The Bigger Picture

Introduction

I used to watch a show on television called, “Connections.”  It was an amazing show because it would show how something today is connected to an event or person thousands of years ago.  I recall how something was connected to an ancient person plowing his field.  It was quite fascinating.

We can look at our own lives and note how one thing leads to another.  The events of our lives and the lives of others are somehow connected.  We are affected by others and events and we affect others and even events.  We are all connected in one way or another.

I’ve made the same observation when reading the Bible.  It is interesting how one thing leads to another.  Blessings can lead to happiness or pain and that can still lead to other things in the future.  It has also become evident to me that God works through these events to carry out His will.  I do not believe that God controls everything that happens on the earth, but I do believe that God’s will cannot be thwarted.  God’s purpose will prevail.  There is a big picture that only God knows.

We are going to talk somewhat about these connections in this lesson.  We are going to take some examples in the Bible to see how one thing leads to another and how God’s will is done through them all.  We will begin our discussion with a look at Exodus 1: 6-14.

 

Scripture Lesson

Exodus 1:6-14 (NKJV) -- {6} And Joseph died, all his brothers, and all that generation. {7} But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. {8} Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. {9} And he said to his people, “Look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we; {10} come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and it happen, in the event of war, that they also join our enemies and fight against us, and so go up out of the land.” {11} Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh supply cities, Pithom and Raamses. {12} But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were in dread of the children of Israel. {13} So the Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor. {14} And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage— in mortar, in brick, and in all manner of service in the field. All their service in which they made them serve was with rigor.

What do we see overall in these verses?

  1. The Israelites prospered in number and might – Verse seven tells us that the Israelites were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty.  The land was also filled with them.  So the Israelites became a mighty people.  We would say that in general they prospered.
  2. The Israelites were put in bondage because of the latter – the King of Egypt was evidently threatened by the might of the Israelites and decided to oppress them.

However, why did the Israelites prosper?  Why were the Israelites in Egypt in such large numbers anyway?  Well, we have to go back to look at the connections to these events.

Notice that verse 6 says that Joseph died, all his brothers, and all his generation.  This is significant because the story of Joseph is significant in this connection to Egypt. Let’s briefly go over the story of Joseph so that you would see how his death was so significant to not only the Israelites prosperity, but also to their locale.

Joseph was one of the sons of Jacob, son of Isaac, Son of Abraham.  You can see a connection there as well.  We see how Abraham and the events in his life led to Isaac and how Isaac led to Jacob.  I encourage you to read Genesis chapters 12 through 50 for a good look at the bigger picture here.  You will also notice how one thing led to another and how they led up to the Israelites in Egypt.

 

Joseph Sold

OK.  Joseph was sold to Ishmaelites (Midianites) by his brothers.  His brothers hated him and had previously plotted to kill him.  We should note the connection here.  If the brothers hadn’t hated Joseph then they would not have sold him to the Ishmaelites and there would be not Israelite bondage in Egypt (at least not by this path).  See Genesis 27:25-28.

 

Joseph in Potiphar’s house

The Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar who was an Egyptian.  Potiphar was captain of the guard in Egypt.  Joseph ended up serving in Potiphar’s house.  Here it was evident that God was with Joseph because all that he did prospered.  See Genesis 37:36.
Potiphar made Joseph overseer of his house because he recognized that God was with Joseph.  Again notice another connection.  I should point out that we don’t really notice these connections until after the fact.  See Genesis 39:1-4.

Joseph was pursued by Potiphar’s wife who wanted to have sex with him.  However, Joseph refused to have sex with her.  Potiphar’s wife falsely accused Joseph of trying to rape her, which resulted in Joseph being placed into prison.  Notice this connection. 

Joseph in Prison

It just so happened that Joseph was in prison at the same time a baker and cup bearer to Pharaoh was in prison.  Joseph prospered even while in prison.  He interpreted the dreams of these two, which would be a major link to future events.  The cup bearer would eventually be restored to his office and the baker would be executed.  However, the cup bearer did not remember Joseph when he was released from prison.  It was a couple of years later when his memory was jarred.  See Genesis 40.

Joseph Before Pharaoh

Pharaoh had dreams this time, but none of his magicians and the like could interpret them.  At this the cup bearer remembered Joseph.  Pharaoh sent for Joseph and Joseph successfully interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams.  Pharaoh believes Joseph’s interpretation of his dream and sets him in authority over Egypt directly under himself.

A very interesting verse would suggest that the purpose for Joseph’s adventure was to feed many during a seven year famine.  Consider the following verse of scripture.

Genesis 45:5-8 (NKJV) -- {5} But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. {6} For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. {7} And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. {8} So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

Genesis 50:20 (NKJV) -- {20} But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.

Joseph was sold into slavery and suffered prison so that many would live.  Though this is a fitting end for a certain point in the path of God’s will, we cannot say that it is the end at all. 

Jacob’s Family in Egypt

Genesis 46:26-27 (NKJV) -- {26} All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. {27} And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.

Joseph summons his father and family to come to Egypt because the famine was severe and there was food in Egypt.  Therefore, Jacob and his family moved to Egypt.  This is how the Israelites (Jacobs family) got to Egypt in the first place.

Jacob, Joseph and the rest of the family remain in Egypt, though Jacob is returned to Canaan to be buried after he died.  The family continues to grow and prosper while in Egypt, which brings us back to Exodus 1.

 

Observations

What if there was no famine?  Pharaoh would not have had his dream and Joseph would have remained in prison assuming the same path of events.  However, Pharaoh had a dream because of the famine, which Joseph interpreted.  Do you see how one thing led to another?  It doesn’t seem likely that all of these events could have happened by chance.

One event led to another.  Of course we could go all the way back to Adam if we wanted to.  However, a more immediate bath starts with Abraham or perhaps Noah.  One thing led to another until the Israelites thrived in Egypt and then became slaves in Egypt.

The Bigger Picture

We can’t forget the bigger picture.  All that happened concerning Joseph was not limited to Joseph.  The Bible does not appear to be a series of disjointed stories like the stories we see on television in the Twilight Zone for example.

The Israelites bondage in Egypt led directly to the deliverance God provided through Moses.  Even the story of Moses is an interesting one considering the concept of connections.  In any case, the deliverance of the Israelites (Hebrews at this time) led to the giving of the law and eventually through the series of generations, Jesus Christ was born.

 

Application

Consider your life and the events of it.  Consider how one thing in your life led to another.  Now I am not suggesting that everything that happened in your life was directed by God.  Acts of sin are not directed by God.  Consider how one event led to another event and remember the times that God intervened for you.  We should always consider that God is taking the human race to a final destination.  Jesus talked about this destination frequently in the Gospels.  There is the final place of separation where the righteous are gathered to God and the unrighteous are thrown away to burn.

Also consider that all good things do not necessarily lead to pleasure.  The prosperity of the Israelites led to slavery.  However, through it all God’s purpose was being established.

 


The Bigger Picture
By William R. Cunningham
October 23, 2005