Joseph: Betrayed for the Mission of God

The Joseph narrative begins in Genesis 37 and continues to chapter 47, thus, constituting a sizable portion of Genesis. However, in the main story line of the Old Testament, Joseph is a sidebar. He is not a direct ancestor of King David or Jesus yet his story is crucial to the survival of the family of Abraham. You can almost sense the marginalization of Joseph: This is the account of Jacob. Jacob! Yet what follows is mostly the story of Joseph!

Joseph spent most of his life on the margins. First, when he was young, God gave him special dreams. Because of this gift, his brothers despised him, plotted to get rid of him, and finally, sold him into slavery to the Midianites who will transport him to Egypt and resell him to Potiphar, an Egyptian official.

In Potiphar’s home, Joseph becomes a trusted servant until the day Potiphar’s wife accuses him of taking advantage of her. So Potiphar has Joseph thrown into the royal jail—back to the margins again.

In jail, Joseph’s dreams come back to him and he accurately predicts the fate of two other royal prisoners—one will be executed; the other restored to his position. The one who lived promised to mention Joseph to Pharaoh but forgets about Joseph for two years. More marginalization.

After years of being on the margins, God will raise Joseph to the second in command in Egypt. In this position of power, Joseph will be able to save his family—the family that betrayed him—from famine. Sometimes, we feel like we are on the margins, too. We should never forget that God may have us there for a reason and his mission may well include our marginalization. The mission of God does not require that it always goes well for us, but it does mean that God can and will use us to accomplish his mission—whether we are in the center or on the margins—that is, if we are willing to be so used.


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