Monday, March 25, 2019

Joseph: The Suffering Servant

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” (Genesis 37:20).

Joseph was not only a faithful servant, he was also a suffering servant. As a matter of record, it was his faithfulness that brought about his suffering. His brothers hated him because he reported their sins to their father, as was his duty. They hated the symbol of his responsibility, which was the robe his father had lavished upon him. They hated and rejected his dreams, which showed God’s plan for them. Infuriated they captured him and sought to kill him. Reuben, however, persuaded them to delay their plans, and after they had cooled down a bit, Judah came up with the idea of selling him into slavery.

As we have seen, Joseph’s faithfulness in serving others and his expertise in interpreting the Word of God (which came to him in dreams) brought him to the attention of Pharaoh. Soon Joseph was exalted to the viceroy of Egypt. In the providence of God, there came a great famine over the whole world, and Jacob sent his remaining sons to Egypt to buy grain.

The brothers of Joseph came to Egypt and met with a strange and severe man who was in charge of all the grain. He accused them of being spies and interrogated them. They told him about their family and that they had a little brother at home. This was news to Joseph because he had been sold into slavery before the birth of Benjamin. The strange man told them that he would sell them grain, but only if one of them would stay behind under guard, and that they would have to bring their youngest brother along next time. Looking at one another, the guilty brothers said to themselves, “God is punishing us because we ignored Joseph’s cries” (Genesis 42:1–24).

When the brothers returned with Benjamin, Joseph gave extra favors to him to see if the brothers would abuse him the way they had abused Joseph. Seeing that they had changed their ways, Joseph revealed himself to them and invited all of them to come to Egypt and live there (Genesis 43–45). Joseph had suffered much, but out of his suffering and faithfulness had come salvation for his people.

When we find ourselves in trouble it is easy to conclude that we are suffering for the sake of righteousness. Sometimes, however, we suffer because of justice, because we deserve to suffer. Ask God to help you discern the difference and to act in such a way that you suffer only for Him, not because of sin.