The Providence of God in Joseph’s Life
The story of Joseph (Genesis ch. 37-50) is a great illustration to the providence of God. Joseph’s father Jacob had 12 sons, but he favored Joseph more than his other sons because he was the son of Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel and also because he was a good young man. So, Jacob bought his son a coat of many colors which caused his other sons to be jealous. And what made the brothers even more hateful the fact that Joseph had dreams in which his brothers, Jacob, and Leah (their mother) bowed down to him.
One day Jacob sent Joseph to look for his brothers who were tending to their father’s flocks away from home. When the brothers saw him, they were filled with hate and resentment and they planned to get rid of him. And they sold him to a band of slave traders. The traders sold Joseph in Egypt to a wealthy man by the name Potiphar. With hard diligent work, Joseph earned the trust of Potiphar who set him in charge of all that he owned. But Potiphar’s wife had her eye on the Hebrew servant. And when he did not yield to her, she fabricated a false lie about him which caused her husband to throw him in prison.
While in prison, Joseph’s hard work again earned him to be an overseer of the prisoners. There, he met the chief butler and the king’s baker. One night, these two had troubling dreams. When they narrated the dreams to Joseph, he was able by the Spirit of God to interpret them. The dreams showed that the baker will die soon after but the butler will be restored to his position. And Joseph requested from the butler to remember him before the king. But the chief butler forgot about him for two years before bringing his name up to Pharaoh.
One day Pharaoh had disturbing dreams and he sought his wise men to help him know the meaning of the dreams but they utterly failed. Then, the butler remembered that Joseph had the gift of dream interpretation and he told Pharaoh about him. The king sent immediately for the prisoner to give the interpretation of the dreams. The Lord revealed the meaning of the dreams and showed that there will be seven years of plenty and prosperity upon all the land which will be followed by seven years of famine. And Joseph offered a plan to help Egypt be fully prepared for the coming famine. Pharaoh was so impressed with the wisdom of the Hebrew that he appointed him second in command over all the land of Egypt.
When the famine hit the land, Jacob’s sons came to Egypt to buy food but they didn’t recognize Joseph and they bowed to him just as he had seen in his dreams. Later on, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and offered them his forgiveness. And he brought all of his family to live in Egypt and provided for all their needs.
When Jacob died, his brothers feared that Joseph might seek revenge on them. So, they came to him, begging for his favor. Joseph assured them saying, “[D]o not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive” (Genesis 50:19-20).
Jacob’s sons did great evil by selling their brother into slavery. In addition, many of the events that followed in his life were unjust and very painful but God by His providence orchestrated all these evil events so that eventually they all worked out for good (Romans 8:28).
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