My favorite Bible story is the story of Joseph and his brothers as recorded in Genesis chapters 37-50.


Joseph stands out because he obeyed his parents, and Scripture records that Jacob "loved Joseph more than all his children" (Gen. 37:3). Joseph also had a close walk with God, for he had spiritual dreams whereby God spoke to him (Gen. 37:6-11). He was also able to interpret the dreams of others (the butler and the baker in prison--Gen. 40:8-23) including the Pharaoh of Egypt (Gen. 41:15-45).

Each dream that God gave to Joseph came true. I believe that God also speaks to us today through dreams and visions even as he did to Joseph, Ezekiel, Daniel, Peter, John, and others in the Bible. This is prophesied in Joel 2:28-29: "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit."

Hardships and Struggles

Joseph also went through hardships and struggles. I can relate to that. Remember that none of his brothers liked him. They seemed to pick on him every day. Then came the fateful day when they stripped him of his coat of many colors and threw him into a pit or cistern to hold him captive until they decided what to do with him. At first they intended to kill him. But then they decided to sell him to some Midianite traders who took him to Egypt where he was sold into the service of Potiphar, an officer under Pharaoh and captain of the guard (Gen. 37:23-36).

The brothers ripped up Joseph's coat and dipped it in the blood of a goat. Jacob assumed that Joseph had been torn asunder by some animal and wept profusely over the loss of his son. The brothers never told him any different, and by their actions they lied to their father, for they rose up and tried to "comfort" him.

Thus Joseph was forgotten and forsaken by his family. For awhile he found favor in Potiphar's house, for Scripture records that "the Lord was with Joseph" (Gen. 39:2-3). His master noticed the way that Joseph was always successful, and so he made him overseer over all that was in his household. Everything went smoothly for Joseph until another fateful day arrived. Potiphar's wife became enamored of Joseph and tried to seduce him. Joseph held his ground and resisted just as later Scripture tells us to do: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7). Then he went through some more testing--of course this was not his fault, but God worked it all for good in the end.

Potiphar's wife felt slighted when Joseph refused her advances and when he fled from her temptations. She sought to punish Joseph so she lied and said that he had tried to seduce her. This definitely was not true. She reported this to the servants and to her husband. The end result was that Potiphar put Joseph in prison (Gen. 39:20).

By this time Joseph had been deserted and forgotten by his family, carried off to a foreign land where he was put into slavery, and now he was placed into prison because of false charges. Yet he did not become discouraged, but instead trusted in God. What could happen next?

The Lord Was With Joseph

The Bible says, "But the Lord was with Joseph and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsover they did there, he was the doer of it" (Gen. 3(:21-22).

Even in prison, God blessed Joseph, but he was to face more hardship. Pharaoh became upset with two of his officers, the chief of the butlers and the chief of the bakers. These two men ended up in the same prison as Joseph. Each was given a spiritual dream which they did not understand. Joseph was given grace by God to understand and interpret these two dreams. The interpretations that Joseph gave each came true even as he had declared. Soon after this, Pharaoh called for these two officers. He restored the chief butler to his position, but he hanged the chief baker--even as Joseph had predicted according to the dreams they had experienced. But the Bible records, "Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him" (Gen. 40:23).

The chief butler forgot all about Joseph being in prison. He should have at least said "thank you." He was in a position that he could have influenced Pharaoh to free Joseph from prison. After all, Joseph had been wrongly accused and placed there. But instead, once again Joseph was forgotten and forsaken.

Joseph Interprets Pharoah's Dreams

But as more time went on, Pharaoh himself dreamed two dreams. He called upon all the magicians and wise men of Egpt, but no one was able to interpret the dreams. Pharaoh became very troubled and greatly desired to know the meaning of these dreams. Finally, then, the chief butler remember his old friend Joseph who was still in prison. He told Pharaoh about this Hebrew who was able to interpret dreams.

Immediately Pharaoh summoned Joseph and recounted the dreams to him. Joseph , by the power of God, was able to interpret the dreams. They predicted 7 years of plenty in Egypt followed by 7 years of great famine. Joseph said that someone should be appointed as an overseer in Egypt to make sure that all the grain and food would be stored over the next 7 years and then managed carefully during the time of famine to come. All this pleased Pharaoh, and he appointed Joseph overseer over all the land of Egypt to carry through with these plans (Gen. 41:39-44). Wow! He was raised up from an unknown in prison to the overseer and second in command over all the land of Egypt!

This is an example of the truth found in Romans 8:28 which shows that when hardship comes, still God can work things out for the best in the final outcome: "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Joseph Brings Deliverance to God's Chosen People, the Israelites

And that is not the end of the story. When the land of Canaan began to experience the great drought and famine that been predicted, Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, lest they should die of starvation. Thus Joseph came face to face with his brothers again, although he did not reveal himself to them right away. They had no idea that this great ruler in Egypt who controlled all the grain was the same brother they had sold into slavery many years before. Joseph provided them with grain and asked about their father and their baby brother who had been left behind. They could not understand all this questioning about their family, but they had to comply with his wishes.

The brothers returned home with the grain, but after a period of time, once again they were in need of grain. Joseph had told them that they must return with their brother, Benjamin, or else he would be angry and not give them anymore grain. Benjamin was Joseph's full-brother, so he was special to Jacob. This was also why Joseph wanted to see him. Quite reluctanctantly, Jacob let Benjamin go with his brothers to Egypt to buy grain, but if anything were to happen to him, Jacob would be heartbroken.

On this return visit to Egypt, Joseph finally revealed himself to his brothers. Then the brothers were afraid because of what they had done to their brother, and the lie they had lived all these many years. But Joseph was not angry or vengeful. He was full of love and forgiveness in his heart. Joseph knew the plans of God's heart in all that had happened and all that was about to happen. He told his brothers, "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance" (Gen. 45:5,7).

Joseph and his brothers embraced, and Joseph wept and embraced his brother Benjamin. The brothers returned to Canaan and brought their father, their families, and all their belongings to Egypt to live in a place that Joseph set up for them all to live, for Pharaoh was pleased that Joseph could be reunited with his family. Jacob was overjoyed that his son was alive, and gladly came to Egypt to dwell.

After Jacob's death, the brothers feared that Joseph would want to do them harm. "And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him" (Gen. 50:15). But Joseph was not bitter or angry. Joseph's reply to them was, "But as for you, ye though eveil again me: but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive" (Gen. 50:20). Romans 8:28 could apply here also.

And so it was that the children of Israel were preserved as a nation in Egypt until such time later as they would go forth to the promised land.


I know that when I go through hard times and struggles, there was a young boy named Joseph who was close to God and dreamed spiritual dreams. He could interpret them for others. He was blessed of God in many ways. And even when he was forsaken and accused unjustly of things, and even when he was in prison in a foreign land, God was with him. The hardships did not last forever, and in the end Joseph was raised to a place of prominence and used to bless the nation of Israel and all peoples of the earth. Joseph is listed in the Bible with other great men and women of God who had faith for the things of God and hope when they could not see the future (Hebrews 11:22). They trusted in God no matter what. We need to do the same.

If you are not a Christian, you need to repent of your sins and believe in Christ as your Savior from sin. He is the only name under heaven by which men can be saved (Acts 4:12).

And a saving faith in Christ involves commitment to serve him all your days, even as Joseph served God and the Messiah (Jesus) who would follow and as so many others in the Bible did.

Just recognizing or knowing that Jesus is God's son is not good enough, for James 2:19 says, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well. The devils also believe, and tremble." You also must be committed to make him the Lord of your life, to serve Him (not your own self or anything else) the best you can, all the rest of your days.

This is a commitment you must renew every day, just like wedding vows. You choose to love God and follow his Word. When you make a decision-big or small-you say, "Jesus, what would you want me to do in this situation?" That goes right along with the Jesus bracelets that are popular these days that have the letters "W W J D" that stand for "What Would Jesus Do?"

If you already have asked Jesus to live in your heart, then renew your commitment to Him. Make sure you are still on the right path to serving God with your whole heart. "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:30-31).

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Him, all creatures here below;

Praise Him above, ye heavenly host:

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Copyright 1998-2004 by Glenn Gohr.

Last updated June 1, 2004.

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