Wednesday, November 17, 2010

God Uses Even the Wickedness of Men to Serve Him

"So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe, the robe of many colors that he wore. And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. Then they sat down to eat. And looking up they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing gum, balm, and myrrh, on their way to carry it down to Egypt. Then Judah said to his brothers, 'What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother, our own flesh.' And his brothers listened to him. Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt."
- Genesis 37:23-28

We know the story: Joseph had told his father and brothers of dreams in which they bow to and serve him. As might be expected, they resented the idea. Also, their father Israel had exacerbated the conflict by playing favorites, clearly preferring Joseph over his other sons. In their own wickedness, the brothers first plan to murder Joseph, then nervously back off, choosing merely to sell him into slavery to their kin, the Ishmaelites.

What neither Joseph nor his brothers understood was that this was in the purposes of God. Go over to Genesis 45:4-8, especially verse 7, "And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors." God had used the wickedness of Joseph's brothers to bring him to a place from which he would save the lives of the covenant people years later.

However, notice that God never rewards the brothers for their wickedness. While they had planned to sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, he is instead found by the Midianites, who then sell him along. God's purposes are fulfilled, but the brothers are frustrated in their expectation of blood-money. How can anyone read this story and not be convinced of the sovereign decrees of God?

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