Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard. Genesis 37:36
Do I ever consider what will happen to my family a hundred years from now? If I’m wise, I will remember the story of Isaac and Ishmael. Why bring up them in the story of Joseph? Because the Midianites is another name for the descendants of Ishmael.
What is really happening here is this ~ Joseph was sold to blood relatives. If an ancestry website had existed, and if everyone involved had done a genealogy study, they would have discovered that they were related. Did the slave traders know that they purchased their own flesh and blood? No way.
Ishmael was once the favored son of Abraham; a firstborn and an heir. But through no fault of his own, he found himself in disfavor once Isaac was born. He and his mother, Hagar, were turned away to an unforgiving desert existence. God did not forget them and they not only were spared, but went on to prosper. Ishmael had 12 sons and they populated much of the Middle East.
Whom did God use to get Joseph to Egypt? Ishmael’s descendants. In God’s grand redemptive narrative, there are unexpected twists and turns that are really quite stunning. Even though family plots are complicated, God’s purposes are never thwarted. As badly as we can mess things up, God is never stumped in how to save, how to redeem, and how to accomplish what was written before time.
Joseph couldn’t appreciate what his slavery meant. Neither can we. But consider how rich his worship was at the end of his life. As he looked back, he could see the threads of God’s glory throughout his own storyline. Amazed, his view of God had to be enlarged beyond comprehension.
Can I trust God enough today with the seeming dead ends, tragedies, and unresolved conflicts in my own life? I cannot even begin to imagine how He will work with the dark threads of my own story to bring about another Joseph-kind of narrative worth reading.
On the way to Egypt, Joseph lay in the back of a caravan. He was bound, dirty, nameless, and despairing. Later, he was crowned royalty, given a new name to match his level of leadership, and went on to save his entire nation from extinction. Oh, the difference of a few decades.
What often casts me into unbelief is downright ludicrous. Bind me to the miracles of my spiritual ancestors. In Jesus’ name, Amen