Not many of our unique journeys could come close to matching Joseph’s in pain and injustice. From a young boy who was brought up somewhat favored by his father, making him the brunt of jealousy from his brothers to a young man who had been the recipient of years of false accusations, imprisonment and being forgotten in an ancient justice system. It’s interesting to note that he is thought of by most theologians as being a type or shadow of Jesus Christ to come. And there are numerous analogies in his life that lend credence to that theory, but that is not what we are going to discuss this day.
Psalms 105:17-19 states that “He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave… Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him.” Do we as Christians today believe that God still tests men or women today to see what we are made of before He gives great responsibility and authority to them? Is it wrong to assume that God was doing something vital in Joseph’s life to prepare him for the ultimate destiny that God had brought him into the world for?
From prison to the palace was the theme of Joseph’s young life. Sold at 17 by his brothers to a caravan traveling toward Egypt, they thought they were rid of the spoiled young man their father adored – Rachel’s oldest son. When he landed in Egypt and was sold to Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s Captain of the Guard, he became the overseer of Potiphar’s house because Potipher recognized that Joseph was diligent and he gave all authority to Joseph over his house and fields. Unfortunately, he also caught the attention of Potiphar’s wife who began a campaign to seduce Joseph. When God marks you for leadership, Satan marks you for destruction! Potiphar’s wife didn’t give up but continued “day to day” with her seduction. Satan doesn’t quit, but we have to keep our guard up until he gets the message we will not compromise our values. When the temptation presented itself in a blatant form, Joseph reacted exactly as he should have – he ran. Unfortunately, he left his robe behind! When temptation has a stronghold on your “robe”, RUN to God!
From the palace to the prison in one day! I think that Potiphar had probably had previous dealings regarding his wife because he didn’t have Joseph executed – but placed him back in prison (probably the dungeon under his house). One of the things I really like about Joseph, he was loyal to his values even when tempted to compromise. Even when it meant suffering – but, it’s more often than not, a powerful catalyst for character growth! But, his honor was now repaid with injustice! Another Psalm comes to mind – Psalms 119:71 “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.”
Joseph, even though unjustly imprisoned once again, shows no self pity, but sets about caring for others. He chose in his given set of circumstances to take up his cross with dignity, adding a deeper meaning to even the most miserable of situations. I believe with all my heart that his ministry in the prison opened up the palace!
We see once again a leadership trait rising to the surface in Joseph, he told it like it was. Ephesians 4:15 says “Speak the truth in love.” Once again, we see another similarity to Jesus’ life – his time on the cross: two friends, one saved, one lost. Ultimately even though the butler had promised to remember Joseph when he was restored to the palace, he forgot him. It would ultimately be two more years before Joseph would “suddenly” rise once again from the pit to the palace, but his faith endured. If your faith cannot endure storms and pits, what good is it? Wise people know that life’s storms can teach us much. If God is calling you to greatness, He will test you.
Joseph would be given the ultimate authority in Egypt during a time of crisis, but his years of suffering had given him “eyes of compassion”. He emerges from prison a person of deeper quality and profound character. The butler might have forgotten him, but that’s in stark contrast to God who remembered him.
Could God allow unfair treatment and injustice and suffering in the lives of his people for reasons more profound and deep than could be imagined by human minds to achieve His purposes in the world? Joseph saved Egypt and his family, and most of the region from starvation.
Psalms 66:10-12 “For you O God have tested us, You have refined us as silver is refined….But You have brought us out to rich fulfillment.”
If you’ve spent some time in the pit in this life, rejoice, there’s a palace in your future!