Not Alone

Genesis 37-50 recounts the story of Joseph. Joseph is the youngest of 11 brothers and he is despised by them because of his dreams and his fathers favoritism. When opportunity came, the brothers sold Joseph into slavery and told their father he had been killed by a wild animal.

Joseph is now in Egypt. He is slave to Potiphar, the captain of the guard. But Joseph is not alone, God blesses him and soon he is placed in charge of all his masters house. Unfortunately, things do not continue to go well. Due to the lies of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph ends up in jail. Again he has lost everything. But soon we find out that even in jail God blesses him. In Genesis 39:21 we read, “but the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Once again Joseph has gained authority and is in charge of all the other prisoners.

In chapter 41, we see that the prison is not to be Joseph’s final destination. When Pharaoh had a dream that no one is able to interpret, it becomes known that Joseph is able to interpret dreams. Quickly he is brought before Pharaoh where he will interpret his dreams. Pharaoh is so impressed by Joseph that he places him second in command of all Egypt.

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” (Genesis 41:39-40).

Joseph experienced terrible things. He was beaten and betrayed by his brothers. He was sold into slavery. He was falsely accused of a crime which led to being placed in prison. At a cursory glance one might wonder if God had totally forgotten about him. And yet we see that God had always been with Joseph blessing him and preserving him.

The story of Jospeh is more like a game of chess rather than random fate. With great strategy Jospeh is placed in Egypt where eventually he will become second in command of all Egypt. And it is in this position of great authority that he will save all of Egypt from a famine. But even more importantly, we see that God has placed him in this position in order to save his own family from extinction. Joseph will save the very brothers who sold him into slavery. Ultimately it is through Joseph’s position in Egypt that Israel would be preserved so that one day the savior of the whole world would be born.

Unfortunately we do not have a running commentary for our own lives that tells us how and where God is blessing us. Nor are we able to skip a few pages ahead in our story and see how things turn out. But the story of Joseph gives us some incredible truths that we continue to see all throughout the Bible and in our own lives as well.

1. God is with His people in all places at all times.

Whether Joseph is in Canaan, Egypt, or prison God is with Him controlling all the events. Never is he alone. The same is true for us. In fact, in Matthew 28:20, Jesus promised that He is with us to the very end of the age.

2. God reveals His purposes in His time.

Joseph did not know what the future held for him as he was taken to Egypt. Nor did he know that he would be saved from prison and given great authority. And he especially never thought that one day he would save his very family from the severe famine that plagued the land. In the N.T., Paul was a Pharisee who was determined to arrest and kill Christians. Never would he have known that God would turn his life upside down and he would become one of the most important and influential christians in all of history. Today, God is bringing trials and situations in our lives for the purpose of growing us in our faith so that we would be used by Him. Will we be used to save countless numbers of people? Will we one day be second in command of a great army or nation? Maybe. But just as Jospeh and Paul did not know what the future would hold, neither do we. But what we do know, is that God has a plan and He will reveal each step that we need to take, when we need to take it.

3. God blesses His people.

Surely Joseph did not feel blessed when he was being sold into Egypt kicking and screaming. And surely he did not feel blessed when he was accused of sexual immorality and thrown into prison. And surely he did not feel blessed when the baker had forgotten about Joseph for two whole years. But when we stand back, we can see God’s hand of blessing at every moment in Joseph’s life. In times of trials and sufferings God was growing him in is his faith for future purposes. And when we look at his whole life we see that God strategically positioned Jospeh in Egypt in order to save his entire family. We might not always see God’s blessing in our lives if we zoom in on a single moment. But it’s when we zoom out and see many moments that we often begin to see God’s hand of blessing guiding and providing for us. And even if our lives are plagued with hardship after hardship, we can rest in the truth that one day our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ will return. And on that day, all who have trusted in Jesus will be gathered together in a new heavens and new earth. And never again will we experience pain or hardship or trials or suffering. God will wipe away our every ear. And for all eternity we will bask in the blessing and joy of our King.

Therefore, let us remember the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:16–17,

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,

Trusting in God’s Promises

In Genesis 12, God speaks to Abram and promises to make him a great nation, to give him land, bless him, and curse those who curse him.  This is incredible.  All of mankind has rebelled against God but God in His rich grace reveals Himself and enters into a relationship with Abram.  God is creating a people for Himself and He does so solely based upon His grace.

So what does Abram do?  He believes God and packs up all that he has and takes his wife and his nephew Lot and they begin journeying to the land that God will provide.

But it is not long into the journey when Abram’s faith if challenged.  In 12:10 we read that  because of a famine they go to Egypt. And as they enter into Egypt, Abram tells his wife,

“I know that you are  woman beautiful in appearance, and when the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me, but they will let you live.  Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.”

At this moment, Abram’s faith in God’s promises is being challenged.  And rather than trust that God will keep His promise, Abram trusts in himself and tries to scheme a way to survive.  When reading this chapter, it easy for us in the comfort of our couches and lazy boys to ridicule Abram’s lack of faith.  We think how silly it is for him to not trust in God, and we might even think, “I would never do that.”  And while we may never ask our wives to pretend to be our sister, it is true that we often struggle to live by faith and trust in God’s promises.

When money is low, when time is short, or when suffering and pain are high, it’s easy to to stop trusting in promises like Romans 8:28,

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good…”

But this is why God has given us the Bible.  He has given us 66 books that speak of His character, His glory, His steadfastness, His righteousness, His grace and mercy, and so much more. God’s word proves to us with every turn of the page that He keeps His promises.  And the ultimate proof is that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to die on a cross when we were His enemies so that by His grace and mercy we would be saved and forever experience His eternal riches in Jesus Christ.  Because God sent His Son to die, we know that He will never withhold grace from those who have believed in Him.  That is the point of Romans 8:32,

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Our sin will always try to cause us to doubt God’s promises.  Our sin will always try to convince us to trust in ourselves rather than God. But just because our sin will try to attack us does not mean we need to fall prey to it.  Romans 6:11 (ESV) says,

11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

By the grace of God we are now alive in Christ Jesus.   We are no longer a slave to sin.  We are now in-dwelt by the Spirit of God who is transforming us into the image of Jesus Christ.  And it is through the Word of God that the Spirit is growing us in our love and knowledge and devotion to God.  Let us read and study God’s Word knowing that the Spirit is strengthening us in our faith so that we would trust in God’s promises and not ourselves.