Let’s begin by asking a question: If you’ve been genuinely mistreated, do you have the right to be offended? In answer, let’s look at the life of Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph (Genesis 37-48).
Joseph was despised by his older brothers because his father favored him and set him apart with a coat of many colors. God gave Joseph two dreams, which told him that he would be a ruler some day. When he told these dreams to his brothers, they hated him even more. Shortly afterwards, they conspired against him saying, "Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him! Then we shall see what becomes of his dreams! He says he is going to be a leader over us. Let him try to lead us when he is dead!" So, they took his coat away, and tore it, stained it with animal’s blood, and threw him in a pit to die. Then they deceitfully bore false witness to their father that Joseph had been devoured by a wild beast.
After they threw him into the pit, however, they saw a company of Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt. Then Judah said, "If we let him rot in the pit it will not profit us. Let’s make some money and sell him as a slave. He will be as good as dead and will never bother us again, and we’ll all share the spoils!". So, they sold him into slavery. Joseph had offended them so they betrayed him, taking away his inheritance and family. Keep in mind these are brothers who did this; they had the same father, same flesh and blood kinship.
All that was familiar to Joseph was gone. In biblical times, when someone was sold as a slave to another country, he remained a slave until he died. The woman he married would be a slave, and all his children would be slaves! It would have been hard to be born a slave, but it was indescribably worse to be born an heir of wealth with a promissing future only to have it stripped away. It was as if Joseph were a living dead man. I’m sure he was tempted to wish his brothers had killed him. From these activites of Joseph's brothers, we see clearly that what they did was evil and cruel
It looked as if he would never see his father or his God-given dream fulfilled. He was a slave in a foreign nation, couldn’t leave Egypt, and was the property of another man for life.
Joseph was sold to a man named Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard. He served him for about ten years. As time went on, Joseph found favor with his master and was treated well. Potiphar set Joseph over his household and all he had. But just as things were looking up for Joseph, something happened. Potiphar’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph and wanted to commit adultery with him. She tried daily to seduce him, and he refused. One day she was alone with him in the house and cornered him and insisted that he lay down with her. He refused and ran out, leaving his robe in her clutched hands. When he did this she was shamed and screamed, "Rape!". Potiphar had Joseph thrown into Pharaoh’s prison. Again, the offense of false witness was committed against Joseph.
Now Pharaoh’s prison was nothing like the prisons of today. There was no sunlight or exercise yards, only a sunken room void of light and warmth. The conditions of such a place left little room for hope. Prisoners were put there to rot as they survived on the bread and water "of affliction" (1 Kings 22:27). They were given just enough food to survive so they could suffer and eventually waste away. According to Psalm 105:18, Joseph’s feet were hurt with fetters, and he was laid in irons. He was put in this dungeon to die.
Things couldn’t have appeared more hopeless. Joseph had gone as low as a man could go without being dead. Can you hear his thoughts? "I served my master with honesty and with integrity for over ten years. I’m more faithful than his wife! I stayed loyal to God and my master, daily fleeing sexual immorality. What is my reward? A dungeon! It seems the more I try to do what is right, the worse it gets! How could God allow this? Could my brothers steal my promise from God too? Why hasn’t this mighty God intervened on my behalf? Is this how a loving, faithful God cares for His servants? Why me? What have I done to deserve this? I only believed I’d heard from God."
He had very limited freedom in his present situation, but he still had the ability to choose his response to all that had happened to him. Would he become offended and bitter toward his brothers, and eventually toward God? Would he give up all hope of the promise’s fulfillment, robbing himself of his final desire to live?
When we read of Jospeh's faith and patience and his willingness to be a servant at all times, we can certainly know that this was God’s process to prepare him to rule. How would he use his ordained authority over these brothers who betrayed him? Joseph was learning obedience by what he suffered (Heb.5:8). He had not yet learned that authority is given to serve, not to set you apart. Often in such trying times when we are being trained-up to serve His purposes, we focus on the impossibility of our circumstances, instead of the greatness of God. As a result we are discouraged and need to blame someone, so we look for the one we feel is responsible for our despair. When we face the fact that God could have prevented our whole mess, and didn’t, we often blame God.
This could have been ringing through Joseph’s mind, "I have lived in accordance to what I know of God. I’ve not transgressed His laws. I was only repeating a dream God Himself gave me. And what’s the result? My brother’s betray me, and I’m sold as a slave! My Dad thinks I’m dead and never comes to Egypt to find me." To him, the bottom line was his brothers. They were the force that had thrown him into this dungeon.
How often do we hear our brothers and sisters fall into the same trap of assigning blame? "If it weren’t for my wife…", "If it weren’t for my parents…", "If it wasn’t for my pastor repressing this gift in me…", "If it weren’t for my former husband and my kids…", "If it weren’t for that woman at Church…" It is easy to blame everyone else for the problems you have and imagine how much better off you would be if it had not been for all those around you. You know that your disappointment and hurt are their fault.
The following point must be emphasized: Absolutely no man, woman, child or spirit of satan can ever force you out of the Will of God! No one but God Himself controls such things.
Now, do you think that when they sold him as a slave, God in heaven looked at the Son and the Holy Spirit and said, "What are We going to do now? Look at what his brothers have done. They have ruined our plan for Joseph! We had better think of something quick! Do we have an alternate plan?"
Many Christians respond to crisis situations as if this is exactly what transpires in heaven. Can you just see the Father saying to Jesus, "Jesus, Jim just got fired because a fellow believer lied about him. What are we going to do? Do you have any positions open down there?" Or, "Jesus, Sally is thirty-four and not married yet. Do you have any available guys down there for her? The man I wanted her to marry got married to her best friend, who gossiped about her and turned his heart away."
Let’s see how Joseph would fare in our Churches today. If he were like most of us, do you know what he would be doing? Plotting revenge. He would comfort himself with such thoughts as, "When I get my hands on them, I’ll kill them! I will kill them for what they have done to me. They are going to pay for this." But if Joseph had actually had this spirit, God would have left him in that dungeon to rot! That’s because if he had gotten out of prison with such a spirit of vengeance, he would have killed the heads of ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. This would include Judah (Judas), from whose lineage Jesus Christ would descend. Joseph stayed free of offense, and the plan of God was established in his life and in the lives of his brothers.
Prison was a time of sifting for Joseph, but it was also a time of opportunity. There were two prisoners with Joseph, and both had vivid and disturbing dreams. Joseph interpreted both of their dreams with amazing accuracy, giving full acknowledgement to the Lord for the interpretation. One man was to be restored while the other was to be executed. Joseph asked the one about to be restored to remember him when he regained Pharaoh’s favor. The man returned to Pharaoh’s service, but two years passed with no word from him. It was yet another opportunity for Joseph to become offended. But he continued to patiently wait on the Lord.
The time came when Pharaoh had a very alarming dream. None of his magicians or wise men could give him the explanation. It was then that the restored servant remembered Joseph. He shared how Joseph had interpreted his and his companion’s dreams in prison. Joseph was then brought before Pharaoh, and he told him what the dream meant: a famine was coming, and Joseph wisely instructed him on how to prepare for the crisis. Pharaoh immediately promoted Joseph to second in command over all of Egypt.
Later, when this famine came to all the known nations, Joseph’s brothers had to come to Egypt for aid. If Joseph had held anything in his heart against his brothers, that would have been the time to carry it out. He could have thrown them in prison for life or tortured them and even killed them and would be blameless in the eyes of the Egyptians because he was in command in Egypt. But Joseph ended up giving them grain for no charge. Then they were given the best land of Egypt for their families, and they ate the fat of the land. To sum it up, the best of all the land of Egypt was given to them. Joseph ended up blessing those who had cursed him and doing good to those who hated him (Matthew 5:44). And as we know that Joseph was walking with God, we can be assured that he also prayed for those who despitefully used and persecuted him (Matthew 5:44).
And to go one step further, look at what Joseph said to his brothers when they were reunited.
Genesis 45:5-8, "…be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life…And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God."
And look at what our brother David said:
Psalm 105:16-17, "Moreover he (God) called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant."
Who sent Joseph? His brothers or God? Out of the mouth of two witnesses we see that it was God who sent him. No mortal man or devil can supersede the order and plan of God for your life. If you lay hold of this truth it will set you free. But there is only one who can persuade you to ignore the will of God, and that is you!
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