The story of Joseph in the bible is among the most compelling and encouraging. You have a man, who at a young age, is sold into slavery by his brothers, purely out of jealousy. So here is a man with less than favorable beginnings, who will one day become someone of great importance. It’s the ideal rags to riches story that inspires so many. Joseph’s life was the picture of God’s unfailing love and refusal to abandon us in even the most trying of times.
The story takes place between Genesis chapters 37 and 50. That means a quarter of the book of Genesis recounts his life. That’s the same book that covers well over a thousand years of human history, from creation to nearly 4000 years ago. The life of Joseph only accounted for 110 of those years. So this story must carry some incredible weight and importance for us today.
I want to pick up in Genesis 39, after Joseph has been sold into slavery and is currently serving in a royal Egyptian’s home. Long story short, the Egyptian’s wife tries to seduce Joseph, but because of his upstanding moral integrity, he refuses and she ends up framing him for a crime he never committed. Joseph is then thrown into prison where he quickly rises to a prominent position.
As soon as his master heard the words that his wife spoke to him, “This is the way your servant treated me,” his anger was kindled. And Joseph’s master took him and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined, and he was there in prison. But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed.
Genesis 39:19-23 (ESV)
What Joseph probably didn’t realize was that God was going to use his prison sentence to bring salvation to an entire people. Most people wouldn’t consider prison an opportunity. I certainly wouldn’t. But after learning about Joseph’s story, I can hopefully view my troubles in an entirely new light. Because this seemingly insignificant moment in Joseph’s life would unlock not only his destiny, but that of his family, nation, and the future of the world.
Throughout the next chapter of Genesis, Joseph is going to have a conversation with two men in the prison. A baker and cup-bearer, who were both imprisoned by the Pharaoh. The conversation is basically Joseph interpreting dreams that both men had. We don’t know the relationship that Joseph had with them, only that he was placed in charge of them by the captain of the guard. Relationship aside, the important thing to get is that the future of the world will unfold due to this one conversation between three men.
Later in the story, the two men get released from prison. The cup-bearer would be acquitted of his charges. Two years later, when Pharaoh is desperate to have his dreams interpreted, the cup-bearer tells him about Joseph, the man he had met in prison. This would lead to Joseph successfully interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams and being elevated to second in command in the most powerful empire in the world. From that position, Joseph would preserve the lives of thousands, including his own brothers who had sold him into slavery years earlier, from a worldwide famine. As the story came to an end, Joseph tells his brothers why things unfolded the way they did and how it is he was able to save his family and so many others.
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Genesis 50:20-21 (ESV)
This one conversation, in an Egyptian prison, altered human history. An insignificant event established the destiny of an empire, a nation of people, and for even us today. Jesus Christ was born into that nation of people and He was undoubtedly the most significant figure in world history. The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus forever changed eternity for humankind. And it can all be traced back to that day in a prison nearly 2000 years before God arrived on earth in the person of Jesus.
Don’t ever allow moments in your life to seem insignificant. They may be the most significant thing to ever happen to you. No conversation, no relationship, no trial, and no opportunity is ever a waste of time. Any one of them may change things forever.
Be encouraged brothers and sisters, God is always at work in your life.