Beginning with Abram, let’s bring the story up to Joseph briefly. Abram has a son Isaac. Isaac has a son Jacob (whose name is then changed to Israel). And Jacob has twelve sons who become the fathers of the twelve tribes of Israel. One of Jacob’s twelve sons, Joseph, has two dreams. In both the dreams, his eleven brothers and his parents bow down to him. In Genesis 37 his brothers were jealous and hated him for these dreams. So the brothers sell Joseph as a slave to the Ishmaelites heading for Egypt. The brothers then soak Joseph’s special coat in animal blood, and takes it back to their father. The father assumes Joseph is eaten by wild animals. Now, the brothers thought this was the end of Joseph. # But they had no idea that God’s invisible hand was in their action. They did not know that in their very effort to destroy Joseph’s dream, they are fulfilling Joseph’s dreams- as we will see gradually.
Joseph stands out in this story for his amazing faithfulness to every relationship.
This is ultimately because “the Lord was with him.” In Genesis 39, Joseph’s master Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce him. But he flees from adultery. When Potiphar’s wife couldn’t get Joseph to sleep with her, what does she do? She falsely accuses Joseph of attempted rape in order to satisfy her disappointment towards Joseph. The ugliness of her sin was this: “If you can’t get people to sin with you, make up a cover up story to prove your innocence and destroy their reputation.” We might do something similar, like, putting words in the mouths of people and making people say what they don’t quite say! Or give a biased false report about a person to someone. How does Potiphar react to this news?
Gen. 39: 19 says: “As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. 20. And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison.
Joseph suffers for the sake of purity; not because of sin.
Sounds familiar? 2 Timothy 3:12 says “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” If you desire purity of life and truth you will suffer like Christ. Note: Could Joseph’s master have responded differently rather than in anger? It’s quite natural for him to react that way, isn’t it? After all, this is his wife! He must trust his wife a lot. And so should we. But blind trust in people can also be deadly! Unfortunately, you can easily believe in a lie- even from your own family. The love we have for our families can also cloud our judgments in a very sinful way!
E.g: When I was a kid my Mom would always protect me, even if I was wrong. My Mom’s a great Mom; a wonderful single mother. But looking back I think she was wrong in protecting me when I was wrong, though I still think the love of a mother is amazing! My Grandma on the other hand loved me equally. But she was also the Bible woman in our family. So, whenever I did something wrong and I’d go to her and complain, she’d never protect me. She’d lovingly say: “I think you had your part. You shouldn’t have done that! Now go and apologize!” and so on.
Of course, Potiphar didn’t know his wife was lying! But aren’t we all a bit biased when it comes to family? Besides, anger clouded Potiphar’s judgment. When you’re tired or angry, your emotions can bypass the sound reasoning of the mind. A sincere Christian could have looked up Proverbs 18: 17 where it says: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
After all, Joseph has been so faithful to Potiphar all these years, and even more faithful than his own wife had been to him! Instead of reacting in anger, Potiphar could have asked Joseph’s side of the story. Isn’t that reasonable? Yes, but unfortunately Joseph was a slave. And the opinion of a slave didn’t matter in those days! However, today, people are not our slaves! They are created in God’s image, and their opinions greatly matter. Potiphar could have listened to both sides of the stories to arrive at a sound conclusion.
You can believe in a lie based on the false reports you hear about a person. The one who states his case first seems right! So you need to ask: Is the report I’m hearing about this person the truth? Do I have enough evidences to determine the truth?
Truth is still true even if I don’t agree or believe in it.
So, in order to establish the whole truth, it’s important to hear both sides of the stories. Now, imagine how that must have hurt if you were in Joseph’s place! He was reward for his faithfulness with scandal and prison! Are we willing to be faithful to God’s Word to that extent? Are you willing to pay the price for faithfulness and purity? How do we usually react when we suffer unjustly? Now, if the accusations made about you is true, then you need to repent. Instead of creating a cover up story, you need to admit your fault and repent- if it’s true. But how do most of us react when it’s not true? We either demand justice, or we wait for the time of vengeance. Of course, as Christians, most of us would never resort to violence. But sometimes we wait for chances to get back at others who have wronged us. How do we do that? We use words to let them know that we remember their sin. We hold it against them! But there’s a better way! Joseph’s response to this injustice is incredibly beautiful and Christ-like! Even though he’s thrown into prison for the second time Joseph serves the jailer faithfully.
Fast-forwarding the story.
Years had passed and then the terrible economic crisis came. As Joseph’s brothers travel to Egypt in search for food, Joseph had already become the Prime Minister of Egypt by then. Genesis 41:57 says- “All the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain.” Eventually Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers and deals kindly with them in Genesis 45. In chapter 47:27- he moves his entire family and all their belongings to the land of Goshen, where they were “fruitful and multiplied greatly.” And Joseph’s father is ripe old at this point in the story. He then dies after blessing his sons in chapter 49:33. So finally in chapter 50, the brothers come before Joseph again, after their father’s death. Here, again, they are afraid Joseph will take revenge on them.It says:
15. “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.”
Note: They were saying: “Oh Oh! Dad is gone, and he’s not there to protect us anymore. Now, we’re in deep trouble!” If you commit great evil against someone it is natural to be gripped with fear of punishment- (especially if that person has become the Prime Minister). How much more should you fear if we keep sinning against a holy God! The important thing here is: the brothers perceived their evil as evil. They called evil- evil. If you sin, you call it sin. You don’t call sin a mess or a mistake! Because that’s just one more layer to cover up our sin! Earlier in Genesis 45, Joseph comforted his brothers who were already afraid of him by saying: 5. “Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”
The way Joseph interprets the sin of his brothers is that it was God’s way of sending him to Egypt to save lives, including theirs. He says: “God sent me before you to preserve life.” We’re told in Psalm 105:16-17 that
“When He [God] summoned a famine on the land and broke all supply of bread, He had sent a man ahead of them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.”
So who sent Joseph ahead of them? God did! And who summoned a famine? God did! So God didn’t simply foresee a famine happening on its own or happening by Satan. No. It says: God summoned the famine. And God sent Joseph ahead of his brothers to save lives. So the brothers are finally bowing down to Joseph just as he saw in his dreams. We’re told in Gen. 50: 18 that “His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.”
Isn’t it wonderful? They tried to get rid of Joseph, and in getting rid of him, they fulfilled his dreams. Do you see this? God’s sovereign purpose came to pass! Now, let’s look at 3 ways with which Joseph treated his brothers for all the evils done against him. This is quite contrary to our human nature.
1. Joseph avoids God’s place by leaving justice to God.
19. “But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God?”
Although Joseph is in a place of power and authority, he does not want to take the place of God. In what ways do we take the place of God? By failing to worship God as GOD, and by setting ourselves as the final judges in literally everything!
As the Prime Minister, Joseph could have used his power to punish his brothers for all the evils that they had done. If we were in his place that might have been our response! Unless we understand the grace of God in Christ- we don’t have the power to do the way Joseph did! If we had Joseph’s position and power, most of us would do everything to repay evil with evil. But there’s only One person who sees the heart and can judge with righteous judgment. And He never makes mistakes in His judgment! God is Holy and He is on His throne! Though we sinned against Him, He has shown us mercy! Though we deserved His judgment; His son- Christ took the punishment for all our sins. And He had no sin; no millisecond of a bad thought or attitude!
2. Joseph saw God’s Sovereignty in the evil done to him.
20. “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. How can Joseph possibly say such a thing? Because: his situation finally got better by sheer chance? No! Only as you are born again in your heart can you see it this way! God was working all along! God was with Joseph when he served as a slave. God was in the prison with Joseph. God was all over Joseph’s life in the midst of suffering. You couldn’t see Him! But He was there all the time- working out His wise and sovereign purposes! In all things God was working together for the good; not only for Joseph and his brothers good; but for many people as they were kept alive.
Who crucified Jesus? Was it the Jewish leaders and the Romans? When they shouted slogans, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” did they mean it for evil? Yes. Did God mean it for good? Yes, absolutely! In Isaiah 53: 10, when Isaiah had a prophetic vision of Jesus on the Cross he said: “..it was the will of the LORD to crush him….” God so loved the world that he gave His only son on the cross (John 3: 16). Jesus prayed for his enemies saying: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do!” (Luke 23: 34). Didn’t they know what they were doing when the brothers sold Joseph as a slave? Didn’t Potiphar’s wife know what she was doing when she falsely accused Joseph? Didn’t Potiphar know what he was doing when he threw Joseph into prison? Didn’t they know what they were doing when they crucified Jesus? They knew exactly what they were doing, and so did God! They meant it for evil; but God meant it for good. He meant it for the salvation of sinners and His greater global and eternal glory!
3. Joseph reflects God’s love by repaying evil with generosity, comfort and kindness.
21. “So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”
Joseph shows God’s love to His enemies by providing for them and their families. He comforted them and spoke kindly towards them! To the degree you understand God’s greatest Provision for your life, can you also provide for others. To the degree you understand God’s love and grace in Christ, are you able to show others that same love. To the degree you understand how much you have been forgiven can you also truly forgive others who have wronged you. To the degree you understand how good God has been to you in Christ, can you also do good to others.
Joseph’s faithfulness in everything he did was all owing to the grace and mercy of God. Everything about Joseph was owing to the fact that the “LORD was with him.”
There is good news for us today.
God’s greatest Provision for the world is Jesus! Jesus is far more excellent than Joseph. Joseph was sold as a slave by his own brothers. But God exalted Joseph as the Prime Minister of Egypt. He eventually became the cornerstone of his brothers salvation. And so Jesus was sold for thirty pieces of silver. Later, He was betrayed by all his disciples when it got dangerous. He came to His own people and was rejected. But God raised Him from the dead. He is the savior of all who place their trust in Him. God exalted Jesus and He now sits at the right hand of the Father with all authority. He is coming back with all power to judge the living and the dead! But He forgave even those who betrayed and crucified him. Like Joseph, Jesus is using his power and authority to save us, not condemn us. But unless you receive Jesus and repent from your sin and place your trust in Him you will surely suffer forever without Him. What man designs, or the devil designs, for evil, God designs for good.
God is on His throne and He is worthy of our worship!