Monday, July 13, 2009

God had a Plan,
Joseph is Sold into Slavery

You remember the story of Joseph. He was the favorite son of his father, Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.

Joseph was a man of dreams and visions, but perhaps he made a mistake when he told those dreams to his eleven brothers. By them, he was already viewed with jealousy – his father’s favoritism was so obvious. Still, he must have been surprised, not to mention disheartened, when his own brothers first cast him into a pit, and after second thoughts drew him up, not to restore him to his father, but to sell him to some Midianite traders who happened to be passing by. The traders then took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguard.

While in his position as Potiphar’s slave, God was still with Joseph, and through God’s favor he was successful and gained promotion – until the day when his own integrity became the catalyst for far worse circumstances – the wife of Potiphar lied, and of course he was cast into prison. It was all so very unfair, surely they would know and set him free in a timely fashion. Yet this unjust imprisonment lasted not for a night, nor even a month, but for what must have seemed an almost unendurably long two years.

Joseph must have had doubts – it must have seemed that his visions were trampled to dust on the dirt floor of that jail. Yet even there, God was with him and granted him favor and status. Opportunity arose, and by divine inspiration, Joseph correctly interpreted dreams for the also imprisoned cupbearer and chief baker. These prophetic dreams came true for each man – one was hanged and one was restored to his former position as chief cupbearer to Pharaoh. Joseph had hoped to be remembered by the cupbearer before Pharaoh – but instead he was forgotten and remained imprisoned for two full years.

Isn’t that like our own lives at times and in certain circumstances? We hope and perhaps even connive and scheme to make things come out the way we want them. Usually all such efforts are in vain. God’s timing is rarely our idea of the way things ought to go.

Still, God hadn’t forgotten Joseph. At the end of those two years, Pharaoh himself had a dream which needed some explaining. It was then that the chief cupbearer remembered his former fellow prisoner, the Hebrew youth, and the interpreter of dreams. And so Joseph was brought out of prisoner, and he revealed the message of Pharaoh’s dream. It was this very incident that God used to bring Joseph not merely out of prison, but to be placed over all of Egypt, second in command only to Pharaoh himself.

What an amazing example from scripture of God being in control even when circumstances become impossible. Joseph had dreams and visions, but no way to reach out and make them happen. Only God could bring about the fulfillment of those dreams. And He did just that, orchestrating people and events in such a way that only He could receive any credit for the fulfillment of His plan. Joseph was sold into slavery, with the end result that he became rich, famous and powerful, and yet God’s plan wasn’t remotely for the benefit of Joseph alone. God’s plan included the very salvation of Israel from famine. This famine in Egypt was severe and widespread, and would have been the destruction of Israel as well as Egypt.

And what about Joseph’s brothers, those scoundrels who tossed him into the pit and then sold him into slavery? Now that he was in authority over them, how easy it might have been for him to say, “Away with these brothers of mine, cast them into the very dungeon I endured for two long years!” Don’t you love it when God’s plan includes special people with not only vision but integrity and kindness?

Genesis 50:18-22
Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants."
But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place?
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.
"So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father's household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years.

Job 42:1-2 Then Job answered the LORD and said, "I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.


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