From Riches to Rags: A Lengthy Reflection on the Story of Joseph

Hello Fellow Humans:

The Reformed University Fellowship @PennState has been studying the Book of Genesis throughout the Spring semester. And this past week, we came to the story of Joseph and the presence of the Lord in trials and temptations. Joseph was a Child of the Covenant unlike his siblings because he was born to Jacob’s first wife, Rachel. Because of this, he was the beloved son. His father made him a robe as a sign of his affections towards the young lad. He then sent him from the comfort of their home into the fields to work alongside his older brothers. Although each bore Israel’s likeness and were cut from the same cloth so to speak, they all knew that he was the favored one in their midst. To fuel their jealousy further, Joseph in his naivety shared that His Heavenly Father had granted him a vision that he would reign over them.

So, they devised a plan. His own People gave him over to their adversaries the Ishmaelites. Jacob’s eldest son, Reuben wanted to be the hero of the story. He would surely rescue him when the time was right and restore him to their father. In throwing him into the pit, he did not intend to destroy him–only to obtain that which he did not possess. Little did he know that Judah sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites so as “let not their hand be upon him” (Genesis 37:26 ESV). And by the time Reuben realized this, it was too late. Not even his most righteous brother could save Joseph. It would have to be an act of God.

Sounds a lot like Jesus and the Jews, if you ask me….

The world may never know the depths of Reuben’s intentions when he plotted to spare his youngest sibling a most grievous end. One thing is clear: He wanted to obtain his father’s utmost blessing and gratitude. And perhaps he figured that he would win over Joseph as well and secure a high position in the royal court if the prophecy came true. Whatever the case, Reuben’s motives were not entirely pure and he sought self gratification above all. He coveted what he saw as rightfully his, even after he sinned against his father by giving himself over to his appetites and laying with his Israel’s mistress (Genesis 49:3) .

The story of Joseph shows us that goodwill is not always God’s Will and no amount of piety can be counted to us as righteousness or make up for our shortcomings in the sight of men or the Lord. The remnant of Israel is saved by Grace through faith alone, but that does not mean sin is without consequence. Scripture promises that God honors those who honor Him in 1 Samuel 2.

Both Reuben and Joseph were given much to oversee whilst their masters were away. Joseph acknowledged that to lie with Potiphar’s wife would bring about judgement from the Lord and be a disgrace to the household. In resisting temptation, Joseph demonstrated wisdom, faithfulness, and humility. Reuben, on the other hand, was entitled and felt that he had lordship over all in his care.

Many commentaries paint Joseph as Good and Reuben in an antagonist light. I think it is important to note, however, that both exhibited utter humanity and repentance as the story unfolded. When God first reveals His Plan for Joseph, he is an arrogant young man who revels in the idea of his peers bowing down to him. That was his glaring pitfall {no pun intended}. By the time that Potiphar’s wife confronted him, he recognized that his success from the Lord and the importance of good stewardship. And in the end, all of the brothers confessed their sin against their youngest brother and God. Joseph gently reminded him that he was merely a leader of servants of the Lord, forgave them, and promised to care for them and their families (Genesis 50:19-21). The moral of this story is to use the abundance we’ve been given to lead others to Jesus.

Note: Shout-out to @SusieJacobs for her honest feedback on this post. And my apologies, dear readers, for any misconceptions/ confusions caused by my polished draft.

šŸ’•Catie Wren S{z}ukala šŸ±āœšŸ¦

3 thoughts on “From Riches to Rags: A Lengthy Reflection on the Story of Joseph

  1. This is really confusing. Isn’t the story of Joseph in Genesis chapter 37, not 38 and 39? And I’m pretty sure that Joseph’s brothers did want to kill him. In fact, Judah talked them out of killing him, so they sold him instead. They definitely weren’t going to come back and rescue him. And what does any of this have to do with Eve?


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