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God Meant it for Good
(February 5, 2001)

      By Fern Horst

"And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt .... But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive." (Genesis 45:4-8; 50:20)

The story of Joseph has many intriguing twists and turns, from his dreams as a young boy to their actual fulfillment when his brothers bowed before him when he was a ruler in Egypt. Their jealousy of Joseph as a boy had driven them to sell him as a slave to Egyptians. But God used this event to save not only the lives of Joseph's father and brothers (one of which is an ancestor to Christ), but all the people in Egypt and Canaan.

Joseph had seemingly good reason to be angry and revengeful towards his brothers. To be betrayed by one's own siblings and to have them all plot to get rid of him must have been a horrible experience. But never once in the account of Joseph do we detect a revengeful spirit. He did test his brothers to see how loyal they now were to his father, but he could hardly contain his emotions of love towards them during this whole process. Finally, he broke down and with tears revealed himself to them.

But immediately, before they could even offer an apology, he offered forgiveness rather than revenge. All along Joseph must have been noticing God's hand at work, but perhaps he wondered at times why God hadn't prevented his separation from his family and his enslavement in a foreign land. Finally, with his brothers before him needing food, he spoke clearly of God's hand at work in the whole affair.

There are many things that happen in our lives which make no sense at all. We are tempted to be angry at the people who caused them, or even at God for allowing them to happen. Joseph is a good example for us to follow when we start to feel this way. Rather than becoming angry and bitter, he maintained his integrity and reverence for God even when carried off as a slave to a foreign place. At each step he made righteous choices, even when his circumstances were less than ideal. This leaves a challenge for us: are there areas in your life that you need to resolve to do what is right, where the temptation is to give up?

In the end, it became evident that through all the challenges and less than desirable circumstances Joseph faced, God was working to fulfill His purposes. What people meant for evil, God meant for good.

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)

Copyright (c) 2001 Purposeful Singleness

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