One of my favorite character from the Bible is Jacob’s son, Joseph. His life was a roller coaster kind of a life but the way it was lived is a true inspiration.
We get to know about Joseph’s life from Genesis 37: 2 – 4, “ These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.  Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.  And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.”
Joseph was the 11th son of Jacob and was loved more than the other sons by him. His father even made him a colourful coat. Joseph in spite of being the pampered one was despised by his own brothers as he used to bring an evil report about them to his father! Let’s study Joseph’s life, his ups and downs, his walk with God and God’s faithfulness in his life.
Joseph the Dreamer:
He was nicknamed ‘dreamer’ as he used to share his dreams with his brothers. On two instances he shared his dream with them which symbolized them bowing down to him. This offended them even more. Little did they knew that it was all about the things to come.
We then read in the Bible how one day Joseph was sent by Jacob to know about how his brothers were doing while tending to the sheep. While he was some distance away, his brothers conspired to kill him and only on insistence of Reuben they relented and decided to throw him into an empty pit and let him die there. They stripped him of his coat and threw him into the pit to die.
We then read about how “a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt.”
They then sold Joseph off to them for 20 pieces of silver.
From Canaan Joseph was now being taken to Egypt as a slave. A pampered son of his father was now about to be sold as a slave in Egypt.
Joseph the Slave:
Joseph was ultimately sold to “Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.”
Joseph’s life of luxury was changed to a life of servitude in Potiphor’s house. However, Genesis 39:2 tells us that, “And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.”
Wow! Lord was with Joseph and blessed not only him but through him blessed Potiphor’s household too.
Potiphor saw the favor which God had on Joseph and made him incharge of all his household affairs. He was responsible, unlike the way he was in his father’s house and he served Potiphor with all honesty.
However, that was not something God wanted him to be his whole life and pretty soon things started to turn bad for him. Potiphor’s wife started noticing him and wanted to sleep with him. He resisted the advances as he was clear in his conscious that this would be sinning against God and his master, Potiphor. We all know how finally one day he was thrown into prison on false allegation.
Joseph the Prisoner:
Though he did nothing wrong Joseph was thrown into prison. However, Genesis 39: 21 – 23 says, “ But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.  And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it.  The keeper of the prison looked not to anything that was under his hand; because the LORD was with him, and that which he did, the LORD made it to prosper.”
God did not leave him even in prison and Joseph served God and the jailer with full honesty. We all know how he met the Chief Butler and Chief Baker in the prison. He even interpreted their dreams and soon the events happened exactly like he had mentioned.
But the Chief Butler forgot all about Joseph until the end of two years. It was then that Pharaoh had two dreams whom none in his kingdom could interpret for him. At that moment the Chief Butler remembered about Joseph and he was quickly brought in front of the Pharaoh.
Joseph led by the spirit of God interpreted the dreams and warned Pharaoh of the impending famine which was to last for seven years. He even suggested how to go about it for the first seven years.
Pharaoh was so impressed by Joseph that he did what Joseph would have never thought of. We read about it in Genesis 41: 39 – 43, “ And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:  Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.  And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.  And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;  And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.”
Joseph the Ruler:
Joseph, the 11th child of Jacob, a pampered son, sold by his brothers as a slave, imprisoned on false allegations was now the second in command in the entire nation of Egypt!
We all know how not only he saved the people of Egypt from the famine but even his family. We read about how all his brothers stood before him, bowing before him (just like in his dream) but the best part is that he did not gloat over the entire situation. Yes, Bible says that he hugged them and forgave them since he now understood how God had planned all this that by him his entire household and the future nation of Israel be saved. Genesis 45:5, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.”
Joseph the Inspiration:
Joseph’s life is an inspiration on multiple levels. Let’s look at few:
- God had a plan for his life and that was to take him to Egypt so that he could then save his family and move them to Goshen. However, he could not use the pampered son Joseph to do so but needed him to first mature as a person.
- God was with Joseph wherever he went, even when he was being sold off as a slave or was in prison. Everything was happening as per the will of God and Joseph was always placed where God wanted him to.
- God got those Midianites to reach the place where his brothers were sitting moments after they threw Joseph in the pit, not a day sooner or an hour later! Remember they rode on camels and did not have defined arrival or departure time.
- God planned for the brothers to sell Joseph to Potiphor only, since he was the captain of the guards. Not only did Joseph learned how to handle a household maturely but when he was falsely accused he was thrown in the King’s jail where common prisoners were not kept. Had he been put in any other jail he would not have met the Baker and the Butler.
- God planned for the Baker and the Butler to be thrown in the same prison at that time only when Joseph was there and was handling the functioning of the prison. This was done so that he could interpret their dreams and create an opportunity to be in front of the Pharaoh at God’s appointed time.
World could say that Joseph was ‘lucky’ to be at the right place at the right time, however we know that he was moving in God’s plan and God was with him, blessing him and protecting him in every way.
One important thing which we need to learn here is that Joseph never forsook his God, nor sinned against him even when he had the opportunity. He knew he could have escaped the eyes of the world after sinning but not God. He was upright and honest in his walk with God. If he had given in to the advances of Potiphor’s wife, he would have remained a slave in Potiphor’s house forever and not fulfilled the plan God had for his life.
What situation are we in today? does it look like all hope is lost? Do we feel we have lost our way despite following Jesus faithfully? Well, I have good news for you…you may not necessarily see the outcome BUT if you are walking faithfully with God then trust His plan for your life. This phase of your life may seem all but hopeless but let me tell you God has the perfect plan for your life and one which will see you coming out of that situation praising and lifting His name.
Do you feel that you are in that situation because you have sinned against God, I have good news for you as well. We are living in a period of Grace. All we need to do is acknowledge our sins before Jesus, ask for his forgiveness, turn our lives to live according to His desire and you will be back again in the plan of God.
Jesus has a beautiful plan for all our life, all that is required is that we acknowledge Him King in our lives and live according to His will. Once we start doing it we would see His beautiful plan unfold in our lives, plans to make us a source of blessing to many, plans to prosper us, plans to give us an expected end.
God Bless You!
Your Brother in Christ