Joseph – Character Counts

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Joseph has played the suspense game as long as he can. He has seen enough fear and remorse in his brothers that he is, at last, ready to reveal himself. He commands all the attendants and Egyptians to leave the room. When they are gone, Joseph weeps so loudly that they can hear him outside the room. Meanwhile, his brothers must be standing in complete confusion as they watch. He finally collects himself, leans in, scans the brothers faces and, for the first time, speaks in their native language.

“Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, 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.” Genesis 45:4-5

Wouldn’t you love to hear their hushed gasps and see their faces searching Joseph’s face  trying to see the features of the young brother they sold 20 years ago. Talk about surreal! Perhaps their next emotion is fear. Joseph assures them that he will not harm them, instead,  he wants them to go back and bring their father and all their family members to live in Egypt. He has arranged with Pharaoh for them to live in the lush area of Goshen, not far away. He assures them again:

“God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Genesis 45:7

Joseph speaks Benjamin’s name and throws his arms around him, weeping.

And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him. Genesis 45:15

Oh, what a scene. Oh, what character, to give that kind of forgiveness and to show that much godly wisdom.

We hear no more words from the brothers, just “afterward his brothers talked with him.” Another one of those “please tell us more” kind of moments, but we are left to relinquish this tender private time to them.

Father Jacob is as amazed as the brothers when he is told that Joseph is still alive. The family packs up and heads to Egypt for the happy reunion.

As we take a look back over Joseph’s life, we see the hand of God in it all and we see Joseph’s faith in God as well.

In Potiphar’s houseThe Lord was with Joseph… Genesis 39:2  When the master saw that the Lord was with him … Genesis 39:3  

Through his behavior and demeanor, Potiphar could see God in Joseph.

To Potiphar’s seductive wife – “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” …day after day he refused her… Genesis 39:9-10

In prisonThe Lord was with him …Genesis 39:21 

The warden didn’t worry because he could see that—the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success… Genesis 39:23  

The cupbearer and baker had no one to interpret their dreams—Joseph said, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” Genesis 40:8

The Pharaoh says he has heard that Joseph can interpret dreams. Joseph says, “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” Genesis 41:16

 After the interpretation, Pharaoh says, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the Spirit of God? Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.” Genesis 41:38-39

Joseph lived 110 years. Some of his last words, reminiscent of Queen Esther, were: 

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

So much more could be said of Joseph’s life, but I believe the take-home for me is that through the victories and challenges of life, character counts—the kind of character God gives, the kind of character we  obediently receive and honor.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

 

Joseph – Judah Steps Forward

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Last week, we left Joseph’s brothers bowing down to him. Still through an interpreter, he asks:

“How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?” Genesis 43;28

They respond that he is alive and well. Joseph looks about until he spies Benjamin, his own mother’s other son. Deeply moved, Joseph goes out to a private room to weep.

After he washes his face and attempts to control himself, he returns to his brothers to declare, “Serve the food.” You would think their good treatment, the fact that Joseph is interested in their father and their younger brother, plus the fact that they have been seated around the table in order of their age would alert them to Joseph’s identity. But I suppose in their minds, Joseph is either dead or has become a slave off in the boonies somewhere.

Isn’t that just like us? Something is fairly plain in front of us, but we are blinded by fear or a self-centered attitude, past sins or bitterness. “He who has eyes to see, let him see. He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” Jesus said.

Well, we soon get the idea that Joseph is very partial to Benjamin since Benjamin’s plate is stacked five times higher than the other plates! Now, the plot begins. Joseph intends to send the others back home and find a way to keep Benjamin, so he  instructs his steward:

“Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my silver cup in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack.” Genesis 44:2

Of course the idea is that they will be brought back; Benjamin will be kept, and the others will graciously be let go. However, when they are stopped on the trail and brought back to Joseph, the brothers are not about to leave Benjamin for fear of breaking their father’s heart.

Judah steps forward to give a 16-verse plea. He reiterates the whole story again: the need for grain, the trip to Egypt, Joseph’s series of family questions, the demand to bring the younger brother back, the agony of their father, and the remembrance of losing his son, Joseph. “If I lose this son it will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.” So there’s no way Judah can go back without Benjamin, because he personally guaranteed the boy’s safety.

Quite a change for Judah. He was the one who suggested that they sell Joseph to the caravan of traders years before.

Judah’s final plea:

“Please let me remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let my brothers return with the boy. How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come upon my father.” Genesis 44;33-34

Will this passionate plea suffice? Will he continue to make them squirm to get back at them for all the heartache they caused him? Or will he see their repentant hearts?

Next week – at long last, the great unveiling!

~ Joyce ~

Joseph – Favoritism… Again

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Joseph’s brothers were shaken when they attempted to buy grain in Egypt. First, this foreign leader (Joseph) accuses them of spying and puts them in prison for three days. Then, he keeps brother Simeon and sends the others home to bring back the youngest brother.

To complicate things further, one brother has a surprise the first night on the road. He reaches in his sack of grain to feed his donkey, only to find the silver in his sack that he used to buy the grain.

“My silver has been returned,”he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other and said, “What is this that God has done to us?” Genesis 42:28

They are further frightened when they arrive home and find that all of the brothers have silver in their bags. What will happen to them now?

All the way home, they have been dreading the task of giving the report to father Jacob. They suspect how he will respond. Jacob never got over the loss of Joseph, his favored son and now they will have to ask for the only other son of Jacob’s beloved (favored) wife, Rachael.

As predicted, Jacob is one unhappy camper!

“You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin.” Everything is against me!” Genesis 42:36

After Jacob’s pity party, here comes dear honorable Reuben to the rescue again.

Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.” Genesis 42:37

But favoritism reigns supreme in Jacob’s heart. This character trait has not changed; it has only transferred to Benjamin.

Favoritism was also a problem for Jacob’s parents. You may remember how father Isaac favored Esau and mother Rebekah favored Jacob. So Jacob declares:

My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. (Ouch! What about the other ten sons?) If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray hair to the grave in sorrow.” Genesis 42:38

Jacob will go to his grave with this spirit of blatant favoritism, disregarding the  feelings of his other sons.

Is there a character trait you’re working to improve? It requires honest introspection. Is your challenge favoritism? Maybe you have poor listening skills or you always have to be in control of all situations. Do you struggle with impatience or a critical spirit? What would someone close to you say is lacking in your character? Ouch again!

I’m afraid I know mine. We can’t work on our challenges unless we admit them to ourselves. Food for thought in your quiet time today.

~ Joyce ~

Joseph – the Famine Begins

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

And now, back to Joseph. When we last left him, he was at the pinnacle of success. The fruitful years brought in so much grain, he couldn’t keep track of it all.

As Joseph had predicted, the fields dried up after seven years and famine swept across Egypt and the lands beyond—including the land of Canaan where Joseph’s brothers and other family members lived.

Jacob learned that he could purchase food from Egypt, so he sent the “boys” with money bags. Of course they would have to appear before Pharaoh’s head spokesman.

Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. Genesis 42:6

Let’s put this scene in a freeze frame. After some twenty years, Joseph sees these wicked brothers and recognizes them right away. They were adults when he last saw them and haven’t changed much. These brothers, who once overpowered him, now bow at his feet.

Joseph was young when they last saw him. He has changed in adulthood. He looks clean-shaven like an Egyptian, dresses like an Egyptian, even speaks the Egyptian  language. They have no idea that this ominous leader before them is their little brother.

A childhood dream pops up from Joseph’s memory—the one about the brothers’ sheaves bowing down to his sheaf. The enticing play begins. Joseph speaks harshly in his foreign language while the interpreters translate the words.

You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected. 

“No, my Lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. We were twelve brothers, the sons of one man from Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.  Your servants are honest men, not spies. Genesis 42:9-11

Joseph continues to insist that they are spies and has them thrown into prison for three days. There now, they can get an idea of what it is like to be thrown in prison unjustly.

On the third day, Joseph said to them, “If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.”

They said to one another [in their language, or course], “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come upon us.” Genesis 42:18-21

That incident so long ago is firmly engraved in their minds as much as it is in Joseph’s mind. After all these years, they still harbor that guilt.

The little boy thinks he has successfully eaten the cookie without mommy knowing it, but the left-over crumbs tell the tale. The teen-age girl tells a lie and gets in worse trouble because of the resulting circumstances. The wife deceives her husband and feels the guilt every time he kisses her.

Unresolved guilt always catches up with us eventually. You can be sure your sins will find you out.

~ Joyce ~

Christmas – Praise from the Heavenly Host

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Before we come to the main event, let’s not forget poor Joseph who seems lost in all of the comings and goings. He’s heard that Mary is “to be with child through the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18), a story he can’t quite buy into. Joseph is left to ponder these things during the three months Mary is away at Elizabeth’s house.

What are we told about Joseph? 

1. Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph (Matt. 1:18), which means they were legally bound but not yet living together. 

2. Joseph was a righteous man. Matt. 1:19

3. He did not want to expose her to public disgrace and had in mind to divorce her quietly. (Matt. 1:19) He could have signed the papers to have her judged publicly and stoned.

4. He patiently spent some time considering this. (Matt. 1:20)

At last, God graciously sends an angel to Joseph in a dream. The angel says,

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matt. 1:20-21

We can add “obedient” to our list of things we know about Joseph. When Mary returns to Nazareth,

Joseph did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took her home to be his wife. Matt. 1:24

So we see that angelic activity comes to Joseph as well as Mary and Zechariah. (Previous blogs.)

The heavenly host of angels now wait in the wings(smile) for their turn.

Mary and Joseph make their way to Bethlehem, the town of David. By Roman decree each person must go to the town of his heritage to be registered for the census. While there (in the town where prophecy said the Messiah would be born), Mary gives birth and swaddles him up tight as we still do for our babies today. There is no room for them in the inn so she lays him in a manger which indicates they are in a stable for the night.

Meanwhile, shepherds tend their sheep on the hills outside the little town of Bethlehem. In the late hour, perhaps one or two shepherds are resting while the other does guard duty.

Suddenly, an angel appears to them and (don’t miss this) the glory of the Lord shines around them. What does the “glory of the Lord” look like? I’m imagining unbelievable brilliance! Result? They are “sore afraid”—terrified. Of course the first thing we hear is,

“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. (That’s you and me and everybody then and now—all people.) 

Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. (The promised Messiah.)

This will be a sign to you: (Just so you can check it out.) You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Note that the sign is not a star (the star led the wise men), but a swaddled baby in a manger. Luke 2:10-12

As if that isn’t enough to knock their sandals off, it is now time for the whole host of heavenly angels to finally make their appearance. They burst forth in praise.

“GLORY TO GOD IN THE HIGHEST, AND ON EARTH PEACE TO MEN ON WHOM HIS FAVOR RESTS.” Luke 2:14

It had to have been absolutely glorious. Praise His name, our redemption has come! Blessed Christmas to you.

~ Joyce ~

Joseph – Thanksgiving

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

We have come to the pinnacle of success for Joseph. God has placed him in a key position for Egypt which would also affect the lands around Egypt.

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed Joseph in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. Gen. 41-42

I guess we can assume he has had that luxurious bath by now. Not only that, Pharaoh went all out in making sure the people knew about Joseph being second in command..

Pharaoh had Joseph ride in a chariot, and men shouted, “Make way.” Gen. 41:43

Pharaoh also gave him a wife and an Egyptian name, but Scripture continues to refer to him as just “Joseph.”

Earlier, I was trying to figure up how old Joseph might be by this time and there it was in the next verse.

Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out and traveled throughout Egypt.

During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. Joseph collected all the food produced in the seven years of abundance and stored it in the cities.He stored huge quantities of grain like the sands of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure. Gen. 41:46-49

A great harvest indeed. His own household was growing as well. His wife, Asenath, bore him two sons. In traditional Hebrew fashion, he named them intentionally for the meaning of their names.

Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” Gen. 41:51-52

Let’s pause at this point to consider how Joseph’s prayer of Thanksgiving might have gone. Perhaps, like Queen Esther, Joseph was already beginning to see that his life experiences which seemed to be harmful to him, God intended for good.

And so, on this Thanksgiving, as we give thanks for the bounteous blessings and successes God has given us, we are likely to mention delicious food, loving family, freedom in our nation, and freedom in Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.

May I encourage you, as perhaps Joseph did, to also consider ways that God has grown you this year in terms of lessons learned from the challenges, failures, or dark days of life. Give thanks for what He has taught you, ways He has helped you overcome, ways He moved in your life if spite of the circumstances. Give thanks for the God-incidents in your life.

Thanksgiving blessings on you, dear readers. I thank God for you.

We will pause for a time before we go on with the rest of Joseph’s story. Next week we will begin to prepare for Christmas.

~ Joyce ~

 

Joseph – To the Palace

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

The Pharaoh of Egypt has strange dreams of seven skinny cows eating up seven fat cows and seven thin heads of grain eating up seven full heads of grain. No one can interpret the dreams.

Two years after the cupbearer had left prison, he finally remembers Joseph, the interpreter of dreams. The cupbearer suggests that Joseph might be just the man.

So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. Gen. 41:14a

Well, not too quickly. Remember he has been in prison well over two years. Has he had a bath in all that time? Has he even had a change of clothes? His beard is long and he’s probably smelly, so:

When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. Gen. 41:14b

No doubt Joseph’s heart is beating rapidly as he makes his way down the long corridors of the palace, seeing extravagant furnishings he’s never seen before. Will he have the right things to say? Will he be able to interpret a dream if that’s why the Pharaoh is calling for him? Is this the time when God is moving him forward? Has he maintained his connection with God?

The Pharaoh jumps right into the matter. He tells Joseph:

“I had a dream and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

“I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” Gen.41:15-16

Well that settles it. Joseph still knows that it is God who has given him this gift. As some would say, he seems to be “prayed up.” Psalm 46:10 has not yet been written, but Joseph must have experienced being still and knowing God. Pharaoh tells his dreams and without hesitation, Joseph responds.

“The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good cows are seven years and the seven good heads of grain are seven years.

The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.” Gen. 41:25-27

That explains the sevens. But what does it mean? Joseph is about to tell him, but first he reiterates what he said before.

God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming through out the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow.” Gen. 41:28-30

Joseph tells him that the years of famine will be so great that they will not remember the years of great abundance. The fact that Pharaoh had two dreams indicates that the matter has been firmly decided by God and God will do it soon.

What to do?  Joseph lays out a step by step plan for dealing with this coming crisis—appoint a wise man to be in charge, appoint commissioners, take one-fifth of the grain in the good years, collect it and store it for the famine.

Pharaoh likes the plan and the man.

“Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so wise and discerning as you. You shall be in charge of my palace and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” Gen. 41:39-40 

Wow! Can you believe that? He wakes up that morning in prison and by the end of the day he is second in command. Joseph has gone from pit to second in command in Potiphar’s house, from prisoner to second in command of the prison, and now, from dream interpreter to second in command of Egypt. These are not coincidences my friend. They are God-incidents. 

Next week — bringing in the grain with “thanksgiving.” (smile)

~ Joyce ~

 

Joseph – ‘Will I ever get out of here?”

 

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Unfortunately, Joseph is still in prison where we left him last week. He had interpreted both the dream of the baker, who ended up being hanged, as predicted, and the dream of the cupbearer who was restored to his position, as predicted.

The last verse of this episode says:

The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. Gen. 40:23

What a bummer. Here Joseph predicted such hope for the cupbearer, then he gleefully goes right back to life as usual, leaving Joseph to continue languishing in the prison.

Worse yet, the very next verse in the next chapter says, “When two full years had passed…” You remember how these gaps always bring me to an absolute halt to ask, “What happened during those two years?”

I guess we can assume that Joseph continues to be the leader, so-to-speak, while the prison warden sits on his laurels. Day in and day out, same routine. But I ask myself, “What is Joseph thinking? Does he hold on to hope for a few days after the cupbearer leaves? When that doesn’t pan out, does he reason that it would take a little time to resume the routine in the palace and then the cupbearer will mention this amazing dream interpreter to the Pharaoh?

Does Joseph think. “Okay, maybe next month?” After six months go by, does he give up all hope? Does he feel abandoned? After a year, does he completely forget about it himself? Does it seem like it never happened?

Does Joseph interpret other dreams? Does he talk to other prisoners about his One-God. Does he maintain God-like attitudes? Does he pray?

Truth is, we simply don’t know, but likely he is learning that hard task of perseverance that I mentioned last week. I just want us to pause long enough to remember that day after day, Joseph is in the monotonous confinement of prison life. No TV, no cell phone to entertain him, no books to read, no games to play, very little conversation, just routine with one day looking like the day before, until:

When two years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: Gen: 41:1

Ah, yes, a dream—Joseph’s specialty! Here’s the dream:

[Pharaoh] was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Gen. 41:2-4

That’s the first dream. With seven’s still on his mind, Pharaoh has a second dream.

Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the healthy, full heads. Gen. 41:5-7

Hmm. Seems to be a theme here. Well, the troubled Pharaoh sends for all his wise men to interpret his dreams, but they fail miserably. At last, the light bulb goes off in the cupbearer’s head. The time has come! The cupbearer says:

“Today I am reminded of my shortcomings…” Gen>41:9

The cupbearer proceeds to tell the whole story of the time when he and the baker were in prison and how Joseph accurately interpreted their dreams. That’s just what Pharaoh needs to hear. 

So Pharaoh sent for Joseph. Gen. 41:14

Finally! Just what we have been waiting for.

Ever have that final breakthrough you’ve been hoping for? How you appreciate it after months or maybe years of praying and waiting. However, let us not forget the lessons Joseph learns in this waiting time—learning more leadership skills, dream interpretations, interaction with rough and tumble prisoner-types, and perseverance. Lessons for the next fourteen years.

Next week, to the palace! 

~ Joyce ~

Joseph – Organizing the Prison

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

Last week, we left Joseph in prison, taken there unjustly by his master, Potiphar. Even there, Scripture tells us that…

…the Lord was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. Gen. 39:21

Like Potiphar, the prison guard sees a difference in this man. God empowers Joseph with a winsome way.

So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison. 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. Gen. 39:22-23

Again, like Potiphar, the warden just lays back and turns things over to Joseph.

We can only conjecture on what his duties might include. Maybe organize the men into groups? Have more responsible prisoners serve food to the others? Assign duties like scrubbing floors or cleaning toilet areas? (Not like our toilets, of course.) Keep fights at bay? Organize brief walks? Whatever he does, it works well and the warden trusts Joseph completely. Even in the dark days of prison confinement, Joseph is learning leadership skills.

My motto is, “never waste a bad experience without learning and growing from it.” Indeed, Joseph takes lemons and makes lemonade.

We will see him grow in another area when two more men are brought to the prison—the king’s cupbearer and the king’s baker. The captain of the guard assigns them to Joseph.

After some time, the two new prisoners both have dreams on the same night.

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked, “Why are your faces so sad today?”

“We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Gen. 40:6-8

Then, and still today, dreams are very important to those in mid-eastern cultures. Joseph is about to learn that the ability to interpret dreams is yet another gift the Lord has given him.

Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” Gen. 40:8

The chief cupbearer goes first.

“In my dream, I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.” Gen. 40:9-11

Joseph interprets the dream. 

“The three branches are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.” Gen. 40:12-13

The cupbearer is so pleased that he stops listening at this point. He really doesn’t pay any attention to Joseph when he asks the cupbearer to put in a good word for him to Pharaoh.

Next comes the baker’s dream interpretation. Unfortunately, he didn’t fare so well when Joseph interprets his dream.

“Within three days Pharaoh will lift off  your head and hang you on a tree. and the birds will eat away your flesh. Gen. 40:19

Yikes, not such good news for the baker. Joseph calls it as God reveals it and both dreams accurately come true. 

This time in prison has not gone to waste. The Lord has been with Joseph, expanding his leadership skills and teaching him about dream interpretations. Hope is growing in Joseph, but he has another character lesson to learn first—perseverance.

…we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance: perseverance, character: and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

May you find strength in the Lord today in whatever phase you find yourself. Character-building is hard work.

~ Joyce ~

 

 

 

 

 

Joseph – Journey to Egypt

Searching His Word   Seeking His Heart

Searching His Word
Seeking His Heart

last week, we saw that Joseph’s brothers sold him into the hands of a caravan of Ishmaelites traveling  to Egypt. Like so many accounts in the Bible, Joseph is sold in one verse and in the next verse, he is immediately there! I long to know more of the details to get the full picture, so let’s do some thinking. 

Keep in mind that we are talking about a journey of over 150 miles as the crow flies. While the traders may be riding camels, horses, or donkeys, I imagine the slaves are walking—walking over the stony hills of southern Israel and through the hot, sandy deserts of the wadi before they finally reach the lush, fertile plains where the Pharaoh resides.

Joseph had endured the humiliation and bitterness of his angry brothers. Now, what is he thinking and feeling  in this next phase of his nightmare? We can picture our prized son looking dusty and dirty as he drags himself along the final trek of the desert headed to his unknown future.

At last he stands disheveled at the slave block. He experiences new smells and sights and a strange language. A wealthy-looking man approaches Joseph, pacing around him as he examines the boy. Perhaps Joseph feels anticipation or fear or humiliation or all three at the sight of this important-looking man.

Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potipher, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. Gen. 39:1

So, we’re given a name and the high position of Joseph’s master—Potiphar, captain of the guard. Evidently the captain found  potential in the young slave he purchased in spite of his weather-beaten appearance.

We don’t know if Joseph starts this new venture with Potiphar by washing down the horses, planting gardens, or tending animals, but at some point he makes it to the house.

The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. Gen. 39:2

Don’t miss the phrase, “The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered.” Father Jacob may have had his faults, but we can assume that he did teach Joseph about the “One-God” because even Potiphar notices there is something different about Joseph.

When his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Gen. 39:3-4

Does Potiphar see Joseph praying faithfully? Is there a distinction in Joseph’s character that Potiphar did not see in his other servants? He does notice that everything Joseph touches seems to prosper. As Potiphar watches this progress, he decides to promote Joseph.

Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. Gen. 39:5

We don’t know how long it took from the time Joseph was brought in as a slave until he came to this amazing position in Potiphar’s house, but  no doubt it has been a long, gradual process. Joseph has learned the new language, discovered the expectations of the household, and developed a knack at organizing things and people, both in the house and in the field.

Look how God has brought Joseph from the pit to this place of honor and prestige. The Lord does that in our lives as well. Sometimes we look at ourselves and the miserable way things have turned out, only to find Him changing our lives completely, beyond our imagining.

Well, that’s the good news! But Joseph has more lessons to learn before he can become Egypt’s leader. Next week—the bad news.

On a personal note, welcome to all our new subscribers. Our blog family has grown to 103, last count!

~ Joyce ~