God’s purpose in His peoples lives have been frequently misunderstood. Joseph didn’t understand this for many years. Lets look at his story.
Genesis 37:5-10 (NKJV)
5 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. 6 So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
8 And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
9 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.”
10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?”
In other words, his father and brothers told him “That’s not happening!” Other things started to happen, fast. What was important was that God used or engineered events to fulfill His purpose in Joseph’s life. Joseph’s brothers intended to kill him, but they were talked into selling him into slavery. Joseph was taken to Egypt and sold to Potiphar, an officer in Pharaoh’s court. God had Joseph in the nation He wanted Him to be, and with a possible connection to the ruler of that nation.
God was with Joseph, and he was blessed by God in everything he did. Potiphar knew that. How did Potiphar know that? God must have given him that knowledge. It was another one of God’s blessings, and Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his whole estate. What did Joseph make of all this? Did he think this was God’s purpose for his life? It wasn’t. Someone new to Joseph’s story might expect that next would come the realization of the dreams, but that was a long way off.
What was next was that Potiphar’s wife wanted to commit adultery with him, and when she was told no, she falsely accused him of mocking her. God did allow this to happen, but adultery and lying are never part of God’s plan for someone’s life. God intervened again, He must have given Joseph favor with Potiphar. Instead of being killed, Joseph was put in prison. Joseph may have thought his life was over, but God was continuing to work out His plan. And then? God blessed everything Joseph did, giving him favor with the keeper of the prison, and, yes, Joseph was put in charge of the place. Was he wondering by this time why God keep putting him in positions of leadership? That’s another good question.
Then Pharaoh became angry with his butler and baker and he put them into prison of the captain of the guard(Potiphar), where Joseph was in charge. And they had dreams. The butler and the baker didn’t know what to make of them, but God gave Joseph the interpretation of them. And what Joseph said came to pass: the butler was restored to his office, and the baker was executed. What was next? An introduction to Pharaoh? No, the butler forgot about Joseph, for two years. That didn’t stop God from continuing to work out His purpose. Was Joseph wondering about what God was doing in his life, first with dreams, and then with the interpretation of those dreams?
And then God sent a dream to Pharaoh. And he was so troubled by it that he sent for the magicians and wise men to tell him what it meant, but they couldn’t. And then the butler remembered Joseph and what he did (time and chance? I think not), and then Joseph met Pharaoh. God gave him the interpretation of the dream, and wise counsel to Pharaoh about what to do concerning the coming years of plenty and famine. And then God did this:
Genesis 41: 38-44
And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”
Notice verses 42-44. Now Joseph was in a position where people did bow before him to acknowledge his authority. What had seemed impossible when Joseph had shared his dreams with his family thirteen years before had become reality. Verse 46 tells us that he was thirty years old when given this authority. But the events of his earlier dreams were still years in the future. God was working out a plan on a much greater and larger scale.
Nine years later, after seven years of plenty, and two years of famine came the time for those early dreams to become reality. God had engineered things so that Joseph’s family had to come to Egypt to get food. There was no where else to go. And no one was buying any food unless Joseph approved the sale. Chapter 42, verses 5-6 are the start of the fulfillment of most of the details of the dreams with ten of Joseph’s brothers bowing before him. Chapter 43 verse 26 has eleven of his brothers meeting him, and bowing. And the dream of the sun and moon and starts? First there was another dream. Chapter 46 verses 2-4 where God reassured Jacob that it was safe for him to go to Egypt and meet this very powerful official, his son. And that Joseph still loved him, verses 29-30 confirm that. And who was missing from this dream? Rachael, his mother, was not there, could not be there, because she died soon after giving birth to his brother Benjamin. That part of the dream was not fulfilled in Joseph’s physical lifetime. And to this day we don’t know why, that is for the future.
So what was it all for? All those events over all those years. Was it just to reunite the family? Far from it, God had a much greater purpose for Joseph’s life.
Genesis 45:3-8 (NKJV)
3 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. 4 And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
Pastor Sharon and I encourage you to pray to God about the problems and difficulties in your life, about the things that you just don’t understand. Ask Him to give you the faith to trust Him, to know how much He loves you, and that He is working out the details in your life in a way that’s best for you and for others.
Copyright 2018, Pastors George and Sharon Billington, All Rights Reserved.