This week we are looking at the story of Joseph and from the comments, Joseph is one of our favourite bible characters. His story inspires many of us on so many levels and gives us hope.
Today the question is- Why did God choose Joseph to fulfil His plans out of all the sons of Jacob.
There were 12 sons of Jacob after all to choose from. Plenty of choice. Joseph wouldn’t have been the natural choice in the culture of the day. He was the 11th in line, one of the youngest sons. In the natural pecking order you would generally start with the eldest male child. Any position of blessing, responsibility or favour would usually be assumed by the eldest son as the heir apparent.
However, God’s ways are not our ways. We see through the bible that God calls unlikely people to be heroes or heroines of faith because God always looks at people’s hearts and their character. God demonstrated this when it came to choosing a King for Israel.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7
Don’t discount yourself from being used by God because you might think there are more qualified people around. It could be you God is looking for. Are you willing to answer the call? To say like Isaiah – Here I am send me.
Let’s look at the other candidates alongside Joseph. God knew what manner of men they were and would become.
There were Leah’s 6 sons – Reuben was Jacob’s eldest son. The heir apparent. He had not shown good character. Reuben slept with his father’s wife. This was wicked in God’s sight and extremely disrespectful and dishonouring to his father, Jacob. Reuben gave in to lust. By his actions Reuben lost his father’s blessing. Reuben appears to be someone who wanted immediate satisfaction. Jacob said Reuben was as “unstable as water”. A double minded man is not reliable. However, Reuben was the one who stopped Joseph being killed. He persuaded his other brothers to put Joseph in the pit with a view to rescuing him later.
Next in line were Simeon and Levi. These two men showed themselves to be violent, cruel vengeful men who also exhibited the deceitful characteristic sometimes seen in the family. We know that Jacob had deceived his father Isaac, encouraged by his mother Rebecca, by pretending to be Esau to receive the blessing of the eldest son. Laban who was Rebecca’s brother then in turn deceived Jacob into marrying Leah. Rachel then deceived her father, Laban over the stolen idols. Later we see Jacob being deceived by his sons into thinking Joseph is dead.
Simeon & Levi deceived Shechem (the man who had disgraced their sister Dinah) and the men of the city into being circumcised. They pretended to make a covenant of peace with them. They then killed the men whilst they were recovering and could not fight back. Jacob was angry at their actions because he feared reprisals. They both lost their father’s blessing as well.
Next we have Judah – who failed to honour the promise which he had made to his son’s widow, Tamar. He did not keep his word. Judah was supposed, according to custom, to provide another of his sons as a husband to her. Both of her previous husbands had died but through no fault of Tamar. When she realised that Judah did not intend to keep his vow she tricked him into sleeping with her. Judah thought she was a harlot but left two tokens with her. When Judah heard that Tamar was pregnant he ordered her to be burnt because of her sins. However, Tamar revealed to him by the tokens that the baby was Judah’s and exposed his hypocrisy.
The bible doesn’t tell us much about Leah’s other sons Issachar and Zebulun so it’s not clear why they didn’t find favour in God’s eyes at this time.
Next we have Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher who were the sons of Bilhah (Rachel’s maid) and Zilpah (Leah’s maid). We are not told much about these sons either but there is one telling verse in the bible which tells us that Joseph “brought a bad report of them to his father”.
We are not told what they did to deserve a bad report but Joseph must have believed that Jacob needed to know what they were doing behind his back. Joseph demonstrates a moral code and a sense of right and wrong. He was not afraid to confront bad behaviour and expose it when necessary. That takes courage. Joseph was not someone who would look the other way whilst others did wrong.
In the body of Christ we are not to sweep habitual sins and wrongdoing by each other under the carpet either. To pretend it’s not happening. The bible teaches us how to deal with sin and wrongdoing amongst believers in a Godly way. How to confront the sinful behaviour in the right way, in love and in order to restore. If someone chooses to keep on wilfully sinning though without wanting or desiring to change that is wrong. If we allow that sinful behaviour to continue unchecked then it will become a shame and a snare to us.
The youngest son was Benjamin – Joseph’s brother by Jacob and Rachel. Joseph loved Benjamin but God didn’t choose Benjamin either. He may have had all the qualities of his brother Joseph but it wasn’t his time or his place in the story.
God saw something different in Joseph. God looks at the heart as we know and Joseph’s character and heart must have pleased him.
Brewing in the brothers’ hearts already was envy, jealousy & hatred towards Joseph caused by his being their father’s favourite. This was exposed even more when Joseph told them his dreams which inferred that one day he would be over them and they would all bow down to him. This enraged them and incited them into a plan to kill him, their own flesh & blood.
As believers in Christ we are one family. We must not fall into the trap of envy and jealousy (see my previous post Beware of Jealousy). The bible teaches us that all manner of evil dwells with envy and jealousy. There is no place for envy or jealousy amongst us.
If someone tells us their vision, their testimony, or are being used of God, being blessed, their ministry is growing, developing their giftings – what does it provoke in us. Joy for them and thanks to God or feelings of envy, jealousy, bitterness, resentment, inadequacy, life is unfair etc. We must be honest with ourselves and God- it’s a necessary place of healing and restoration to acknowledge those feelings so we can bring them into God’s light. Repenting of them and asking God through His grace to develop in us the fruit of the Holy Spirit instead. God wants to refine us so that we can truly be “in unity” with one another and with Him.
The wonderful news for us is that God’s mercies are new every morning. Through faith in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ, none of us are disqualified because of our sins and wrong choices from service to God. We are all uniquely qualified through God’s grace for God’s work through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s get to it.
Don’t discount yourself from being the person God is calling.