Finding God’s Divine Purpose through Glory or Agony.

As Joseph waited in prison, God still had not brought to pass the dream He gave Joseph when he was 17 years old (Gen. 37). Joseph was now 30 years old and had spent over half of his life waiting for God to fulfill His promise that he would rule over his brothers. Meanwhile, he has been faithful with what God has given him, both position and promises. From his youth, Joseph was faithful to God’s Word, even when it got him in trouble. And in His own timing, God would exalt him.

Joseph Identified Himself with God (verses 1-14)

The cupbearer called Joseph “the Hebrew young man” – disdainful because he wasn’t Egyptian. Even two years after interpreting his dream, Joseph had a distinct reputation with this man. Evidently, in the king’s prison, Joseph could groom and dress himself as he desired. He outwardly identified himself with his family and faith tradition. He was proud of his heritage and stood out in the prison because of his appearance. When he had an opportunity with Pharoah, he took on an Egyptian appearance but still presented the uniqueness of his God.

Joseph stayed true to God’s Word and the way God had gifted him. He had been transformed by the same God that saves and gifts us. If we live in stability even crisis, people will come to us for spiritual resolution. Joseph could have easily become bitter, ugly, and contentious. He didn’t, and because of that, he found great spiritual opportunity.

Joseph Embraced Revelation (verses 15-37)

Joseph’s loyalty to God brought him to the threshold of global leadership. He could speak with grace to the ruler of the known world, telling Pharoah that his dream came from God. Because he had earned the respect of those around him and above him, Joseph could now speak what God had called him to speak and be heard. Though the king was believed to be a god in Egyptian culture, Pharoah acknowledged Joseph’s God through his interpretation.

Joseph handled God’s promises and his giftedness with integrity and care. He had to embrace the revelation of God in times of agony before he experienced opportunity. We go to the same source of God’s Word for sustenance. Joseph stayed faithful in good times too, though this is often harder.

Joseph’s Promotion (verses 38-57)

Five separate statements in Genesis 41 show the high level to which Joseph was promoted. He was now second-rank in the world, yet he still hadn’t fulfilled God’s eternal purpose for him. God had promised he would rule over his brothers. Joseph wasn’t power-hungry, but he wasn’t content until that destiny was fulfilled. Even global power paled in comparison to a chance to be used by God to fulfill promises made to his forefather Abraham. He would have the chance to save his family and influence the world with righteousness. He knew the world’s greatest need was not grain during a famine, but forgiveness and restoration to God.

Joseph named his children for what God had taught him. Manasseh meant that he was able to put aside his past affliction and not live like a victim. Ephraim meant “fruitful in affliction,” which should be the normal reality for every Christian. Joseph had experienced God’s capable grace.

Application Points

  • We have a promised hope to look forward to just like Joseph did. We eagerly anticipate the Lord’s appearing, receiving crowns of reward, and ruling with Christ.
  • There is always a way that God’s people are physically and visually different from the culture. How do you stand out as a follower of Christ?
  • Are you kind, stable, faithful, and witnessing even in ugly times? This is the kind of person God loves to exalt – and the person that lost people will be drawn to when they’re looking for answers. Even if they don’t always want you around, keep demonstrating faithfulness to God’s Word like Joseph did.
  • Are you identified as someone who loves Scripture? Even before you have a chance to speak your knowledge of it, your love for God’s Word should be evident.
  • How has God equipped you to serve Him? Do you embrace that gifting?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • 1 Peter 5:5-7 – God exalts the humble.
  • Acts 1:8 – There is no greater mission or desire for the Christian.
A Hymn to Encourage: “Grace Alone”

Every promise we can make,
Every prayer and step of faith,
Every difference we can make
Is only by His grace.
Every mountain we will climb,
Every ray of hope we shine,
Every blessing left behind
Is only by His grace.

Grace alone which God supplies-
Strength unknown He will provide.
Christ in us, our cornerstone-
We will go forth in grace alone.

Every soul we long to reach,
Every heart we hope to teach,
Everywhere we share His peace
Is only by His grace.
Every loving word we say,
Every tear we wipe away,
Every sorrow turned to praise
Is only by His grace.