Joseph: Shepherd, Slave, Convict, Ruler

Joseph: Shepherd, Slave, Convict, Ruler

Genesis 41:38

38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”

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 ten 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 prosper where most would have failed. He added quiet wisdom to his confidence and won the hearts of everyone he met—Potiphar, the warden, other prisoners, the pharaoh, and after many years, even those ten brothers.

Perhaps you can identify with one or more of these hardships Joseph experienced: he was betrayed and deserted by his family; he was exposed to sexual temptation, and punished for doing the right thing; he endured a long imprisonment and was forgotten by those he helped. As you read his story, note what Joseph did in each case. His positive response transformed each setback into a step forward. He didn’t spend much time asking “Why?” His approach was “What shall I do now?” Those who met Joseph were aware that wherever he went and whatever he did, God was with him. When you’re facing a setback, the beginning of a Joseph-like attitude is to acknowledge that God is with you. There is nothing like His presence to shed new light on a dark situation.

Strengths and accomplishments:

  • Rose in power from slave to ruler of Egypt
  • Was known for his personal integrity
  • Was a man of spiritual sensitivity
  • Prepared a nation to survive a famine

Weakness and mistake:

  • His youthful pride caused friction with his brothers

Lessons from his life:

  • What matters is not so much the events or circumstances of life, but our response to them
  • With God’s help, any situation can be used for good, even when others intend it for evil

Vital statistics:

  • Where: Canaan, Egypt
  • Occupation: Shepherd, slave, convict, ruler
  • Relatives: Parents: Jacob and Rachel. Eleven brothers and one sister named in the Bible. Wife: Asenath. Sons: Manasseh and Ephraim.

Joseph’s story is told in Genesis 30—50. He is also mentioned in Hebrews 11:22.

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