Day 23 – My Suffering Hero

I finally get to write about one of my Old Testament favorites: Joseph (of the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat fame).

One of the reasons I love this guy is that he gives me hope.

When Joseph was young, he told his brothers that based on his dreams, he would one day rule them and they in turn would bow down to him.

Now the Bible tells us that the brothers were jealous that Joseph was favored by Jacob (who gave him that coat), but I also think he was a bit of a snot.

Joseph made no friends when he tattled on his brothers (Genesis 37: 3b). And even his father rebuked him when he shared the dream contents (37:10). Might Joseph have been a bit arrogant?

If so, God had the perfect plan for Joe’s maturity: suffering!

When Joseph was 17 years old, his brothers plotted to kill him, but instead sold him into slavery.  For the next 13 years, Joseph either served Potiphar or served a jail sentence, having been unjustly accused by Potiphar’s wife and unjustly imprisoned.

Joseph languished at least 2 years in jail (maybe languished is a bit harsh since he became an overseer in jail).

Once released to interpret Pharoah’s dream, Joseph did get promoted to second in command. Suffering eased a bit. But, what about those dreams? Were those real or figments of an adolescent’s imagination? I’ll wager those dreams seemed pretty shattered to Joseph.

Then another 9 years passed before Joseph saw his brothers again, even longer before his schemes allowed him to learn that brother Benjamin was alive, even longer before he was reunited with father Jacob.

Joseph had 22 years to plot revenge on his brothers.

Joseph Greets Benjamin

Yet once Joseph DID see his brothers and was reunited with Benjamin and Jacob, he doesn’t stop weeping, he is so overcome by emotion (see Genesis 42: 29, 43:30, 45:1-2, 15, 46:29).

Instead of death, Joseph gives life to his family, saying (45: 5, 6):

I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!  And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

I think it safe to say the Joseph at 39+ was not the same guy as Joseph at 17.

I think the suffering he endured was one reason he matured to become a type of Jesus, giving life in place of death, providing redemption instead of retribution, loving unconditionally instead of meting out just punishment.

And, yes, his dreams came true, too.

Boy, if suffering produced such change in Joseph, that gives me hope.

Readings: Genesis 45:1-46:34, Psalm 12:1-8, Proverbs 4:14-17, Matthew 15:1-20. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts.

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