I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for Joseph to one day be a leader in the home and feel the favour of his Father and the next minute be lying in the bottom of dry dank well hearing the whispers of his own demise being plotted out in detail. I wonder if he could overhear the things they said and hear the hatred in thier tone. When he hears Rueben wagering for his life to be spared , it is only to hear that he is to be cut off and removed from his family altogether. As he caught the sound of their voices as they negotiated a price and cut a deal with the Midionites and heard his value drop from favoured son of their father to 20 pieces of silver, another favoured son of a Father comes to mind…sold for 30 pieces of silver, humanity also measured our Saviour and valued him with a handful of coins…so where does that leave me? Does it surprise me when humanity measures me in coins when divinity see so much more.
How does one who knows how valued and loved and precious he is respond as he listens to thide who are meant to love him but instead , measure him in coins and take his jacket of privilege, honour and favour and smear it in murderous hate.
Although my life has had its challenges, to try and compare my life with Joseph would be ridiculous…. I have never been thrown in a well or sold to a caravan of strangers, nor have I sat in an ancient Egyptian dungeon forgotten by those who I have helped. However, as I lean into this story, I do think that Joseph has the powerful role of teaching me how to respond in the midst of my own story. When circumstances allow us to be traded off by those who should love us, it feels like a betrayal of God himself but Joseph never responds with this belief. He doesn’t allow the plot twists in his story to define him and his worth.
His brothers provide a stark contrast. What led his brothers to lose sight of their own identity?
These men would know what God had called them to as a family. These hard working men were the sons of a patriarch. These men who betrayed him and pushed him away were men who called themselves sons of Israel, beneficiaries to a powerful covenant that their father Israel and grandfather Abraham had made with God. These very men who betray their brother, are delivered and profoundly rescued by the very person they betrayed because he chose to honour God and forgive them. When I feel frustration, anger and bitterness rise in my own heart towards a ‘family member’, maybe I have allowed my value and identity and the promises of God and the covenant he has made with me to become oveshadowed. Joseph responded to who he was and whose he was by honouring the covenant made with his Father, regardless of where he found himself.
When I feel my own disappointments and bitterness, moments of jealousy , these brothers remind me of what it may lead to…betrayal, murder, lies, family heartache. …Is this the trajectory I want to find myself in or can I choose to honour God as a Joseph did regardless of what others choose to do to me? Can I let Joseph teach me about honour…not an honour that requires agreement but an honour that trusts God and understands who I am in him and allow him to lead me to serve and live with integrity and faithfulness regardless of how people see me or value me. Jospeh had no court of appeal and yet God was with him and ultimately vindicated his cause.
As Joseph dragged his sandalled feet across the dusty desert floor behind the caravan of camels…I have no doubt there would be fear and confusion, and possible relief for his life being spared but…what is coming next? that may well be the question on your lips today. What next?
How do you filter the fear and anxiety that comes with a normal you never chose?
Would he have filtered the thoughts or would he simply have pushed his fear to the side as he faced his unknown future, following the stench of a camels in front of him? He has just been stripped of his jacket, his income, his livelihood, his home, his relationships, his friends, his family and everything else he has ever known. The searing pain of rejection , the searing pain of betrayal, and the searing pain of the unknown must have welled up within his heart and weighed heavy on his mind?
Did 17 year old spoilt shepherd boys get to cry?
We have no idea how long it took to get to Egypt but it certainly wasn’t going to get any better quickly. This is when I want to direct him straight to the palace to plead his case to go home…and I imagine Pharaoh looks into the eyes of Joseph and realises this young boy is wise beyond his years and invites him to stay a while or helps him get back home…. But his future is not at the mercy of a pharaoh, it is at the mercy of God and God needs him on the podium at the local slave market… because a man who notices him and buys him is going to teach him all he needs to know about Egyptian business. So the men at that market that day are measuring these young boys by their weight and height and colour not by their name or who they belong to. These men only value him for what they they could get for him not for his true worth. He can’t even phone a friend. Joseph is not at the mercy of the brothers who betrayed him nor the slave owners about to sell him. He is at the mercy of the hand of God…the providence of God in this story is astounding and so too it is with us. When I look back to the days when we were dealt a hand of betrayal not long after we were married, we now look back and see how God’s providence was astounding for our story too. We look back and realise that we were not actually at the mercy of men’s decisions but God was getting us out of position to get us in position. Melbourne was not on our radar … but it was on God’s. If we had allowed bitterness and frustration to lead us we would never have experienced how the apparent reversals of God and choices of others are part of his purpose to get us where we need to be. We could have allowed our bitterness and frustration to lead to the demise of those closest to us.
On the slave podium, waiting to be sold, there is no colourful coat to strut in, just the reality that his value was being weighed and measured by humanity who judged him by his size, the colour of his skin and his age. They did not know him and and do not value him as his Father did. I have never had to stand on a podium and have my life weighed and measured by others in that form…but everyday we are subjected to humanity’s weights and measure. I have never been sold out for 20 pieces of silver or 100 for that matter but I have been sold out. Humanity determines our value by the colour of our skin, what we wear, how we look and where we live and what they can get in return. Just like Joseph , my Father in heaven doesn’t measure my value that way. Joseph may well have had his jacket stripped from him but he knew his dad’s love was not dependant on whether or not he wore his coat. With his Father’s favour at the forefront of his mind throughout the years her served in Egypt, Joseph knew who he was and who’s he was even if he was not treated and valued by others that way. I am so grateful for an earthly father who taught me what it feels like to feel valued and measure my worth not by what others say about me but what my Heavenly Father says about me. I have felt the pangs of being valued differently to how my Father would value me and being weighed according to human measure. If we are tempted to allow other , we will never be enough.
I listen to Christians and non Christians alike, measure one another by their list of ‘ not enough’ as if we must give account for our value based on their measuring stick of perfection. This is no different to the culture we live in…not enough ..not enough ….not enough…. How long will we run on the tread mill of trying to please those who will never measure us by our true value….’Not good enough’; ‘not perfect enough’ , ‘not kind enough’ ; ‘ not tolerant enough’, ‘not real enough’ , not enough’ , ‘ not a good enough mum’, ‘not a good enough wife’, ‘not creative enough’ not a good enough leader’ ‘ not a good enough shepherd’ , ‘not a good enough friend’ , should have done better, should have done more, should have been more and or seen more or cried more or laughed more or taught this better or carried more or carried less. My measure of worth is not how my father measures me and when my measure feels short his grace is sufficient. He valued me so much he paid the price using his own son as the purchase price.
I am so grateful my worth is not measured by what is spoken about me or to me. My worth is measured by a Father who loves me and sees me as as object of his affection. When we live and act and respond to that identity and that sort of love , then the circumstances don’t change who we are because we are not owned by others but owned by someone who loves us. I am not my own I have been bought with a price. I genuinely believe that Joseph knew his worth and served according to his worth not to earn his worth.
My life is at the mercy of my Heavenly Father who knows how to take me from comfort to extreme discomfort. I may well feel that I am at the mercy of the well where I have been thrown or I may hear the sound of the brothers or the other people in my life plotting my murder or at least assassinating my reputation. I may feel I am at the mercy of strangers and those who have interest only in what I give them. The vey closest to me may misjudge my worth and sell me out for the cheapest price. God may well send a caravan of foreigners along to get me out of the well but it may lead me to the discomfort of a prison cell where he will continue to prepare me for what is ahead but when I can’t see what is ahead it is hard to see what I am a being prepared for. My circumstances do not define my worth and value.
God is so up to something even when we can’t see. Joseph helps me see that the well, the caravan of camels , the podium of slavery or the murky darkness of the Egyptian dungeon form part of the plan but the plan does not define me or my worth. If I was Joseph, I would see the walls of the pit I was thrown in, the backside of the camels I had to trudge behind, the windows of Potiphar’s house and the purr of temptation to seduce me or dupe me and fall in a heap of disappoint and bitter angst. Joseph helps remind me that reversals and opposition are a set up for something magnificent. God has designed a time line that culminated in Joseph being empowered bless the nations and bring salvation and provision and fulfilled the promises of God. At every plot twist Jspeh reveals who he is and whose he is and that is the cry of my heart that what gets revealed in me is a trust in who I belong to.