You’ve been there. Somebody is doling out the praise, sharing the credit for some accomplishment. They thank everyone under the sun–except you. How do you feel? You’re ready to scream, right?
Throughout the scriptures, we hear God referred to as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Why does Joseph never find a mention in that list? His story—the dreams, the fancy coat, his brothers selling him into slavery, dealings in Potiphar’s house, prison, more dreams, and then his redemption before Pharaoh—dominates Genesis 37-50. That’s nearly one-third of the Patriarchal History, yet still we read about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Many Bible commentators have noted that Joseph stands as a Christ figure in Genesis. First, and we could argue this, he is the only significant character in the Old Testament about whom nothing bad is said. Unless you want to blame him for cluelessly sharing his dreams with the family, Joseph is pretty much perfect.
Second, and less arguable, Joseph provides an unexpected means of salvation for this family. “Despised and rejected” by his brothers, Joseph finds himself consigned first to death and then to the living death of slavery. The brothers never expect to see Joseph again.
They said, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” Jacob was stunned, for he did not believe them.–Genesis 45:26
Substitute the name Jesus for Joseph, “the whole world” for “the land of Egypt,” and Thomas for Jacob, and this verse could fit into the gospels pretty readily.
But through the power that God had placed within him, Joseph not only survived but thrived. He not only found his way out of a difficult situation but used first his foresight and then his superb planning abilities to prevent massive starvation both for the people of Egypt and also for his own family.
Without Joseph, we assume, the twelve tribes would never have developed beyond a handful of related shepherds. So didn’t he deserve a mention in the list of the patriarchs? We can imagine him going into a rant.
Where would you be if it hadn’t been for me? You’d be dead! You’d have starved to death. Your sheep would be dead. Your children would be dead. You’d be a forgotten smudge on the pavement of history! My kids would have been okay in Egypt, but you would have been long gone and utterly forgotten! But that’s okay. Don’t bother mentioning me.
Recognition is a good thing. Like anybody else, I enjoy being giving credit when I do something good. Joseph didn’t live long enough to hear people refer to the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” so we can’t say whether it would have bothered him or not. However, I can be fairly sure that being miffed at an omission like that is not worthwhile.