Friday, October 7, 2016
TheLifeOfJoseph : Introduction
We've all, at some point in our lives, been introduced to this man. Joseph has been portrayed in many movies and theatre. His life is definitely a favourite to novelists as well, as it seems the climactic way his life turns seems to set the stage for what we know today as a 'well written story' (see Donald Miller's book Storyline 2.0). His story, in comparison to our own, may be quite different, but we can learn much about the Sovereignty of God by reading through his story chapter by chapter, line by line.
I was first introduced to Joseph when I was young. Sitting through Sunday School classes, I learned much about this man who, through many different experiences in his life, could somehow say to his brothers after all that had transpired, '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; I will provide for you and your little ones. So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them' (Genesis 50:20, 21). How could Joseph say such things? What was it about his character that seems to span the centuries? How can we learn to adopt this kind of perspective in the lives we lead?
Warren Wiersbe in his Old Testament Commentary writes "The history of Joseph can be read on at least three different levels. If we read it simply as literature, we discover a fascinating story involving a doting father, a pampered son, some jealous brothers, a conniving wife, and an international food crisis. It’s no wonder that for centuries creative artists have turned to this story for inspiration...But Genesis 37—50 is much more than a piece of dramatic literature, for when you penetrate deeper, you discover a story abounding with profound theological implications. The hand of God [aka God’s Sovereignty] is evident in every scene, ruling and overruling the decisions people make, and in the end, God builds a hero, saves a family, and creates a nation that will bring blessing to the whole world…behind this story is the heart of the covenant-making God, who always keeps His promises. For the Christian believer, there’s a third level to the story, for Joseph is one of the richest illustrations of Jesus Christ found in the Old Testament. Joseph is like Jesus in that he was beloved by his father and obedient to his will; hated and rejected by his own brethren and sold as a slave; falsely accused and unjustly punished; finally elevated from the place of suffering to a powerful throne, thus saving his people from death. The major difference, of course, is that Joseph was only reported to be dead, while Jesus Christ did give His life on the cross and was raised from the dead in order to save us".
So let us follow together through the Life of Joseph, shall we? I am intrigued by his heart and captivated by how, even in the midst of difficulty, he desired to glorify the LORD. But let us be ready, not to glorify a man, but to see, in the midst of one man's story, the ever-gracious and loving Father who '...meant it for good in order...to preserve many people alive' (Gen. 50:20).
Let's discover together the heart of the Sovereign LORD who desires our lives to be shaped by the purpose of saving many lives.