- Lewis Campbell
October 2021 : God's Sovereignty in the Life of Joseph
The account of Joseph in Genesis is one of the most well-known in all of the Old Testament. There we learn about Joseph and his rollercoaster life. Having tols his brothers about his drea that they would one day bow down to him, he is thrown into a well and then sold into slavery because of their jealousy. He is then taken to Egypt where he rises to prominence in Potiphar's household. Just as things are beginning to look up for Joseph, Potiphar's wife falsely accuses him of rape because he refuses to sleep with her. Because of this accusation he is thrown into prison and left there for a couple of years. Later on he is called upon to interpret Pharaoh's dreams. Having successfully done so Joseph become's Pharaoh's right hand man. He helps prepare the country for the famine that had been predicted through that dream. He then became a very powerful man with great responsibility. In chapter 42 of Genesis Joseph is surprised to see his brothers in Egypt who have heard that there is grain there. In Chapter 45 Joseph eventually reveals his identity to the brothers and they are speechless. The last time they saw Joseph they were pulling him out of a well to sell him into slavery. In this moment we get a glimpse of Joseph's perspective on his situation. How would you feel, if you had been sold by your own brothers into a foreign land? How would you feel if having done nothing but work hard in Potiphar's house, you were then falsely accused of rape and put in prison? Imagine the anger and bitterness you would feel toward all those who had harmed you. What does Joseph say about all of this?
Verse 5-6 shows us his perspective on what the brothers did,
'I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in this land and there are yet five years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvest.'
God had sent him to prepare the land for this famine. But there was also a longer term view. In verse 7 Jospeh says,
'And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth to keep alive for you many survivors.'
This idea of a 'remnant' runs throughout the Bible. God would always have a remnant of his people. Even if there were only a few, he would always have his people. Through this remnant, the line would come the Lord Jesus himself. Despite everything Joseph is able to see the sovereign hand of God at work. He sees God's providence in all of these things. Did this take away the pain that he felt? No i'm sure it was still very real! Nor does this excuse the actions of his brothers, himself, or anyone else in the account. God's sovereignty never negates man's responsibility.
We see a great example of this in Acts chapter 2
'this Jesus delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.'
Again in chapter 4 of Acts the believers pray this in verse 27,
'for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.'
Joseph says later to his brother regarding their actions,
'As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive as they are today.' - Genesis 50 v 20.