He had an amazing technicolor dream coat.
Joseph was a firstborn son of Jacob (aka Israel) and his father’s first love, Rachel. And Jacob (following in his mother’s footsteps) wasn’t shy about showing favoritism towards Joseph. Actions that didn’t go unnoticed by his other brothers.
Enter sibling rivalry and jealousy of epic proportions.
Now to be fair, Joseph may have brought some of it on himself. Being dad’s favorite, he may have rubbed it in a bit, or acted like he was untouchable. And then there was that awkward dream where Joseph tells his brothers he saw them all bowing down to him. Imagine that…..older brothers bowing to a younger one?! In your dreams, for sure! In any case, his brothers, fed up with Joey, decide to do something about it.
They decide to throw him in a dry well. Right after they take off that obnoxious coat and tear it to pieces. You might say they have a collective mental breakdown.
After they come to their senses, they pull him out of the well….but see a golden opportunity to get rid of him without any blood on their hands AND make a quick profit. SCORE! They sell him as a slave to some traders on their way to Egypt. Then they tell dad a big, fat lie that wild animals killed his favorite son.
The traders sell Joseph to Potiphar, a captain in Pharaoh’s guard, who soon appoints him as his personal attendant and head of his household.
Joseph is a strapping young man and very well built, which is why Potiphar’s cougar wife takes notice of the eye candy and tries to seduce him. He refuses her and she goes crazy….running to her husband and accusing Joseph of trying to seduce her. Potiphar throws him in prison where he stays until he is 30 years old. But Joseph has skills. While in prison, news of Joseph’s dream interpretation abilities travel to Pharaoh’s ears, and he is summoned to interpret a royally disturbing dream. Based on the Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph’s economic advice and recommendations impress the Egyptian ruler and he is released from prison. And, he’s made second in command of all the kingdom’s resources in order to avoid the destruction that is about to happen.
Joseph is quick to take steps to secure the kingdom’s future and when famine comes to the land (as he predicted from the dream). He is in charge of distributing food so the citizens don’t starve. So capable was Joseph’s management, that people from all around the region come to share in the Egyptian stockpiles of food.
Now, the funny thing about karma is that is tends to come back to bite you when you least expect it.
Remember Joseph’s brothers? Well, nine years later, the famine is hitting that family hard and the brothers drop their pride and go to Egypt to ask for food. And who do you think they bow to in their request for assistance? You got it! Their brother, Joseph. But they don’t recognize him because he’s much older, and is now a sharp-dressed Egyptian man. But Joseph immeidately recognizes them. With the authority and power of his position in the kingdom, he could have done anything he wanted to them…extracted any form of revenge or punishment he could think of….but he didn’t. Although truth be told, he did mess with them a little before coming clean about who he actually was.
So let’s now cut to the chase.
Joseph could have held a grudge…and he would have been perfectly justified given the despicable, unforgivable, evil actions of his brothers. Joseph’s life crumbled before his very eyes. He went from revered son to sold slave in less than 24 hours, and spend much of his life in prison for crimes he didn’t commit. He didn’t understand why these bad things kept happening to him, yet he never turned his back on his faith in God. The evil plans of his brothers and Potiphar’s wife were actually part of a much grander picture for his life. God had been in control all along, grooming Joseph for a role much bigger than he ever dreamed. If Joseph had not been sold as a slave and thrown into that prison, Egypt…and his family….would have perished during the famine. God used a slave to save an entire nation…or more accurately, two nations as Jacob’s sons go on to father the twelve tribes of Israel.
We should all be encouraged by the story of Joseph. He kept his integrity, morality and faith despite having his life turned upside down and inside out. He was valedictorian of the school of hard knocks, yet it never destroyed him or turned him into a bitter, resentful person. He could still muster forgiveness when face to face with those responsible for propelling him into what seemed to be a dismal abyss of a future.
Despite eventually being lavished with Pharaoh’s wealth, Joseph also knew true wealth only comes from God. This enabled him to make decisions based on faith in God’s providence instead of his own needs, wants and desires. Instead of blaming and complaining for the bad things that happened to him, Joseph focused on serving to the best of his abilities given the responsibilities he was assigned. He understood that, despite what others had done to him, he would be accountable to God for his own actions in how he conducted his life in the present. And God blessed his efforts.
We learn from Joseph the valuable lesson that both prosperity and hard times will define and test our character and integrity. It will define the type of person we are. Hopefully, we can be like Joseph and seek God’s will in both the good times and the bad…being quick to forgive and realizing God will use us in mighty ways if we will trust in him and put our future into his hands.