Joseph...Man of Kingdom
The Copernican Revolution In Your Spiritual Life
Nicholas Copernicus published his great treatise on the solar system – 'On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres' – just before his death in 1543. His theory placed the sun – not the earth – at the center of the solar system, and at a stroke revolutionized science forever. The same kind of revolution needs to take place in our lives. The Lord needs to displace us from the center of our universe if we are going to be useful to him. Many biblical characters reinforce this message but it's always good to look back to the first if we want to really grasp the meaning of this message.
Joseph is the 'other' great character of Genesis. Alongside Abraham he gets the most 'column inches' in the overall presentation of the first book of the Bible. And so, the story of Joseph is definitive for the Bible and our lives as biblical Christians – the whole connecting story of Scripture draws on models and elements of his life.
In Genesis 37 Joseph is introduced as a young adult in his late teens. He's good-looking, muscular and extremely gifted (Genesis 39:6) – the kind of guy that perhaps understandably produces envy among his family and friends. However, his problem is not principally found in his relationship with others, but in his relationship with the Lord.
Joseph had a dream and it placed him at the center of the universe, listen to what he says,
'"Listen," he said, "I had another dream and this time the sun and moon and the eleven stars were bowing down to me." When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, "What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?" His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.' (Genesis 37:9 – 11)
We all know the story of how Joseph was abused by his brothers and sold into slavery and how through the difficulties and troubles he faced in Egypt he eventually found himself unjustly accused of sexual assault and in prison for something that he had not done. But these years of difficulty and privation had brought about a change in Joseph. When the other prisoners were troubled by their own dreams Joseph was ready to include the Lord at the center of his world with him; listen to the conversation,
(Joseph said) '"Why are your faces so sad today?" "We both had dreams," they answered, "but there is no one to interpret them." Then Joseph said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God, tell me your dreams."' (Genesis 40:7 – 8)
The revolution was not quite complete. The Lord was not as yet in sole possession of the center of Joseph's world, but at least Joseph had invited the Lord to be at the center of his life with him.
The men he tried to help in prison forgot about him and that created the opportunity for Joseph's Copernican revolution to take place. Eventually one of the prisoners remembered him and recommended him to Pharaoh as someone who could interpret dreams.
Of course God's plan was to use Joseph to do more than interpret the King's dreams, he wanted Joseph to save his people and become the model of kingdom authority in every believer's life. However, for that to happen Joseph had to surrender the throne of his life to the Lord, and that's exactly what happened during the years that he was forgotten in prison.
Listen to what he says in answer to Pharaoh,
'Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I’ve heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it." "I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires."' (Genesis 41:15 – 16)
The Copernican revolution had taken place! The Lord was finally at the center of Joseph's life and now he was ready to be used by a great God to do many great and marvelous things.
This is the journey of discipleship; this is the journey that every believer will need to take to be fully used by God. Where are you in the journey?
After the Fall, the way was blocked; yet, God built a bridge, in Covenant, back to us. In Jesus, that Covenant was fulfilled, as on the cross, he offered himself as the ultimate blood sacrifice.
The Bible is meant to be read and understood. But many people struggle to interpret Scripture. I believe that Covenant and Kingdom offers the simplest framework of interpretation as we read the Bible for ourselves. These are the guiding coordinates, the latitude and longitude, that orient us as we read the Bible.
By understanding Covenant and Kingdom, we unlock the keys of interpretation that help us read the Bible for ourselves. While this approach cannot and should not replace in-depth Bible study, engaging the Bible through its largest themes remind us anew that the Bible is a book about God and us. This guide helps us begin to see and understand the double helix of Covenant and Kingdom that run throughout the Bible.