I started this look at Joseph’s story yesterday, so if you missed that I encourage you to check it out HERE. As we continue today, Joseph has been betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery. He ends up the property of an Egyptian man, and this new master sees that the Lord is with Joseph. Joseph’s new master is no dummy, so he makes Joseph the boss. Hey, God’s with this guy, then I want him in charge of all my affairs. Unfortunately, the new master isn’t the only one who’s taken notice of Joseph. Master’s wife also started paying attention. The Bible tells us that Joseph was a handsome dude. Those are my words, not the Bible’s. According to the Bible, Joseph was “handsome in form and appearance.” And master’s wife likes what she sees, so she starts trying to get Joseph to sleep with her. He resists, and then one day she grabs his robes and tries again. Joseph tears himself away by slipping out of his clothes and runs out of the house. Joseph is a good man. He’s not about to betray his master’s trust in him and he’s not about to sin against God. So he sprints out of the house in his tighty-whities (or whatever it was he had on under his robe).
There’s a saying about a scorned woman. I’m not saying it’s always true, but it definitely was here. The master’s wife claims that Joseph tried to force himself on her, using his left behind robe as evidence. The master’s not pleased, and Joseph gets thrown in prison.
As I read this story I just couldn’t believe the luck on this guy. From the start, had he just been tossed in a hole in the ground, his one decent big brother Reuben was going to come back and save him. But nope, his brothers happened across some traders who were down to purchase a slave. Somehow, with the Lord’s blessing on him, Joseph excels in slavery. He rises to a prominent position, and it seems like his life is pretty good there in his master’s household. Then, the lustings of his master’s wife get Joseph tossed into prison.
Surely this is it. Surely this is the moment when Joseph cries out in anguish and despair and anger. Why have you done this to me, Lord? Why do these terrible things continue to befall me? But Joseph doesn’t do that. Instead, he goes to prison and just so happens to be the best prisoner ever. He’s such an amazing, upstanding prisoner, that the prison overseer puts Joseph in charge over all the other prisoners! Because once again, Joseph went to prison, but somebody came along for the ride.
Genesis 39:21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.
During his time in prison, Joseph meets a few officers of Pharaoh that ran afoul of Pharaoh and got themselves tossed in prison. Each of them has a strange dream, and Joseph exercises his gift of interpreting dreams for them. He tells one of them that they’ll soon be released and restored to their old position, and asks that the man please relay Joseph’s story to Pharaoh so that he might release Joseph from prison. Well, the guy gets out, and does he tell Pharaoh about this incredible young man wrongfully imprisoned who can interpret dreams? Sure he does… TWO YEARS LATER! What a bro this guy turned out to be. He got out of prison, got his life and position back, and then forgot all about poor Joseph. It’s not until Pharaoh himself has some troubling dreams and wants them interpreted that this man remembers Joseph and relays his story to Pharaoh.
So Joseph is summoned, and he interprets Pharaoh’s dream for him. He interprets it as a warning from God that seven plentiful years are going to be followed by a great seven year famine. He also gives Pharaoh some great counsel on appointing someone to oversee gathering and storing of food so that Egypt will have enough food to survive the famine. Pharaoh is pleased with Joseph, and he also recognizes something about him. Once again, it appears that Joseph’s got a passenger along for the ride as he comes out of prison to meet with Pharaoh.
Genesis 41:37-38 This proposal pleased Pharaoh and all of his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the spirit of God?”
At this point I think we all get it. Where Joseph goes, so goes the favor of the Lord. Pharaoh recognizes this, and appoints Joseph to a place of power. He makes Joseph second in command of the entire country of Egypt. I don’t know much about this Pharaoh, but he seems like a pretty wise ruler to me. He recognizes that God is with Joseph, and he doesn’t just pull Joseph out of prison and make him an adviser or a royal servant, he makes Joseph his right hand man!
Joseph gets the royal treatment now. Pharaoh pulls off some of his own jewelry and puts it on Joseph, he adorns him in super expensive royal clothing, gave him a wife, he gets the works!
Genesis 41:40-41 You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “see, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
At this point Joseph is 30 years old. He’s spent 13 years as a slave/prisoner in Egypt, and now here he is, second in Egypt to only Pharaoh himself.
For the purpose of this first study of Joseph, I’m going to stop the story there. I called this study Joseph the favored because I think it’s one of the most obvious things about the guy. He was favored by his father, favored by the Egyptian master who he was sold to, favored by the prison overseer, favored by Pharaoh, and I think it’s pretty blatantly spelled out that above all this, Joseph is favored by God. Through all of these trials, these terrible situations that befall him, God’s always there with him showing favor to Joseph.
The word favor has several great definitions. An attitude of approval or liking, an act of kindness beyond what is due or usual, to feel or show approval or preference for. I think all three sum up the favor of God in Joseph’s life. And I’ll be honest. I want that favor! I don’t think it’s ungodly to say that I want the kind of favor with God that Joseph had. How can we get it? And what does it mean to have it? Those are the questions I’ll be delving into Thursday as I wrap up my study on Joseph the favored.
CLOSING AND PRAYER
I apologize for leaving things on a cliffhanger. I try really hard to keep these posts from getting too lengthy and this really was the best place I could find to pause. I’m excited and encouraged and even challenged by Joseph’s story. I’m looking forward to closing out this initial look at him on Thursday before delving into other aspects of his character next week.
For prayers today, I want to lift up the veterans in our lives. Veterans Day is tomorrow and I just feel that it’s important to pray for peace for these brave men and women who over the years have made the choice to put their lives on the line for us. I had the incredible pleasure of spending my afternoon with a 93 year old World War 2 veteran, and I was just reminded how much some of these people sacrificed for me. So let’s lift these people up to the Lord. Pray for peace in their spirit, healing, blessings, just ask that God gives special attention to these people this week.
I love you guys! I’m a little bit sick and I’ve been running around like crazy today for my job, yet I’ve still had this massive feeling of the Lord’s peace and comfort hovering over me since I woke up. God loves us, and He’s with us.