Monday, March 13, 2017

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 40-43

The life of Joseph is a fascinating reading and a reminder that, regardless our circumstance, the LORD is with us!  Following the life of Joseph is akin to a spiritual rollercoaster…wonderful highs followed by events that would threaten to plunge most men into a slough of despair.  Consider the background of this great man of God and his testimony in the midst of trials.

At an early age, Joseph was left without the love and nurturing care of his mother when she died giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s twelfth son and Joseph’s only full brother (Genesis 35:16-19).  Although he was the favorite son of his father (Genesis 37:3), the rejection of his brothers scarred Joseph’s childhood (37:4) who plotted his murder (37:19-24), eventually selling him as a slave to nomadic Midianites traveling to Egypt (37:25-28).

Rather than despair and bitterness, Joseph’s faith in the LORD was unshaken and he rose from household slave to steward over his master’s household (37:36).   When his master’s wife falsely accused him of an indiscretion (39:1-18), his master sentenced Joseph to prison (39:19-23).

In spite of a series of heartbreaking events…the death of his mother, the hatred of his brothers, slavery, falsely accused by his master’s wife, and his sentence to prison…we never find Joseph bearing the weight of an embittered spirit.  What a difference a God-centered, faith-dependent attitude makes when a man faces trials!  We read, “the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man” (39:2).  In Genesis 39:21 we read, “the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.”

In prison, Joseph’s faith in God’s providence opened a window of ministry and he found himself serving the butler and baker of Pharaoh (40:1-4).  Neither time nor space permits me to go into an exhaustive study of the dreams of the butler and baker or Joseph’s interpretation of their dreams (40:5-23); however, Joseph’s request that Pharaoh’s butler remember him appeared to end in disappointment when we read, “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him” (Genesis 40:23).

Two years passed before the butler gave any thought to the man who had brought him comfort and interpreted his dream in prison (41:1a); however, in God’s time the disturbing dreams of Pharaoh (41:1-8) set the stage for Joseph to not only be remembered by the butler (41:9-13), but also be brought before the great ruler of Egypt to interpret his dreams (41:10-32).

God rewarded Joseph’s faithfulness when Pharaoh appointed him to serve over Egypt, second only to himself (41:33-44).  Only thirty years old (41:46), Pharaoh entrusted Joseph with the granaries of Egypt as the nation prepared for seven years of famine that would follow seven years of plenty (41:45-57).  Genesis 41 closes with the revelation; “all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands” (41:57).

God had providentially set the stage for Joseph’s brothers being forced to come to Egypt seeking food for their households, not comprehending the brother they sold as a slave now held their fate in his hands (42:1-20).  Joseph wisely concealed his identity; I believe to not only know the fate of his father Jacob and brother Benjamin, but also to learn whether his brothers had repented of their sins against him (42:21-23).  Rather than bitterness and vengeance, we read Joseph “turned himself about from them, and wept” (42:24).

The famine continued in their country forcing Jacob to permit his sons, including his youngest son Benjamin, to return to Egypt to seek more grain for their households (43:1-14).  Joseph, his identity still unknown to his brothers, was overjoyed to see his brother Benjamin (43:15-16) and invited his brothers to his home to dine (43:16-34).

The pattern of Joseph’s life, in spite of the trials and slights he suffered, was one of faith and God rewarded him greatly with His overflowing blessings.  Indeed, the LORD was with Joseph…and with you, if your walk is faith-based and Christ-centered.

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith