Week 6! I have so enjoyed this time in the book of Genesis. Have you started to see some repeating themes throughout your readings? Take a second to list off the different things you have learned about God (how He works, aspects of His character, etc.) and then take note of what the book of Genesis has taught us about mankind (the heart’s inclinations, man’s limited understanding, etc.).
This past week we have read about Esau’s descendants and about Judah and Tamar’s family drama, but for our time today, I would like to take a look at Joseph’s journey from the easy life to Egypt.
From favorite son to dried up pit, from pit to twice sold slave, from slave to wrongly accused prisoner, from prisoner to forgotten dream interpreter, from dream interpreter to the second in command in Egypt. Needless to say, the circumstances surrounding Joseph’s life were nothing short of the Old Testament’s version of Romans 8:28:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
Henriettta Mears says it so well, “Joseph’s life is one of the most perfect illustrations in the Bible of God’s overruling providence.”
Let’s all be honest here. If we are looking for a life story to beat all other life stories, Joseph’s might be it. Frankly, this could easily be a series on any prime time station. Favoritism, designer clothing, foreshadowing dreams, pride, sibling rivalry, hatred, plots of murder, lies, deceit, and the list goes on and on. The exciting thing about this storyline is that no human mind could so completely and intricately weave together these circumstances and THEN have each detail play out with such great, divine purpose.
Instead of spending our time retelling the life of Joseph from beginning to end, I would like to talk about one theme that I hope will encourage you today and give you hope and strength to persevere no matter what life throws at you. The wonderful thing about this aspect of Joseph’s story is that it is not new to what we have already read in our journey through Genesis. I love recurring themes! They remind us that God does not change. While at the same time, the twists and turns of how He divinely orchestrates this redemptive love story remind us that He is “predictably unpredictable” as Mark Batterson likes to say.
The Promises of God Can Be Trusted
In Genesis 37 we see God not once, but twice revealing to Joseph an unexpected destiny through his dreams. (Can I just say how merciful our God is when He chooses to speak to us about personal matters? And even so, when He speaks a second time with even greater clarity!) Granted, the foreknowledge of grand leadership that defies birth order and work ethic did not prepare Joseph for the road that lay ahead of him. Would we not all love to have the valuable “20/20 hindsight” at the beginning of our trials? But then, my friend, we would have no need for faith.
As we read about Joseph’s time in the pit, in Potiphar’s house, and in prison, but we actually get little information about how Joseph processes and matures in his faith. We do not get to see the growing pains or the times of doubt. There are no scenes in this story of Joseph yelling at God, while at the same time it is not until the very end that we get to hear his profoundly confident confession of God’s providence in Genesis 50:20:
“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.”
Though we are not privy to those intimate moments, Scripture firmly states twice, “The Lord was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2, 21). The first time this is in reference to the favor of the Lord that gains Joseph success and promotion in Potiphar’s house, while the second is declared after he is thrown in prison. We so often want to judge another person’s hardships as a result of sin or a removing of God’s hand of favor, but these two statements should teach us to put down the gavel and leave that seat to the One and Only Righteous, All-Knowing Judge. His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9-10). We have to trust His heart when our minds’ logic cannot comprehend how our story will be written.
Even while watching and learning from the details of Joseph’s life, we must remember that Joseph’s story was just one element of a greater promise in God’s plan for His people. If only we could see the workings “behind the scenes” in the spirit realm! The truth of the matter is that the spirit realm is actually MORE real than the visible, seen things our senses process every day. When looking at the core truths to be found here, Iva May says, “The spiritual realm is where the unseen providential hand of the Sovereign God works to accomplish His eternal redemptive purpose in the natural realm.” She also says, “Just because we can’t see Him at Work doesn’t mean that He is inactive.”
We have no clue if Joseph had even the slightest understanding of how his story would be the necessary link in fulfilling yet another promise of God stated to Abram in Genesis 15:13-14:
“Then the Lord said to him, ‘Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.’”
If God has spoken a divine dream or calling into your heart or given you scripture to stand on, know this: There is nothing more solid and secure. Dig in deep and plant yourself into that sure foundation, trusting your Maker no matter what walls, obstacles, set-backs, or human limitations come your way. Nothing takes Him by surprise, and His limits know no bounds. What He says, He accomplishes.
“NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].” Hebrews 11:1
This kind of faith takes the invisible, the not-yet-happened, and walks confidently as if it has already been victoriously fulfilled.
Each week we have asked you to reflect over your reading and answer the same four questions. We pray these questions become second nature as you continue to study God’s Word.
- What did you learn about God this week?
- What do these chapters reveal about mankind?
- How does the text specifically relate to woman?
- Identify foundation truths from your reading that point to the bigger story of the Gospel.
“Such things were written in the scriptures long ago to teach us. And the scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” Romans 15:4
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