Rev. 12:11 “They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and the word of their testimony…”
They say an author writes the book he/she needs to read. While blogging is decidedly not the same as writing a book (there’s a whole lot less work involved), I’m going to say the same about this series. I’ve needed to write about Joseph’s in-between years (the years between the dream and the fulfillment of his destiny) because in no small part, my own so closely parallels his. He was betrayed, cut off from family, wrongly accused, suffered for years at a time, yet God’s favor was on him and His purposes for Joseph could not be thwarted. I’ve never publicly shared the in-between years, for several reasons. But I feel God pressing in and telling me, “It’s time.” It’s time for me to stand up (despite knocking knees and trembling voice) and declare with boldness, “What [you] meant for evil, God meant for good…” My prayer is that in sharing both stories (one from God’s word and one in “real life”), many will find hope and encouragement in the midst of their own in-between years. (Because my sole desire is to spotlight the works of God, and because there’s still room for a greater level of reconciliation, names and specific details have been excluded.)
Gen.37:1-11 Joseph was 17 yrs. old and his father’s favorite; loved more than all of the 12 brothers. There’s always a reason behind favoritism. For Jacob, maybe it was because he loved Rachel passionately and worked tirelessly for years under her father Laban before she was given to him in marriage. Or maybe it was because Rachel had such a hard time conceiving Joseph. Unfortunately, one way he displayed his affection for Joseph openly was by making him a colorful, richly ornamented coat…no doubt a sore reminder to his brothers of the blatant bias. We see other hints in scripture that Joseph was more than a minor annoyance to his older brothers.
Gen. 37:1b tells us, “…Joseph brought a bad report of his brothers to his father.” We don’t know exactly what made it a bad report. Maybe Jacob’s clan had been cutting up, goofing off, or otherwise slacking on the job of tending the sheep. Perhaps they had left Joseph out of the loop. Didn’t let him in on their inside jokes. Shooed him off like they would a pesky fly. Whatever it was, Joseph made it his duty to make sure Dad knew about it. In other words, he was a tattletale.
Would you agree with me that Joseph was either completely unaware of his brothers’ hatred toward him or he simply didn’t care because he was the favorite son? His arrogance is obvious when he recklessly tells his brothers of his dream, and then again a second dream with his parents, in which they were bowing down to him. The fact that sharing his dreams fueled the fire of dissension within the family, makes me wonder if the Lord intended for Joseph to tell anyone at the time. Sometimes, God reveals just a little portion of His plans for us, but wants to do work “in the secret places” of our heart before we confirm it with someone else.
Was God the giver of Joseph’s dream? Yes. But in his youthful ignorance and exuberance, Joseph no doubt saw the idea of his brothers bowing down to him as attractive . I wonder if he saw the dream(s) as his destiny ~ ruling over his family as his purpose in life? We have the distinct advantage of being able to read the end of the story and see that ruling for the sake of ruling wasn’t God’s purpose for Joseph’s life. God’s overarching purpose for Joseph was to save hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, from famine. (More on that later in the series)
At seventeen Joseph didn’t know it, but there was trouble brewing within his family and his world was about to be turned completely upside down. He was about to lose his position, his relationships and his security ~ but not God’s favor.
I remember seventeen. I was in the middle of my senior year in high school and looking forward to Christmas break, not only because I had a bad case of “senioritis”, but because I was going to get to see my brother, whom I’d been separated from since I was fourteen.
My foster parents approached me and asked if I wanted to visit my (natural) grandmother, who was planning a family reunion at Christmas. My first question was whether or not my brother would be there. When they said yes, I was elated. Then they paused and told me another bit of news. “Your mother is going to be there too.”
I didn’t know what to say. Both my brother and I had been removed from our natural mother when we were toddlers. I had no memories of her and as odd as it sounds, I had never formally “met” her. Part of me had always wanted to who know my “real” mother was. The part of me that had been abused for so many years after we were removed from our home and wondered where she had been. The part of me that looked in the mirror and wondered if I looked like her, sounded like her or had a personality like hers. The God-given part of me that wondered where my roots were. But I was also nervous. What if she didn’t like me..or I didn’t like her? What if we didn’t get along?
After giving it a few days thought, I told my parents I wanted to go, mostly because I was desperate to be reunited with my brother. I decided I didn’t need to worry about all the other concerns. After all, none of those things really mattered because I had a mom and a dad and a family. I belonged to people who loved me. At the time, I was completely unaware that my parents were diametrically opposed to me going.
Just like Joseph, I was unaware that trouble was brewing within my family, and my world was about to be turned completely. upside. down…