Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:19-20)
On Monday we saw that we have a “Behind the Scenes Savior” who is at work in our lives, even when we cannot see Him or sense His presence. God is working everything together — even the difficult and the painful — for our ultimate good. Today and Friday we’ll look at two examples of just how He does that.
Joseph was the favored son of Jacob, and his brothers hated him for it. Jacob gave Joseph a special coat of many colors; that visible symbol of their father’s affection inflamed the brothers’ hatred even more. God was with Joseph and gave him the supernatural gift of understanding divine dreams. But when Joseph shared these dreams with his brothers, they hated him with a deadly intensity.
So when Joseph was 17, his brothers decided to get rid of him. Here is an overview of the next 13 years of Joseph’s life:
- The brothers decided to kill Joseph by throwing him into a pit (Genesis 37:24).
- Then, not wanting his blood on their hands, the brothers decided to sell Joseph to slave traders, who took him down to Egypt (Genesis 37:28).
- Joseph was sold to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials (Genesis 37:36).
- Joseph prospered in the house of his Egyptian master because God was with him (Genesis 39:2).
- Joseph was entrusted to care for everything Potiphar owned (Genesis 39:4).
- Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph; when he refused her advances, she falsely accused him of trying to rape her (Genesis 39:14).
- Potiphar believed his wife and had Joseph thrown in prison (Genesis 39:20).
- But the Lord was still with Joseph in prison and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden, who put Joseph in charge of all that was done there (Genesis 39:21).
- Joseph interpreted the dreams of the king’s cupbearer and chief baker (Genesis 40:8).
- After Joseph spent two more years in the prison, word of his gift eventually reached Pharaoh, who had two dreams that Joseph interpreted, warning of seven years of famine in Egypt (Genesis 41:16).
- Pharaoh took Joseph out of the prison and brought him into the palace, making Joseph second-in-command over all Egypt (Genesis 41:40).
- While Joseph was serving as Egypt’s prime minister, Pharaoh gave him one of his daughters in marriage. Joseph was now 30 years old (Genesis 41:46).
- During the famine years, Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food and were ultimately reunited with Joseph. It was then that Joseph uttered the words recorded in our verse for today (Genesis 50:19-20).
When Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, he surely did not understand what God was up to, but God was working behind the scenes. When Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into prison, he surely did not understand what God was up to; Joseph was punished for doing the right thing! But God was working behind the scenes. When Joseph more than two years in prison, he did not understand what God was up to, but God was working behind the scenes. When Joseph was raised up to the position of prime minister of Egypt, he still could not understand what God was up to, but God was working behind the scenes. Eventually, however, looking back over his 13 years as a slave in Egypt, Joseph finally faced his brothers once again, and his words of grace to them revealed his understanding of just how God had been working behind the scenes in Joseph’s life:
“God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:7-8)
This account of how God worked behind the scenes in the life of Joseph should be a source of great hope and encouragement for all of us. No matter what we are facing, God has not abandoned us; He is at work in every area of our lives, even when we cannot see or understand what He is doing. Scripture assures us that God is working all things together for the ultimate good of all those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Trust Him, even when you cannot trace Him, knowing that He who began the good work in you will one day bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!