Paul said the lives of the Old Testament characters would instruct us how to live, offer encouragement, and provide us with warnings and timely reproofs (Romans 15:4 , 1 Corinthians 10:11 ).
I find it very sad when men are called into ministry only to walk away because of the trials and temptations that come into their lives.
Hebrews. 12:2 says, "Look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith: who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." It is God's desire that we run with patience and finish the course. Jesus is our pattern, so let us seek to imitate Him.
We are going to look at the life of Joseph. It will help you understand what has happened, and what will happen, as God prepares you for leadership. For those well down the leadership road it will encourage you, and confirm God's purposes in your life.
1. JOSEPH’S CALL (Genesis 37:5-11 ):
The call of God came to Joseph through two dreams. However, the fulfilment of those dreams were not realised for at least 13 years. Those were the years God was testing and developing the heart attitudes of Joseph.
Those dreams indicated that Joseph was destined to a role of leadership, and possibly significant prominence.
Originates in the heart of God. (Jeremiah 1:5 ) "Before I formed you . . . I knew you . . .”
It is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.
Obedience is the key that starts to unravel the call, "Abraham leave your country . . .”(Genesis 12:1 ).
Remain faithful to the call, even though it is slow in coming (Genesis 40:23 ) ". . . yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”
Remember, whenever you share your vision with others you will get a mixed response.
Let us look at Genesis 37:8 ". . . so they hated him even more for his dreams and words."
verse 10 –
". . . and his father rebuked him and said to him, 'What is this dream that you have dreamed?'"
Note: A vision from the Lord will be tested. Guaranteed!!
Often we blame our background (family, environment) for our problems. Sometimes this may be correct; however, if we look at Joseph, we will see that it did not stop him from succeeding.
Joseph’s father (Jacob) cheated and lied.
Jacob had two wives:
Leah had 6 boys and 1 girl,
Rachel had 2 sons.
Both of his wives had a hand maiden each:
Bilhah had 2 sons,
Zilpah had 2 sons.
Add all this up and you've got:
2 concubines = envy, jealousy, strife, deceit.
12 sons = competition, anger.
Joseph's half sister was raped.
Joseph's brothers killed every male in the city of Shechem.
Joseph's mother died while giving birth to Benjamin.
Joseph's older brother committed incest with one of his father's concubines.
Joseph's brothers hated him because he was his father's favourite.
I have given you a lot of Joseph's background, but will wrap it up by saying, "God's purposes are not negated by the background of an individual."
3. GOD SENDS JOSEPH TO EGYPT:
"I thought his brothers hated him and wanted to kill him." Yes, that's true from the human viewpoint, however, from God's perspective, it is a different story.
Let us read Psalm 105:17 : "He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave."
Also Genesis 45:5,7-8 ". . . for God sent me before you to preserve life." God is always working for our good, even though we may not understand what is happening. (Romans 8:28 ". . . called according to His purposes").
Other characters that God placed in unfamiliar places:
None of these great men had any idea what was in store for them, but God did.
Jeremiah 29:11 –
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope."
4. PREPARED IN THE FURNACE OF AFFLICTION:
Last year, while ministering in Indonesia, I was invited to speak to the staff at a gold factory. After the meeting they took me on a tour through the factory and I saw gold being heated to very high temperatures.
This was done for two reasons:
To remove impurities.
To be able to cast the molten gold into the shape they wanted.
Isaiah 48:10 –
"Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction."
God is interested in our heart, for out of it spring the issues of life
(Proverbs 4:23 ).
JOSEPH WAS TESTED IN HIS HEART AND ATTITUDES:
"The refining pot is for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the hearts"(Proverbs 17:3 ).
Rejected and betrayed by his own brothers.
Sold into slavery in a foreign country.
Tempted in his body.
Cast into prison and forgotten.
I just want to touch on Joseph’s temptation (Genesis 39 ). This was a very serious situation and could have derailed Joseph. Proverbs 29:18 says, "Where there is no revelation (prophetic vision), the people cast off restraint . . ."
This tells me that God's call upon our lives can preserve us from losing our way. David said,"Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11 ).
Note: There is only one way to deal with sexual temptation – do what Joseph did – get out quick. 1 Corinthians 6:18 says: "Flee sexual immorality."
You may be going through things in your ministry right now? God's furnace of affliction is purifying you.
Deuteronomy 4:20 –
“But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be His people, an inheritance, as you are this day.”
Job 23:10 –
“When He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold.”
5. TRIED BY THE WORD:
Psalms 105:19 –
“Until the time that his word came to pass, the Word of the Lord tested him."
The most wonderful thing to me about Joseph is his ability to maintain a relationship with God in such unfair, unjust circumstances.
Joseph was no military man. He never wrote any Scripture, nor did he move in the miraculous, yet God saw fit to write more about Joseph than any other individual in the book of Genesis. Why? Because Joseph maintained a beautiful attitude through his trials.
What are some of the heart attitudes that people choose when mistreated: Resentment, hostility, bitterness, revenge.
Someone once wrote, "Everything can be taken from a man, but one thing: the last of the human freedoms –- to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
We cannot control what the morrow will bring, but we can choose how we respond.
Godly perspective needed. In Genesis 39:2,3 ,21,23 we read, ". . . the Lord was with Joseph."
Joseph, I believe, could:
In maintaining a right attitude, Joseph was able to seize opportunities and prosper in the land of his affliction:
6. PROMOTION AND RECONCILIATION:
After ten or more years in prison, Joseph was called to interpret Pharaoh's two dreams. He also gave some timely advice. Because of Joseph's discernment and wisdom, Pharaoh promoted him from prison to prime minister.
Genesis 41:41 –
“And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’”
Psalms 105:21 –
“He made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his possessions.”
Know that all promotion comes from God (Psalm 75:6-7 ).
With promotion comes:
The crowning moment of Joseph's life came when his brothers came looking for food. This brought all the memories flooding back again.
Chapters 42-45 of Genesis are emotionally charged, as we see Joseph deal with many feelings. To his credit he shows mercy and forgiveness; however, not before he awakens their consciences and they admit their guilt, and all is reconciled.
Footnote: Joseph is a beautiful type of Jesus Christ (it is worth making a study).