Joseph’s Ancient Story a Modern Parable
Our pastor has been preaching through Genesis for more than a year, which has been instructive and eye-opening. In a recent week, we reached the story of Joseph, which begins in chapter 37 and continues through the end of Genesis.
No matter how familiar the first book of the Bible may have been, his series has helped me appreciate its practical nature in a new way. The story of the creation of humankind and the nation of Israel are fascinating glimpses of the Almighty at work.
Keep Going . . . Always
Joseph’s story highlights a key lesson our pastor has emphasized: the need to keep going, no matter what things look like.
Consider what happens to Joseph after he prophesies to his brothers that they will one day bow down to him.
First, they get mad enough to consider killing him—a rash action only prevented by Reuben’s intervention—before throwing him into a pit.
Ultimately, Joseph gets sold into slavery (yeah, it’s thousands of years old) and winds up in Egypt.
Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, purchases him. Joseph is so proficient at what he does he winds up running the man’s house for him.
Just when everything is looking good, Potiphar’s lusty wife tries to seduce Joseph. Though he doesn’t succumb to the temptation, her false accusation of rape gets him thrown in prison.
Despite rising to the top and earning the jailer’s complete trust, Joseph languishes for two more years after a key official he helps forgets to tell Pharaoh about Joseph.
About now, one can imagine Joseph saying, “Uh, Lord, what exactly is it You’re trying to teach me here?”
In discussing the last part of chapter 39 one Sunday, our pastor pointed out several lessons we can take away from Joseph’s story, such as:
- God has a plan for good.
This is especially true considering the rest of the story, which wraps up in Genesis 50 with Joseph now the #2 man in all of Egypt.
After revealing his identity to his surprised brothers, he tells them in verse 20 that what they meant for evil, God intended for good. Now strategically located at the head of Egypt’s government, Joseph can help save the Israelites from starvation during a time of famine. A rather positive outcome.
- God is always with us.
Deuteronomy 31:6 says He will never leave us or forsake us. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I would add. As our pastor put it, “My trust must be in what God says, not what I feel.”
- Success comes from God.
The reason Joseph thrived despite being in prison was God’s favor. While it may have seemed the height of injustice for him to wind up there and then languish for two more years, it also positioned him to be in the right place at the right time.
“We need to remember God will get us where we need to go,” our pastor said.
A Message of Hope
If ever there were a time we needed to hear such a message of hope, it’s right now.
Our world has been shaken to its core in 2020. I’ve felt it myself. I have battled with considerable fears, tiredness, and uncertainties.
Another pastor whose book I recently edited said this year all leaders are operating by a compass instead of road map. They head out in a certain direction and figure it out as they go.
It’s an unsettled way of moving, yet it’s where we are. In the meantime, remembering Joseph’s triumph can help calm our nerves.