Permit me to ask you to revisit a familiar story, in the hopes that I might share with you some nuggets gleaned from the terrain of Joseph’s life. I hope you are well seated, though *Tales by Moonlight they are not, this is far better; they are Tales of what God can do with a man. Our story is found in Genesis Chapters 37,39-47. Let’s begin…………
“Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.”
Joseph could be relied upon to tell the truth. Genesis 37:2. He and his bothers had been given an assignment – look after the flocks. We don’t know exactly what his brothers did in the execution of this assignment but whatever they did it was not good. What is not good, simply is bad. Their father understandably had wanted a progress report of the day. There was no other way to spin it and Joseph told it as it was. In our dealings at work, in our communities and churches, can we be relied upon to tell the truth? (No judgement here, I too must answer this question deep within me)
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for 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”
His relationship with his father caused his brothers to hate and criticize him. The devil is envious of the Father’s love and care of you and he hates you simply for that! Remember the criticism he brought regarding Job. Recall his evil desire for Peter as revealed by what Jesus told Peter “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail…………….”
We have an enemy who is completely diabolically opposed to our welfare because we have a relationship with the Father which he can never have. This should not cause us to live in fear or go around with a devil consciousness, rather it should inform and direct our praise, because our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ has already defeated him.
“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said”
Joseph did not let his haters stop him from dreaming. Some of us need to dream again. We may have allowed circumstances and people to rob us of dreaming. Too many hurts and too may disappointments and we have allowed the haters displeasure to stop us from doing what we were created to do. Let this be a divine reminder to you if that’s where you find yourself today. Dust off and dream again! You were made for this!
Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”
He did not let their criticism stop him from having a voice or using that voice. Joseph brothers did not like him. Some would say he snitched to their father. Whether their father Jacob, acted wisely by favouring one son over the others and making that fact well known is a discussion for another day! However, because of it, Joseph’s bothers who had nothing kind to say to him, now hated him all the more when he shared his first dream with them. But that didn’t shut young Joe up! He had another dream and proceeded to voice it. In what way have you allowed your voice to be muffled or silenced? Your voice is your influence for the Father’s kingdom, and vice versa!
“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other as they spied Joseph walking down the trail towards them, no doubt sent by their father. What do you want to be known for, that even your enemies cannot deny? Here comes the hopeful! Here comes the believer, the giver, the encourager, the committed and the list goes on. Enemies know what they can’t deny. Recall how Daniel’s enemies couldn’t deny he was a prayer warrior or a worshipper of God. Yes, that singular fact landed him on the evening meal for the king’s lions. But that same fact kept Daniel off the menu, as the Lion of lions whom Daniel served day and night roared- not tonight, not ever!
The first thing his brothers did when they got their hands-on Joseph was to strip him of his ornate robe – that one thing that identified him as the favourite son and proclaimed that special relationship with their father. The first thing the devil does, is to try and strip a child of God of the knowledge of his identity and his position. He does this every time he makes you question your salvation or who God says that you are.
To Eve – “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”………………. “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
All lies, Adam and Eve were already like God, in their identity they were in the image of God, yet with one tempting act, the devil stripped them of their inheritance and glory.
Lord, make me an answer. Joseph, was an answer in his father’s house. We have already established that he could be relied upon to tell the truth. He was also an answer in Potiphar’s house. (Isn’t God amazing, how do you prosper in adversity? How do you become successful in limiting environments?)
When Potiphar saw that Joseph was successful in all that he did ( oh, yes, people are always watching!) how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand, he found favour in Potiphar’s eye and was made Chief of staff and manager over all of Potiphar’s estate! Even when Joseph situation took a downturn, he was still an answer. In prison (Gen 39:20-22) he was an answer to the chief jailer and other prisoners.
God is in charge of strategic positioning. He allowed Joseph to be sold into servitude and bought by the kind of traders that would sell what Potiphar was looking to buy. Potiphar, was an Egyptian officer, captain of Pharaoh’s bodyguards. He would have been part of Egypt’s elite society. When Mrs P wrongly accused Joseph, he landed in the prison block assigned for the King’s prisoners. This was another strategic positioning for an Answer to become yet another answer. In prison he became an answer to two specific individuals thus opening the door literarily for him to become an answer to the most powerful man in the land.
Like my good friend Ezechinyere Ekpo, a prolific Christian blogger said in his piece titled “Opportunities”, for 2years after Joseph interpreted the Butler’s dream, he heard nothing back. If the call had come when he expected it, at best he would have been freed, and that would have been that!
However, God was interested in him not only being freed but freed and promoted and dare I say, compensated for all his troubles! In Genesis 41: 33-37 the ruler of Egypt liked Joseph’s economic proposals for managing the impending future, he promoted Joseph on the spot. In the years of abundance that preceded the years of famine, Joseph did not lose sight of his goals and carried out all that he said he would. Years later he would become an answer to his family. Not just his family but to nations. In Genesis 45: 5-8, he told his brothers, do not grieve, God sent me ahead of you to be an answer.
When God strategically positions you and makes you an answer to the nations, even your family will be stunned! After the brothers had overcome their shock, they took the news back to Jacob. “They told him, saying, “Joseph is still alive, and indeed he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” But he was stunned, for he did not believe them.” Gen 45:26. Talk about a comeback kid! A movie sequel you never saw coming!
God can use anything as transportation to your place of destiny! For Joseph, it was slavery, for his brothers it was famine, for Jacob and his family, it was Egypt’s wagons and provisions on the order of Pharaoh. God can use absolutely anything, the good, the bad and the ugly to get you where you are supposed to be.
Why stop at 8 lessons? The truth is there are as many lessons in this wonderful story from the Bible as the Holy Spirit would illuminate for us. We would run out of time and paper before we run out of how the Living Word can speak to each of us individually. Wherever you are right now, whatever your current lot in life, let the life of Joseph speak to your heart and strengthen your soul. Be encouraged and reminded that the God who was with Joseph, is with you still. Your tests and trials will count for something good!
*Tales by Moonlight – Narrated traditional African folklore on Nigerian TV in the late 80s and early 90s.