Joseph: God's Representative

Ellen G. White


Otto Stemler, Public Domain
Otto Stemler, Public Domain


"Joseph represented Christ. He stood for many years as the honored ruler of Egypt. In his life and character was manifested that which was lovely, and pure, and noble. In bearing his sorrows under trying circumstances, and in enduring temptation, Joseph was one in character with Christ. He identified his interest with every interest of the people, as did Christ, and as God designs that his representatives in the world shall do."

God’s Representatives:


It was God’s design that through Joseph, Bible religion should be introduced among the Egyptians. This faithful witness was to represent Christ in the court of kings. Through dreams, God communicated with Joseph in his youth, giving him an intimation of the high position he would be called to fill. The brothers of Joseph, to prevent the fulfilment of his dreams, sold him as a slave, but their cruel act resulted in bringing about the very thing the dreams had foretold. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 1}

Those who seek to turn aside the purpose of God, and oppose his will, may appear for a time to prosper; but God is at work to fulfil his own purposes, and he will make manifest who is the ruler of the heavens and the earth. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 2}

Joseph regarded his being sold into Egypt as the greatest calamity that could have befallen him; but he saw the necessity of trusting in God as he had never done when protected by his father’s love. Joseph brought God with him into Egypt, and the fact was made apparent by his cheerful demeanor amid his sorrow. As the ark of God brought rest and prosperity to Israel, so did this God-loving, God-fearing youth bring a blessing to Egypt. This was manifested in so marked a manner that Potiphar, in whose house he served, attributed all his blessings to his purchased slave, and made him a son rather than a servant. It is God’s purpose that those who love and honor his name shall be honored also themselves, and that the glory given to God through them shall be reflected upon themselves. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 3}

Joseph’s character did not change when he was exalted to a position of trust. He was brought where his virtue would shine in distinct light in good works. The blessing of God rested upon him in the house and in the field. All the responsibilities of Potiphar’s house were placed upon him. And in all this he manifested steadfast integrity; for he loved and feared God. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 4}

Placed as he was in the society of learned men, he gained a knowledge of science and language. This was his training-school, that in early manhood he might become qualified to be prime minister of Egypt. He learned those things that would be essential in his future position of trust. He gathered all the wisdom and knowledge and tact that his opportunities presented, and these were not few. Yet his heart was steadfast with God. Human knowledge and divine wisdom were combined, that he should be a shining light, reflecting the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness amid the gross darkness of heathenism. Here the religion of the Hebrew was seen to be of an altogether different character from the religious rites and customs of the idolatrous Egyptians. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 5}

And when trial came, when the arts of woman were exercised to draw him into iniquity, Joseph preserved his integrity. Fair words and guileful entreaties did not cause him to swerve one hair from the right. All fell on ears that heard not. The law of the Lord garrisoned his soul. He said to the bold enchantress, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” {YI March 11, 1897, par. 6}

The woman signally failed to lead Joseph into sin. Satan was defeated. And then Joseph found that the lips which could praise could also lie. The wife of Potiphar revenged herself upon him by her accusations against him. Because Joseph would not sin against one who had trusted him, he was deprived of the honor which, through the grace of God, he had justly earned, and which had brought him into relation with the great men of Egypt. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 7}

This sudden humiliation from the position of a trusted, honored servant to that of a condemned criminal, would have overwhelmed him had not the hand of the Lord upheld him. But his confidence in God was unshaken. The love of God kept his soul in perfect peace. Heaven was very near the fertile valley of Egypt; for there was a youth who kept the ways of the Lord. The presence of Jesus was with him in prison, instructing, strengthening, and sustaining his mind and soul, that the light of heaven might shine forth. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 8}

Joseph had been tried by parental fondness and partiality; by the enmity, envy, and hatred of his brothers; by the esteem and confidence of his master; and by his high position of honor. He was tried by the seductions of woman’s charms, by the flattery of her lips and her lawless love. But the steadfast virtue of Joseph would not permit him to listen to the voice of the tempter. The law of the Lord was his delight, and he would not depart from its precepts. In his life the light of heaven shone forth in clear and distinct rays. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 9}

Even while in prison, Joseph was allowed to be at liberty, and had opportunity to give the light to his fellow prisoners. This prison was to him an educating school. Here he saw the degradation to which men in high positions may be reduced through impulse or suspicion, evil reports, or actual crime. He saw in every phase of its management the superiority of the law of God, and by his experience and observation was learning to be just and merciful, thus representing the character of God. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 10}

Power was to be put into the hands of Joseph, and through him God was to be revealed as the ruler of the heavens and the earth. But he was to be trained in adversity,—the school in which God designs that his children shall learn. When Joseph interpreted the dreams of the butler and the cupbearer, he begged to be remembered when the chief butler should be reinstated in his position; but he was forgotten, and remained two years longer in the prison. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 11}

But a more exalted person than the butler had a dream, and when there could be found no one able to interpret it, Joseph was called to the remembrance of the butler. “Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.” Joseph did not take the glory to himself. He pointed Pharaoh to God, saying, “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” {YI March 11, 1897, par. 12}

Through the wisdom given him of God, Joseph could see the true meaning of the dream. He saw the wonderful workings of God, and he laid the whole matter distinctly before Pharaoh. He revealed to him the long famine that was to visit the land, and the plans to be pursued in order to save the nation from destruction. In every word he uttered Joseph revealed the wisdom of Heaven. His words were received as gold, and the answer was returned to him: “Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.” And without delay Joseph was proclaimed ruler. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 13}

Joseph bore his honors with calmness and dignity. He knew that he had been placed in this position by the Lord; for he had not sought it himself. He did not keep aloof from those with whom his work brought him into association. As a faithful ruler he devoted himself to the interests of the people. He was devoted in his worship of Jehovah, and though brought in contact with the most learned men of the world, he preserved his integrity. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 14}

As Joseph increased in knowledge, he could stand forth as a correct representative of his faith. He did not, through any lack of faithfulness, lose his influence. As prime minister his work was as acceptable to God as when he was a servant in Potiphar’s house. And now, as then, everything prospered under his wise generalship. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 15}

Joseph represented Christ. He stood for many years as the honored ruler of Egypt. In his life and character was manifested that which was lovely, and pure, and noble. In bearing his sorrows under trying circumstances, and in enduring temptation, Joseph was one in character with Christ. He identified his interest with every interest of the people, as did Christ, and as God designs that his representatives in the world shall do. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 16}

The example of Joseph, shining with heaven’s brightness, did not shine in vain among this people for whom Christ had pledged himself to become an offering,—a people whom God had taken under his guardianship, and upon whom he was bestowing not only temporal but spiritual blessings, in order to attract them to himself. {YI March 11, 1897, par. 17}

Mrs. E. G. White



Further Thoughts on Joseph

God calls for complete and entire consecration; and anything short of this He will not accept. The more difficult your position, the more you need Jesus. The love and fear of God kept Joseph pure and untarnished in the king’s court. He was exalted to great wealth, to the high honor of being next to the king, and this elevation was as sudden as it was great. It is impossible to stand upon a lofty height without danger. The tempest leaves unharmed the modest flowers of the valley, while it wrestles with the lofty tree upon the mountain. {Ms59-1897.12}

There are many men whom God could have used with wonderful success when pressed with poverty—He could have made them useful here, and crowned with glory hereafter—but prosperity ruined them; they were dragged down to the pit, because they forgot to be humble, forgot that God was their strength, and became independent and self-sufficient. Joseph bore the test of character in diversity, and the gold was undimmed by prosperity. He showed the same lofty regard for God’s will when he stood next the throne as when in the prison cell. {Ms59-1897.13}

Joseph carried his religion everywhere, and this was the secret of his unwavering fidelity. You must guard against everything like presumption, and cherish that spirit which will suffer any temporal loss rather than sin. No victory you can gain will be half so precious as that gained over self, over your hereditary and cultivated traits of character. {Ms59-1897.14}

All should qualify themselves for the faithful discharge of their God-given responsibilities. They should attend to every little duty with as much fidelity as to matters of greater importance. All should study carefully how they can themselves become most useful, and how they can themselves be a blessing to those with whom they associate. {Ms59-1897.15}