God Intends for Good

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." - Genesis 50:20

For the past two years, this verse has been one of my favorites in the entire Bible. While the verse itself is amazing, context makes it so much more powerful. I’m gonna give an abbreviated summary of this story (it starts in Genesis 37 and ends in chapter 50).

  • This is at the end of the story of Joseph.

  • Joseph was the youngest of 12, and his father, Jacob, loved him (Joseph is the guy with the colorful coat, and his brothers already weren’t too happy about that).

  • Joseph has two dreams where his brothers are bowing down to him, and he tells them about these dreams.

  • His brothers get really mad and decide to kill him, but at the last minute decide to sell him into slavery instead.

  • He becomes a slave to Potiphar - a very powerful man in Egypt.

  • Potiphar’s wife tries to sleep with Joseph, he refuses and then is thrown in jail because she said that he tried to seduce her.

  • He interprets some dreams while in prison, and one of his fellow prisoners eventually tells Pharaoh about him when Pharaoh has a dream that can’t be interpreted.

  • Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams accurately, and is eventually made the second most powerful man in all of Egypt, behind Pharaoh.

  • There is a severe famine, Egypt has plenty of food because of Joseph’s interpretation of the dream, so all surrounding people have to come to Egypt for food.

  • Jacob sends his sons, Joseph’s brothers, to Egypt to get food so they don’t starve.

  • They come to Egypt, and bow down before the person that’s in charge of giving out the food - this person is Joseph (They don’t know it’s Joseph, but he knows that it is them) (also, all these years later, Joseph’s dreams are coming true).

  • Joseph eventually reveals himself to his brothers, and Pharaoh gives all of his brothers and his father their own land in Egypt (this is how the nation of Israel came to live in Egypt).

  • Jacob dies, and Joseph’s brothers are scared that Joseph will treat them harshly now.

  • They come to Joseph and lie about what their father said - they tell Joseph that Jacob asked him to forgive his brothers for the things they did to him.

  • Joseph responds in Genesis 50:19-21 “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.’ And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”

I love this story so much. There is so much we can learn from observing how faithful Joseph was, but the thing about this story that constantly blows me away is God’s heart to restore and redeem. And it is summed up in this verse, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

God put Joseph exactly where he needed to be, exactly when he needed to be there. Because of the interpretation of the dream that God gave Joseph, he was able to feed his brothers. Because of the interpretation of the dream, Joseph was in a position of power and influence. Because Joseph was sold into slavery, he was able to save his family. God saved the nation of Israel through Joseph. God took a situation that was utterly hopeless, and used it to save His people.

This isn’t a characteristic of God we see only in this story. It’s a characteristic of God that is intertwined with the story of the world. God created a perfect world, then sin entered in because of two people’s mistakes. Instead of starting over, God chooses to write an incredible narrative where He restores everything back to the way He initially created it to be. He does this through sacrificing His only Son, and what better way to describe the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus; “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

God doesn’t stop at restoring humanity and the world. He chooses to restore everything in our lives that needs to be made whole. Recently, this has been my favorite characteristic of God. He doesn’t let us stay where we are or how we are, but He takes the things that are broken and falling apart and puts them back together, better than before. Maybe there are things in your life that feel hopeless. Maybe you feel like you’ve been in prison for years, and you didn’t do anything wrong. If that is the case, hold onto this hopeful promise. God will restore all things for His good and for our good. Someone may have intended to harm you, but God intends it for good to accomplish what will be done, the saving of many lives.

Author | John Wesley

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