A Devotional Journey
led by Dr. Gene Pearson
Thru the Bible in a Year
Here begins the story of Joseph
, the fourth generation of Abraham’s family. His story is one of youthful exuberance and human pride intersecting with parental favoritism and family jealousies. As the first born of Rachel, but number seven among his half-brothers, Joseph has a special place in his father’s heart just as Rachel does. Because this bias surfaces so obviously (as in the gift to Joseph of a unique and special coat), so does the resentment of Jacob’s other sons.
The sale into slavery of a brother (even a half-brother!) was an unimaginable crime
in Hebrew society and reveals the intense hostility involved. The deception of a father by his entire family would have been considered humiliating in the extreme.
It's hard to believe Joseph’s own conduct didn't play some part in this
, and it's possible to view his handling of the prophetic dreams God gave him as proof (a more modest person might have kept such visions to himself).
Of course other evidence of family dysfunction is revealed
, for example, in the story of Judah and Tamar. The ancient tradition of brothers taking in their sister-in-laws once they became widows and becoming substitute fathers for a male heir was designed to preserve the property and hereditary rights of every family member.
Meanwhile, God is preserving Joseph in Egypt:
through the wicked attempts of certain people to use him for their own benefit; always moving him toward his inevitable position of special service in God’s plan.
So, Joseph goes through a series of life-shaping experiences:
as an overseer for Potiphar (a dead end, if rewarding, job for a slave), as a prisoner and the manager of a prison (in which position he meets those who have fallen in disfavor with the Pharaoh himself), and eventually, through his God-given ability to interpret dreams, he becomes the second most powerful man in Egypt during one of its most critical and opportune moments.
Do you ever feel you have been treated unfairly?
Do you ever feel that way because you have too much?
Joseph, given more than he deserved,
became a victim of his own pride. Then he suffered more than he deserved; yet his temptation to despair, was neutralized by God's miraculous intervention.
Pride and despair seem to be alternative states for all of us
– perhaps in less extreme ways than Joseph experienced, but in real ones none the less.
What we must remember in the story is the repeated emphasis on God’s involvement
: the Lord was with Joseph and made him successful...and blessed him
God is involved in our lives also.
We don't always notice, and sometimes even assume He's not. Yet the God who could forgive Abraham, and Jacob and Ruben and Judah, and preserve Joseph cares about us as well.
What’s the worst thing that could happen to you today?
What the worst problem you face?
Remind yourself that God has not forgotten you.
If you have to, force yourself to get down on your knees and recommit your life to His care. Then get up and do your best to overcome or live through everything you face.
You'll be surprised how many disasters never occur and how many times you sense God’s encouragement and love.
© A. Eugene Pearson 2011