What they meant for evil, God meant for good

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20)

After Joseph’s father died, his brothers thought that Joseph might now take revenge on them for what they did to him many years before (initially meaning to throw him into a well and leave him to die, but later resolving to sell him into slavery instead).  So, they pleaded with him, saying that one of his father’s last wishes was that he would forgive them, which might’ve even been a lie.  Regardless, this was Joseph’s response: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good“.

What an exemplary trust in God’s goodness and sovereignty!  Many change this verse in their mind and cause it to say, “You meant evil against me, but God used it for good.”  Rather than God being the author of the brothers’ evil actions, they would rather make him an expert in damage control.  But the reality is that God meant for all of those things to happen.  It was the brothers who did the evil deed, but it was God who orchestrated it all.  Why?  “To bring it about that many should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).  Joseph acknowledged that God had ordained every evil that his brothers committed, in order to accomplish a greater good.

Something similar and supremely more profound would happen hundreds of years later.  Peter, recalling the event to a group of unbelievers, said, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:23).  The evil act of Jesus’ murder was committed by men with evil hearts.  And yet it was done “according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God“.  What they meant for evil, God meant for good.  To what end?  To bring it about that many should be kept alive, into eternity.

Believer, in every moment, trust in God’s sovereignty.  Know that God means it all for good.

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