Joseph was good at whatever he did. When his brothers were doing a poor job, he reported them to Jacob. (Genesis 37:2) Later, Jacob sent Joseph out to check on his brothers again. His reward was being sold into slavery. Of course, this was better than the brothers’ Plan A – to kill him. Potiphar bought Joseph as a slave in Egypt. Joseph was a good slave. Joseph’s master noticed and placed everything under his care (Genesis 39:4). Potiphar’s wife notices Joseph too. She propositions him. He says no. In her scorned fury, she tells Potiphar the lie that Joseph tried to take advantage of her. Potiphar had Joseph put into prison. (Prison is a sign of Potiphar’s favor. Wouldn’t most slaves have been killed on similar charges?)
Joseph is in jail. If he got stuck in a mental rut, he could have easily concluded, “What use is there in being good? I was a good son, and got sold into slavery. I was a good slave, and ended up in jail. Why should I be a good prisoner?” Surprisingly, Joseph’s stays on the same good path. He is a good prisoner. The warden puts Joseph in charge of the prisoners (Genesis 39:22). Later, Joseph interprets dreams for two fellow prisoners. The baker learns in 3 days he will die. The cupbearer learns he will be released in 3 days.
Two years after the cupbearer’s release, Pharaoh has troubling dreams. The cupbearer tells the ruler he knows a guy in prison who is a good interpreter. Joseph is summoned. He tells Pharaoh the meaning of his dreams. Egypt will have 7 years of plenty and 7 years of famine. Pharaoh is so impressed with Joseph that he places him over the famine relief project. (Genesis 41:39,40) When the famine hits, Joseph’s brothers go to Egypt for food. Then, Joseph and family reunite. Once dad dies, the brothers are concerned since revenge is a dish best served cold.
Joseph reassures them with this reply, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19b,20 NIV) Joseph had faith in God even in the darkest days. He was living Romans 8:28 before Paul had Tertius write it down. Joseph inspires us to keep the faith and do good no matter what. Wherever we find ourselves in life as the teenager who wants more responsibility, the young adult who would rather have another job, the middle aged who realizes ones marriage relationship is at an impasse, the retired who are struggling to find purpose, or the elderly adjusting to a new roommate at the nursing home; Joseph teaches us to keep trusting God and do good.
Written by: Jimmy Hodges