Friday, October 9, 2015

All Things New - Joseph, the Road of Transformation

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

While Joseph's brothers dealt with...or endured...the consequences of their actions in Canaan, Joseph had some dealing of his own to do.

Yes, he'd been an aggravation to his brothers, but I wonder how he pondered the events that led up to his captivity as they journeyed on to Egypt. Joseph was not stupid.  I suspect that he suddenly had a massive shift in perspective that precipitated a huge change in him on that journey.  Seeing his life from his brother's viewpoint may never had occurred to him before, but he had plenty of time to think it over.

There is nothing more humiliating than the realization that other people have seen your actions and heard your words in a whole 'nuther context than you anticipated.  By the time Potiphar encountered the merchants, Joseph had reconciled his circumstances with his past actions. He willingly served Potiphar and excelled in everything he did.  No more mention of dreams of glory.  In fact, he refused to take advantage of his position when given the opportunity.  He repeatedly refused, in fact.

And that refusal landed him in prison.  Another drop in status.  From favored son to slave to prisoner...and this time, there was no foolishness on his part to which he could attribute the misfortune.  He had done what was right, with the right attitude, in the most respectful way possible.

But God was still working transformation in Joseph.  Forgiving Potiphar's wife was nothing compared to forgiving his brothers.  And he had to forgive his brothers, freely and completely, before he could be trusted with the position God had for him.

I will point out that he was not killed for the crime for which he was accused; I think Potiphar did not believe his wife's story, as he could have had Joseph executed.  But public accusations had been made and Potiphar had to make a public response.  He could not officially believe a slave's story over his wife's.  So, he put Joseph into the prison reserved for the king's prisoners...political offenders.  And, incidentally, Potiphar was the captain of the guard  (Gen. 39:1), and the prison where Joseph was kept was  'the house of the captain of the guard'  (Gen 40:3). The keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of everything -- who was it who put the bug in his ear that this was a trustworthy prisoner?  Could Potiphar have interceded there, giving his commanding officer a valuable administrator?  But it definitely was the captain of the guard, i.e., Potiphar, who put Joseph with the king's servants -  the cupbearer and the baker (Gen 40:4) - which gave Joseph the opportunity to tell his story to men who potentially had Pharaoh's ear.

It wasn't long before Joseph had his chance with them...they both had perplexing dreams, which Joseph interpreted.  The cupbearer had a favorable interpretation, and Joseph slipped up just a the only recorded account of him complaining of his circumstances -- For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me in this pit. (Gen. 40:15)

I've often wondered if that bit of self pity is what cost Joseph two more years in the prison, as the cupbearer promptly forgot the whole incident once he was restored to his position.  Not as a punishment...but because that was an indication that his heart had not yet come completely around to where it needed to be.  Joseph had to come to the position that it was God who was moving in his life...not unfair circumstances...and as long as he felt he was being treated unfairly he could not move in faith.

Which would mean that when God saw Joseph was ready,  He started the timetable to pull his people out of Canaan and put them in isolation in Egypt, where they would grow from a tribe to a nation.

God sent Pharaoh a most perplexing dream.  And the cupbearer suddenly remembered who had given him and the baker accurate interpretations of  their respective perplexing dreams.

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit.  And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh.  (Gen 41:14)

Talk about a transformation.  An hour or two -- maybe-- and he went from another-day-just-like-the-others-in-prison to an audience with Pharaoh himself. 

But wait -- there's more.  At the end of that audience,

Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are.  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...See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt."  Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck.  -- Gen. 41:39 - 42

Literally, in one day, Joseph had gone from forgotten prisoner to second in rank in the entire country.

It had been thirteen years since he'd left his brothers at Dothan.  Thirteen years of  service, misjudgement, unfair circumstances.  Thirteen years that seemed to be the very opposite of everything he had expected from life. But Joseph did not fight the process; he learned. He served where he was.  And it didn't matter where he was once God's timetable started...God was able to pull him out and put him exactly where he needed to be exactly when he needed to be there.

All that Joseph had to deal with people, how to be Egyptian, how to manage property...were skills that he needed now to mobilize the country for the coming famine.  Just like he'd done in Potiphar's house...just like he'd done in the king's prison...Joseph went to work.

How do I need to let my perspective shift from my viewpoint?  What differences will that make in my approach to my circumstances?  What complaining to I need to get over so that I am ready to go on to the next thing God has?  What are my circumstances teaching me that I need to be ready to apply to new scenarios and situations?

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