Genesis 45:4-8, “Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now, there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But 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.
Have you ever found yourself on the negative side of a situation through no fault of your own? Have you found yourself on the negative side of a situation because of something that is partially your fault? Have you ever been on the negative side of a situation because you royally screwed up? Have you ever thought that God had to be surprised by the events happening? Otherwise, if He knew what was happening, certainly this isn’t how it would have turned out. If so, you are not alone. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose.” In this passage of scripture, all three occurrences happen. And if you have been around the block long enough, you have probably played a part in each situation as well.
Let’s go back a few chapters to Genesis, Chapter 37, where we meet Joseph for the first time. Verse 2 tells us that Joseph was 17. I am a high-school teacher. I have worked with youth groups for over a decade. Many teenagers tend to be immature, self-serving, and want the world dropped at their doorstep. But, scripture tells us, “Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them.” From this verse, we know that Joseph was a hard worker. He wasn’t lazy. Certainly a great quality to possess. However, he had a slight sickness called tattleitis, not exactly an endearing quality. The next verse goes on to tell us that Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons. That is saying a lot since Joseph had 11 brothers, and he was the last one born to Jacob. His brothers knew this and hated him all the more. Joseph then goes on to have two different dreams depicted how he would be in charge over his entire family. Verse 10 tells us that his father scolded him, but in verse 11 wondered what the dreams meant. Through a series of events, Joseph is sold into slavery, raised to a personal attendant of Potiphar, and thrown into jail because of false accusations from Potiphar’s wife. While in jail he interprets dreams, is promised to be remembered, but is forgotten, interprets more dreams, and finally raised to second in command in all of Egypt. Is anyone else’s justice button going off? Can anyone else relate? Anyone recover from a cheating spouse? Has anyone been passed over for promotion several times because you refuse to play office politics? Have you been struck with a disease? Have you suffered great loss? If any of these situations are tugging at your heart, God wrote this portion of scripture for you.
So, did Joseph contribute to this in any way? Well, let’s again take into account that Joseph was 17. Scripture doesn’t specifically tell us that Joseph was bragging about his dreams or saying that he was more special than any member of his family, but in verse 10, it tells us that Jacob scolded Joseph. Other versions have the word rebuke or reprove, which carries a stronger sense of what was occurring. Have you ever played a small role in something that went wrong? Possibly, you egged a sibling on with your words, where your sibling broke a lamp or put a hole in the wall as a result of your words. Not anything earth shattering, but some small event that caused a worse event. This certainly was not a reason for Joseph to end up where he did, but it was more something God had to work out in Joseph to mature him, possibly some humble pie so to speak. At any rate, did this surprise God; absolutely not.
On the other side of the pendulum are Joseph’s brothers, planning, scheming, and conniving on how to get rid of their brother. Verse 20 says, “Come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns.” Wow. With siblings like that, who needs enemies? Only his brother Reuben was trying to secretly save him. Full of jealousy and envy, they eventually did away with that plan and decided to sell him instead. Has jealousy or envy driven you to the point of no return? Have you tried to manipulate situations in your life, only to have them bring you more pain and suffering? Guess what? God is not surprised and wants to bring you back. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” There is no such thing as a point of no return with God. He can bring us back.
That finally brings us to Joseph, who through a long series of events is raised to be the second in charge of all of Egypt. Pharaoh states in Genesis 41:40, “You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.” Earlier in that same chapter, we can see the work that God has done in Joseph through all the various trials and tribulations that through no fault of his own, Joseph was asked to endure. In verse 16, Joseph says, “It is beyond my power to do this,” Joseph replied. “But God can tell you what it means and set you at ease.” God gave Joseph great favor in every location that Joseph ended up, until finally God placed him where He wanted him, just as Joseph’s dreams revealed when he was just 17 years old.
So, are you waiting for that next promotion? Is your ex not paying his proper support? Did disease take someone too early from your life? Was there great division in your organization because of somebody’s words? Have you been shortchanged more times than you care to count any longer? God says in Genesis Chapter 50, verse 20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good…” All accounts for everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly. There is no plan B for God. There is only plan A, and you are part of plan A. He has not forsaken or forgotten you. He knows the number of hairs on your head. He knew you in your mother’s womb. You have been and always will be the twinkle in His eye.
Prayer Starter: Father, I give you all the glory, honor, and praise. I thank you for this portion of scripture. I thank you that you are working out all circumstances for my good and your glory, no matter if I created the circumstance or am the recipient of the circumstance. Thank you for answered prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.