I talked a little bit about the hardships of Joseph’s life in another post, but really didn’t go into detail. I would like to share some things I believe I have seen by revelation of the Holy Spirit about Joseph.
Joseph was the firstborn son of the wife whom Jacob favored. If you remember the story, he was tricked into marrying the elder sister first. She was not the one he was after, but he bore six children with her. That was Leah. Jacob was after Rachel, the younger sister. He worked 7 more years to get her.
Joseph was Rachel’s firstborn and Jacob’s favorite child. How do we know this? The bible tells us and that Jacob made a special coat for Joseph, the coat of many colors. Because he was Jacob’s favorite, we can safely assume he was at least a bit spoiled. This favoritism on the part of his father put him at odds with his brothers. Now remember, this is what we call today a “blended” family. Two wives with children and two concubines with children, all by the one father. Two wives alone sets up a rivalry and think of all the rivalry going on between 12 kids.
So it’s safe to say that Joseph was a spoiled kid, but God had a unique calling on his life. When he had his dreams, he couldn’t help but boast about them TO HIS BROTHERS and his parents. This made the brothers hate him even more. If he could just have kept his mouth shut and been a little more humble, maybe some things wouldn’t have happened to him.
I believe that God could see that Joseph would never develop the character he needed to rule Egypt (which was his destiny) in a trusted position, as long as he stayed in his father’s house. He had to be taken somewhere else. He had go through trials to make him fit for the task.
First came the great betrayal. Joseph was probably 17 or 18. The brothers threw him in a pit and sold him in slavery. He went to Egypt. His leadership skills evidently were in evidence and he was chosen to manage Potiphar’s house. Potiphar was second only to Pharaoh, so this was an important responsibility in his training. And he was highly regarded and good at it. Then one day, another test came…Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him. Joseph had a healthy fear of God by this time and did not succumb to her charms, but he was falsely accused and placed in prison unjustly. This happens to people all the time in our day too. I don’t say that lightly. It is a serious thing, especially when the death penalty is at stake. But that was not the case here. Here’s the thing though, it’s our attitudes towards the things that happen to us that is key. Are we bitter or do we get better?
I have it figured that Joseph was in prison several years, perhaps even until he was 30. Even in prison, his leadership skills were clearly seen, God’s favor was on him and he was put in charge of the prison! At one point, a baker and a butler are put in there with him, charged with offending the king in some manner. Both of them have dreams they can’t interpret. They are dreams of their futures. Joseph interprets their dreams, which both come true. In return, Joseph asks the butler to remember him when he is released and to put in a good word for him.
Now, Joseph, are we getting impatient? Yes, when one can see no end in sight in a situation, impatience is bound to set in. Joseph has been in prison for years. But no deliverance comes. Sigh. How long, Lord, will it be? More patience is being developed, more trust in God. Forgiveness for the men who forgot him grows too. Forgiveness for those brothers of his, who started this whole thing, deepens.
But it’s another two whole years (!) before Pharaoh has a dream and the butler remembered Joseph.
In the school of training, called Trusting God, one must eventually arrive at this place: no matter how much you may think you are ready for something, there is One with far greater knowledge, who also has plans for every single person in the universe. Two things we must learn: we are not as ready to assume rulership as much as we think; and two, God really does know better, and He is working a plan with timing. He knows the end from the beginning.
The end of the story is this: Pharaoh has two dreams about the same event, but cannot interpret them and none of his prognosticators can either. The baker has an Aha! moment and remembers Joseph who interpreted his dream. Joseph is brought from prison, given a shower and a shave (my version), interprets Pharaoh’s dream and becomes Prime Minister of Egypt. After that, he saves Israel from starvation and saves the nation. His brothers are properly chastised (not by Joseph).
It was a stunning change of events for Joseph. Oh happy day!