By Don R. Hastings
As one reads about the life of Joseph, he should be impressed with the number of times the Bible states, “And Jehovah was with Joseph . . .” Joseph was very prosperous and righteous; and the reason for his success is found in the fact that God was with him. What greater blessing could one enjoy than having the Lord with him? What greater blessing could we wish upon others than “The Lord be with you all” (2 Thess. 3:16)? The greatest suffering Jesus felt was when He was separated from His Father for just a few hours as He hung upon the cross (Mark 15:34).
What was there about the character of Joseph which enabled him to enjoy such a close relationship with the eternal Father? What were some of the blessings Jehovah bestowed upon Joseph because of their intimate relationship? What effect did the Lord’s being with Joseph have upon his life? These are some of the questions we shall attempt to answer in these lessons.
It should be our greatest desire to have the same close relationship with the Lord that Joseph enjoyed. Nothing in this life could be more meaningful or beneficial to us. If we will become like Joseph, then we, too, can walk hand in hand with the Lord. Therefore, let us study carefully the life and character of Joseph that we may imitate him.
The Lord was with Joseph when he was a child. His father was Jacob and his mother was Rachel (Gen. 30:23, 24). His mother died while giving birth to Benjamin (Gen. 35:18, 19). He had ten half brothers and one full brother.
Joseph was the victim of envy (Acts 7:9). “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children . . .” (Gen. 37:3, 4). Even small children can relate the story of Jacob making Joseph the beautiful coat. I remember vividly an incident proving this point. Our little son could not have been over three years old at the time. Visiting in another town, our family had gone after services to a restaurant with many other families from the same congregation. Waiting in line, one of the brethren picked up our little son and proceeded to make conversation with him. At the time, our little Ted had on a coat that contained a lot of striking colors. The man said, “Ted, can I have that pretty coat?” Ted, said, “No, because this is Joseph’s coat.”
Like Joseph’s situation, the history of many family troubles is traceable to jealousy springing from parental partiality. We are not to be a respecter of persons and that includes the members of our family (James 2:1).
Joseph dreamed two dreams which increased his brothers hatred for him (Gen. 37:5-11). His brothers would have killed him if Reuben had not intervened. They put him in a pit and then sold him to some Ishmaelites who were going to Egypt (Gen. 37:12-36). They took his coat and dipped it in goat’s blood and then showed it to Jacob (Gen. 37:31-33). Jacob is a good example of how we can be deceived and this deception stimulates wrong feelings (Gen. 37:34, 35).
Joseph was an obedient child (Gen. 37:13; Eph. 6:1). There is a great lesson in this for children to learn. If God is to be with them, they must be obedient to their parents.
To be placed in a pit and then sold as a slave and to be removed from his beloved father, must have hurt Joseph tremendously. But, he did not become bitter and full of hatred toward mankind. He did succeed to some extent to remove his family from his mind (Gen. 41:51). When we have suffered an injustice, we should not harbor it within our heart and permit it to poison us with anger (Eph. 4:31, 32).
The Lord was with Joseph when he was a slave in Egypt. He was sold to Potiphar, the captain of the guard (Gen. 39:1). Joseph was such a good, faithful, and wise slave, that Potiphar placed all his possessions in the hands of Joseph (Gen. 39:2-6). “And his master saw that Jehovah was with him . . . .” Do you so conduct yourself so that others can see that the Lord is with you? What kind of employee are you (Eph. 6:5-8)?
Potiphar’s wife tried to get Joseph to commit fornication. Most young, single men would have given in and sinned (Prov. 7:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10). Joseph’s answer is recorded in Genesis 39:9, “. . . how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” Pleasing the Lord meant more to Joseph than satisfying his own fleshly lusts. No wonder the Lord was with him! If we would be more conscious of the presence and feelings of God, then we would not be so prone to sin! We ought to look at the action Joseph took to escape temptation and flee the same way he did (Gen. 39:12; 2 Tim. 2:22).
Because she failed to seduce Joseph, Potiphar’s wife lied about him and he was thrown in prison (Gen. 39:13-20). When you try to live righteously, those that are evil will lie about you (1 Pet. 3:16). Do not let this discourage you, however (Mt. 5:11, 12).
Sometimes people are heard to say, “Where was God when my baby died, or my husband was in an accident, or our house caught on fire?” Let me ask you, “Where was God when Joseph was cast in a pit, sold as a slave, put in prison, etc.?” He was right there with Joseph! Joseph never accused God of forsaking him. We should not believe that if God is with us we will not suffer any hardships. He is not going to build a hedge about us to keep us from all harm. But, if the Lord is with us we can turn to Him and receive support, help and grace in our time of need, just as Joseph did (1 Pet. 5:7; Heb. 4:16). God’s love will sustain us and carry us through every trial and give us a home with Him if we will be faithful and true to Him as His servant Joseph! Let us prove we are His humble servants by submitting to His will in all things.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 38, p. 619
September 27, 1979