Joseph’s story has many lessons to teach us. One is that we never stand alone.
By Lorelei Nettles
Most have heard of Jacob’s son Joseph in Genesis Chapters 37-48. Joseph’s story is read to small children and movies, plays and a musical have all been made about him. His story is dramatic and while it can all be very entertaining; we may miss a lot of its teachings. What are some of the lessons we can learn from Joseph’s story?
Provoking our children
In the first part of the story we learn that Joseph is favored by his father and his siblings begin to hate him. As parents, we should never make any of our children feel less than loved. Turning one sibling against another or in this case many against the one, causes nothing but family strife and resentment. Instead we should teach them how to live a godly life. (Ephesians 6:4)
Joseph had some prophetic dreams, but instead of pondering them, he boasted to his family about seeing them all bowing down to him. While it may have come to fruition, the truth does not make bragging the right thing to do. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)
As stated, Joseph’s brothers very much disliked him for his haughtiness and because their father favored him and gave him special gifts (i.e. a coat of many colors). They allowed resentment to grow even to the point of wanting to Kill Joseph. (Genesis 37:18) Even though they didn’t follow through, their hatred brought terrible hurt to the family. (Romans 3:13-17, Proverbs 17:25; Acts 7:9)
Reuben was scared and worried about his brothers plot to kill Joseph and planned to save him from their hands. (Genesis 37:21) However, because he hadn’t boldly stood up against them, his plan was thwarted and he lost his brother anyway when he was sold off by his brothers. Ultimately Reuben’s goal was not to save Joseph because he loved him, but because he was worried about what his father would do if he found out. (Genesis 37:29; Proverbs 18:1)
After Joseph was gone, his brothers panicked. They had to figure out a story to give to their Father. (Genesis 37:31-33) Not only did they bloody up his coat of many colors that their father had given Joseph, they then acted as if they had no idea who it belonged to when presenting it to their father. God does not like deceit (Psalms 36:2-4 and 52:2-3)
Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph when he was their slave. When that didn’t work, she grabbed him while alone in the house. He ran, leaving his garment in her hands. Then she lied to her husband saying Joseph sexually attacked her. Joseph did the right thing and even though he was not believed he walked away with his integrity intact. Potiphar cannot be blamed either as there was no reason for him not to believe his wife, even though she played the harlot. (Proverbs 6:32-35) The lesson here is to avoid even the appearance of indiscretion. Joseph may have avoided this if he had made sure someone else was present and not put himself in the position he did, with a woman who had already expressed her intentions.
God is with us
Joseph is thrown into prison, but God is still with him and he is favored to the point of being put in charge of the prisoners. Genesis 39:23 states that this responsibility was so complete that, “The keeper of the prison did not concern himself with anything that was under Joseph’s charge because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it to prosper.” The point is that God is with us even in the darkest of times.
In God’s time
Joseph sees the sadness of the baker and cupbearer one day and asks them what is wrong. They tell him they both had dreams and because Joseph knows God will interpret the dreams through him, he explains to them what their dreams mean. Joseph then asks that the Pharaoh be told of his plight. However, the cupbearer forgets about Joseph and it isn’t until 2 years later that the Pharaoh has a dream and the cupbearer remembers. We may want things to happen for us “now”, but God knew what would work in Joseph’s good favor. Joseph was needed to interpret God’s message to Pharaoh according to his timeline, not Joseph’s. (Ecclesiastes 3:16-17)
We are told repeatedly to love one another in scripture. (Matthew 19:19 and 22:39; 1 Thessalonians 4:9) We are even told to love and pray for our enemies. (Matthew 5:44) Imagine how difficult it is for families. Even though Joseph could have been angry and vengeful, in the long run he is forgiving and wants nothing more than reconciliation. Like in the story of the prodigal son, he eventually welcomes his family back into his life and lavishes them with his blessings.
There are many more lessons to be learned from Joseph’s story. I urge you to read and see them for yourself.