“Who do you think you are?” I wonder how you read those words. What kind of emotions did it stir up? Positive or negative?
If you grew up anything like I did, those words can carry a negative impact. “Who do you think you ARE?!” was snarled at me when I had the audacity to question or disobey the authority of a parent. In other words, I was someone with no authority and I definitely should not have the ability to think for myself or question authority in any way.
But I have come to realize, this is one of the most important things you can ever be asked. Most importantly, to ask yourself. Who do you think you are? This literally defines our lives.
Some of you may be familiar with the ancient Biblical narrative of Joseph. The coat of many colors Joseph. (You can read it starting here https://www.biblegateway.com/.) It’s one that I’ve heard and read all my life. It’s so familiar to me that it has almost been boring…. Until a year ago. Holy Spirit put a question in my mind that completely changed the story for me.
It was at close to the end of the story…. This question popped into my mind: ” Wait a minute. Why in the heck, would the Pharaoh of Egypt and ruler of one the most powerful kingdoms on earth at the time, put a slave and prisoner into the position of second in command!? ” Joseph went from slave to prince in the blink of an eye.
That question so smacked me in the face that I almost gasped. What was it that made Pharaoh hand over most of the authority of the kingdom to a nameless, faceless, not to mention Hebrew, slave and prisoner? And not just that, Joseph ruled extremely successfully. How? Can you imagine the President of the United States handing Vice Presidency over to someone he just freed from prison? Yeah that would go over real well, wouldn’t it?
So with that question burning in my mind, I dug into this story with new eyes.
Pretty much every part of Joseph’s life was a giant struggle. From pre-conception until he became a ruler in Egypt. His mother, the favorite wife of Jacob, struggled with infertility for many years. The Bible says,”Then God remembered Rachel; he listened to her and enabled her to conceive.” (Genesis 30:22)
Rachel named her son “Joseph.” Meaning: “May He add.” Rachel not only named him, she was making a powerful and audacious declaration. Declaring that God would add to her, more children.
Joseph was the favorite child. His father clothed him like royalty. If you think that set him up for success, think again. It set him up for bitter hatred from his brothers. They hated him so much they tried to kill him and sold him as slave. Then covered up their act, saying a wild animal had gotten him.
As a slave, he again rose to a position of favor. Until he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison to die. But there again he rose to a position of favor.
How did he do it? This kid just rebounded like a rubber band from every single hell he went through. But how?
I believe the answer lies in this question: “Who do you think you are?” I think Joseph knew who he was. He knew that he was born to rule. Here’s why I believe that:
As a young boy, Joseph had two vivid, detailed dreams, that clearly depicted that he was to become a ruler someday. These dreams from God called him into his IDENTITY. An identity of royalty and he never wavered from that identity despite every single circumstance declaring the exact opposite.
Most of us would laugh at those dreams like Joseph’s family did. Keep in mind, they were tent living, uneducated, nomads. Rich and powerful in their own right, but on the grand scale of things, but a blip on the radar. They were the furthest thing from royalty that you could find. So no wonder they scoffed at Joseph’s dreams. “Who do you think you are?”
The Bible tells us that “the Lord was with Joseph” (Gen 39:2) as he was a slave in Egypt. I believe the reason Joseph was able to walk so unwaveringly in his identity, is because he had a close relationship with God. When every single circumstance screamed the exact opposite of his identity, Joseph chose to listen to who GOD said he was, and walk in it.
Both times that Joseph’s circumstances changed for the worse, his clothes were torn from him. And both times his position is completely stripped from him. He was left naked, nameless, voiceless, powerless. Except for one thing: His God breathed identity. And he did not mistake the loss of his position as loss of his identity.
Despite being a slave, Joseph did not carry a slave mentality. He didn’t carry himself as a slave. And THAT is the reason Pharaoh promoted him from prisoner to royalty in the blink of an eye. When Joseph came before Pharaoh, he came with confidence. Had he come before Pharaoh, groveling, shaking with fear, because he was only a poor Hebrew prisoner, Pharaoh would not have looked at him twice. Much less asked Joseph for advice, then promoted him to rule over all of Egypt, second only to himself.
I believe the royalty in Pharaoh recognized the royalty in Joseph. He recognized the power of God on him. And thus Joseph went from pauper to prince.
There is so much more that is worth expounding on in Joseph’s story. But that has to be another blog post. The whole account is an absolute gold mine. Just one more thing that I am going to touch on briefly. (And it’s mostly my theory, although I felt it was something God pointed out to me.)
I believe Joseph’s brothers had God breathed identity as much as he did. But blinded by hate and jealousy, they completely missed it. I believe they could have reigned with him instead of eventually being ruled over by him. I believe the only difference between Joseph and his brothers was that he chose to listen to who God said he was and they chose to be jealous of his identity instead of walking in their own.
Friends, I believe that every. single. human being is called to be royalty. As daughters and sons of the Most High God. Through Jesus Christ, we were born to reign with God. (And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. Eph 2:6) We are kings and queens, called to partner and reign with God, in love, truth, grace, and power. No matter where we come from. No matter what circumstances scream the opposite. This is who God says we are.
“Who do you think you are?”
(*Please note!* The image on my blog is not mine. I was unable to find the original owner of it. )