Joseph In Egypt

“And the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.” (Genesis 39:2)

I wonder if anyone would ever suspect that the Lord was with Joseph if we were not specifically told so in Genesis 39:2? The song “Go, Go, Go Joseph” from the campy Broadway musical, “Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” offers the encouraging words as the protagonist languishes away in prison: “Don’t give up Joseph, fight till you drop, we’ve read the Book and you come out on top.” Sometimes, it is all too easy looking backward through history from our vantage point to forget the uncertainty of events for those who lived through them.

But as we read on into the saga of Joseph, it becomes clearer and clearer that he was an extraordinary man. When we first met him, he was a young boy of 17 years, untried and untouched by the tragedies and injustices of life. Perhaps a bit naive, Joseph possessed the innocence that we all did at one point or another; an innocence of youth that is unsullied by the bitterness which proceeds from discouragement and so often tries to creep into our hearts. Joseph dreamed big dreams and entertained lofty hopes, but character untested is no character at all. Now the trials begin to come like so many raindrops; first pattering lightly and sporadically before crescendoing into a downpour of utter misfortune.
Yet written across the cruel and unjust events of Joseph’s life are the words: “The Lord was with him.” This simple statement gives meaning and purpose to the most horrific of circumstances and lends hope during the most desperate hours. Joseph was cast into a pit by his brothers, then pulled out only to be sold into slavery, then cast into prison. How many of us would resign ourselves to an inconsolable despair in the face of such circumstances? For it seems that just as a ray of light begins to shine through the darkness surrounding Joseph, it is quickly snuffed out and the latter condition is worse than the former. But in all of these things, the Lord was with him.
Sprinkled throughout the narrative and bookending Joseph’s tragedies are the tell-tale signs of a life empowered by the Spirit of God. Joseph does not serve Potiphar for long before the fact that God is with the young Hebrew becomes apparent to his master. Consequently, Joseph is elevated to a position of great authority. The same thing happens again when Joseph is cast into prison (Gen. 39:21-22). Wherever Joseph finds himself, God is there with him — and those around him see this. Joseph’s story is a profound reminder of God’s ability to manipulate our circumstances in order to bring about His purposes in our lives. It may seem to the human eye that Joseph is slipping further and further into a bleak chasm of desperation, but God is merely getting him closer and closer to the exalted position of service that he will one day find himself in.
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)
The account of the despicable accusation brought against Joseph by Potiphar’s wife reveals to us even more admirable traits in the character of Joseph. It is ironic how the manner in which one responds to being falsely accused of the most contemptible behavior can speak volumes in vindicating their dignity. It is within our nature to, when falsely accused, protest with the greatest vehemence we can possibly muster. Our tendency is to strive to make certain that our plea of innocence has not been overlooked nor misunderstood. But the silence of Joseph in the face of such heinous charges being brought against him points steadfastly at the Lord Jesus’ response in the presence of the Sanhedrin and later before Pilate. Perhaps Joseph, out of respect and gratitude for Potiphar’s kindness toward him, is unwilling to bring scandal upon his household. That Potiphar was likely already aware of his wife’s adulterous tendencies is evidenced by the relatively lenient punishment that Joseph receives at his hands. Would any other slave have likely escaped with his life had their master been so powerful a man in the government of Egypt? Or perhaps it was the impression left on Joseph’s heart by the Lord that compelled him to bear this injustice knowing that God desired to bring about a greater good from it. As our Lord knew that the Cross lay in the path that led Him in obedience to the will of the Father, so, too, was Joseph aware that the way to being lifted up before God was through humility and death to self. He knew not how nor why, but Joseph knew that the dungeon of Pharaoh was just as much a part of God’s plans for him as the pit in Dothan and the slave caravan of the Ismaelites had been.
And where do you find yourself, child of God? Whatever valley you are passing through, whatever ditch you have been thrown into, is the Lord not with you even there? Is not even the despair of this very hour a part of God’s plan for you? Oh, but that we could know the end from the beginning, if only we were privy to knowing all the details of the book that is written about our own lives! Would we not see as Joseph did that God intended for good even those things which were done to us for evil (Gen. 50:20)?

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,


[This post was originally published September 22, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]


4 responses

  1. This is very well put, Loren….. In our despair, it’s so easy to forget that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”….. Romans 8:28

    This also brought to mind Psalm 105, in which Joseph’s experience is mentioned and verses 18-19 say, “They afflicted his feet with fetters; he himself was laid in irons, until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the LORD tested him.”

    Joseph trusted God, even as he realized that the LORD was testing him…. The Lord tests us, too, to see if we will walk the talk…. Since God is the same yesterday, today and forever, Joseph’s experience tells us we can trust the Lord to work all things for our good in the end….. In the mean time, it is pretty tough.


  2. Well said, margaret, thank you :)

    God does cause all things to work together for the good of those who love Him, but that is definitely something that we tend to forget sometimes when everything around us looks as if the Lord has forgotten all about us! Our faith in God’s Word is often tested as it was with Joseph; may we all keep our faith strong in the Lord just as he did.


  3. This was such an encouragement and confirmation for all of us, for we all go through things that leave us looking bad, feeling abandoned and wanting to be understood and vindicated! Wow. It was as if you gave me a glimpse into the future, through Joseph’s trials . . .and knowing how that turned out. Thank you so much, Loren! Awesome post!


  4. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)

    How great would it be to see all of our own sufferings from the perspective of eternity? If only we were able to see our circumstances from God’s point of view! Compared with the span of an eternity with Christ, there really is nothing that we go through here that is worth comparing it with :)

    Thanks, Deb, for the great comments!


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