Have you ever experienced one of those GPS fails where an apparent error or lack of data causes your GPS to lead you astray? You’ve hit a dead end but the GPS says to keep on going. Or maybe there is no suitable road for you to take but the GPS says this is definitely the correct route.
Many humorous stories have come from people following bad GPS instructions. But I’m guessing it seemed anything but funny at the time.
As we follow Joseph’s life, there is kind of a sinking suspicion that at some point the GPS gave him some weird directions… or something.
He starts out, the favored son of his father Jacob; there is the coat of many colors gift, great for Joseph, but his brothers don’t think so.
Then there come his dreams. Joseph’s future trajectory looks like he is meant for great things and everyone else in his family will play second (or 11th, 12th or 13th) fiddle. And even his dad isn’t sure about this one.
Here is where things start to go haywire; if Joseph had a GPS, he’d probably be wondering what in the world the directions were doing to him. Because Joseph is betrayed, imprisoned, falsely accused, left for years in waiting…
And the wonder of it all is that just as we ask, “What in the world is happening to Joseph?” We start to see this isn’t something of this world… God has a plan.
God uses the evil betrayal and abuse of his brothers, the seeming “no outlet” situation of slavery, the almost “dead end” of prison to put Joseph in just the right place at just the right time to save… not just himself but countless people in Egypt!
But the story isn’t done, Joseph ends up face-to-face with his betrayers, his brothers. Here he has the chance to forgive, to restore, to save… to see the fulfillment of his dream, more than 20 years later.
That 17 year-old dreamer who was betrayed by his brothers becomes a 40 year-old 2nd in command of all Egypt. And Joseph remains faithful, not vengeful, and not bitter, he doesn’t compromise his character. And his brothers? They’re remorseful and afraid. After all, they beat up and sold their brother. In fear they wonder what would Joseph do to them in retribution?
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.Genesis 50:20-21
Joseph’s life shows what Paul wrote about in Romans 8:28, in all the messy, harsh, all too complex realities experienced in one man’s life.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28
What happened to Joseph was not good. It wasn’t good to be beat up. It wasn’t good to be sold into slavery. It wasn’t good to be falsely accused and imprisoned. It wasn’t good to be forgotten.
But God worked it to good: for Israel to be saved.
You know what? It is no coincidence that nearly 2,000 years later another Joseph has a dream… This time it warns Joseph to protect young Jesus, warning Joseph to to tell Mary and the boy and flee to… wait for it… Egypt. To keep young Jesus safe there for a few years… while God worked his perfect plan and when the time was right, Jesus would save all mankind.
And I stop in awe and wonder of it all… I don’t understand it, if it was up to me I wouldn’t have chosen it, but I can’t imagine it any other way!