I talked to someone recently about the consequences he is facing for a bad choice. He chose to make a bad decision and now frets about having to suffer the consequences.
Joseph did not have the same luxury. He committed no crime. One of the two biggest complaints about Joseph was that he was a tattletale – “… Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father” (Genesis 37:2).
It appears to be the “easiest” way of life for Joseph. He follows his ten older brothers around, feeding the family’s livestock and doing chores around their properties. And he is sometimes sent purposely to spy – and then tattle – on them. Like in Genesis 37:14 – “Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me.”
Joseph had it good. Go see what his wayward brothers are doing and report back to his father. Who will probably chew out the brothers about what he tattled about. Then he is rewarded by his father for his “disloyalty” to his brothers with gifts. Which he probably rubs in his brothers’ faces – and they have to face these physical reminders of how much their dad doesn’t really love them … compared to the favorite son Joseph.
How often did you flaunt the fact that your dad loved you more (Genesis 37:3a)? How often did you try to hurt them with his love?
Because I cannot imagine at 17 that you were trying to play nice with your brothers … but maybe you were and just got caught up in Jacob’s net. I imagine you were the typical brother who rubbed their noses in Jacob’s favoritism, a lot … but maybe it bothered you that all your brothers hated you greatly and refused to speak to you (Genesis 37:4).
What I do know for sure if that you, at the age of 17, were a tattletale. You were often sent to spy on your brothers – and I wonder if you ever had anything good to report.
And looking at you at 17, your destiny seems obvious – stay with Jacob while your brothers disperse and never speak to you again. You may have evolved into a good man, but you could have easily remained a tattletale who alienated those around you.
The problem with this path? God saw 13 years down the road, and He needed a governor. He needed someone secure and stable. He needed a mature and careful man. He needed someone humble with integrity.
And at 17, were you any of these things? Probably not. I would guess you often enjoyed tattling on your brothers and being showered with gifts. You probably relished your father’s attention, even though it caused great strife and division.
But God needed a leader. God needed a man confident enough to stand on his own, outside of anyone’s shadow and influence. God needed a man people would respect enough to follow. God needed a man who would care about others.
And as a 17-year-old tattletale, you weren’t him. There was no palace or position of leadership in your future.
But God had a palace for you, even at 17. So He had to prepare you. He had to separate you from the poison of Jacob’s favoritism. He had to remove you from the hostility of your brothers. He had to strip you of everything you cherished.
Because in that moment, you had nothing but God. Literally. You had your ephod and your chains, and nothing else when your brothers “sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt” (Genesis 37:28).
Seems harsh. Seems extreme. Seems cruel. But it was so necessary, so God could start to build the character of a governor in you.
He did not let your angry brothers kill you as they wanted (Genesis 37:18-20). God had big plans for you. So He purposed your oldest brother Reuben to convince the other 9 to throw you into a pit instead (Genesis 37:22).
And that pit, Joseph, was the biggest blessing of your life. Yes, it was deep and dark and “there was no water in it” (Genesis 37:24). But that was the exact place God’s destiny began and His salvation came alive.
For God started ordering your steps to Egypt, where He needed you to be 13 years later. What reason would you have had to go on your own? What reputation would you have had if you did? How would you have gotten an audience with Pharaoh? You would have been too unknown and insignificant if left to continue your life as it was.
And I know God starting doing a great work in you in that pit. Because you become a different man. Instead of spending your days looking for ways to rat out Potiphar’s staff, you focused on your God and your duties. Which led you to be promoted to “overseer of his house” (Genesis 39:4), trusted completely because of your integrity. And you had a valid opportunity to tattle on his adulterous and flirtatious wife, who continuously threw herself at you … until that one fateful day when she tried to take you by force. You ran, and she lied. But we don’t see any record of you trying to defend yourself by tattling on her.
And God was with you every day you spent in prison unjustly because of her. Until finally the day came that you were ready for the palace. Yes, He brought you from the pit, through slavery, through prison – and finally you arrived at the palace!
And when Pharaoh calls you to interpret his dreams, you give God the credit instead of making it all about you (Genesis 41:16). You have become so humble. You didn’t ask Pharaoh for anything for yourself, even though you were in the perfect position to suggest yourself for power (Genesis 41:33). You have learned to trust God, so you share the wise plan for surviving the coming famine.
And because you don’t ask to become part of the team, God honors the man you have become by having Pharaoh appoint you second in command (Genesis 41:40).
That governor God saw in you before the pit became a reality because of the pit. He used the pit as the start of your leadership training and the end of your superiority complex. He used the pit to break your father’s control over you so would be willing to lean into God instead. He used the pit to show you the power of humility – and how far it will take you in life.
Your best life started in that pit – because you were destined to be more than a tattletale. You spent 13 years waiting to get to the palace – but then God blessed you by allowing you spend 80 years in the palace. Being able to influence people and save lives.
And the added bonus? You reconciled with your brothers and reconnected with your father. And you were finally able to have a great relationship with them.
So what is the take away for us? Don’t shun your pit. God has you there to break some influence off of you. It is the place that starts your journey to God’s palace. “God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20) – because the pit will help you start moving toward the good life He has planned and waiting for you.
Marie Fremin. 10/7/18