One of Abraham’s great-grandsons, a boy named Joseph, was chosen by God to become the leader and protector of his other 12 brothers and one sister. But since he was second to the youngest, this didn’t sit well with his brothers. It was through a dream that God communicated His plan for Joseph, but it was through kidnapping and slavery that Joseph’s brothers sought to thwart the plan. Let’s pick up the story on a day when Joseph’s brothers felt they had had enough and their jealously boiled over.
“But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the desert, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father. So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe – the richly ornamented robe he was wearing – and they took him and threw him into the cistern. Now the cistern was empty; there was no water in it. As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed. So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.” Genesis 37:18-28
“His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:18-20
Even though he was sold into slavery, the Bible tells us “the Lord was with Joseph.” And slowly, but deliberately, God brought Joseph to a position of great prominence and responsibility in Egypt. And in his new found position of authority, Joseph would provide a safe-haven for his family in Egypt.
Eventually, Joseph’s brothers felt sorry for mistreating Joseph; but Joseph looked at his calamities from a different perspective. Joseph said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…” Think about it. After all the mistreatment, slander, and abuse Joseph saw God’s hand working behind the scenes to bring about good.
How do you react when people or circumstances mistreat you? Do you rail and rave, calling attention to your predicament? Or do you act like Joseph, ready to stand back and let God’s unseen hand work behind the scenes to make things better. The next time you are maligned or mistreated, try following the example of Joseph. You’ll be glad you did!