Summary: It is said that every man or woman's life contains sufficient material for a great novel. Joseph's life certainly did.
Chuck Swindoll in his book entitled “Joseph” writes, “The Bible is the supreme Book on human personality. From Adam in Genesis to Satan in the Apocalypse, its portraits are unforgettable. Augustine wrote how men wander over the earth and wonder at the rivers and the mountains and the sea and the stars, while all the time man himself is the great wonder. How fearful and how wonderful are man’s terrible and glorious capacities and possibilities. It is said that every man or woman’s life contains sufficient material for a great novel!” Remember we talked about this last week. Well, we have been given a glimpse at a life that was certainly sufficient for a novel, and many have been written about this very life over the centuries.
God constantly uses the lives of Bible characters to teach us, to encourage us, to warn us. Who can forget the impact of the truths lived out in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Ruth, David, Peter or Paul? It is impossible to leave truth in the theoretical realm when you see it revealed in the lives of real men and women. That is what these divinely inspired biographies do; they provide truth and weave it into the fabric of everyday living. God’s training manual is full of lives that inspire and instruct.
The Apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Romans. Chapter 15 verse 4, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” This reference to ‘earlier times’ encompasses all the truths written in the Old Testament. And if we read this verse correctly, there are two basic reasons God has allowed us to have the Old Testament available for study and application:
For present instruction
For future hope
God has given us this information so that our minds can learn the truth about Him and about life, so that we will be encouraged to persevere in the future. Then Paul also writes in his letter to the people of Corinth, chapter 10 verses 6 and 11; “Now these things happened as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things, as they also craved.” These things in verse 6 refer back to the first 5 verses of that chapter which point back to the people of Israel and some of the things they endured and experienced. The same thought is then repeated in verse 11, emphasizing that God has given us Old Testament truths to instruct us, to give us hope and to warn us about how we are to live day by day, so that we may not crave the evil things some of our spiritual ancestors craved.
Earlier I mentioned that every man or woman’s life contains sufficient material for a novel. Perhaps no life in the Bible (with the exception of the life of Jesus) reads more like a suspenseful and compelling novel than the life of Jacob’s son Joseph.
The life of Joseph encompasses 13 chapters in the book of Genesis, from chapter 37 to the end of the book. It is an amazing account dealing first with perhaps some immaturity, to ambition, dreams and visions, courage, adversity, lies and deceit, power, faithfulness, restoration, family values and certainly the theme throughout, forgiveness. Starting with Joseph’s first dreams, it took over twenty years for them to be fulfilled, yet God was always with him throughout every encounter, throughout every adversity, throughout all of the years of his life. Many people have become more familiar with the life of Joseph after seeing Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s wonderful musical “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”
In the book “From Eden to Egypt” by Peter Williams, he writes, “On the wider front we can look at our world and see all too clearly that pride, intellectual conceit and arrogance are the marks of modern mankind. Man’s attitude today says in effect: ‘What do we need God for, our forefathers in their ignorance may have needed that kind of naïve belief, but we have progressed beyond that kind of simplistic thinking. We must believe in ourselves, in our own capacities and intellectual powers to unravel the mysteries of life and the universe.’ It sounds plausible enough until, that is, you take a good hard look at the kind of world this arrogant, self-assertive attitude has produced. When we see the misery and violence in our world it is certainly no great testimony to man’s ability to direct things on his own without the help and direction of God.”
“Pride goes before a fall?” No, Solomon writes in Proverbs 16:18 that “Prides goes before destruction and a proud spirit before a fall.”
Pride doesn't necessarily mean thinking that you're the greatest person who's ever lived. Pride creeps into our hearts when we look at our lives and accomplishments and imagine that we alone have made them happen, without God's help. God is generous with gifts and blessings, but we mustn't make the mistake of forgetting where they ultimately came from.