"But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."
Genesis 50: 20
King James Version
"God Meant It For Good"
"Just as the body wears clothes and the flesh skin, and the bones flesh, and the heart the chest, so we, soul and body are clothed and enfolded in the goodness of God."
Julian of Norwich
In my life is there an experience where I have seen God turn something disastrous into a blessing for me and others?
"Our heavenly Father never takes anything from His children unless He means to give them something better."
"It took me years to discover the premier lesson that God has a timing all His own and that I must not be impatient when His timing doesn't coincide with mine."
Jacob had never seen a famine like this. For the first time, he feared his family might succumb to hunger, caused by the severe lack of food in Canaan and everywhere else, for that matter.
But one day, some good news reached him. There was food in Egypt. According to Genesis 42: 2, K.J.V., Jacob called his sons together and informed them that he had heard there was corn in Egypt. His instruction was very direct, "Get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die."
Interestingly enough, from the first verse in Genesis 42, it appears that Jacob's sons were looking at each other, wringing their hands and saying, "What should we do?" I wonder if like their father, they had heard there was food available in Egypt but remembering their evil treatment of Joseph, they may not have wanted to go anywhere near Egypt. However, they couldn't tell their father why they had no interest in heading toward Egypt. To do so, would mean they would have to admit to the evil act they had committed against their younger brother, Joseph.
Genesis 42, 3, 4, K.J.V. says: "And Joseph's ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt. But Benjamin, Joseph's brother, Jacob sent not with his brethren; for he said, 'Lest peradventure mischief befall him.'"
It is quite likely Jacob blamed himself for sending Joseph on the trip that ended in his disappearance. What's more, because Jacob used the word "mischief," it is quite likely he felt that Joseph's supposed demise might have been associated with "foul play."
Here again, we see Jacob's divisive behavior at work as he was still "playing" favorites with his children and would not send his youngest child, Benjamin, on a trip away from home.
For a moment, think how you would have felt arriving in Egypt if you were one of Jacob's sons. I don't know about you but I might have looked closely at the faces of the people I met, especially the servants, wondering if one of these individuals could possibly have been my brother.
Finally, these 10 men were led before the governor of the land – bowing before, none other than the brother they had sold. What a scene. And while they didn't know who Joseph was, he certainly recognized every one of them.
Joseph wanted to see if the same spirit of cruelty still lived in his brothers. After accusing them of being spies, Joseph had the men held in prison for 3 days, then he informed them they must bring their youngest brother back to Egypt. In order to make certain they complied with his demand, Joseph required that one brother stay behind.
What I find so revealing is that in Genesis 42: 21, 22, as the brothers discussed the situation they found themselves in, their memories returned to their past behavior and Reuben, the oldest brother, reminded them that he had warned all of his brothers not to deal harshly with Joseph. Now their dastardly deed was coming back on their heads.
The Bible tells us the brothers left Simeon behind and later returned with Benjamin – Joseph's younger brother. Upon seeing his brother, Joseph could not contain his emotions and leaving the room, he wept loudly.
Later, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers who were certain that once their elderly father died, Joseph would retaliate and take out his anger on them.
In some of the most beautiful words ever spoken, Joseph told his brothers, "But as for you ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good…." (Genesis 50:20, K.J.V.). I can hear these words spoken also in the New Testament as Jesus was being nailed to a cross, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Good returned for evil. Kindness in place of killing. Love instead of hate. Forgiveness in place of revenge. Isaac from Syria wrote that we, "conquer evil men by our gentle kindness." Something we must never forget! Throughout Joseph's life, as he looked back, like we too must do, he was able, even in the extreme tragedy of death, slavery and false accusation to see a loving Father at work.
As John Newton so eloquently penned: "God often takes a course for accomplishing His purposes directly contrary to what our narrow views would prescribe. He brings a death upon our feelings, wishes, and prospects when He is about to give us the desire of our hearts."
This is what happened in the life of Joseph and the same heavenly Father who was at work in Joseph's life, is still at work today in your life and mine.
"Lord, we have so much to learn in our walk on this earth. Help us to take each step holding Your hand and relying on Your guidance for us. We want to walk beside You, not ahead or behind. Then, we can renew our strength and mount up with wings like eagles. We want to run and not be weary, walk and not faint.
Thank You, Lord, for Your perfect and powerful plan for our lives and for Your world. In Jesus Name, Amen."
Dorothy Valcarcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus