One of my favorite people of all time in the Bible is Joseph. He has been my friend and comfort many times throughout my journey, especially of late.
Now you may wonder how I could be friends with a man who lived over thirty-seven hundred years ago. The answer to that is easy. I know him through the Word of God. The Bible is a living, breathing book. The men and women of it are real to me. I know them and can't wait to talk to them one day and get to know them better.
They are not alive today in the same way that Jesus lives. They don't yet have their resurrected bodies. They don't live in the same way that the Holy Spirit abides in me and I abide in the Father. Not the same way that Jesus walks with me and talks with me. Not like when God takes me into His very presence at the Throne of Grace. Not the same way that He draws me close and shelters me under His wing. Not alive like that.
But I know them through the Bible. And Joseph is one of my favorites. He is a type of Christ. That means that even though he was a mere man and lived in Old Testament times, he behaved in a way that corresponds in some way to Jesus’ character or actions. I love that! I think that's just about the most wonderful thing that could be said of a man or woman. It's right up there in my eyes with David being called a man after God's own heart. Oh, to be like them! Which is, of course, oh, to be like Jesus!
Anyway, about Joseph. I can't tell you the whole story. If I were teaching it in school it would make up my daily Bible lesson for weeks. You can pick him up in Genesis, chapter 37, and read on for a few chapters to learn of him. What has always impressed me about Joseph was his excellent spirit in the face of huge adversity. And I've used his example on which to model my own responses in the face of similar circumstances.
Joseph was, without question, the favored son in a family that included eleven other boys. His brothers were jealous. That is understandable. But the things that they did to him were despicable and some would say unforgivable. The story sadly involves the shedding of innocent blood and great lies. Joseph was forsaken and betrayed at the hands of his own brothers. He found himself to be sold into slavery.
Joseph's response to his circumstance gives me goosebumps just thinking about it. He responded with acceptance and without bitterness at the hand that he had been dealt by God. His response was Godly and not fleshly. He obviously had been feeding the correct dog long before this day even approached.
God blessed Joseph even as a slave in a foreign land. Joseph became Potiphar's personal servant, and subsequently the manager of his household. Here, Potiphar's wife, Zuleika, tried to seduce Joseph. He refused her advances and ran away. She lied about the situation and made false accusations against him to cover up her own sin. Now, who do you think people are going to believe? The ruler's wife or a slave, no matter what his position?
So what could be worse than being a slave in a foreign land? A slave in prison in a foreign land. If anyone had a right to bitterness, it would have been Joseph, don't you think? This was not at all how he had his life planned.
But it was what God had planned, as difficult as that might be to accept when it's happening to you. And Joseph's excellent attitude and Godly response has been more help to me than I can possibly say. He had no worries about what others thought of him, but wanted only to please God.
Peter said that "we ought to obey God rather than men." (Acts 5:29) That goes for pleasing, too. Joseph's spirit in the face of adversity and hardship should be our example. Not a spirit of resentfulness and retaliation. Some will see that attitude as one of weakness. God will see it as meekness and lowliness of heart, in which He is much pleased. And I would rather have the blessings of God than the praises of men any old day!
The end of the story is my favorite part. God has restored Joseph into a position of great power in Egypt, and he finds his brothers bowing before him, at his mercy. He weeps tears, not of bitterness, but of great love. And then, in Genesis 50:20, Joseph says this:
"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good."
Wow! Talk about forgiveness. Talk about God pleasing. Do you see now why he is a type of Christ?
Lord, help me to respond like Joseph. Every. Single. Day! Help me to not care what people think. Help me to care about only what You think. Help me to be like Jesus!
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