I sat next to my 4 1/2 year old grandson in church while the story was being read… “Now Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers they hated him even more…” (Gen.37). Even a child is drawn to this story.
It is the story of God overlooking immaturity, using immaturity, making even sinners serve His purpose…. Keeping, maturing, and humbling a favored and cocky son, and then positioning him to preserve not only his family but ultimately an entire nation!
It all started with a dream. Not Joseph’s, but the dream in the heart of God—the making and redeeming of a nation. At first it was just a family of flawed people. Rival mothers. Parents choosing favorites. Siblings jostling for position. A dysfunctional mess! But God saw in this family the seed of a nation that would showcase His brilliance to the world!
I love that! It’s not about our perfections but about His. Our weaknesses and even our sins make God’s greatness shine all the more. Who else could take such a mess and fashion such a story of redemption?!
So, one morning while we waited for their Mama to make a gourmet breakfast I put on a dramatized reading of Joseph’s story (Gen.37-47) and we listened together, the kids and I, to the whole epic unfold in the words of Scripture. Incredible. We listened as Joseph’s dreams came true in the end—Who would have believed it?! All his big brothers did indeed bow down to him--these brothers who had been livid at his cocky boasting. Who did this 17 year old think he was anyway?!
They had seethed in jealousy over his designer coat, the symbol of their father’s favoritism. And now he was positioned to save their lives. God had brought it about. What his brothers meant for harm God turned to good. It was not about Joseph at all.
God’s intentions extended far beyond Joseph’s wildest dreams. But in the interim there were the humbling and refining years—the rejection and abandonment, the enslavement in Egypt, the unjust imprisonment. God used it all to refine and prepare Joseph for his crucial role of leadership in a time of crisis.
He was in the end exalted to greatness in Egypt and his brothers would indeed bow to him. But by this time he was more than an immature dreamer imagining great things for himself. He was willing to bow to God’s purposes and forgive his brothers the evil they had done him because he saw it all as part of God’s plan for him for the saving of many souls (Gen.50:20).
God’s dreams are bigger than ours. They go beyond us. His plans for us and for our kin are not bound by our faults and failures, our sin and dysfunction. Think of Joseph’s father through all those years of mourning the perceived loss of his son. What a shame--Joseph was not dead at all! And all the while God was steadily at work preparing a great future and hope for Jacob and his descendants (and ultimately for us!). A great redemption was in the making. He just could not see it.
Our perspectives can be so earth-bound, so based in what we see and hear. No wonder God invites us to set our minds on things above not on things that are on earth (Col.3:2), to walk by faith, to endure for the joy set before us, to keep an eye to the hope of our calling…
And as we roam about visiting our kids and grandkids--enjoying our progeny, the story of Joseph reminds me to keep the long view of things and to celebrate what God is doing behind the scenes in all our lives for His own glory.
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love! Ps.44:26
“…for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them.” Ps.44:3
“God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him , because he cares for you…” I Pet.5:5-7
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” II Cor.12:10
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
P.S. Looking for an audio Bible?
Check out BibleGateway.com for online audio readings of any passage of Scripture you wish (in various versions, including a dramatized reading from the NIV). It’s free and super easy to use--an effortless way to accomplish your Bible Reading plan!