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The Trial of Joseph
by Jacob Boehme

The following is from Chapter 66 of Mysterium Magnum (The Grand Mystery), Boehme's exposition of Genesis, (Vol 2). Slightly modernized by me. Mysterium Magnum is Boehme's longest work, published in 1620. (This is the whole enchilada -- fp)

Regarding Genesis 39:20-23. In this figure we see the final and last proof and trial of God's children, how they must leave their honor and welfare, and also put their life in hazard, and resign themselves wholly to God, to do whatsoever he will with them; for they must forsake all for God's sake, and leave the world, and be as a prisoner who expects death, and rely no more on any man; and know not how to get any comfort from any creature, but rely only and completely upon God and his grace: and then is a man passed through all proofs and trials, and now stands waiting the commands of his Lord, what he will have him to be.

For he says very inwardly to God, "Lord, if You will have me in prison and in misery, so that I should sit in darkness, then I will willingly dwell there; if You bring me into hell, I will go along; for You are my heaven. If I have You, then I inquire not after heaven and earth, and if body and soul should fail, yet You are my comfort; let me be where I will, yet I am in You and You in me; I have fully enough when I have You; use me for whatever You will."

In this last proof and trial man becomes the image of God again, for all things become one and the same, and are alike to him. He is one with prosperity and adversity, with poverty and riches, with joy and sorrow, with light and darkness, with life and death. He is as nothing to himself, for in his will he is dead to all things. And he stands in a figurative way, representing how God is in and through all, and yet is as a nothing to all things, for they do not comprehend Him, and yet everything that is, is manifested by Him; and He Himself is all, and yet has nothing, for anything is to Him in the apprehension of it even as nothing, for it does not comprehend Him. He is as it were dead to all things, and He Himself is the life of all things. He is ONE, and yet NOTHING and ALL. Thus also a man becomes, according to his will resigned into God, when he yields himself wholly to God, and then his will falls again into the unsearchable will of God, out of which he came in the beginning, and then stands in the form as an image of the unsearchable will of God, in which God dwells and lives.

For if the created wills no more than what God wills through it, then it is dead to itself, and stands again in the first image, i.e., in that image in which God formed it into a life; for what is the life of the created? It is nothing else but the spark of the will of God, which created now stands still to the will of God, whose life and will is God's, Who now drives and governs it.

But that which wills and runs of itself, that rends itself off from the entire will of God, and brings itself into a separate selfhood, where there is never any rest, for it must live and continually run on in its self-will, and it is a mere unrest. For unrest is the life of self-will; for when the will wills itself no more, then nothing can torment it any more; its willing is its own life; but whatsoever wills in and with God, that is one life with God.

Therefore it is man's last proof or trial when he stands still to God in all things; then in him life proceeds out of darkness, life out of death, and joy out of sorrow; for God is with and in him in all things, and blesses him. As was done to Joseph in the prison; his prison became joy to him, for he became the governor over the prison; he was as a prisoner, yet was a master of the prisoners; he governed the prison, and the prisoners, and was a patron, fosterer and guardian to the distressed; his master took nothing upon himself, and was well pleased with what Joseph did, for all was very pleasing in his sight.

Thus understand us here according to its precious worth: When man is entirely resigned to God, then is God his will, and God takes nothing upon Himself about what man does; nothing is against him, for God's will does it in himself, and all sin ceases; and though God's will of anger stirs in him, and brings fire from heaven from the Lord (as was done by Elijah), yet all is right in the sight of God, because the party does not do it, but God through him: he is the instrument through which God speaks and acts.

Now as God, in so much as He is God, can will nothing but that which is good; or else He is not God, if He Himself would do anything that would be evil: so also there can be nothing in such a man's will but blessing only, and the will of God. As was said of Joseph, God was with him in all his doings, and blessed all things through his hand. Thus to the honest and virtuous, a light rises in darkness (Ps 112:4), and the night is turned into day to him; and adversity is turned into prosperity, and the curse, wickedness and malice of the world is turned into Paradise. And it is with him as St. Paul says, "All things must serve to the best to them that love God." (Rom 8:28).

For Joseph's prison brought him before King Pharaoh, and set him upon the throne over that land and people; and made him lord over his father and brethren, and to be a steward and officer of the king, and to be God's regent and governor, through whom God ruled great countries and kingdoms; as the like may be seen also in Daniel.

Therefore a Christian should learn to bear the temptation and affliction, when God casts him into Joseph's pit and prison, and rely (even there) upon God in all his doings, and entirely resign himself into God; and then God would be more potent in him than the world and hell is; for all those would at length, after he has stood through all the trials, be put to scorn in him.