God meant it for good
Genesis 50:1-21 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Then Joseph fell on his father’s face, and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father. So the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 Now forty days were required for it, for such is the period required for embalming. And the Egyptians wept for him seventy days.
4 When the days of mourning for him were past, Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh, saying, “If now I have found favor in your sight, please speak to Pharaoh, saying, 5 ‘My father made me swear, saying, “Behold, I am about to die; in my grave which I dug for myself in the land of Canaan, there you shall bury me.” Now therefore, please let me go up and bury my father; then I will return.’” 6 Pharaoh said, “Go up and bury your father, as he made you swear.”
7 So Joseph went up to bury his father, and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his household and all the elders of the land of Egypt, 8 and all the household of Joseph and his brothers and his father’s household; they left only their little ones and their flocks and their herds in the land of Goshen. 9 There also went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company. 10 When they came to the threshing floor of Atad, which is beyond the Jordan, they lamented there with a very great and sorrowful lamentation; and he observed seven days mourning for his father. 11 Now when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning at the threshing floor of Atad, they said, “This is a grievous mourning for the Egyptians.” Therefore it was named Abel-mizraim, which is beyond the Jordan.
12 Thus his sons did for him as he had charged them; 13 for his sons carried him to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre, which Abraham had bought along with the field for a burial site from Ephron the Hittite. 14 After he had buried his father, Joseph returned to Egypt, he and his brothers, and all who had gone up with him to bury his father.
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” 16 So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father charged before he died, saying, 17 ‘Thus you shall say to Joseph, “Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. 18 Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 20 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. 21 So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
Look again at those last verses from 15-21. The brothers said: “What if Joseph bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!” Think about all the wrong that they had done to him. Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery. Because of jealousy, they had taken Joeseph’s childhood from him. They caused him to be a slave in a foreign land. He was imprisoned for an offense he did not commit. Now Joseph was the second most powerful man in all of Egypt. He had full authority to do whatever he wanted to his brothers. Certainly the brothers had good reason to be concerned. How many of us, if we had been treated as Joseph, would not at least bear a grudge against those who had mistreated us? Look though at Joseph’s response. Rather than anger or vengeance, the text says: Joseph wept when they spoke to him. Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? 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. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. The account and the response of Joseph is a perfect example of what Paul says in Romans 8:28-30: We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Joseph had learned patience and perserverence in his circumstances. He forgave his brothers because he saw the hand of God in what had happened. God didn’t cause Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery, the sin of jealousy did. God didn’t cause Joseph to be imprisoned in Egypt, the lust of Potiphar’s wife did. God though used all those things, not only for Joseph’s good, but to provide for all of Israel. Joseph was called by God to be a leader and a ruler. The dreams he had as a child revealed his destiny. It wasn’t though until Joseph was seperated from everything he knew that he learned to truly love and depend on God. Joseph became not only dependant on God, but he became conformed to the image of Christ. Joseph is an Old Testament type of Christ. He, through his own sacrifice and suffering, became a provider for his people. He, who was cast down, was raised up.
We, like Joseph, need to be able to forgive what has been done to us. We need to seek and see God in all of our circumstances. God does not cause the bad and difficult things in our lives. But if we will seek Him, if we will perservere with Him and through Him, He will cause all things, the good things and the bad things, in our lives to be used for our good and for the good of others. James 1:2-4 says: Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. As Romans 8 says, we are to become comformed to the image of Christ. That is the good that God causes to happen as we perservere and seek Him in our difficulties. James says we become perfect. It is not that we can ever be completely perfect without sin, as Jesus is, but rather that we lack nothing. We have all we need in Him. That we become conformed to the image of Christ is not only that what we have endured turns out to be good for us, but also that we may become, like Joseph, a type of Christ, that through the things we have endured, we may be able to help others. We may become those who provide, whether for their physical needs or for hope and faith that God will also cause the difficult things in their lives to be used for good.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit; thank You for all that has happened in my life, even for the difficult things I have endured. Thank You for conforming me into the image of Christ. There is still too much of me, so I ask Holy Spirit that You would reveal the things in my life that still need to be forgiven. Show me the places where I need to see that God was there even in the trial. Even more show me a vision of the future that lies before me. Show me what it looks like when I am perfect and lack nothing, fully conformed to Your image. Thank You that You are my redeemer and help me to be one who reveals Your love, Your grace and Your will to others. Amen.