Joseph opened his eyes, wiped sleep away. He’d had two dreams during the night and he knew they were important. Each dream placed his ten brothers in subjugation to him. The first dream showed Joseph and his brothers binding sheaves of grain and his sheaf stood upright while theirs bowed to his. The second dream was more imposing. The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. Such amazing news must be shared; at least it seemed so in the mind of a seventeen-year-old.
Joseph was wrong. The brothers already knew that their father, Israel, favored Joseph above them because he had given the boy a special colorful robe, and kept him at home while they labored under the hot sun as shepherds. Plus, Joseph had once given their father a bad report about his brothers. Bragging to them about his dreams was the final straw. So, when Israel sent Joseph to check on his brothers tending the sheep in a far-away city and report back to him, their hatred for their youngest brother erupted. When he arrived, they stripped him of his robe and threw him in a pit until they decided how they would kill him.
As they deliberated, a caravan of slave-traders passed by. A new plan emerged. They would make a profit on him instead. They sold him into slavery for 20 pieces of silver. Joseph’s dreams of bowing sheaves, sun, moon and stars vanished.
But God had a plan for Joseph’s life.
Joseph ended up in Egypt serving the captain of the guard, Potiphar. Over time, everything Joseph did prospered the captain’s household. Until, Potiphar’s wife took notice of Joseph’s good looks. Day after day she tempted him to lie with her, but Joseph resisted. Finally, she falsely accused him of raping her, and Potiphar unjustly threw him in prison. Joseph’s reward for doing the right thing? Imprisonment!
But God had a plan for Joseph’s life.
While in prison, because God was with Joseph, he found favor with the guards, so much so that he was put in charge of all other prisoners. In fact, when Pharaoh’s own cupbearer and chief baker were tossed into that prison, Joseph was charged to care for them. One night, the cupbearer and baker each had separate dreams. Joseph, empowered by God, correctly interpreted their dreams and the cupbearer was restored to his position in Pharaoh’s palace while the baker was hanged. But before the cupbearer was restored, Joseph asked him to remember him and appeal to Pharaoh on his behalf. The cupbearer said that he would, but then forgot to do it. Two years later, though, Pharaoh had two dreams of his own.
Pharaoh dreamed of seven plump cows being swallowed up by seven emaciated cows in one dream, and in the second dream, saw seven plump ears of grain swallowed up by seven thin ears of grain. What did his dreams mean? Greatly troubled, Pharaoh turned to his magicians and wise men, but none could interpret the dreams. It was then that the cupbearer remembered Joseph who was brought out of prison to stand before Pharaoh. Joseph told him, “God has revealed what He is about to do.” Seven years of plentiful harvests would be followed by seven years of famine for Egypt.
God not only empowered Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream, but also gave Joseph a plan to prepare and care for all of Egypt during the coming famine. After being sold into slavery by jealous brothers, after 13 years in slavery and prison, Joseph was raised to a position of power and authority in the greatest kingdom of the world at that time!
But God had an even bigger plan for Joseph’s life.
After the seven plentiful years of crops, the seven famine years settled not only into Egypt, but also into the surrounding countries. One day, ten Hebrew brothers from the land of Canaan—the Promised Land—came to Egypt to buy grain. They didn’t recognize the man supervising the portions of grain buyers received, but Joseph recognized them, as they bowed before him. He was a powerful man now. He could exact any revenge he chose. Instead, he decided to test them to see what was in their hearts, to see if they had changed since selling him into slavery. They passed every test. And once they had proven themselves, Joseph revealed his identity.
Imagine their shock. Imagine their fear! But Joseph forgave them, and gave credit to God, the God who never forgot him. He said, “God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth…you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.”
Joseph was able to look back on his life and see how God worked his rejection, pain, imprisonment, and suffering for his good and for the good of others. On his death bed, Joseph made his relatives promise to take his bones with them out of Egypt when they settled permanently in the Promised Land.
Centuries later, one greater than Joseph was born in the Promised Land. His name was Jesus. His story was like Joseph’s story. But unlike Joseph, Jesus never sinned. He was always humble, never boasting or giving bad reports. He, like Joseph, was betrayed by His own brothers and sold for silver. He, like Joseph, was falsely accused and afflicted. Like Joseph, His suffering brought about the saving of many lives.
But Jesus was greater than Joseph. He came to earth knowingly and willingly to suffer and to die on a cross. And greater than Joseph, God raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand to rule and uphold the entire universe. He is the bread from heaven that sustains us in a spiritually famine-ridden land. He brings eternal life for those who come to Him for help. So, what Satan and evil people intended for evil in Jesus’ life, God intended for good. Our good!
Have you come to the One greater than Joseph to be saved and fed?