Joseph, the Slave Become the Ruler of Egypt
Pr. P. J. Daniel
It is evident that when God chooses a person it is with a specific purpose.
Psalms 105:17 says: “God sent a man before them – Joseph, sold as a slave”. Why did God send Joseph to Egypt? It was to fulfill the word which had been foretold to him. When God does something, it involves versatile purposes. In the case of Joseph, the first and foremost thing was to fulfill the vision, which had been given to Joseph. (Psalms. l05:l8). Secondly, it was that the descendants of Jacob would be fed during the time of severe famine (Psalms. 105:16). Thirdly, all the Egyptians (the entire land) should be supplied with enough grain to survive during the severe drought and famine of seven years.
Similarly, in our Christian life, when things seen to to wrong, it is not for the obliteration of our life, but for good. Though we do not realize the purpose in the beginning, yet it would be revealed at the end. It is written that all things work together for good, to those who love God (Rom. 8: 28).
When we observe the life of Joseph we recognize these great lessons of God’s plans and purposes. Why did his brothers hate and persecute him? Why did they mistreat him? Not because of his faults, but because his father loved him more than he loved his other brothers (Genesis 37:4). It happened out of mere jealousy. Dear friends, many a time we are deserted and discarded by our brothers not because of something wrong we have done, but because our Heavenly Father loves us so much.
His brothers threw him into a broken cistern mercilessly, and ate bread and butter (food) sitting near it. What an unscrupulous, uncaring nature they had! The bread and butter was brought by their young brother far away from their house. Yet they neither considered him nor share anything with him. We need not wonder, because such things are happening even today in our midst also. We also partake in the Lord’s Table unworthily, while we arrogantly hate and despise our own brothers and sisters.
While Joseph was in the broken well, some throbbing questions might have cropped up in his mind. Is this happening by the will of God? Is this the consummation of the vision given to me by the Lord? In the midst of these aching questions a whispering voice was heard in his ears. “My son: the vision awaits an appointed time. Though it may linger, wait for it. it will certainly come and will not delay”. Yea, there is a due time for everything. We have to wait patiently for that very appointed time.
Everything that happened in the life of Joseph was a stepping stone for the fulfillment of the vision, which was imparted to him by the Lord. We see a sequence of incidents there; the long journey through the desert, dragging him on the back of a camel by the Ishmaelites, dissipated temptations in the house of Potiphar, chains and shackles in the dungeon; all these severe life’s trials were to lead him to the fulfillment of the vision. Through all these inexplicable incidents, finally he reaches the throne of Pharaoh, as a ruler of Egypt.
In order to release a dreamer God had given dreams to Pharaoh. He was released from the dungeon to interpret the dream of the King. “There came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and then came up seven other cows, ugly and gaunt. The cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up seven sleek, fat cows”. This was the dream of Pharaoh. No scholars or magicians of the court of Pharaoh could interpret the meaning of this dream, but Joseph could do it. He said: the seven fat cows are seven years of abundance; the seven scrawny and ugly cows are seven years of famine. But the abundance of seven years will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. Pharaoh was pleased by the explanation of the dream and appointed Joseph as the second in authority in Egypt to manage the abundance and famine wistfully.
It is significant to observe how Joseph wisely handled the situation. How he could transform the lean years of famine into years of surplus? Surely, Joseph had some unique and exclusive charisma in him.
i. There was the Spirit of God in him. He was a man with the Spirit of God. This was the fundamental quality he had, which enabled him to plan for the lean years of famine. The spirit of God was the source of wisdom and understanding. Genesis 4l: 38 Pharaoh said, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”
ii. Others could notice that God was with Joseph. “When the master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did” Genesis 39:3.
iii. He watched the wisdom of an ant and accumulated grain for the days of famine. “Joseph collected all the food produced in the seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities.” “Ant stores its provision in summer and gathers its food at harvest” Genesis 4l: 48, 49 cp Proverb 6: 6 - 8.
iv. He was a faithful steward, who could supply food according to the need of the people. “When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the store-houses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt” Genesis 4l: 56.
v. He was a man of patience to manage the difficult situation – the famine became so severe in the land of Egypt and the surrounding land. Genesis 47: l3 - 26
vi. He was a man of compassion even to meet the need of the people from foreign land. “All the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in the entire world” Genesis 4l: 57.
vii. He was a man of forgiveness. When his brothers, who had cruelly treated and sold him to Egypt came to him, Joseph could forgive his unkind brothers and had shown compassion to them, and supplied food to them. Since he was in absolute control of Egypt, he could treat his brothers mercilessly. But he had the spirit of forgiveness.
These are the significant factors which enabled Joseph to transform the time of lean years to the time of abundance and prosperity. The above mentioned characteristics can transform any of our difficult situations into favorable atmosphere, any complicated problems into simple, any hard position into pliable. Dear friends, do you go through such experiences of Joseph? Try to adapt those characteristics of Joseph into your life, then, all your lean situations will be transformed into abundance and surplus.