Not very humble beginnings (VeYeshev)

What comes to mind when we think of Joseph?
A man with dreams? A man who was honest and served his master faithfully and paid a high price for his integrity? A man who interpreted dreams? A man who saved his family and a whole nation from starvation?

The Lord blessed Joseph and used him to bless others. In this week’s Torah portion the story we read his story and it starts out with him being a spoiled young man of seventeen.

It was Joseph’s job to tend the flocks of his father. A job he did together with his brothers; Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher. We don’t know what happened out there in the fields, but Joseph brought a bad report about his brothers to his father. Joseph was loved by his father, more than any of his brothers. Everyone knew this. His father even had a robe made for him. Joseph was special, and brothers hated him because of this.

Joseph starts having dreams about becoming a leader. Dreams we know were inspired by the Lord. All his dreams eventually came true. But when Joseph shares about his dreams with his brothers, it only makes them hate him even more. “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” (Genesis 37:8) Joseph shares his second dream with his father. And his father rebukes him. “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” (Genesis 37:10)

The Lord takes Joseph on a journey, literally, to make him into the man he is supposed to become. It is a life of ups & downs. The spoiled young man is thrown down in a cistern and sold into slavery. In the house of his master he rapidly raises in statue and is put in charge of the whole household, only to be brought down again. Falsely accused, Joseph once again finds himself at the bottom, this time in prison. Also there his leadership skills show, and the warden puts him in charge. Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker are put in prison, dream dreams that Joseph explains correctly, and the cupbearer is restored to his former position. Things seem to look up for our hero again, but the cupbearer forgets about him and Joseph remains in prison.

The Lord has a plan for our life too. And there will be ups & downs. In the darkest times, when we might feel like we are at the bottom of a cistern, the Lord God is in charge, just as he is when we are raised up. There will be days when it feels like all is lost and we feel like we are in prison, forgotten. But God is still at work in us, just as he was in the life of Joseph. The Lord has a plan, and His plan is good. We can take His Word on it.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28.

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