GENESIS Chapters 37-50
The young man, Joseph, at the height of puberty tending the flock with his brothers makes for the onset of this incredible story. His father’s favouritism sets in motion an avalanche of sheer hatred from his own blood. The young lad buoyed by seemingly far-fetched and ludicrous dreams approaches his brothers. His envious brothers schemed and conspired modern day human trafficking and sold him to the Ishmaelites headed to Egypt. Poor Joseph is subsequently sold to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials. His life is marred by false accusations of sexual harassment, discouragement and sadness. In the end, the Lord vindicates him.
The Lord with us
Joseph is sold by his brothers! Let that sink. His very own blood commit such unthinkable atrocity. From being the favorite son, he now languishes down the pit of despicable slave. His bright countenance now eclipsed by a wide frown. ” What is happening?”, I bet he must have queried. But this situation is not all gloomy. There’s indeed hope. The scriptures record that- The Lord was with Joseph and he prospered, and lived in the house of his Egyptian master. ( Gen 39:2) What an incredible antithesis to his realities! The Lord was with Joseph. During the callous act of his brothers, the dehumanizing slavery, the stay at Potiphar, at the prison, before he was ever conceived- the Lord was with him. The Psalmist thus says, By You I have been upheld from birth; You are He who took me out of my mother’s womb. My praise shall be continually of You. ( Ps. 71:6)
While in the dungeon, the scriptures attest that- But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warder. ( Gen 39:21) In the midst of Joseph’s suffering the Lord abode with him ever so closely. In his darkest night, the Lord’s presence shone about it. In his times of utter despair, the Lord was His ever present help in times of need. No one moment was He left to his devices. The saint ought to grasp, rejoice and delight in the truth of His Father’s presence for He promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
The Lord’s Providential Care
Joseph, now in charge of Egypt and only answerable to Pharaoh sets out to make himself known to his brothers. The years have passed, things have changed. He is no longer that young testosterone-driven teenager, but a fully grown man. The memories though, of his family and brothers still linger mightily. There’s a famine and his brothers need food. He recognizes them, they don’t. After the tests, now is the time. He could feel his heart against his chest, his sweaty palms and the fidgeting. Now is the time. So he summons them. ” 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!” ( Gen 45:4) The bewilderment on their faces. The palpable silence. Joseph in this discourse with his brothers makes an audacious claim- God sent me here ahead of you. He makes this statement severally to get the point home. God did this, He sent me here not you. What glorious providence!
In another more famous statement Joseph says- You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. ( Gen 50:20) Here in lies the providence of God- His most holy, wise, and powerful, preserving and governing all His creatures, and all their actions. Our God in His providential care governs all creatures and theirs actions. He controls and ordains all this for His own end, to the praise of His glory. The Saint is confident that in all things God works for good.
The Gist of it All
Many a Christian often wonder to what end is suffering according to God’s will. Or better yet, why God? Why all these? Why me? My most frequently plea is, ” Lord, I don’t get this?” Joseph must have gone through such humanly perplexities yet in all that He ordains there’s an eternal joy to it- conformity to the image of His son. Joseph faced with a dilemma between lustful pleasure and fear of God, he chose the latter, the consequences notwithstanding. He says, How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? ( Gen 39:6-20). Joseph knew all too well the Holiness of God and the gravity of sin! As he discloses himself to his brothers, no resentment is evident. He holds no grudges. And after his father’s death, he assures his brothers of his commitment to their well being. The Lord through the suffering sanctified him. It is for this reason that He redeemed us from lawless deeds and ultimately to Himself, to the very image of His son. In light of God’s Providence, the saint learns to quietly trust amidst all suffering. The Apostle Paul thus said: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. ( 2Cor 3:18)
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, But trust Him for His grace; Behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.
William Cowper, God Moves in a Mysterious Way.