One of the amazing stories in the Bible is the story of Joseph. And it is so much more than just a story. The circumstances surrounding Joseph’s life teach us an aspect of God that we need to hold on to today. God is in charge, and He is working out His great plan of salvation. Joseph’s journey inspires and helps us to build faith throughout our own lives.
The story begins with a dysfunctional family. Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob. That fact that was openly displayed caused Joseph’s brothers to hate him. Their resentment was compounded by dreams which Joseph shared. The dreams portrayed Joseph in a position of superiority over his brothers and family. This added fuel to the fire to the point that the brothers plotted to kill Joseph. Through Reuben’s intervention, he was spared death but was sold as a slave to passing Midianite traders. Their destination was Egypt.
At this point, it is difficult to see anything positive in these events. Sometimes it is difficult for us also to see how any good can come through our life circumstances. However, God was with Joseph in Egypt, and He made everything that Joseph did prosper. He was promoted to be overseer of Potiphar’s house. A distressing episode involving Potiphar’s wife lying about Joseph landed him in prison. Another seemingly negative event in Joseph’s life.
Yet, God’s hand was in it. Joseph became known as someone who understood dreams. Eventually, this came to the attention of Pharaoh, who had a dream he wanted to be interpreted. The dream indicated seven good years followed by seven years of famine. After interpreting the dream, Joseph was promoted to governor to manage the food supply. He wisely gathered food during the seven good years and amassed great reserves. So much so, that other nations later came to Egypt to buy grain.
God’s plan of salvation was unfolding. When God made a covenant with Abraham, He told Abraham, “… Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. And also the nation whom they serve I will judge, afterward they shall come out with great possessions” (Genesis 15:13-14). Joseph was being used by God to put into place the enactment of deliverance – salvation.
During the famine, Jacob sent his remaining sons to Egypt to buy grain. They did not recognize Joseph, and so Joseph worked out a plan to have his family move to Egypt, just as God had intended.
When Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, he made some statements acknowledging the hand of God in what had transpired – even the seemingly terrible events. “And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come near me.’ So they came near. Then he said: ‘I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life … And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So it was not you who sent me here, but God, and He made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt’” (Genesis 45:4-5;7-8).
God’s plan of salvation is “a great deliverance.” Israel’s deliverance from the bondage of Egypt is a type that conveys to us the certainty of God’s hand in events.
We can have strong confidence – faith – that God’s hand is in world events. He is orchestrating the final phases of mankind’s deliverance from the bondage of sin.
All that is happening in our lives is well known to God. His hand is in the good, the bad, and the ugly. “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). “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” (Romans 8:28).
The story of Joseph helps to reinforce the fact that God is working out His great deliverance, and we, like Joseph, are honored to be included in His plans.