The Blessings of God Transcends Our Situations

Base Scripture: Genesis 37:1-36, 39:1-6

Introduction

We always try to understand and sometimes figure out why certain things happen. We perceive that the good things come from God and the bad things do not. We measure "blessings" by the good results of the things that we do. In other words, if good things are happening to me then God must be blessing. If good things are not happening, then we tend to believe, that God is not blessing us in that thing that we are doing.

I will show in this study that the previous assumption is not a good one. Sometimes the "bad" things that happen to us are in tuned with what God is doing. Furthermore, I will show by example that the blessings of God are not dependent nor can they be identified by simply looking at the "good" things that happen to us.

We are going to look at a specific situation in the life of Joseph, Jacob’s son as an illustration to the previous point.

 

Good and Bad

First I think it is expedient to briefly examine the concept of good and bad. We tend to believe that good things are pleasant or desirable things. If something is good then we believe it does not produce pain nor is it undesirable. Of course if we would just think about that for a moment, we will immediately find that this is not true. For example, some of the medicine and the medical procedures that we go through are not pleasant and sometimes very painful. Consider an operation where you are cut open and then must heal. These may produce much pain but they are for our good and we recognize such. This same philosophy extends to the life experience realm as well.

For one thing, "good" is relative. What I may consider good may not be good at all. What I consider good is derived from my own morals and conscience. If these are warped (out of sync with those of the kingdom of God) then so is my concept of good and bad or right and wrong. Therefore, the only true or stable standard that we have for goodness or badness is God. God’s WAY is how we can truly measure what is good and bad. God’s WAY is what the basis of our morals and conscience should be so that our "good" and "bad" line up with the ideals of God’s WAY.

The major point that I want to make is that we have to look to God and His WAY in order to really determine what is good or bad. We cannot conclude that something is good or bad just because it brings pleasure or pain. We cannot define goodness or blessings as something that has produced the desired result. Here again is another reason why Bible study is so important. How will we know God’s WAY? How will we obtain a clue of what good and bad are relative to God? We only have his written word to base these principles on. By abiding by and living the word of God we become more and more influenced by that word, that is, we begin to conform more and more to God’s WAY.

Joseph

Let me first provide some information from the Bible that will help set the stage for our primary discussion. Joseph was a seventeen-year-old boy at this time (Genesis 37:2). The Bible says that his father Jacob loved him more than his other sons because he was born when he was real old. Jacob made Joseph a richly ornamented robe as well, which his brothers looked upon with disdain. The Bible also tells us that Joseph’s brothers hated him and had nothing nice to say about him (Genesis 37:4). Keep in mind that some of Jacob’s sons (Joseph’s brothers) had different mothers. See Genesis 35:23-26 for a summary of Jacob's sons.

 

Joseph’s Dream

Joseph had two dreams that he shared with his brothers and father (only the second was shared with his father). See Genesis 37:5-11. His brothers were upset with him because of the first dream that he shared with them. Joseph’s brothers hated him even more because of this dream. They seemed to think that Joseph was trying to tell them that he would rule over them some day. They considered the dream to be a prophecy of some sort.

The second dream produced his father’s rebuke. We have to consider what the implications are for a Hebrew to bow down and worship anyone besides God. However, it appears that the brothers’ hate for Joseph was not due to religious or godly reasons. They were simply jealous of Joseph. Jacob, Joseph’s father, kept the dream in mind though.

Note that no one attempted to objectively interpret the dream though the father was closer to that end than Joseph’s brothers. This dream does appear to be a prophecy considering the events that would eventually unfold over the next few years. However, it wasn’t as his brothers’ thought.

What if we listened and asked more questions instead of jumping to conclusions?

The Plot Against Joseph

Jacob had sent Joseph to his brothers to get a report on them and the flock they were grazing (Genesis 37:12-13). His brothers saw him coming in the distance and began to plot to kill Joseph. They would report to their father that a ferocious animal killed Joseph. This plot was fueled by their jealousy of Joseph and immediately because of his dreams.

(Gen 37:19-20 KJV) "And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. {20} Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams."

The eldest brother, Reuben, came to Joseph’s rescue by suggesting something besides killing Joseph. Reuben had planned to rescue Joseph from his brother’s hands but his attempts failed, as we will soon see.

Joseph Sold Away

Joseph was stripped of his clothes and put in a cistern when he finally reached his brothers (a cistern is an artificial reservoir used to store rainwater. It is similar to a well but is not fed by underground water seepage, rather run-off of rainwater). Joseph’s brothers (except Reuben) sold him to the Ishmaelites that were on their way to Egypt (Genesis 37:25-28).

Reuben was very distressed when he discovered that Joseph was missing. The Bible doesn’t say whether Reuben really knew what happened to Joseph. However, the brother concocted a story and produced some evidence that would support it. They would report to Jacob that a wild animal ate Joseph and all that was left was the blood stained robe.

Jacob was extremely distraught about what he believed happened to Joseph. He thought that he would die with grief (Genesis 37:35). Joseph was eventually sold to Potiphar, an official of Pharaoh, in Egypt.

Joseph Prospers

Joseph was sold to slavery in Egypt. However, the Bible declares that the LORD was with Joseph and that Joseph prospered. Not only did Joseph prosper but so did his master Potiphar. Potiphar recognized that and gradually gave Joseph more and more responsibility. Joseph continued to prosper (even as a slave) and so did Potiphar’s household. What seemed to be a very bad thing that happened to Joseph did not stop God from blessing him.

The blessings of God transcended what perhaps even Joseph, and we would consider a bad thing. What happened to Joseph may have been "bad" but it later turned out to be for the good of many. The fact that Joseph had dreams and the position God put him in allowed Joseph the opportunity to carry out the ultimate blessing of God—to feed a multitude during a famine. God continued to use and bless Joseph even after he was put in jail after being accused of sexually molesting Potiphar’s wife (See Genesis 39:6-23). He accurately interpreted the dreams of the baker and cupbearer respectively (Genesis 40:1-23). He accurately and successfully interpreted the dream of Pharaoh (Genesis 41:1-40). Joseph eventually becomes in charge of all of Egypt under Pharaoh. It was because of Joseph interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream that there would be food available during the seven years of famine that would soon come. Joseph summarized the events well.

(Gen 50:20 KJV) "But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive."

The entire chain of events was due to God’s efforts to save many lives during a famine. Consider the length of time this all occurred. Joseph was thirty years old when he came into Pharaoh’s service. That is thirteen years alone since the time he was sold away by his brother. A bird’s eye view reveals that God orchestrated the entire thing. God meant for good but the events that led up to this good might not have been considered good.

Summary

What can we learn from the story of Joseph? First we must realize that Joseph prospered because God was with Him. This implies that the presence of God brings upon prosperity. This prosperity is not only for self but for those who are around us as well. We can still prosper in situations that we consider bad or undesirable. It could be that we are carrying out the will of god for a particular situation.

This lesson teaches us to stay in tuned with God and to follow God. The things that happen to us may be for the good of others as well as ourselves. By abiding in the Word of God and living according to His WAY.

Note that this doesn’t mean that bad things are due to God. The Bible also shows that "bad" things can occur as a result of disobedience to God. Therefore, we can’t judge something as good or bad simply by looking at whether we are prospering or not. In all things we should remain loyal and obedient to God. We should do what God said even when we don’t feel like it or don’t want to. The important thing is that we obey God and carry out his will on this earth.

As in the case with Joseph, God’s blessings are not determined or identified merely by our situations. Sometimes it may appear that God’s blessings don’t agree with our situations. Sometimes the blessings in the situations we have seem like a curse instead. The equipping and training necessary to do God’s work is not always pleasant. Consider what Jesus Christ had to do for the good of all people. Consider what the apostles had to endure for our sake, which was good.

The idea that some religious leaders teach that implies that prosperity is a measure of God’s blessing is not always true. The idea that poverty is a curse from God and indicates the lack of his blessing is not accurate in all cases. God does what he wants because he is sovereign. To measure what his will is requires a renewed mind and a life in Christ (See Romans 12:2).

 


The Blessings of God Transcends our Situations
By William R. Cunningham
October 31, 1999