Summary: The message deals with God’s providence in Joseph’s life: his journey from riches to rags; from rags to riches...back to rags and back to riches
Genesis 37. Study in the life of Joseph
I must confess to you that when I finished reading the story of Joseph, the first words that came to my mind were the words of that hymn:
When we walk we the Lord
In the light of His word
What a glory He sheds on our way
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still
And with all who trust and obey.
This is a man who walked with God and what a glory God shed on his way. He is a man who did God’s will, in the midst of all the adversity and in the midst of all the temptations that he faced and as a result of it God abided with him.
1 John3:24 says, “he who keeps God’s commandments, abides in God and God abides in him”. As I read the story of Joseph I thought, “what a wonderful illustration of that truth in the life of Joseph!!!”
What a wonderful example from a man who many times could have blown a fuse, fall into temptation, get even, become arrogant, proud by his achievements, bitter for being wronged etc. Yet in the midst of all the surrounding pressures, Joseph was straight like an arrow.
It is as if in the midst of all the temptations and the pressures that he was facing Joseph had in mind that abbreviation that sometimes we hear about WWJD – What would Jesus do?
It is as if each time his brothers were jealous with him Joseph thought: what would God want me to do?
When he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife:
What would God want me to do?
When he reached the heights of glory he could have said to his brothers “pay back time, buddies”. He did not do that.
There is that popular sticker that people put in the back of their cars “I don’t get angry I just get even”.
Not Joseph. His eyes were always fixed on God, what would God want me to do? How would God want me to behave in this situation?
I think that if we ask ourselves that question often enough we would not get into a lot of problems that we are getting into.
Some people say, well it was easy for Joseph because he knew that he was destined for glory. Not so, the only thing that Joseph had was two dreams that got him into more trouble. His brothers hated him even more for that.
As we’ll continue to study these chapters in Genesis we’ll see that the whole account is peppered with: deceit, lies, favoritism, jealousy, murderous thoughts, sexual temptations, wrong accusations, unfair imprisonment, forgotten by friends, etc. It wasn’t easy for Joseph. He faced many of the adversities that you and I are facing today.
In the midst of all these he was as straight as a straight line. I believe that God has left the story of Joseph for us as a testimony to the fact that it is possible in the midst of an unholy world and an adverse environment.
The apostle Paul writes in Romans 15:4, “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”
But you know, the account that we find in Genesis 37-50 is not just about Joseph; it’s not even about his brothers, Jacob or the Pharaoh. It is above all about God. It is about God’s sovereignty, His control, and his knowledge of every single detail of the story.
Before we’ll go to look at the story of Joseph in more detail in the coming weeks, I want us to look at some overall simple yet very profound lessons about God’s dealing with Joseph and how these apply to us.
1) God’s plan for Joseph.
As we look at the entire account of Joseph’s life we discover without a doubt that God had a plan with Joseph. Even though the plan was unknown by Joseph it was known by God.
It was a plan that took Joseph from riches to rags from rags back to riches. From riches back to rags and ultimately back to glories and riches.
From being the pet of the family he reached the point where there was a plot against him. The plot led him to a dark and cold pit. From the pit he was taken to Potiphar. From Potiphar to prison. From a prison to a palace. From palace to being a prime minister.
To get to be a prime minister Joseph had to travel a road that few of us would have enjoyed. I said to you that he did not know that he was destined for glory and in the lonely moments he could have questioned God’s plan for his life. But Joseph always did that which was right before God and left the consequences with God.