Learning from others
Peter looks at the life lessons we can learn from the life of Joseph.
From beginning to end the Bible has stories about the lives of different people. Each of these life-stories has been recorded so that we may learn lessons from them. (1Cor 10.1-14: Phil 3.17: 1Tim 4.12: Titus 2.7: 1Peter 5.1-3)
Recently I have been considering the life of Joseph and lessons he has to teach us. (Genesis 37-45)
His birth was exceptional, and his family relationships complicated, perhaps even more than many modern family situations.
In addition to the fact that Joseph was treated differently and with special favour by their father two further things annoyed his siblings:
1. he gave their father critical reports of their behaviour.
2. he shared his (‘outrageously arrogant’) dreams with them. (Gen 37.8-9)
His brothers resented Joseph so much that they eventually plotted to kill him assuming that his grandiose dreams would therefore disappear! (37.19)
Avoiding death by Judah’s intervention (37.26) Joseph was sold to traders who transported him to Egypt where he was bought in the slave market (37.36) by Potiphar one of Pharaoh’s officials.
Dragged from privilege, respectability and a favoured childhood Joseph finds himself at the opposite end of the social spectrum – an item of property, subject to others and treated as a commodity to be used for the master’s purpose.
I am always amazed when I read his story to see the blessing that accompanies Joseph wherever he goes! In fact, outstanding blessing came to Potiphar and all he owned, because Joseph lived there! (39.5b) As the latest purchase, he immediately proves to be an exceptional slave rising to a position of enormous trust respect and honour! (39.2-6)
At every task and despite every temptation he continues to maintain his integrity and relationship with God. Innocent of the charge against him he is thrown into prison where instead of becoming bitter he continues to be trustworthy and honourable.
Because he maintains his relationship with God Joseph Is able to accurately interpret dreams (40). Ignored and forgotten for two more years he continues to be faithful to God so that he is ready for the next stage of God’s plan – entry to Pharaoh’s palace and the true reason for all that has happened up to this point. (41-49)
Joseph had left his father’s house as a teenager and now at thirty years old (41.46) he is about to fulfil the dreams which almost led to his death! In the process he becomes God’s agent for the salvation of a whole nation and his own family (45.4-8)
Tragedy to Triumph
For more than 10 years his dreams and social status had been repeatedly shattered and yet, at each point when God brought him to a point of ‘service’ and ‘ministry’ Joseph was able to fulfil the task bringing glory to God.
Finally consider the meaning of the names given to his sons and what that says about Joseph (41.50-52)
There are many questions and challenges from Joseph’s story. Here’s a few:
1) How do I respond to ridicule / questioning from those close to me?
2) When life turns upside down or things happen that are just “not fair what is my response? Do I become bitter and ‘give up’ or persevere still trusting God?
3) Am I easily tempted? How do I respond to temptation?
4) Have I ever been accused wrongly? How do I react? (Acts 16:23-27)
5) What example am I showing to others – to my family?
6) Take a moment to thank God for those have been an example to you?