Day One: Introduction
Joseph’s story welcomes us with open arms, summons us into the living room, and invites us to sit down awhile and listen. So many have found a dear companion in Joseph because his life displays much of the human experience. We all “get” Joseph on some level. We can relate to him. We’ve probably never owned a multicolored robe that nearly cost us our lives or traveled as a slave by camel to a foreign land, but we patently understand difficult family relationships. We’ve experienced betrayal. We know unfair. Broken dreams have nearly sunk us. And almost every one of us has wondered at some point in our lives, Where is God?
Genesis 37–50 (Joseph’s account) reveals how deeply God loves us and wants us to love others—even those most difficult to love. (No matter who in your life is a challenging personality, just wait until you meet Joseph’s brothers. They’ll make your irritable Aunt Jane look like she’s up for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.) On a very practical level, Joseph’s life will encourage us to run for our lives from temptation, to serve when we’re suffering, and to serve when we’re prospering. And if you’ve ever wondered when to protect yourself from the people who have wounded you or when to lay down your defenses, throw your arms around your foes, and weep, Joseph’s story can help. It doesn’t give us a manual, but boy does it offer us an epic scene.
This is to say nothing of what Joseph’s story teaches us about how God can take the stones thrown at us with evil intent and use them as the bedrock of His good plans for our lives. (Read Genesis 50:20.) Which brings us to another quite practical theme of Joseph’s story: forgiveness. If Joseph could forgive his brothers, I imagine there’s no one we can’t learn to forgive.
For those of you who have ever wondered if your dark nights and crushing heartbreak were sure signs that God had forgotten or abandoned you, Joseph’s story confidently tells us otherwise. In a faraway land, and later in a dismal prison, what more hopeful truth could be written than “God was with Joseph”? Whether in prison or in palace, His presence changes everything. Perhaps above all, in this study, I hope you will gather a richer understanding of God’s promises, His faithfulness to His people, and the person of Jesus toward whom Joseph’s entire story is aimed.