Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Biographies of Ancient Man: Joseph

By Jacob Brockmann

In The Genius of Ancient Man, we contrast two beliefs of human origins: the humanistic, evolutionary model of mankind slowly evolving from simple organisms to apes to humans and the biblically-based model that outlines how God created man perfectly intelligent, highly skilled, and capable of amazing feats.

We want to introduce you to some of the most ancient people of history, men and women created in the image of God, people whom God describes to us in His perfect, authoritative Word.

Joseph: Man of God

Joseph is an important character in the book of Genesis (as evidenced by the fact that twelve chapters (Genesis 37, 39-50) are devoted to his story. It is clear in the account of Joseph’s life that he was a godly man whose example should be followed, but there also seem to be indications in the biblical text that would lead us to believe that his intelligence was much greater than the secularists would give ancient man credit for.

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The biblical account describes how Joseph not only dreamed prophetic dreams, but he was also able to interpret other people’s dreams with startling accuracy. Joseph’s God-given ability to interpret pharaoh’s dreams (Genesis 41:1-36) led to the saving of Egypt and much of the world. His interpretations were not autonomous intelligence, but instead given directly from God. Joseph makes this clear: “It is not me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer” (Gen. 41:16).  Moreover Genesis 42:54 makes clear that the interpretation Joseph gave for Pharaoh’s dreams was completely accurate: “and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said…” This would not have been possible without a revelation from God. He chose to use Joseph as His instrument to reach Pharaoh and predict the future.

Man is able to predict future events to some extent by observing what has happened in the past and extrapolating it to the future, but the ability to foretell a famine that would happen seven years into the future is impossible, even with our technological advances. There is no other explanation for Joseph’s interpretation except that it was given by God.

Feast and Famine

During the course of the next fourteen years, seven of plenty and seven of famine, Joseph organized and supplied food for “…all the earth…” (Gen. 41:57) not just the land of Egypt. Although we don’t know the population of the world at this time (and the terminology could be referring to only the surrounding countries), we can be certain that the organization and distribution of food to the world around Egypt at that time was a massive task for Joseph to undertake. Through the years of plenty he stored the food in the cities “in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured” (Gen. 41:49). Then he sold it back to the people during the years of famine.

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Imagine organizing and keeping track of such things without the use of our modern technology! Joseph had to build storage facilities to contain the food; he had to organize distribution of the food during the famine; he had to maintain control of a desperate nation and the starving world around them.  And he had no computers, calculators, or even vehicles to travel in, no telephones or email for communicating and coordinating. But God blessed Joseph with incredible capabilities and he succeeded in bringing Egypt through.

Joseph was made in God’s image and because He is not a God of confusion, but of peace and order (1 Corinthians 14:33), we would expect that man would have the ability to organize and plan things. What we see in the account of Joseph is a fantastic ability to organize and plan even in ancient times. Joseph’s skills confirm that man has always been intelligent since his creation, and ancient men were even more intelligent than we are today!

Man of Humility

Even though Joseph had these amazing abilities, he still recognized that God was so much more powerful than himself. Joseph was one of the most gifted men of his time. He became more powerful than everyone in Egypt except Pharaoh. Yet we see that his character remained pure and his faith in God never faltered. He did not use his authority for control and self-gain but rather in the service of others. Joseph’s heart is clearly seen through his interaction with his treacherous brothers:

“His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, ‘behold, we are your servants.’ But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:18-20).

This is the heart of the one who has faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness. Joseph was not angry toward his brothers for what they had done, but rather forgave them because he knew that God was in total control. 

The same should be said of all who trust in the eternal character of God. He works all things together for the good of those who love Him, and who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). God used Joseph, gave him dreams, interpretations, and incredible abilities in order to accomplish His purpose. It is a beautiful confirmation that God is intimately involved in His creation and especially mankind, who are made in His image.

Read about more amazing ancient people:

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