Joseph is one of the most well-known male characters in the Bible. Many movies, plays, and songs have been written about Joseph and his “coat of many colors.” Joseph was the eleventh son born to Jacob, born into favor, with a mission to accomplish.
The Bible tells us that Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons because Joseph had been born when Jacob was old. Another reason may be that Joseph was the firstborn to Jacob of his beloved wife Rachel who had previously been barren.
Joseph was clearly beloved by Jacob and that became a problem.
Jacob was the father of 12 sons, but he loved Joseph the most. He flaunted this by giving him an ornate coat. No other son received such a gift. Not even Benjamin, his twelfth son, who was also born to Jacob in his old age.
The favoritism of their father to Joseph caused his brothers to hate him.
When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him (Genesis 37:4).
And then Joseph had a dream. A vivid dream from God of his family bowing to him. But instead of keeping it to himself, Joseph told his brothers, which made them hate him even more.
Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more (Genesis 37:5).
And then Joseph had another dream like the first. This time he told not just his brothers, but his father as well. None of them received it well. His father rebuked him, and his brothers became jealous. But the Bible tells us that “his father kept the matter in mind.”
Joseph’s brothers were so enraged that they devised a plan to get rid of their “problem.” When Joseph was 17 years old, Jacob sent him to check on his brothers.
“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams” (Genesis 37:19-20).
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps (Proverbs 16:9).
Although the brothers did plan to kill him, Reuben stepped in with an alternate plan to throw him in a pit instead. Reuben’s plan was to rescue him later. But that plan was also foiled by Judah and a traveling caravan of Ishmaelites.
Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed (Genesis 37:27).
To cover up their clever plan, they made another plan on how to tell their father.
They got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces” (Genesis 37:31-33).
Jacob is devastated.
Joseph Is Tested
When Joseph arrived in Egypt, he had been stripped of everything he had before, except one thing. He still carried favor even though he’d been sold as a slave.
The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man (Genesis 39:2).
Joseph went through years of testing. One betrayal after another.
The first was his brothers. But in Egypt, betrayal struck again when he worked for a man named Potiphar. His wife falsely accused Joseph of trying to rape her. The opposite was true, but Potiphar believed his wife and had Joseph thrown in prison.
But even in prison, Joseph carried the favor of God.
The Lord was with Joseph, …and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison (Genesis 39:21).
Joseph’s next betrayal happened at the hand of a fellow prisoner who had worked for Pharaoh. He had a dream and didn’t understand it. God revealed the meaning to Joseph.
Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his 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 (Genesis 40:13-14).
Joseph had reason to hope but sadly was betrayed as the man forgot Joseph.
The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him (Genesis 40:23).
For 13 years he was tested.
Joseph, sold as a slave. They bruised his feet with shackles, his neck was put in irons, till what he foretold came to pass, till the word of the Lord proved him true (Psalm 105:17-19).
Two years after the cupbearer’s dream, Pharaoh had a dream. And then he had another one. They troubled him deeply and he sent for interpreters. No one was found who could interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.
Suddenly the cupbearer remembered Joseph. He told Pharaoh about Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams. Pharaoh sent for Joseph.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (Genesis 42:15-16).
After hearing the two dreams, Joseph told Pharaoh they had the same meaning and he needed someone wise to implement a plan. The dreams prophesied seven years of plenty followed by seven years of severe famine.
Pharaoh deemed Joseph to be the wise one to implement the plan and placed him in the highest position beneath only himself.
Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt (Genesis 41:42-43).
Joseph was 30 years old when he was given all this power and authority, along with a new name, and a wife. For the next seven years, he prospered in his family and stored up food from the abundant harvests as God had revealed in the dream.
Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering” (Genesis 41:50-52).
As the years of famine began, Egypt had plenty of food. But it didn’t take long for the severity of the famine to reach the whole world.
And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere (Genesis 41:57).
The “whole world” included Joseph’s brothers. Ten of them came to buy grain and Joseph recognized them. They bowed to him just like in his dream as a teenager.
Wisdom and Mercy Triumph Over Judgment
As prophetic dreams unfolded before Joseph’s eyes, he hid who he was from his brothers. Joseph had every right to wield judgment against them.
For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment (James 2:13).
Instead, he plotted how to get his brother Benjamin, and his father to Egypt. He played into their fears and used his position to demand they bring Benjamin.
The brothers knew what they deserved.
They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.” (Genesis 42:21).
Joseph had been tested, and when he overheard their regret, mercy arose.
Reluctantly, Jacob allowed the brothers to return with Benjamin saying, “may God Almighty grant you mercy before the man.”
Mercy reigned and Joseph could keep his secret no longer.
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence (Genesis 45:3).
And the mercy of God flowed through Joseph as he revealed the wisdom of God to them.
God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance (Genesis 45:7).
Glory to the wisdom and mercy of God.
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Danielle Bernock is an international, award-winning author, coach, and speaker who helps people embrace their value and heal their souls through the power of the love of God. She’s written Emerging With Wings, A Bird Named Payn, Love’s Manifesto, Because You Matter, and hosts the Victorious Souls Podcast. A long-time follower of Christ, Danielle lives with her husband in Michigan near her adult children and grandchildren. For more information or to connect with Danielle https://www.daniellebernock.com/
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These verses serve as a source of renewal for the mind and restoration for the heart by reinforcing the notion that, while human weakness is inevitable, God's strength is always available to uplift, guide, and empower us.
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