There were 70 people that settled in the area of Goshen in Egypt when Jacob ran from the famine in the land. When Joseph was sold into slavery by his envious and unfeeling brothers to the Midianite traders it was NOT commissioned by God. That was straight out a plot by the devil. That happened because Satan knows that Joseph loves God. So what Satan did to Joseph through his brothers God allowed because we live in a fallen world and God will not usurp men’s choices. Because God’s hope is that men will choose the good but we most always choose our own way not God’s. God took Satan’s plan, his ill-intended plot and said, “This is bad, BUT I can make this come out for the good of my servant,” that would be Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Joseph was sold to Pottapher, a high official in Pharaoh’s government. I’ve heard it preached before that good things were going for Joseph because he was put in charge of Pottapher’s household. Let’s put this in perspective. I am the youngest of 6 and one day my brothers and sister said we are tired of that annoying little brat we are going to put him out on the slave market. They sell me and I am immediately shuttled off to a country where I don’t speak the language, the food, when I get fed, is strange. These people then strip me naked and take me to the auction block… are you getting the picture here? Ok so a power broker in the government buys me the way someone like you or I might buy a pair of socks, or a dog at the dog pound. Are you seeing how hard this would have been on Joseph not to mention on his father, Jacob, which didn’t even know he had been sold? Are you guys getting the dire straights that Joseph was in?
Well, Pottapher, maybe not consciensously, senses God’s blessing on Joseph and elevates him to a position of power among his slaves… AMONG HIS SLAVES. A position of power among slaves is still a slave. We all know the story. Pottapher’s wife tried to jump Joseph’s bones and she was left holding the robe and Joseph was left holding the bag. Joseph gets thrown in prison and probably the reason Joseph didn’t get killed Pottapher didn’t totally believe his wife and he really didn’t want to kill Joseph.
Then in the prison Satan had once again stripped Joseph of any comfort and blessing that had been placed upon him by Pottapher with the choices Pottapher’s wife had made. In the jail the jailer recognized God’s blessing on Joseph. The jailer made him responsible over the jail and scripture says the jailer didn’t worry about anything because he knew Joseph was there. Now, I need to mention something here also. Joseph was made responsible because he was a responsible man. Too many times we see “the company” man or woman as a brown-nose, someone that kisses up to the boss. We see them as someone out for their own interest and to be sure that happens sometimes, but it may be that God has given that person a “Joseph spirit”. God honors someone that is responsible and attends to the needs of those over them.
You know how the story goes. Joseph interprets the cupbearer’s and the baker’s dreams spot on. After the cup-bearer gets back to work Joseph had to think “SCORE” in just a little while I’ll be out of here. How long do you think Joseph hung onto that hope? Joseph among all men knew how others are more concerned with their own world, and Joseph was forgotten. Joseph still trusted God even in the face of adversity. He knew God was in control. Two full years before the cupbearer mentioned to Pharaoh about Joseph and even then the cupbearer did so to make points with Pharaoh. Right here I will point out this was God’s timing because had he mentioned Joseph earlier all Joseph would have wound up someone else’s slave. Mentioning him at this specific time took him from prison to standing in front of Pharaoh in one day.
Next Joseph relaxing in Pharaoh’s presence allowing God to work through him changed his entire world. Pharaoh sensed the spirit of God in Joseph as he stood and interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams. Pharaoh was someone that didn’t believe in Joseph’s God but placed God’s servant 2nd in command in Egypt. Joseph was 17 when his brothers sold him and he was 30 when he was taken before Pharaoh. How many of us could hold onto the hope in God through 13 years of true adversity with unfailing faith? Years later after Joseph had died scripture says another Pharaoh came to power that didn’t know Joseph and placed heavy burdens on the people of Israel. From the time that Israel (Jacob) came into Egypt with seventy people until the time Moses brought the people out 430 years later as stated in Exodus 12: 40-41 there were 600 thousand men that left Egypt. So to make some basic assumptions about family size the Israel population would have been 2 to 3 million people at the Exodus.
So making this observation: God used 10 envious brothers, greed of the traders, lust of Pottapher’s wife, imprisonment, unbelieving Pharaoh, and many years of hard slavery to turn the twelve sons of Israel (Jacob) into the twelve tribes of Israel. Notice I didn’t say God caused all those bad circumstances I said God used them. Satan sees someone loving and fearing God and he always tries to break us down where we cling to the world. We, like Joseph, need to live in responsible expectation of how God will work His will through Satan’s focused attempts at making us say, “this is too hard, I give up.” Joseph went through 13 years of adversity, not uncertainty because he was certain from where his salvation would come, before he was presented to Pharaoh, plus 7 years of plenty then another 2 years during the famine before he ever saw his family again. That was 22 years of trials before being reunited with his family. He was responsible, God loving, God fearing, but he was still a slave doing what he was supposed to be doing and God honored him for that.
Too many times we have been sold into Egypt and instead of being responsible and loving God we are whining and complaining about how life isn’t fair, also how everything is against us. When God wants us to keep our eyes on Him and never lose sight of whose in control. Satan and people cause our problems but God uses our Egypt days to prepare us for the good of many. After all of this adversity Joseph was STILL a slave, a very powerful slave, but still a slave. God may not take us out of a situation but use our situation to save many people from destruction. In the middle of our Egypt let us pray, “God help me to use this for your glory because it’s not all about me. Amen!”