They called him a dreamer. For at the age of seventeen, the Holy Spirit rested on him in a special way. Joseph's God-given dreams foretold a future of great leadership from an influential throne. Joseph's father favored Joseph above his brothers, and he was given a coat of many colors to show his position of favoritism.
Joseph was a type and shadow of the coming Lord Jesus Christ. Joseph must have worn his coat with great pride, as he felt specially chosen by God for great things. Although he was the most loved by his father, he was deeply resented, even hated, by his brothers because of his dreams.
Jealous of the favoritism shown to Joseph by their father, his brothers plotted to kill him as they worked together in the fields of Dothan. But because his brother Reuben intervened to save his life, they chose instead to sell him to the Ishmaelites, who in turn brought him down to Egypt. There he was sold as a slave to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh's bodyguard.
Joseph must have felt stunned, angry, and confused about how God could allow such a horrible fate to befall him. Just when he expected such a bright future, his world seemingly fell apart. Even though Joseph was a slave, God blessed him and caused him to be highly favored by Potiphar.
It must have been a time in which he was pressed to seek his God with the hope of returning to his father's house. But it wasn't God's time to set him free, for Joseph needed further discipline for God to accomplish His purposes in his life. More disciplines awaited him. One day Potiphar's lustful, lying wife tried to seduce Joseph, but Joseph maintained his integrity by remaining faithful to his God and Potiphar, his master.
Joseph refused her, saying:
Obviously, Joseph was a man of love and conscience. The Spirit of God must have been with him to work into his heart a love that even embraced his slave master. Potiphar's wife persisted in her evil and grabbed Joseph's tunic as he fled. Then she showed his tunic to those of her household and accused Joseph of assaulting her improperly. Potiphar believed his wife and had Joseph cast into prison. Joseph found himself in prison for doing God's will.
Sometimes the dealings of God are so perplexing. Troubles come to us that we really don't deserve. Joseph must have been tempted to despair in God and question His integrity. In times of trial and great pain, we tend to wonder if there even is a God who sees and cares. But the Christian is called to rise above such doubts and declare as Job did:
This is resurrection faith, a faith that God is presently working into His people. Such a faith believes God will supernaturally make a way when there is no way. Those who can hope when circumstances are hopeless will be used of God to minister His salvation in these latter days.
While in prison, Joseph was given a position of responsibility for other prisoners. Undoubtedly, he learned to govern in small matters, which in turn would qualify him to govern in larger matters. Even though Joseph was seeking God's face, God was still hiding His.
Prison was God's will for Joseph for now. He was called to endure until the appointed time when God would show His face and shine on Joseph's life once more.
All those who are called to share His throne will discover the path Joseph walked. Humiliation before exaltation, heartache before joy, stripping before being clothed in glory; all are God's methods to mold men of God. We will discover all the promises given to us for favor and blessing by God will come to us after the work of the cross is complete.
When through the operation of the cross our Adamic nature is brought to the end of its strength and wisdom, our new nature in Christ will come forth freely in a way that manifests the Lord's strength and wisdom. God hid His face from Joseph for a brief moment. That brief moment in God's time was thirteen years in prison for Joseph.
God's perception of time is so unlike ours. A thousand years to us is but a single day unto Him. He is eternal and sees our growth from an eternal perspective. We are bound by time. When things are going well, time seems to fly. But how it drags when we are experiencing pressure, pain, and weariness. We get pressed to hope's end only to find we need to wait even longer; this is so that grace will be the power that will carry us through.
Only God will get the glory from what we have become. The strength of His resurrection life begins at the end of human endurance. Joseph had no idea how long he would be in prison. Deliverance was nowhere in sight, day after day, month after month, year after year. He was in open-ended prostration in darkness and pressure, not even knowing the purpose for it all.
This could have been Joseph's prayer:
Yes, enduring God's dealings can be very difficult. But he has an appointed day of deliverance. The anointing of God was with Joseph working godly virtue into his nature and character while in prison. Though unseen by Joseph and others, God was doing a mighty work. This anointing produced love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, compassion, and wisdom.
God wants people who will let Him work these virtues into their lives today. These virtues can not be created by the spirit of the world. Only the Holy Spirit can make these qualities of spirit real in a person's life; to do this, one must be separated from the spirit of the world and come under the discipline of the Spirit of God.
Joseph was impoverished as far as the world was concerned. But he obtained heavenly riches that come through the Holy Spirit's light while enduring his dark night of the soul.
The anointing that rested on Joseph was the key to his deliverance. This anointing gave Joseph the supernatural ability to interpret dreams. Joseph's appointed day of deliverance came when Pharaoh had disturbing dreams. Pharaoh's chief cupbearer, who at one time was a fellow prisoner with Joseph, told Pharaoh of Joseph's ability to interpret dreams.
With a word, through the finger of God, Pharaoh delivered Joseph from his seemingly endless imprisonment. His freedom came suddenly and in a manner that Joseph couldn't have imagined. He served a God who was Lord overall and could do above and beyond all he could ask or think.
As the day of Joseph's deliverance was certain, it is surely also for God's present-day "Joseph's" who are enduring their dark times with great patience. Joseph came before Pharaoh after he was shaved and had a change of clothing. God will always clean us up and replace our sackcloth with garments of light and righteousness before we bring His word to the world.
He causes us to forget the shame and pain from long years of trial. Our spirit, having been disciplined and refined, he brings healing to our soul and body. He delivers us from our prisons to be established on high in the heavenlies as a brother and servant to the Lord Jesus Christ.
When Joseph came before Pharaoh, Pharaoh questioned Joseph about his ability to interpret dreams. Joseph's answer reveals the deep work of humility within his soul.
Joseph takes no credit for the anointing upon his life but exalts God as the sole source of his supernatural abilities. God is weary of people using the anointing and their abilities to build a name and a kingdom for themselves. God is bringing forth a people who are humble, without deceit, walking in the anointing, exalting Him in all things. These will be subservient to Him and His kingdom's purposes.
When Pharaoh told Joseph his dream, Joseph correctly interpreted it. Pharaoh was greatly impressed by Joseph and discerned that he was a rare and unique man. Although he knew nothing of the Holy Spirit, he recognized something in Joseph's life that must have come from God.
Joseph was then made second to Pharaoh in authority over all of Egypt. Joseph's dream of leadership came true, but in God's way and in God's time. Through Joseph, the Spirit of Christ ruled over Egypt in a time of great famine and need. God is faithful; He made Joseph's dreams come true. Joseph became a tried vessel fit for His kingdom's purposes.
He will do this for each and every one of us if we are willing to be tested and tried. Christians who endure the trial of the prison house experience will be exalted into the heavenlies as the Spirit of Christ ministers through them, thus influencing the affairs of men in these last days prior to the Lord's return.
These will bring the blessings of the kingdom of God to every needy and willing soul. They will not only know the blessings of doing God's work but will also know the blessings of knowing God's intimate fellowship. They will have His nature and character imprinted in their human soul.
Those who know the fellowship of His sufferings will also see the power of His resurrection. Those that know the power of His resurrection will know His love, light, and life as few do; this will be the testimony of all His "Joseph's" after their deliverance is accomplished.
Joseph was put in Pharaoh's prison by the hand of Potiphar, but he was, in fact, a prisoner of the Lord. Up until this time, his whole life was ordered by the Lord. He was always sovereignly in control of the events that touched this choice vessel's life. Afterward, Joseph was able to see the purpose of his long trial.
As famine came to the land of Canaan, Joseph's family was desperate for help. So Jacob, Joseph's father, sent his sons to Egypt to buy food. As it was made known to them that the ruler over the granaries of Egypt was their very own brother Joseph, who they sold into captivity, they feared him. But the way Joseph responded to those who sold him into slavery revealed a great deal about the work that God had done in Joseph's heart.
Circumstances and guilt created humility in Joseph's brothers over these long years apart, and they feared Joseph's retribution for what they did to him.
They meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. It was Joseph's finest moment as the Spirit of Christ came shining through him. Joseph's life was meant to be an example to overcomers seeking God's high calling in Christ. It is God's will that a company of "Josephs" comes on the scene, intervening in the calamities of the latter days, to preserve many people's lives.
So we see that God uses the prison house experiences to refine and perfect the lives of His saints. These prisons can be literal, but for the most part, they are many circumstances in life that severely confine and bind our souls for an extended period of time. Among the purposes of such an experience is to reduce our desires for carnal, worldly, and natural satisfactions.
Through the ministry of the Spirit, we start to desire spiritual, heavenly, and supernatural satisfactions. God wants to bring us to the place where our desires are fulfilled in the heavenlies.
Many of the Lord's people are experiencing circumstances that severely bind and restrict them. Some are in the perfect will of God. Others are in bondages that result from their waywardness and departure from the perfect will of God. Either way, the power and presence of the Holy Spirit overshadow such individuals.
At the same time, God is accomplishing a work. And He is a God of goodness and mercy and hears the cries of His suffering ones and is intently working His purposes for each life as He bottles their tears and prepares them for a life of abundant blessings. He is preparing them for a ministry where they are led in paths ordered of the Lord, following His Spirit wherever He leads. They will be a unique expression of His love, light, and life.
The prison-house experience will be much more common in the future as the oppression of the latter days come upon a church engaged in spiritual warfare. God needs more specially prepared servants to do His work. Those members of the Body of Christ, who are not being so tried, need to comfort their brother "Josephs."
In truth, most in the Body of Christ are not going through trials as severe as Joseph and find it hard to relate to such a prison house experience. They are no less special or less loved by the Lord. Each has his calling and path. When a nation is at war, not everyone becomes specialized soldiers though they are yet in the same army.
Each of us has to carry the cross that has been given to us by the Lord. Some people's cross is heavier than others. Whether our cross is heavy or light, we all shall be rewarded for our sufferings in the age to come. God desires bondservants; this is the highest order of service to the Lord. As we enter the day of the Lord, God wants to reveal to us who He is. He wants to reveal what He is doing on the earth.
Don't expect the revelation of who He is and what He is doing to come from high-minded theologians, with the sharpest of intellects, sitting in ivory towers. Those who have been called, chosen, and faithful have qualified to be called bondservants and will have the mysteries of Christ revealed to them.
God is not a respecter of man-made credentials. It is those who have been tested, tried, and found worthy who will receive the revelation of His purposes for our day. However, God loves theologians and can work in their nature if they are willing, and He will bring them forth as called, chosen, and faithful. So expect a fair share of scholarly men, as Paul was, to be in God's overcoming company.
A bondservant is defined as a love slave, a person bound to serve a master without wages. All of God's bondservants come forth from their prison-house bondages only to be bound to His heart. These will serve the Father simply out of love, asking for no reward other than His continual fellowship.
As a horse is bound by bit and bridle, so will His bondservants be bound to speak and move only at the initiation of the Spirit of their Father, as Jesus did.
If God isn't saying anything, they have nothing to say. If He is not doing anything, they have nothing to do.
There is no more room for flesh acting independently from God; this is the realm where the will of the Father becomes the meat upon which they feed. Now don't believe for one minute that these are joyless robots with no personality of their own. Rather, God enhances and shines through their redeemed personalities, giving them total liberty.
Though these are bound to serve, they are utterly free in their servitude. The joy these bondservants experience will be more than any other joy found in the world. They dwell in the secret place of the "Most High God" and will know His total provision and protection in every circumstance. These will be about doing what they want as their will and desires have come into unity with His. His yoke will be easy and His burden light.
Even when suffering is put in their path, they will still want to do the Father's will, being joyful over the fruit of their obedience. He brings about a beautiful union of His divinity with their humanity, creating a life that radiates righteousness, peace, and joy. The world will marvel and be greatly blessed as these are led of the Spirit to the four corners of the earth pouring forth the riches of the Kingdom of God.
The Sun of Righteousness is rising with healing in its rays. Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness, and this speaks of His manifest glory rising and being restored to earth. As we behold this glory, we will be transformed from glory to glory, conforming us to His image. As His light shines from us, all the virtues imparted into our spirits in the darkness of the prison house will come shining through us, sparkling like jewels, thus gracing the world.
The world will truly see the beauty of Lord Jesus Christ and flock to the Lord in droves. The churches will not be able to contain them all. The year of jubilee will finally begin, and mankind will be set free from the realm of sin, suffering, and death. God will reveal Himself in a marvelous way as the veil over the nations is rent, and an open-heaven is made available to the church.
God shall make Himself known to the least and the greatest. A day of great joy and celebration is coming in the midst of world turmoil; this is before the darkness of the Day of the Lord and the judgments of the Great Tribulation.
So, press in all you "Josephs" of the Lord, His glory is coming quickly, and His healing virtues are in His hand. Endure your prison with faith and patience, trusting a day of deliverance is at the door.
More Articles by Brian McGrath
"Joseph the Dreamer and Prisoner of the Lord"
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Samuel L Mills
PO Box 4456
Maryville, TN 37802