Challenges Come to Change
Your Playing Field(2)Joseph
Joseph faced a great challenge
As a youth, God not only revealed Himself to Joseph, but also gave him a glimpse, a picture of his future, his destiny and purpose through a dream.
In that dream, it was unmistakable that he would be famous, acclaimed, celebrated and others would be subservient to him, including his family members.
When he shared his dream innocently with them, all hell broke loose. His brothers became offended, envious and vindictive. They wanted to snuff out his dream as soon as possible. They desperately sought for the opportunity to do so.
Meanwhile, Joseph dreams again and the dream reinforces his earlier dream and he did not shy in sharing his dream again, oblivious of the anger, fury and pain he was causing to his brothers.
It was no doubt a challenge to the purpose of his life.
Don’t Stop Dreaming.
5 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. 6 So he said to them, “Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.”
8 And his brothers said to him, “Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?” So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
9 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” Gen.37:5-9
When your dream is challenged or opposed, don’t stop dreaming. Be like Joseph; dream again, so long as you know the dream is from God. In fact, it was God who was reinforcing the dream, to encourage Joseph during his opposition and possible discouragement.
Well, his brothers were in the forest on their father’s mission and he sent Joseph on an errand to take some food to them. This was the opportunity they sought. As they saw him coming, one of them said, “Behold, the dreamer is coming!” Let us kill him and see what comes of that dream.”
They relieved him of the food and stripped him of his coat of many colours that his dad had specifically made for him and dumped him into the pit. You can imagine the anguish, trauma and dismay he faced. He brought food, did what was good to his brothers but was being repaid with evil.
But all things were working together for his good. One of them reasoned, “What is the point killing our brother? Let us instead make a merchandise of him, sell him and make some money out of him.”
18 Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. 19 Then they said to one another, “Look, this dreamer is coming! 20 Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’ We shall see what will become of his dreams!”
21 But Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands, and said, “Let us not kill him.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness, and do not lay a hand on him”—that he might deliver him out of their hands, and bring him back to his father. Gen.37:18-22
They all agreed and Joseph was brought out of the pit and sold off as a slave to some merchants. This was how Joseph ended up in Egypt, in the house of one of the commanders in the Pharaoh’s army, Potiphar.
He was Potiphar’s houseboy and was a houseboy with a difference. He excelled in his role and as a result, there was prosperity in the house. His master noticed that Joseph was exceptional, a man of integrity, purity and probity and trustworthy. He left everything in his charge. He used his challenge to change his playing field. He was a houseboy who was like the owner of the house because God gave him favour with his master. He did not allow what happened to him to affect the way he served his master. If anything, he became better, trusting God.
2 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. 4 So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 5 So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. 6 Thus he left all that he had in Joseph’s hand, and he did not know what he had except for the bread which he ate. Gen. 39:2-6
Challenges do not just come once. They come again and again, and we should expect them and maintain our probity, integrity and purity.
Potiphar’s wife lusted after Joseph because he was good looking, may be well groomed and hunky. She wanted Joseph to have an affair with her. She tempted Joseph many times but he refused until one day, whilst doing his chores in her room, she grabbed him and demanded that he made love to her. This was not only a challenge but a bait of Satan, come to derail him. But Joseph would not fall for it. He refused to compromise his integrity. He left his coat with her and ran away.
Since her sinister ploy failed, she raised an alarm for the whole neighbours around to come out and witness what she alleged Joseph had done to her. She accused him of coming to violate her and was sobbing. It was her word against his.
10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.
11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside, 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside. 13 And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside, 14 that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, “See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to [f]mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. 15 And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside.” Gen. 39:10-15
When his master came back, she dramatised the whole episode, and he believed her. I think he did it reluctantly. But Joseph was sent to jail. This was another challenge.
16 So she kept his garment with her until his master came home. 17 Then she spoke to him with words like these, saying, “The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me; 18 so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside.”
19 So it was, when his master heard the words which his wife spoke to him, saying, “Your servant did to me after this manner,” that his anger was aroused. 20 Then Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were confined. And he was there in the prison. Gen39:16-20
On the face of it, it appeared Joseph’s dream was taking him down rather than up. He had been taken away from his family, and now he is in jail.
How Did He Face this Challenge?
Joseph, like Jesus, saw the glory ahead and so not only endures the challenge but used it as a stepping stone to a higher ground.
2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:2
He maintained his integrity, purity and excellence and even added to this, empathy. He was exceptional again in prison, such that the prison warden noticed him and made him an overseer of other prisoners. He always noticed the countenance of the other prisoners and enquired about their welfare.
21 But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave[g] him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. 23 The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under [h]Joseph’s authority, because the Lord was with him; and whatever he did, the Lord made it prosper. Gen39:21-23
On one occasion he noticed the anguish and anxiety in the faces of some prisoners and asked them what was amiss. They had dreams that perplexed them and badly wanted an interpretation. They told Joseph about their dreams and he was given the interpretation for them. He told them the interpretations and it turned out exactly how he interpreted them.
One of them, a butler of the king, was released within three days and restored. Joseph had entreated him not to forget him when he was restored, but he forgot Joseph for two whole years, until Pharaoh himself had a dream that perplexed him and there was no one in the land that could interpret it.
20 Now it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, that he made a feast for all his servants; and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. 21 Then he restored the chief butler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Gen40:20-23
Then the butler remembered Joseph and told the king about him. Joseph was immediately summoned to the palace and there he interpreted the king’s dream, to his amazement, delight and great joy.
Change of Playing Field
Joseph, the prisoner was catapulted from prison to the palace and became the second in command in the land. A foreigner became the Prime Minister.
Joseph’s Rise to Power
37 So the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants. 38 And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?”
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be [g]over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.”
42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” Gen.41:37-44
All his challenges worked for him; they were stepping stones to a higher ground; they were a blessing in disguise.
Notice that Joseph’s attitude mattered a great deal as to what the outcome became. This tells us that although God has the best plans for us, it does not mean that we would not be challenged or tested. We have our part to play. And our responses to the challenges we face on the way will determine the eventual outcome.
11For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer 29:11
11…. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. MSG
Some people would have ruled themselves out of anything about dreams because of the initial opposition to their dream. But Joseph dared to interpret the dream of his inmates. He also dared to interpret the king’s dream. As you make things happen for others, God will make things happen for you. He maintained an impressive, impeccable and excellent character that made him stand out. And favour always followed him.
Yes, eventually, his changes changed his playing field. As the Prime Minister in a foreign land, set a precedent that has encouraged others after him to believe that with God all things are possible. You can be a trend-setter, trail-blazer, a shining burning as an unquenchable light, giving glory to your Maker, demonstrating that it did not matter what challenges you face, but it is your responses to them that matter.
Do you want to rise to a greater and higher playing field? If so, embrace your challenges. Welcome them as friends come to lift you. See them as ladders for the next rung of your progress. Maintain an attitude of gratitude for them and you can be assured of rising to a higher altitude. Hallelujah!