“Joseph believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Wait a minute – I thought that was Abraham! Well, actually the verse is about Abraham, but it could well be about Joseph. Abraham has the well-earned reputation of being a faith giant. After all, it’s his faith that God is rewarding us for even to this day. No doubt, he deserves high honor for his life of faith.
Joseph, on the other hand, is known for his wisdom in the gift of administration. It’s him we have to thank that the Israelites – and in fact the entire population — were spared in the great famine of his day. With a reputation of saving the known world from starvation, it’s easy for people to overlook the great gift of faith he had.
We know that God enabled Joseph to interpret dreams from an early age – his own as well as others’. We read the story of how he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream when all the magicians and wise men of Egypt could not. That’s faith enough – being called up from a dungeon after several years to stand in front of one of the most powerful leaders in the world and trusting God to give the ruler of Egypt an interpretation that no one else could. But what comes next is even more impressive.
As soon as Pharaoh heard Joseph’s interpretation, he could see he was a man of wisdom, so he asked for Joseph’s advice. There’s no reference to Joseph stuttering or hesitating. God had given Joseph wisdom beyond just interpreting dreams. But being put in charge of all of Egypt’s resources for the next 14 years at an obviously crucial time must have surpassed even Joseph’s wildest imagination.
Remember the incident from Genesis 41:
28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”
37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
If there was ever a test of a person’s faith, this is one to consider among the greatest. It’s one thing to be a foreigner, interpret the ruler’s dream and provide some advice, then be released from prison and go on your way, probably back to your own country. But now being put in charge of pulling off the plan, Joseph’s interpretation and advice was put to the test. Was it sound advice? Did he really hear from God? What if he got it wrong or something changes over the next 14 years? Could he really pull off this enormous task with the bit of experience he’d had up to this point in his life?
Admittedly, these questions, doubts and many others would’ve crossed my mind, possibly stopping me or at least hindering God from fulfilling His purpose for my life. However, there’s no mention of Joseph doubting or questioning the turn of events in his life. In fact, it’s such a familiar story to us and stated so matter of factly in scripture, it’s easy to overlook the depth of faith it would have taken to embark on such a plan and stay with it for 14 years.
But Joseph went about drawing up plans, hiring workers, constructing buildings, changing the laws and getting everyone on board with the idea of an impending famine, despite their current prosperity. Did he ever once think, “What if the famine doesn’t come for eight years, what’ll people think, what will happen to me?” or “What if it lasts for 10 years? Maybe I’m not storing up enough.” I’m sure there were many thoughts that went through his mind in those 14 years, especially the first “abundant” seven. The fact is, he continued with the plan that God spelled out to him in that moment of truth in front of Pharaoh.
This is the kind of faith that greatness in God’s kingdom requires, the kind of faith that makes the impossible possible, can literally save the world from destruction and show God’s power and lovingkindness to all of mankind for centuries to come.
For Joseph’s faith, his reward was also more than he would’ve ever envisioned: He was reunited with his family after 20 years. In the end, as faithful as Joseph was, God’s faithfulness to him was unsurpassed and unimaginable. And as we obey in faith, He wants to do the same for us.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Messiah Yeshua throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:20-21