JOSEPH: KING OF EGYPTIAN BUSINESS
(Genesis: Chapters 37, 39 - 45)
When Joseph was 17 years old, God showed him in dreams that he would become a king and that his brothers, and even his mother and father, would bow down to him. Prideful, he told his family of the dreams. In anger and resentment, his brothers sold him into slavery. Slavery was the beginning of God's preparation of Joseph's heart to serve as the king He envisioned him being.
Thirteen years later, a meek and broken, but faithful and obedient Joseph reached his destiny. He became second in command reporting only to Pharaoh and in charge of all the business of Egypt. Joseph's journey is instructive to all businessmen with a vision or dream from God. God always takes us into the valley, puts us on the potter's wheel, and brings the purifying fire into our heart before we become the vision that He has for us.
Joseph was the youngest son of Jacob and son of Rachel, his father's first chosen and favorite wife. Jacob showed favoritism to Joseph, including making him a special coat that was a symbol to all that Joseph was his favorite child. Therefore, his brothers, in their humanness, were jealous of Joseph. When Joseph told them of his dreams, that obviously meant that they, along with their parents, would bow down to him, they were even more infuriated. One day they devised a plan to kill him. But Reuben, the oldest and most responsible son, convinced the brothers to spare his life. Instead, they sold him into slavery, ultimately in Egypt. Slavery is not exactly a normal step toward becoming a king. But, God's thoughts and plans are above man's thoughts and plans. God's ways are not man's ways.
At this point, Joseph could have become despondent and doubted the vision and the destiny that God showed him in the dreams. But, Joseph was faithful to God and God showed him favor. He was bought by Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh's officials, the Captain of the Guard. His master saw his success in handling his affairs and God's favor upon him, so he gave Joseph more and more responsibility. Finally, everything the master had was entrusted to Joseph to manage. He lived in the house of his Egyptian master. After a while, the master's wife took notice of Joseph, a well built and handsome young man. She tried to seduce him but Joseph was faithful to his God and to his master. He resisted and fled. Potiphar's wife grabbed his coat before he fled and lied to her husband, accusing Joseph of making sexual advances. Therefore, Potiphar had Joseph thrown into prison.
So, if slavery is not enough to humble Joseph and to prepare him to serve as a king, maybe prison will complete his brokenness and transformation. In prison, Joseph had the choice: let God continue to break him or become defiant, angry and resentful. Joseph was faithful and the Lord was with him and showed him kindness, granting him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. The warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison. The warden paid no attention to anything under Joseph's care because the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did. Joseph was not only faithful to God, but to the prison staff and the prisoners as well. He did his work well. He was diligent and created value where he was, while no doubt clinging to the vision and dreaming of being somewhere else.
Pharaoh's chief cupbearer and chief baker were put under Joseph's control at the prison. One night, each of them had a dream. The next morning, Joseph noticed that they were dejected and he asked them, "Why are your faces so sad today?" They told him of the dreams and Joseph asked for details that he might interpret the dreams. Notice that Joseph cared about them and that they trusted Joseph. He interpreted the dreams to mean that the cupbearer would be restored to the Pharaoh's house in three days but the baker would be killed by the Pharaoh in three days. Both of these occurred. Prior to the cupbearer going back to the Pharaoh's house, Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him when he returned to the Pharaoh's palace, but he did not.
However, after two full years passed, Pharaoh had disturbing dreams that could not be interpreted by his magicians and wise men of Egypt. Then, the chief cupbearer remembered Joseph and Pharaoh asked that Joseph be brought to interpret the dreams. Joseph interpreted the dreams to Pharaoh's satisfaction. The dreams interpreted meant that Egypt would have seven years of plentiful harvest of grain and then seven years of famine. When Pharaoh asked Joseph, whom he now saw as a wise man, what he, Pharaoh, should do, Joseph said, "Appoint someone to take part of the full harvest from the seven years of plenty, to store it and to make it available during the seven years of famine that will follow". Pharaoh's response was to say to Joseph, "Since God has made this known to you, you shall be in charge of all my palace and the whole of Egypt".
Joseph was 30 years old when he became King of Egyptian Business. Thirteen years after God gave Joseph the vision of being a king, Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger and said, "I am Pharaoh, but without your word, no one will lift hand or foot in all of Egypt". He also gave Joseph a wife.
Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt collecting food produced in the seven years of abundance in Egypt and storing it in the cities. The harvest was so great that Joseph quit keeping records. During those seven years of abundance, Joseph's wife bore him two sons. Joseph was grateful that God had made him forget all his troubles in his father's household and had made him fruitful in the land of his suffering.
The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end and the seven years of famine began just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all other lands but in the whole of Egypt there was food. All the countries surrounding Egypt began to come to Egypt to buy grain for the famine was severe there also.
During the famine, Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt and he sent his sons to buy some. We know the rest of the story. They came and they bowed down to Joseph, whom they did not recognize, and then they returned and got their father who came and bowed before Joseph. Twenty-two years after the dreams, they came true. Joseph identified himself, forgave them, and explained that their selling him into slavery was the beginning of God's plan to save the family from the famine. Joseph treated them like royalty, giving them food and other provisions, and brought them into the land of plenty to live.
Has God given you a dream, a vision? Shown you your destiny? But, it has been years and it appears that you are farther from the dream now than when the vision was conceived in your heart. And you are frustrated and about to give up on that dream. You think God has forgotten you or changed His mind. Remember that it is God's pure vision of you, which you see dimly [distorted], that He wants to transform you into. Only then can you reach your destiny. Fight the good fight. Remain true to Your God and pursue the vision, as dim and distorted as it may be. Maybe you have not been as faithful as Joseph. Then what? Repent and seek God's council. He has not forgotten you, but He has forgiven you; and He has not changed His mind. Will you let Him break you, mold you, mature you, like He did Joseph? When we let Him mold us into the vision that He has given us, His vision of us comes true. More than that, we have the heart of the vision; we are the pure, non-distorted vision.