(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The next hero of faith we meet is Joseph, inducted into the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11:22: “By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.” By faith, he believed the children of Israel would leave Egypt and return to the Promised Land of Canaan!
And Joseph said to his brethren, “I am dying; but God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land to the land of which he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then he took an oath from the children of Israel, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” (Genesis 50:24, 25).
The photo I chose for Joseph says that he was “A Man of Integrity and Forgiveness.” Integrity is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.”
He certainly showed integrity!
- Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers and taken to Egypt by the Ishmaelite traders (see Genesis 37:19-28). They then sold him to “…Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard…” (Genesis 39:1). Apparently, Joseph didn’t sink into depression and lash out at everyone because of his enslaved situation! He worked hard for his new master…
So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then [Potiphar]...made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put in his hands. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the LORD was on all that he had in the house and in the field. (Genesis 39:4, 5).
Joseph tried to take godly advantage of every opportunity afforded to him in his enslaved condition! That’s integrity!
- He was wrongly accused of attempted rape by Potipher’s wife! So her angry husband had Joseph thrown in prison, where he languished for more than two years! What would you do? I might have a raging pity party for the next 750 or so days! But not Joseph!
...the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison....And [he]...committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison.... The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph’s hand, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.
Again, Joseph made the best of a bad situation! That’s integrity!
- We are told in Genesis 40:1 and 3 that, “…the butler [the wine steward] and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their lord….So he put them in…prison, the place where Joseph was confined.” One night they each had a dream that troubled them, and Joseph interpreted their respective dreams (see Genesis 40:5-19). The outcomes of those dreams are as follows:
♀ The butler – “...Pharaoh...restored the chief but- ler to his butlership again, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” (Genesis 40:20, 21). ♀ The baker – “But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them.” (Genesis 40:22).
Joseph had pleaded with the butler:
But remember me when it is well with you, and please show kindness to me; make mention of me to Pharaoh, and get me out of this house. For indeed I was stolen away from the land of the Hebrews; and also I have done nothing here that they should put me into the dungeon. (Genesis 40:14, 15).
But we are told in Genesis 40:23, “Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him…” …for two full years! Joseph could have sunk into a major depression! But, although we are not told exactly how he handled this disappointment, it seems he continued serving as best he could in the prison! That’s integrity!
- The story goes on to tell of how the chief butler remembered Joseph when Pharaoh had two dreams that defied explanation…until Joseph was called out of prison to interpret the king’s dream! The dreams warned of a coming seven-year famine following seven years of abundant harvests. Joseph suggested a brilliant plan for surviving the famine, the plan to be under the authority of an able overseer.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise are you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:39, 40).
Joseph suddenly became the second most powerful man in the entire land of Egypt! He could have exacted revenge on Potipher and his wife, as well as the forgetful butler. He could have had them tortured and killed. But he didn’t! That’s integrity!
He certainly showed forgiveness!
- As mentioned just above, Joseph apparently forgave Potipher, his wife, and the chief butler. But let’s concentrate on the most egregious offenders…
- He forgave his ten older brothers of their hatred toward him, their murderous intent, and their selling him into slavery in the far-off country of Egypt. But he sure played some ‘head games’ with them before he revealed himself to them!
Because the famine was widespread as well as severe, all Joseph’s brothers, except Benjamin came to Egypt to buy grain. Here is a summary of the ‘head games’ he played:
♀ He accused them of being spies, jailing them for three days, before releasing nine of them to go back to Canaan with necessary food (see Genesis 42:9). ♀ He demanded they bring their youngest brother, Benjamin if they had any chance to buy more of the Egyptian grain (see Genesis 42:20). ♀ He secretly restored their money in their grain sacks, causing them great consternation (see Gen- esis 42:25, 28). ♀ He kept his brother Simeon in prison until their return, this time with Benjamin (see Genesis 42: 19, 24; 43:15). ♀ He again planted their money in their sacks, se- creting his special silver cup in Benjamin’s grain sack! (see Genesis 44:1, 2). ♀ He arrested them all, and threatened to keep Ben- jamin as his slave! (see Genesis 44:17). ♀ He forced them to rethink their murderous ways! Instead his brothers displayed humbleness and compassion (see Genesis 44:18-34).
It was then Joseph revealed himself to his brothers! (see Genesis 45:1-4).
- And he forgave his brothers for all the crimes they had committed against him!
♀ Genesis 45:5 – “...do not...be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” ♀ Genesis 45:8 – “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.”
- Genesis 50:15 through 21 – After their father Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers said among themselves, “Perhaps Joseph will hate us, and may actually repay us for all the evil which we did to him.” So they all went to him, “…and fell down before his face, and…said, ‘Behold, we are your servants.’ ” So Joseph assured them again of his forgiveness!
Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones. (Genesis 50:19-21).
But Joseph also had feet of clay!
- He seemed to glory in his ‘favorite son’ status! (see Genesis 37:1-4).
- He was a ‘tattletale’ against his brothers! (see Genesis 37:2).
- While God gave him valid dreams concerning the future, he was boastful of those dreams to his brothers and his father! (see Genesis 5-11).
- His attitude and actions cause division and chaos in his family! (see Genesis 37:4, 8, 11; 19, 20).
Yes, Joseph was a great man, a hero who is prominently featured in the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11!
I have feet of clay also! Look down – you do, too! However, if we follow after godly integrity, and if we practice forgiveness as Christ forgave us…
…God can use you and me in tough circumstances,
even as He used Joseph!