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! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” Genesis 45: 4 – 7
Do you sometimes wonder why things happen in your life the way they do? Do you wonder if God even knows what you’re going through and even more, if He cares?
If ever there was a story from Scripture that illustrates God’s sovereignty, love, and care throughout our lives, it is the story of Joseph and his brothers. No other can touch our hearts with such feelings of sympathy, injustice, grief, and finally, resolution with God’s grace. No other makes us realize how much God is with us, from the beginning of our lives to the end, working in all things, through all things, and bringing about His will and purpose.
Joseph was the 11th son born to Jacob and Rachel, and it was no secret that he was the favored one. He told his father and brothers about the many dreams he had about himself and how others were bowing down to him. This angered his brothers and they became even more inflamed when their father made a beautiful, soft, richly ornamented coat just for Joseph and no one else.
Shortly afterwards, while tending sheep, they came up with a plan to throw Joseph into a pit, lather the coat with blood, and let their father think he had been killed by a wild animal. Traders found him, took Joseph to Egypt, and tragically sold him as a slave. Yet, his hard work and dedication were recognized by his owner, an Egyptian high official to Pharaoh named Potiphar, and he soon entrusted Joseph with everything he owned.
Joseph’s life then took another twist. This young man soon caught the official’s wife’s attention, and when Joseph declined her advances, she told her husband how he had tried “to make sport of her,” (Gen. 39: 17). As a result, Joseph was placed in prison for 2 years. While there, “the Lord was with him” and gave Him favor in the warden’s eyes.
Joseph had a reputation of interpreting dreams, and when King Pharaoh had one that no one could explain, he was sent before the King. Joseph told him that he couldn’t interpret the dream, but God could. He explained that God was revealing to the king that a great famine was coming to the land, and that he needed “a discerning and wise man of God” to prepare for this disaster. Pharaoh chose Joseph, and he gave him charge of the palace, the people, and the whole land of Egypt as 2nd in command to himself.
Joseph, using God’s instructions, prepared well, stored up huge quantities of grain, and none of the people went hungry. Even more miraculous under God’s providence, the famine was so intense that it brought Joseph’s family down into Egypt, many years after he had been sold into slavery, to purchase food. All of Jacob’s sons except the youngest, Benjamin, came before Joseph, and he recognized his brothers instantly. After a series of events, in which Benjamin too was brought before him, Joseph while weeping uncontrollably, revealed his identity and said these words above from Genesis 45: 4 -7. Joseph sent for his father and all the sons’ wives, children and grandchildren, and they settled on the best part of the land in Egypt, as Pharoah had directed.
Throughout the passages about these events, the one phrase you will see repeatedly is, “The Lord was with Joseph.” Finally, what began in Genesis 37 came to a resolution in these verses. Finally, the reasons for all that Joseph had been through were revealed to him, and he saw that God’s divine providence had been at work not only in his life, but in many others.
What lessons we can learn from Joseph’s story. We see the amazing grace Joseph bestowed on others as he gave what was not deserved. He refused to become resentful, bear a grudge, or succumb to bitterness. He didn’t choose His path, but he was determined to make the best of the life he had been given. He never became arrogant or self-righteous about his accomplishments because he knew it was God who had arranged the events in his life so that he could do great things. Through the doubts, adversity, and unexpected twists and turns in his life, God used Joseph to bless his family and save thousands of others because of his leadership and faithfulness.
We may never know what God has planned for us or how many lives He will use us to bless. But we can rest in the assurance that we are in His sovereign love and care.
Dear God, what a beautiful story of your love and grace and the power of your sovereignty over our lives. May you use us to do great things in your name. Amen