“Joseph is a fruitful bough,
even a fruitful bough by a well;
whose branches run over the wall:
The archers have sorely grieved him,
and shot at him, and hated him:
But his bow abode in strength,
and the arms of his hands were made strong
by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.”
Okay, 10 down with two more left to go.
So we’ve now come to Jacob’s most favored son, Joseph.
The other brothers must have been bracing themselves for the effusive praise they knew would be heaped upon Joseph like so much whipped cream over one’s favorite piece of pie.
We mustn’t forget however that Joseph’s blessings wouldn’t be directly bestowed on him.
Instead they would be fulfilled under the tribal authority of Ephraim and to a smaller degree Manasseh.
Once Ephraim and Manasseh become adults and started families, there would no longer be a tribe named Joseph.
Again, this was because Jacob had Ephraim and Manasseh REPLACE Joseph.
Jacob took Joseph’s children and made them his very own children.
So the overriding theme of Joseph’s blessing (mainly fulfilled through Ephraim) is FRUITFULNESS.
However, notice the part of Joseph’s blessing where it says “the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him”.
His fruitfulness came at a great price.
Joseph went through much hardship in his life.
It’s also important to note that Joseph’s fruitfulness was 100% because of his faithfulness.
What he achieved at the end of his life was NOT due to carefully devised goals, marketing schemes, and hard work.
Notice how this idea is totally contrary to what the world preaches and what is written in most self-development books.
Joseph had completely and unconditionally surrendered himself to God.
And that was why his life was so fruitful.
Let’s explore a little more about the nuts and bolts behind how Joseph was able to maintain such absolute and unwavering faith in his God.
Here was a man who had been sold into slavery by his brothers and had endured many years of prison under false charges.
How was he able to keep his faith so strong?
In my prayers, I was able to discern two important principles that I feel if adhered to will result in an unshakeable faith, but if broken will result in despair and hopelessness.
First, Joseph reached the point in his faith where he never became too attached to an outcome or an expectation of how things should be in his life.
If you find yourself muttering to yourself “it’s NOT supposed to have happened this way” or “my life is NOT supposed to have turned out this way”, you’ve already entered through the doorway that leads to disappointment and hell.
Here are some common negative thought patterns I’ve fallen prey to at one point or another in my life that have led to this trap.
“Damn, I’m supposed to be married by now!”
“At my age, I should be making more money!”
“Why am I working in this God-forsaken messed up job?!”
“Why can’t I stop watching pornography,
has God cursed me?!”
…and so on and on.
Look at some of the things Joseph could have said to himself.
“My brothers have sold me into slavery and left me for dead.
Both my family and God have rejected me!
Screw you God!”
“What am I doing in this God-forsaken prison?
Surely my life is over!”
So again, it’s especially important during times like this, when things don’t make any sense whatsoever, that you don’t become too attached to your own usually selfish idea of how you feel things should be turning out.
This would also include placing arbitrary deadlines on God regarding what you feel He should be doing for you at any given point of time in your life.
“Lord, make sure I’m married by this age or else…!!!”
“If I don’t have a better job come this October, I’m going to stop believing in you.”
So the lesson to be learned is that even when things don’t make any sense whatsoever and times are painful, hold on to that childlike faith of yours, the faith the world just loves to scorn, because God is going come through for you.
Second, you must refuse ALL bitterness.
Stop moaning and making a fuss all the time about circumstances you don’t have any control over anyway.
It was because Joseph knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that what was happening to him was all part of God’s divine plan for his life that he was able to have such a strong faith that rejected all bitterness.
He didn’t know how God was going to come through but he was confident He would.
So to recap, first don’t become too attached to your idea about how things should be because God might have different plans for you.
And, second, refuse to become bitter, trust that God is working out all things for the good in your life.
If you do this, I am confident you will bear much fruit for the kingdom.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“And we know that in all things
God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.”
But, as the Tanakh says,
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard
and no one’s heart has imagined
all the things that God has prepared
for those who love him.”
-1 Corinthians 2:9