Joseph’s journey

This reality is clearly seen in the life of a man named “Joseph.”

Joseph’s parents were Jacob and Rachel.

As is often the case, there’s a story behind the birth of a child — and Joseph’s parents’ story deserves a quick comment.

If you’re interested in the details, you can read about Jacob’s search for a wife in Genesis 28 and 29.

But first, his father’s love story

There you’ll see that Jacob was sent to his uncle’s household to find a wife from his daughters.

There, Jacob met and truly fell in love with Rachel.

Jacob made an agreement with his Uncle Laban, Rachel’s father that he would work for him 7 years in exchange for the hand of Rachel in marriage.

A point of trivia, Jacob was 77 years old… Rachael was only 14.

The very traditional wedding is veiled.

At the end of the seven years, Jacob is now 84 years old.

The wedding is arranged and carried out according to their traditions.

Their traditions included the “veiled bride.”

Not so honorable

But…Uncle Laban used the veil to hide the face of the bride.

He tricks Jacob into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah, rather than Jacob’s beloved Rachel.

I suppose many families can relate to having a less than honorable uncle in their ancestry — and Laban is a prime example of such a despicable relative.

The next morning, when Jacob realizes the trickery, he is outraged and heart-broken.

Well, it’s some solution …

Uncle Laban’s excuse is that he simply couldn’t allow his younger daughter to be married before the oldest daughter.

BUT Laban has a solution.

Well, it’s a solution Laban likes, anyway.

Laban says if Jacob will accept this situation and go through with the wedding festival with Leah, good ol’ Uncle Laban will then let Jacob also marry Rachel — after another seven years of labor!

How family life works

Let’s stop so I can explain many aspects of historical culture that are alien to us today.

In those days, a man was permitted up to four wives.

Sometimes, those wives were really some combination of wives and concubines.

In Jacob’s case, he ends up having two wives and two concubines in his household.

Constant pressure to have children

In those days, there was a constant pressure to have children.

While all families hoped for a first-born male to carry on the family heritage or legacy, they just had children and then more children.

Complicated situation

Remember … it is Jacob who will be Joseph’s father.

But Jacob also has children by Leah and the two concubines.

Sadly, however, Rachel whom he truly loves, remains childless.

A son is born to beloved Rachel!

Long story short, after many years, God blesses Rachel with a son.

Here is where the story of Joseph really begins.

Finally, Jacob has a son … with the woman he truly loves.


There is a lot of disharmony in Jacob’s household.

Joseph has at least 11 brothers and 1 sister, as recorded in Scripture.

He also has one younger brother… also born to Rachel — whose name is Benjamin.

Joseph versus his brothers

The big problem is really with Joseph’s older brothers.

They know they were not born to the mother their father truly loved. They feel inferior and looked down upon.

To make matters a bit more complicated, Joseph seems more that a little arrogant.

He knows he is his father’s favorite and he doesn’t hesitate to wave that fact in the faces of his older brothers.

On top of that — God gives Joseph spiritual gifts

Truth is, Joseph is not only favored by his father Jacob, but at an early age, God had already begun to bless Joseph.

Got gives him spiritual gifts that make Joseph less and less appreciated by his older brothers.

Two dreams

Joseph has two dreams.

Then he interprets these dreams.

They say that … some day … his brothers will “bow down” to Joseph and he will rule over them.

Great way to upset your brothers!

Joseph’s many-colored coat was the trigger.

Probably the most-told account of Joseph’s early life is about his magnificent coat.

His wondrous coat is said to be of many colors and fine fabric.

Jacob has this beautiful garment specially made for Joseph.

It is a blindingly clear sign of Joseph being his father’s favorite.

And now … the older brothers have had enough of Joseph!

The brothers plot to get rid of Joseph

Together, the brothers conspire to strip Joseph of his “coat” and sell him to some Ishmalites merchants they spot traveling through the area.

The Ishmalites are slave traders and gold merchants.

The tribe is named after Ishmal — an interesting person in Bible history.

So … in a short time… Joseph is been sent away… hopefully never to be seen again.

The Alibi

And his devious brothers sprinkle a bit of animal’s blood on Joseph’s beautiful coat.

They then go back to tell Jacob that Joseph has been killed by a wild beast.

But … obviously, we know Joseph is still very much alive.

So where IS Joseph?

Well, he’s a captive… and traveling a very uncertain and unpleasant journey of life.

Those Ishmalite traders take him to Egypt and ultimately sell Joseph as a house-servant to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and Captain of the Guard.

(Pharoah is king of all Egypt.)

Hopeless situation?


Let’s stop here for a moment and look at a truth we are being taught in this account of Joseph’s life. God:

Joseph’s Creator and ours… is IN CONTROL OF ALL THINGS.

Trader Plans

These traders paid about $100 for Joseph.

We don’t know how much the traders sold him for to Potiphar, but we assume they made a profit of perhaps double their investment.

Not a huge amount to a band of gold traders.

The amount isn’t really important.

What is significant is WHERE they sold him.

God and the Traders

These pagan merchants did not see themselves as “players” in the hands of Almighty God.

They were just trying to make a living.

But, GOD is in CONTROL of all things… over the just (believers) and unjust (unbelievers) alike!!!

You might have expected the traders to take Joseph to a slave auction where they could get the best price for him.

What they wanted, what they did

We can speculate that as they traveled with him, they sensed that he was a different type of person.

Perhaps they wanted to curry favor with an Officer in Pharaoh’s court … so they offered this “special” kid (about 17 years old) to Potiphar for a fair profit.

Whatever the reasoning, Joseph wasn’t sold into slavery in a low-class way,

Instead … Joseph was PLACED (by an Omnipotent God, controlling the behavior of rebels) into a place of OPPORTUNITY in the household of Pharaoh… for a FUTURE and A PURPOSE.

We’re going to stop at this point and draw some applications from this part of the account of Joseph that should encourage us.

And not only encourage us, but help us to see how … as Children of God… we too are in God’s hands.

He guides and directs us… our thinking… our behavior… our attitudes… our realities… our life’s condition and especially our future and purposes.

Bumps in the road

When bumps in the road cause us to be uncomfortable by life’s situations, we can find hope and comfort.

We know that God is in control of everything we experience and that He has a purpose and a plan.

He has an OUTCOME for everything that occurs in our lives.

To ordinary people, this is unimaginable.

Recognize God?

Some of us don’t even recognize God … the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … as the God of all creation.

Sometimes we don’t see ourselves as “creatures” of His creation.

Instead, we see ourselves as our own Creator — which is nonsense.

Isaiah reminds us,

“You (God) will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever,

For in Him, the Lord, is everlasting strength.” (Isa 26:3~4)

What Joseph knows

Joseph surely knows that his father will be known as the father of the Nation Israel.

He knows what this removal from his family might mean to his future, in terms of being a man of importance in Israel.

What Joseph doesn’t know

He doesn’t realize the full meaning of those two dreams that infuriated his brothers.

But, we will see in our further study of Joseph’s life what the ultimate meaning of those dreams were.

Joseph may be confused and perhaps angry at how he has been treated and what is happening to him now.

But … but Joseph has nothing to fear.

God is in control.

The key to peace

You and I also have nothing to fear … God is in control!

However, as we walk down life’s pathway, we may let events and tribulations cause us anxiety, stress and unhappiness.

The key to our “PEACE” is having our minds and hearts FIXED ON Christ.

The key to peace

Last week, we saw that we can be “blessed.”

This week, we see that in the midst of difficult and confusing situations… we can have “peace.”

And we can have that peace simply by keeping our hearts and minds fixed on the truth of God.

We can keep focussed on the promises of God and God’s provision for our forgiveness through Christ.

We can meditate … concentrate … focus on the reality that GOD is in CONTROL of our lives in every situation.

And as we do, we are given peace, blessings and hope.

Push the pause button

We’ll push the “pause button” on Joseph’s story at this point.

For this week… we see him entering the strange house of Potiphar in the land of Egypt… a servant in bondage.

But in Joseph’s heart, I believe his faith in God’s loving care results in his anticipation … his expectancy … that God has given him an unusual “opportunity” that serves God’s purpose

Next week we’ll continue where we’ve left off.

The topic will be “Cheer up, things could get worse.” You’ll have to come back to see which way Joseph’s journey through life goes.

We can apply this to our journey

Each of us has an application of this story as it has been revealed so far.

All of us… Edna and I… Yuan Gu… Kris and Roger… folks at home reading this … God has us in sometimes difficult to understand circumstances.

But they are all for His purposes.

As we learn to trust Him … rely on His promises … meditate on His Word … we will find peace, hope and joy.