Joseph’s submission to the sovereignty of God allowed him to see the pain his brothers had inflicted not merely through his own perspective alone, but through a perspective that saw God working through their evil actions. He recognized that in all the circumstances of life, big and small, good and bad, God had been inexorably bringing the currents of his personal history to a providential conclusion.
Going Deep // Focus: Genesis 45:5
Don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives.
Useful idiots! With all due respect (it’s odd that we use that term when we’re about to disrespect someone!), that’s what I would call Joseph’s brothers. Or I could clean it up a bit and call them unwitting but useful instruments in God’s hands.
Twenty plus years after they had sold him into slavery, the brothers are now standing before Joseph, and they don’t even recognize him. They have been blinded by two decades of thinking he had long since died, their perspective jaded by the haunting fear, endless guilt and corrosive shame of what they had done. (Genesis 44:16) Finally, when Joseph’s identity is revealed, the brothers expect him to exact revenge, make them pay dearly and do to them what they had done to him.
But Joseph was cut from a different cloth than these lousy brothers. His submission to the sovereignty of God allowed him to see the pain they had inflicted not merely through his own perspective alone, but through a perspective that saw God working through their evil actions. Joseph recognized that in all the circumstances of life, big and small, good and bad, God had been inexorably bringing the currents of his personal history to a providential conclusion.
Joseph’s submission to the sovereignty of God is revealed three times as he discloses himself to his brothers with words to this effect: “Don’t beat yourself up; it was God, not you, who sent me here. You had a plan and God had a plan, and God’s plan trumped yours. You were simply unwitting but useful instruments in his hands.” (Genesis 45:5,7,8). Joseph’s brothers might have been idiots for selling him into slavery twenty plus years before, but they were useful idiots in the hands of the Providential Ruler of all mankind.
The bottom line to Joseph’s story is that God is in control. He turns what is meant for evil to our good, extracts glory for himself even in the most impossible circumstances, and no matter what, always, always, always fulfills his sovereign purposes. He is in control! He is the Sovereign God of the universe, the Providential Ruler over the affairs, big and small, of all mankind, the Incomparable One who works all things for his glory.
And here’s the kicker: He works all things not only for his own glory—but for your good! That’s right—for your good. Now why would the Sovereign, Providential, Incomparable One bother with little old you? Simply because you’ve surrendered your life to him; and when you did that, you, perhaps even unwittingly, signed up to be on his sovereign benefits plan.
So here’s the deal: If you have a few idiots making your life difficult, just remember, in God’s hands they are useful idiots.