Joseph goes through really, really hard low points, but he also goes through really amazing high points (and then low again, and then high, and then low…you get it). But the one constant thing that remains is his faith and trust in his relationship with God. Not only are high’s and lows something we all experience on a daily basis, so we can connect with Joseph’s testimony, but our relationship with God is able to be a constant in our lives, so remember to use this application into your own life as you read through this chapter.
Enjoy Chapter 3 in our reading plan of The Story!
So – as I said, this chapter is about Joseph! You might know parts of this story from Sunday school, your own bible reading experiences, or not at all. For myself, I knew this story from a mixture of the dodgy recording of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat musical my grandma showed me once, and countless viewings of the Dreamworks Joseph King of Dreams version. Any way you know it, I would still encourage you to read the real version, because let’s be honest, the book is always better than the film.
Last chapter we talked about Jacob, the son of Isaac, and grandson of Abraham. Today we talk about Jacob’s sons. Jacob had 12 sons, but Joseph was his favourite, because he was the first born from Rachel, his favourite wife (clearly this family isn’t against the whole ‘picking favourites’ thing). So, as I was talking about highs and lows in our lives, Joseph starts in a high – Joseph’s dad gave him everything he could want, which naturally made the 11 other siblings pretty jealous.
His 11 brothers plotted to kill him to get him out of the way – that’s how jealous they got. They got together and ended up throwing him at the bottom of an empty well, while planning to come back later to actually kill him. Now, if you tell me you’ve never wanted to leave your sibling at the bottom of a well, you’re either A) lying, or B) an only child.
But like I hope we all would, the brother’s chickened out and didn’t kill him. Instead, they sold him as a slave to some men heading to Egypt. So the brothers were on a high, but Joseph was now definitely on a low. But after a little while of working as a slave, Joseph was seen by one of Pharaoh’s officials and brought him to the house of his master. It says – which is so awesome – that, because his master saw that the Lord was with him, he put him in charge of the whole household! Joseph was nothing, and yet God still managed to help him stand out.
So Joseph wasn’t bad looking – all that manual labour, and rugged looks (if you’re into that), and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed. His master’s wife invited him into her room, but Joseph told her that, he’d been given everything he could ever need, and every blessing under the sun by God. So why would he ruin all of that with her? So Joseph says no, goes away, and the next day gets approached by her again. This goes on and on, until one day, as he goes away from her, she snatches his coat. She uses it to tell her husband that Joseph takes advantage of her, and all too quickly Joseph is at another massive low when he’s thrown into prison.
Joseph went from having a good home, to being a slave, back to having an amazing home, to being in prison. What was he going to do now?
Well, just like before, the prison guards noticed something different in Joseph. Something wasn’t quite right – or really, something wasn’t quite wrong. He had God in him, and in that awesome way God always uses us in our lowest points, God used Joseph. He was put in charge of almost the entire prison. The person supposed to be in charge of the prison didn’t even bother checking up on them much, because he trusted that Joseph would be successful.
It was also in this prison that God gave Joseph the gift of discernment of dreams. This basically means Joseph could read dreams (one time I had a dream that every time I went to take a bite from a banana, it would disappear and I would bite the air. Where’s a dream interpreter when you need one…).
So after Joseph had been in prison for 2 years, Pharaoh had some freaky dreams. He called over Joseph and asked him to tell him what they meant. Joseph, with his awesome faith, told him he couldn’t help him, BUT his God could interpret the dreams for Pharaoh. Basically, Joseph explained that his dreams predicted 7 years of thriving crops and livestock would then be followed by 7 years of dry crops and drought.
And just like before, Joseph shot to a massive high again, and all thanks to God, he was appointed in charge of organising everything in this time. He was basically higher than the Pharaoh, except from actually being Pharaoh. Just like that, Joseph went from having nothing, wearing the worst rags, and eating gross prison food, to being blessed with everything, wearing the finest robes and eating yummy palace food.
The 7 years of thriving came and went, and gave them enough chance to store up supplies before the 7 years of drought came around. It was at the start of the 7 years that we flash back to Joseph’s 11 brothers. Remember them? Well, they are pretty hungry. Starving, in fact. And so Jacob sends 10 of them to Egypt to buy food, but keeps Benjamin (Joseph’s only full brother) at home. And who’s in charge of giving them that food? You guessed it, but shockingly enough, they don’t even remember their brother who they had sold off about 20 years earlier.
So when Joseph meets his brothers, and finds out Benjamin is still at home, he decides to test the brothers. By the looks of it, Joseph is trying to see how the brothers have changed since the jealous, cruel men they used to be. He tells them they must go home and bring Benjamin back to see him, but first they have to leave the oldest brother Simeon behind in prison. So the boys went home without Simeon, and attempted to bring Benjamin back. But Jacob wasn’t too keen on that, because Benjamin was his favourite son, and only son remaining from his loved wife Rachel. It took them until they were starving and in desperate need of food again to convince him otherwise.
A couple of years later, they came back to Egypt and saw Joseph again, this time with little Benjamin. Joseph clearly had a connection with his full-brother. Okay so basically what happens next is, Joseph invites them all to dinner, still testing their character and how much they’ve changed. He feeds Ben five times more than any of the other brothers, looking to see if they would get jealous in the same way they used to with Joseph. This still isn’t enough though, and Joseph just keeps testing them.
After the meal they are sent home, but first, Joseph slips a fancy cup into Benny’s bag, and as they are on their way home he sends guards to accuse Benjamin of stealing this himself. When they are all brought back, Joseph says he will keep Benjamin as his slave. But the brothers know how much their little brother means to their father. If Jacob lost his other only son to his favourite wife, he couldn’t handle it. And when Judah begs to go in Benjamin’s place, Joseph knows his brothers have changed.
He reveals himself to them and they are first of all terrified – obviously – but they all get a chance to talk and catch up. Joseph gives them a new home and enough food, and Jacob is able to see his son again. That would be a family reunion like no other!
So that’s the story from this chapter! There’s heaps in there for you to read, and it’s quite a long and complicated story, but it’s one we can take a lot away from.
The thing I mentioned at the start, that I hope you noticed too, was Joseph’s constant trust and faith in God through his lowest of lows, and his highest of highs. At no point did Joseph credit his success to his own doing, or blame God for the times he was a slave, or in prison, but instead gave glory throughout his whole life.
Are you giving glory to God in your highs? Are you thanking him for those days that are just awesome, for that A in a test, for that friendship you have, or for whatever else is going right at the moment? Or are you giving yourself the glory? And on the other end of that, when things are really low in your life, are you thinking “how could God do this to me?” or are you asking him how he can use you in that situation?
Sometimes our situation can really suck, and things can be really hard to handle. As teenagers, we can often feel like everything is out of our control – we have to go to school, we have to live in this home, we have to have this family. So we get stuck in the mindset that when we can’t change the big things, there’s no point changing the small things either. But Joseph was in PRISON. Pretty much the most stuck you could ever be, and yet he still managed to stand out from the rest thanks to his relationship with God.
Last blog post I asked you to consider how God might be shaping your lives now to prepare you for the plans in his future. I’m going to ask this again. How might God be using your lows or even your highs to not only physically prepare you, but to ready your heart for him to use you?