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Joseph is often sited as an Old Testament savior. Although the New Testament writers do not point this out, indeed there are striking similarities between Joseph and Jesus. Consider some of the things that the two have in common:

  1. From the world’s point of view, neither were born to be world leaders and were therefore unlikely Saviors
  2. Both were a shepherd of his Father’s sheep
  3. Both were designated as beloved, favored sons, but hated by brethren
  4. Both were sent by their Father to visit kindred who did not appreciate them
  5. Both were sold by “loved ones” for a few pieces of silver: slave’s price
  6. Joseph’s bargain is proposed by brother Judah
    Jesus’ bargain by brother Judas (Greek form of Judah)
  7. Both endured chains, plots, and false accusations that should have broken their spirit, but always let the Spirit of God prevail in their hearts
  8. End result of both betrayals was the saving of strangers and hope for the world brought about by a brotherly plot of selling him out
  9. Both were 30 years old at the beginning of their public recognition
  10. Both verbally forgave those who abused them
  11. Both said the actions inflicted upon them was God’s will
  12. What men did to hurt them, God meant for good
  13. There were 2 fellow prisoners in both stories: Butler & Baker; 2 thieves
  14. In both, one prisoner was told of deliverance, one was condemned
  15. Joseph asks the Butler to remember him when he was returned to his position;
    the Penitent Thief entreated Jesus to remember him when He came into His kingdom
  16. Both provided life-saving Bread that the world could not provide
  17. Both became unorthodox leaders in a land not their own
  18. Both were in regular communication with the Heavenly Father
  19. Because their belief in God led them to action, both were able to provide Salvation for others before others even knew they would need saving
  20. Others acknowledged God working in their lives in good times and in bad times and thus were drawn to follow their leadership.
    And we probably could come up with other parallels ...

I don’t recall that we are told of Jesus having any dreams, but Joseph’s story in Genesis is full of them. We are told that Joseph had been having dreams from God since he was 17 years old.

Dreams can be pretty dull and usually are forgotten, or they can be weird, funny, shocking, scarey, whatever. We usually soon forget the details after we have been awake for a while. Every once in a while we might have a memorable dream and we wonder if it has a meaning. Is our sub-conscience mind trying to tell us something?

“STRANGE AT IT SEEMS, THERE’S BEEN A RUN OF CRAZY DREAMS” here in chapter 40 & 41 - dreams that are going to change the future of the world. Both the Egyptians and the Babylonians at this time compiled “Dream Books” that contained sample dreams with keys to their interpretations. Dream interpretation was considered a field of science. If significant dreams of significant people could not be interpreted, then maybe you were not a significant scientist. Maybe you did not belong at court.

We don’t know what incident landed the Butler and the Baker in jail. But we do know that God used it to His glory. Joseph is there. Joseph says, “You don’t need an interpreter for those dreams such as was available at court. Interpretations belong to God. Tell them to me.” The slave/prison inmate/man of God, Joseph, confidently and accurately interprets the two inmates' dreams.

Two years later, he is given the opportunity to interpret Pharoah’s two dreams and God has put him into the position that He intended for Jacob’s son to be in all along - a position to save not only the world from famine, but most importantly, Abraham’s lineage will be preserved through this famine.
            Perhaps also God needs to get Abraham’s lineage out of Canaan to get them away from the evil Canaanite influence. We know the Canaanite influence is not good now, and by the time the book of Exodus begins 400 years later, the Canaanite wickedness will be so great that God is ready to allow Israel to totally annihilate them. In Egypt, the Israelites will eventually be socially isolated allowing them to develop their own unique culture and customs. God’s ways are not our ways. Is allowing your chosen people to become enslaved how you would mastermind bringing a Savior to this world?
But I am getting ahead of our story.

    Let’s talk about all that we have seen crafted in Genesis so far:
    • God created the world and all the creatures that God put in it
    • the Ark
    • Tower of Babel
    • instruments and tools
    • fashioned a coat for Joseph
    • someone began the art of pottery although I don’t believe that is recorded

I was the youngest of 5 children so I can relate to Joseph. I always wanted to do what my older siblings were doing. 4-H was big in Jackson County, Arkansas. My brothers and sisters were always winning things and my parents were adult leaders. 4-H Activity Day was coming up. My 1st year in 4-H I entered a skirt and blouse that I had made in the junior clothing event and got a rating of an “A” and a lot of praise for a 1st year 4-Her crafting such an excellent garment. It looked as good as some of the older 4-Her’s garments and I always wore that outfit with pride.

cute cup and saucer I later entered the modeling event and got a rating of “A.” I couldn’t figure out what to enter for handicrafts. My mom had 4 other children to supervise through a number of events so I did not get a lot of input from her. She had given me a lot of supervision making my skirt & blouse. So really close to the Activity Day, I came up with an entry like this: [hold up cute cup] It is a knick-knack container. You can believe that I did not get an “A” rating on this. I got a “C.” You can imagine that I was petrified that I did not get an “A.” I just knew my daddy would be mortified - a Johns got a “C” in a county event that might be printed in the county paper! I had used my imagination - somewhat. And spent maybe a few hours on this handicraft - whereas others had spent days on theirs. But it really was a second rate job. I learned a lesson.
Don’t wait till the last minute. If it is worth doing, do it well. Give it your all.

My cup really doesn’t look like Joseph. But God took a lot of time making Joseph into a vessel He could use. He was 17 when he was sold into slavery and 30 when he enters the service of the King.

Jeremiah 18:4ff says, And the vessel [the potter] was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do. Then the word of the Lord came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done?” says the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand ...”


Once a man on vacation went into a shop and asked to see the beautiful, obviously very expensive, cup up on a top shelf. He exclaims, "This is the most beautiful cup I've ever seen!" The cup said, "I wasn't always this pretty. Once I was just a lump of red clay. Then the Master took me and

  1. ROLLED & MASHED me. It hurt. It hurt a lot. I asked him to stop.
    He just smiled and said, "Not yet."
    Finally He stopped & put me down. I hurt all over. I was glad it was over.

  2. Then SPINNING began - "OH, my head!" - The Master was still pushing and pulling on me - "STOP, I yelled. "Not yet," He replied. The motion eventually stopped. The spinning in my head did not.

  3. Then I was put in an OVEN. It was HOT. I didn't like it. Through the window I could see the Master. I yelled "LET ME OUT, LET ME OUT!" I could see Him mouth those words, "Not yet."

  4. That ordeal was finally over and I cooled off. The Master picked me up. It felt good to be in His hands. Then He started PAINTING on me. At first it tickled, but then the fumes of the paint became overwhelming and nauseating.
    "STOP! Please STOP! Please, I pleaded!"
    I did not understand the smile on His face as once again He said, "Not Yet."

  5. Then back into the OVEN. Hotter than before. I cried out, "Master, please let me out! Stop the heat! I can't take anymore!" Again I saw Him say, "Not yet."
    Eventually I was taken out of the oven and I slowly cooled off.

beautiful cup and saucer The Master came, smiling. I said, "Master, I've been through lot of pain."
The Master replied, "I know you have, but it was necessary."
He picked me up. [hold up china cup] "What a beautiful cup!" I exclaimed.
"That is you in the mirror," the Master said with a smile on His face.
I said, "That's me? But, I'm just a lump of red clay."
Master said, "Yes, but you yielded to me and allowed me to lovingly change you. Was it worth it?"
"Yes," I replied. "Before, I was ugly, useless and worthless. In your hands I became beautiful, useful and of high price."

Spoiled Joseph was recreated in Potiphar’s house and in the jail house. With no father to dote on him, Joseph turns to his Heavenly Father for comfort. But the Heavenly Father does not spare Joseph from hardship. He puts him back on the potter’s wheel, back into the oven. With manual labor he learns humility, and self discipline. With self discipline he learns to discipline others. With God’s refashioning he becomes a competent leader who is able to hold trust of Potiphar, the jailers, Pharoah, Egypt, the whole known world.

We see a reworking of Judah also in Genesis. In chapter 37 we saw him as a hateful brother who didn’t want to kill his brother, but thought it would be profitable to sell him. Later, we see he wants the lineage of his oldest son preserved, but not at the cost of losing his youngest son. Daughter-in-law Tamar’s actions flings him back on the potter’s wheel for a big dose of humility in chapter 38. When we get to Chapter 44, we will see Judah step up and offer himself to protect brother Benjamin from false accusations and bring Joseph to tears and the reunion will begin. Judah will have earned the family birthright and the promise to bear the lineage of Kings and our Savior Jesus.

Being clay in God’s hands is not easy. It can be painful, but oh, so rewarding. If we are not useful, God may need to refashion us. Do we have the courage to pray for refashioning?

[sing: Have Thine Own Way, Lord]

Jeannie Cole

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Ladies Bible Class, 4 March 2008

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