That One Story About Joseph

Joseph.

Like not Jesus’ earth dad, but like Old Testament Joseph.

Probably most known for his rad multi-colored coat. Or this 90s kid classic:

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But after recently reading through Genesis, I realized his story his so much more than that.

I’m currently reading Jefferson Bethke’s Jesus>Religion and something he points out in the book is that literally everything in the Bible points towards God; you’d think that would be a no brainer but reading that just really hit me. So many times we read these Old Testament stories but get no meaning out of it other than some cool story or oh hey look what God did there kind of thing or this is how we are supposed to act moralistic story. Many times, they are in fact testaments to God’s power but more than that they are images of Him and reflections of how we should act because of Him, the idea that we are made in His image. While reading through a few chapters in Genesis the past few days, I had a God-piphany.

Back story on this lead character: Joseph is the favored son of Jacob because Joseph’s mother, Rachel, has died. Jacob gives Joseph the infamous coat of many colors has a token of this love and Joseph’s brother become jealous. He and his brothers are out in the fields one day when his brothers get the inclination to kill of Joseph out of jealousy and irritation. They refrain from that idea and decide to sell him into slavery  instead. Once sold, Joseph finds himself in Egypt working for a man named Potiphar. After a turn of events and being framed by Potiphar’s wife, Joseph finds himself in jail. While in the can, he interprets two men’s’ dreams-both of which turn out just as Joseph said. The Pharaoh learns about Joseph’s gift after having some sketch dreams himself and inquiring if anyone can help him. Joseph helps Pharaoh and earns a high place in the court thanks to it. Skip forward a little, famine hits Egypt like Joseph said would happen based on Pharaoh’s dream. Because of this, Joseph’s brothers must come to Egypt for food. Who is in charge of rationing food out? Yup. Ole Joey. But wait! They don’t know that it is him. They presume he is dead.

acca awkward

Joseph sees his brothers when they come and bow to him. In Genesis 42, its shows he begins by treating them like strangers and speaking harshly. He is overcome with emotion (as you can imagine) and has a change of heart. He has them stay to “test if they are spies”, and finally lets them go home about half a chapter later. Genesis 43 is where it really starts to blow my mind. Joseph basically connives this whole plan to bring his brothers back to Egypt so he can see them again and inquire information about his father. When they leave and return, Joseph provides money and food for them-much more than he had to. After they are back, he invites them to dine with him and sit at his table (big social no-no at the time). He continues to provide for them despite what they did to him in the past. Even after he reveals who he is in Genesis 45, never once does he seek payback or make them grovel for what they did. If anyone was in a position where they could easily make someone pay-it was Joseph, but he never did. He treats them with love. He shows grace in His actions. Much like God does to us.

This picture of Joseph we have in Genesis mirrors how God treats us. Joseph’s brothers mistreated and abused him, sold him out, neglected him, and did not give two hoots about acknowledging their brother. How often do we mistreat God or abuse what He has given us? How many times have we sold out to other things over Him? How many times have we paid Him no attention? Yet despite all of this, God still makes the choice to love us. Joseph provided for his brothers, even when they didn’t see or understand why-God does the same for us everyday. So many times we see things happen and work out and don’t give the glory to God-kind of like when Joseph stashed extra in his brothers’ packs. Joseph endured pain to give grace-Jesus endured pain to give grace. In Genesis 45, Joseph tests his brothers to see how they will react-God tests us to see where our heart is really at as well. Also, just as Joseph invited his brothers to sit at his table-God invites us to dine at his table too. In these three chapters in Genesis, we see a prelude to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Joseph’s story isn’t just a Sunday School portrait of how we should treat others and how God causes things to work out while working through our suffering, but it is an image of God’s love and treatment towards us as well. Boom. Mind blowing, I know! God’s a pretty cool dude needless to say.

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