Have you ever wondered what God is doing? Have you ever gotten impatient with God? There have been numerous times when I felt like saying, “God this is what you need to do and you need to do it now!” Of course, as I look back, God has been so gracious and wise in all that He has done. He knows the who, what, when, where, why and how in every situation and will, despite our interfering efforts, accomplish His will.
I have been teaching through Genesis in my high school Sunday school class. As I came to chapter 42, another very familiar story, I was reminded again that God is in control. This chapter begins with a Destination – Egypt (Genesis 42:1-5). Jacob, the father of the nation of Israel, realizes that his family is in great need. There was a famine in Egypt, and that famine had spread throughout the land, including Canaan where Jacob’s family lived. Interestingly, Jacob seems a little sarcastic as he approaches his sons. He says, “Why do you look upon one another?” In other words, why are you standing around looking at one another, doing absolutely nothing while our family begins to starve. He then sends 10 of his sons to Egypt because he heard there was food there. Notice also that this family was not alone in their need. Genesis 42:5 says that “the sons of Israel came…among those that came.” There were many who were on that same journey. This little phrase was a blessing in disguise for me. NBBI has struggled the last few years with a decreased enrolment. I spoke to a gentleman the other day that had visited another Christian educational institution and he told me that our school was not alone in this. My heart broke for that school because we know the struggles that are associated with decrease, but it encouraged me to know that we are not alone. I am praying for that particular school as I continue to pray for ours.
The chapter continues with an Accusation – Enemy Spies (Genesis 42:6-24). In verse 6, we see God’s will being accomplished. Earlier, God had caused Joseph to dream a couple of dreams that would make his brothers hate him, throw him into a pit and sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelites. The Ishmaelites sold him to Potiphar, Pharoah’s Captain of the Guard. Joseph was then thrown into prison after being falsely accused.While there he correctly interpreted the Chief Butler and Chief Baker’s dreams and now he sits as govenor over the land of Egypt because he also correctly interpreted Pharoah’s dreams. It is important to realize that all that had gone on in Joseph’s life during these difficult years was preparing him to believe that God would accomplish what he had pointed out in his own dreams as a 17 year old. He was 30 when he stood before Pharoah and now it was at least 7 years after that, because the years of plenty had ended (at least 20 years later). As you read down through the passage you will see that Joseph accuses his brothers of being spies who have come to see how bad off Egpyt really was. Why didn’t he just blurt out the fact that he was Joseph their brother? I believe that he thought this was the only way he would see his father and younger brother Benjamin again. Don’t forget these brothers had sold Joseph, took his coat of many colours, smeared it with blood and told their father that Joseph was killed by an animal. Picture it. Now they would go back with the truth that Joseph was not dead; they had actually lied, sold him as a slave, and he was now the highest ranking official in Egypt. Whoa! Wouldn’t it be easier to return with the food and tell Jacob nothing about Joseph?
Well, next we see a Provision – Every sack was full and their money replenished (Genesis 42:25-28). Joseph had been prepared by God to provide for His people. Here again, God used this wonderful story to encourage me. As we face a dry summer financially here at NBBI, I know that God has been preparing someone, some people, who will provide for our every need. Isn’t that exciting? I start to worry and He says, trust Me! The brothers exclaimed at the end of Genesis 42:28, “What is this that God hath done unto us?” They were extremely fearful that Zaphnath-paaneah (Joseph’s Egyptian name given to him by Pharoah) would accuse them of theft also. In fact, God was providing for their needs by the hand of the one they rejected. Another full article could be written on the picture of Jesus Christ’s provision for our salvation from this passage.
This isn’t the end of the story, but space does not permit me to deal with such a lengthy story. What a wonderful lesson in God’s providence! He will accomplish His will! Sometimes He will do it in spite of us; sometimes using us as His instruments. When we want to get ahead of God, when we don’t understand what He is doing, wait! He knows! Use this class, “Waiting 101,” to see God at work in the lives of His people.
Post by: Larry Rushton, Open Bible Bulletin Editor