God brings good out of evil. He proves this in the story of Joseph.
Down to Rise
Jacob’s sons betrayed their brother Joseph, selling him into slavery so that he ended up in Egypt serving one of Pharaoh’s officials, a man named Potiphar. God makes it so everything Joseph does succeeds greatly. But Potiphar’s wife relentlessly tries to seduce him to no avail. Eventually, she frames Joseph, claiming that he attempted to molest her. So Potiphar throws the innocent Joseph in jail.
While in jail, God continues to make Joseph’s endeavors succeed so that he becomes a prison warden. While serving in this position, Joseph interprets the dreams of two of Pharaoh’s servants who have been thrown into prison. Both interpretations come true. So when Pharaoh himself has a dream that needs interpreting, word comes to him about Joseph’s abilities. With God’s help, Joseph accurately interprets Pharaoh’s dream as well. The dream is a warning that God is about to bring seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine in Egypt.
For Joseph’s insight, Pharaoh appoints him to second in command. The famine comes just as Joseph said it would. But since they were prepared, Joseph was able to provide stored up grain to all the nations that came to them for help.
Contrast and Compare - Joseph and the Covenant
This story allows us to both compare and contrast what God does through Joseph with the rest of Israel’s story.
Coming right after the horrible stories of selling Joseph into slavery and Judah impregnating Tamar, the contrast is easiest to see. Joseph’s brothers tried to make him a slave, but God made him a king. Judah gave into sexual temptation with Tamar, but Joseph resisted it. Whereas so much of the sin surrounding this story points to God’s grace in the midst of evil, Joseph’s goodness points to the fact that God can raise up a righteous person out of the worst situations.
But this story isn’t only a contrast. We can also compare this story with what has come before and what will come after. Most importantly, in Joseph, we get a glimpse of God’s promise to Abraham being fulfilled. Under Joseph’s care, the food in Egypt was fruitful and multiplied, as God promised Abraham his children would be. The text even says that the “world” came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph. So here we get a foretaste of all the nations of the earth being blessed through Abraham’s descendants.
But the people aren’t fruitful, just the food. And the nations aren’t being blessed with God’s presence, just with grain. It is an incomplete fulfillment.
Where is Jesus?
Not only should we compare and contrast this story with the rest of Israel’s history. We must also compare and contrast this story with the Gospel.
Down to Rise Again
Joseph’s descent and rise are most perfectly seen in Jesus. Joseph may have been righteous by comparison, but Jesus is the only one who is perfectly righteous. Jesus is the one who not only resisted sexual temptation from one woman but was tempted in every way and never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). And even though our world is so full of evil, in the midst of it, God raised up the perfect Jesus.
Like Joseph, Jesus was sold by those close to him - one of his own disciples. Of course, Jesus also willingly came to earth to make himself a slave to all, even to the point of death (Philippians 2:7-8). He did not just descend into a prison, but into the jail that imprisons all humanity - the grave itself.
Yet, just as God used Joseph’s slavery and imprisonment to bring him to the right hand of Pharaoh, God used Jesus’ betrayal and death to bring him to the throne above every throne. Jesus did not just leave a prison behind like Joseph. Jesus left the grave behind in his resurrection.
Contrast and Compare - Jesus and the Covenant
The story of Joseph shows us a partial, incomplete, fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. Jesus, however, brings complete fulfillment. Jesus multiplies his spiritual blessings to us. He is the bread of life that feeds us in the direst seasons of life’s famines.
He also makes us into a great nation of people called the church, the body of Christ. Jesus doesn’t just do this for a select group of people. The world came to Joseph to be fed. Now the world can come to Jesus and receive eternal provision through the abundance of grace he provides.
I pray that the Holy Spirit shows you the God who brings good out of the worst evil and that you would see that Jesus underwent the worst of our evil to bring the whole world the greatest good.