Joseph’s life has been a series of trials and tragedies. He has been a road marked by many valleys and few mountains. We have seen the difficult life he had as a child. We have witnessed the hatred and cruelty of his brothers. We have seen him working as a slave. We have seen him falsely accused and imprisoned. We have seen him abandoned and forgotten in that prison. We have also seen him taken out of that prison and elevated to a position of prestige, power, and prominence in Egypt. We watched as Joseph was reunited with his brothers. We saw God use him to bring his brothers to a place of repentance. We saw him reunited with his father. We have seen all the highs and the lows of Joseph’s life. And through every valley and across every mountain, one truth held true: God Meant it For Good.
Even as Joseph nears the end of his life in these verses, he continues to display a remarkable faith in his God. It is that faith and confidence that I want to examine this today. One thing has been confirmed and reaffirmed in my heart and mind, and that is the truth that God is behind every event that occurs in our lives. There are no accidents. There is no such thing as coincidence. There are only providence and the outworking of the perfect will of God. This is the clear teaching of Scripture, Isa. 46:9–11; Eph. 1:11; Psa. 135:6.
As Joseph approaches the end of his earthly life, I want you to see some steps Joseph took that demonstrate his absolute confidence in the providence of God. I want to teach on the subject God Meant It For Good. I would like for us to watch as Joseph Releases His Past; Remembers God’s Providence and Rests On God’s Promises. These steps leave us no doubt that Joseph understood that God was in absolute control of every event in his life. Let’s consider this text and learn the truth that God Meant It For Good.
Verse 15–19 RELEASES HIS PAST
After the death of Jacob, the brothers of Joseph as worried. They remember all the terrible things they did to Joseph years ago. They remember how they hated him. They remember how they sold him as a slave. They remembered how they covered up his disappearance with the lie that he was dead. They remember these things and many others and they are afraid. They are sure that now that their father is dead, Joseph will seek revenge against them. So, they come up with a plan. They sent someone to Joseph with a message. They want him to believe that Jacob left word for him to forgive his brothers before he died. When Joseph hears their words, he weeps.
It was never in Joseph’s heart to hold their past over their heads. He had forgiven them for their transgression a long time ago. As Joseph nears the end of his life, he can look back with a clear conscience. We have no record that he harmed no one, and we have no record that he holds a grudge against anyone. In fact, he reminds his brothers that he is not in the place of God. In other words, they need not fear Joseph with what they have done wrong; they will eventually face a higher court and an infallible judge! That is a good way to die!
As we pass through life, there will be times when we are hurt by the words and actions of others. It is inevitable, Luke 17:1. We will be hurt and sometimes, we will be hurt deeply. We cannot help what others do to us, but we can help what we do with the hurts of others. When the hurtful words and harsh deeds of others break our hearts, we really only have two courses of action. We can be angry, hold a grudge and seek revenge. Or, we can forgive them and leave the matter in the hands of God. Here is the scriptural mandate was given to us by the Lord, Matt. 18:21–35; Luke 17:1–5; Eph. 4:32; Rom. 12:17–21.
One day, we will all leave this world. Are you prepared to leave it with a clean conscience toward others? Here is what you need to do: If you offending party you need to go to them and ask for forgiveness. Until you do, your relationship with God will never be what it could be. (Ill. Matt. 5:23–24) If you are the offended party, you need to take the matter before the Lord and strive to reach a place of forgiveness. You will never be happy in the Lord; your joy will never be full, and you will never be of use to Him until you have forgiven those who have wronged you. It may be that you will have to confront the person about their sin, Luke 17:3. (Joseph did not sugar coat what his brothers had done to him.) It may be that, with the help of God, you can simply forgive them. Either way, you need to deal with the issue before it drains the spiritual life out of you, Heb. 12:15. Joseph was able to leave this world with a clean conscience toward others. Will you?
Verse 20-21 REMEMBERS GOD’S PROVIDENCE
Joseph does not pretend that what his brothers did to him was not evil. It most certainly was. He knew the intent of their heart. After all, he was there when they betrayed him and sold him as a slave. But, Joseph saw deeper than their intentions. In spite of what they were doing, God was doing something far more wonderful. Yes, they sinned against Joseph, but God even used their sin to accomplish His eternal plan. In one verse Joseph looks back on thirty years of trial and triumph and acknowledges God’s hand in every detail of his life. Joseph knows that the hatred and betrayal, the slavery and the imprisonment, and the loneliness and separation, were all part of a much bigger plan. God used the valleys and the victories of Joseph’s life to reach Joseph’s brothers; to encourage Jacob; to bring the children of Israel to Egypt, and to literally save the world. Surely, God did mean it for good!
It goes without saying that God will probably not use the events of our lives to accomplish such amazing things in our own lives. It is not likely that He will use the trials and tragedies we face to save nations and accomplish His redemptive plan. However, we can be sure of one thing. As we pass through this life, we can count on the fact that every valley and every victory is a part of His perfect plan for us and that He will use them all for our good and for His glory! That is His promise, Rom. 8:28; James 1:3; 1 Peter 1:7–8. We would have to admit that we like the victory more than we like the valley. We like the good days more than we like the bad days.
Here is the question that confronts us: are we willing to joyfully endure everything life throws at us knowing that God is behind it all and that He will get glory from it? Are we willing to accept His will, even when it goes against our will, knowing that He will develop us through it? That was Paul’s experience, 2 Cor. 12:7–10, 15. We should strive to make it ours as well. When we pass through the hard places of life, it is easy to forget that God is in control. The next time life pulls the rug out from under you, remember that God is always with to catch you, Heb. 13:5; Matt. 28:20. Remember that He invites you to come to Him for comfort and consolation, Matt. 11:28; Phil. 4:6–7; 1 Pet. 5:7; Heb. 4:15–16. Remember, no matter what takes place in life, God Meant It For Good!
Verse 22–26 RESTS ON GOD’S PROMISE
After a long, productive, and happy life, the time came for Joseph to leave this world. When that time came, he made the children of Israel promise to take his bones with them when they come out of Egypt. Joseph is claiming a promise God made to his father many years before, Gen. 46:2–4. Joseph dies believing that God will visit His people one day and take them to a better land.
That is the same assurance the saints have today. We are looking for a visitation from the Lord. The sad truth of our own mortality bothers many. The fact is, we are all leaving this world, but death is not the end, John 5:28–29! Our departed loved one, who died with their faith in Jesus, is with the Lord and there will come a day when the Lord will visit their graves and bring those bodies out, 1 Thes. 4:13–18. They will be raised from the dead in a new and improved edition, 1 Cor. 15:49–57.
Of course, we have an even greater promise than the one given to Israel. Our Lord is preparing a place for us and one day, He will return to get us, John 14:1–3; 1 Cor. 15:20. He may even come for us before we face death, 1 Cor. 15:51–52. But, even if He doesn’t and death’s icy hand places its frigid hold of us someday, rest in His promise that, while this body may return to the ground, the soul goes to rest with Him, 2 Cor. 5:8. What is death, but a door into life – Paul – 2 Tim. 4:6. “Departure” – “A travelers term, a soldier term, a farmers term, a legal term.” So, whether I go by way of the clods or the clouds, I am a winner either way! I can go to my grave with a promise like that, how about you?
Joseph left this world clinging to the great promises of a mighty God. He left here right with God and man. He left here with full assurance that God had led him every step of the way. He left here knowing that death was not the end, but that there was a better future down the road. When your time to leave here comes, and it will, how will you leave? Are you right with your fellow man? Is everything like it should be between you and the rest of God’s family? If there are problems, fix them today. You can and you should! Do you have the absolute assurance that God’s hand has been active in every part of your life? Or, are there some events that you can’t seem to reconcile just yet? Why not bring those areas of doubt and confusion to the Lord and let Him help you?
Why not ask Him to give you peace until you reach that land where everything will make sense? Can you face your own death with confidence? Do you have the assurance that you are saved and that you will spend eternity with the Lord in Heaven? Can you rest in the knowledge that He is coming to get you through the door of death? Maybe you are dealing with the death of a loved one and you haven’t quite reached the place where you can see God’s hand in it. Maybe there is no peace in your heart about it. Come to Him and let Him help you with that today.
Isn’t it staggering when you think that one sermon on the day of Pentecost produced 3000 people? And we had some cities yesterday where 3000 sermons were preached and nobody was saved. And it doesn’t even faze us.”