Promotion of Joseph from slave to Prime Minister– Jacob wanted to marry Rachel for he loved her but Laban, his father-in-law tricked him by marrying Leah to him first and then Rachel, keeping Jacob in his service for 14 years to pay for the dowry (Genesis 29:18, 25, 28). Joseph was Rachel’s firstborn son and Jacob loved him and treated him as his firstborn, though Leah’s son Reuben was the eldest. Joseph was 17 years old and since his father loved him more than his other brothers, he appears to have an attitude of being special and ‘he brought a bad report of them (his brothers) to his father’ (Genesis 39:1). Joseph was sold off by his brothers to the Ishmaelite traders and was then bought as a slave by Potiphar, an Egyptian.
Joseph, a handsome teenager, knew no body in Egypt, had to learn a new language of Egypt and of servility, for he did not even own his own body and no relatives or friends to depend upon. His mother died when he was nine years old and his father thought he was dead and his sense of loneliness in Egypt was absolute. In this scenario Joseph was hounded by his master’s wife to ‘lie with her’ (Genesis 39:7, 9, 11-12). Up to this time the Law had not yet been given by God, prohibiting adultery to the point of death. In this state one could feel that his actions would have no effect on anyone and getting favor from the master’s wife would be an advantage, yet he steadfastly refused and rejected her advances.
And then, ‘about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside’. This raises two questions, first what type of work and why did he go in when he must have known the absence of other men from the house, for he was in charge of everything. Midrash, the Jewish commentary on the Scripture, says that the ‘work’ Joseph came to do was to yield to her advances but as he was about to commit the act, his father’s face appeared to him. This reminded him of his commitment to YHWH God and he fled.
But what was it that made Joseph overcome the temptation? Nobody would have come to know, he was alone with no accountability to his own people and community and nothing would change except he would have got an ally. His denial unleashed her anger and she got him into prison on a false charge and he could even have lost his life. Legend has it that the face of Jacob, his father, appeared to Joseph and in and with that the visage of Adam, whose one single act of eating from ‘the tree of knowledge’ changed the course of humanity forever. Joseph could then realize that no act of anyone in any place is in isolation for the world was created by God for each and every human being, even those yet to be born. When God granted the dominion rights to Adam, it was for all of mankind that was to follow. Mankind since then has been in partnership with God to repair the damage which was accomplished by Lord Jesus but each believer has his/her own role to play and there is something that he/she only can accomplish. Since we are all connected by a spiritual thread to each other, our actions are like throwing a stone in a pond, creating circular ripples, touching all sides.
Lord Jesus has classified each believer as ‘light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14, 16). He then exhorts us to ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’. Joseph could realize that we either advance or obstruct the cause of redemption or of evil for in every decision, something eternal is at stake. Adam was not one man but the entire world and his decision affected the whole universe. The greatest mistake we make is to think of ourselves as insignificant. Firstly, God is always with us as per His promise and we represent His Divine kingdom as His ambassadors, glorifying or sullying His image by our deeds. Joseph’s one act of fleeing from temptation set in motion the chain of events that saved innumerable lives from starvation and death through famine.
The command to ‘make disciples of all nations’ is not for some few but for each and every believer (Matthew 28:19-20). We were born again to manifest God’s glory before others, the glory that Lord Jesus shared with us (John 17:22).As we let our light shine, we encourage others also to do the same and as we overcome our fears, our actions liberate others also. Invariably we fear the light within us and not the darkness, questioning our suitability for the role. Moses was trained in the household of Pharaoh, yet he felt inadequate to lead the Israelites out from slavery of Egypt to freedom (Exodus 3 & 4). God blesses everyone with capabilities ‘according to his ability’ and then assigns a certain role for His kingdom which no one else can or will do. Even the job or business activity that we do is to increase our area of influence and Joseph’s work of honestly performing all roles from a slave, to a prisoner and as number two in Egypt resulted in his sons getting individual portion from Jacob. Our placement by God enables us to start a circular motion through our deeds that touches the hearts and impacts people all around. In turn all those, start their own actions to bring about great change in the world.
During our moments of pain due to anything, we feel lonely and are likely to fall prey to temptation, but that is the time that each action of ours is likely to cause maximum effect. There is nothing hidden and if we open our eyes and ears, we shall hear the ‘still small voice’ of our heavenly Father whispering to us that you are not alone. At the same time there is another voice that is very loud, urging us to go on, for no one cares for you and you have a right to live your life in your way. That could probably have saved Joseph from going into the prison but he would have become a permanent slave to his circumstances.
There are two actions that are necessary to be a child of God, the first is to believe in the Savior Lord and the second is to receive Him. On the other hand, He came to His own and they did not receive Him. First, is to have an active daily desire to have Him in our lives and we must seek in order to find, for He is heaven’s most precious gift from the Father. Without an earnest hunger for Him, we are unlikely to receive or value Him. Second, He must become the sole Lord of our lives and only to Him can we then look up for any and everything in life. If we are still looking around for various other sources to fulfill our needs, we have neither received nor valued Him. Third, When we receive Him as our Lord and Savior we are given the precious gift of ‘another Helper’, the Holy Spirit, to be our guide, teacher and prayer partner to pray for and with us (John 14:26). It is only then that we can be empowered by Him to be a useful member of the heavenly kingdom. Four, He becomes our protection for then who can harm you ‘if you are followers of what is good’ (1 Peter 3:13). Receiving Him is to love Him and then God ‘turns all things for the good of those who love Him’, Five, receiving Him is to obey Him and be His friend –Lord Jesus categorizes those who follow His commands as His friends and as a friend then we are made privy to His plans (John 15:14). Six, We become joint heirs with Him – As children of God we become heirs, ‘heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ’ (Romans 8:17), who is the King of kings and Lord of lords and who has power and ‘authority over everything in heaven, on earth and under the earth’ (Matthew 28:18). Once this happens we assign Him the role and responsibility of being our Elder Brother, who can then not only guide us in all aspects of life but also be a provider to meet all needs. Not only this, just like God breathed into the pile of dust to give it life, through our rebirth some piece of divinity is installed in each believer by the Lord.
Since it is all by His grace and mercy and not through my efforts, there is nothing that anyone can do to take it away from me. Also I cannot become ‘more’ or ‘less’ of a child of God by my own efforts or by my mistakes, as long as I do not deny Him through my deeds. For this blessed state places us at a far greater place than imaginable, many fail to perceive the real meaning and live far short of their destiny. We must live according to the new and changed status. In this, first, our purpose of life is to honor and glorify God – ‘Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory’ (Isaiah 43:7). Second, Our goal is to be transformed into the image of Lord Jesus – The chosen ones, God has ‘predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son’ (Romans 8:29). Third, our mission is to magnify God and share His saving grace with others –The assigned mission is to ‘Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature’ (Mark 16:15). Fourth, our destiny is already settled –Lord Jesus has promised to prepare a place for us in the Father’s Mansion and has promised to come to take us there (John 14:1-3). Fifth, We are assured of eternal life –To know YHWH, ‘the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent’, is eternal life and this is automatically given to those who receive Him (John 17:3). The New Jerusalem will be the place where God will dwell with mankind eternally (Revelation 21:3).
Such is the great net worth of one who believes and receives the Son of God as a Savior Redeemer. On the day of judgment, when the books will be opened, our names will be found in the ‘Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8). All such will then receive permanent entry into His presence.
Can we miss receiving such great treasures? Bob Sjogren and Gerald Robison have developed a different theology called ‘Cat and Dog Theology’ to differentiate between believers. It is about the thinking pattern of the two, the dog says, ‘You pet me, You feed me, You love me, You shelter me, YOU must be God’. The cat says the same things but draws a different inference, that since You do all this for and to me, ‘I must be God’. Either of the two mindsets can develop in a believer. I serve God, I want to bless God, What does God get? Or God serves me, God wants me, What do I get? The two positions are not absolute but we lean towards one or the other and it shows up when we pray, worship, think about salvation and face trials and tribulations.
Dogs want to follow wherever they are led by God and their focus is on Scripture that says, to ‘follow in His (Lord Jesus) footsteps (1 Peter 2:20-21) or ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). Cats have a feel good theology and focus on Scripture verses, ‘For as high as the heavens are above the earth so great is His love for those who fear Him’ (Psalm 103:11). Or ‘I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you’ (Jeremiah 28:11). Dogs fit in with the Master’s plans while Cats think their needs are central to God’s plans. God loves us but His plans are eternal and go far beyond us and He can use every situation in our life for His glory, for it’s all about Him and I am only a small part in that. Most of what the cat thinks is incomplete and though we are to pray boldly and place our needs and needs of others before God but we are to also accept His will and look beyond us. We are then to spend time in knowing Him and seeking His guidance about how to live and serve Him.
We need to assess our relationship with God and be like Joshua to meditate on the Word of God ‘day and night’ and to live in obedience to His commands (Joshua 1:8). God then steps in to ‘make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success’. Apostle John, who in his Gospel has repeatedly claimed to be the ‘disciple whom Jesus loved’, without identifying himself openly, could then declare, ‘We love Him (God) because He first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Scripture defines that love which has no boundaries, the love that went so far as to sacrifice His own Son for us (John 3:16). The Shema command, to love the LORD your God, then defines the way to be valued in this world by getting filled with love of God (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). God does not need me and all that I do adds or deducts nothing from Him. It is His undeserved grace that enables us to be useful to His kingdom for our own benefit. The ones who realize this enjoy a ‘life of abundance’ that the Lord promised and His peace rules in their hearts.
The true value of a person’s life is achieved only through faith in the Son of God and receiving Him as our Redeemer, without which we live a life of slavery to our sinful desires. Knowing, understanding and living in the truth of the Word of God gives us life through a close relationship with God. Others may enjoy the fulfillment of their desires in this life but suffer endlessly till eternity in darkness and fire. Only the one who realizes this fact achieves the true purpose of life and is valued by God Himself.