The Life of Joseph

The true story of a young man named Joseph, in the book of Genesis in the Bible, is a testament to the faithfulness of a loving and all-powerful God.

The true story of a young man named Joseph, in the book of Genesis in the Bible, is a testament to the faithfulness of a loving and all-powerful God. It is a testament, not only to God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His purposes in the lives of those who worship Him, but also to His faithfulness in bringing about the saving of many lives. Though Joseph was treated unjustly and, at the hands of others found himself in captivity far from home, his life was not hidden from God. God continued to work on Joseph’s behalf until the plans that He had for his life were fulfilled. By God’s hand, Joseph rose from a place of seeming insignificance, to a place of great prominence and power.

In another book of the Bible, a man named Job was declared to be blameless and upright; as one who feared God and shunned evil. Yet despite Job’s blameless walk before the Lord, God allowed him, too, to go through a time of great testing and trial. Even in the midst of Job’s trial and despite great hardship, the words of Job continued to reflect both the omnipotence (all-powerfulness) of God and His irrevocable (irreversible and unchangeable) purposes. Job declared that God is God alone; that when God acts, no man can give an answer; what God decides, no man can stand against. Though Job could not understand God’s ways or His purposes for him at that time, he humbled himself and rightly confessed his own inability to perceive the righteous workings of God and His ways. Even in the midst of his difficulties, in faith, Job continued to declare God’s wisdom and mighty strength.

“But how can a man be righteous before God? If one wished to contend with Him, he could not answer Him one time out of a thousand. God is wise in heart and mighty in strength. Who has hardened himself against Him and prospered? He removes the mountains, and they do not know when He overturns them in His anger; He shakes the earth out of its place, and its pillars tremble; He commands the sun, and it does not rise; He seals off the stars; He alone spreads out the heavens, and treads on the waves of the sea; He made the Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades, and the chambers of the south; He does great things past finding out, yes, wonders without number. If He goes by me, I do not see him; if He moves past, I do not perceive Him; if He takes away, who can hinder Him? Who can say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’ God will not withdraw His anger, the allies of the proud lie prostrate beneath Him. How then can I answer Him, and choose my words to reason with Him? For though I were righteous, I could not answer Him; I would beg mercy of my Judge”.

(Job 9:2-15)

At the end of the book of Job, God gave Job twice as much as he had before, and blessed his latter days more than the beginning.

Despite the adverse circumstances we may find ourselves in, we can implicitly (completely and absolutely) trust God to fulfil the plans and purposes he has for our lives

As we remain faithful to God, He will continue to work on our behalf.

Joseph Dreamed a Dream

Joseph was the second-to-youngest of twelve brothers. The Bible tells us that his father Jacob loved Joseph more than all of his children because he was born to him in his old age, and that he gave Joseph a special coat of many colours. One day God began to speak to Joseph through his dreams. Because of their father’s favouritism, Joseph was already hated by his brothers, so when Joseph shared his dreams foretelling that he would one day rule over them, it fuelled their hatred even more.

“So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.’ And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words”.

(Genesis 37:6-8)

Seeking to plot against Joseph, his brothers deceived their father into believing that Joseph had been killed by wild animals, when in reality they had sold him into slavery.

“Then Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt”.

(Genesis 37:28)

“So they took Joseph’s tunic, killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the tunic in the blood. Then they sent the tunic of many colours, and they brought it to their father and said, ‘We have found this. Do you know whether it is your son’s tunic or not?’ And he recognized it and said, ‘it is my son’s tunic. A wild beast has devoured him. Without doubt Joseph is torn to pieces'”.

(Genesis 37:31-33)

The Blessing of God’s Favour

Sold by the Midianite traders in Egypt and purchased by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, Joseph became a servant in Potiphar’s house. But the Lord was with Joseph and while serving in Potiphar’s house, God gave him success in all that he did. When Potiphar saw the favour of God upon Joseph, he made him overseer of all that he had and because of Joseph, the house of Potiphar was greatly blessed.

“The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favour in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field”.

(Genesis 39:2-5)

The Damage of a False Accusation

As time progressed, Potiphar’s wife began to notice Joseph and set out to try and seduce him.

“Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, ‘Lie with me’.

(Genesis 39:6-7)

But Joseph was an honourable man and repeatedly refused her advances. Then one day, caught by surprise, he found himself alone in the house with Potiphar’s wife. But when she took hold of his cloak and asked him again to sleep with her, Joseph left his cloak and ran.

“So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her. But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, that she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me.’ But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside”.

(Genesis 39:10-12)

When Potiphar’s wife saw she would not get her own way, she took advantage of the opportunity to falsely accuse him.

“And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, ‘See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside.’ So she kept his garment with her until his master came home”.

(Genesis 39:13-16)

The Short-Sightedness of Potiphar

When Potiphar arrived home and heard the report of his wife, he believed her false accusation, removed Joseph from his house and placed him in the prison.

“So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, ‘Your servant did to me after this manner,’ that his anger was aroused. Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison”.

(Genesis 39:19-20)

Potiphar valued all of the benefits of the favour of God upon Joseph’s life; for Joseph had relieved him of the burden of stewardship and caused his house to greatly prosper. But Potiphar did not value Joseph himself enough to make a right judgment about his conduct and character. Consequently he did not stop to question his wife’s false report and therefore treated Joseph unjustly. For Potiphar, his wife, and those of their household, one wrong judgment caused them to suffer great loss.

Potiphar’s own short-sightedness in removing Joseph, meant he also removed the favour of God and the source of his own success

Joseph Continues Moving Forward

When God speaks a word over our lives ~ and there is a passage of time before we see His words come to pass ~ it becomes a time of testing

Though this was a great time of testing for Joseph, neither the false accusation made against him nor his imprisonment, could change God’s purposes or plans for his life. Nor did it prevent the fulfilment of the dreams that Joseph had been given.

Joseph’s imprisonment became the very tool that God would use to strategically move him to the place where God would greatly use him

Joseph continued to use the abilities that God had given him and, even in the prison, God caused him to greatly prosper, giving him favour in the sight of the prison keeper. And in time to come, God would ensure that Joseph’s dreams would come to pass, exactly as God had shown him they would.

“But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 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. The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper”.

(Genesis 39:21-23)

God Prepares the Way

As time passed, the King’s butler and baker offended their king and both men were confined in the prison. One night God gave each of these men a dream. When each man told Joseph their dream, God gave Joseph the interpretation.

“And Joseph said to him, ‘This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days. Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his butler. But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon'”.

(Genesis 40:12-15)

But to the baker Joseph said:

“The three baskets are three days. Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head from you and hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from you”.

(Genesis 40:18-19)

In three days, both of these dreams were fulfilled exactly as Joseph had said. But the butler did not remember Joseph’s request. He did not make mention of him to Pharaoh when he was restored, so Joseph remained in the prison.

Joseph is Remembered

“Then the chief butler spoke to Pharaoh, saying: ‘I remember my faults this day. When Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, both me and the chief baker, we each had a dream in one night, he and I. Each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. Now there was a young Hebrew man with us there, a servant of the captain of the guard. And we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; to each man he interpreted according to his own dream. And it came to pass, just as he interpreted for us, so it happened. He restored me to my office, and he hanged him'”.

(Genesis 41:9-13)

So Joseph was quickly brought out of the dungeon and taken to Pharaoh, and Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams. And just as before, God gave Joseph their interpretation.

The Bible does not tell us why it took so long for God to intervene on Joseph’s behalf, but two full years later, God gave Pharaoh two dreams. Pharaoh’s mind was troubled, but none of the magicians or wise men of Egypt could interpret Pharaoh’s dreams. Then the butler remembered Joseph.

“Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, ‘The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do: The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine. This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do”.

(Genesis 41:25-28)

“And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass”.

(Genesis 41:32)

God not only gave Joseph the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams, he also gave him the wisdom to advise Pharaoh in what to do. The advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants.

“And Pharaoh said to his servants, ‘Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?’ Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.’ And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.’ Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, ‘Bow the knee!’ So he set him over all the land of Egypt”.

(Genesis 41:38-43)

What Potiphar failed to value, pharaoh highly valued

The house of Potiphar’s loss became the house of pharaoh’s gain

Pharaoh gave great honour to Joseph, placing him over all the land of Egypt, including over the very house of Potiphar.

God’s Timing is Made Complete

“The famine was over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened all the store houses and sold to the Egyptians. And the famine became severe in the land of Egypt. So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands”.

(Genesis 41:56-57)

And it came about that Joseph’s father Jacob, sent his brothers to Egypt to buy grain.

At the age of thirty, Joseph was set by Pharaoh over all the land of Egypt and seven plentiful years followed just as Joseph had said they would. The grain was gathered and stored in the cities, but the grain was so plentiful they stopped keeping count. Seven famine years then followed, according to the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams. The famine covered the whole earth, so that all other countries came to Egypt to buy bread.

“When Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, Jacob said to his sons, ‘Why do you look at one another?’ And he said, ‘Indeed I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down to that place and buy for us there, that we may live and not die”.

(Genesis 42:1-2)

So Joseph’s brothers journeyed to Egypt and stood before Joseph to buy bread. Then Joseph, knowing his brothers did not know it was him, suddenly remembered his dreams.

“Then Joseph remembered the dreams which he had dreamed about them”.

(Genesis 42:9)

The Saving of Many Lives

Joseph sent his brothers back to Egypt, instructing them to return with the youngest of their brothers named Benjamin. Sometime after their return, bringing Benjamin with them, Joseph revealed his identity to them. Joseph told them not to be grieved for what they had done, for he understood that being sent to Egypt had been God’s plan all along.

God sent Joseph to Egypt to save the lives of many, including the very ones who had betrayed him

Through Joseph, God saved the nation of Israel from famine, creating a lasting posterity for God’s people in the earth for generations to come.

“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life”.

(Genesis 45:5)

“And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 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”.

(Genesis 45:7-8)

Joseph then sent his brothers home to bring back their father to Egypt; as God had shown him many years before in a second dream:

“Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me. So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘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?’ And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind”.

(Genesis 37:9-11)

As Jacob (also named Israel by God) began his journey back to Egypt, God again revealed His plans, in order to comfort him. He showed the future to Jacob, once more through a dream.

“Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob!’ and he said ‘Here I am.’ So He said, ‘I am God, the God of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, For I will make of you a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your eyes'”.

(Genesis 46:2-4)

The End Was Proclaimed From The Start

Through dreams, many years before, God had revealed to Joseph the end from the beginning. Though Joseph may have at times forgotten those dreams, at just the right time, God brought them to a state of completion. But after the death of Jacob, Joseph’s brothers became afraid.

“When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, ‘Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him”.

(Genesis 50:15)

But Joseph said to them:

“Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:19-20).

Even in times of difficulty, when we keep our hearts right before God and toward others, God will move on our behalf to work His purposes for good.

Joseph did not place himself as judge over his brothers; instead he rightly left the outcome in the hands of God

Like Joseph, we may face false accusations from others and, at times, we may question God’s purposes in the things we experience; but we know God has His hand upon our lives and one day His good purposes will find their fulfilment.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He Foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us”.

(Romans 8:28-34)

If you have never made the decision to receive Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, but would like to begin a relationship with God through Christ today, please click here to find out how.

More Articles

Are You Called to Ministry?

Are You Called to Ministry?

When the mother of James and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, asked Jesus if both her sons could be given a place in heaven at His side, Jesus said to her, “You don’t know what you are asking.”  – Matthew 20:22

Share this Article

If you would like to have a relationship with God through accepting His Son Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, please pray the prayer below.

Dear Heavenly Father. Thank You for sending Your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins. I am sorry for the sins I have committed and I ask You to forgive me. I now turn away from all the things that I know to be wrong and I receive Your Holy Spirit and Your gift of eternal life. Thank You for this free gift of Salvation and eternal life. Help me to come to know and experience Your love for me more and more, and to now share the love You have given me with others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We would love to hear from you: If you have prayed this prayer for the first time, or have recommitted your life to Christ today I would love to hear from you to encourage you in your new walk with Christ. You can send me an email by clicking 'Get in Touch' on the yellow bar at the bottom of the Home or Articles pages.

What next: Once we have started our relationship with Christ – it is important that we continue to grow in our understanding of Him, and experience His love for us on a regular basis. God does this for us as we read the Bible, which I encourage you to do on a regular basis, asking the Holy Spirit to help you understand it and make it “come alive” to you in a very personal way. May I encourage you to do this every day, and to actively pursue those things that God reveals to you. We also need to be spending time with other like-minded Christians on a regular basis, who are also growing in their relationship with God. We gain encouragement from being with other growing believers. Ask God to lead you to a Bible-believing church (or Bible-believing Christian group) that will encourage your relationship with Christ and help to meet your needs. Ask Him, and trust that He will guide you to the place of fellowship that is right for you.

May God both work in you and through you, those things that He desires, as you continue to submit your life to Him each day.