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. 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. 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. 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. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 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. (Genesis 45:3-8)
Sent By God
Joseph’s life is an extraordinary series of events that would crush the hearts of most men yet for the favored son of Jacob, he had a resilient spirit of faith. At the age of seventeen, the brothers of Joseph sold him into a world of slavery. Bound as a prisoner and no longer treated with great favors, Joseph was taken to Egypt where he was sold in the slave market to an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh. Life was harsh at first but changed for the better as the Lord blessed Joseph and the house of Potiphar. In time, Joseph was made overseer of the house. He enjoyed a respite from the hard circumstances of a slave until Potiphar’s wife began to cast longing eyes upon the handsome Hebrew slave. She tried to seduce Joseph but was rebuffed. This did not dissuade her until a day came when she tried to force herself upon Joseph. He ran from her but left his garment in her hand. Humiliated by the slave, Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of trying to rape her. Angered by the accusation, Potiphar threw Joseph into the king’s prison.
As a young man in his late teens or early twenties, Joseph must have reeled from the terrible circumstances that seemed to plague him. He had unjustly been abused by his brothers, treated like a slave, sold on the open market as nothing more than a piece of human flesh and when everything seemed to be getting better for him, he stood accused of trying to seduce the wife of Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. As he sat in the king’s prison it would be easy for Joseph to give up and curse God. He had tried to serve the Lord with all faithfulness, but every turn was against him. Languishing in prison did not lend itself to help the young man see his path in life. Joseph had experienced the joy of overcoming the plight of a slave in Potiphar’s house as he was elevated to one of authority but now his life came crashing down upon him again.
Prison was a difficult world. Joseph once again picked himself up, trusted the Lord, and did the best he could do. His earlier experience in Potiphar’s house was confirmed again. The Lord blessed him in his prison work and the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. Life for Joseph was better, but he was still an inmate falsely charged with no end in sight of his sentence. Sometime later, Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker offended the king and placed them in prison. Joseph was a caring man and noticed the new prisoners were upset. After learning they had had troubling dreams, Joseph interpreted the dreams for the men. The butler would be restored to his duties, but the baker would be hanged. When the butler was released from prison, Joseph implored him to seek the mercy of Pharaoh and find a way to get Joseph out of prison. It would be two years before Joseph would be remembered and through another series of divine events with Pharaoh having troubling dreams, Joseph is released and elevated to a ruler of Egypt under Pharaoh. When the famine came upon the world, the brothers of Joseph came to Egypt to buy grain. They could not know the man they spoke with was their brother. In time, Joseph revealed himself to the brothers and the family has reunited again with Jacob seeing the face of his beloved son.
It was twenty-two years from the time Joseph was sold into slavery until he was revealed to his brothers. They had treated young Joseph cruelly and terribly. Joseph had every right of human wisdom to hate and despise his brothers and to be angry with God. When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, he revealed an important characteristic of his faith that saw him through the impossible years of Egyptian slavery. Joseph believed everything in his life was in the purpose of God. He tells the brothers that while they sold him out of hatred, it was God’s plan to send the young Hebrew to Egypt to save the world. They thought he was dead, but Joseph would save their lives. God sent Joseph to Egypt, not the brothers.
The kernel of faith where a man trusts in the will of God to move and direct his life is a story of Biblical proportion. Joseph maintained his faith in God without reservation. The Lord blessed Joseph because Joseph trusted in God. To think a seventeen-year-old would possess that kind of faith is not remarkable; it is something established in him by his parents. The life of Joseph is the power of believing that I am here with a purpose and as a child of God I want the Lord to use my life for His glory. Overlooked and forgotten is the power of a godly life in a community, on the job, in a congregation, and the light that shines in the world as a faithful and devoted servant of the Most High God. When death comes and life is fading away, may it be said of our lives that God put us in this world to lead others to Christ. You did not send me – God did.