This Fall I have the privilege of teaching a Bible study through the life of Joseph, for Calvary's Monday Night Bible Study. The curriculum is entitled “Mess to Miracle.” To be honest, it’s been awhile since I’ve read through Joseph’s narrative so I’m looking forward to diving deep into this compelling story.
Here are three reasons why I believe Joseph’s story matters today.
First, Joseph teaches us about God’s redemptive purposes in suffering. This is especially highlighted from Joseph’s famous line: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Gen. 50:20). Joseph’s story illustrates for us that God had not abandoned Joseph when he found himself in a pit or the confinements of prison. God was present, playing the main actor throughout the entire narrative and the things meant for evil, were being used to accomplish God’s good purposes. When we find ourselves in a financial, health, or relational pit – solace can come in knowing that God can take what the enemy has intended for evil and bring about good. Even when we don’t immediately see it.
Second, Joseph’s life illustrates how God works while we wait. Joseph finds himself in a season of waiting. Waiting to be rescued from a pit. Waiting for his time in prison to come to an end. Waiting for God to make sense of the mess he’d been placed in. Waiting, waiting, and more waiting. It turns out that most of life consists of waiting. We wait to graduate from high school. We wait to meet that special someone and get married. We wait for that promotion at work. We wait for God to answer prayer.
So the question isn’t, will we wait, but rather how then shall we wait? We often think that waiting is a passive and pointless activity, but the Biblical authors seem to write from a different perspective (See Psalm 27:14 and Isaiah 64:4). We learn specifically from Joseph’s story that God works while we wait. While Joseph waited, God moved and assembled the characters he would use. God placed the butler in Joseph’s care and gave the king vivid dreams. God was moving the right pieces into place just as a skilled chess player strategically moves his pieces for his next move. At just the right moment Joseph would move into action. While we wait, God is at work.
Finally, Joseph is a picture of Christ. Jesus is the greater and better Joseph. Just like Joseph was sold to slave traders for silver, so Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver by one of his best friends. Just as Joseph was left in a pit for dead, Jesus faced the pit of death and three days later arose to life – conquering death, hell, and the grave. Just as Joseph chose to forgive his brothers, Jesus when persecuted did not retaliate, but cried out to the Father for their forgiveness. Just as Joseph was a savior for his human family, Jesus is the Savior for all those who willingly place their trust in him.
The title, “Mess to Miracle,” communicates the idea that God is able to take our mess – as complex and disorderly as it may be, and create out of it, a miracle. Despite Joseph’s dysfunctional family background and sometimes naïve statements, God took his mess and brought about a miracle. Beauty from ashes and hope from sorrow. And if God is able to do this with Joseph, there is certainly hope for us!