“Joseph is a fruitful vine, a fruitful vine near a spring, whose branches climb over a wall. With bitterness archers attacked him; they shot at him with hostility. But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel, because of your father’s God, who helps you, because of the Almighty, who blesses you with blessings of the skies above, blessings of the deep springs below, blessings of the breast and womb. Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers. (Genesis 49:22-26)
Joseph’s name means “addition” or “increase.” He was the first-born of Rachel who had previously been barren, and he was his father’s favorite son because of Jacob’s deep love for Rachel. In the above verses, we see Jacob bestowing blessings upon his favorite son.
Joseph was fruitful, and life was not easy, but it was full of blessings. Success and blessing are not the same; Joseph endured incredible hardship at the hands of evil men, but God turned his trials into blessings. The secret of Joseph’s success was his ability to deal with all of the archer’s or arrows, that is, troubles. Let’s examine his journey.
- He was shot with the arrow of envy.
Joseph was the second-youngest among his 12 brothers, and his father favored him and treated him like a prince. At a young age, Joseph had a dream in which his brothers bowed down before him. When he described the dream to his brothers, their hearts burned with hatred toward him. One day, Jacob sent Joseph to go and check on his older brothers, who were with their flocks in the fields. In their great envy, Joseph’s brothers considered killing him, but instead decided to sell him into slavery to a passing caravan.
- He was shot with the arrow of temptation.
After he became a slave, Joseph worked in the house of his master, Potiphar, and everything he did turned out well as God prospered him. Since he was young, well-built and handsome, Potiphar’s wife lusted after him and attempted to convince him to sleep with her. When Joseph refused, she became angry and falsely accused him of sexually assaulting her, and Potiphar had him thrown in prison.
- He was shot with the arrow of ingratitude.
When Joseph was in prison, God was with him, and so he earned the jailer’s favor. The king’s baker and cupbearer were also in prison at the time, and Joseph prophetically interpreted their dreams. Though he implored the cupbearer to speak kindly of him to Pharaoh when he was released, the man quickly forgot him.
Why did these things happen? While God had a greater purpose for Joseph’s life, there were some glaring weaknesses in his character that God had to deal with before he could understand God’s greater purpose:
Joseph had to learn some difficult life lessons in order to become a strong leader. This is why he named his son Manasseh, which means, “God made me forget my trouble and my father’s household,” and his second son Ephraim, which means, “God made me fruitful in the land of affliction or suffering.”
And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:5-8)
Joseph was able to say the above words to his brothers because he had the anointing of God and knew his destiny and purpose. Healing, deliverance, renewal and hope come when we live in God’s anointing.
Egypt was a land of pain in Joseph’s youth, but it later became his land of blessing. We must trust God as He teaches us to handle the “flaming arrows of the evil o