“The story of Joseph is like the buffet at Golden Corral. There’s so much to choose from.”
There are many outstanding characters in the Bible. In the Old Testament, there is no one who shines brighter than a man named Joseph. His life is truly a “riches to rags to riches” story as found in Genesis 37-50.
We’ll focus on three aspects of his story:
- The Lord was with Joseph.
- Joseph was a man of integrity.
- Joseph was a man of forgiveness.
In this blog, we’ll look at how the Lord was with Joseph despite his being a slave and then a prisoner.
You’re probably familiar with this story. I won’t take long to go over the background:
Joseph was one of twelve sons of a man named Jacob (also known as Israel). He was the eleventh brother. Because he was his father’s favorite, Jacob lavished his attention on Joseph (you’ll remember that “coat of many colors.”) Joseph also told a series of dreams in which his brothers bowed down to him.
This led to a deep hatred from the ten older brothers.
Our story jumps ahead to when Joseph approaches the ten brothers in a pasture far from home. When they saw him coming (probably due to that problematic coat) they decided to kill him. After discussing their plan, they instead threw Joseph into a dry well.
Deciding not to kill their brother, they sold him to a traveling band of traders bound for Egypt. The brothers returned home without Joseph, thus beginning a twenty-year lie to their father.
Our story picks up with Joseph being sold as a slave to a high official named Potiphar. Genesis 39:2 says the “The Lord was with Joseph, and he prospered.”
What a statement. Joseph had been dragged from his country and sold as a slave in a far-off foreign place. Despite his circumstances, the Lord was with him. Despite the betrayal by his brothers, the Lord was with him. Despite being far from home, the Lord was with him.
Potiphar soon noticed that everything the young Hebrew touched turned to gold. Potiphar put this seventeen-year slave in charge of his entire estate. It seemed everything Potiphar owned prospered due to Joseph.
This was all great until someone else noticed Joseph. Her name was Mrs. Potiphar. We’ll save this sordid tale until our next blog entry when we’ll look at Joseph’s integrity.
In spite of his success at Potiphar’s house, Joseph is framed for a crime he didn’t commit.
He is cast into prison. Once again his life takes a dramatic left turn.
But scripture reports (in Genesis 39:20-21) that while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord
was with him.
Once again, just as in Potiphar’s house, the Lord used and blessed Joseph. I’ve heard it said that “Joseph got in prison, but prison didn’t get in him.”
I want to mention several thoughts on Joseph’s story:
- The Lord is with us regardless of where we are.
The Lord is with you in every circumstance no matter how dark it is. Notice that the term “The Lord was with Joseph” occurs in these two bleak situations: as a lowly foreign slave and then when he is unceremoniously dumped into a dungeon.
We all feel as if we’re in that dungeon at times. Most of you know that I suffer from mental health in the form of depression. When I’m in the midst of these bouts, I often don’t feel the closeness to God I desire. However, when the dark clouds lift, I understand how close my God is to me. In fact, I realize He’s been carrying me. The Lord is with me.
- The Lord is working good in our lives.
Also, note that Lord is constantly working for good in our lives. It was no coincidence that the traveling caravan to which Joseph was originally sold was headed to Egypt. It would be the place where Joseph would be used to save thousands of lives, including his own little ragtag Hebrew family back in Canaan.
- The Lord always looks at the big picture.
The Lord always looks at the big picture. While we’re slogging along with our feet in the mud, He has what I call the thirty-thousand-foot view. He is working in us, around us, and ahead of us. As we look at the full story of Joseph, we see God’s hand at every turn.
The Lord was with Joseph … and He is with you.