Psalms 37:23. Psalms 31

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, And He delights in his way…None of his steps shall slide. Recall that God accompanied his call to Abraham with core promises Genesis 12:2-3. First, God would multiply his descendants into a great nation. Second, God would bless him. Third, God would make Abraham’s name great, meaning that Abraham would be worthy of his renown, Fourth, Abraham would be a blessing, This last item pertains to the future generations of Abraham’s family beyond them, to all the families of the earth.

Joseph rejected and sold into slavery by His Brothers (Genesis 37:2-36)

 In dreams, God shows Joseph that he would rise to a position of leadership over his parents and brothers Genesis 37:5-11. It His not his own ambition but divine. The brothers looked at it as an unfair privilege that Joseph enjoyed as the favorite son of their father, Jacob Genesis 37:3-4. Good leaders strive to foster cooperation rather than envy. Joseph’s failure to recognize this put him at severe odds with his brothers .After initially plotting murder against him to a caravan of traders bearing goods through Canaan to Egypt. The merchants, in turn sold Joseph to Potiphar, “the captain of the guard” who was “an officer of Pharaoh” in Egypt Genesis 37:36; 39:1

The Schemes of Potiphar’s wife and Joseph’s imprisonment (Genesis 39:1-20)

At first, Joseph was merely “in” his master’s house. We don’t know in what capacity he served, but when Potiphar recognized Joseph’s general competence, he promoted him to be his personal steward and “put him in charge of all that he had” Genesis 39:4

After a time, Potiphar’s wife took a sexual interest in Joseph Genesis 39:7. Joseph’s refusal of the wife’s advances was articulate and reasonable. He reminded her of the broad trust that Potiphar had placed in him and described the relationship she sought in the moral/ religious terms “wickedness” and “sin” Genesis 39:9. He was sensitive to both the social and theological dimension. Furthermore, he offered his verbal resistance repeatedly, and he even avoided being in her presence.

When physically assaulted, Joseph made the choice to flee half- naked than to submit.

  • The sexual harassment by this woman took place in a power relationship that disadvantaged Joseph. Although she believed that had the right and power to use Joseph in this way, her words and contact were clearly unwelcome to him.
  • Joseph’s work required him to be at home where she was, yet he could not call the matter to Potiphar’s attention without interfering in their marital relationship. Even after his escape and arrest on false charges, Joseph seems to have had no legal recourse. The facets of this episode touch closely on the issues of sexual harassment in the workplace today. Workers are often expected to report incidences of potential harassment to their superiors, but often are reluctant to do so because they know the risk of obfuscation and retaliation.
  • Joseph’s godliness did not rescue him from false accusation and imprisonment. But Joseph did leave an instructive testimony to Potiphar’s wife and possibly others in the household. Knowing that we belong to the Lord and that he defends the weak will certainly help us to face difficult situations without giving up.
  • This story is a realistic recognition that standing up to sexual harassment in the workplace may have devastating consequences.
  • Joseph also provides a model for us that even when we are falsely accused and wrongly treated, we carry on with the work God has given us, allowing God to make it right in the end.

Joseph’s Interpretation of dreams in prison (Genesis 39:20-40:23)

  • Joseph’s service in prison was marked by the Lord’s presence, the jailer’s favor and Joseph’s promotion to leadership Genesis 39:21-23
  • In prison, Joseph met two of Pharaoh’s officials who were incarcerated, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker. They were confidants who were valued for their counsel.
  • In prison, Joseph did the work of interpreting dreams for these politically connected individuals. He kept operating in his gifting.
  • Joseph, however, was not schooled in this tradition and credited God with providing the interpretations that eventually proved true Genesis 40:8. In this case, the cupbearer was restored to his former post, where he promptly forgot about Joseph.
  • We may invest in the success of another who rises beyond our reach, only to be discarded when our usefulness has been spent. Does this mean that our work has been for nothing?
  • We may have doubts about how our investment in other may eventually benefit us or our organizations, wonder about their character and motives, disapprove of what they do afterward. – The Apostle Paul wrote, “Whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all” Galatians 6:10
  • “In all things God word for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28

Joseph’s Promotion by Pharaoh (Genesis 41:1-45)

  • Two more years passed until Joseph gained an opportunity for release from his misery in prison. Pharaoh had begun to have disturbing dreams, and the chief cupbearer remembered the skill of the young Hebrew in prison. Pharaoh’s dreams about cows and stalks of grain befuddled his most skilled counselors. Joseph testified to God’s ability to provide interpretations and his own role as merely the mediator of this revelation Genesis 41:16
  • Before Pharaoh, Joseph did not use the covenant name of God exclusive to his own people. Instead, he consistently referred to God with more general term Elohim In so doing, Joseph avoided making any unnecessary offense, a point supported by the fact that Pharaoh credited God with revealing to Joseph the meaning of Pharaoh’s dreams Genesis 41:39.
  • In the workplace, sometimes believers can give God credit for their success, in a shallow manner that ends up putting people off. Joseph’s way of doing it impressed Pharaoh, showing that publicly giving God credit can be done in a believable way.
  • God’s presence with Joseph was so obvious that Pharaoh promoted Joseph to second- in-command of Egypt, especially to take charge of preparations for coming famine Genesis 41:37-45.
  • Joseph’s promotion brought him significant accoutrements of leadership; a royal signet ring and gold chain, fine clothing appropriate to his high office, official transportation, a new Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife from an upper class family Genesis 41:41-45.
  • If ever there was a lure to leave his Hebrew heritage behind, this was it. How do you deal with success? Part of this had to do with Joseph’s preparation before his promotion.
  • He seem to have held no grudge against his jealous brothers or the forgetful cupbearer. Before Pharaoh promoted him, Joseph knew that the Lord His with him and he had tangible evidence to prove it. Repeatedly giving God credit was not only the right thing to do, but it also reminded Joseph himself that his skills were from the Lord.
  • Joseph was courteous and humble, showing a desire to do whatever he could to help Pharaoh and the Egyptian people.
  • Even when the Egyptians were bereft of currency and livestock, Joseph earned the trust of the Egyptian people and of Pharaoh himself Genesis 41:55. Throughout the rest of his life as an administrator, Joseph consistently devoted himself to effective management for the good of others.
  • Joseph’s story to this point reminds us that in our broken world, God’s response to our prayers doesn’t necessarily come quickly. Joseph was seventeen years old when his brothers sold him into slavery. Genesis 37:2. His final release from captivity came when he was thirty Genesis 41:46, thirteen long year later.

Joseph’s successful management of the Food Crisis (Genesis 41:46-57; 47:13-26)

A long term Agricultural Policy and infrastructure

  • Joseph immediately went about the work. His primary interest was in getting the job done for others, rather than taking personal advantage of his new position at the head of the royal court.
  • He maintained his faith in God, giving his children names that created God with healing his emotional pain and making him fruitful Genesis 41:51-52.
  • He recognized that his wisdom and discernment were gifts from God, but nevertheless that he still had much to learn about the land of Egypt, its agricultural industry in particular.
  • He learnt much about legislation, communication, negotiation, transportation, safe and efficient methods of food storage, building, economic strategizing and forecasting, record- keeping, payroll, the handling of transactions both by means of currency and through bartering, human resources and the acquisition of real estate. His extraordinary abilities with respect to God and people did not operate in separate domains. The genius of Joseph’s success lay in the effective integration of his divine gifts and acquired competencies.
  • Pharaoh had already characterized Joseph as “discerning and wise” Genesis 41:39 and these characteristics enabled Joseph to do the work of strategic planning and administration.
  • And his first act “Joseph… went through all the land of Egypt “ Genesis 41: 46 on an inspection tour. He would have to become familiar with the people who managed agriculture, the locations and conditions of the fields, the crops, the roads, and means of transportation. It is inconceivable that Joseph could have accomplished all of this on a personal level.
  • He would have had to establish and oversee the training of what amounted to a department of agriculture and revenue. During the seven years of abundant harvest, Joseph had the grain stored in cities Genesis 41: 48-49. During the seven lean years that followed, Joseph dispensed grain to the Egyptians and other people who were affected by the widespread famine. To create and administer all this, while surviving the political intrigue of an absolute monarchy, required exceptional talent.

Joseph relieves the poverty of Egypt’s people (Genesis 47:13-26)

  • After the people ran out of money, Joseph allowed then to barter their livestock for food.
  • This plan lasted for one year during which Joseph collected horses, sheep, goats, cattle and donkeys Genesis 47: 15-17
  • He would have has to determine the value of these animals and establish an equitable system for exchange.
  • When all of the livestock had been traded, people willingly doled themselves into slavery to Pharaoh and sold him the ownership of their lands as well. Genesis 47:18-21.
  • Joseph, however, allowed the people to sell their land and to enter into servitude, but he did not take advantage of them in their powerlessness.
  • Joseph would have had to see that these properties were valued correctly in exchange for seed for planting Genesis 47:23. He enacted an enduring law that people return 20 percent of the harvest to Pharaoh.
  • In all of this, Joseph exempted the priestly families from selling their land because Pharaoh supplied them with a fixed allotment of food to meet their needs adequately Genesis 47:22,26.
  • In our work, we may experience tension arising from feeling empathy for the needy, yet bearing responsibility to do what is good for the people and organizations we work for. Joseph experienced God’s guidance in these difficult tasks and we also in Genesis 41:57. We see, God’s fulfillment of his promise that Abraham’s descendants would be a blessing to the world have received God’s promise that “I will never leave you or forsake you” Hebrews 13:5

Applications from Joseph’s management experience (Genesis 41:46-57; 47:13-25)

  1. Become as familiar as possible with the state of affairs as they exist at the beginning of your service.
  2. Pray for discernment regarding the future so that you can make wise plans.
  3. Commit yourself to God first and then expect him to direct and establish your plans.
  4. Gratefully and appropriately acknowledge the gifts God has given you.
  5. Even though others recognize God’s presence in your life and the special talents you have, do not broadcast these in a self -serving effort to gain respect.
  6. Educate yourself about how to do your job and carry out with excellence.
  7. Seek the practical good for others, knowing that God has placed you where you are to be a blessing.
  8. Be fair in all of your dealings, especially when the circumstances are grim and deeply problematic.
  9. Although your exemplary service may propel you to prominence, remember your founding mission as God’s servant. .Your life does not consist in what you gain for yourself.
  10. Value the godliness of the myriad types of honorable work that society needs.
  11. Generously extend the fruit of your labor as widely as possible to those who truly need it, regardless of what you think of them as individuals.
  12. Accept the fact that God may bring you into particular field of work under extremely challenging conditions. This does not mean that something has gone terribly wrong or that you are out of God’s will.
  13. Have courage that God will fit you for the task.
  14. Accept the fact that sometimes people must choose what they regard as the better of two very unpleasant yet unavoidable situations.
  15. Believe that what you do will not only benefit those whom you see and meet, but also that your work has the potential to touch lives for many generations to come. God is able to accomplish abundantly far more than we can ask or imagine Ephesians 3:20

Joseph’s dealings with his brothers (Genesis 42:43)

  • In the midst of the crisis in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers arrived from Canaan, seeking to buy food, as the famine severely affected their land also They did not recognize Joseph, and he did not reveal himself to them. He dealt with his brothers largely through the language of commerce.
  • Joseph’s behavior in this situation became quite shrewd. First, he concealed his identity from his brothers, which while not necessarily rising to the level of open deceit. Second, he spoke harshly to his brothers with accusations he knew were unfounded Genesis 42:7,9,14,16; 44:35)
  • In short, Joseph took advantage of his power to deal with a group he knew could be untrustworthy because of their earlier treatment of him. His motive was to discern the present character of the people he was dealing with. The biblical concept for this tactic is shrewdness. Shrewdness may be exercised for good or for ill.
  • The Hebrew word for shrewdness (roman and cognates) is also translated as “good judgement”, “prudence” and “clever”  Proverbs 12:23; 13:16; 14:8; 22:3; 27:12 indicating it may take foresight and skill to make godly work possible in difficult contexts. Jesus himself counseled his disciples to be “as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves” Matthew 10:16.
  • The bible often commends shrewdness in the pursuit of noble purposes Proverbs 1:4; 8:5,12
  • When he tested them further by treating the youngest Benjamin, more generously than the others, they proved they had learned not to fall into animosity among themselves the way they had done when they sold Joseph into slavery.
  • Two important factors differentiate Joseph in making the decision to use means that otherwise would not be commendable. First, he gained nothing from these machinations for himself. He had received a blessing from God and his actions were solely in the service of becoming a blessing to others.
  • Second, his actions were necessary if he His to be able to offer the blessings. If he had dealt with his brothers more openly, he could not have tested if their trustworthiness in the matter.

Jacob’s family’s move to Egypt (Genesis 45:16; 47:12)

  • Joseph and Pharaoh lavishly gave Joseph’s brothers “the best of all the land of Egypt” Genesis 45:20 and supplied them for their return to Canaan and transportation of the family.
  • God had promised Abraham and his descendants the land of Canaan, not Egypt. Long after Joseph passed from the scene, Egypt’s relationship with Israel turned from hospitality to hostility.
  • Seen this way, how does Joseph’s benevolence to the family fit with his role as mediator of God’s blessing to all families of the earth. Genesis 12:3? Joseph was a man of insight who planned for the future and he did bring about the portion of God’s blessing assigned to him. But God did not reveal to him the future rise of a “new king…who did not know Joseph” Exodus 1:8
  • Each generation needs to remain faithful to God and receive God’s blessings in their own time. Regrettably, Joseph’s descendants forgot God’s promises and drifted into faithlessness. Yet God did not forget his promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their descendants.
  • There will always be plenty of hurt and pain in life. No company or organization is immune from that. It would be naïve to assume generally that nobody deliberately means to cause harm by what they say or do.
  • Just as Joseph acknowledged that people did intend to harm him, we can do likewise. But in the same sentence lives the larger truth about God’s intention for good. Recalling that joint when we feel hurt both helps us to bear the pain and to identify with Christ.
  • This calling begins with a dream. At the time of Joseph’s dream, he His an immature teen who more than got under the skin of his older brothers. He evidently had a big mouth that got him into trouble.
  • Joseph was also a pet son of his father, Jacob, which further infuriated his brothers. His dreams revealed that he would stand over his brothers one day and even his father would come before him and bow down.