Joseph & Mary 2

The plan of God for the life of Joseph was narrow and well-defined in the duties that God gave him to do…as briefly described above.  Joseph does not live long enough to become a leader in the early Christian church.  Joseph did not have the opportunity to leave us inspired writings like Peter, Paul, John, or his own son James.  Joseph was not called by God to be a great evangelist after the death and resurrection of Jesus, with a unique perspective that only he could give.

But does anyone think that the degree of honor and gratitude that will be given to Joseph in heaven will be small?  Like a lifelong faithful servant who performed his assigned duties well in the service of a great king, Joseph served the eternal Son of God in the role of a step-father from the birth of Jesus through sometime into the teens or possibly middle twenties of Jesus.  Joseph after all taught Jesus, the Creator of the universe, simple carpentry.

Joseph knows Jesus like few people can claim to know Him.

I believe that Joseph will cherish for all eternity the opportunity and responsibility that God the Father placed with him to protect and watch over the Son of God during His childhood, and that God’s unique plan for his life was and will be a source of immeasurable value to him.

I believe that Joseph will be one of the most sought-after guest speakers in heaven, if there is such a thing, with his social calendar booked for eons, because of the special relationship he had with Jesus during the “silent years.”

One of the lessons that we can learn from the life of Joseph is that it was the will and plan of God that Jesus the Son of God stand alone to accomplish the great work of salvation on the cross.  For reasons that will probably only be fully understood on the Day of Judgment and the final demise of evil, God knew that the task of presenting love to the universe by the example of the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross, could only rightly be done by Him alone.

No human agents can appear to be aiding Jesus during the trial and crucifixion—not apostles, disciples, a mother, family members, or possibly even a faithful and courageous step-father.

At basic issue was right and wrong…love and hate…goodness and evil.  As Jesus hung in agony on the cross hour after hour, no one present there at the time knew that the most beautiful example of divine character in the history of mankind, or indeed for all eternity, was taking place.

Mary, on the other hand, is quite human in that she appears to have problems understanding the second half of the cross in the ministry of Jesus her son.

No one can be any closer to this issue than Mary.  Like all mothers, Mary wants to see her son Jesus…succeed in life.  Mary has good reason to be confident in the abilities of her son, because both she and Joseph know the true parentage of Jesus the Son of God.  Mary is therefore deeply shocked and staggered by the opposition shown from the powerful Pharisees, scribes, and rulers in Jerusalem toward her son’s ministry and message, people she would otherwise respect and admire.

Mary probably had profound confusion over the disconnect between what she knew to be the true nature of the person and the abilities of her son Jesus, and the failure of the Jewish authorities to likewise recognize this and accept Jesus as the Messiah.

The official rejection of Jesus during His trial and crucifixion must have been heart wrenching.  Mary was the only person alive at that time other than Jesus Himself, who knew about His conception, birth, and the extraordinary prophesies that were pronounced about Him by angels, shepherds, wise men, prophets, and the Old Testament scriptures.

Being a woman in the first-century Jewish patriarchal culture, if Mary had come forward and told all that she knew, few people would have believed her.

Like the rest of the apostles, Mary had to painfully wait for the unexpected Resurrection Day to be able to fully understand through hindsight that Jesus her son died on the cross as the sacrificial Passover Lamb of God.

The long-awaited Messiah of Israel took away the sins of the world, in order to become the resurrection life that lifts us up out of death into a new spiritual life with God.

Joseph & Mary 1

“Enter in at the narrow gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be who go in that way;  Because narrow is the gate, and hard is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”                                                  (Mt. 7:13-14)

Joseph in the New Testament, the step-father of Jesus, is a person who does not get a lot of mention in Protestant sermons or books except around Christmas time.

The second half of the cross, however, sheds light on the life of Joseph that can further instruct us about our godly calling and the Christian life.  Joseph, the step-father of the Son of God, deserves more credit than he generally gets.

Joseph and Mary are obviously the first people recorded in the New Testament to believe in Jesus as the Christ.  Joseph intends to wed Mary in the city of Nazareth, only to discover before they are married that Mary is pregnant.

In a dream an angel explains to Joseph that the child in Mary’s womb is conceived by the Holy Spirit, and to not be afraid to take her for a wife.  After the angel informs Joseph of the situation, we can reasonably assume that Mary discussed all that she knew with Joseph.  We can assume that the couple discussed the visit Mary had from the angel Gabriel and all that the angel told her, and the subsequent visit Mary had with Elisabeth and Zacharias, and what they had said to her about the baby she was carrying.

Joseph was present and assisted at the birth of the baby Jesus.  Joseph heard what the shepherds said about an angel telling them to go and see the baby that was born who is the Savior, Christ the Lord, and about the multitude of angels praising God over the birth of Jesus.

Joseph was present when the three wise men from the east came bearing gifts, and heard what they said about the baby Jesus.  Joseph was in the temple when Simeon spoke about Jesus, and the scripture in Luke says that “Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken by him.”  Joseph was there in the temple when Anna, a prophetess, spoke about Jesus regarding redemption in Israel.

An angel appears to Joseph in a dream and warns Joseph to take his wife Mary and the young child Jesus to Egypt to escape Herod’s attempt to destroy the future “King of the Jews.”  After Herod’s death, an angel again appears to Joseph in a dream telling him it is now safe to return to Israel.  Joseph returns with Mary and Jesus to live in Nazareth.

We see in Joseph an excellent choice to be the step-father of Jesus.  He accepts this huge responsibility given to him by God the Father, and manages all of the challenges with quiet resolve and leadership.

Joseph is apparently a man of character, as we see no signs of him bragging to the town of Nazareth about any remarkable talents of his oldest son, or trying to exploit or benefit in any way from the natural abilities of Jesus.

Joseph and Mary show such self-restraint in keeping the divine conception of Jesus a secret that even the half brothers and sisters of Jesus appear to be totally unaware of the full story.  It is only after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus that two of His brothers, James and Jude, come to believe that He is the Christ.  It was probably only after the resurrection that Mary told her other children the full story about her first son and their remarkable half-brother.

One of the interesting and instructive elements in the ministry of Jesus is that His step-father Joseph is not on hand for support.  It is not the will of God that Joseph still be alive when Jesus starts His public ministry sometime in His early thirties.

Joseph is therefore not present in the synagogue in Nazareth to defend Jesus when He stood up to read the messianic Isaiah 61:1-2 scriptures about Himself, and the townspeople were violently offended that they had not previously been given the inside information about Jesus that would support such astounding claims.  Joseph could then have given them the reasons why he and Mary had kept this information from family and friends, and this might have defused this volatile situation.

Joseph is not present during the many visits that Jesus made to Jerusalem, where he could have cleared up the pivotal question by the Pharisees and scribes regarding the birthplace of Jesus and their complaint about Jesus that: “we know this man, from where he is”, meaning Nazareth and not Bethlehem, the scriptural birthplace of the Messiah.

As head of the family, Joseph could have been there to pull aside each of his children…and privately tell them the real story about the conception and birth of their half-brother Jesus, to prevent the painful situation described during the ministry of Jesus: “For neither did his brethren believe in him.”

Joseph might have comforted Mary regarding the cold reception that the ministry of Jesus had received at the hands of the established religious leaders in Jerusalem.  Joseph might have helped Mary reconcile in her mind what she knows to be true about Jesus her son with the rejection His ministry is receiving from the Pharisees, scribes, and rulers.

Joseph might even have been present at the trial of Jesus, and spoken up about the true origin of his step-son and His flawless character before these powerful men.

We clearly see in the life of Joseph the second half of the cross—the death of the self-in-charge nature, in favor of the plan of God for Joseph’s life.

All Joseph started out to do was marry a lovely young woman in his hometown of Nazareth.  None of us can truly grasp the magnitude and magnificence of the actual life that Joseph experienced.

If Joseph could do it all over again, would he choose for himself a different, more normal life?

David 2

One of the basic questions, which people pause to think about during some period in their busy lives, even people with economic and social stability, is: “why am I here?”

Absent specific knowledge of our purpose in life, people in our modern culture who do not personally know God through an intimate walk of faith…vote with their self-will and their pocketbooks to choose the default, conventional, pleasure-driven, self-centered, spiritually risk-averse, and worldly predictable road.

How many people do we personally know, or read about in fiction novels, or watch in movies…people who listen to God in the Spirit, subordinate their self-wills, and follow the life-plan that God could and would reveal to them as the optimum course of action?  This approach does not exist in our popular culture because it involves surrendering all to Jesus Christ, because it involves the second half of the cross.

The worldly conventional life-approach has no faith or trust in God, but instead has faith and trust in ourselves.  The type of risk, danger, and adventure that comes from faith and trust in the living God, who can compose and orchestrate a brilliantly creative life like David’s divinely planned and executed ascent to the kingship of Israel…does not exist in a God-less cultural environment.

The Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers, and scribes during the ministry of Jesus were no longer the spiritual children of Abraham, because they held on to their self-will instead of submitting it to God.  Like people of our own culture, they were afraid of the uncertainty of relinquishing their hold over the destiny of their lives into the trust of God’s care.  Instead, these Jerusalem leaders created their own form of religion based upon rules, regulations, and the performance of self-works rituals that replaced the living and more risky faith of submitting their lives to God.

We see this pattern throughout history in all man-invented, perfunctory religious experience.

People will do almost anything to avoid having to give up their self-will to God, because deep down inside they are afraid.  People are afraid to take the risk that God’s way might actually be better, because of the element of the uncertainty of what God might do with their lives.

There is security in staying with what we know, rather than venturing out into a perilous journey of faith with Jesus Christ into the unknown.  There is a sense of security in not letting go of the power we have over our own lives.

This is the case, even when the recipient of this letting go of the power of self-sovereignty…Jesus Christ our Creator God…will lovingly re-direct this self-same power back down towards us in a more intelligently designed and beneficially purposed adventure-of-faith life-plan.

This is why many people have to reach the bottom depths of failure and suffering…to have nothing left to lose and nowhere else to go…before they will turn to God for His help.

Sadly, Jesus Christ is often the last resort when He should be the first and most sensible beginning option in discovering our true purpose in life.  That many people stubbornly hang on to their own self-in-control natures, to the ruin of themselves and often those people around them…is one of the central, core problems with the human race.

David has to face Goliath in a life-and-death struggle at the beginning of David’s career, not because God sets up these types of contests for His own enjoyment, but because we must learn real faith and trust in God to see us through challenges…when failure and falsification of God’s character are live possibilities.

In a biblical quality journey of faith we sometimes barely make it through the tightest of choreographed and integrated circumstances…because this is one way amongst several ways that God uses to authenticate His direct participation in our lives.

Miraculous or near-miraculous deliverance through supernaturally choreographed events is one tool in God’s tool-box to separate His ways above worldly conventional normalcy.

We see this repeated throughout the narrative stories of the Bible for an eternally valid reason.  Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6) because without a context of circumstances requiring committed faith in the face of discouraging appearances, God cannot reveal to us His very real presence in our lives in stark contrast to the subjective, humanistically generated false experience of self-works “religion.”

The story of David’s anointing by Samuel, and his calling, exploits, and tribulations in route to the kingship of Israel is not a man-invented myth…because the component of the active participation of God in David’s story is beyond the reach of the creative imagination and invention of human writers.

An adventure of faith like David’s is unique to the Bible.

David can write the 23rd Psalm because he actually followed God through the valley of the shadow of death.  David learned first-hand that he did not have to fear evil, when God was with him.

Five of the most important words ever recorded in all of literature are: “for thou art with me” (Ps. 23:4).

The contrast between the God-composed life of David, living on the knife’s edge of danger in faith and trust in God, and the self-led life in pursuit of security and self-preservation that will not venture out into the risky territory of faith in God, could not be greater.

The reward for David’s faith and trust is that he became Israel’s greatest king and fulfilled the purpose of his life (Ps. 139:14-18), and in doing so he came to personally know his Creator God.

David 1

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”                                                (Prov. 3:5-6)

Like the examples of Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, when David is anointed by Samuel the prophet to become the future king of Israel, David is no longer in complete control of his life.

The second half of the cross can be seen throughout David’s life.

David was probably just as surprised as everyone else when Samuel anointed him to become Israel’s future king.

David understands from the beginning that it is God’s role to fulfill His promise that David would become king, and that he must wait upon God’s timing.  David understands that God does not need his help to speed up the process.  David’s own ideas about the plan of his life are therefore nailed to the cross of Christ, long before Jesus and the cross come onto the world scene.

David has no advance knowledge of what God has specifically planned for the intervening years of preparation before David becomes king, but David does not lose hope or faith in God despite often discouraging outward appearances.

David even rejects the worldly wise council of his friends to take the life of Saul on two separate occasions, which would have ended the constant threat to David’s life (1 Sam. 24:10; 26:8).  David will not put himself into the position of being God, of taking over the sovereignty of the events of his life.

The willingness of David to accept danger as part of God’s training program to become king sheds additional light on this concept of the second half of the cross.  Handing over our will to God, according to these biblical narrative stories, involves some measure of risk and adventure on our part.  From the safety of a comfortable chair we can read the stories of the lives of the people of faith in the Bible… and know that they have happy endings.

We can applaud Abraham, Joseph, Moses, and David for their faith and trust in God that eventually lead to good outcomes.  But in the midst of the playing out of their lives in real time these people did not have the benefit of knowing beforehand exactly how their stories would end.

Abraham might not have had any children through Sarah.  Joseph could have remained a prisoner in Pharaoh’s jail for the rest of his life.  Moses could have been summarily killed by Pharaoh upon his return into Egypt.  David could have been captured and killed by Saul during any one of David’s many narrow escapes.  The participation of God in these events and circumstances is the added ingredient that transforms these life stories into extraordinary lives, which rise above the level of worldly conventional normalcy.

The 23rd Psalm allows us to look into the very heart of David as to what he was thinking about God’s leading for his life:

1    The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2     He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3     He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4      Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5      Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6       Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

The storyline of David is a challenge to contemporary thinking that the worldly acceptable model for life is a self-made life…that the “real man” is a self-made man.  This pervasive worldview of self-directed, self-validation underlies one of the erroneous misconceptions of modern cultural thought about Christianity.

A biblical quality adventure of faith following God’s higher ways is not for the doubtful, halfhearted, or fearful.  God’s participation in our lives is an element that initiates the most challenging and difficult character growth life-lessons imaginable, having life-changing purposeful direction.  A partnership, with Jesus Christ in the leadership position, adds divine energy and creativity to our life-script that works to build tenacious and courageous backbone into our characters no matter where we initially start out on the character strength-scale.

The worldly, self-directed approach is to “get ahead” and stay ahead of life’s adversities through education, hard work, strength of personality, family wealth, and any other method at our disposal.  The goal is to achieve the “good life” as defined by worldly horizontal thinking…through material wealth, security, and self-validation.

In actuality this life approach is based in part upon this broken world’s fear of the uncertainty regarding our self-worth and the whims of chance.  The go-it-on-our-own, self-validation approach to life is based upon the need to avoid the outward appearance of negative failure.

The love, forgiveness, and acceptance of God through Christ sets up a new life reality and context, whereby the Spirit-born Christian is free to enter into the risky venture of a journey of faith following God…wherever He leads…even into the valley of the shadow of death like David.

The adventure of faith component in David’s life refutes the modern cultural misconception that real men do not rely upon God as a “crutch.”

The limited mindset of worldly horizontal thinking, stuck in the self-on-the-throne mentality, makes it difficult for God to break into our lives and straighten us out using a better life-script.

The self-directed life is Lucifer’s subtly deceptive counterfeit to the more daring release-of-faith “narrow way” that Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 7:13-14).  Seeking material wealth and personal acclaim as the means to validate our self-worth is the inverse opposite of “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. 6:33).

If we mistakenly think we have everything perfectly arranged financially and socially, we will also mistakenly think we have no need for God.  The autonomous individualism of a journey of self automatically pushes aside a journey of faith in fellowship with God, because we cannot live two opposing lives at the same time.

Is entirely self-controlling our destiny the underlying purpose of life?  How is it that we would even independently know the real purpose of this short-in-length life for us?  Is it written in stone somewhere?  Is the purpose of life capably passed down to us from our parents and grandparents?  Are we born into a world where the life-examples of the experienced adults around us clearly demonstrate the best approach to life (1 Pet. 1:18)?

Judging by the chaotic, universally repetitive trial-and-error world around us, mankind in general has no idea what is the true purpose of our being here.

Moses 2

God knew at the beginning of human history that the life of Jesus and the lives of the Pharisees were on a deadly, head-on collision course.

The cross of Christ is not only for the clearly positive aspects of repentance, cleansing, regeneration, and salvation, but also to prepare a person for a personal journey of faith with God, made possible through the discipleship cost of the death of our stubborn self-in-control natures.  The cross demonstrates the deadly serious nature of this conflict at its core.

The Pharisees, scribes, lawyers, and Jewish leaders hated Jesus because He exposed the fact that they had the false outward appearance of being godly, without having paid the true inner discipleship costs to back it up.  They had a scholarly head-knowledge of the Old Testament, but no personal first-hand experiential knowledge of the God of the Old Testament.  The surrender of the self-will to God to make room for individual life plans tailored by God was entirely missed or rejected by them as they studied the Old Testament.

The Pharisees and scribes did not “enter in” (Lk. 11:52) to a personal life with God according to the model as set forth in the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and others, because they never gave up control of their lives.  They created their own self-willed religion based upon scholarly study and religious observances, leaving out the part about faith or trust in God that would lead to the imaginative and purposeful lives that God could and would craft for them.

The gulf between what the Pharisees and scribes said, and what they actually did, could not be much wider.  They said they were the children of Abraham and the followers of Moses, yet they rejected and killed the Son of God.

In Matthew 23:13, Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees:  “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for ye neither go in yourselves, neither permit them that are entering to go in.”

We may ask the obvious question: “go in where?”

Certainly the Pharisees and scribes had all of the outward appearances of following the Jewish religious practices, and played and dressed the part of being holy men of God.  They cannot be faulted on that score.  They had everyone and themselves so fooled that Jesus said of them that they were as white-washed sepulchers full of dead men’s bones, or graves that men walked over without realizing it.  Jesus said they were like the blind leading the blind.

The powerful lesson for us here is that discovering and following God’s life-script for us completely like Abraham, Joseph, and Moses, or not following God at all like the outwardly religious but self-powered Pharisees and scribes…can actually separate in the extreme into totaling different outcomes.

Abraham, Joseph, and Moses accurately hear the voice of God, and follow the leading of God for their lives, serving as the correct models of God-composed life-scripts of faith for millions of believers to our present day.

The Pharisees and scribes are exposed as usurpers of their undeserved high religious positions in Israel, and end up on the wrong side of the trial and crucifixion of the very Messiah…that was prophesied in the Old Testament scriptures they mistakenly claimed to be the careful students, interpreters, and teachers of…to the nation of Israel.

It is the second half of the cross of Christ which divides and separates the two conflicting approaches to life.

The plans of God for Abraham, Joseph, and Moses…dislodge them from all previous self-made plans and goals. The designs of God propel them onward to achieve their unique positions in history.

By contrast, the rejection of God’s will and participation in their lives, propels the Pharisees and scribes to commit the largest blunder in all of eternity, exposing themselves as imposters and pretenders as the supposed religious leaders of Israel during the time of the public ministry, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus.

Moses 1

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”                                                                (Eph. 2:10)

When Moses met God at the burning bush, from that time forward Moses was no longer in complete control of his life.

In the scriptures Moses is called the “law-giver” (Jn 1:17), because through Moses the Israelites received the Ten Commandments and the other ordinances that make up the Law.  Yet when Moses is delivering the Ten Commandments to Israel in the fifth chapter of Deuteronomy…at the same time that Moses is delivering his speech…he is also standing there as an example of the second half of the cross.

After his calling at the burning bush, the self-will and self-direction of Moses are nailed to the cross of Christ as much as anyone in the Bible.

Paul says in the New Testament that the cross of Christ was a stumbling block to the Jews (1 Cor. 1:23).  The Pharisees and scribes expected the Messiah to be a savior who would deliver the nation of Israel from the political control of Rome (Jer. 23:5-6; Isa. 9:6-7).

The Pharisees and scribes could not conceive of a Messiah who could deliver them from something far more enslaving than the political and military power of an occupying foreign nation—namely their own self-in-control natures as kings atop the thrones of their lives.

Throughout the gospel of John the Jewish leaders and Jesus are in verbal conflict over what constitutes true worship of God and right living.  The Jewish leaders claimed to be the children of Abraham and disciples of Moses, yet Jesus said that they did not have the knowledge of God in them (Jn 8:19).  The Pharisees, scribes, and Jewish leaders stumbled so badly over the life of Jesus that they became the major players in bringing about the death of Jesus by crucifixion.

Not only did they fail to accept the first half of the cross—repentance and faith in Christ leading to salvation, but they utterly failed to comprehend and accept the second half of the cross—the death of self-will in surrender to God’s plans for their lives, after the pattern of the people of faith in the Bible.

Had they been faithfully living according to the second half of the cross, they would have recognized Jesus as the Messiah and followed Him.  The second half of the cross was staring them and us in the face, when we look at the life of Moses the lawgiver.

What if Jesus did militarily defeat the Romans, and like King David restore political freedom to the nation of Israel according to popular expectations?  The same religious leaders who rejected the baptism of John the Baptist, crucified Jesus, and persecuted the early Christian church, would still have remained in self-control on the thrones of their lives.  Without personal repentance and conversion, the nation of Israel would not have been spiritually free at all.

Reformed Israel actually became the new Christian church, of Jewish and Gentile believers, in the first century.

In considering the life of Moses…Moses was a righteous man for the same reasons that Abraham’s faith alone was accounted to him for righteousness.  By the time that the Law and the ordinances came to Moses and the Israelites, Moses had already gone to Egypt, performed miracles, delivered the Israelites, and parted the Red Sea, all through faith and trust in God.  Moses was walking in God’s life-script for him long before the Ten Commandments came along.

This was the fundamental mistake made by the Pharisees, scribes, and Jewish rulers of Jesus’ day.  They concentrated on following the Law, the ordinances, the temple services, the festivals, and other religious practices, according to their own self-efforts, and missed altogether the second half of the cross leading to a personal adventure of faith with God (Rom. 9:32).

Following the Law, and experiencing a living walk of faith, were both equally portrayed in the Hebrew Bible.  Old Testament faithful believers were supposed to follow the “law of Moses” and have a personal relationship with God.

Joseph 3

Joseph allowed God to take him to the extreme edge, to the outer limits of faith and trust within the challenge of life’s events and circumstances.  This is why the life of Joseph is such an excellent model for the second half of the cross for us today.

After Joseph was finally elevated to the position of second in command of all of Egypt, we have no indication from the rest of Joseph’s story that he became full of himself and his new found power and authority.

The years of character-building preparation in Potiphar’s house and in Pharaoh’s prison paid off.  Not only is Joseph prepared to govern the nation of Egypt, but he does so with hard-earned character and grace.

Joseph, out of the narrowness of his God-guided circumstances…learned in Potiphar’s house and in Pharaohs’ prison to interact with the Egyptians from a leadership position using humility, respect, and character.

In one of the most moving and brilliantly creative final closing chapters in all of literature, Joseph forgives his half-brothers their earlier treachery toward him in selling him into slavery into Egypt, recognizing their actions as part of God’s future plan to save lives during the widespread famine (Gen. 45:4-5).

What is this love of God for us, and our response in love back toward Him, that would cause an intelligent and highly gifted person like Joseph to go through the initial heartbreak and difficulties he did to follow the life-plan that God laid out for him?

Why would a person go along with this unusual training program in the house of Potiphar and then in the prison of Pharaoh in response to the fact that “God was with him?”  Why would a person like Joseph continue to have faith and trust in God, despite the temporary reality that the outward appearances in Egypt were in harsh contrast with the two prophetic dreams God had given him earlier as a young man?

Conventional worldly wisdom would tell Joseph to “face the facts,” recognize the current reality, give up, and admit that he must have been mistaken about his two divinely inspired dreams…because faith and trust in God had landed him in Potiphar’s house and in Pharaoh’s prison.

The account of the life of Joseph shows us that there can be an extraordinary purpose, meaning, and fulfillment to following God’s plan for our lives, which is entirely different from and far above anything that the conventional worldly approach can even imagine.

The life of Joseph demonstrates the supernatural hand of God overlaying divinely composed circumstances and events over the current situation in our lives, to bring us into a larger place (2 Sam. 22:20).

It shows the importance of having experienced the necessary, upfront preparation required for character growth.

On paper, the weakness of Joseph’s resume and his status as a non-Egyptian in Egyptian society would prevent, according to worldly conventional wisdom, Joseph from even being considered for the job opening of Governor of Egypt.

As Joseph sits in Pharaoh’s prison pondering the character of God, thinking about his two earlier dreams in Canaan, and the current hopelessness of the outward appearance of his situation, Joseph has no idea that he will soon become second in command of all of Egypt.  The leap across the gulf from where Joseph sits in Pharaoh’s prison, to becoming Governor of Egypt, is as wide as the Grand Canyon.

Yet through the God-initiated dream given to Pharaoh regarding the upcoming famine in Egypt, and through an unimaginably tight series of events, Joseph finds himself standing before Pharaoh and interpreting the dream.

In an instant, Joseph steps through the open door into his God-composed and prepared destiny.  This is the second half of the cross…God’s higher ways displacing our ways for our benefit and for the good of others, that we find repeated uniformly throughout all of the life-stories of the people of faith recorded for us in the Bible.