By Don Hastings
Joseph did not submerge himself in pity. He did not become discouraged. If we had been in Joseph’s place, we might have said, “I have tried to serve the Lord faithfully and look where it has gotten me – a slave in prison. I am through living for the Lord and now I’m going to live only for myself.” Thankfully, Joseph did not reason that way.
Joseph was a slave in prison one day and a governor over the mighty kingdom of Egypt the next day. However, the swift and great transition of positions did not change his attitude toward the Lord. How I wish that all of God’s children would maintain a strong, active faith in God, whether they are suffering through adversity or enjoying success! It is easy to understand why “Jehovah was with Joseph.”
The Lord was with Joseph when he was reunited with his father, brothers and sisters. Jacob sent 10 of his sons to Egypt to buy grain for “the famine was over all the face of the earth” (Gen. 41:54-42:5). “And Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves to him” and thus fulfilled the childhood dreams of Joseph (Gen. 42:6; 37:5-11). Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him (Gen. 42:7, 8). He called them “spies” and, to prove that they were not spies, he said they must bring unto him their youngest brother (Gen. 42:8-20). His brothers believed they were being punished because of the way they had mistreated him (Gen. 42:21). Joseph wept when he learned how Reuben had defended him (Gen. 42:22-24). He bound Simeon, gave them grain, and secretly put their money in their sacks.
Jacob refused to let Benjamin go to Egypt for he said, “My son shall not go down with you” (Gen. 42:38). Finally, Jacob was persuaded to let Benjamin go when Judah said that he would be responsible for his brother’s safety (Gen. 43:1-15). In Egypt, Joseph prepared a feast at his house and invited his brothers to attend (Gen. 43:16-28). At the feast, Joseph was overcome with joy because Benjamin was there and he left their presence that he might weep secretly (Gen. 43:29-31). So typical of human nature even today Joseph, washed his face so that others might not detect he had been crying, and went back with the others after getting a grip on himself.
Joseph tested his brothers love for Benjamin by making it appear that Benjamin had stolen his silver cup (Gen. 44:1-13). Judah made a beautiful, passionate plea on Benjamin’s behalf (Gen. 44:14-34). Joseph was so touched by Judah’s unselfish request that he could not withhold his identity any longer (Gen. 45:1-15).
Like Jesus, Joseph was often moved with compassion (Gen. 45:14, 15; 46:29). He did not permit the hardships he had suffered to harden his heart. Is your heart hard and insensitive or is it warm and tender (1 Pet. 3:8; Rom. 12:15)? Only those with a compassionate heart will help their fellowman (Luke 10:33; Matt. 14:14). Pharoah told Joseph to invite all his family to live in Egypt. They came to Egypt and lived in Goshen (Gen. 45:16-50:26).
Joseph fully forgave his brothers. They were afraid that after Jacob’s death, Joseph would treat them cruelly because of the evil which they had done unto him (Gen. 50:15-17). We can read of Joseph’s kind reply to their request that he forgive them in Genesis 50:17-21. Do we completely forgive those who sin against us and ask our forgiveness or do we continue to hold a little resentment in our heart against them (Matt. 6:14, 15; Eph. 4:32)?
Joseph died when 110 years old. (Gen. 50:26) He made the children of Israel promise that they would carry his bones back to Canaan when they left Egypt (Gen. 50:24, 25; Heb. 11:22). This promise was kept (Ex. 13:19; Josh. 24:32).
The Lord was with Joseph guiding him through all his life. It is easy to see God’s providence at work in the life of Joseph. Providence is “the care exercised by the Supreme Being over the universe . . . . The exercise of foresight and care for the future . . .” (Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary, Vol. 11). “Divine providence has come to refer to that foresight and forethought, preservation, care and government of God which enable Him to bring about a desired end “(Florida College Lectures, 1975, “Prayer and Providence,” Homer Hailey, p. 53)
About 200 years before the birth of Joseph, God had told Abraham that his seed would “. . . be sojourners in a land . . .” (Gen. 15:12-14). It was through Joseph that God made provision for His people to go and dwell in Egypt in fulfillment of this prophecy to Abraham (Gen. 45:5-8; 50:19, 20).
It was not just coincidence that the Ishmaelites just happened to be passing by and headed toward Egypt when Joseph was in the pit and that Judah just happened to think of selling him. It was not just by luck that Joseph had interpreted the butler’s dream so that the butler could call Pharoah’s attention to Joseph when Pharoah had dreams, etc.
God is working in your life to make you into the type of person He wants you to be, but you must yield yourself to Him so “His pow’r can make you what you ought to be. . .” (Romans 6:12, 13). Not long ago in a bulletin, under some short sentence sermons I read something similar to this, “If you aren’t happy with the way I am, be patient 6od’s not through with me yet.”
God wants you to become one of His children and be faithful and useful to Him like His servant Joseph. What person would not want to possess the leadership qualities Joseph possessed? Or to have the same confidence Joseph did without becoming over-confident as Joseph controlled that, too? Like Joseph, we should not be afraid to assume responsibility and fulfill it admirably. To be faithful and useful to God, we must mold these characteristics into our lives. Will you let God work with you and through you to accomplish His holy Will?
Truth Magazine XXIII: 40, pp. 648-649
October 11, 1979