Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him there. The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did, Joseph found favor in his eyes and became his attendant. Potiphar put him in charge of his household, and he entrusted to his care everything he owned. From the time he put him in charge of his household and of all that he owned, the LORD blessed the household of the Egyptian because of Joseph. The blessing of the LORD was on everything Potiphar had, both in the house and in the field. Genesis 39.1-5.
Tyndale’s 16th century translation of the start of the second sentence of this passage was, “Now the Lord was with Joseph and Joseph was a lucky fellow”; and, if we take “lucky” in the sense of “having or bringing good fortune”, that’s exactly what Joseph was. He was both blessed and a blessing; and thus, in Joseph, the great promise to Abraham begins to be fulfilled: “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing … and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12.2-3).
The verb barak means “to be empowered for abundant and effective living” and once we define it in those terms we can see how the great promise to Abraham reaches the height of its fulfilment in Jesus. He was “blessed” in that he was so filled with the empowering presence of God that his life was totally abundant and totally effective; and he became a blessing in that he offers that abundant, effective life to anyone and everyone who will have it. “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10.10). In Jesus, all peoples on earth are blessed.
And I need to remember that I am called to be part of the outworking of that. I am to be blessed … yes. But I am also to be a blessing. People around me are to be blessed through me. It should be with me as it was with Joseph — those around me should be able to see that the Lord is with me, that he empowers me for abundant effective living, and they should find all that attractive … I should “find favour in their eyes”.
How can I cooperate with the Lord in bringing that about? Well, interestingly, the word barak (“bless”) is derived from berek (“knee”). Blessing is linked to submission and obedience. That’s how it was with Abraham: “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country…’ So Abram left, as the LORD had told him” (Genesis 12.1, 4). That’s how it was with Jesus: “He became obedient to death — even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2.8). That’s how it must be with me. When I walk in obedience, I open myself up to God’s blessing, and then I can be a blessing.
Lord, you are with me and that makes me a lucky fellow. May I so follow you in glad obedience this day that I might not only be blessed but be a blessing to others. Amen.