God's Providence Shown Through The Life Of Joseph
Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose." Have you ever wondered why it seems that sometimes bad things happen to good, God-fearing people. While we will never fully understand the awesome mind of God, we can trust that, even in times of peril, God is in control and if we simply continue to show our love and obedience to Him, He will work things out for our good and perhaps the good of those around us. Consider the life of Joseph. In Genesis chapter 37 Joseph is sent by his father to Shechem to check on the well-being of his brothers as they were there tending tending their flock. As the brothers saw Joseph coming to them verse 18 says they conspire against him to kill him. In verses 21 and 22 Reuben suggests that Joseph not be killed but rather thrown into a nearby pit. In verses 24 through 28 we read that Joseph was cast into a pit while the brothers considered what to do with him. Ultimately there was a company of Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt and the brothers decided to sell Joseph into slavery to the Midianite traders for twenty shekels of silver and Joseph was carried away to Egypt. Of course, we know the rest of the story of how the brothers took Joseph's tunic and dipped it in goat's blood to convince their father, Jacob, that Joseph had been devoured by wild animals.
Joseph had been wronged, he had been treated cruelly, sold to a foreign people, and taken to the foreign land of Egypt. There he was bought by Potiphar, who was an officer of Pharoah (Gen 39:1). But even through all of this notice Gen 39:2-3, "The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. (3) And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand." Despite the great peril that had come upon Joseph, God had not abandoned Joseph. God was rather preparing to work good things through the perilous events in Joseph's life. Potiphar made Joseph overseer of his house. But we know that according to Gen. 29 when Joseph refused to lie with Potiphar's wife she falsely accused him of a crime he did not commit and he was thrown into prison despite no wrong doing on his part. But again Gen 39:21 tells us "But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison." Genesis chapters 40 and 41 give the account of how Joseph was able to interpret the dreams of the butler and the baker, who were Pharoah's servants that had been cast into the same prison. Two years later Pharoah himself had dreams that he did not understand and the butler remembered Joseph and how he had interpreted dreams in prison. Ultimately, we know that Joseph was sent for and was able to interpret Pharoah's dreams. Joseph gained great favor with Pharoah and was placed in a position of a great ruler of Egypt. Notice Gen. 41:38-40, "And Pharoah said to his servants, 'Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom is the Spirit of God? (39) Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one a discerning and wise as you.' (40) You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you." The rest of chapter 41 tells how there were 7 years of plentiful harvest in the land of Egypt and how the seven years of famine in all the lands of the earth was beginning, all according to Joseph's interpretation of Pharoah's dreams.
Ultimately in chapters 42 through 47 we read of how Jacob, because of the great famine in his own country, sent his sons to Egypt to buy food. We read of how they came before Joseph, the great ruler of Egypt, the one they had sold and treated so cruelly so many years before. We read how Joseph would reveal himself to his brothers and how in the end Jacob and his sons and their families all came to live in prosperity in the land of Egypt with Joseph. Many bad things happened to Joseph early in his life, but God never left his side. God was working good through the life of Joseph. Notice Joseph's words to his brothers in Genesis 45:5-9, "But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. (6) For these two years the famine has been in the lad, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. (7) And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (8) So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (9) Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, 'Thus says your son Joseph; 'God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry."
God's providence and care is truly shown in the account of the life of Joseph. God's fore-knowledge greatly exceeds our own understanding. Our duty is to serve God to the best of our ability and trust that even in times that don't seem so good, God is in control. The account of Joseph and his family settling in Egypt was also a part in God's ultimate plan to bring Christ into the world to save man from sin. God's providence is evident throughout the pages of the Bible and it continues still today.