One of the most difficult strongholds to contend with is the twisted, evil mindset the enemy tries to instill in every person, especially believers. This kind of opposition cannot be resisted by direct combat, for it is psychological, not physical. We must choose to believe God in the middle of hardships, even if it appears to be to our disadvantage. This is when true spiritual growth occurs.
God made a covenant with Abraham. And that promise was passed down to Isaac, his son and to Jacob, his grandson. Jacob had 12 sons; the 11th was Joseph. Young Joseph was a tattletale(Genesis 37:2) and he liked to brag(verse 5). Above that, Jacob favored Joseph above the others and spoiled him with gifts including the infamous coat of many colors. None of these factors promoted goodwill with Joseph’s older brothers.
God gave Joseph two dreams. He was very excited about the dreams and the promise of leadership so he shared those dreams with his brothers along with his interpretation that he would one day rule in leadership, even over them as family. Not surprisingly the brothers didn’t share Joseph’s enthusiasm but hated him even more. The story unfolds to where his brothers threw him in a pit to rot and die. But then they started thinking that they could make a profit by selling him as a slave. There intent was to erase his identity, rob Joseph of his inheritance and his family forever. Keep in mind, these were his brothers who did this! It’s hard for us today to comprehend the injustice done to Joseph. They erased his name, completely stripping him of his identity. When a man was sold as a slave to another country, he would remain a slave until death. It was almost as if Joseph was now a living “dead man.”
You and I can read this story in the Bible thousands of years after it happened , so we know the outcome. But remember, Joseph didn’t have the book of Genesis to read. He didn’t know what the future held for him except for slavery in a foreign land. When the caravan of slaves arrived in Egypt, Joseph was sold to a man named Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. Joseph served Potiphar for 10 years. He probably was certain by now that his father Jacob had mourned his loss and moved on without him. As time passed, Joseph found favor with Potiphar. But at the same time, Potiphar’s wife had lusting eyes for Joseph, and she wasn’t shy about it. She was a wealthy woman accustomed to getting her way, and determined to dress and scent herself with the best –almost certainly she had a strong, seducing spirit. Joseph wisely resisted sexual immorality and every attempt from her to seduce him and he ran from the house. The scorned woman’s embarrassment quickly turned to anger, and she screamed “Rape!” Potiphar had Joseph thrown into Pharaoh’s dungeon. Once again, in a single day every good thing in Joseph’s life had been lost.
Potiphar had put him in this dungeon to die. In those days, prisoners were given only enough water and food to remain alive, because dying would be too easy for them. Joseph had no hope. He had descended as low as a person could without being dead. Can you imagine the thoughts Joseph had to ward off in that damp, dark dungeon with all kinds of time on his hands? I’m sure the enemy attacked his mind and imagination without mercy with every attempt to turn his heart away from God. Joseph had very limited freedom in prison, but he still had the right to choose his responses to all that it happened to him! Would he become bitter and resentful, despising the Word of God, entertaining thoughts of revenge against his family? Or would he steadfastly resist the rush of negative thoughts and emotions that undoubtedly flooded his soul? I doubt that it ever crossed Joseph’s mind until much later that this horrific series of events was God’s way of preparing him to rule. Joseph was learning obedience through suffering.
It’s easy to blame everyone else for diversity and imagine how much better off you’d be if it had not been for all those who seem to oppose you. But the truth is that such thoughts only weaken our resistance to what will ultimately harm us. The real threat is not our adverse circumstances but the wrong beliefs and thoughts that try to slip in during our hardship. We must be relentless in our belief in God’s sovereign plan and firm to resist any logic contrary to His Word. This truth must be established in our heart: no man, woman, or devil can ever get us out of the will of God! No one but God holds our destiny. Do we think that it caught God off guard when they sold Joseph into slavery?
The ultimate test for Joseph came when two new prisoners arrived into the dungeon. They both had dreams and they were looking for an interpretation. Could Joseph proclaim the faithfulness of God to these two men when he had not seen one shred of evidence of God’s faithfulness in his own life in more than 10 years? If Joseph had been like many today, he would have said to the two men, ” so you so you guys had a dream last night. I had a dream once, and it shattered… now leave me alone.” If this had been his response, he would have destroyed the pathway to his destiny. Joseph didn’t see that God-given promise fulfilled for 21 years. Yet it was indeed fulfilled because God is faithful to keep His promises!
Joseph started out as a tattletale and was a bit haughty in his younger days. But he didn’t remain this way through time. He obeyed through adversity, and consequently he developed the character he would need in order to eventually rule effectively. He became the second most powerful man on earth. Mature character had established, strengthened, and settled in Joseph’s heart – Christlike character! BTW, he did rule in leadership and blessed his family with great favor and never sought revenge against his brothers!