Background Text: Genesis 37:1-41
Devotional Text: Genesis 39:5
We’ve been studying what it means to “have a heart for God,” or “having a heart after God.”
We’ve learned that the biblical meaning for heart comes from the Greek word, “kardia,” which covers the center of our being, all that we are.
It includes our thoughts and emotions, including our consciences. It’s the place where we reason things out and make life decisions. It’s also the place where we choose to do things on the spur of the moment. It includes our mental awareness. All that goes on in our minds and souls originates in the kardia heart.
No one really knows our hearts, except for God, because the heart defines who we really are as a person. Few, if any, people know each other so well.
Last week, we looked at the heart of John the Baptist. The week before, it was David, son of Jesse, from the Old Testament. Today, we are going to look at the life of Joseph, found in Genesis in the Old Testament.
Joseph was one of 12 sons born to Jacob. He was a younger son and a favorite of Jacob because he had been born in Jacob’s old age to his wife Rachel. Genesis tells us in chapter 37 that Jacob had a special robe made for Joseph, one that was richly ornamented.
However, his brothers hated Joseph because they were jealous of their father’s favoritism toward him. Not only that, but Joseph had dreams. These dreams alluded to Joseph becoming greater than his brothers and his brothers bowing down to him. He wasn’t shy about his dreams, as he readily told them to his brothers and father.
We find toward the end of chapter 37, when Joseph was sent out to shepherd his father’s sheep along with 10 of his brothers, that jealousy and hatred would take a life-changing turn for Joseph.
When he was but 17, his brothers plotted to kill him. However, the brothers were turned aside from this plan by their brother Reuben. Then, seeing a caravan of merchants heading for Egypt, the brothers decided to sell Joseph to them. On their return home, they told their father that Joseph had died when a ferocious animal attacked him.
As we read along from chapters 37 through 50 in Genesis, we continue to find the many ups and downs in the young life of Joseph. Although it never says that Joseph had a heart for God, we find by his words and actions, along with God’s continuous favoritism, that he was indeed a man who had a heart for God.
Let’s look at some examples from chapters 39 into 41 that speak of Joseph’s heart for God.
At the end of chapter 37, Joseph had become a servant of Potiphar, the captain of Pharoah’s guard. Going into chapter 39, Potiphar recognized that God was with Joseph because God gave him success in all he did.
In the beginning of chapter 39, Potiphar gave Joseph “charge of his household and of all that he owned.” Joseph remained trustworthy in his faith and in his closeness to God.
From Genesis 39:5 we read, “From the time he put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned, the Lord blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the Lord was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field.”
But then it seems just when something is going along well, trouble rears its ugly head. In this case, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce the handsome young Joseph to her bed. Joseph, remaining faithful to God’s commandments, replied to her that he would not sin against God.
To get even with Joseph, Potphar’s wife accused Joseph of trying to rape her, with only her screams making him run away. Potiphar then had Joseph thrown in jail, in the place where the king’s prisoners were held. Joseph would be in that prison for two years.
However, we remember that Joseph had favor with God. In Chapter 39:22-23, we find the prison warden finding Joseph to be a good and trustworthy man. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners and everything that was done there.
It is in chapter 40 where the interpretation of dreams comes into play. During this chapter the Pharoah’s cupbearer and baker are put into the prison. While there, each man had a dream. Unable to figure out what their dreams meant, Joseph told the men that only God can interpret dreams. Then God gave to Joseph the interpretations for the men.
Joseph asked but one thing of the cupbearer. That when he was to get out of the prison in three days, that he would remember Joseph to the Pharaoh. However, when he was once again the cupbearer for Pharaoh, he forgot about Joseph.
Chapter 40 is important because it leads us to the Pharaoh’s dreams in chapter 41. His dreams were about abundance in crops followed by a time of famine. But, when no one in Pharaoh’s company could interpret them, he began to seek an outside interpreter.
It was then that the cupbearer remembered Joseph and his interpretation of his dream. After two years in prison, Joseph was let out to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.
Next week, we will conclude the life of Joseph as we continue to learn about the life of a man who truly had a heart for God.