The Epic Story of the Bible, Part 5: Joseph
Abraham’s lineage grew, but his children had a hard time following in his sandals. Like us, they quarrel, lie, cheat, envy, bow to betrayal, cave to violence, deceive and cover-up.
Joseph, Abraham’s great-grandson, made mistakes as a young man, and made his brothers hate him with superiority, favoritism and entitlement. Their jealously climaxed and Joseph was betrayed and sold as a slave. However, he stayed faithful to God and was triumphant through this and ascended to the throne of Egypt. After years of struggle, when he could have felt entitled to success, he used his power not for revenge but to forgive and save his family. Joseph’s life and example points us to Jesus, who does the same for us when we betray him.
Joseph’s story of redemption and forgiveness can be our story, in Christ.
Surprisingly, all of the men who we consider Patriarchs of the faith before Joseph (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) had dramatic face-to-face encounters with God, but Joseph did not.
However, Joseph was the recipient of much more divine interaction and reception than his forbears. This shows us that God can do mighty things in our lives too.
“Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had.” Genesis 39:1-4, ESV
When his family is at the brink of ruin, when the possibility of losing all they knew looms, an unexpected hero emerged to save the day, Joseph. Joseph was a man who demonstrated unprecedented character and faith despite extreme unfairness and betrayal.
We’ve all seen the struggles, pain and discomfort that comes from sin – both in ourselves and in others. Joseph is an incredible example of the love of God despite our sin, and he points the way to Jesus’ all-encompassing, redemptive love toward us.
Joseph saved Egypt and his family from famine, even offering hope and help to those who caused him suffering.
Joseph’s story is the great love of God on display, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”. (Romans 5:8) God’s purpose for us is simple: he wants us to know him and be Christ-like. Joseph is a pre-Christian example of this, and he can be our inspiration: when family drama happens, when we feel unjustly treated or when we want to be vindictive. Our God is bigger than our sufferings, and his will prevails.
How does Joseph’s story resonate with you? How will you live differently because of the grace God extends to you, and because of Joseph’s and Jesus’ example?