Hall of Faith: Joseph, Prepared the Way

 

Joseph was the son of Jacob, and his father’s favorite son. This is because he was the oldest son of his mother, Rachael. If you’ll remember from the story of Jacob, that Rachael

Joseph was presented with a coat of many colors

was his favorite wife. Joseph was the eleventh of Jacob’s twelve sons. His mother, Rachael, died giving birth to his brother Benjamin.

The name Joseph means “he will add”.

However, not all of Joseph’s brothers got along with him.

We first find Joseph at 17 years old. He seems to be reporting back to his father on his brothers actions.

Whether you have a younger sibling or are the youngest, you will know that no one enjoys a tattle tale.

Joseph’s brothers resented him

Jacob was not shy in showing his favor for Joseph. He made him a coat of many colors. {Genesis 37:3}

One can imagine how much this must have bothered the brothers. We are told “and they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.” {Genesis 37:4}

It did not help that Joseph had dreams, which he told to his brothers. The fact that these dreams showed his brothers bowing down to him only increased the hard feelings between the men.

Joseph was sold into slavery

The brothers began to plot against Joseph. At first all of the brothers, except Reuben, wanted to kill him. Eventually, they imprisoned him. When a traveling camel caravan came by the brothers sold Joseph to the brothers. They then smeared goat’s blood on Joseph’s coat and showed it to their father, who believed he was dead. {Genesis 37}

Joseph was taken to Egypt, where he was sold to a man named Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. He was put over all of Potiphar’s house, except his wife, who did all she could to seduce Joseph. Eventually, she set him up and he was thrown into prison. {Genesis 39}

He was taken to Egypt and worked for Potiphar before being cast into prison

Joseph soon found favor in prison and was put over the other prisoners. The Pharaoh’s chief cup bearer and baker were soon thrown into prison and Joseph explained their dreams. As he predicted, the chief baker was hanged and the chief cup bearer re-instated. However, Joseph was not remembered by the cup bearer and remained in prison for another two years. {Genesis 40}

Although, Joseph had a good position, he was still in prison. One can only imagine that he had moments of hopelessness and growing distraught.

Pharoah brought Joseph from prison and put in charge of grain

Then the Pharaoh had a dream that no one else could interpret. The chief bearer remembered Joseph, and he was called upon to interpret the dream. He explained to Pharaoh that there would be seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of severe famine. {Genesis 41}

We are told that Joseph was 30 when he stood before Pharaoh. So, approximately thirteen years had passed since Joseph had been sold into slavery by his brothers.

I don’t know how Joseph reacted, but I know I would have questioned God and asked if things were ever going to get better.

His brothers appeared before him, but did not know who he was

One can imagine that God comforted Joseph with his dreams and promised a better future while he was in prison. We also know God enjoys being quiet at times and allowing events to unfold naturally.

However, look at what Pharaoh says about Joseph:

Pharaoh asked his household “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou.” {Genesis 41:38-39}

Joseph was over the wheat

Pharaoh put Joseph over his household and people. He stated “only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” {Genesis 41: 40}

Joseph gathered up the surplus wheat and grain for the coming drought, during the seven years of plenty. He also married and had a family. His wife had two sons, named Manasseh {For, said he, God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.} and Ephraim {For God hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.} {Genesis 41: 51-52}.

In the second year of the famine, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt seeking relief. When they stood before Joseph that did not recognize him.

Joseph tested his brothers

“And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him.” {Genesis 42:8}

Imagine the variety of emotions that must have gone through Joseph at seeing his brothers. There was probably a little anger, but also thankfulness for being able to help his brothers, along with a variety of other emotions such as longing, regret, and curiosity.

He took the time to make his brothers squirm and question why they were there, accuse them of being spies, and ask after his father. He then threw them into prison for three days.

Joseph asked if his father was still alive

Imagine how relieved he must have been to discover his father was still alive.

He even tested his brothers and demanded they bring Benjamin back with him.

The brothers must have trepedaciously approached Jacob with their tail between their legs. Jacob reluctantly allowed Benjamin to go to Egypt with his brothers.

When the brothers returned Joseph brought them to his house to dine with him, but they were afraid not knowing what to expect. When he sees Benjamin for the first time he bestows a blessing, saying “God be gracious unto thee, my son.” Benjamin was most likely still a young child at the time Joseph disappeared.

Joseph wept when he saw his brother Benjamin

Joseph was so overcome by emotion that “ And Joseph made haste; for his heart yearned over his brother: and he sought where to weep; and he entered into his chamber, and wept there.” {Genesis 43:30}

But he did not tell the brothers who he was. Instead, after drinking and being merry, he filled their sacks with food. But a silver chalice was placed in Benjamin’s sack. {Genesis 44} His brother Judah appealed to him on behalf of their youngest brother, Benjamin.

Joseph was so overcome with emotion that he could not contain himself any longer.

Joseph revealed himself to his brothers

Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians heard, and the house of Pharaoh heard.” {Genesis 45: 1-2}

Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers.

Imagine how they must have stood there with mouths gaping open at his pronouncement.

Joseph tells his brothers to “And now be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye

Joseph told his brothers not to be grieved, God had sent him to prepare the way

sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” {Genesis 45:5}. This says to me that Joseph forgave his brothers. He understood why things happened as they did and that God had a greater purpose for him being there. God sent him to prepare the way and save his people from the famine.

Joseph prepared an area for his family to live. The brothers went back to tell their father, Jacob and bring him to Egypt.

Imagine being able to witness that reunion. His father then remarked, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive.”  {Genesis 46:30}

“And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years.” {Genesis 47:28}

Joseph was reunited with his brothers

Jacob even adopted Joseph’s two sons.

When Jacob died, Joseph took him back to the land of Canaan for burial.

Joseph lived to be 110 years old and see his great-grandchildren. “ And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.” {Genesis 50:25}

What can we learn from Joseph?

1. Was his father’s favorite son

2. Was envied by his brothers

3. His brothers sold him into slavery

Jacob was reunited with his favorite son

4. Joseph suffered considerable betrayal

5. Joseph had a gift for interpreting dreams

6. Joseph had to wait on God’s timing

7. The spirit of God was evident in Joseph

8. Joseph was wise

9. Joseph praised God in the naming of his sons

10. He searched other’s hearts

11. Joseph loved his family

12. Joseph forgave his brothers

13. Joseph understood God had a greater purpose

14. Joseph trusted God

Joseph settled his family in Goshen

15. Joseph took care of his father, brother and their families

Joseph’s story, like his father, covers a number of Chapters from Genesis 37-Genesis 49.

Joseph endured great heartache, betrayal and pain. However, God used him for the greater God.

Joseph understood that God had sent him ahead to prepare the way and he had a heart of love, wisdom, understanding and forgiveness.

In the end he was restored to his family. We are told that he had another 17 years with his father, and all of the family remained in Egypt {until God calls them out with the help of Moses hundreds of years later}.

Imagine how different their life might have been had not God sent Joseph ahead to pave the way.

How has God prepared the way for you?

 

Images from FreeBibleImages.org

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