Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 37:28)
Joseph’s Twenty-Two Year Journey Of Faith
The coat of many colors is one of the great stories in scripture. Every child’s imagination thrills to the story of the lad with an ornate coat of color. Showing his preference to the son of his old age, Jacob set the scene for an event more horrible than he could have ever imagined by giving Joseph this tunic. The hatred of the brothers reached a boiling point when the young lad revealed certain dreams suggesting his position of authority over the brothers. One day when Joseph was searching for his brothers they decided to kill him but was saved by Reuben who planned on returning Joseph back to his father. It was while Reuben was away the brothers of Joseph decided to sell their brother to the Ishmaelites who were traveling to Egypt hundreds of miles away.
Joseph was seventeen years old when he was pulled from the pit and sold as a slave. It would be twenty-two years before he would see his family again. During this time he would endure the torturous journey as a slave of the Midianite traders. The Psalmist described how they hurt his feet with fetters, and he was laid in irons. How can one define the humiliation of being sold as a piece of meat in an Egyptian slave market? The pleasured son of a wealthy father is now scrubbing floors as a slave in the home of an officer of Pharaoh.
You know the story. Joseph keeps his faith in God and the Lord watches over him. Things get better until the young man is running the affairs of the house of Potiphar until things go horribly wrong with the woman of the house. Falsely accused by an evil seductress the young man is thrown into an Egyptian prison as a rebellious slave who tried to seduce the wife of the captain of the guard. You can only imagine what kind of treatment he received in the beginning of his prison stay. He was probably beaten and treated rough. But Joseph kept his faith.
Years go by and again Joseph is blessed by God. He finally is the overseer of the prison but still a prisoner himself. Two noble guests arrive as prisoners – the baker and butler of the Pharaoh. The faith of Joseph extends kindness to both men. He learns of some dreams the men had and informs them that one will die but the other will live. Pleading with the butler to remember him to the Pharaoh he is left destitute in prison for two more years. Finally, Pharaoh has some dreams that no one can explain. The butler remembers Joseph and brings him to the ruler. After explaining the dreams to the Egyptian leader Joseph is placed over all Egypt save the throne of Pharaoh.
Seven years of prosperity fill the storehouses of Egypt before the seven years of famine strike the world. It is during this time the brothers of Joseph come to Egypt to buy grain. In time Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and is reunited with his father. Twenty-two years. The plan of God did not happen overnight. It was a grueling experience for a young man of seventeen but Joseph kept his faith. One can only imagine the grief felt by Jacob those years and they joy when he found his son alive.
This is a great story because it shows the need for perseverance. In a world of fast everything and wanting everything now we find in the life of Joseph a picture of calm trust in the will of God. Noah waited for the rain to come. Abraham waited twenty-five years for a promised son. David had to wait for his kingship to be established. Deliverance did not always come immediately to the people of God. Joseph had to wait more than two decades before he would clearly see the will of God.
Trust in the Lord. Wait for Him. Let Him have His perfect work in you – even if it takes twenty-two years.