A Matter of the Heart

Parashat Vayeishev (And He Dwelt)
Beresheet (Genesis) 37:1–40:23

In our weekly Scripture reading, we find the famous story of Joseph. As we have studied before, one of the names of the Messiah is “Messiah, Son of Joseph”, and there is no doubt that Joseph’s story points to one of the roles of the Messiah as the suffering and faithful servant.  I devoted an entire blog to this matter Parashat Vayeishev (And he dwelt) where you can find some of the amazing parallels between Joseph’s story and that of our Messiah.

This week, I would like to concentrate on Joseph’s heart. As I was thinking about Joseph’s story, I couldn't help but think of the verse from Proverbs 4:23 that says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs (results) of life” (my translation from the Hebrew).

Joseph was especially loved by his father, which was something that caused his brothers to hate him due to their jealousy. Joseph had two dreams which he told to his brothers about; we can view this act as one of arrogance or as simply the youngest brother wanting to share with his siblings in order to get their opinion. Whatever the motivation, the telling of these dreams brought even further hatred and jealousy from his brothers. Yet, throughout this part of the story, he was faithful to share the truth of what he saw in the dreams.

In spite of the reality he faced, he still obeyed his father when he was sent to check on the wellbeing of his brothers; he was betrayed by his own flesh and blood and was mistreated horribly as they stripped him of his clothes, threw him into an empty well (which is a miracle in itself that he survived the fall), and then sold him to the Ishmaelites.

Joseph was then sold to Potiphar who was Pharaoh’s chamberlain and chief of the slaughters. There he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife (a possible connection to Yeshua being tempted by the devil in the wilderness), which he did not fall to due to his love for God. In her anger at being rejected, she falsely accused Joseph of attempting to rape her.  As a result, he was thrown into jail where he was forgotten by the chief cupbearer for whom Joseph interpreted his dream.

To be honest, from a human perspective, it seems reasonable that Joseph had every right to be angry and bitter over the numerous injustices he suffered, and even against God who allowed those things to happen to him. Yet, Joseph never cursed God or turned against Him.

Throughout the entire account, Joseph's heart remained steadfast and tender towards God; and I believe God rewarded Joseph's faithfulness to Him.

Joseph was continuously faithful not only to God, but also to whichever earthly masters that he had placed over him. I cannot say I would be able to maintain such faithfulness in the face of such hardships! I'm not sure there are many of us who could, if we are really honest with ourselves.

It all comes down to the heart. Joseph's heart was right before God, and the results were very evident in his life. We would all do well to really ask ourselves what is the condition of our hearts!  

By the grace of God, you can still repent and honor Him in any given situation you may be in right now. It’s not too late!

Shabbat Shalom,

Did you know? — Lone Soldier

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