Joseph’s Life and Lessons, Part 5

February 20, 2019 at 3:17 PM 1 comment

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.

Of course, it is very easy for us to see that God had a plan and it worked out according to that plan, but for Joseph going through these trials, it must have been extremely difficult at times. Yet, through faith, Joseph powered onward trusting in the Lord to release him from this unfair bondage that he had found himself in.

We know from later chapters in Genesis when Joseph speaks with his brothers (who were shocked to their core when they realized that they faced their younger brother whom they had so badly treated), that Joseph came to the point of understanding that what he suffered was because of God’s wonderful plan to build and save an entire group of people who became known as the Israelites. Coming to this realization must have allowed Joseph to feel such relief but it probably didn’t come right away either. In fact, it may not have fully come until Joseph had been elevated to the second highest position in Egypt.

We learn that after Joseph was elevated to this very high position, he was also given a wife by the name of Asenath, who was the daughter of Potiphera, a priest of On. This was likely a political marriage in which leaders often entered to secure favor and privilege. This woman was given to him by Pharaoh so to reject her would be to reject Pharoah.

It seems clear that Joseph did not specifically seek this woman out, but she was given to Joseph by Pharaoh. It is also interesting that God blessed Joseph with two sons who became part of the patriarchs of Israel, once removed. Their tribes were consistently recognized by Moses and the prophets. It seems clear enough that God purposed to use this situation to further His will even though Joseph may not have had complete understanding at the time.

Joseph did not sin by taking Asenath as his wife. He was given no choice in the matter. Further, the Old Testament Law had not been given, and the New Testament teachings regarding marriage did not yet exist. In addition, God worked through Joseph’s marriage to serve as a blessing to many and to become an important part of the history of God’s people. [1]

As an aside, Potiphar and Potiphera were likely not connected. In ancient times, names were given or adapted to people often based on the gods they worshiped or the work they did. In both Potiphar and Potiphera cases, their names pointed to the god they worshiped – Ra.

Starting in verse 46, we learn that Joseph was 30 years of age when he took the position of second highest in command over Egypt. Does that remind you of someone else? It should remind you of Jesus who essentially started His public ministry at this age as well.

Joseph was an intelligent and disciplined leader who found ways to gather grain while there was plenty for the first seven years. The text tells us, “49 And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured” (Genesis 41:49 ESV). Joseph stored up grain in many cities and areas and the Bible says it was in such abundance that it was like the sand of the sea – without number.

During this seven-year abundance, two sons were born to Joseph by Potiphera: Manasseh and Ephraim (vv 50 – 52). We then learn that these seven plentiful years came to an end and the famine began, also to last for seven years. This famine was extremely severe and took its toll on Egypt and the surrounding areas. In fact, it is this very famine that caused Joseph’s father Jacob to send the brothers to Egypt to buy food. Of course, we know that this was part of God’s plan as well.

Ultimately, we will learn that Jacob and Joseph’s brothers moved to Egypt and prospered. Eventually though, things changed. But before we get there, let’s take a few moments to look at how things went.

56 So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth. (Genesis 41:56 – 57 ESV)

I cannot imagine a famine this bad and trying to live through it. Today, with modern farming and irrigation methods, one would think things like this would be behind us, at least in developed countries. However, it wasn’t that long ago when the United States experienced the Dust Bowl in which many mid-westerners were forced away from their home and lands to move to better areas. Many of these people moved to California to start over. Many believe the Dust Bowl was caused by poor farming methods, along with a lack of rainfall and moisture that helped to create situations where top soil simply blew away in great dust storms.

It’s difficult to believe that something like this could happen today, but who knows? Consider the fact that in California – an area considered to be the Salad Bowl of the United States – farmers are having a difficult time getting water due to environmentalists and ecologists, who are pushing for greater standards and policies forcing farmers to go without. It would seem that these environmentalists are more concerned about saving a species of fish or frog than on being able to feed people. This is a travesty because evolution always places human beings on the bottom of the ladder since it is believed that humans came last. The Creation account also says that human beings came last but humans were the pinnacle of God’s Creation and we were created in His image, unlike all other animals, reptiles, and birds created before humans.

While it is clearly important to do what we can to help conserve resources, it should never be at the expense of feeding people. Joseph’s job was essentially to ensure that everyone had access to food and had plenty of it.

As things continue to unfold in Scripture, we will learn about more of God’s plan to create and ultimately save a people He will create for His purposes. It didn’t begin with Joseph. It actually began much further back than that, but the time was right for God to actually put His hand to creating a people He would call Israelites (Jewish people), who would not only be given a large place in the Middle East, but would give birth to the Person who would become sin though He personally knew no sin that salvation might be offered to all who would in faith believe.

We’ll see more of this taking shape as we delve further into Joseph’s life. It’s a fascinating study and one in which we can learn some marvelous truths about God and how He chooses to work in the lives of those He calls.

The one message we can glean from this for now (besides the others we’ve already mentioned), is that being used by God for His purposes often involves unexpected loss, from which God will eventually extricate us from either in this life or the next. There are no guarantees that life will be a bed of roses without the thorns as we seek to follow God at all costs.

A major portion of Christendom today wants us to believe that God is our Genie, there only to fulfill every whim we ask for and if He doesn’t, it only means that we lack the faith, not that God won’t do something. The belief that God wants us always to be happy and fulfilled, doing only what our hearts desire in this life is a lie born in hell. It is antithetical to Scriptural teaching that God is in control and when we receive salvation from Him, it means that we begin to learn to die to self, not live to serve or fulfill self’s desires.

Imagine how much worse life would have been for Joseph had he spent 17 years angry at God and wanting revenge on his brothers. Imagine how poorly he would have lived as his hatred grew over time.

Instead, it seems clear that Joseph came to the realization that allowed him to fully forgive his brothers, harboring no ill will against them. This of course is the epitome of living the Christian life.

How often do you hold a grudge over stupid things? How often do I? Just this week, the Lord brought to my mind the realization that my SELF was gaining too much of a foothold in my life. I was forced to face it. It wasn’t pleasant at all. It forced me on my knees to confess my sin and seek His help in overcoming myself. Only God can help us there and our SELF will kick at the goads as we attempt to put it in its rightful place: last.

It is a process of becoming more like the Risen Son, who, by the Holy Spirit, lives within us, empowering us (if we choose) to submit to His will. This week I am again reminded that living the Christian life is not a breeze. It is not easy. It is hard work, not for salvation of course, but to make that concerted effort to submit ourselves to His rule over all aspects of our life.

Joseph spent 13 years first as a slave, then as a prisoner, then elevated to the very highest position under Pharaoh throughout all of Egypt. We live in this life as redeemed children of the Most High. Our final redemption will come after we take our last breath in this life. The more we are able to put SELF behind us, the greater our growth in Christ. Unfortunately, it never ends as long as we breathe.

But praise the Lord, this life is but a vapor compared to all eternity!

 

[1] https://www.gotquestions.org/priests-of-On.html

Entry filed under: israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - Prophecy. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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