EXAMPLES FROM THE PAST
By Orville Freestone
JOSEPH – ALWAYS TRUE
“You meant evil, but God meant it for good” – Gen. 50:20.
The definitions of the word “true” as referring to human character are: faithful, loyal, constant, reliable, genuine. All of these terms are appropriate in describing Joseph: the scripture finds nothing to fault him. The purity of his life contrasts with “the evil report” of his brothers. (Gen. 37:2) Joseph was the son of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel. He was also, until Benjamin’s birth, the youngest son. In this account we see the evils of polygamy. There was jealousy among Jacob’s wives. Jacob’s favoritism for Joseph caused not only the jealousy of his brothers, but also their hatred. It was not a happy home.
It may have been unwise for seventeen year old Joseph to recount his dreams to his father and brothers. That only increased their hatred for him, but the Bible does not fault him and those dreams came to pass. His brothers certainly came to regret their behavior. For the next thirteen years (Gen. 41:46) he endured slavery and imprisonment for a crime he did not commit. When Potiphar’s wife “cast her eyes upon him” intending to seduce him he did not betray his master’s trust. His answer was “how can I do this great wickedness and sin against God.” While he was in prison he soon gained the trust of his keeper. In both circumstances he was trustworthy and reliable while remaining true to his godly heritage. Twice it is written that “God was with him.” (Gen. 39:2 & 21)
When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams he was made second only to Pharaoh in the administration of Egypt. With his elevation to high office came pomp, privilege and wealth, (Gen. 41:37-45) but prosperity did not change Joseph, himself. He was given a princess for a wife and when he named his two sons (Gen. 41:50-52) he showed his sensitive personality and his piety. The name of his firstborn, Mannaseh, means “making to forget” and the name of his second son, Ephraim, means “making to be fruitful.” He could forget the hurts of the past and be thankful for the blessings of the present. This is a worthy achievement indeed! He was also true to Pharaoh and his responsibilities.
It was nine years after he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream before his own dreams began to be fulfilled. He was thirty nine when his brothers came to Egypt to buy food, twenty two years after they sought to do away with him. When he recognized them his heart longed for them. Now he could see God’s hand in all his misfortunes and those many years of exile and privation. He was true to his family freely forgiving them and saved them from disaster. But most of all, he was always true to God and “God was with him.” Nearly two thousand years before Paul wrote Romans 8:28, Joseph had learned the lesson!