“You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, that many might be SAVED.” Genesis 50:20.
In this statement that Joseph made to his brothers, Joseph acknowledges that he finally sees the purpose of God, even after all the years he had been treated so badly, first betrayed and sold by his brothers into Egypt. In Egypt, he rose in status, only to then be falsely charged of a betrayal of his boss, which landed him in prison. Again, Joseph rose in stature and influence (I guess you just can’t keep a good man down). When he eventually interpreted the dreams of two of the king’s servants who landed in there with him, he requested their assistance in getting out of prison, but the one who lived forgot about him.
Not until Pharaoh had two prophetic dreams two years afterward, and no one in all of Egypt could interpret them, did the servant finally remember Joseph. In a very short amount of time, he interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and gave him the plan to prepare for it, at which point, Pharaoh elevated him to the second highest position in the land, in charge of all the preparations for the coming famine. At Joseph’s direction, the nation was taxed 20% of their crops for the next seven years and this was stored up and saved for the seven lean years of famine. Joseph also got a wife.
In his younger days, Joseph as a very young person, had had dreams, one about 11 sheaves bowing to him and one about the moon, sun and stars bowing to him. When he told these dreams to his family, they thought he was being cocky. His brothers hated him because he was obviously favored by his father Jacob above all of the others. There were 12 of them. Yet Joseph’s dreams never gave him a clue how this would come to pass and where it would happen. Nothing about it was clear.
The events that followed would belie the fact that the dreams or the promises had any meaning at all, because there was no sign of these things coming to pass.
And so it is in our lives also. We may have inklings of future events we feel that God wants to do in our lives, but the circumstances coming our way give no hint of it ever coming to pass, and in fact, circumstances look to be the furthest thing from it and going in the other direction.
Years may drag on, as it did in Joseph’s life. He was 17 when the brothers threw him in a pit, then sold him to the Egyptians. He was 30 when he was called to Pharaoh’s court to interpret the dreams, the day his whole life completely changed. For 13 years, he was a slave or in prison with no possibility of a future…but God…
Quite possibly Joseph never arrived at the understanding that “God meant it for good, that many might be saved” until the day his brothers showed up asking to buy food during the first two years of the famine. Until that point, he probably couldn’t see the whole plan of God. And that’s how it works in our lives too. We very rarely see the entire plan, but usually get a step at time from God. Or we may sort of see the end result in our hearts, but have no idea what each step is to get there until God shows us, as Joseph experienced.
But we only lose if we give up. I maintain that Joseph never gave up. When he was elevated to the second highest position in Egypt, he was prepared. He was ready for it. He could be trusted with it. He had been paying attention to the lessons God wanted him to learn. He had been taking the “tests,” and he had been passing them. And then one day, the prison doors opened…
The fact that his brothers didn’t even recognize him is significant, I believe. It had only been 22 years since they threw him in the pit. I believe one reason they didn’t recognize him was because the dealings of God had removed many of the character traits they were familiar with. He no longer had them, and they did not know him. He was not the same person.
In the story, Joseph’s father Jacob was 130 years old when he came to Egypt in the second year of the famine. He was 147 years when he died. I find it notable that Jacob lived in Egypt the number (17) of Joseph’s age when he had been taken there. I feel that may have some meaning.
Pray this: Father, Your word says our days are written in Your book before we ever live through one of them and that You have a plan for each and every single human being on the planet. We need to know Your plans so that we can accomplish what You want us to do. We need Your light to find that plan. Thank You God, that You are committed to helping us. We submit to Your dealings in our lives as we are prepared to see the fullness of Your will come to pass.