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Saturday, April 05, 2014

God's Workings Amidst Man's Doing

I was thinking through the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-50. It is an amazing story of God's sovereign will working out his purpose in spite of man's evil doings. It is easy to see the evil done to Joseph when his brothers, out of jealosy for being their father's favorite, decide to kill him but decide instead to sell him as a slave. It is easy to see how they understood Joseph's dreams of them bowing to him as a pompous statement rooted in his pride. Yet the Scripture is clear that God was working amids man's doing. As soon as Joseph is sold we read that God is with him and blesses him in everything he does (Genesis 39:2, 3, 5, 21, 23) . In his thirtieth year, God raises him to a position second to Pharaoh in Egypt but not without his shares of suffering.

After becoming a powerful man he meets his brothers again (It was about 22 years) when they come to get food from Egypt due to a famine. In a series of events Joseph eventually reveals himself to them (he could not be recognized because he resembled an Egyptian). Here was his turn to make them pay for their wrong doing. Yet he says:

"And now don’t be worried or angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. God sent me ahead of you to establish you as a remnant within the land and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler over all the land of Egypt." - Genesis 45:5-8 (HBSB)

Note the phrase "God sent me" is repeated twice. Joseph acknowledges that it was God's purpose for this to happen. He even tells them not to be angry with themselves for their wrong doing. Joseph clearly sees God's working in his life. Do the brothers not have any responsibility? Yes. When Jacob dies the brothers are afraid that Joseph will now get even with them and make up a dialogue they had with their father to protect them. Joseph says:

"But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result — the survival of many people. Therefore don’t be afraid. I will take care of you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them." - Genesis 50:19-21 (HCSB)

There. God's plan was worked out in spite of their evil.

As I thought about this, I asked why was it necessary to have so much suffering and evil in Joseph's life. Couldn't this story be written without all that drama? So my mind quickly went to work how I would re-write it. No, I won't write it here. I actually didn't finish it all without realizing my foolishness and understanding that God is sovereign and works His plan in ways I can't conceive nor understand. Joseph's story parallel's Christ and is seen as a type of Christ. Then there is grace. God's grace shown to Joseph and to his brothers.

But God continues to work amids man's doing, much of it evil as well. It will not be written as Scripture but all will work according to His divine purpose and will. Nothing will change it. No man's action will twart it. We can't see the end, He can. He will do his will in our lives amidst our failures. We just have to trust and obey Him.