A character Study of Joseph (Jacob’s son)

Although we meet Joseph when he is a baby, we start to learn about him when he is 17. We know that Rachel, his mother, has died and that he is Israel’s (Jacob’s) favorite son. The first we hear of him is in Genesis 37:2, where we are told that Joseph felt the need to bring a “bad report of his brothers” to Jacob while they were tending the flock. This did not endear him to them. They hated him and would not listen to anything he said. While his brothers were getting angrier and angrier at him, his father Israel loved him so much that he made Joseph a special coat of many colors. This did nothing to help his relationship with his brothers. The Lord then sent Joseph two dreams. He shared both with his brothers and the second with his father. Jacob rebuked him by saying in Genesis 37:10b and 11”   10 …….‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you’” 11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”

Doing research online and in my study bible, I found that most commentators think that Joseph, at this point in his life, was protected by his father and was rather naïve. Upon reading these verses originally, I felt that Joseph was full of himself and extremely prideful. He was his father’s favorite, even though Rachel had also given Benjamin to Jacob. The NKJV Life Application Bible has an article on Joseph on page 75. The article states:

“As a youngster, Joseph was overconfident. His natural self-assurance, increased by being Jacob’s favorite son and by knowing of God’s designs on his life, was unbearable to his 10 older brothers, who eventually conspired against him. But this self –assurance, molded by pain and combined with a personal knowledge of God, allowed him to survive and prospe where most would have failed. He added quiet wisdom to his confidence and won the hearts of everyone he met—Potiphar, the keeper of the prison, other prisoners, the king, and after many years, even those 10 brothers.”

To be rid of their annoying brother, his older brothers sold him as a slave. He ended up in the house of Potiphar. Scripture tell us in Chapter 39:2a “The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man.” Joseph used this time to allow the Lord to start working in his life. Whether he was a spoiled brat or a naïve teen, he saw that the Lord was with him and allowed the Lord to start changing him. Potiphar also saw that the Lord was with Joseph and gave him charge of his house. Joseph was also developing a very strict sense of right and wrong. Scripture doesn’t tell us if he learned it as a youth, or if God impressed it upon him in Egypt. When Potiphar’s wife repeatedly tried to seduce him, he repeatedly refused her. One day, despite his protests, she was able to frame him for being with her. Potiphar was so angry that he immediately threw Joseph into prison.

Verses 21 and 22 tell us “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing.”At both Potiphar’s house and in the prison, Joseph chose to work as if working unto the Lord. We have no indication that he was angry with Potiphar or his wife. The keeper of the prison also put most of the control of the prison under Joseph and trusted him, because the keeper knew that God was with Joseph.

At one point of Joseph’s stay in prison, both Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker were thrown in prison. Each had a dream and the next morning Joseph saw them and saw that they were sad. Chapter 40 verses 7 and 8 state: So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’ And they said to him, ‘We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it’ So Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.’”. Joseph was becoming more and more aware that God was in control. He interpreted the two dreams and then asked the butler to remember him to Pharaoh, which he forgot to do. Again, there is no record that Joseph was angry or upset. He was still allowing the Lord to work in and through him.

Two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams that no one could interpret. This is when the butler finally remembered Joseph. Joseph was brought before Pharaoh and asked to interpret his dreams. In Chapter 41 verse 16 Joseph tells Pharaoh “16 So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Joseph, through the power of the Holy Spirit tells Pharaoh what his dreams mean and that he needs to appoint someone he can trust to store up supplies for the seven lean years that will be coming. Pharaoh appointed Joseph as the man he could trust, because he recognized that God was with Joseph. Scripture tells us that Joseph was 30 when this happened, so that means he spent 13 years allowing the Lord change him into the person the Lord needed him to be.

The famine that plagued Egypt was not contained only in Egypt. Canaan, where Joseph’s family still dwelt was also afflicted by the famine. Jacob sends his 10 older sons to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph, as Governor, was responsible for selling all the grain, to make sure that it was fairly given out. This meant that Joseph’s brothers had to meet with him to get the grain. He recognized them, but they didn’t recognize him. Joseph decided to test his brothers to see if they had changed in the intervening years. He made them promise to bring Benjamin and kept Simeon as ransom. Jacob did not want to let Benjamin go, but Rueben and Judah both said they would take responsibility for Benjamin. The first thing they did when they saw Joseph was confess that they found the money they had brought to pay for the first portion of grain, back in their sacks. Joseph continues to test them by putting his cup in Benjamin’s pack. As punishment, Joseph was going to have Benjamin stay with him as his slave, but Judah pleaded with Joseph to let Benjamin go and let him be his slave instead. This was a true turn-around for Judah who had been the one to instigate his brothers to sell Joseph in the first place.

At this point, Joseph knows that his brothers have changed and he reveals himself. Scripture tells us in Chapter 45 verses “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” It also appears that the dreams that the Lord sent Joseph when he was 17 came true. The Lord’s Word is Truth,

Jacob decided to elevate Ephraim over Menasseh when he blessed them. Due to his heightened sense of right and wrong, Joseph didn’t think this was right. He should have known, because the Lord chose his grandfather Isaac, who was not the first born and his father Israel, also not the first born, to fulfill some of His promises to Abraham.

The Lord used Joseph mightily and during all the circumstances that one would judge as being negative in a worldly way, God grew Joseph to become the man He needed him to be during the crisis in Egypt. This was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s prophesy to Abram in Genesis 15:13 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.

Works Cited

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 7/08-7/10/17

ARTICLE ON JOSEPH on page 75 in the “ Life Application Study Bible – New King James Version”. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Wheaton, IL 1989, 1996 (Notes). Print.

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The Relationship between Faith and Obedience

We first meet a man named Abram in Genesis 11, where we are told in verses 31& 32::

31 And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. 32 So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

We are not told why Terah left Ur, nor why he took Abram, Sarai and Lot with him. We are also not told why they stopped in Haran, and didn’t continue on to Canaan.

Chapter 12 begins with the Lord speaking directly to Abram, who at this point is 75 years old. Verses 1-8 tell us:

Now the Lord had said to Abram:“Get out of your country, From your family
And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.  Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.[a] And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.[b
]

Abram was obedient to the Lord. We do not know how the Lord chose to communicate to Abram, before verse 7 of Chapter 12, We also do not know what form He took when He appeared to Abram in the same verse; for unlike Moses, whose first encounter with God is documented, in Exodus 3:2 “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed” Scripture tells us nothing of Abram’s first encounter with the Lord.

Abram obeyed God, even though he had no experiential knowledge that following God was the right thing to do. This is what faith is really all about. God made some promises to Abram that would not be fulfilled in Abram’s lifetime. Hebrews 11:8-10 tells us that. . 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

But God also made some promises to Abram that were fulfilled in Abram’s lifetime, which showed Abram that being obedient through faith would bring the blessing that the Lord spoke of. For the next 24 years, Abram lived his life, didn’t always look to the Lord for answers, and sometimes got himself into trouble with God and others. He is a good example of how many Christians live their lives, because most of us do the same thing.

While the Lord interacted with Abram during this time, we are now going to look at a promise that the Lord made, that was partially fulfilled in Abram’s lifetime. . Looking at Chapter 17 of Genesis, we find that God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. Verses 5 and 6 tell us 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you”. The Lord also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. Verses 15and 16 state:” 15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”

A year later, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and Sarah as we see in Chapter 21, verses 1-3: “ 1And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac.”

In Chapter 22, God decides to test Abraham. Verses 1-3 tells us: “1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Abraham and Isaac continued alone to Mount Moriah. Verse 9 picks up the story:

Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” 12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

Abraham trusted God. He knew he would be returning from the mountain with Isaac. He didn’t know how God was going to accomplish this, but he had faith in God, for the Lord had promised Abraham that Isaac was the son of promise.

What does this teach us? By being obedient to the Lord and trusting Him with our lives and the decisions we need to make, He always has the best ready for us. It may not be what we want, but it is always exactly what we need. Having faith in what the Lord would have us do, means that we will be obedient to His will. He states in 1st Samuel 15:22  22 So Samuel said“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
Additionally, Psalms 25:10 states: All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies”. We can learn from Abraham that obedience and faith are the best way to have a relationship with God. Even though Abraham made many mistakes in his relationship with God, he believed in Him. Genesis Chapter 15, verse 6 says: “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” I hope the someday, the same thing can be said about me.

Works Cited

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 6/13-6/19/17