Destiny. We each have one and some destinies are easy while others are harder to live out. Do you wonder why you have such obstacles to overcome? What are you learning from them? What does God want you to know? If you knew your future, would you still walk the path before you? Would you still bow down to worship God?
If your family turned on you and hated you, would you expect them to bow down to you? Let’s put the shoe on the other foot, if you happened to be the one who hated your brother or sister, would you willingly bow down to them? Yes? No?
But that is exactly what happened to one family. Yes, I’m speaking about Joseph. Before I get ahead of myself, will you study this with me? Let’s back up a bit to the beginning of the story as found in Genesis 37, 39-42 and 45. Grab your Bible to read these chapters before we begin.
Joseph was child number 11 of a family of 12 boys and one sister. Truly this was a blended family with wives and concubines producing 13 children.
Jacob, Joseph’s father, loved Joseph and his full brother, Benjamin, more than his other sons. For this, his older brothers had begun to hate Joseph. They hated him even more when Joseph was given a special coat by his father. Why? Because he was the son of his old-age by his beloved Rachel.
But back to the story. Joseph was not liked by his brothers and when he was 17, God revealed his destiny in a dream. He didn’t realize the full extent of his destiny but he knew the dream was from God. Not just one dream but two dreams. Are you familiar with them?
The first dream is about the whole family tying up bundles of grain when his bundle stood up tall above the rest and all of their bundles bowed down to his bundle.
The second dream is about the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowing down to him.
When Joseph told his brothers about the first dream, they were outraged at the very suggestion that they would bow down to him and he would reign over them. They hated him even more after hearing this dream. Who did he think he was?
When he told them and his father of the second dream, even his father rebuked him as they were astounded at the mere thought that they would bow down to him. “Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down …?”
Nothing can infuriate and spur on hatred even more when you hear of dreams like that.
Later, when the older brothers were tending the sheep in Shechem, Jacob sent Joseph to go check on them, to ensure that everything was okay. He wore his new coat that his father had given him and when his brothers saw him coming in the distance, they came up with a plan to get rid of him.
Their plot involved his death but when the oldest brother, Reuben, heard of the details, he attempted to divert their plot to just putting him in a well in the field, like a wild prank. His own plan was to get him out later and send him back home. But, that’s not what happened.
The brothers were not only full of hatred for Joseph but they also saw an opportunity to make a few bucks by selling him to a caravan that was heading to Egypt and for that, they earned 20 pieces of silver.
Here’s Where this Story Begins
Joseph is 17 years old and now on his way to life in Egypt. Can you just imagine what was going on in his head? His coat was stripped off him by his brothers and he had only the clothes on his back. When he arrived in Egypt, he was sold again to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh.
Even at the age of 17, the LORD was with him and he was prosperous. Whatever he did, God blessed him and his master saw this and made him overseer of his house.
That’s pretty young to be in charge of the master’s house, however, the blessing of the LORD was upon him and everything he touched, prospered. Joseph had favour from the LORD.
As time went on, I would imagine that Joseph was attractive to look at because Pharaoh’s wife liked him enough to entice Joseph to sleep with her. She badgered him daily but he would not betray his master. Rejection did not sit well with her and she devised an evil plan to frame him for a crime he did not commit.
This is now Joseph’s first experience in jail. Even in prison, Joseph had the favour of the LORD and as a keeper of two prisoners (the chief baker and chief butler) he was able to interpret their dreams. Long story short, when the chief butler was released from prison, he forgot to tell Pharaoh about Joseph thus Joseph remained in prison another two years.
Let’s stop here for a bit and take this all in. This is the reason why I’m writing this post. God wants us to see something that we often miss. Let’s look.
Under the Layers
Joseph, at the age of 17, was hated so much by his brothers that they plotted evil against him and sold him into a life of slavery. As far as I can tell from the Scriptures, Joseph did not once complain or whine, ‘why me?’ He remained steadfast in his faith in God and trusted Him regardless of the unfairness of it all. He spent a minimum of two years in prison for a crime he did not commit and even there, the LORD’s favour rested on him. Why is that? I believe it is because of his worship to Jehovah that kept him anchored.
Did Joseph ever remember the dreams he had? Did he ever wonder why these things were happening to him? Life in prison certainly did not look like anyone was bowing down to him, certainly not his family whom he hadn’t seen in years and probably never will. Day after day, Joseph sat there in prison, among the others who were there, either justly or unjustly. Yet, they never heard Joseph cuss or speak evil of Pharaoh or anyone else.
Then, one day, his name was mentioned. It took two years for this to happen. Is that in God’s timing? Why not sooner? 730+ days is a long time in prison, especially when you’re innocent. Why not sooner? We’ll find out why, next.
Pharaoh had a dream that perplexed him and he was told that Joseph could interpret dreams accurately. Psst…this is a different Pharaoh than the one who sent him to prison. Anyway, he was satisfied with Joseph’s interpretation and made him ruler over all Egypt, second to himself. He was 30 years old now. Thirteen years had passed from the time he arrived in Egypt. Had he been released from prison sooner, who knows where he would have been from the passing of one Pharaoh to another?
Joseph put a plan into action to store food over the next seven years and two years into the famine, he saw a sight he never thought he’d see again: his brethren. They had arrived seeking food for their family back in Canaan.
As the ruler of all Egypt, Joseph was respected and everyone bowed to him. Guess what they did? They bowed down to Joseph, willingly, because they needed food. They did not know this was young Joseph, the one they hated. The one whose heavenly dreams spoke of this day when they would bow down to him.
Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Genesis 45. He was now 39 years old, a father of two and ruler of Egypt. Quite the promotion, huh?
Here are the words that prompted this message about destiny that didn’t look anything like we think destiny should look like. Look closely at Genesis 45:5-7. Do you see them?
“…for God did send me … “
“And God sent me …”
Joseph held no bitterness, no resentment, no grudge against those who caused him much grief and pain. Do you think it was easy for a 17 year old boy to be hated so much that he is sold into slavery? The things he endured taught him many lessons of full and complete trust in God.
He found favour wherever he went. He was in charge of Pharaoh’s house for many years before he was imprisoned. He was respected but only because he had the LORD’s favour on him. He served his Pharaoh well.
As a prisoner, he continued to have the LORD’s favour on him and even there, he served his prison master.
No matter what Joseph went through, he ends it saying “God sent me ahead of you” to preserve life.
Isn’t that amazing?
Those are big obstacles to face and yet he handled them well by never losing his faith in God. He remained faithful as he would bow down to God in worship and in so doing, received blessings from God and fulfilled the destiny God had planned for him.
Well, that’s it for my thoughts on Joseph’s dreams that became reality many years later. Is there anything you would like to add to this study? Leave me your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you!