19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 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. 21 So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21
Jacob was dead and the brothers had came to the conclusion that Joseph would hate them and exact revenge upon them (50:15). They begged for forgiveness (vs. 17). Joseph’s response can be seen in the scripture above, but it’s verse 20 I would like to focus upon.
There was no vengeance here, there was no hatred and there was no animosity. Joseph treated his brothers with mercy. He treated them with loving kindness. He treated them with undeserved favour, but the questions are these; how does kindness and love and mercy and grace become cultivated in the heart of one so wickedly treated? How does this attitude of complete forgiveness and compassion and affection and kindness come out of the heart of one so badly treated?
The answer is found in Joseph’s theology. He had a very clear understanding of the fact that what his brothers had done to him was evil, but that though they had meant it for evil, God meant it for good. He had a clear understanding that God was at work, and that God was in control, and that he could trust God with the outcome. It was his theology of the sovereign purposes of God that had generated this attitude of heart.
The big picture that Joseph saw was in the reality that although his brothers had mistreated him, it was in the purposes of God. He recognised that God’s purpose were so vast, and so all-encompassing, and so far-reaching as to be really, staggeringly amazing. Bottom line! The Lord used Joseph’s suffering and his subsequent circumstances to accomplish His own sovereign purposes, the far bigger picture.
God has a plan for the world, and in order to fulfil that plan for the world, He had a plan for the nation of Israel. In order to fulfil His plan for the nation of Israel, He had a plan for Joseph, it all was tied together. The plan for His chosen people included their survival – their survival during a seven-year famine. During that seven-year famine, there was no food in Canaan. This, in turn, brought them to Egypt where there was plenty of food, and when they arrived in Egypt, because of the greatness of Joseph, they were given a land of their own, the best of land, called the “Land of Goshen.”
Over the next four centuries, that group of people would be transformed from a family into a great nation. This was all part of God’s plan to fulfil His covenant promises of a seed and salvation that would extend to the whole Earth as He promised Abraham in Genesis 12. God was making all things work together for good by the accomplishment of His great plan. God intended that the trials of this one, very unlikely hero, would be for the good of his family, and then for the good of the nation that would come out of his family, and through that nation, be for the good of the whole World.
Joseph had suffered. He had suffered repeatedly throughout his early life, but the Bible never tells us that God was punishing him for his sin. Joseph did not suffer because God was punishing him for his sin, but he did suffer so that God could ultimately save people like you and me. There had to be a nation of Israel so that out of that nation would come the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
So, is this true or not?
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
How really secure are we when things get tough? Here is the extent of our security in one simple statement, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.”
This is the extent of our security. This is an incredibly comforting and reassuring statement. There cannot be a more reassuring statement than this. No statement, made to a Christian, could contribute more hope, more happiness, more freedom or more joy to the heart than this statement, because what it says is, that no matter what pain, no matter what problems, no matter what failures, no matter what difficulties, no matter what disasters, no matter what sins, no matter what suffering, no matter what temptation, all things work together for good.
The extent of this is emphasised in the Greek word ‘panta’ meaning all things. It is a comprehensive promise, meaning no limits. There’s nothing that qualifies the “all things,” nothing. It means, absolutely what it says, all things work together for good. God takes anything and everything that occurs in a believer’s life and rather than it having the power to remove our salvation or having the power to bring condemnation, God makes it work together for the believer’s ultimate good. This is the greatest promise we can have in this life. There are absolutely no limits on this statement. It is limitless.
In Romans 8:32 It reiterates the limitless nature of this security when it says, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
In other words, if God would give us the best gift, which is His Son, to save us, won’t God do whatever is necessary to keep us now that we’re His? That’s the point. He will freely, without restraint, give us all things, whatever the extent, whatever the amount, whatever the intensity, whatever the overwhelming character and nature of our trouble, it all is woven together by God for our good.
Look back at the verse again. The verse starts with this confidence, “And we know…” This isn’t something that is ambiguous, this isn’t something that is a possibility, this isn’t something that is a potential, this is something that is a reality-and we know that God causes all things to work together. The Greek word for ‘work together’ is ‘sunerge’ from which we get ‘synergism,’ which means ‘to work together.’ Everything is synergistic, everything blends together, everything operates cooperatively for our good.
So if this is true, surely we can trust God to work his purposes out.