Lessons from Joseph

One of the most moving and emotionally charged accounts in the Bible is the story of Joseph in chapters 37 to 50 of the book of Genesis–especially those Scriptures which describe his reconciliation with his brothers and the settlement of his father Jacob and his whole family in the land of Goshen in Egypt.

The record covers the jealousy of Joseph’s brothers because of his special relationship with God and Jacob; their original intent to murder him; and, due to Reuben’s intervention, their decision to sell him into slavery. It reports that the brothers deceived their father by presenting to him Joseph’s tunic of many colors which they had covered in animal blood; and relates how Joseph became a servant in the house of Potiphar in Egypt.

We can read about the famous episode of Potiphar’s wife trying to seduce Joseph; his rejection of her advances since he did not want to sin against God or betray his employer; and his imprisonment as a consequence. Because of his correct interpretation of two dreams, he came to the attention of Pharaoh. He was released from prison; rose to prominence in Egypt; and set aside grain to provide for food, as God had warned that a famine would come over the whole world. This famine caused Jacob to send his brothers to Egypt to buy food there. After several incidents, Joseph revealed himself to them and obtained the consent of Pharaoh to bring his whole family to Egypt in order to settle there.

Joseph set an inspiring example for us in the way he directed his life, and how he coped with the trials which he faced.

He was betrayed by his brothers; and while he was testing them later to see whether they had repented, there is no account of him seeking revenge for their misdeeds. While in Potiphar’s household, he was faithful in his responsibilities and resisted the easy temptation and continued insistence of Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery with her. He set a fine example for young men in this day and age who may encounter similar temptations, and he showed a solid foundation in not wanting to sin against God.

Due to the lies and false accusations of Potiphar’s wife, he went to jail, but while waiting patiently for God’s intervention, he found favor with the keeper of the prison. He eventually was released and rose in power and authority within the Egyptian ruling class, and he finally understood that God had planned from the outset to bring him to Egypt and give him great power in order to be able to save millions of people from famine. Ultimately, he was able to reconcile with his brothers and present himself to his father Jacob, who had thought him dead for many years. All of this shows that with endurance and continued trust in God and His plan for us, things will eventually work out for good.

For those of us who are called in this day and age and who will be given eternal life at Christ’s coming, we will ultimately experience the great joy of an emotional reunion with our families who were not called to salvation in this life, but who will be raised in the Second Resurrection. As Joseph’s brothers realized what they had done and bitterly repented, so we will be able to assist our relatives in their choice to accept Christ as their Savior and walk in God’s way which will lead to eternal life for them. Imagine their surprise when they see they have been raised from the dead as physical beings and see us alive–as glorified beings. And as Joseph was able to satisfy the physical needs of his family members, so we will be able, on a much greater level, to take care of our relatives in physical and spiritual ways.

Joseph’s inspiring example contains the abiding lesson for all of us that patient endurance of our trials and unwavering faith in God will bring a positive, joyful and successful outcome–not just for us, but also for others.

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