Sitting in our prayer room one morning about 10 years ago, I was talking to the Lord and reading through the book of Psalms. I came to Psalm 105 and began to read, "Moreover He called for a famine upon the land; He broke the whole supply of bread. He sent a man before them, Joseph" (v. 16-17a).
This message marked me in my late teenage years, and I knew that it was part of the destiny and assignment both on my life and on many others across the body of Christ in the coming decades. Seventeen years, marriage, three kids, a house and a few pets later, I still believe it, maybe even more deeply and profoundly than before. The challenge, however, with this message has always been its application. How do we disciple a generation to walk out this message with so little in the Scriptures about John's life and formation? How do we develop leaders who can walk the long road of obedience in the same direction? We don't want them just signing up for a few years; we need them to get on the journey of formation for decades.
The Gospel writers skip about 18 years of the most formative years of John's life. Luke, the great biblical historian, gives us a snapshot into the birth and calling of John but then jumps to him baptizing in the wilderness some 30 years later. Almost as if it happened overnight. We lose the human dynamic of what must happen in the preparation of a forerunner. When I read those verses in Psalm 105 that day, I saw a path of formation. I saw the human dynamic in the process of formation. I began to see a pattern emerge in the life of Joseph that filled in the gaps:
Moreover He called for a famine upon the land; He broke the whole supply of bread. He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave. They hurt his feet with fetters; his neck was put in an iron collar. Until the time that his word came to pass, the word of the Lord tested him. The king sent and released him; the ruler of the people let him go free. He made Joseph lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions, to imprison his princes at Joseph's pleasure and to teach his elders wisdom. Then Israel came into Egypt, and Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. The Lord increased His people greatly and made them stronger than their enemies" (Ps. 105:16-24).
Joseph was called to be sent out ahead of what God was going to do in his generation. There was both great trouble and great fruitfulness on the horizon for the people of God and the nations in Joseph's day. As with many pioneers, God was shaping him behind the scenes for many years as life went on as normal for the rest of his peers. It wasn't until the transitional moment when God "broke the supply of bread" that Joseph's journey began to make sense and displayed the fruit of a life that had been prepared beforehand. I began to see a "school of leadership" that Jesus took Joseph through to get him from dream to assignment; from vision to fulfillment. I dubbed the course The Joseph Journey based on his life. Moses recorded this textbook in Genesis 37–47.
There are seven distinct seasons in Joseph's life that comprise The Joseph Journey. God designed each season to prepare this pioneer for his destiny. These seven seasons in Joseph's life are accompanied by tests, each containing God-orchestrated lessons in them. Joseph had to pass each class in this course in order to carry the weight of leadership in a transitional moment in Israel's history. The seven seasons of Joseph's life, including pits and prisons, are what God used to form him into a pioneer who could carry the weight of the dream fulfilled. God was changing the seasons in redemptive history and shifting the position of nations to fulfill His purposes. He was leading Israel into her destiny and, consequently, the destiny of the earth. Much like today, we must not overlook the significance of the moment in which Joseph was placed.
That transitional moment needed a man who had been tested, tried, proven and ready to carry the weight of the assignment of leadership. In the same way, God is interviewing men and women for assignments that will span the next 20 and 30 years to prepare the church for what is coming. We will need men and women in the coming days who have been forged in the fires of difficulty, trained in the halls of wisdom, anointed with power and carry it all with a humble, unoffended heart. We are approaching the most dynamic hour in history, the end of the age scenario, the most pivotal hour of human history for the greatest outpouring of the Spirit the church has ever seen (Acts 2:17–21), the greatest harvest of souls in the nations (Matt 24:14) and the greatest crisis the earth has ever experienced (Matt 24:15, 21). The wheat of righteousness and the weeds of wickedness are going to come to full maturity in the nations, and the time of harvest will come (Matt 13:36–43). These three global shifts are on the horizon for this generation in the body of Christ, and many are tragically unaware or, worse, unconcerned. This heart posture will not prepare anyone to cooperate with Jesus in the glory that is coming.
Joseph walked through these seven seasons because it was precisely what he needed to prepare him for his destiny. My prayer for you as you read through each season and each lesson in The Joseph Journey is that you will find comfort, strength, insight and clarity about your own journey. Should God be raising you up to pioneer in the coming days, to be sent ahead of the great revival and the great crisis, there will most likely be important insight from each of Joseph's seven seasons that will be relevant to your own journey. Odds are, you are in that interview process right now, and you will probably find yourself somewhere on the Joseph Journey because your preparation has already begun.
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