The last chapters of Genesis give us a portrait of a God at once bigger than our comprehension and yet intimately involved in the details of our lives. The story of Joseph and his brothers is one of personal redemption and also plays an important role in moving along the narrative of God’s redemption of humanity. In the final chapters of Genesis, God orchestrated the relocation of Jacob’s family to Egypt, marking the first step towards fulfilling the prophecy God gave Abram in Genesis 15:13-16 NIV:
Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. 16 In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”
The story continues in Exodus, which reflects the rescue of the Israelites from Egypt after 400 years, further fulfilling God’s word to Abram. And yet, there is a fulfilment yet to come. In the rest of Genesis 15, God made a covenant with Abram, using the smoking firepots to symbolise His presence. It was not a two-way covenant and God promised that even if Abram (or his descendants) failed to remain faithful, God would be faithful, even to the point of death. This passage was ultimately fulfilled on the cross, when Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice to make a way for us to have a relationship with Him.
It’s important to appreciate the scope of this narrative, because while Joseph may have had one perspective, that of God using his suffering to bring about his family’s salvation from famine, God had even bigger plans that He executed through Joseph’s life. The same is true for each of us. God does incredible transformative work in our hearts and lives, repairing relationships in this generation, building His kingdom here. But we also know that His plans far exceed what we can ever imagine. How exciting to be part of His grand plans! It should comfort us, then, whenever we face trials, to know that God has purpose in our struggles, and though we may not see the outcome we desire in this lifetime, He is using us to further His kingdom and advance His plans.
Spend some time processing what you have learned with your Life Group/Discipler/CLASSES@FGA study group.
Think about your life. How have you seen God’s hand move beyond your expectations? How has He used trials to transform you? How has God worked in difficult circumstances to bring good? What trials do you face right now? Do you need a fresh perspective on those trials? Throughout his life, Joseph unwaveringly trusted in God. He knew that God is good, despite his very difficult circumstances. In the scene when he revealed his identity to his brothers, Joseph told his brothers that God sent him ahead, in order to save them! What an unexpected perspective to have!
Take time to respond to these closing questions:
End the time by praying…
Pray for eyes to see the good God is doing through your trials.
Pray for a willing heart to submit fully to God, finding your security in Him alone.