Summary of Joseph’s Life
God had shown Joseph in his dreams how nations, including his brothers, would bow down to him one day. His brothers didn’t take the idea of their younger brother’s dream too kindly and they especially didn’t like that Joseph told them about it. In their jealousy, Joseph’s brothers sold Joseph into slavery. He goes into Egypt as a slave, but he continuously offers up praises to God. God’s favor rests on Joseph. Joseph gets sold to one of the Pharaoh’s officials, Potiphar, captain of the guard. Joseph quickly moves up the ranks due to his integrity and work ethics. Potiphar saw Joseph have favor in everything he put his hands to. Joseph became head of Potiphar’s household and was given access to all Potiphar owned. Well, everything except Potiphar’s wife. Joseph steered clear of her, knowing she was off limits. However, Potiphar’s wife sets up a day where her and Joseph, a strong and handsome lad (really…the Bible told me so in Genesis 39:6), could be alone. She was intent on seducing him. He gives her a hardy refusal and tells her “With me in charge, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” It seems a scorned woman is the most dangerous of women (really…the television told me so). Potiphar’s wife, feeling the raging effects of the refusal, decides to set Joseph up as a defiler. I mean, she had his cloak and everything to show that Joseph’s intent was to defile his master’s wife (untrue). In Potiphar’s anger, he puts Joseph in prison. How can we blame Potiphar? How was he to know he married a conniving lustful woman? Potiphar had to take his wife at her word.
Now we have Joseph in prison. Again, God’s favor rests on him. He quickly moves up on the hierarchy of prisoners and is placed in charge of all the prisoners. During the morning rounds, Joseph notices two of the Pharaoh’s officials, the Chief Cupbearer and the Chief Baker, who had been placed in prison for offending their Master and King. They looked sad after a restless night full of vivid dreams. Joseph asks the two men “why the long faces?” Long story short, Joseph interprets their dreams for the two and every bit of his interpretation came to pass. Bad news for the Chief Baker, as he was hung for his crimes against the Pharaoh. Good news for the Chief Cupbearer because he was placed back into his position. Joseph asked only one thing from the Cupbearer, “…But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison….”. The Cupbearer quickly forgot about Joseph. After all, he was busy bearing cups! That is, until Pharaoh had a double dream that deeply disturbed him. The Cupbearer remembered how Joseph had accurately interpreted his dream and suggested that the Pharaoh meet with Joseph. When Joseph explained to the Pharaoh that his dream meant that there would be seven years of prosperity for Egypt followed by seven years of famine for the world, the Pharaoh took him seriously (after all, Joseph had the favor of a Mighty God). He placed Joseph in charge of gathering a percentage of the prosperity and storing it all to get ready for the seven years of famine. Joseph became Pharaoh’s number one. Joseph was given the authority of the Pharaoh without the title of “King”.
Long story short, Joseph’s dream prophecy came true and all of the nations entered into famine. They all had to rely on Egypt and their “brilliant planner” to feed them. This included the household of Joseph’s father (which included Joseph’s brothers-the ones who sold him into slavery). After testing his brother’s faithfulness, they were well fed and well forgiven. The nation of Israel was allowed residence in Egypt. After all, the Pharaoh didn’t want to lose such a wise and hard working man he had in Joseph.
Lessons We Can Learn From the Story of Joseph
- God revealed to Joseph a dream explaining His purpose for Joseph’s life. Joseph was seventeen years old at the time his dream took place. This is the first mention of Joseph in the Bible. Joseph was given the dream BEFORE he endured hardships. The dream is what set Joseph up for a life of praise to the God that would save Him. Starting out, Joseph had nothing but the dream to drive his praise and faithfulness to God. In return, God rewarded Joseph’s faith with extreme favor, even as he was a slave and even during imprisonment. We have the same promises from God. He says we are heirs to His Kingdom if we place our trust in Him and believe we are His Children (Romans 8:17, Galatians 3:29; Galatians 4:7; Ephesians 3:6; 2 Timothy 2:12; Titus 3:7; 1 Peter 1:4; Revelations 21:7 ).
- You may have missed how damning the evidence was that Potiphar’s wife held Joseph’s cloak in her hands or how evil it was for Joseph’s brothers to fake his death after selling him into slavery. However, God took what the enemy meant for harm and made it good for Joseph, In turn, God’s goodness brought Honor and Truth to His Promise for Joseph. God used Potiphar’s wife and Joseph’s jealous brothers to accomplish His Will (Genesis 50:20).
- Did you notice? Joseph had done a great service for the Chief Cupbearer while they were both in prison by interpreting the Cupbearer’s dream. Joseph asked the Cupbearer to remember him and his kindness when he was with the Pharaoh. At first, it appeared that the Cupbearer would forget Joseph ever existed (contrary to the promise he gave to remember Joseph). Only when the Pharaoh had a double horrible dream in need of interpretation did God remind the Cupbearer of Joseph’s wisdom in dream interpretation. What if the Cupbearer immediately remembered Joseph and had the Pharaoh release Joseph? Would Joseph have quickly been forgotten by the Pharaoh? Maybe Joseph would have traveled back to his own land only to starve to death during the famine or been killed by jealous brothers? Do you see how God accomplishes His Will? The Cupbearer remembered Joseph as soon as the Pharaoh was ready to receive Joseph’s wisdom. God had timed every event perfectly in Joseph’s life to accomplish His Will AND it led to exaltation for Joseph as he was placed in a position of authority. All because Joseph was a faithful servant to God. If you don’t believe in Divine Appointments and God’s perfect timing because it feels like God forgot about you, maybe you should look at the example of Divine Appointments Joseph’s story left us with.
- Have you ever felt overwhelmed and zapped of strength during a tough season in your life? Even though it may have been restless sleep, were you not given the chance to lay your head down at night? Did you notice how God placed good AND hard seasons in Joseph’s life? Hs brothers despised him. He was in slavery. He was placed in charge of Potiphar’s household. He was imprisoned. He was placed in charge of the prisons. He became Pharaoh’s right hand man. There was abundance. There was famine. God seasoned Joseph’s life with good seasons mixed in with the tougher times. He always gives us rest (Exodus 34:21; Psalm 46:10; Psalm 94:12-14; Matthew 11:28-30). God knows what we are capable of and will always make a way to escape temptation, even if the temptation is to give up fighting the good fight of faith (1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 Timothy 6:12).
- If your trust is in God and you remain in faith, every moment of your life is as God’s Will. The boring days, the exciting days, the days it feels like you’re on top, the days you feel lowly, the days you are shown favor, the days that seem like the whole world is against you…you are never out of God’s view. Nothing gets by God’s knowledge of you (Lamentations 3:37; Matthew 10:29-31). He’s right beside you and leading you through (Psalm 23:4). All God asks from you is for you to trust Him.