His soul thrilled with the high resolve to prove himself true to God—under all circumstances to act as became a subject of the King of heaven. He would serve the Lord with undivided heart; he would meet the trials of his lot with fortitude and perform every duty with fidelity. One day’s experience had been the turning point in Joseph’s life. Its terrible calamity had transformed him from a petted child to a man, thoughtful, courageous, and self-possessed. – Patriarchs and Prophets p 214
Joseph is someone I find particularly inspiring. His story is one of the few where the individual made a consistent string of right choices. However, the soul-crushing challenges he had to endure during his life is what makes his story have the zing that it does. Great stories require great hardship and sacrifice.
Picture Joseph on his way down to Egypt. He had just gone through the betrayal by his brothers. They had sold him to somewhat near relatives (the Ishmaelites), who had to have known who they were and what was going on. Nobody was going to free him.
As he passed through the familiar countryside, it must have been terrible to see landmarks that spoke of home just a few miles over there, and to have the realization sink in deeper and deeper that he couldn’t leave or escape because he was a prisoner. It must have been absolutely terrifying.
Yet somewhere on that journey a change happened.
Ancient Egypt was a land of temples, the worship of many gods, and idol worship. Joseph knew where he was going and knew that his worship of the true God was at stake. At some point he made a decision to stay faithful no matter the cost. That faithfulness is the hallmark of how we remember Joseph. It was also the hallmark of how the people knew Joseph then.
Genesis 39:2,3 – The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. (3) And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand.
Potiphar was an important man in the court of the Pharaoh, and was captain of the guard. Whether he was a prominent general, or leader of Pharaoh’s personal guard, I don’t know, but however it was, he was an a powerful man in Egypt. Joseph did his work well, and over time Potiphar reached an incredible point where he entrusted Joseph (a slave) with running his estate. This led to an increase in Potiphar’s personal wealth. Potiphar certainly thought over what it was that made Joseph so successful in his different roles, andhe noted how Joseph attributed his success to his God. Ultimately this was convincing enough Potiphar came to believe that it was so.
The marked prosperity which attended everything placed under Joseph’s care was not the result of a direct miracle; but his industry, care, and energy were crowned with the divine blessing. Joseph attributed his success to the favor of God, and even his idolatrous master accepted this as the secret of his unparalleled prosperity. – Patriarchs and Prophets p 214.
It would have been so easy for Joseph to give up on the religious life of his upbringing, and there was certainly incentive to do so. What better way to gain favor with a new foreign master than to worship his gods? But Joseph stayed faithful, and it was that faithfulness that won the approval of the true God and of his master.
Wouldn’t it be a great thing to live life, and to have the people you work and live with see the hand of God in what you do? This is a type of experience that we want as Christians. To do our work in such a way so that people know we are trustworthy and see God’s blessing in our lives. To live our family life so that our family and neighbors know our integrity is unimpeachable. Joseph was that, and the fact that his faithfulness was in the face of such hard circumstances lifts us all up and shows us that a higher aim is possible.
I’m grateful for his faithfulness as he began his life in Egypt.