A trajectory shift:  From Convict to Prime Minister

In a strange manner, Joseph having told his family about his dream, attracted misgivings from his brothers and eventually a scheme to terminate his life. Little did they know that the very life they sought to terminate was the divinely ordained channel by which they would be preserved. They meant it for evil, but God turned it around for good.  His brothers sold him to merchants who in turn sold him into Egypt, to Potiphar an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard. The brothers did this out of envy for the dream God had given him as a young boy, but God was with him even under those strange and difficult circumstances.  God’s presence with him was the game changer even in the most uncertain circumstances.  It is not surprising that Potiphar put him in charge of all his house to manage it.  As a matter of fact, Potiphar’s house prospered under his watch.

“So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. 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 39:5-6). 

Then came the troubles, his master’s wife persistently wanted an affair with him, but Joseph refused. It is profound the reason (in bold) Joseph gave for refusing the affair.

“And it came to pass after these things that his master’s wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife, “Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”” (Genesis 39:7-9).

This persisted for a while with Joseph standing his ground until she eventually framed him and got him thrown into jail. Very devastating but Joseph kept his head up knowing that the sin is against God first before it is against man, as he was living by a higher code. As painful as it was being thrown into jail for a crime he did not commit, God turned it around for him and orchestrated for him to have an appointment with his destiny even in jail, one that would move him from a sexual assault convict serving jail time, to prime minister of Egypt, second only to the powerful ruler of Egypt, Pharaoh. All this happened in a period of just over two years. In the jail, two fellow prisoners have dreams on the same night, Joseph out of a divine gifting interprets the dream which comes to pass exactly three days after his interpretation.  Joseph makes one request to the Butler as his release and restoration was imminent.

“And Joseph said to him, “This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days. Now within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your place, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand according to the former manner, when you were his 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.” (Genesis 40:13-14).

 The butler however completely forgot about Joseph after he was released and restored as verse 23 illustrates.  “Yet the chief butler did not remember Joseph but forgot him” (Genesis 40:23).

It took two years before the thought of Joseph crossed his mind and not until all the wisdom of Egypt had failed. None of the wise men and magicians of Egypt had been able to interpret the troubling dream of Pharaoh. The most powerful man in the land at his wits end. Then the Butler remembered the forgotten Hebrew convict who was still serving jail time, whom he had an encounter with two years before. Joseph had told him at the time, when they were both in jail, exactly what his dream meant, and everything happened exactly as told. The butler then told Pharaoh about this poor Hebrew convict languishing in jail for a harassment crime he did not commit.

What a day for Joseph to hear the words “Pharaoh has asked to see you” and what an irony that the most powerful man in Egypt would need help from a poor Hebrew slave and convict serving jail time. This happened not only because the wisdom of Egypt had failed, but because the God of the universe planned it. On that day, Pharaoh narrated his dream and Joseph promptly provided the interpretation exactly as to what was about to happen. Seven years of plentiful harvest to be followed by seven years of famine throughout the land. Then the convict proceeded to give his humble “national security” counsel to the most powerful ruler, Pharaoh of Egypt. Why would Pharaoh believe Joseph? I put forward two reasons:  First, because his advisors had failed to deliver on the occasion and second because he had a trusted testimony from his own butler of Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams and the certainty of its fulfillment. What was Pharaohs reaction? Since you know what is coming, you be in charge and prepare to keep us safe. What a divine orchestration, from a convict to a prime minister in an instant.

“So the advice was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God?” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as 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.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, “Bow the knee!” So he set him over all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man may lift his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt”” (Gen 41:37-41).

What an astonishing story of how God can shift the trajectory of a man that trust’s in him. From head of Potiphar’s household to jail and from a simple prisoner to special assistant to the prison warden, then to dream interpreter in prison and then before Pharaoh ruler of Egypt and  finally next in command to the most powerful ruler, Pharaoh. From a convict to prime minister of Egypt. From this time forward nothing was to happen except at the word of Joseph. To crown it perfectly, Joseph was given a noble African bride. What a shift in trajectory!


January 14, 2019

“A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain counsel.” – Proverbs 1:5

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