As I was reading in Genesis this morning, I came across a passage about Joseph that hit me differently than in the past years that I have read it. Joseph was one of 12 brothers of Jacob. His birth order was 9th of the 12. Joseph was the first of two sons born to Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife and was the favorite son of Jacob. Obviously, the other brothers were jealous of Joseph favorite status. Joseph didn’t help their attitude toward him when he would brag about his dreams where his brothers,mother, and father would be bowing down to him.
The jealously hit its height when Joseph was sent by Jacob his father to make a report on his other brothers who were out in the fields tending the flocks. The brothers sold him into slavery to get rid of this arrogant punk and this favorite son they despised.
While in Egypt he was sold to Potiphar and was a servant for a time, but was accused by Potiphar’s wife of trying to sleep with her (she actually wanted him to sleep with her, but he wouldn’t), so he was put in prison. Over the course of time he interpreted the king’s wine taster and baker dreams, and both of the dreams came true. The wine taster was raised up to again work for the king, but the baker had his head cut off.
Pharaoh had two dreams, one about ugly cows eating healthy cows, and the other fat grains and thin grains on one stalk and the thin grains swallowed up the fat grains. No one could interpret Pharaoah’s dreams, but the wine taster remembered Joseph who in prison correctly interpreted his dream. The wine taster revealed this forgotten experience to Pharaoh. Joseph was summoned, cleaned up and new clothes put on him before he was taken to the king.
When he was asked about interpreting dreams, Joseph surprised me by saying, “I cannot do it.” (Genesis 41:16) Think about that for a minute. Joseph throughout his life bragged to his brothers about how superior he was. He was his dad’s favorite child. He had a special robe that was made for him by his father. Where is the ego? Where is his lifting up his gift of interpretation? This is his get out of jail card, and yet he says, “I cannot do it.” What happened to the arrogant boy? What happened to his feeling of being favored and blessed?
Being sold as a slave and having to be a servant, the lowest on the totem pole impacted Joseph in a significant way. Being put in prison and having to work his way up to being respected took its toll on his perspective of his own life.
Joseph finished the statement, “I cannot do it. . .” with, “. . .but God will give Pharaoh the hander he desires.” “But God.” The Christian life is a life of cutting away our self, our thoughts, our desires, our attitudes, our accomplishments, and replacing “mine” and “I” with God. God takes us through tough times in life to cut away our self and our ego so that He can be glorified through us. What would happen to all of us if we began to see that we can do nothing apart from God.
On this journey we all want to emulate certain characters in the bible like Joseph, but are we willing to go through the fires of trials in order to get there. As John the Baptist so appropriately put it, “He must increase and I must decrease.”