Scripture text for Monday, January 18, 2010: Genesis 37:1-37:36
Sold into slavery by his brothers? Unjust! Evil! How could brothers commit such heinous sin against one they should love dearly? These are often the reactions to the reading of this old, familiar Biblical drama.
This scenario and others like it – murder, rape, infidelity – continue to repeat themselves today. Horrific events outside man’s ability to control – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes – take their toll around the globe. We witness these things and can be shaken. Emotionally our minds can be shaken, physically our bodies can be shaken, and spiritually our faith can be shaken.
How are we to understand where God is in these events?
Returning to the text …
We see the major players: Joseph, his eleven brothers, a caravan of Ishmalites passing by, and Potiphar in Egypt. But there is one player we do not see, an unmentioned player, yet the most important player. This player above all players is revealed later in the Biblical text.
When the brothers are alone with Joseph, whom they had betrayed, they are fearful of his retribution on them. They recognize the wrongness of their thoughts and deeds.
But Joseph recognizes something else, something greater, someone greater. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph reveals, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."
But God! But God meant it for good. God meant it. God planned (Heb. חָ שַׁ ב chāshab, LXX Gk. βουλεύω bouleuō) it. God planned it? God planned it. Joseph recognizes the providence of God, the hand of God, overseeing the affairs of man.
But is not Joseph justified in complaining to God here?
Not unless he wants to suffer the rebuke of Job, "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10) In his providential oversight of the affairs of man, God is sovereign to act and to accomplish as He wills for His glory and His good pleasure.
So then, what comfort is there here?
We can take comfort in knowing the God who holds the universe in His hand is there and holds our lives, every detail, in His hand.
We can take comfort in knowing even in what is the worst of times for us, God is there and He is working out some purpose greater than we can even imagine.
We can take comfort in knowing when things appear to be out of control, God is there and He is in control.
We can rest in the God Who is there and be "convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
Devotion prepared by Matt Muehlhausen