“25 As they sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh, and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt.26 Judah said to his brothers, ‘What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.’ His brothers agreed.28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.29 When Reuben returned to the cistern and saw that Joseph was not there, he tore his clothes. 30 He went back to his brothers and said, ‘The boy isn’t there! Where can I turn now?’31 Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. 32 They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, ‘We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.’33 He recognised it and said, ‘It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.’34 Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. 35 All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. ‘No,’ he said, ‘I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.’ So his father wept for him.36 Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.”

‘’You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives’’ (Genesis 50:20).

God is in control when everything looks out of control. The situation didn’t look good to Joseph (even though he knew he was still alive – just), and it looked even worse to Jacob (who believed he was dead), but God was in charge, and He was working out a great purpose. When we reach the last verse of the chapter, there is an intimation of better times ahead – although maybe we can only say this if we already know the story.

‘Joseph is one of the most important figures in the Bible. Though not without faults, he was the most upright of all his brothers. Yet he suffered greatly at their hands. As we read this account of the brothers’ cruelty, we might wonder where God was during this time – was he sleeping? Did He no longer care about justice or the protection of the innocent? But later events in Joseph’s life demonstrated that God was indeed watching over him and working out his purposes through him – even through the terrible sin of his brothers. Little did the brothers realise that in their effort to put an end to Joseph and his dreams, they were actually creating the conditions that would lead to the fulfillment of those same dreams…By means of Joseph’s suffering, God saved Joseph’s family from starvation, He brought them to Egypt and prospered them there, and He set in motion the events that would eventually bring them back to the promised land. Joseph’s life is a powerful illustration of the Apostle Paul’s famous statement…in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.184.

Later on Hale writes:

‘Just as Jacob himself had deceived his father Isaac with a goat (Genesis 27:8-10, 16), so now his sons were deceiving him with a goat – another example of divine justice. In one way or another, our sins also come back to haunt us.’ P.185. We reap what we sow, and it’s an important observation to make.

PRAYER: Almighty God, in life’s bleakest moments, on the most difficult of days, help me to know that you are in control, and in your way and time you will still the storm.