Have you ever been in a situation that's life-changing, perhaps a break-up, a divorce, news from the doctor, a move, or something else? I know that I have faced situations like that before, and I am sure many of you have as well. How can we overcome these situations in our life? John 16:33 says, "I have told you these things, so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." If Jesus has overcome the world, what have we to fear? (Picture Credit to: Bible Top Ten Heroes)
In this entry, we'll look at the life of Joseph, son of Jacob, and how God brought good out of the bad in his life. While Joseph first appears in Genesis 30:24, his life account, for the most part, spans Genesis 37-50. Joseph was the son of Jacob, who was the son of Isaac, who was the son of Abraham, thus making Abraham - Joseph's Great Grandfather. (See Book Overview: Genesis)
Joseph's mother was Rachel, his only full brother, younger, was Benjamin. But he had other brothers: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun - sons of Leah, Dan, Naphtali - sons of Rachel's servant Bilhah, and Gad and Asher - Sons of Leah's servant Zilpah. In Genesis 37:3-36, we are told that Jospeh's brothers (aside from Benjamin, who at this point was too young to notice) hated him.
Verses 3-4 said, "Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him." Then it all fell apart.
Joseph had two dreams, and both dreams symbolized his family bowing down to him, and he rose above them, as if he were in a high position. When he told them his dreams, they became enraged. When his brothers saw him coming to them not long after, they plotted to kill him. But Reuben intervened, "'Let's not take his life.' he said. 'Don't shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don't lay a hand on him.' Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to their father." (Genesis 37:21-22)
But God had other plans for Joseph - BIG plans. Reuben left, and the remaining brothers waited around, threw him into the cistern, and sat down to eat. But when they "sat down to eat, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead." (Genesis 37:25) So his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. When Reuben returned, he was outraged, and the brothers had to find a way to cover, so they took Joseph's robe, which they had torn off of him, and dipped it in goat blood, showing it to their father, who assumed Joseph was eaten.
Meanwhile, Joseph was sold to one of Pharaoh's officials in Egypt, named Potiphar. Joseph became a trusted slave, in charge of everything in Potiphar's household. But his wife continually asked Jospeh to sleep with her, and he continually refused. One time, she grabbed his cloak, and lied to Potiphar, saying that he tried to come on to her.
Joseph was thrown in jail. But not long after, Joseph became overseer of many of the prisoners. Some time later, Pharaoh's cup bearer and chief baker were thrown in jail. They had dreams one night, and Joseph noticed they were sad, so he inquired about their dreams - and interpreted them, saying that in three days time, the cup-bearer would be restored to his position, but the baker would be impaled. Joseph asked the cup bearer to remember him and mention him to Pharaoh, and the cup bearer said that he would.
Two years passed. Pharaoh had not been told of Joseph. Pharaoh had troubling dreams, and it seemed that none of his magicians or wise men could figure out what they meant. It was then when the Chief Cup Bearer remembered Joseph, and told Pharaoh what he had done, and Joseph was called to speak with Pharaoh.
So Pharaoh told Joseph his dream, and God through Joseph gave the interpretation: 7 Years of Plentiful food were coming to Egypt, followed by 7 Years of Terrible Famine. He told Pharaoh how to plan for this coming famine, and Pharaoh made Joseph was put in charge of all of Egypt. He was given a ring, and named Zaphenath-Paneah, and given Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, to be his wife. "Joseph was thirty years old when he entered into the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt." (Genesis 41:46)
So over the next several years, Joseph led Egypt in stock-piling food for the coming famine. The famine was severe all over the world, so many people came to Egypt. It was then that Jacob sent ten of Joseph's brothers, besides Benjamin, to purchase grain in Egypt. When they came, Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him, for they had not seen him in many years.
Through a series of several tests Joseph initiated, the end result was the brothers bringing Benjamin back with them, for Simeon was taken. When they returned, they feasted at Zaphenath-Paneah's table, and when he got back, he merely asked how their father was. Then, one more test: he placed a silver cup of his in Benjamin's bag.
As the brothers went to leave Egypt, with all the grain they could carry, Joseph and his servants caught up and accused the brothers of stealing from him. They slashed each sack, and found the cup in Benjamin's bag, and, testing them, Joseph said that he would take Benjamin as his prisoner.
The response was too overwhelming for Joseph. The brothers told him to take them instead, they could not stand to see their father in such misery. It was then that Joseph revealed who he was. He told his brothers to go get Jacob, the entire family, the flocks, everything, and move to Egypt to be with him - for God delivered them, bringing good out of a bad situation - because Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, in the end, he was the one who saved many, including his brothers.
You can read the account of Joseph's life, in much more detail, in Genesis 37-50. Joseph was about 17 when he was sold into slavery, 30 when he entered into Pharaoh's service, and at least 37 by the time he reunited with his brothers. But 20 Years of Hardship paid off - not just for Joseph, when he reunited with his father and brothers, but for all of Egypt and throughout the world.
God can bring good out of any situation. Life is never promised to be easy. But if you don't have Jesus in your life, what have you to look forward to after death, what have you to live for? Some say money, some say sexual immorality, some say friends, the list goes on and on. The fact of the matter is, if you have not turned to Jesus, accepted him as your Savior, the only way to get to Heaven, and asked for forgiveness of your sins, life may be harder than it could be.
Yes, even Christians go through hard times. But hard times are foretold. "I never said it was easy." If you are going through a hard time, or have gone through hard times, and believe that God has abandoned you, he has not.We will face trials and tribulations in this world, but it pays off in the next. God brings good out of bad situations, I can tell you that from experience. I hope this entry has been insightful, educational, and helpful in some way. If you have any questions, email vexx801, or visit facebook. God Bless You, and Take Care. Troy Hillman