Yesterday I had the honor of speaking before women about Domestic Violence. Although I shared my story for the first time publicly in an earlier blog post, it was the first time I ever spoke about it before an audience.
While preparing, I knew I wanted to share from a biblical perspective, I had never considered whether or not there was an incident of Domestic Violence in the Bible. As I delved into prayer and study time, I was amazed at what was revealed to me.
Although domestic violence is typically used in reference to violence between two people involved in an intimate relationship, the sad reality is that the term has a broader use which includes acts of physical and emotional abuse between family, friends and even children.
There is an instance in the Bible where the perpetrators fit the description of classic abusers.Abusers are controlling, manipulative and seek to isolate, humiliate, intimidate and blame their victims, while vehemently denying and blaming others for their actions. This may manifest itself in acts of rage fueled by jealousy or bitterness.
Victims are often removed from their family of origin, not afforded the love and care of those who value them most, they are stripped of their self-esteem, being derided and ridiculed when they speak of their dreams and ambitions.
Abusers are often calm and appear as normal as the guy next door to everyone, except the abuser.
The victim is often concerned about the welfare of their attacker.
HIS NAME WAS JOSEPH
As I read and studied the story of Joseph and his brothers, my eyes were opened to see other things in a fresh way as well. Here are my thoughts…
In Genesis Chapter 37, we learn that Joseph was his father’s favorite. His father gave him a special cloak and his brothers were jealous of him. God gave Joseph a dream, in which he would be elevated above his brothers.
In verse 8: “His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Their jealousy and insecurity escalated to the point of them wanting to kill his dreams. “They saw him in the distance and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him…Here comes that dreamer” Genesis 37:18,19
The first thing they did, was they stripped him of the symbol of his beauty. Genesis 37:23 – “So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing”.
Next, they tortured him: Genesis 37:24: “and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.”
They then alienated him from his family by ultimately selling him into slavery. Genesis 37:28 – “So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.”
Even throughout, Joseph KNEW who he was in God. While imprisoned with Pharoah’s cup bearer and baker they had dreams that needed interpretation.
Genesis 40:8 “Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams”. But, he attempted to INSERT himself into someone else’s dream and called out to the wrong people for help.
God had a plan for him, just as God has a plan for each of us. Joseph portrayed himself as a victim! After interpreting the cupbearer’s dream Joseph said in Genesis 40: 14, 15 – “But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”
It’s interesting that Joseph spoke to the cup bearer first about his dream and not the baker. Surely he already had the knowledge of how the baker’s dream would end – in death. However, isn’t that true of people in general? They constantly seek to INSERT themselves into the lives of those whose dreams are ALIVE and are able to benefit them in some way.
But, it was NOT in God’s plan for Joseph’s plan to be facilitated by the cup bearer YET. As a result “The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”
How many times have we had dreams deferred? Don’t make the mistake of thinking that people are blocking your blessings – only YOU can do that. If God has given you a dream, it’s YOUR responsibility – however, it must be done in accord with God’s TIMING and will for you. Don’t begrudge others who won’t open doors for you. While the cupbearer did EVENTUALLY remember Joseph (Genesis 41:9-13), it was at the FULLNESS of God’s time for him.
Genesis 41: 39, 40 “Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
God elevated Joseph so much, that when his brothers stood RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM, they did not recognize him! Genesis 42:8
No matter where you are reading this from, God is there. No matter who tries to stop your dream – they CANNOT. If you are being abused by a spouse, lover, parent, sibling, child or caretaker – that’s not God’s plan for you.
No matter how dire your circumstances are, remember that God lifted Joseph up out of a hole, and ALLOWED him to be enslaved, so that he could rise to be the second in command over Egypt. He can do the same for you.