“ You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) This short phrase captures the “lower and upper stories” that dominate the life of Joseph.
The story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50, or chapter 3 of The Story) includes people behaving badly, perhaps even Joseph, though I think he does come off pretty much a person living into what he believes is God’s purpose (dream) for him. He is richly blessed by being rescued two times (from pit and prison) and both times God allows him to be used (a blessing) to bless many others; first Potiphar’s house and then to Pharaoh’s kingdom (and thus the world). This fulfills Genesis 12:1-3 where God promises that through Abraham he will bless “all peoples on earth.”
This wonderfully told story served God’s people down through time as a reminder of the incredible ways of God, who at times allows what seem to us as awful events, to be used in his “upper story” to fulfill his promise to bless his people, and through his people the world.
There is also a sub theme of Joseph’s weeping over his brothers, as Jesus later weeps over Lazarus and then even later over the people of Jerusalem.
Joseph is forgiving, even as Jesus comes later to forgive his brothers (us) for our unbelief and sin.
Joseph blesses those outside the current family of God even as Jesus comes to bring blessing to Israel, but then extends that grace to all nations.
This great story seems to me to be a story designed by God to lift before us his intent that we honor him always, live into our purpose as richly blessed people, even in our “dark nights”, knowing that he has a greater purpose for us if we only stay faithful and true to his promises.
Key verses for this Sunday
Genesis 45:7-8a 7 God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.8 “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God.
Genesis 50:20-21 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Here’s an audio file of the sermon if you missed it or want to hear it again.