In the Jewish Bible reading cycle, we are in the midst of the story of Joseph and his brothers. From one perspective, it is a tale of accidental success. A bright and spoiled young man is hated by his brothers. They sell him into slavery.
But he always seems to bounce back. Soon, through a combination of smarts and happenstance, he becomes Prime Minister of Egypt, the superpower of its time, second only to the Pharaoh. He uses his position and smarts to save Egypt from a massive famine.
This famine then brings his brothers and fathers to Egypt, and he reunites with them, saves their lives and provides them a prosperous place to live. The family lives happily ever after.
What Joseph Really Proves
If we read this story this way, it resembles Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast. It is no wonder Joseph became the subject of a successful musical. Yet, as people of faith, we know that Joseph is so much more than that.
The most important verses in the story are ones Joseph utters in Genesis 45 . He has just revealed himself to his shocked brothers.
“Do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6 For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. 7 But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.”
In other words, Joseph did not rise to power and save his family on the basis of mere luck or random events. His life was a working out of God’s providence. It is proof of an old adage: God works in mysterious ways.