The Point of the Joseph Story

January 10, 2012

I’ve just finished reading the Joseph story in my yearly pilgrimage through the Bible. As I read it, I was thinking about how the story fit with the overall storyline of Scripture. I don’t want to discount Joseph’s almost stellar example. He was a righteous man who weathered great temptation. That said, the story isn’t about him. He is a great example but something bigger is going on in the story.

Two thoughts: first, it is interesting how Joseph was carried on by forces he had no control over. His brothers sold him into slavery. The wife of his owner groundlessly accused him of sexual advances. The jailor had amnesia until just the right moment. Similarly, Pharaoh didn’t dream until it was time. Finally, God gave him the interpretation of the dream (Ge 41:16). Joseph was helpless to stop the trajectory of his life. He was like a leaf that lands on a mountain stream; it is carried wherever the water flows.

Second, Joseph interprets his life for us. Gen 45:5 says, “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Joseph was helplessly moved through life so that the people of God would be kept safe through a coming famine. Of course, Egypt and the Exodus experience would end up pointing to the greater exodus promise that you and I through faith look forward to.

All this to say, like with the David and Goliath story, it is possible to make the story about us (using Joseph as an example) and miss the God who is working behind the scenes moving Joseph wherever He desires. When we do this, we miss the greater truth that God is protecting his people. Ultimately, Joseph is just another chapter of the story moving from the promise of Genesis 3:15 to the fulfillment in Christ.

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3 Responses to “The Point of the Joseph Story”

  1. Terri J Says:

    So true! All of the Bible is for us, but not about us. I enjoy a good allegory as much as anyone, but not in preaching.

    BTW, I loved the Matt Chandler link yesterday and ended up listening to several of his clips.

  2. Mark Says:

    Hey, sister, how are you two doing?


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