And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life – Genesis 45:5
The events of Joseph revealing his identity to his brothers is an amazing story. His true identity had been hidden from them for a number of reasons, the most obvious one being they had not seen him in years. But this new discover was disturbing to his brothers (44:3). Whether they anticipated retaliation, or punishment or rejection we don’t really know. But Joseph is lavish and persistent with his assurance that all is well. In fact he is totally convinced that in spite of the treatment by his brothers, God used it to prepare a way to preserve life (45:5-8).
What this reveals to us is that no matter how complex and dysfunctional our lives seem to be, God is always at work and working out his purposes. It is a marvelous commentary on Romans 8:28 which states that for those who love God, all things work together for good. How in the world did God pull all those details together in a really messed up situation to accomplish His purpose seems astounding.
But we are reminded that God is eternal, sovereign and omniscient (He knows all things). He made promises to Abram about his descendants and their inheritance in the land and this is one phase of God fulfilling that overall plan.
One of the great assurances that God gives to us is that He is present and working out His purpose in our lives… and I believe that is a daily activity of God since His Spirit indwells every believer and constantly guiding, teaching and reminding us of God’s truth and will (Phil. 1:6).
But this narrative has an eerie similarity to those moments when the Spirit of God suddenly reveals a spiritual reality from God’s Word that suddenly jumps out at us like we had never read that text. The truth of it suddenly becomes very real in our present circumstances. Some people are grieved over such moments, like Josephs brothers were grieved when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, because they feared retribution for their neglect and bad behavior toward Joseph. When the Spirit reveals a truth from Scripture that we have read dozens of times I often hear people frustrated with their apparent lack of spiritual insight to have missed this truth in the past even though they had read that text dozens of times before. They often feel guilty because they often feel it exposes their neglect, or lack of spiritual insight or something.
While I have had that kind of discussion with many believers we often forget that when God reveals and re-energizes the significance of a truth to us now it is often because He wants us to know that this is profoundly relevant to our current circumstances. Sometimes we have skipped over such texts and we feel like we have failed because we had not “seen” this truth and valued it in the way we are presently. But the greater truth is that this is often the very way that the Spirit of God works in us. He is currently revealing something to us that has been hidden because it is especially relevant now compared to other circumstances in the past. This is not a failure on our part as much as a sign that the Spirit of God is at work in us and is revealing the significance of that truth in a way that is relevant to our life now so that we will know how to follow His leading. Joseph chose to reveal himself to his brothers because he saw the hand of God working in his life regardless of human intentions long past done. This revelation was at first disturbing but because Joseph persisted it became life changing for him and his brothers. When the Spirit of God reveals something it can be disturbing but He will persist until we are willing to see He has been working despite our circumstances.
Pastor Brad Little