The God Who Controls All: When one immerses himself in the story of Joseph, one sees that God decrees and orders whatsoever comes to pass. Joseph is disbelieved by his parents, mistreated by his brothers, slandered by his master’s bride, and forgotten by his friends in prison. All of this is in accordance with the sovereign and secret will of God. Then, in a strange twist of divine fate, Joseph is elevated to Pharaoh’s court, and his wicked brothers are found gravelling before him begging for food. This again is in accordance with God’s mysterious will. Joseph understands this quite well, and he expresses this theological truth to his brothers:
… I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt. And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. (Genesis 45:4-8)
Joseph is quite clear. Despite the sin of parents, brothers, seducing women, and vow-breaking fellow prisoners, all is working out according to the plan of God. Family, famine and Pharaoh are all being orchestrated and directed by God in order to accomplish his odd, hidden, and good purpose. Joseph’s story has been planned, decreed, outlined, ordained, and predetermined. Human sin, human righteousness, human misery, human forgetfulness, human remembrance, and human choices are all under the sovereign control of God.
The God Who Blesses Some: Pain and promotion are providentially planned, but for what purpose? As one reads Joseph’s account, one should be struck by the grace of God. The brothers of Joseph do not deserve God’s favor. They are sensual and self-serving men who are guilty of heinous sin. Frankly, they deserve the death penalty and not dinner. However, both God and Joseph grant them grace instead of justice. Joseph’s story is one of a sovereign God, who works out everything according to his plan, in order to provide undeserved blessings to those in his predestined family.
The God Who Blesses All: However, in the process of God blessing his chosen race, God also blesses the surrounding neighborhood. Potiphar’s household is blessed by Joseph. Pharaoh’s prison is improved by Joseph. And at the end of the story, Egypt and the surrounding nations are blessed by Joseph’s wisdom, stewardship, and leadership. In Genesis, one sees that God displays sovereign, effective, particular grace to his church. Additionally, God displays common grace, through his church, to the surrounding nations.
The Church That Blesses The World: God does not love all men equally, but he does love all men. Because Jesus Christ loved his enemies, Christians are to love theirs. Whether believers find themselves safe at home, submitting as slaves, suffering in prison, or serving in government, they should seek to pass along the grace and peace of God to their fellow-man. Our Christian forefathers have blessed the nations with human rights, hospitals, schools, churches, para-church organizations, businesses, and governments that have operated according to biblical principles. As citizens in the United States of America, we stand on the backs of great worshipers of God. We are privileged to enjoy numerous benefits that flow from their Christian orthodoxy and orthoproxy. However, have we dropped the ball? Have we become defeated monks who cower in communes and isolate ourselves from culture; and in doing so, have we ceased to bless the nations?
Christian friends, this is a call to action. Whether at home in Canaan, or abroad in Egypt, let us worship well, bless the church, and improve our community. Whatever God’s decree — capitalism, socialism, communism — let us thrive even in our suffering. May our spiteful brothers, malicious sisters, and self-serving sovereigns all rejoice that they knew us. May the end of our story be like Joseph’s. May God be glorified; may the church be blessed; and may the nations be impressed and improved; even if it costs us our liberty and our life.