JOSEPH, A MAN OF VISION
BY: CHARLES W. WELLER
Joseph had a dream when he was seventeen years old. (Genesis 37:2) Seventeen is the number of victory in numerics. He was the favorite son of his father, Jacob, because he was a spiritual boy compared to the other brothers. Joseph was not a presupposing lad, but like any seventeen-year-old who heard from God, he quickly told those affected by his dream.
When God speaks, He has a purpose, a plan. Joseph was to be an integral part of the salvation of his people, but it required a crucifixion, which had to be worked in Joseph’s life. Joseph heard God say that others would bow down to him, but Joseph did not discern the word of the Lord clearly, even though he saw it in a dream. Interpretation is everything. Joseph saw the end result but did not consider what would have to be done in order to accomplish the plan of God. This is a story about the working out of the plan of God. (See our booklet Birthright to Blessing.)
Immaturity is evident here, but also part of the plan of God. Just because God speaks to you does not mean you are to tell people. Sometimes it is for you. Considering what Joseph did and the results that followed, we would seem to say it would have been better if he kept his mouth shut. In this case, it was God’s plan for him to tell his brethren. There was an eternal plan at work, which has even affected us. For most of us, when we received salvation we told everyone and alienated many. We did the same thing with the baptism of the Spirit. Do we ever learn? Just because the Lord leads us, does not mean we are to tell all we know.
Joseph was led of the Lord to tell his brethren. It was part of the plan and we must remember the trauma that followed was part of the plan of God. The key to Joseph’s success was the vision that he had. He knew the dream was true and it sustained him throughout thirteen years of being in bondage! Could you stand in God while God worked an eternal work through you on yourself as well as for others? Could you stand thirteen years of trials for the brethren’s sake? Serious questions. For serious sons the answer is yes. The vision sustains us, even as the joy set before Jesus sustained Him through the cross that He might endure.
His brothers did not like him in the first place because he was his father’s favorite. Now they hated him even more (Genesis 37:5) after he told them the vision. People are jealous. Many Christians are jealous. God blesses you and they are upset that God has not touched them in the same way. It happens in the best of families (even in Christ). On the other hand, how many times as a youth when I got something I took it to show my brother – sometimes being nice and other times to rub it in. How many parents give both kids a gift so that there is no “partiality”? Yet, God did not seem concerned about that problem. His plan was just, honest. What is it if one works all day for a penny, (Matthew 20:2-13) and another works the last hour for a penny if both had agreed to work with their own particular arrangement?
So, Joseph tells his brothers that the vision showed how his brothers would bow down to him. He has another vision and he tells his father that even his father, mother and brothers will bow down to him. Note the difference between brothers and fathers. (Genesis 37:11) His father did not reject but pondered. His father knew better than to reject it but he considered all things and if this be God, it will come to pass. His brothers “envied” him not because God did not speak to them but because of the rank he would have over them. God gave this vision twice to Joseph, sustaining him by it. Two is the number of witness in the Scriptures.
God speaks to us even today and tells us the results first! Why? If our Father told us how we would get to the results, we might not want to go! He tells us the glory of the end of a thing so that we will be empowered to walk through the shadow of death to get there. He knows our Spirit is willing and our flesh is weak. The Spirit can go through and enable the flesh to be submissive to the walk of the Spirit.
His brothers were so incensed about his vision that they were going to kill Joseph until Reuben stepped in and preserved his life, even as Jesus has stepped in and preserved our life from our brethren who do not understand. Some walk by a vision, others seem more concerned about the natural things of this world.
They stripped Joseph of his coat of many colors. (Genesis 37:23) The colors of the rainbow were in that coat. A crystal will refract the light and send out the colors of the rainbow. The coat symbolizes the unity of God manifested in different aspects. The coat signified that Joseph was special among the brethren, even as Jesus was special among all mankind. Joseph was unique and important for the brethren, even if they did not recognize that he would be their provision and deliverance in the future, as was Jesus for us. They removed from him his anointing, the coat. They removed from him his position. They removed from him the glory of the Father. They took his coat from him, even as Jesus was stripped of his coat when He left the heavenly realm to be embodied in the flesh, so Joseph is removed from his heavenly realm, the place of his father.
They threw him into a well. He was still within the land of his father but placed down in a lower order. They removed Joseph from the realm of the Spirit, the heavenly kingdom of his father in which he resided with his brethren and disposed of him into the lower parts of the earth. Even as Jesus was lowered from the heavenly estate to provide a means of salvation unto us by being made a little lower than the angels. (Hebrews 2:9) Jesus was placed in a flesh body, a prison.
This stripping of Joseph was only the beginning of his humiliation, the beginning of his crucifixion, the beginning of his being conformed to the image of God. For like Paul, we must count all things as dung for the kingdom. (Philippians 3:8) He had to leave his father’s presence, even as Jesus did, in order to fulfill the plan that God had for him. In our walk with God we must be removed from intimate relationship with Him so that we can grow in stature and wisdom just as Jesus did. (Luke 2:52) Jesus learned to be obedient by the things He suffered (Hebrews 5:19), so did Joseph and so will we. If we suffer with Him we shall be glorified together with Him. (Romans 8:17)
The next step of his humbling, from being a son of wealth was to become a slave (and we will see later that there are even levels of slavery!). His brothers sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites (Genesis 37:27), descendants of theirs who enjoyed living after the flesh. Joseph was sold into slavery, but the knowledge that he had of who he was (see our booklet on Isaac), kept him from sinning in the flesh. Jesus was lowered into the flesh but conquered all the corruption that he faced in the three temptations. (Genesis 3:6, Matthew 4:1-11, 1 John 2:16)
But he was not lowered enough. The Ishmaelites sold him to bottom of the pit. They delivered him into the hands of Potiphar, an officer of the Pharoah, the king of Egypt. (Genesis 37:36) Jesus didn’t just go into death, He went to the deepest part of hell (in Greek Tartarus 2 Peter 2:4 the third word used for hell in Greek), and led captivity captive. So, did Joseph eventually. In the whole story of Joseph, we never see or hear a word of complaint at the hand that was dealt to him. He believed the vision; he just didn’t know when it would come to pass, how it would be accomplished or when it would be finished! How soon many of the brethren receive a word and jump to self fulfill it? Moving to “help the word of God” only places us in a deeper pit than God had planned for us. We must note that Joseph did nothing to help the vision. He let God perform it. A crucified son yields to God and allows God to perform His will in him without complaint.
It is interesting to see that the “Lord was with Joseph and he was a prosperous man.“ (Genesis 39:2) While a slave to Potiphar, he was prosperous. Do you hear that? God blessed him in his slavery with every material blessing. Joseph didn’t cry out to be delivered from his bondage, i.e. his job, his status in life (slave) but rather waited on the vision to come to pass and assumed this was part of the processing of the vision. Do you rejoice in the slavery of your job, family, etc.? It is part of the processing to bring you to glory.
There is a more important point here. “And his master saw that the LORD was with him, and that the LORD made all that he did to prosper in his hand.“ (Genesis 39:3) His master was a spiritual man since he could see the hand of the Lord on Joseph. But even more important, Joseph revealed the Lord to his master while in this situation. In one sense we could say that Joseph was a Romans 8:19 manifestation. How well do you brighten the corner of the world where you are? Joseph was so relaxed in the working out of the vision of God in his life that being a slave was a rejoicing realm to him. While he rejoiced in the place that he was in, he also was a witness, and the world saw the Lord.
How many of us have chaffed at the bit when the least little thing comes upon us? Did we lose sight of the vision that was set before us? Did we start focusing on the circumstance and not the Lord of the circumstance? God blessed Joseph in the house of Potiphar because Joseph was obedient to the vision. Joseph served Potiphar as unto the Lord, even as Jacob saw Esau as God. (Genesis 33:10) Joseph realized that Potiphar was part of the plan to bring about the fulfillment of the vision given to him. “God blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake.“ (Genesis 39:5) The world is blessed because a seed serves God by following the Lord’s vision, when in reality the world should be destroyed for its wickedness.
While Potiphar was away, his wife came and tempted Joseph. Joseph ran (Genesis 39:9-12) from the woman. But because he left his garment, Potiphar caught him. This garment is not the same as the coat of many colors. This garment represents the flesh. Joseph was even now stripped of his manly nature. Made of no reputation, even as Jesus was stripped naked and hung on the cross and was made of no reputation in his nakedness. I must add that the statues of Jesus with a cloth over His genitals are not scripturally accurate. He was humiliated on the cross. Joseph was humiliated here in Potiphar’s house.
He again was placed in bondage, even a lower level. In fact this was the lowest level to which you could go because it was considered not a petty jail system but the national government prison. He was now in the King’s prison. Prisons in those days were horrible. Mud floors. No toilets. Feces piled up in the corner. Urine mixed with the mud. Mold and fungus grew in the cells. Sometimes you were chained to the walls that were cold and damp. Even so, Joseph rejoiced in the Lord. The Lord shined through Joseph. How do we know? “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Genesis 39:21) In fact, all the prisoners were committed into Joseph’s hand. (Genesis 39:22-23)
God gave grace IN the situation but did not remove Joseph FROM the situation. The situation was part of the plan. Joseph was obedient to the trials of the cross, not trying to get out of the trial but rather rested in the privilege of going through the trial. Because Joseph was already in the fullness of the nature of God, he radiated the life of God in his being, and the jailer recognized quality of character in Joseph (really it was God’s character). This led to the jailer trusting him. Let me say that again. He lived in God and was able to identify himself with God’s nature and did not see himself in the nature of a sinful man. Paul states that it pleased God to reveal His Son in him. (Galatians 1:16) Other scriptures state “It is no longer I that live but Christ that lives in me.”
Could you rejoice when thrown into a prison cell? Of course you could if you knew your release was imminent. But Joseph did not know that. The vision sustained him in the cell and in reality the vision delivered him from the cell. Because he faithfully embraced the vision, it begat life in him that caused his own deliverance. The vision becomes the joy. Hear and understand. Selah. The vision was who he was in Christ!
Now, Joseph knew God was with Him and working through him. Many saints having been delivered from the cell would start to complain even if they were in Joseph’s new situation in the jail. I can hear their words now: “Lord, you got me out of the cell, and I am in still in the jail. When am I leaving here?” Joseph did not do that. He did see the Lord using his life and moving through him. Joseph was fully identified with the Lord. He realized that he was not in the Adam nature but in Christ, so to speak. This empowered him to walk physically where he lived spiritually. But knowing who you are in Christ does not stop the walk/work of crucifixion, because the purpose is greater than Christ being formed in you. God wants to use you as a revelation of Himself so that others can find the same freedom from the Adamic nature.
As he dwelt in the jail, two of the Pharoah’s servants were thrown into the jail. One was the baker and the other was the butler. (Genesis 40:5) These men dreamed a dream. Joseph interpreted the dream for them. The importance of this scene is vital in our walk of the vision. In Genesis 40:8 Joseph states: “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them.” Note that here Joseph equates himself with God. Dreams belong to God. So do the interpretations. Then Joseph adds one more point. “Tell me them.” While it is true we can identify ourselves with God, we will never in all ways be God. We cannot create, but are created vessels. The more I learn of God and the more I grow into His nature, the greater His revelation becomes and I strive to further attain unto it.
Joseph, like many of the “sons of God,” believed once he had entered into union with God and was flowing in the presence of the Lord, he was God. The problem of identifying with God, which we should do, creates a monster of Adam if the Adamic nature is not fully dead. It was good that Joseph identified with God. But the knowledge of that union state can be fulcrum of a seesaw fall.
Having your identity with Christ is one thing. Proclaiming it to another is something else. When Joseph did this, he no longer identified with the nature of God. For God does not have to declare who He is. Joseph claimed rightfully that he was one with God and there was no duality in him. What he failed to state clearly and probably could not because it was not fully worked out of him yet (thus the reason for this situation), is that true union is GOD. God alone.
Chapter 41:1 states that Joseph sent the men on their way and waited two years in jail. It took two years for the Lord to remove from Joseph the concept that he was a “son of God”, that he was a chosen vessel, a predestined leader. Lest we get carried away with incorrect thoughts let me state that Joseph was a great man of God who even had his bones carried back to Israel, seeing the resurrection of Christ over 1500 years before Jesus came.
Finally, Joseph is delivered from the prison. He is called before Pharaoh to interpret a dream and this is what he said: “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.“ (Genesis 41:16) Before, Joseph saw that God was in him. Now he understood the real truth – his life was hid in God through Christ. (Colossians 3:3) It was not God in him acting. He was acting as God. When Joseph came to that understanding. He was the deliverer for all of Israel. When you individually along with others who form the corporate expression of God, the body of Christ, come to the realization it is not in me you will then be in the place to be used.
Previously, Joseph was excited about being in union with God. He knew that God was going to use him and that he could interpret the dream because he was in that realm with God. But the final result that God sought was a total dependence of Joseph on Him, even as Jesus could do nothing unless He saw his Father do it. (John 5:19, 30)
The vision given in his youth (age seventeen) had taken thirteen years to fulfill. He came forth out of prison at age thirty (maturity) and began to deliver his people. Jesus Christ came to deliver his people at age thirty also. Know that the vision does not tarry, (Habakkuk 2:3) The vision was not so much for Joseph but for the ones who were so jealously opposed to it. But it was the vision that was worked out in the life of Joseph. So are you going through a few major upheavals in your life? Rejoice! The vision of the Son is being worked out in your life.
JOSEPH, a MAN of VISION [Charles W. Weller] 1