in themselves are quite fascinating because as we’ll learn, they provide a timeline as well as a subject of what will occur throughout all the land.

As soon as Pharaoh is finished, Joseph offers the explanation. Notice again that Joseph gives God the glory (“…God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do” v 25b). Joseph then explains that the two dreams are complementary. Both sets of seven cows each point to a time period of seven years. As it turns out there would be seven good years of food production followed by seven years of terrible famine throughout the land.

Verse 32 informs us that Joseph understood the “doubling” or repetition of the dreams meant that God had fixed it and these things would happen. There was nothing anyone could do to keep them from happening, although as we’ll see, there were things people could do to ensure that they did not starve to death in spite of the coming famine.

Starting in verse 33, Joseph offers his unasked for opinion about what Pharaoh should do with respect to this coming famine. Joseph wasn’t being disrespectful here. He was speaking with wisdom and he knew he had Pharaoh’s full attention. This was also part of God’s plan because after Joseph suggested to Pharaoh that he appoint a very wise person to oversee things to help mitigate the effects of the coming famine, Pharaoh could think of no one more wise than Joseph.

In short order, Joseph was literally made second in command over all of Egypt! This is related to us in verses 37 to 45. We also learn that Joseph was 30 years old at this point and he was 17 when he had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. Joseph had spent 13 years of his life as a slave and the last few years of those 13 in prison for a crime he did not commit!

Sometimes, it is very difficult for us as Christians to accept the circumstances that we find ourselves in through no fault of our own. I’m not talking about having to deal with problems we create for ourselves. I’m talking about those things that happen that affect us that we did not see coming. If God loves us, will never forsake us and will always remain with us, when things happen that we do not expect, is it logical to say that those things just “happened” or took us or God by surprise? We want to ask “where is God?” when in point of fact, He never left and is creating circumstances that might appear negative but they have His purposes in mind. What are those purposes? They are always to do two things. First, they are refine us and recreate the character of Jesus within us. Second, they are designed to always give God glory.

It’s easy to write these things. It’s even fairly easy to read about the way God moved in the lives of Job, Moses, Joseph or someone else in the Bible. It is very difficult though when we are caught up in the mix, isn’t it? We’d be lying to say that it’s a breeze and we never have a problem accepting what appears to be God’s will for us. We do struggle. We do kick against the goads and make life more difficult for us because it takes us longer to let go of things. The sooner we accept what has come our way and say with sincerity “not my will, but thine be done,” the sooner we will rise on the wings of eagles. Our circumstances will not keep us down; only our negative attitudes can do that.

As I write this, I want to be sure that readers know that I struggle and struggle greatly with things at times. I wish I had discovered an easy way to “let go” and “let God” deal with every perceived negative situation that has come into my life. It is often a struggle and depending upon the nature of the particular situation, it might cause more struggle or less.

I’m quite certain that over the 13 years that Joseph found himself unfairly sold into slavery and then subjected to imprisonment, he learned the “art” of submitting himself to God in all things. We will clearly see the results of this as the story continues to unfold.

It is only when we go through the pressures of life and react to them in a way that glorifies God will we grow in His grace. This is the biggest problem with the “name it, claim it” crowd and all the “word of faith” theology that exists today. It is anti-biblical first and foremost. God never promises that we will not have difficulties in this life. He never promises that He is our celestial Genie, giving us whatever our heart desires unless those desires are completely in line with His will.

There is so much aberrant theology out there. It is deluding many in the world today and especially within Christendom. Jesus Himself warned us that the world will hate us because it hates Him (John 15:18-25). The world – run by Satan – will attack Christians often. This alone creates hardships and difficulties. God wants us to glorify Him in the midst of those trying situations. He doesn’t want us to run away from them.

Again, I’m not talking about terrible situations that we create for ourselves because of our stupidity or selfishness. I’m talking about something that seems to come out of the blue and we had little to no warning. Think of Job. Think of Joseph. Think of Daniel and many others. They were all put in situations where their faith was tested but ultimately became stronger.

As we continue to dig into Joseph’s life, we will see the effects of the pressures that God allowed in Joseph’s life and we will see how in the end, he was a far more compassionate individual, devoid of hate and harboring no resentment. Would that we (I) would be where Joseph ended.

By the way, there are some great resources out there that provide archaeological evidence for the life of Joseph. If you simply look at the secular archaeological resources, there are few to none. However, these may be worth it for you to check out:

The above resources are valuable and provide insight into Joseph during the times in which he lived. It may well be that secular archaeology has misdated timelines which keeps them from uncovering valuable information connected to biblical time lines, events and people.

We’ll see you next time!

Entry filed under: Atheism and religion, christianity, eternity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , , .

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1 Comment

  • 1. Joseph’s Life and Lessons, Part 5 | Study - Grow - Know  |  February 20, 2019 at 3:17 PM

    […] Last time we discussed aspects of Joseph’s life, it took us through Genesis 41:45. We learned that Joseph was raised up out of prison and became the second in command under Pharaoh. I’m sure Joseph never saw this coming when he was first sold into slavery by jealous brothers at the tender age of 17. Even though under his first owner Potiphar, life was decent, it wasn’t long before Joseph’s life took another turn for the worst by being sent to prison for the false accusations of Potiphar’s wife. […]


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