Joseph's Long Road to Greatness | Genesis 39-47

Welcome to Real Life. It (real life) often turns out much differently than our early dreams and expectations. Joseph dreamed of becoming a ruler. It did happen. But, he never thought slave and ex-con would also be a part of his resume.

“Help! Come quickly!” she screams. Servants race to find Potiphar’s wife with Joseph’s jacket in her hands. “That Hebrew slave attacked me. He tried to take advantage of me.” Joseph, unjustly accused of rape, is thrown in prison. But, he was just trying to do the right thing. Why did God let this happen?

Joseph is the favorite of Jacob’s twelve sons. As such, his brothers despise him. They can’t stand to be around him. When an opportunity arises, they sell Joseph to a caravan of traders traveling to Egypt.

In Egypt he’s purchased by a prominent officer named Potiphar. Young Joseph falls from favorite son to slave. Yet God’s hand is on him. Everything he does succeeds. Potiphar notices. Soon, he makes Joseph steward over his entire household.

His success comes with a bothersome problem. Potiphar’s wife has a crush on him. Daily she hounds him to be her lover. Daily he refuses. Joseph sincerely wants to honor God and his employer. However one day the wife finds Joseph alone. She grabs his jacket, trying to pull him close. Joseph bolts, leaving the jacket behind. Angry and hurt, she cries rape. Who is Potiphar going to believe?

God had blessed everything Joseph touched. So why did God remove his protection? Why did he allow this false accusation to stand? Hadn’t Joseph suffered enough injustice? Joseph's circumstances seem hopeless. But, God has a plan.

Joseph spends long years in prison. While there, he meets Pharaoh’s cup-bearer who has a prophetic dream. God gives Joseph the interpretation of the dream. This connection eventually lands Joseph in the palace to interpret Pharaoh’s prophetic dreams.

Pharaoh recognizes God’s anointing on Joseph. He promotes Joseph to the most powerful position in Egypt (besides himself).[1] In this place of leadership, Joseph creates a government program to store grain during seven years of abundant harvests which he then distributes during the seven years of drought which follow. His wise stewardship saves multitudes from starvation. In a twist of fate, he even rescues the very brothers who sought to destroy him. (Thereby, God used Joseph to ensure the survival of the future nation of Israel.)

With divine insight and forbearance, Joseph tells his brothers: “You intended to harm me,
but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done,
the saving of many lives.”
A spoilt and petted child is ill-equipped to lead. An earlier blog held this quote: “Brokenness may be more important to God than success.”[2] Brokenness, failure, and hardship can be tools which prepare a person to handle future success with wisdom and humility. God enrolled Joseph in a thirteen year, high-impact leadership training course in brokenness before allowing him to rule.
Sometimes the road to greatness travels through injustice, slavery and even prison.

Are you “in training” right now? Like Joseph in prison, does life look bad? Does it seem as though God has forsaken you? Remember, your final chapter is yet unwritten. Joseph remained faithful even when it seemed like God had deserted him. In the end, God used it all for good.

Still, not every saint will rule in this world. Some will even be martyred. But make no mistake. Faithfulness in this life will be rewarded in the next.  The faithful will hear our Savior say,

Well done, good and faithful servant!
You have been faithful with a few things;
I will put you in charge of many things.
Come and share your master’s happiness! [3]

Oh Lord, teach me how to live faithfully. I want to hear you say, “Well done.” 

Taking it further …

  • Where are you: Favorite child? In slave labor? In prison? What might God be trying to teach you on this leg of your journey? 
  • Hardship does not automatically make us better. It can make us bitter, ugly, and hard. We must willingly allow God to use hardship for his glory. (Read Hebrews 12.) 
  • Remember, God views success differently than we do. Consider the cross. Some of the highest positions in God’s Kingdom may be occupied by some of the lowliest, yet most faithful in this world. 
[1] Genesis 41:41
[2] Quote by Dr. Erwin Lutzer
[3] Matthew 25:21


  1. My Dear Peggi,
    Thank you for this beautiful article. This was exactly what I needed. It encouraged my soul and my spirit. Right now, the waves are raging and sometimes I tend to forget that in order to receive the promise, you have to go through the fire as Joseph did.
    Joseph remained faithful even though it really looked bad for him. What a great example of holding on! As I look at the story of Joseph, I dare not forget the ending. From the prison to the second in command in Egypt. That was quite a promotion and I hope one day to experience the same. Thank you for the encouragement that I have received out of this well -written article.

  2. Hi Patricia,
    Thanks so much for commenting, Patricia. I was so encouraged by Joseph. I'm glad his story blessed you too!

    I'm sorry you're in the fire. Saying a prayer for you today! I know God will use it for good. You have blessed so many, Patricia. Joseph's struggles reminded me of your "Walk On" stories that have often given me the strength to persevere.


Post a Comment

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment!

Popular posts from this blog

Autumn in the Neighborhood | November 2017

The Revelation of Jesus Christ | Revelation 1

In Loving Memory of My Sister!