Jacob’s 11th son, Joseph is a picture of one who overcame rejection and became the second most powerful man in Egypt. His life is a testimony of the way God can use anyone to be victorious in spite of incredible opposition and betrayal by even his own family.
“Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge” (Genesis 39:1-4).
Having been rejected by his own brothers, Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt. What is striking about him is his response. Joseph did not resist or complain, but accepted his situation. As a result, God had His divine hand on Joseph’s life and made Joseph successful in Potiphar’s house as God prospered Potiphar. This scenario would repeat itself as Joseph would spend many years in an Egyptian prison for things he did not do. Not only did Potiphar’s wife make false accusations, but he also accurately interpreted dreams of his fellow prisoners without receiving the credit. Eventually, Pharaoh was informed of Joseph’s abilities and Joseph was made a minister in Pharaoh’s house. God is present in every situation, even in the biggest injustices.
Rejected by men
Joseph is a type of Christ, Who “was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:3-4). He identifies with those who have been rejected.
Jacob referred to Joseph in Genesis 49:22-24 as “a fruitful bough by a spring” and that although he was attacked, “his bow remained firm and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob”. Jacob recognized God’s hand on Joseph’s life. In Genesis 33:18-20, Jacob purchased a piece of ground in Shechem that became the place of Joseph’s burial in Joshua 24:32. This connection of Joseph to Shechem would play itself out in an important New Testament event.
Rejected in Relationships
Jesus and his disciples met a Samaritan woman at a well located in Sychar, formerly Shechem and near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. John 4 gives us the exchange between Jesus and this woman. At Jacob’s well, Jesus introduced the woman to the concept of eternal life utilizing the water in the well as an illustration. Jesus explained to her in verses 13-14, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life”. When the woman said she wanted this living water, it prompted a conversation about her husband. Jesus revealed information to her that the woman had had five husbands and the man with whom she now lived was not her husband. It is traditionally assumed that the Samaritan woman was a woman of ill repute. But what if that understanding is not accurate?
There are a number of arguments to believe that the Samaritan woman was not of questionable character, but rather one who suffered much in her married life. First, it is not likely that a woman far advanced in years to have had five husbands to be found living in adultery. Secondly, it is not likely that Jesus would not have reproved her for her fornication. Also, when Jesus told her of her history with husbands, one would expect her to acknowledge her guilt before Him, but instead the conversation was about where worship should take place, Mt Zion or Mt Gerizim. Finally, it is very odd that a woman of questionable character would have had such influence with the people of her city on her testimony alone. The fact remains that during this time and in this culture, women did not initiate divorce.
“Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:21-24).
When the woman brought up worship, Jesus took the opportunity to teach her that true worship has nothing to do with location, but rather it is a matter of the heart, defined by spirit and truth. The Greek word for worship is proskuneo and means to recognize a superior due reverence and homage, to kiss the hand of. It can be likened to a dog licking his master’s hand. Since God is spirit, true worship of Him is spiritual and according to truth, the Word of God (John 17:17). This woman finally recognized Jesus as the Messiah and went to share her faith with others in her city and the account tells us that many believed. As she was meeting her people, Jesus was instructing His disciples that the fields are white for harvest. Jesus said in verses 36-38, “Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. “For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ “I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.” True worship includes a willingness to share one’s faith with others, whether fruit is visible or not.
According to William Temple, “Worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness, the nourishment of the mind with His truth, the purifying of the imagination of His beauty, the opening of the heart to His love, the surrender of the will to His purpose.” When the believer is totally submitted to God’s will, His divine empowerment will accomplish His purposes and others will be watching. Jesus identifies with the ones who have been rejected or betrayed and desires to use that rejection as a means of revealing His heart to all.