Not gonna lie (not that I would) . . . but more often than not, I wanna be Joseph. I get to the part of the story in Genesis about Jacob’s favorite son, and I wanna see myself in him. Apple of a heavenly Father’s eye. Unjust hardship encountered, yet faithfulness never failing. God’s hand of favor ever present so that, even what others meant for evil God worked for good. I wanna be Joseph. I want his life to have been recorded so that I might be encouraged in my life.
So that’s why this morning, as my reading plan continues in Genesis, my first inclination was to claim as my own the promise of being “fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
Before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph. Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore them to him. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
(Genesis 41:50-51 ESV)
Yup! I read that and my first thought to myself was, “Self, that’s what’ll happen . . . patiently wait for it. One day you’re going to forget about all your hardship when God makes you fruitful in the land of your affliction.” Great promise to believe. A principle worthy of adding to my things-to-help-me-keep-on-keepin’-on file.
But as I chew on it, I start thinking or, perhaps, the Spirit starts whispering, “What if Joseph really isn’t about you, Pete? What if he’s really a foreshadow of Someone else?”
Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush Him; He has put Him to grief; when His soul makes an offering for sin, He shall see His offspring; He shall prolong His days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. Out of the anguish of His soul He shall see and be satisfied; by His knowledge shall the Righteous One, My Servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the many, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.
(Isaiah 53:10-12 ESV)
What if Joseph is really about the one Jehovah refers to as “My Servant?” What if He’s the one who one day would forget all His hardship in the land of His affliction? Forget about coming to His own and His own receiving Him not (John 1:11). No longer recalling being crushed and put to grief as He was made an offering for the sins of others. Putting behind Himself the anguish of soul as His soul was poured out to death for the iniquities of many. What if Joseph’s trials are really meant to foreshadow the Servant’s suffering?
Then the promise of being made fruitful in the land of affliction would be the Servant’s to claim. Enduring the shame for the joy set before Him, He would know that, even in His rejection, He was giving birth to many. That Jehovah would prosper His hand, and out of His suffering He would be satisfied with the harvest that would come. That a day would come when He would be “rewarded extravagantly” and given the “highest honors” (MSG) as He was declared to be Ruler of All. And that His reward would be the myriads of souls rescued from death and brought into His family because of His faithfulness to the Father.
What if Joseph isn’t intended as a mirror to be a reflection of me, but a signpost intended to point me to Jesus?
If that’s the case, then I’m reminded that God has made Him fruitful in the land of His affliction.
But then, maybe it is kind of about me . . . ’cause I’m some of that fruit!
By His grace. For His glory.
Hallelujah, what a Savior!