God’s sovereignty and man’s free will

bY Leroy Brown

An interesting story develops beginning in Genesis 37 and comes to its predictable conclusion in Genesis 45. The young 17-year-old Joseph is a dreamer. I mean by that he was constantly listening to God when God would give him information. Chapter 37: verse seven and following relates the dream Joseph interpreted and told his ten brothers. Joseph stated that “his sheaf of wheat stood in the field and the sheaves of his brothers gathered around him and bowed down to him. Considering the fact the brothers hated Joseph because of the devotion his father, Jacob awarded him; this story was not welcomed by the brothers. Later on Joseph had a second dream. In this dream, the sun, the moon, and 11 stars were bowing to him. This inflamed the brothers even more. A few days later the ten brothers are sent with the flocks to Shechem, and Joseph is instructed by his father to go and check on the brother's circumstances. As events developed the brothers saw Joseph coming and began to plan ways to free themselves from this troublesome brother. They first decided to kill him, but brother Reuben counseled “shed no blood. Throw him into this pit in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him.” Rueben’s counsel was heeded, and the brothers placed the 17-year-old Joseph into a pit. They conspired then to take his multicolored coat given to him by his father, rip it up and spread lambs blood as evidence of a tragic mishap. Later on that evening the brothers decided why not sell him to a caravan of Ishmaelites passing by. They carried out their plans, and Joseph was sold into slavery carried and away into Egypt. Jacob, the father, was devastated by the loss of his son Joseph. Joseph is sold to the house of Potiphar in Egypt. He served well but was constantly confronted with enticing temptations from Potiphar’s wife. After being falsely accused Joseph is placed in the prison. He serves honorably and in his service interprets a dream by the Baker and the cupbearer. He requests after interpreting those dreams they relay to the Pharaoh’s faithfulness and that he has been falsely imprisoned. The two servants do not relay the information and Joseph continues his faithful work for the Pharaoh. Later on the Pharaoh has a dream and finds that there is one in the prison who can interpret that dream. He calls for Joseph and tells Joseph his dream. The dream was seven fat slick cows came forward in the dream followed by seven f ugly cows. The ugly cows devoured the fat cows. Joseph interpreted the dream to the Pharaoh. A few nights later the Pharaoh had a second dream. In this dream seven ears of corn, full and good are consumed by seven ears of corn that is thin and scorched. Joseph said to Pharaoh, “God has told to Pharaoh what he is about to do. Then he explains the dreams. There is to be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh immediately places Joseph in position to control the cattle industry and the corn industry. The revelation of these dreams placed Joseph in a high position in the country.
While many miles away in the land of Israel signs of famine are beginning. Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to buy food. The brothers are successful in purchasing food, and Joseph does not reveal himself to them. Sometime later it is necessary for Jacob to send his sons back to Egypt to purchase food. Genesis 45 reveals the discovery of the brothers and their benefactor. In this chapter, Joseph reveals to the brothers who he is, and then he reveals the sovereignty of God in the whole episode. “Joseph says, and now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; God sent me before you to preserve life. And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.
The amazing part of this story is the fact that after 20 years of captivity Joseph did not hold hatred in his heart toward his brothers. He pointed out to them, they were only following their inner will to solve their problem without thought of how it would affect Joseph. Joseph forgave his brothers and was reunited with his father. The Pharaoh invited Joseph’s entire family to come and live in Egypt. Thus we see the sovereignty of God and the free will of mankind at work.