What catalyst turned Joseph, son of Jacob, into what he became at 30 after being what he was at 17? How did he, in the intervening 13 years, turn his odyssey from a dead-end beginning into an open-ended future?
The answer is best understood from Jacob’s in-depth teaching about God’s Presence and Word that all his boys heard, to which Joseph listened more carefully and applied more personally. Only Judah, of the remainder, began to mature into the leading role he assumed on the men’s second trip to Egypt.
Consider six examples of how Jacob’s experiences empowered Joseph. First, when he taught that God would always be true to his word, his life-experience proved it. Promised a return to Canaan as a 77 year old man going to Paddan-Aram, God fulfilled his promise when Jacob had turned 97 in Paddan-Aram.
Second, when Jacob taught God’s care for his people, he had the example of 12 sons and a daughter as proof—at a time when large families meant God’s benefaction. Third, knowing his father had been mistreated for 20 years empowered Joseph to persevere through 13 of adversity.
Fourth, if a scorned woman caused Joseph’s prison sentence, Jacob’s father-in-law would have stolen his own daughters from Jacob had God not intervened. Fifth, if Joseph received a pitiful wage as prison warden, Laban had changed Jacob’s wages 10 times in 20 years. Sixth, if the young Joseph feared the dangers slavery imposed, his older father learned to face, not flee, danger; he prepared by prayer to trust God when confronting Esau.
Joseph learned from Jacob’s experiences that God had always been a refuge for his people and a very present help in trouble. Joseph garrisoned his life with those truths.
Do we get the drift of this point? Jacob’s in-depth personal experiences with God became the fulcrum on which Joseph built his own life in those 13 years. If Jacob endured to success through it all, Joseph could also, and did.
Nevertheless, and equally important, Joseph had to learn by personal experience in those years that Jacob was RIGHT about God. For faith in God must be personalized as each generation lives it as a fresh experience. That way, whatever our age, we can stay fresh and green Psalm 92:14.
That knowledge, learned as a boy, reinforced Joseph’s faith: when he went to jail for making the RIGHT decision. For resisting temptation. For bearing witness to God’s purity by maintaining his own.
Answering the question, “Is that any way for God to increase a person’s faith: letting him suffer for doing good? Making belief difficult and obedience hard?
YES. In God’s Providence, YES! End Part V