I recently shared a bit of my childhood with you regarding the “super-bed” and Indiana Jones. Well, another favorite movie among my siblings while enjoying ice cream on the super-bed, was the Musical: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat with Donnie Osmond. What a dreamy voice! If you haven’t seen in, you should!
We would watch it most days of the week when vacationing at a family friend’s cottage during the summer, so I’ve memorized all of the words. Now, anytime I read Joseph’s story, I find myself humming or singing to songs. It makes reading it even more enjoyable and puts a face to the characters.
Joseph’s story is one of my favorites in the Bible. I’m sure you will understand why soon. There is so much to learn and apply from it!
S – Scripture: Genesis 38-40
- 38:6-7 – “In the course of time, Judah arranged for his firstborn son, Er, to marry a young woman named Tamar. But Er was a wicked man in the LORD’s sight, so the LORD took his life.”
- 38:10-11 – “But the LORD considered it evil for Onan to deny a child to his dead brother. So the LORD took Onan’s life, too. Then Judah said to Tamar, his daughter-in-law, ‘Go back to your parents’ home and remain a widow until my son Shelah is old enough to marry you.’ (But Judah didn’t really intend to do this because he was afraid Shelah would also die, like his two brothers.) So Tamar went back to live in her father’s home.'”
- 38:14-15 – “Tamar was aware that Shelah had grown up, but no arrangements had been made for her to come and marry him. So she changed out of her widow’s clothing and covered herself with a veil to disguise herself. Then she sat beside the road at the entrance to the village of Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. Judah noticed her and thought she was a prostitute, since she had covered her face.”
- 38:26 – “Judah recognized them immediately and said, ‘She is more righteous than I am, because I didn’t arrange for her to marry my son Shelah.’ And Judah never slept with Tamar again.”
- 39:2-3 – “The LORD was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. Potiphar noticed this and realized that the LORD was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.”
- 39:6 – “So Potiphar gave Joseph complete administrative responsibility over everything he owned. With Joseph there, he didn’t worry about a thing–except what kind of food to eat!”
- 39:21-23 – “But the LORD was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the LORD made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The LORD was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.”
- 40:8 – “And they replied, ‘We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.’ ‘Interpreting dreams is God’s business,’ Joseph replied. ‘Go ahead and tell me your dreams.'”
- 40:14 – “‘And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place.'”
- 40:23 – “Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.”
O – Observation:
- Judah didn’t raise very nice boys – the two oldest, God kills, leaving Tamar a widow and childless.
- She pretends to be a prostitute, enticing Judah to sleep with he. She becomes pregnant with twins. Judah proclaims her more righteous than he (maybe because she did what she had to do to carry on his son’s line?).
- Joseph no is working for Potiphar and has risen among the ranks so that he now manages the whole house. God has been with him through all of this.
- Potiphar’s wife lusts for Joseph, but he resists. She snags his robe as he runs from her and makes it look like he tried to get with her, not the other way around.
- Joseph is thrown in jail, wrongly. He soon rises to manage a whole section of the prison because God is still working in his life.
- An opportunity appears to get out (or noticed by Pharaoh) when he interprets the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker. But the cupbearer, after being restored to his position, as predicted by the dream, completely forgets about Joseph. He has to wait a few more years.
- Joseph is an example of growing where you are planted. Other quick take-aways:
- God is the Author and Perfecter of our faith
- Times of waiting are times of preparation for what’s to come.
- God uses all things to work for good.
- What feels like waiting to us is when God is really working.
- We must make the most of every opportunity
- We can be content in any circumstance.
A – Application:
I’ve heard this story many times growing up. I’ve also seen the musical (which is excellent!). This time, I wanted to catch something new from it. I wanted God to change my perspective and give me a fresh view on a well-known story. Here is what I got:
1. First, Joseph rose wherever he was planted. He could’ve just done the bare minimum at his job and then gone home, or sat in a jail cell, day in and day out. But like Jacob, he fought for his destiny. He did his absolute best serving and managing wherever he was. He thrived, and built a solid reputation and skills from the bottom up – twice! Joseph did his tasks so well that the people in charge didn’t have to worry about a thing. They completely trusted him. He took every opportunity and used them to grow, serve, and use his gifts wherever he was.
Also, like Israel, God fought for him. He had his hand guiding Joseph, giving him the resources he needed and putting the right people in front of him.
2. Joseph lived a Philippians 4:12-13 life like Paul.
I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
He served and managed the highest ranking officers with unlimited resources. Then, in prison, he managed the lowest of society with, probably, limited resources. He had to adapt to both. I have a theory that I’ll share next time! Stay tuned.
Prison wasn’t necessarily an ideal place to live and work, Joseph did want to get out; but that longing and waiting didn’t stop him from growing and serving. He learned to live in any situation, with God as his anchor and hope and guide.
3. Joseph kept serving even after a disappointment. He has a glimmer of hope when the cupbearer goes back to Pharaoh. But he has to wait because the man completely forgets about him. But Joseph keeps on doing what he’s doing. We never read of his faith wavering. He stays patient, expectant, and effective in his waiting. He allows God to continue to use him because he has an open heart and a servant’s attitude.
What areas in your life are in plenty? What are in want? Is God asking you to wait or move? Are there ways that you could better serve in your waiting? What could God be teaching you or preparing you for?
It can be challenging to wait, day after day. But if we don’t look beyond our current situation, if we stay stuck and focused on it, we may miss the opportunities for God to use us during those waiting periods. We have to make the most out of every opportunity to serve God whether we are in plenty or in want. Also, whether we are waiting or in motion. Waiting is part of the journey oftentimes, and we can still be active and productive.
Our “waiting” time is God’s working time.
Ponder that for a minute. Do you agree with that statement? How does that change your perspective?
It gives me hope and endurance to work through my waiting periods more productively and expectantly. I want to be ready for whatever God has for me next. I want to serve those around me, even though I feel that I’m not completely in God’s unique purpose for me yet. I have hope that it will all come together.
P – Prayer:
God, thank you for Joseph’s story. I am so encouraged to press on when I read it. It reminds me that you are always working behind the scenes, taking the good and the bad that happen our lives, and redeeming them into a beautiful life.
God, I pray for those of us in a waiting period in life. It’s difficult to see what you have going on for us and a potential purpose. I pray that you would so us how we can better serve and grow during this time. Would you open up pathways and resources that prepare us for what you have next? Thank you for all that you are doing behind the scenes. Amen.