Even though you think you are going your own way, God steers your Joseph to Egypt. And I cannot imagine my life or this world without the divine intervention we see in the story of Joseph. I’m amazed and thankful that the hand of God is active to save us from ourselves.
12 Now his brothers had gone to graze their father’s flocks near Shechem, 13 and Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.”
17 So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. 18 But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
19 “Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20 “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”
21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to rescue him from their hands. “Let’s not take his life,” he said. 22 “Don’t shed any blood. Throw him into this cistern here in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him.” Reuben said this to rescue him from them and take him back to his father.
23 So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing— 24 and they took him and threw him into the cistern. The cistern was empty; there was no water in it.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”
33 He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.”
34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.
36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
Joseph went out from his father to find his brothers shepherding and he wore the coat. Every interaction with Joseph seems to be a reminder to this brothers that Joseph is the golden child.
The ornate coat could be seen from a distance and before Joseph got to them, they had conspired as to how to kill him. Reuben was the only one who tried to save Joseph and return him to Jacob.
Judah’s response to the plan was the idea to sell Joseph as a slave to the merchants passing by en route to Egypt. That idea would get Joseph out of their lives and let him live. What a generous spirit, that Judah…
And so they did.
Then they learned the first rule of lying and deception. In order to lie, you have to lie again. And again… They told Jacob that Joseph was eaten by an animal. Jacob mourned and would not be comforted. He said he would mourn until he died.
Was it worth it? Was getting rid of their brother worth destroying their father? I’m not sure the brothers thought that far ahead, because they were governed by their emotions.
Meanwhile… that’s a pretty important word. Meanwhile… as we make our plans to sin and to go our own ways, God is making his own plans. God is always at work, and even though he didn’t intend for the brothers to hate Joseph, God intended to work out the situation for good (Romans 8:28).
When the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt, it was no accident who the purchaser was. As we will see in the rest of his story, Joseph’s path to Egypt was paved by God, who worked through the decisions of man to ensure that his plan was achieved.
Which brings me back to me. How many times does God have to tweak the plan to get me where I need to be? How often do I make decisions which put me in the wrong place, and God figures out on the fly how to get me back to the right place? All the time. And ‘on the fly’ really means somehow in advance through the mystery of foreknowledge, free will, and God’s omnipotence working together.
And I’m thankful. I’m thankful that God doesn’t just let the earth unwind and devolve into a complete mess. That’s right. If you think the world is a mess now, imagine what a mess it would be if God didn’t intervene to steer our Joseph’s to Egypt.
Praise God that he steers my Joseph to Egypt all the time. Yours too…