God Intended It For Good
Father, I praise You: “How good is the God we adore, our faithful, unchangeable Friend” (Joseph Hart, 1712–1768).
Read GENESIS 50:15–26
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
The Death of Joseph
22 Joseph stayed in Egypt, along with all his father’s family. He lived a hundred and ten years 23 and saw the third generation of Ephraim’s children. Also the children of Makir son of Manasseh were placed at birth on Joseph’s knees.
24 Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” 25 And Joseph made the Israelites swear an oath and said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.”
26 So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.
New International Version (NIV)
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Verse 50:20 is perhaps one of the greatest verses in the Bible. It is true of so many things, including the crucifixion of Jesus.
We come to the end of the Joseph story only to discover that the old family conflict revives as a consequence of the brothers’ deep-seated sense of guilt and fear. Their anxious discussions are completely true to psychological reality; many a family has been divided and troubled by such feelings years after the events from which they sprang.
Joseph’s reaction is, first, to weep at the continuing mistrust and alienation of his brothers and, second, to offer reassurance in the form of perhaps the most significant statement in the entire story. Although he serves a ruler with god-like pretensions, Joseph now reveals his Jewish identity in his disavowal of such blasphemy and the humble recognition that he, just as much as the brothers, is subject to the overruling power and purposes of God. Those purposes take human actions that are evil and malicious and mysteriously weave them into a larger plan driven by God’s intention to bring good to human beings. Indeed, the “good” in this case extends beyond the well-being of Joseph’s own family to include “the
saving of many lives” (20).
This affirmation of the goodness of God echoes Genesis 1:31, where God looked upon his creation and declared it “very good.” Thus, the entire text of Genesis is bound together in the confession that all of God’s work, in both creation and providence, is designed to a single end: the good of the human family. It is this belief which can calm our fears and overcome our guilt, and it enabled Joseph to speak kindly to his brothers and say to them, “Don’t be afraid” (19).
Read Romans 8:28 slowly and prayerfully. Ask the Lord to help you, and others who might be struggling with guilt feelings, to trust his gracious overruling of all our failings and mistakes.
Intervening God, the psalmist tells us that You can turn people’s anger to Your praise (Psa. 76:10, KJV). How great You are! I thank and praise You for bringing good out of bad in my life.