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The Life of Joseph: Patience, Persistence, and Perseverance

As Christians, we must have faith that God is with us everywhere we go. This is a true blessing but as we all learn, eventually, that before we are able to reach our God given destination, there are periods of trials and tribulations. In order to make an omelet, we must break a few eggs and in order to walk, we must first crawl and for some of us, even after we’ve learned to walk, we must relearn it all again.

One lesson that most of us learn sooner or later is there is always a silver lining behind all things and when we go through troubling times, we must remember that God has a plan for what we go through. If there was no rain or snow, we would not appreciate the sunshine and if all things were good, we wouldn’t appreciate and cherish the good because we would become spoiled and that is what we would expect. Every morning when we wake up, every day that we have on Earth, is a blessing and we should live everyday with the mindset that God is going to do something great even if we cannot see a way out.

Think of the story of Joseph. Joseph was a fascinating figure and one of my favorites to study. Joseph was blessed by God and we are told that he was his father, Jacob’s, favorite son. His brothers knew, or assumed, this and hated Joseph because of it. In Genesis 37, we are told that Joseph had dreams and the content of such dreams really ticked his brothers off. Genesis 37:5-10 reads

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they
hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you,
this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding
sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood
upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made
obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou
indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?
And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words.
And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and
said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun
and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he
told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him,
and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed?
Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down
ourselves to thee to the earth?”

Joseph’s brothers hated him so much so that they were plotting to kill him. When Rueben heard of the plans, he did his best to talk his other brothers out of this. Genesis 37:21 tells us that “ When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.”

A cistern is a tank or container that holds water. I am sure that most listening tonight have heard the song “Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton but long before Parton’s coat, Joseph wore a coat of many colors. When the brothers put Joseph inside the container, they took his coat and dipped it into goat’s blood but before this, they sold Joseph into slavery to, first, the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:28), then the Midianites (Genesis 37:36) and later, back to the Ishmaelites (Genesis 39:1). Genesis 37:28 reads “Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.”

Genesis 37:36 reads “Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.” And Genesis 39:1 reads “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there.” Let me point out that this is not a contradiction or an indication that there were different authors of Genesis and without going into a long description but these two groups, the Midianites and the Ishmaelites, were the same group of traders. Both tribes were similar to one another not only in that they were descended from Abraham but also, in their mode or style of life and it was rather difficult to distinguish them from one another especially when they came as merchants as we see here in Genesis 37 and 39.

Being sold into slavery by his brothers would be a very terrible thing for most of us. Imagine If You Will being sold into slavery by your brothers but your faith and love for God is so strong that you do not blame God or lash out at Him. If my brother sold me into slavery, I’d feel betrayed and would act very cautiously as Joseph was bought to do household chores but slavery today is much different. When Joseph’s brothers sold him, Rueben was absent during this transaction and when he looked into the tank, he saw that Joseph was gone and was unsure what to do next. Genesis 37:30 tells us “And he returned unto his brethren, and said, The child is not; and I, whither shall I go?”

As mentioned earlier, they took his coat and dipped into goat’s blood. The reason they did this was to give it to their father, Jacob, to show that Joseph had been killed. Of course, they did not tell him the whole story as they wanted him to think something terrible had happened. Genesis 37:35 tells us ”And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.”

What we know is Joseph was still alive, that’s a blessing, and he is a house servant for Potiphar and Joseph does such a good job that, eventually, he is put in charge of the household. Genesis 39:3 tells us that “And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” And verse four reads “And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.” What we come to learn is and get from Joseph is that God is with us at all time regardless of the situation and the circumstances which is, more so, a blessing.

Even when the circumstances are bad and we may not like what’s happening, we should not lose hope that God is with us. In fact, as we learn from Joseph, he was favored by God and found favor with his master. However, this new found favor from his master would not last as Potiphar’s wife would try to seduce Joseph to lie with her and one day, she sent all others away so she could be with Joseph but when he saw what she was doing, he fled from the house.

The Bible does not give the name of Potiphar’s wife but as we can see, she was not of good character. We know that she was rich and spoiled and it’s fair to say that she was a harlot. Islamic and Jewish tradition refer to her as Zuleikha. Shakespeare once remarked that a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet and regardless of the name given to this woman, she would still be a woman to avoid. When Joseph said no to this woman, he was saying no to adultery and while Joseph did right, the woman would lie to her husband and say that Joseph was the one who did something wrong and when Potiphar heard this, he had Joseph put into prison.

Again, we see that Joseph faces some troubled situations and daunting circumstances but God was with him and favored him. Genesis 39:21-23 tells us “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 any thing that was under his hand; because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper.”

God showed Joseph mercy because he did his best to do right including saying no to adultery. Joseph loved God and God knew that He did and gave Joseph His mercy and whatever Joseph did even in troubling times, prospered. We can learn from what transpired from this situation that even when you do right, others may not do what’s right which is why we must be careful who we are around. Joseph could not help his situation or what transpired but God was with Him which is, ultimately, a blessing for us all. Although Joseph was in prison, blessings were ahead but God has to build and mold each person and Joseph was no exception. God had great things ahead of him but was molding Joseph and this is a blessing to remember not just on Easter but everyday.

And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.” And verse four reads “And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.”

–Genesis 39:3-4

What do you think?

Written by Billy Ray Parrish


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