God Is Involved in the Details

Published February 8, 2016 by

God is Involved in the Details
by Dave Baker

I believe that God, in His love and wisdom, gave us a reliable source of Truth that transcends millennia, culture, and the passionate complaints of this natural world. Every word of scripture rightly understood is profitable for our lives, both spiritually and physically. The Bible directs and protects the well-being of His Bride the Church. Therefore, it is profitable for us to approach this divine storehouse to find and enjoy the principles for real living.

Character studies in the Bible offer one avenue to learn how to live and view life. Joseph, the Old Testament character shows us the panorama of an exalted boy who became a humbled slave, an elevated prince, and a ruling patriarch. The book of Genesis records more details of Joseph’s life than any other person or incident. Jon Bloom concluded that the creation account is about 3 percent of the book of Genesis. The epochs between Adam and Abraham comprises another 15 percent. The record of Noah and God’s judgment to Father Abraham is 21 percent. Isaac’s story is 8 percent. Jacob’s story is 23 percent. And finally, at the end of the book, we come to Joseph’s life, which devotes nearly 30 percent of the book of Genesis.

Good students of the Bible understand that volume does not necessarily mean greater value in God’s “word economy”. However, God’s detailed revelation of Joseph’s life suggests that there are crucial truths our Lord wants us to see and treasure.

Joseph’s story, blesses the church with innumerable examples of a believer walking by faith through the trials of life. How many times have we gone through difficulties in life only to emerge on the other side giving God glory for having orchestrated every circumstance? This part of the Biblical record unveils God’s role in the affairs of humanity.

Sovereign Dominion and Joseph’s Life (Genesis 47-50)
A brief reading of Joseph’s life reveals incredible details of God’s direct or indirect involvement.

– Sarah and Rachel agonized with infertility. God had closed both of their wombs and God gave each women children (30:1–2).
– Joseph’s birth placed him in a strategic patriarchal order (Gen. 30:22–24).
– Jacob’s preference of Rachel and subsequent favoritism for Joseph fit perfectly into God’s plan (29:30; 37:3).
– Joseph never asked for prophetic dreams yet God gave them to this boy (37:5–11).
– His brothers’ jealousy, sibling rivalry and family conflicts, were steps that promoted God’s plan (37:8).
– His brothers’ evil, murderous, greedy betrayal of him, were orchestrated by God. (37:18–28, 50:20).
– The passing slave caravan was not happenstance (37:26–27).
– Potiphar’s high position in Egypt and complicity to the slave trade opened divine doors (37:36).
– Joseph was gifted with extraordinary administration (39:2–4).
– Potiphar’s favored and trusted Joseph (39:4–6; Pro 16:7).
– God used Potiphar’s immoral wife and dishonest report to reposition Joseph (Gen. 39:8–18; Rom. 1:24).
– Potiphar spared Joseph’s life and transferred him to the king’s prison (39:19–20).
– The threat to Pharaoh was exposed resulting in the cupbearer and baker’s encounter with Joseph (39:20; 40:1–3).
– God gave Joseph favor with the prison warden (39:21–23).
– Joseph’s selection to care for the cupbearer and baker was not by chance (40:4).
– Was it a coincidence that both the cupbearer and baker would have peculiar dreams the same night? (40:5). Who intervened and gave each their own dream?
– Joseph’s empathy for their troubled hearts created a relational memory for the cupbearer (40:6–7).
– They both trusted Joseph enough to confide in him (40:8–20).
– Joseph’s ability to discern the meaning of dreams was not a natural gift but supernatural (40:12–13, 18–19).
– The Egyptian judicial processes exonerated the cupbearer returning him to Pharaoh (40:20–22).
– The cupbearer failing to remember Joseph for two years was no accident (40:23–41:1).
– Who originated and prescribed the timing for Pharaoh’s dreams (41:1–7, 25)?
– Why were Pharaoh’s counselors unable to discern his dreams (41:8)?
– Why did the cupbearer remember Joseph? Who gave him the courage to speak to Pharaoh perhaps fearing he might stir up past suspicion? (41:9–13).
– Why was Pharaoh desperate enough to listen to a Hebrew prisoner (41:14–15)?
– Who gave Joseph discernment concerning Pharaoh’s dreams? (41:25–36).
– The miraculous and immediate trust that Pharaoh placed in Joseph’s interpretation and counsel is astounding (41:37–40).
– Asenath was given to Joseph who gave him two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim; future tribes of Israel (41: 45, 50–52; 48:5).
– What about the complex natural phenomena producing the extraordinarily fruitful years, resulting in human prosperity, followed by the extraordinarily barren years of suffering, which consolidated the Egyptian wealth and power in Pharaoh’s hands (41:53–57; 47:13–26)?
– Then there is the terrible hardship of Jacob’s family starving which forced him to send his sons to Egypt for grain (42:1–2).
– Shortly after, the brothers’ safely journeyed to Egypt and with Benjamin’s nonparticipation (42:3–4).
– What do we make of the brothers’ bowing before Joseph fulfilling the dreams they had once despised (42:6)?
– Joseph’s whole plan and test of his brothers was part of God’s plan (42:9–44:34).
– Simeon was chosen to remain in Egypt (42:24).
– Jacob refused to allow Benjamin to return to Egypt. This must have been disconcerting for Simeon’s prison experience (42:38).
– Judah personally guaranteed Benjamin’s safe return, which softened Jacob to allow Benjamin to go to Egypt (43:8–14).
– Joseph shrewdly and successfully planned to trap Benjamin for stealing, leading to the unimaginable anguish of his brothers (43:15–44:17).
– Because he loved his father, Judah was willing to be sold into slavery in trade for Benjamins’ freedom. (37:26, 27; 44:18–34).
– Joseph’s timing in revealing himself to his brothers was part of God’s plan (45:1–14).
– Jacob’s sons told him of Joseph’s survival and position in Egypt. Consequently, this exposed his sons’ twenty-plus–year treachery in Joseph’s disappearance and all the relational pain it caused, all a part of God’s sovereign will (45:25–28).
– God directed Jacob to move to Egypt (46:1–4).
– The nation Israel would live and multiply for 430 years and become agonizingly enslaved, fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham (Gen 15:13–14). All of this was set in motion the result of God’s plan (46:5–47:12).

What About My Life?

Joseph had a unique role to play in Israel’s redemptive history. I would like to note two reasons God has given us a close-up of Joseph’s life. First, it is obvious that every character in this narrative made their own choices. Those choices were influenced by their individual personalities, how their culture viewed personal preferences, and their natural inclinations.

Secondly, we must conclude that God was dynamically involved, not as a spectator who reacted to personal choices and situations. God is always dynamically proactive, He never abandons or forsakes us, both during the good and the evil times we experience (Heb. 13:5). Therefore, we cannot help but conclude that God’s complicated involvement in Joseph’s life is not unique to Joseph. God is also intricately involved in the minuscule details of our lives.

Joseph likely could feel God’s nearness when he woke from his prophetic dreams and probably when he experienced remarkable favor from others. However, I wonder if Joseph felt the nearness of God when his brothers threw him into the pit and he could hear their murderous plots. How near did Joseph feel God’s presence when he screamed for mercy, as he was cruelly drug off to Egypt, shackled behind an Ishmaelite caravan? How near was God when Joseph was falsely accused and incarcerated for years in the king’s prison? God was always near and intimately involved with every event of Joseph’s life. For God was waving His baton over the music of His orchestra as He worked all things together for Joseph’s good and for millions of others.

Yes, God allowed the evil, heinous words, actions and choices made by people to afflict Joseph. Yes, and God allowed those dark moments without family or friends to embrace, console and hear his struggles. In allowing, the evil to play out, God was routing the footsteps of every person involved, resulting in accomplishing His glorious purposes (Rom. 8:28). We know this is true, because Joseph summarized the actions of his brothers by saying: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Gen. 50:20).

The narrative of Joseph’s life, is a love letter from our Good Shepherd (John 10:11)—the same Good Shepherd who guided Joseph through the valley of the shadow of death, and later into green pastures. He was faithful to pursue Joseph with good all the days of his life (Ps. 23:1–6) This story leaves us with the truth that no matter what we are experiencing; sweet or bitter, good or evil, for long periods of time or short, it is never proof that God has abandoned us (John 14:18). Our wise and intimately involved Father always pilots our journey and is with us in every facet of our lives (Ps. 23:4), he is working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28), and he will be with us to the end (Matt. 28:20).

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