He sent a man before them– Joseph–who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters, he was laid in irons. Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. The king sent and released him, the ruler of the people let him go free. He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions, (Psalm 105:17-21)
The life of Joseph was a remarkable example of resilient faith. Doted over by his father he enjoyed a privileged life unlike his brothers. The son of Rachel Joseph would have a special kinship with Benjamin whose birth took their mother’s life after a hard labor. At the age of seventeen Joseph went to find his brothers at his father’s request and would not see Israel again for over twenty years. Hated by his older brothers Joseph was stripped of his colorful coat and sold to slave traders heading to Egypt. His life would never be the same. The world would await his leadership to save it.
It would be hard to describe those first few days of slavery for Joseph. The Midianite traders would have treated this bright young man with disdain. As a slave he would be marketed as a piece of meat with the sole purpose of a price on his head. The long journey to Egypt was treacherous with each passing day and fearful solitude of the night not knowing why this was happening. What was going through the mind of Joseph? How could a seventeen-year-old survive this grueling test?
The day came when they arrived at the slave market in Egypt. A shameful exercise of bidding began as Joseph was put before a raucous crowd of buyers. Sold to an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard Joseph was taken away to do the menial horrible work of slaves in a rich man’s home. He longed for the face of his father and the comfort of his home. His first night in Egypt was a restless night of fear and uncertainty.
The days went by as he was put through the paces of slave labor. Somewhere in the heart of this young man resided a deeply devoted heart in the providence and care of Jehovah God. He worked hard and the Lord blessed him. In time he was granted greater freedoms working himself to a position of leadership within the home of Potiphar as overseer. With success came temptation – not from Joseph but from Potiphar’s wife. In a failed attempt at seduction the officer’s wife charged the Hebrew with attempted rape. Enraged Potiphar threw Joseph into prison. Once again the life of Joseph turns dark and the disquieting spirit of despair stands at the door. But Joseph has a resolve in his heart to overcome. Spending many years in prison he is finally released gaining the favor of Pharaoh and placed second in leadership of the greatest nation on earth. God has brought him through.
From chains to glory Joseph never lost hope in his Lord. We are bound under the trials of sin but through a resolution of hope and trust we can overcome. The life of Jacob’s son is a testimony to the victory found in trusting in the Lord. Trials are tests like fire against metal further strengthening our faith in the will of God. Joseph endured and overcame never accusing God or failing Him. Fetters and iron were tools of salvation for Joseph. Be faithful. We will overcome if we trust in God.
Wherever souls are being tried and ripened, in whatever commonplace and homely ways; there God is hewing out the pillars for His temple. (Phillips Brooks, 1835-1893, Perennials)