The Hand of God

This morning I was reading Alistair Begg’s book, The Hand of God. The book is based around the story of Joseph found in the book of Genesis. Briefly, Joseph is Jacob’s oldest son with his “favorite” wife, Rachel. He grew up recognizing that he was his father’s favorite. As a result, he grew up being hated by his older brothers. 

The brothers became so irate at Joseph that when the opportunity arose, they actually sold him into slavery. Once in Egypt, he became the property of Potiphar, captain of Pharoah’s guard. Over the next few years Joseph experienced some pretty high highs—being put in charge of Potiphar’s household, to very low lows—being falsely accused by Potiphar’s wife and being thrown into prison where he stayed for many years. 

Even in prison he found favor and was given a position of some authority. Still, he must have felt very abandoned, imprisoned on a false charge, with little hope of ever being released. 

But the day came when Pharaoh had a dream. When all the wise men of the realm were unable to interpret the dream, someone finally remembered that Joseph had correctly interpreted a dream he had had years before. Joseph was summoned, interpreted the dream, and as a result ended up second-in-command over all of Egypt. 

During the next few years Joseph enacted a very strict program of gathering grain and storing it for a famine that he had predicted was coming upon the land.

As the story continues, we learn that Joseph’s father and brothers were severely affected by the famine, to the point Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy food. I won’t go into all the details (you can read them for yourself in Genesis 41ff.), but Jacob and his sons end up moving to Egypt where they are provided food and land. 

It really is an astonishing story. Very high highs, very low lows. No one involved could possibly have known that their actions or reactions would be used by God to safeguard His promise to Abraham: “through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed…” (Genesis 22:18). 

That promise would eventually be fulfilled in the Messiah who would come, live, die, and rise again in victory over our sin.

Now, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can “do as you please” and God will bless you. He simply doesn’t work that way. What we do need to remember is that being in God’s will is not always pleasant and easy. Sometimes it can be very hard. Sometimes it can result in persecution, imprisonment, even death. Sometimes we will cry out, as did the psalmist, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?” (Psalm 13:1).

As Alistair Begg explains, “We make a mistake when we try to determine God’s guidance on the basis of what is the most comfortable, acceptable, and rational to us.”[1]

Instead, we should stand on the promise that “we know that in all things [even the bad, hard, unwelcome things] God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

  1.  Alistair Begg, The Hand of God (Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition), p. 34, emphasis added.

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