(March 27, 1991)
A few years ago the brothers of a young man felt extremely threatened by his leadership abilities so they plotted to kill him. Somehow their plan was bungled but they didn’t realize it; he didn’t die, but did leave the country. In his new location, the ambitious young man soon had a job. He worked hard and achieved a position of responsibility. Then hard luck hit him again. This time his boss’s wife tried to seduce him. Since he was upright and moral, her efforts didn’t succeed, however the scorned seductress was upset and retaliated. She accused him before her husband of attempted rape. Her husband was furious and the young man went to prison.
Confinement didn’t turn our hero sour though. Soon his unique skills were appreciated by a couple of prison mates. Later, one of them was released and was working for a man of prominence who had a special problem. He remembered this young fellow back in prison and told his boss he knew someone who could solve the problem. So our hero was released from prison and given a job offer of considerable significance. He began planning and making investments intended to profit both his new employer and his new country.
In the meantime, severe famine conditions developed in both this country and in his homeland. His family lost everything. Destitute and starving, his brothers decided they needed to relocate if they were going to survive. Oddly enough, they traveled to the same country in which their brother now lived. To make a long story short, he was the person with means and authority who could feed them and meet their financial difficulties.
Of course they were terrified when they realized this benefactor was their brother whom they had betrayed. They were certain he would retaliate. He had every right to -- but he didn’t. In fact, when he told them he would take care of them, he gave them this reason for his actions: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good, to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he spoke kindly to them.
In case you have not guessed, the young man was Joseph, the biblical lad who was given a coat of many colors. He was left for dead by his jealous brothers and became a leader in Egypt, prudently storing grain before a famine. As a result, there was enough, not only for Egypt but to feed the huge family of his father, Jacob, who later came searching for food.
As I considered an action someone took against me (that was intended for evil), this story of Joseph came to mind. My situation did not involve a plot to murder me (at least I don’t think it did), but it was like Joseph’s in that the consequences seemed unbearable for me. What about the one who sinned?
The Bible says the results of evil are hardly ever what anyone could call good, especially for those who commit the deeds. If the guilty persons are Christians, there will be chastening (Hebrews 12). If they are not, “the wages of sin is death,” meaning separation from God for eternity. Evil doesn’t pay.
So how does it work for the one sinned against? Do we have to bear the bitter consequences too? Not all the time. Joseph’s story shows that God is bigger than sin and can work behind the scenes to reverse the sinner’s intended results. His brothers wanted Joseph’s destruction, but God worked it for good, both for Joseph and for them!
The supreme example is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. He was an innocent victim whose enemies determined to destroy Him — this had to be the greatest sin. Yet out of it, God worked the greatest good... the crime committed became His means of redemption for sinners. Surely such a God can be trusted, even with whatever our enemies might try to do against us.