In this week’s Torah portion we read of Joseph revealing himself to his brothers. Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery; but now, 22 years later instead of responding in anger and bitterness, Joseph tells his brothers, “do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” In other translations, instead of the words “to preserve life” it says, “to save lives.”
Joseph literally saved the entire known world from a ravaging famine. But, Joseph didn’t just save the physical world, according to Jewish tradition, he also taught the Egyptians about the one true God. Joseph brought physical and spiritual “refreshment” to a world full of starvation and famine. He brought glory to the God of His fathers in a foreign land.
Joseph is a great example of our role in the world today. Make a difference wherever God/circumstances have put you. Joseph’s manner of excellence brought God’s light into the very dark halls of power in his day. In Proverbs 22 we read, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.” We are called to be people of excellence in everything we do, in order that God may be glorified! As the teacher in Ecclesiastes states, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might!”
If you are alive and breathing then God is entrusting you with another day to accomplish His work in the world. I doubt Joseph loved every moment of his exile in a foreign land. From pit, to merchant caravan, to slave, to prisoner…all of these incidents equal years in Joseph’s story. Against all odds, Joseph overcame every “obstacle” he encountered, because he was a man of excellence. He viewed every obstacle as an opportunity from God to excel. His story is one that should encourage each of us today to excel in our work and be a light to the dark world around us. Who knows, you may be the next Joseph!