Favor Favors the Ready

Most Christians (especially in non-Western countries) will recognize some or all of the following slogans that have become popular in many congregations:

"Somebody shout, Hallelujah!"

"If you are ready for the biggest miracle of your life, let me hear you shout the loudest Hallelujah!"

"If that prophecy is for you, shout an ‘Amen!’ like thunder!"

"You will make it! Somebody say, ‘I will make it!’ ‘I will make it!’"

 

"I prophesy, like Joseph, you will go from the prison to the palace!" "Within the next 72 hours, your Potiphar will bow before you, in Jesus Name!"

"This week, favor will overtake you in Jesus' Name!"

"It's your turn to shine!" Tell somebody, "It's my turn to shine!"

There is an assumption in most quarters that simply because divine favor is free and unmerited, it is also arbitrary. The idea is that you can name and claim any favor from God without recourse to the process by which God ordained that such blessings should be inherited. This idea, popularized by preachers intent on pandering to the present and pressing demands of an instant generation (and making some money in the process!) has the predictable consequence of producing disillusioned people. They tried the quick, surefire method the preacher announced and gave the "covenant" and "prophet's" offerings commanded, but are nowhere near the palace they were promised.

The truth is that while we cannot earn God's favor, we can position ourselves in such a way as to receive and enjoy increasing levels of that favor. Simply stated, there is something we can do to grow in favor with God and man. This is the subject of this chapter: it further reveals important principles that will help us walk in divine favor.

Joseph: From Prison To Palace

As seen from the popular clichés above, Joseph is often touted as an example of instant favor. But this is far from the truth. While a full study of Joseph's life is not within the scope of this book, it should be noted that the favor Joseph found before Pharaoh was the result of a process of deliberate preparation over a period of about thirteen years. [Joseph's incredible story can be found in Genesis chapters 37 to 50]. He was sold into slavery when he was 17 but stood before Pharaoh at 30. Joseph had found favor with God long before he found favor with Pharaoh. His faithfulness in the face of relentless temptation by Mrs. Potiphar was part of his positioning for favor. There is no indication Joseph's name would ever have been mentioned to Pharaoh if Joseph had given in to the temptation of adultery with Mrs. Potiphar. By fleeing from immorality, he protected his dream and the future God had for him, and could thus continue his onward journey towards his rendezvous with Pharaoh, a meeting that was to change his life and legacy permanently.

Joseph honed and sharpened the gifts of discernment and interpretation of dreams which God invested in him such that he didn't disappoint when he was brought before Pharaoh. The brash rashness which was manifest when he interpreted his initial dreams to his parents and brothers had mellowed when he interpreted the dreams for Pharaoh's baker and cup bearer. But the uncanny accuracy of his interpretations was never lost. Joseph never imagined he would be brought before Pharaoh – he only wanted out from the prison. Nevertheless when his moment came, he was ready. Favor favors the ready. As Smith Wigglesworth said, "if you have to get ready when the opportunity comes, you are too late."

When Joseph was eventually brought before Pharaoh and Pharaoh asked if he could interpret his dreams, Joseph was a broken and humble man who gave the credit for interpretation of dreams to God. The God of his father Jacob did not disappoint him, and he did not disappoint Pharaoh. He not only interpreted the dream accurately but went the extra mile to present an unbeatable "Joseph Plan" for overcoming the looming global crisis. His promotion by Pharaoh was based on incontestable merit: nobody in Pharaoh's court could match God's wisdom and grace manifest in Joseph's life. What if the cup bearer had touted Joseph's credentials before Pharaoh and Joseph could not deliver when he was brought in? Given Pharaoh's temperament (he could execute someone at his own birthday celebration!), both the cup bearer and Joseph might have lost their heads.

It is also noteworthy that following his appointment as Prime Minister and Ruler of Egypt, the economy of Egypt did not collapse but rather grew to become the epicenter of prosperity and plenty in a time of famine. While other lands were withering, Egypt was booming – under Joseph's wise and able leadership. The master plan he put in place saved Egypt from calamity and made her the envy of other nations. Pharaoh's popularity and wealth soared as Joseph used food to purchase an entire nation for Pharaoh. Joseph ensured that Egypt's economic growth was sustainable. It is remarkable that long after the seven-year famine ended (he would be about 44 years of age at this time, i.e. 30 plus seven years of plenty and seven years of famine), Joseph's influence and authority in Egypt were sustained through the reign of successive Pharaohs! Only an insane Pharaoh would remove Joseph from his position; such a Pharaoh risked the very collapse of Egypt and the loss of his throne. A non-Egyptian ex-slave had become indispensable in the mightiest empire of his time! Even after his death at 110, his people, the Israelites were respected and safe in Egypt until a Pharaoh that did not know Joseph rose to the throne.

The above picture is very different from the kind of favor peddled about today. Many believers hope to use the fact of favor to cover over mediocrity and incompetence. Whether qualified or not, some are trusting in arbitrary favor to bring them to places they cannot sustain, and put them in positions of authority without the requisite wisdom or expertise to thrive at those heights.

The following verses reveal the secret of the favor Joseph found:

"Good understanding wins favor, but the way of the transgressor is hard [like the barren, dry soil or the impassable swamp]. – Prov.13:15 Amplified

"For they are a people of no understanding or discernment – witless folk; therefore He Who made them will not have compassion on them, and He Who formed them will show them no favor." – Isa.27:11 Amplified

A lack of understanding put the people in a dangerous position where the very Person that made them would show them no favor! But Joseph had understanding and wisdom in his field; he was not a witless and ignorant fellow who just went from the prison to a palace. He solved impossible problems; Daniel would tow the same line several millennia later, and also find favor and great promotion in a strange land. It was a matter of time before the wisdom and insight they had attracted a premium from someone who needed and appreciated it.  

The favor Joseph found was not arbitrary. Those who hope for favor without doing their homework where they are at, will hope in vain. Like Joseph, we must do our part and position ourselves to walk in divine favor in this dispensation when the free favors of God profusely abound.