Article: Bible Reading Week 5 (Joseph’s Life – Genesis 40-50)

Joseph’s Life  (Gen 40-50)

Overview of Section

Joseph is the forth person whose life is highlighted in Genesis.  While the promises of God’s covenant are fixed on Judah, Joseph’s life is detailed as a life of trust in difficult times.  Like the others, Joseph’s experiences with God only served to increase his faith.  Notice how Joseph’s circumstances which from a human perspective seem, at times, random bad luck, but from God’s perspective, a plan unfolding.

Main Theological Theme(s)

As we trace the life of Joseph we can see God’s work of providence in his life.  When we read Joseph’s assessment of his life in Genesis 50, our faith is strengthened.  We should begin to think, perhaps our lives are in God’s plan and perhaps He’s working with us too.

Gn 50:20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (ESV)

His sinful brothers carried out the evil acts of throwing Joseph in the pit and selling him to the traders and yet God was also working with different intentions.  Their goal in the act was to get rid of their brother; God’s goal was to save a nation.  His purposes always come to pass.

Another theological theme that dovetails right along with providence is that God’s decreed plan and purposes will always come to pass even in light of man’s sin. (Is. 46:9-10).

God’s purpose to have a people holy, without blemish, before Him in love, was not thwarted by the failures of men.  God chose and called sinners, made them His children and molded them into what He desired them to be.  From Seth to Noah, from Shem to Abraham, from Isaac to Jacob to Judah, God moved steadily on toward that Seed who should come to triumph over the enemies of God and God’s people.  God’s good purpose was never overcome by the evils and failures of men.  This first Book is a great testimony to God’s sovereign grace.[1]

Approaching the New Testament

Joseph is considered a type of Christ.  As we turn to the New Testament it becomes clear why this is the case.

Joseph recognized that he was not at the mercy of chance; he was deeply aware of God’s hand in his life, positioning him to serve as a deliverer of his people (Gen. 50:20).  In this regard, Joseph’s life foreshadows Jesus Christ.  In the same way as Joseph, God overruled the intentions of wicked people in order to bring about deliverance.  Jesus, after all, was crucified by people who only sought to destroy Him.  God, however, ‘intended it for good’, to accomplish what is now being done, ‘the saving of many lives’ (Gen. 50:20; see Acts 2:22-24).[2]

In Acts 2, Peter was also able to trace God’s hand of providence and declare basically that these men intended to kill Jesus from evil motives but God, meant it for good.

Application Points

God’s grace overcame man’s sin.  In our lives we must always remember that we are to struggle and fight for faith and holiness in this sinful word.  Much like Joseph fleeing Potiphar’s wife, we too must flee sin.  Yet, when we do sin, we have an Advocate before the Father, Jesus Christ.  I’m reminded of the verse of Paul in Romans,

Rom 5:20 but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,

Always remember, like Joseph and all the Patriarchs, we too will be tried and tested in life.  God is working to produce a people who are His and whose faith can move mountains.  We too someday will be able to look that trial or person in the eye and declare with bold confidence, you meant it for evil, but my loving heavenly Father meant it for good.  May God richly bless your Bible reading this year!

[1] God’s Plan Unfolded by Jack B. Scott pg. 35-36

[2] An Introduction to the Old Testament by Dillard and Longman pg. 56

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