Friday, September 24, 2010


Sometimes people suffer greatly for no reason at the hands of another, yet still come into full bloom. Such is the story of the Hebrew Joseph that is told in the Bible. In Volume 3 of Charles Swindoll's Great Lives Series, Joseph, A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness, we walk through the life of Joseph, a true and faithful hero of the Old Testament told in the book of Genesis. When Joseph was only 17 years old, his brothers in a fit of jealousy plotted to murder him in cold blood because he was the favorite of their father Jacob. At the last minute their guilty consciences were mollified by instead selling him into Egyptian slavery. Joseph ended up as a servant in the house of Potiphar, the chief of pharaoh's personal security force. Joseph proved himself to be competent and trustworthy; ultimately he was put in charge of all that Potiphar owned. However, there was lust for Joseph in the eyes of Potiphar's wife. She pursued and he rebuffed her advances. Eventually, she grew so angry that she accused Joseph of attempted rape. Potiphar, backed into a corner, had to support his wife over his slave, and Joseph was sent to prison.

Joseph again showed himself to be competent and trustworthy; the head jailor eventually put him in charge of the daily operations of the jail, although he remained a prisoner. During that period, he correctly interpreted some strange dreams from two of pharoah's servants. At some later time after pharaoh himself had a strange dream, it was remembered that Joseph had a talent in this area. Indeed, Joseph interpreted the dreams that foretold of a time of plenty that Egypt was about to enjoy, followed by a long period of famine. Joseph impressed pharaoh enough that he was made prime minister of all Egypt, charged with seeing Egypt through the famine and saving her people.

Eventually, the famine, which had ravaged Egypt and all of the surrounding areas, including Joseph's home of Canaan, brought his brothers before him as they sought to purchase food from Egypt. Joseph recognized his brothers though some 20 years had passed since he was sold into slavery. They, however, did not recognize him. When Joseph finally revealed himself, his brothers were expecting a full measure of revenge and pay back. Instead, Joseph demonstrated his wisdom, his maturity, and his relationship with God. "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid." (Genesis 50:19-21)

What a wonderful example of maintaining a life-long faith in God, showing that following Him brings hope in the worst of circumstances. When we are patient with God's timing and have full trust in his plan, forgiveness is never tinged with hatred or lingering thoughts of revenge. A great life indeed. Next up in the series is Moses, A Man of Selfless Dedication.