Over the last few months, we have been in an in-depth study of the people in the Bible and the events that they went through during their lives. What did God teach them? What can God teach us through them and the lessons they learned? We’ve explored these questions and more with sixteen people from the Bible so far: Eve, Adam, Abel, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Sarah, Lot’s Wife, Abraham’s Servant, Rebekah, Esau, Jacob, Leah, Rachel, and Laban. Today, we’ll be exploring Joseph.
For those of you who know me, you may know that Joseph is one of my favorite people in the Bible and his story is one that has always deeply touched me, ever since I was a child. Some people who look at Joseph’s early life may say that he was arrogant because his father, Jacob favored him. Joseph was one of two sons that Rachel had and therefore, Jacob favored him above the others. In Genesis chapter 37 verse 3, the Bible says, “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors.”
But Joseph’s life has one important and vital aspect that not many of us knew—I even missed it until I read a commentary in one of my Bibles (the Evidence Bible by Ray Comfort). Joseph’s life actually parallels with Jesus, the Messiah. Like Joseph, Jesus was highly favored by His Heavenly Father, who sent him out into the world. In the same way, Joseph was sent out into the fields with his brothers, by his father. Yet, what happened to him when he joined them in the fields?
Genesis chapter 37, verse 23 through says, “So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. Then they took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty; there was no water in it.”
After that, they sold him and then covered his tunic in goat’s blood. They then took that tunic to Jacob and made him think that Joseph was dead.
After God sent Jesus into the world, He was rejected by the ones He was sent to, just like Joseph was. Jesus was stripped and beaten, like Joseph, and also sold for thirty pieces of silver—just like Joseph was.
Joseph eventually became a slave to Potiphar. His wife tried to seduce Joseph but Joseph stayed true to God’s will and rejected her. In retaliation, she had him thrown into prison unjustly. Eventually, Joseph went on to become the right-hand-man of the prison, just as he had done for Potiphar because God blessed him.
It was in this prison that he was able to accurately interpret the dreams of two men imprisoned by the pharaoh. One of them died for stealing, and the other one had his position at court returned to him. Later, when the pharaoh himself was troubled by dreams, the man at court remembered Joseph and told pharaoh about him. So, Joseph’s kindness toward this man was rewarded with a visit to the pharaoh, where he interpreted the pharaoh’s dream, warning him of seven years of plenty, and afterward, seven years of famine. God gave Joseph the wisdom and insight to help them save back enough grain during the years of plenty, to provide for all of Egypt and the surrounding lands during the famine.
But God’s accomplishments through Joseph’s life doesn’t stop there. Eventually, the famine reached where Jacob and his family were located, so Joseph’s brothers all came, except for Benjamin, to get grain. They didn’t recognize Joseph, so he tested them to see if they had changed. He sent them all back but Simeon, to fetch Benjamin to see if they were “telling him the truth” which was all part of the test. When they did, he then had his cup placed in Benjamin’s sack of grain and watched as the brothers defended Benjamin and offered themselves in his place.
Genesis chapter 45 verse 5 says, “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.”
What they intended for evil, God used for good. Their jealousy and hatred resulted in Joseph being sold as a slave, but God blessed Joseph and eventually made him the right-hand man over all of Egypt—and used him to save countless lives during the famine, including the lives of his family.
Joseph also forgave his brothers, just like Jesus forgave the people who crucified Him. Unforgiveness creates a deep-rooted bitterness inside our hearts that festers. And it doesn’t hurt the people who have hurt us; it only wounds us and prevents us from living in freedom and joy, as well as forgiveness for ourselves as well. Jesus died for the sins of the people who hurt you as much as He died for all of your sins, and mine as well—for everyone’s.
Even greater still, with the life of Joseph, is the reminder that God brings about good out of bad—beauty from ashes. Joseph was sold as a slave but the Bible doesn’t have to tell us specifics to know that slavery in ancient Egypt was not a pretty sight. Joseph must have endured horrible things, just as Jesus endured countless horrors at the hands of His betrayers. Yet, in both situations, countless lives were saved. Through Joseph, all of Egypt, and his family. Through Jesus, everyone who believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
No matter what you’re going through, whether it’s a sickness, pain, a great loss and deep sorrow, past trauma, a severe addiction, a terrible divorce or breakup, the loss of a friend, abandonment, loneliness, depression, fear and anxiety, and countless other things, God will see you through and somehow, He will use this terrible circumstance for good. You may not be able to see it right away—it may even take years before you see the good He brings of it, but He will.
Hold onto that promise today.