Monday, October 10, 2011

More than a Colorful Coat...

Joseph is well known for his  
coat of many colors,
but how much do you really know 
about his amazing life story?   

Joseph, the son of Jacob in the book of Genesis, went from being a favorite son set to inherit his father's tribe to being a slave and thrown in jail for a crime he didn't commit.  Through it all, this man never blamed God for his troubles.  His reward ~ the blessings he received... and the justice God granted ~ are powerful examples of what God can do if He is on your side. 


Joseph was an honest, kind son who grew up favored by his father, Jacob.  He showed this by giving only Joseph a long coat of many colors.  He was also chosen as his father's heir, although there were 10 sons born before him. 

He had the gift of interpreting dreams as well... 

You can imagine the great tension between Joseph and his older brothers, and their resentment towards him.  One day Joseph explained the meaning of two of his own dreams... in the first, his brothers were bowing before him.  In the second, the sun (father), moon (mother), and 11 stars (all his brothers) bowed before him.  The brothers despised Joseph for his dreams' implications.


Joseph's elder brothers were out in the fields, shepherding the tribe's sheep.  They'd been gone several days and needed fresh food, so Joseph was sent to them.  The brothers tried to avoid him by moving to an unexpected place, but Joseph found them anyway.  

This is where Joseph's story takes its first turn...  The ten brothers saw this as an opportunity to get rid of Joseph, and so they grabbed him and threw him in to a nearby dry cistern.  The eldest brother intended to save Joseph, while another suggested twice they kill him.  An Egyptian trader happened their way, and so the brothers agreed to sell their brother in to slavery.  What an opportunity!  They'd be rid of him, make a little money, and his blood wouldn't be on their hands.  Can you imagine Joseph calling out, "Brothers?  Help me!  Save me... Brothers?"

He was only 17 years old.

The brothers ripped up Joseph's once treasured coat and covered it in goat's blood.  They brought it back to their father as evidence of Joseph's death at the hands of a wild animal ~ which was their story.  Jacob and the rest of the tribe believed this to be true, and so began a time of mourning.


Joseph was not dead, but perhaps wishing it, as he was dragged along to Egypt.  Once there, he was sold to Potiphar, a very important man to Pharaoh ~ captain of the guard.  Every task that Joseph was assigned to prospered.  Over time, he gained recognition and became Potiphar's personal servant.  

Joseph also gained unwanted recognition from Potiphar's wife.  She wanted to have an affair with him, but he refused.  After being turned down several times, she made false sexual accusations against him.  For this, Joseph was thrown in jail by his master.

Here again, even as a slave in jail, Joseph found favor.  He was placed in a position overseeing the other prisoners, and the jail ran efficiently.

One day, two men of high status were thrown in jail ~ the Pharaoh's cup bearer and baker.  They had dreams that they could not interpret.  Joseph listened and correctly read their dreams.  The baker was hanged and the cup bearer was restored to his position.  Joseph suggested to the cup bearer ~ please remember me, and my service to you.  However, once the man was back in his position, he forgot about Joseph's request.

Time passed.  Pharaoh's sleep was disturbed by two dreams that he nor anyone in his service could interpret.  The cup bearer now remembered Joseph, and told Pharaoh of his gift.  Joseph was presented to Pharaoh, where he interpreted the meaning of his dreams as seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine.  Pharaoh asked what should then be done, and Joseph offered a wise plan to store part of the harvest in the years of plenty and save for the years of want.  


At only 30 years of age, Joseph was named Vizier ~ second in command to the Pharaoh.  He was now ruler over even the man he used to call master.  He was given a new Egyptian name, and a beautiful wife.  He followed through and stored up grain from the harvest for seven years, and in the last year of plenty, his wife had two sons ~ Manasseh, which means to forget, and Ephraim.


The severe drought and famine that came next, as Joseph predicted, forced many to come to Egypt and pay or trade for grain... which eventually included his brothers.  Joseph recognized them ~ but they did not recognize him... he was now 39 years old.  He ordered they be thrown in prison, accusing them of being spies.  Three days later he sent all back home except one, and told them to return with ALL their brothers.  Benjamin was Joseph's only younger brother, and now set to inherit Jacob's tribe.

Upon returning home, the brothers bargained with Jacob.  When the stores of grain were nearly used up, Benjamin was sent back with the remaining brothers.  When Joseph saw all were there, he released the last brother from jail to join the others.  The brothers explained there was silver in their grain sacks from the first trip, but were told not to worry about that.  They were welcomed directly in to Joseph's home and offered a feast with the Vizier himself.  This was unusual because Egyptians did not eat with Hebrews.  They must've wondered what was going on... 


That night, Joseph ordered his brother's sacks be filled with grain, double the money they had from the first trip ~ and a silver cup placed in with Benjamin's share.  In the morning, as they left for home, they were stopped and the silver cup was 'discovered.'  Joseph ordered the one in possession of the cup to be his slave.  

The brothers came together to defend Benjamin.  The one who'd once wanted to kill Joseph, now begged and offered himself in Benjamin's place.  At this, Joseph was brought to tears, and sent all from the room, except his brothers.  He revealed his true identity as not only the Vizier, but Joseph, their long lost brother.

The men stood frozen and speechless.  Joseph brought them close and said,

But don't be upset, 
and don't be angry with yourselves 
for selling me to this place. 
It was God who sent me here 
ahead of you to preserve your lives.

~Genesis 45:5~

Could you say that if you were in Joseph's place?

The brothers were sent back to their home and told to gather the tribe, and come back to Egypt to live in a land prepared for them and their families... because there were five years of famine left.  As they approached, Joseph waited in his chariot... he was reuniting with his beloved father who he hadn't seen in 22 years.  They held each other and wept, then Jacob said, “Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are still alive.”

Jacob (also known as Israel) and his tribe lived peacefully for seventeen years in that land.  After his death, Joseph's brothers feared he would seek retribution for his days of slavery, but again Joseph said:

As for you, you meant evil against me, 
but God meant it for good, to bring it about 
that many people should be kept alive, 
as they are today.
~Genesis 50:20~

Joseph lived to be 110, and asked to be taken out of Egypt someday with the tribe of Jacob (Israel).  This promise was honored when Moses led the Israelites out of bondage in the Exodus from Egypt. (Exodus 13:19)


There are so many lessons to be learned here.  
Looking back, Joseph didn't blame his brothers
for their act of selling him in to slavery.
He said, "It was God who sent me here."
He forgave his brothers for their unthinkable act.
He made the most out of terrible situations
and earned a good reputation.
He never gave up. 

He is proof...

What others mean for evil, 
God can use for good.


Wouldn't you agree...
there's more to Joseph than a colorful coat?


4 comments:

  1. This was a very long post, so I attempted to break it up a little... but I felt Joseph's entire story is so inspirational, I didn't want to leave anything out! Thank you for reading ~ I hope you found something to take away from it :) Have a blessed day!!

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  2. Hi Meghan,The story of Joeseph is my favorite old testament story,and yes there is so much morethan a colurful coat.Honour,faithfulness,forgiveness,trust,loyalty and hope to name a few.Thank you for taking the time to write this all..Istill really enjoy your blog. Love, Lucy.

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  3. Oh Megan, what a blessing and inspiration this is to read...thank-you for taking the time to share a beautiful story that never grows old, and for reminding me that God is greater than anything this world can boast!

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  4. Lucy and Janet ~ Yes, Joseph left behind such an amazing legacy. So grateful someone took the time to record it in the Bible... imagine if no one wrote down his story to share with us these thousands of years later... God is great!! Have a blessed day, both of you!

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“Kind words can be short and easy to speak,
but their echoes are truly endless.”

~ Mother Teresa