Tag Archive: Joseph


Joseph’s Faith and Mine

What has always amazed me concerning Joseph is his faith-stamina. He just did not give up. He relied on his faith in God every day. I give up so easily, even though I truly believe that God has a path and plan for me. I truly believe that faith is a gift from God, but use it too sparingly, as though I might run out someday. And, by not practicing it every day, I lose so much.

Because faith in my God is often not the primary instigation factor in my daily life, the moment something doesn’t go as I think it should, I begin to dash here and there trying to “fix” it, without stopping to consider what God may be doing. This applies to jobs, relationships, even world problems (yeah, I got whatever it is pretty bad).

Joseph, on the other hand, after being dropped in a water-gathering hole and sold into slavery did not run around in a panic. He had a deep and abiding faith.  He looked at where God had let him be placed and patiently waited to see God’s plan develop. He was the best slave, the best prisoner, and the best manager that Egypt had ever seen.

I, on another hand, am probably the worst whiner that my loving God has ever had to patiently prod in the direction He wants me to go. I am the beagle of his flock–and if you know beagles, you know that they are wonderful and obedient until a path other than yours grabs their attention.

Joseph’s faith was solid and steady. My faith is often forgotten as I try to come up with my own solutions to my latest self-inflicted wound.

Joseph never argued with God. I argue with God as effectively as the time I argued with my father that if driving slower gained better gas milage, then standing at an idle should give me 100 mpg. Yep, arguing with God is that dumb.

So my hope is that thinking about Joseph and his enduring trust and faith in God in all things will remind me (even me) to do the same.

sue wilson

This week we will finish out the book of Genesis which has been packed full of people with a past, a people who struggled through difficult situations, a people who were by far not perfect. Genesis can be a very challenging book, especially for non-believers. We can give them a pass on their non-belief because they have not signed on to this. But as believers we hear from Jesus who spoke of Adam and Eve as real people in history. Jesus died and rose again, so anything that he says, I am on board with. On with the study…

We start the story off with another group of people that are flawed beyond imagination. Generation after generation you would think people would change based upon events of the past. But…nothing changes.

Read Genesis 37:2-5

What do we learn about Jacob (Israel), in these short passages? He has not learned anything. His battle with his brother, Esau, was started because his mother favored him over Esau. That situation we studied last week and we know that it was a bad situation all around. God was still able to redeem the bad and make good come from it. Jacob came before his brother Esau and was humbled. These life circumstances still taught him nothing against favoritism. Jacob loved Joseph and Benjamin more than his other sons because they came from his favorite wife (again extending from the problems with the multiple wives situation).

Have you ever been the favored one in a relationship? Have you ever been on the other side of that having to see someone else get favored? What did it feel like? Keep those in mind as we move forward with the story.

Read Genesis 37:12-36

Joseph’s brothers know exactly how to deal with the problem, “Kill our brother!!” Why? Because Dad sent him out to see how they were doing? Nope. There’s more to the story.

Joseph was Jacob’s youngest at this time, and his very, very favorite son. The other sons were not only older, but Joseph had been born of Jacob’s favorite beloved wife.

The dysfunctional family problem became obvious by Jacob’s words and actions. He gave Joseph a beautiful cloak to wear, demonstrating his affection. Apparently none of the other sons had received such gifts. Israel obviously was not an observant father when it came to his other, hard-working sons. Joseph wasn’t in line to inherit anything other than the typical son’s share, so what else enraged his brothers?

They called Joseph “the dreamer” because he had experienced dreams that indicated that his parents and brothers would bow down to him. Being a typical teenager, he pretty much bragged about this dream in front of all the family. This was probably in part to find help in deciphering the dream, but having not questioned his father in private, we have to assume that he was not totally humble concerning this dream that would turn out to be God’s message concerning the future.

His brothers’ rage was so intense that they plotted his murder, even to the point of telling his loving father that an animal had killed the boy. That certainly tells us something of the brothers’ faith in God and respect for their father, and what it tells us is not good.

Judah was the oldest, but it was brother Reuben who convinced the others to just toss Joseph into a nearby cistern. I guess that’s a step in the right direction, though apparently this would also have led to the boy’s death. At the sight of an approaching caravan, Judah stepped in and persuaded his brothers to sell Joseph to traveling traders rather than kill him. Joseph was on his way to Egypt to be sold as a slave. The picture of the map at the top of this post will help give you a good idea of the journey that Joseph went on.

How would you react in Josephs situation? Was Joseph completely innocent in the situation?

Many would curse God and give up their faith, or sit down and give up, or do everything they could to mess up their new master’s plans. often times we think Joseph is innocent. But think about him as the younger brother and his approach to his older brothers.

Read Genesis 39:1-20

The next time we see Joseph he is in Egypt as he was sold to a man named Potiphar. Joseph remained faithful to God and tried to be the best slave in the household.

Could you do what Joseph did? He was sold into slavery out of hatred by his brothers. This could have left him bitter and angry at the world, refusing to do anything.

There is a story within the story of Potiphars wifes lie concerning Joseph’s supposed attack.  Potiphar was the captain of the guard. He could have had Joseph executed for what his wife charged Joseph had done, but he did not. There is a real possibility that Potiphar knew that his wife was not exactly faithful, but to save face and not publicly imply that she was a liar, he had to do something to punish Joseph–thus the prison sentence instead of death.

This is the second time that Joseph’s world fell apart.

Was there anything positive that came from Joseph’s time in Potiphar’s household?

We tend to focus on the negative things that happen to us instead of the great things that could be going on. How can we start to focus on the positive things in our lives?

How do you think you would have handled life in such difficult circumstances?

Read Genesis 40

Even in prison, Joseph was the best worker of them all. He rose to a position of authority again! After interpreting the dreams of the Pharaoh’s servants, the one who lived forgot all about Joseph for two more years of jail time, remembering him only when the pharaoh’s priests and advisers could not interpret his own dreams.

While we attribute our dreams to pizza and beer overload, the Egyptians put great stock in dreams (http://www.fruitofthenile.com/dreams.htm).  When a dream projected an obvious vision, the pharaoh was greatly concerned. Interpreting the dream therefore raised Joseph’s reputation to a great level in the leader’s eyes.

Read Genesis 41:14-16

Pharaoh called Joseph out of prison to interpret his dreams. This was good news and bad news for the Pharaoh; there was going to be great growth for the next seven years, but this would be followed up with bad news that the land would be seven years in drought and famine.

Read Genesis 41:39-41

God’s plan for Joseph (unknown to him) was rapidly coming to a climax as the dream was fulfilled in famine and plenty. It’s amazing that this event was even happening to Joseph at all. He was an outsider, a slave, an inmate…but now he was the no. 2 man in all of Egypt. Amazing!

Joseph used his talents given to him by God to put things in order according to the plenty and famine.

What kind of leadership skills do you think Joseph used to make all of this happen? What can we learn from him when leading others?

Read Genesis 42:1-8

The famine not only hit the land of Egypt, it also affected Joseph’s brothers and family living over in the land of Shechem. Jacob knew that without help from Egypt his family would perish.

So, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, and there begins a story worthy of any Hollywood masterpiece.  Ten brothers were sent. Joseph, of course, did not even know of Benjamin’s existence.

Why do you think that Josephs brothers did not know him?

Was it their assumption that he was long dead, or at least a lowly slave in some unknown place? Was it the long time that had passed and aged them all? Or, did God blind them to recognizing their brother? Was it all of these, or something else?

Perhaps it was Joseph’s make-up. He was wearing the facial makeup that we have become familiar with from the drawings in history books and movies, as well as an Egyptian high official’s clothing.

Why did Joseph torture (figuratively) his brothers with demands, imprisonment, and accusations that were of a death penalty nature?

During the meal, when Joseph gave Benjamin five times the portion of the other guests, it was an almost unbelievable honor for the young man. To give a guest in Egypt three times as much as others was considered the highest honor.

After tears shed away from the dining room, “Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am Joseph! Is my father still living?’ But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.”

Why were they terrified and he overcome with joy?

Here is the vast difference between Joseph and his brothers. They had lived their lives in terror of being found out; of their great sin being revealed. When they realized who had been tormenting them, they did not react with joy, but terror. The one they had tried to kill was not only alive, but second in power only to the Pharaoh in Egypt. Joseph had lived a life without malice or revenge in his heart. He had lived a life devoted to God, knowing that everything happened for a reason and that God’s plan would be revealed.

In chapter 50 of Genesis, Gods purpose in Josephs life is revealed. We find out why he could live a life of joy after being victimized as a youth. He summarized what he had been trying to explain to his brothers for years since their arrival in Egypt. He said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good….”    God can use any life for His glory; He can heal any life for His story; He can guide any life on His own path.

Before we close I wanted to point out one character in this story other than Joseph. I wanted to highlight Jacob.

Read Genesis 37:32-35

Jacob refused to be comforted by anyone. Has grief ever hit you so hard that you refused to be comforted? What did that event do to shape your life?

This event shaped Jacob throughout the rest of his life. Take a look at what he says when the brothers try to take Benjamin with them to Egypt…

Read Genesis 43:1-11

The exchange that Jacob has with his other sons is interesting. You can tell he did not want to let Benjamin go. He questions and questions and finally agrees. The oldest son identifies that if he doesn’t come back home with Benjamin his father will lay his head down and die. One more bad event was going to throw him over the edge.

Jacob was deeply affected when he thought Joseph was dead. Do you think he ever got over it? Did he allow this pain to divide his relationship with his other children? When we have a bad event that occurs in our life do we allow that to consume us and every other relationship around us?

If we look at how Jacob responded to tragedy vs. the way Joseph responded, what can we learn?  What is the one or two points of the Joseph story that continue to build up your faith?

We are left with a question at the end of Genesis. Though Joseph is highly respected; a man of great power in Egypt, he feels he has to assure his brothers (probably relatives, since his “brothers” would have been ancient) “…God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”  Were the Israelites already being eyed as potential slave labor? Could they not leave of their own accord?  Or, did God reveal to Joseph that the time would come when only God’s power could rescue them from a foreign land? Or, was it an instruction to wait for God’s timing before leaving the land that had rescued them from starvation?

What are your thoughts about the great patriarchs, and Joseph, as we leave Genesis behind and meet Gods reluctant hero in a time four hundred years after Josephs family entered Egypt?

Please let me know if there is something that you want to look at in the text and we can do that. Thanks for reading and following today.

Be blessed and be a blessing!

Perspective 1- Jade Miller
​In Chapter 3 of The Story, the story of the twelve sons of Jacob takes place. Talk about brotherly love, Joseph found himself at the bottom of a well and then sold off to slave traders just because his brothers were jealous of him! Eventually, Joseph went through several promotions and became second-in-command of all of Egypt.

​Before the promotion, Joseph probably wondered whether he was going to be killed and what good, if any, would come out of being isolated in a dark gloomy jail cell in Egypt.

​Sometimes when I’m troubled, it feels like I’m sitting in a jail cell. I hope that through God’s people, like Joseph and his brothers, I would remember that during times of trouble God is still with me and that He will use my life for His perfect plan.

Perspective 2- Pastor Ron
What was the first thing Joseph thought when he saw his brothers for the first time after they had sold him as a slave? Over 20 years has elapsed since the day they threw him in a hole and contemplated killing him. Now they stand before him and because of all of his Egyptian garb, they do not recognize him. In 20 years you can build up a lot of bitterness. Look at all the pain he went through in Egypt, the false charges that landed him in jail for all of those years—all because the men standing before him sold him as a slave.

Scripture really doesn’t reveal to us what he thought or what pain he felt. We know that he gave them a very bad time accusing them of being spies. I suppose I had not thought much of that before, but maybe that was his way of getting back at them…“Watch them sweat for a while after all the years I served in prison because of them!” No doubt Joseph wanted to see if his brothers had changed at all, but I’m not so sure it started with such pure motives. Joseph is no saint. Remember, he flaunted his expensive robe and drove home the point that one day his older brothers would bow down to him. There must have been at least a moment of sweet revenge.

Sometimes I think we forget that the men and women in scripture are real people who struggle with much of the same issues that we struggle with. We may not be very proud of our motives at times, but living this side of heaven, it is just a reality—we are sinful people, and so was Joseph. Of course, Joseph did not stay in that state of mind. In the end, reconciliation takes place and the whole family is reunited. Joseph knew God’s grace and now he was going to extend that grace to his brothers. A lesser man, an unfaithful man, would have had his brothers sold into slavery or thrown into prison. He had the authority to do that and more. In the end, God’s grace is shown through Joseph.

Perspective 3- Barb Miles
Two thoughts have stayed in my mind this week regarding the life of Joseph.

“Tearing their clothing” were expressions of both grief and turmoil. The first time this happened was when Reuben realized Joseph was no longer in the cistern, he was furious with his brothers. He was angry about how his brothers had treated his brother Joseph. The second time was when Jacob’s sons returned Joseph’s robe, learning his favored son Joseph had been devoured by an animal. Jacob tore his clothes and wore sackcloth during his time of grieving. In those days, tearing of their clothes and wearing sackcloth, which was a heavy and itchy material were signs of grieving. The third time was when Jacob’s sons’ tore their clothes when Joseph’s steward apprehended them on their way home from their second trip to Egypt to get food. When the steward found Joseph’s silver cup in Benjamin’s sack, the brothers tore their clothes. When I think of their reaction to anger and grief, I see them being angry, disappointed, lashing out, Jacob wanting to have solitary time with his sadness and grief. Is this different than how we deal with these emotions today? If I am accused of something I didn’t do, or have lost a family member or friend, I choose solitary time, time to process my feelings.

The second thought that has been on my mind while reading this chapter was of Joseph’s trust in the Lord. He trusted God’s path for his life while his brother’s dumped him in a cistern; sold him to Midianite merchants; served as head of Potiphar’s household only to be tricked by Potiphar’s wife; was sent to prison under false charges. God had great plans for Joseph, giving him the power to interpret dreams leading him to be favored with the Egyptian Pharaoh. Joseph was so strong, never appeared to waiver in his allegiance to the Lord, never questioned God’s will. Instead he always gave God credit for his talents.

Perspective 4- Dan Petrak

But The Lord is With Us

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Coat of many colors Joseph.

That’s how I grew up knowing him. Scripture introduces us to Joseph when he is 17 years old, and he is clearly his father’s favorite child…as evidenced by the beautiful robe given to him.

To set the scene of this family dynamic, think about this for a moment.

Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel. Of these two sisters, (yes, sisters!) Jacob loved Rachel, but wasn’t interested in Leah. However, Jacob was tricked (by the girls’ father!) into marrying Leah before he could marry Rachel. If there wasn’t already some tension between Leah and Rachel, there was now. (Genesis 29-30)

The relationship between the two goes from bad to worse as Leah has four sons and Rachel is unable to have children. Jealousy is never a good thing, and there is plenty of it in this family.

At long last, Rachel gives birth to a son, Joseph. Jacob is now advanced in years and finally has a son with Rachel—his favorite son—Joseph.

After years of living with the rivalry between Leah and Rachel, and Joseph obviously being daddy’s favorite, it’s not surprising that Jacob’s other sons don’t care for Joseph.

Joseph’s not doing too bad though…he’s got Jacob’s approval, a beautiful ornate robe, and he’s sharing dreams of others bowing down to him with his family.

And then the rug gets pulled out from under him.

I wonder if he ever saw it coming.

Do we?

When life takes a turn we didn’t anticipate, what do we do?

In times of trials, we can choose to turn one of two ways…toward God, where we grow closer to Him and learn to trust, depend, and rely on God and His promises. Or, away from God, often blaming Him for our circumstances.

Joseph certainly could have turned away from God in this lousy turn of events, but it appears that he grew closer to God.

It’s not until after Joseph has been sold into slavery in Egypt that Scripture says…

“The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.” Genesis 39:2-3

“But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph’s care, because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. Genesis 39:20b-23

During trial after trial, Joseph turned to God and trusted Him, and God prepared Joseph for the future.

What if our stories read like Joseph’s?

She struggled through another miscarriage, but the Lord was with her. He comforted her and walked beside her.

He lost all that he had worked for, but the Lord was with him; He lifted him up and showed the man a new beginning.

The unwanted divorce papers arrived and crushed what was left of her spirit, but the Lord was with her. He walked with her through the valley, giving her the strength she needed to move on.

In our lower stories, all we can see is what’s going on around us. Often times, it’s impossible to see how good can come from what we’re going through. But it’s in the trials when God gets our attention. When we’re broken is when He can do the greatest work in us, preparing us for what He has planned.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

The Lord sees it all. Just as He knew how Joseph’s lower story fit into His upper story, the Lord knows the same about us.

In Christ,

Laura

Laura Rath ~ Journey in Faith

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