Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A brief study of Joseph

Find Joseph’s story in Genesis 37-45.

Jacob loved his son Joseph deeply, more than he loved his other sons and they knew it. They were jealous and plotted to get rid of him. They dropped him in a pit, then sold him to a band of Midianite traders from Gilead and faked his death. The traders carried Joseph to Egypt and resold him to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer and captain of the guard for Pharaoh.

Wow, talk about a loss of control.

But the tragic events didn’t knock Joseph off his ladder. Somehow, someway, despite the circumstances that got him there, in a foreign land subject to another’s law, with no family and no idea of what was to become of him, he continued to build. He continued to trust in a God greater than the jobsite he couldn’t begin to control. So he worked with what he had. And God saw.

The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. [Genesis 39:2]

Sounds like things were looking up for Joseph, and perhaps he even felt in control of his life a bit again. If so, did the thought of losing that control become a fear because he began to trust in his own power and not be so dependent on God?

Was Joseph holding so tightly to everything he thought he controlled than the fear of losing it dictated every measured swing of his hammer? Probably not, but we can certainly get there sometimes, so convinced that we’ve mastered what we see and so afraid of it wiggling out of our grip like a box of nails knocked to the ground.

Joseph had reason to fear, but it’s easy to doubt that he did. When Potiphar’s wife propositioned him, he refused, so she accused him of improper advances, and Potiphar put him in prison. Through no fault of his own and when he was entrusted with everything Potiphar had [except his wife, of course], Joseph’s control again was ripped from him. He kept his trust and we begin to hear a familiar response from God.

But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed [39:21, 23].

One example of Joseph’s success was his correct interpretation of a dream for the Pharaoh’s cupbearer [a trusted servant]. In return, Joseph asked for help in getting out of prison. Perhaps he thought he’d regained a little control.

Pharoah’s chief cupbearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought. Two full years later . . . [40:23-41:1]

Wow, we know that kind of revolting development, as the saying goes. We know what it’s like to do everything we can and still not get where we want to go. We know what it’s like to see what we planned fall apart and hope disintegrate and despair set in. We know it well and maybe that’s why we hold on so tightly and fear that loss of control we think we’ve gained again. But God still knows more. Imagine that.

We don’t know much about those two years Joseph remained in prison, but clearly he was unafraid. He no doubt kept building, climbing as high as the circumstances would allow for the time, making where he was a reflection of God Himself.

Soon, Pharaoh asked Joseph to interpret some dreams, and he did. He guided Pharaoh with good advice, building where he was. And Pharaoh responded.

“Can we find anyone else like this man so obviously filled with the spirit of God? Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders” [41:38-40].

God planned it, he built it.

From starting to build in a pit in the desert to being put in charge of “the whole land of Egypt” [41:41], Joseph never lost his trust in God. Despite all the setbacks and injustices and everyone around him seeming to take his control away, we’re never told he was afraid.

Instead, Joseph used his time and resources wisely – something every builder must do. He made the most of every opportunity without giving up on God to be in control of everything he couldn’t see. And he stayed on that ladder no matter what, and because of that, we remember him today.

Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, but no one will life a hand or foot in the entire land of Egypt without your approval” [41:44].

Now that’s control as our world would see it, but we can trust that Joseph knew Who was truly in control, because we know where he’d placed his trust, beginning to end.

May God bless your building . . . .

o ~ o ~ o

How will you become like Joseph and resolve to live and build today, even with little or no control?

How will you keep your trust in God instead of being afraid that He’s not with you?

How will you reflect God to those around you even in difficult circumstances?

o ~ o ~ o

Download this study of Joseph in pdf for easy printing for yourself or your group: Go here.

Thanks for being part of our tour . . . please post your comments and stories for all our readers. See you soon! God bless you.

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