The story of Joseph in the Bible is one of my favorites because I feel like I can relate so well to him. Joseph had a dream from God as a youth and instead of beginning to walk out that dream as he imagined he would, he went through a bunch of what seemed like detours, and his life ended up looking a lot different than I’m sure he had imagined. While I’ve never been sold into slavery or wrongfully imprisoned, I have had life go differently than what I had imagined, seemingly in the opposite direction of the dreams God had placed in my heart.
I recently read through Joseph’s story again and dug a little deeper to find out more about this young man and how he handled everything he had to go through. In this process I learned three things about Joseph that I never knew or realized before. Let's take a deeper look at the life and story of Joseph and how his faith stands as a great example for us.
Joseph was born in the Mesopotamian town of Haran, to his parents Jacob and Rachel. At the age of six, he left Haran along with his family and journeyed to the land of Canaan, eventually settling in Hebron.
From a young age, Joseph believed God had destined him for greatness. In dreams, God assured Joseph that he would rise to a position of leadership over his parents and brothers (Gen. 37:5-11). From Joseph’s point of view, these dreams were evidence of divine blessing, rather than his own ambition. From his brothers’ point of view, however, the dreams were further manifestations of the unfair privilege that Joseph enjoyed as the favorite son of their father, Jacob (Gen. 37:3-4).
This prompted feelings of jealousy within his brothers, especially the sons of Jacob’s other wife, Leah. These ill feelings exacerbated when Joseph repeated two of his dreams to them, in which he was portrayed as ruling over his brethren. In the first, the brothers were gathering wheat in the field, and the brothers’ bundles bowed to Joseph’s bundle. In the second, Joseph envisioned the sun, the moon, and eleven stars (symbolizing his parents and brothers) bowing to him.
Joseph was an amazing man of patience, integrity and character. So many of us have read his story over and over again and marveled at how God brought justice and blessing to him, despite being treated unfairly.
Looking at Joseph more closely and analyzing his actions (and lack of action in certain circumstances) we can see a shining example of one of God’s loyal servants whom God saw worthy of being promoted to the high calling he had. When we have times in our lives where we are being treated unfairly or things seem to be continually against us, we can look to Joseph for a great example of how to keep our eyes on God and continue to live in integrity and have confidence that God will come through for us at his perfect timing.
After all his ordeals, Joseph was able to see God’s hand at work. As he revealed his identity to his brothers, Joseph spoke of their sin this way: “Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. It was not you who sent me here, but God” (Genesis 45:5, 8). Later, Joseph again reassured his brothers, offering forgiveness and saying, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good” (Genesis 50:20). Man’s most wicked intentions can never thwart the perfect plan of God.
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