Last week, in Parasha Vayishlach (And He Sent), Jacob left Haran and returned to the Holy Land after being away for 20 years. Before Jacob crossed the Jabbok River and reconciled with his brother Esau, he wrestled with a “man” until daybreak. This man then changed Jacob’s name to Israel saying that he had wrestled with God and man and had overcome.
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic.” (Genesis 37:3)
This week, Parasha Vayeshev (And He Lived) reveals that Jacob showed favoritism to Joseph by giving him a coat of many colors, which resulted in his brothers hating him and plotting to kill him.
Joseph, however, had a special destiny to rule and reign, as foretold in his prophetic dreams. His father must have had some knowledge of this also, since in the patriarchal age, Semitic chiefs wore coats of many colors as an insignia of rulership.
Jacob, in giving Joseph a coat of many colors, marked him for the chieftainship of the tribes at his father’s death.
Joseph, however, probably did not use wisdom in ‘boasting’ about it to his brothers.
It seems that Joseph, in his youthful pride and zeal, needed some preparation in order to occupy that position of leadership. He needed a few more spins on the potter’s wheel to rub off some of those rough edges.
Is God in Control?
“So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge.” (Genesis 39:4)
The story of Joseph reminds all of us that God is sovereign and governs the affairs of man, even during those times in life when we are tempted to doubt that God is really in control.
When we are engulfed in confusion and chaos, we may be totally in the dark about why strange and fiery trials are happening to us; however, through this story, we can find reassurance that God is guiding our footsteps.
Joseph must have been confused by the trials he faced. Imagine being thrown into a pit by your very own brothers and sold into slavery in Egypt!
He went from the heights of privilege, as the favored son of Jacob, to the depths of humiliation in the blink of an eye.
“Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.” (Genesis 37:28)
Nevertheless, God was with him, and Potipher favored him even though he was only a slave and appointed him overseer of his house (Genesis 39:4).
Despite Joseph’s exalted position in Potipher’s house as an overseer, he was still a slave and not a free man.
And just when he probably thought that his circumstances couldn’t worsen, he resisted the advances of Potipher’s wife.
Was he rewarded for doing the right thing and for honoring God? Was he better off? Quite the opposite! He was thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit and left there to rot year after dismal year.
“So Joseph’s master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail.” (Genesis 39:20)
It is tempting to question whether God was really at the helm at this point in Joseph’s life, but the end of the story shows that God was most definitely in control.
Prophets in Training (PIT)
“He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver.” (Malachi 3:3)
Joseph was a ‘Prophet in Training’ during his time in the PIT.
He needed to undergo the fires of purification in order to be refined into a vessel God could use.
We see this in the lives of many of the great Bible characters. David, Moses, and Yeshua (Jesus) all spent time in what we call the wilderness being prepared for the great task God had for them, before fulfilling their destiny.
This can be true in our own lives as well. We may have a unique calling from God and a special destiny that requires a time of preparation.
Some of us may wonder, “What am I doing stuck in this PIT?”
How could the people so close to us—those whom we trusted—hurt and betray us?
The answer is simple. We are being prepared, purified, refined, and made ready to rule and reign with Yeshua as kings (melachim) and priests (cohanim) in His Kingdom.
The Word of God says that Yeshua baptizes us with the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and with fire, so why should we be confounded by the purification and preparation it takes to fulfill our destiny?
“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) and fire.” (Matthew 3:11)
The Fires of Purification
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine… When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned, the flame will not set you ablaze.” (Isaiah 43:1-2)
If we submit to the fires of purification and trust that with God by our side, we will not be burned, then God will exalt us in His perfect way and perfect time to fulfill our destiny.
Although the process of purification can be uncomfortable and perhaps even painful, it can be the very thing that sets us free.