Now Joseph was governor over the land; and it was he who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the earth.
It’s been over 20 years since Joseph has seen his 10 older brothers. The dream he had decades ago was starting to come true. Here they were, bowing before him—yet not knowing who he really was.
The unconfessed sin they continued to conceal would soon rise to the surface. But for now, they were nowhere near repenting of what they had done to Joseph. So God would have to graciously allow an odd sequence of events to awaken their conscience once again—a process that we will continue to look at for the next three chapters in Genesis.
This odd sequence of events doesn’t make any sense until you see that God is graciously drawing these 10 men to confession and repentance by gently (or not so gently) awakening their conscience yet again.
And make no mistake—God can graciously do this with you too! Do you want Him to? Or would you rather live with the wilting awfulness of unconfessed sin? Maybe you’ve lived so long with it, it’s become the new normal—but it doesn’t have to be that way! All you have to do is ask God.
He will allow an odd sequence of events that don’t make sense until you see that God is graciously drawing you to confession and repentance by gently (or not so gently) awakening your conscience again.
But beware…and be warned…God does not have to ask for your permission since it’s for your own benefit, painful as it may be. God may just do it anyway…because He loves you.
And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
– Genesis 41:41
As startling as it was to be promoted from prisoner to ruler, Joseph’s life was not just a rags to riches story. It wasn’t just for Joseph’s benefit that he be lifted out of prison, but for God’s glory and for the benefit of others. And the same could be said for our seasons of preparation, whether we see the evidence of that preparation on this side of heaven or not.
Pastor David Guzik said, “All men God uses greatly He first prepares greatly. Few are willing to endure the greatness of God’s preparation. God was in both the steps and the stops of Joseph’s life.”
And so it is with us! God is preparing us for positions that will make what happened to Joseph pale in comparison. We just need to be willing to endure the greatness of God’s preparation. We often pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” God is about to answer that prayer—and scripture is clear that when He does, we will rule and reign and administrate His kingdom on earth with Him…for His glory and the benefit of others.
What a responsibility to know that the here and now directly effects the then and there! What a revelation to know that now is preparation for then! God is using the twists and the turns and the ups and the downs to produce faith and trust in us…so that we can endure tribulation that produces perseverance, perseverance that produces character, and character that produces hope.
“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
– Romans 5:3-5
And [Joseph] was there in prison.
Prison—a far cry from the fulfillment of the great dreams God had given this young Hebrew man some 11 years ago. Far from home, far from his family, Joseph found himself all alone in an Egyptian prison. Or was he alone? Despite his current condition, Joseph still trusted God. And God was still with Joseph—who was trusted and promoted wherever he was…even in prison.
It’s in prison where we observe some remarkable characteristics of Joseph’s grit and grace as he continues to be tested and trained by God:
Tough and tender (40:8)
With all Joseph had been through, his faith was tested, tempered, and strengthened…yet he was tender to consider the condition of the butler and baker. This tough and tender combination allowed Joseph’s to step out in radical faith putting himself (and God) on the spot for the sake of others.
Faithful and focused (40:18-19)
Joseph was willing to deliver God’s word faithfully—no matter the message, no matter the man. Whether it highlighted God’s goodness or His severity, whether it gave hope or warned of difficult days, Joseph understood it was God’s word and interpretation. As a good steward, Joseph gave exactly what was given to him—without alteration for any reason.
Patient and persistent (40:23)
At the end of the chapter, we read that the butler forgot Joseph. It’s an awful feeling to be forgotten, isn’t it? Even though the Butler forgot Joseph, God had not. God was still training Joesph—even in prison. Joseph was patiently learning the lessons God was teaching him, trusting that God’s plan would eventually come to pass.
We can find ourselves in similar circumstances…on the roller coaster of life. The twists and turns in Joseph’s life were far from over, but even in an Egyptian prison he was still growing and developing into the man that God would need him to be. Learn from the life of Joseph so that like him, you can enjoy the ride as you get to know the Architect of the roller coaster more and more.
“The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man…”
This sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? God is with Joseph, and God was the reason Joseph was succeeding. That’s the life we want!
But this verse in context can cause us to question our notions of what this looks like. You see, this was stated just after Joseph was sold as a slave to an Egyptian officer. How can the Lord be with Joseph and allow him to be a slave? How can Joseph even be successful as a slave?
Throughout our studies in Genesis, we’ve seen that pain, tragedy, and difficulty come to everybody. No one is immune to these things—but that doesn’t mean that the Lord has left you…or that He loves you any less.
Remember what Jesus said…”I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
The Lord was with Joseph—even in the midst of pain and tragedy and difficulty. And in the mist of pain and tragedy and difficulty, Joseph will be successful because he understood that wherever he was and whatever he was doing, he was the Lord’s slave—he was the Lord’s servant. That is where true greatness and success is found. That is what makes true greatness and true success available to anyone and everyone who is willing to be found living according to God’s word.
No matter what life throws at you, you can serve the Lord with a glad heart knowing that He is with you.
Fight or Flight?
In a split second, our bodies undergo an amazing series of responses when a sudden stress places us in potential harm. In that split second, we have a choice—do we stay and fight or do we run away? And what’s the right answer?
Fighting seems like the most courageous choice—and in certain circumstances it might be. But when it comes to temptation, fighting is not the wisest thing to do. It’s also not the courageous to do.
What does God’s word say about sin and temptation? Avoid the initial sinful action altogether by running away! Flee sexual immorality. Flee from idolatry. Flee also youthful lusts.
This is what we see in the life of Joseph in Genesis 39. He was a young man, who kept his way pure by living according to God’s word. Not just by fleeing sin and temptation, but also by “pursuing righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
Listen to our study of Genesis 39 or catch up on other studies from our Genesis series.