DIVINE DESTINY AND THE PATH OF FORGIVENESS
By Synthia Esther
Eyes have not seen nor ears have heard the plans God has for His children, all of which are part of our "Divine Destiny". Each of us have been equipped by God with talents suited to our individual capabilities, destined before our birth. God even provides us with the right environment to bring our purpose and talents together. When we align our selves in obedience to God's word we follow the divine assignment He has for our lives. Perhaps your environment has been one of abandonment, abuse, pain and sorrow. You may have gone through life feeling hopelessly unloved. While people may often let us down, God never does!
As Christians, we are assured of His loving grace and faithful sovereignty. Psalm 5:11-12, " But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. (12) For surely, O Lord, You bless the righteous; You surround them with your favor as with a shield. Psalm 89:8, " O Lord God Almighty, who is like You? You are mighty, O Lord, and Your faithfulness surrounds You."
The Lord provides us with illustrations of His abiding love, favor and providence through out the Bible. The story of seventeen year old Joseph is one such example. Joseph was favored by his father Jacob, more than any of his other sons because he had been born to him in his old age. Jacob even made a richly ornamented robe for Joseph to wear. Joseph had a dream which alluded to him reigning over his brothers and told it to them. He had another dream and once again told it to his brothers, "The sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." His brothers were jealous of their father's favoritism towards Joseph and the fancy coat he proudly wore. Being Fed up with their young brothers attitude and dreams they seized the opportunity to kill him. Joseph's brother Reuben suggested they throw him into a water less cistern pit instead. Reuben said this because he planned to rescue him and take him back to his father. However, the other brothers changed their minds when they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead on their way to Egypt. Who do you think sent that caravan? Judah said to his brothers, "What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 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 and sold Joseph, minus his coat, to the Ishmailites for twenty shekels of silver.
When Reuben goes to the cistern he sees Joseph is missing, and in anguish he tears his clothes. He then asks his brothers, "Where can I turn now?" They devise and execute a cover-up plan by slaughtering a goat then dipping Joseph's robe in the blood. They then take the robe back to their father saying, "We found this. Examine this to see whether it is your son's robe." Jacob then thinks a ferocious animal had devoured Joseph, goes into mourning, refusing to be comforted.
Meanwhile, the Ishmaelites took young Joseph to Egypt where he was sold as a slave to Potiphar, one of king Pharaoh's officials. Separated from all his family and friends Josephs future looked grim. We read in Genesis 39:2 ... the Lord was with Joseph and he prospered. When Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph and that he gave him success in all he did, he favored Joseph and put him in charge of every thing in his household.
Just when Joseph thought life was finally going his way he was falsely accused of rape by the bosses wife, who was sexually obsessed with his handsome looks and well built body. Joseph refused her repeated sexual request stating, "My master has with held nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?" - (Genesis 39:9). With her wounded pride she sets Joseph up by telling her husband Potiphar, that he tried to rape her. Potiphar burns with anger and puts Joseph in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Once again we see in Genesis 39:21-22, the Lord was with him; He showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. (22) So the warden put Joseph in charge of all those held in the prison, and he was made responsible for all that was done there.
Ending up in prison and under his attendance, was the king of Egypt's cupbearer and baker. One night the cupbearer and baker had a dream. When Joseph came to them the next morning he saw that they were dejected and asked why they were so sad. They informed him they each had a dream but had no one to interpret them. It just so happens, Joseph had a talent given by God of dream interpretation. He said to them, "Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams." They did and Joseph gave them the meaning of their dreams. He told the chief cupbreaer he would be restored to his position with the Pharaoh with in three days. He then told the chief baker in Gen. 40: 19, "With in three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat away your flesh." All of which came true just as Joseph had said.
TELL ME YOUR DREAMS
A full two years passed, when the Pharaoh had two dreams which no one could interpret. The chief cupbearer remembered Joseph had correctly interpreted his and the deceased bakers dream while in prison, and told the Pharaoh the course of events exactly as they had occurred. We read in Gen. 41: 14-16, So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. (15) Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it." (16) "I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires." Joseph tells the king the meaning of his two dreams, both of which were one in the same. There would be seven years of abundance, followed by seven years of famine. He reaffirmed to Pharaoh that God had showed him what He was about to do. Gen. 41:39-40 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has made all this known to you is there no one so discerning and wise as you. (40) You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you."
OBEDIENCE TO God BRINGS FAVOR FROM God
Joseph was made prime minister of Egypt and Pharaoh gave Joseph, who was a Hebrew now thirty years of age, a new name, Zaphenath-Paneah. He also gave him Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. Joseph's coat of many colors had long been gone but God replaced them with clothes and finery fit for a king, and he received a wife ordained by God as well. God takes care of his children and blesses their obedience! Then God allowed his grace, mercy and love to reunite Joseph with his brothers, who traveled to Egypt during the famine looking for food. At first they did not know it was their brother Joseph in charge. But through a series of events planned by Joseph, the truth became known (Genesis 45:1-14).
WHAT SATAN MEANT FOR HARM, God USES FOR OUR GOOD
Genesis 45:1-14, "Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out. "Have everyone leave my presence!" So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. (2) And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh's household heard about it. (3) Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father living?" But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. (4) Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me", When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! (5) And now, 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 not be 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. (8) "So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. (9) Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ""This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don't delay. (10) You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me - you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. (11) I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.' (12) "You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. (13) Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly." (14) Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. (15) And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them.
Joseph and his father were joyously reunited and his entire family and offspring brought to Egypt as Joseph had instructed, and God had confirmed (Genesis 46:3). There they were given the best land that Egypt had to offer, by Pharaoh himself. Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father's house hold with food according to the number of their children, during the devastating famine. During his life time Joseph went through periods of abandonment, loneliness and personal injustice. But it was his trials which latter equipped him for his triumph's.
What was Josephs secret to success? He never wavered or compromised his faith in God nor did he ever play the blame game. He realized God was in control of his life, and though times were often difficult, he remained steadfast and true to his convictions. As he matured, his spirit and attitude changed into a heart of forgiveness, compassion, humility and kindness. He wasn't bitter with God while in the cistern pit or the dungeon - prison, nor was he arrogantly proud in the palace.
After Jacob had passed away, Joseph's brothers became fearful that he would hold a grudge against them. Genesis 50:18-21 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him, "We are your slaves," they said. (19) But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? (20) You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (21) So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
A HIGHER PURPOSE AND PLAN
Joseph knew his life's circumstances and his lesson's of experience had God's wisdom and knowledge to achieve a higher purpose and plan. Have you experienced trails of adversity? Like Joseph, has your life included times of injustice, abandonment, and abuse? Does loneliness, pain and sorrow encompass your spirit? Dejected and neglected you may feel like giving up. I have learned that while I may not always understand my life's journey, I know that God does. And by His wisdom, providence and love, He is making me into the person He created me to be. By allowing Him to be the potter, and me the clay, I know I am on the right path to accomplishing my divine destiny. Like Joseph, in a spirit of forgiveness I too can say, "While others intended to harm me, God intended it for good." As a child of the King of kings, and Lord of lords, Jesus Christ, he will do the same for you!
RELATED SCRIPTURAL INSIGHTS
Deuteronomy 28: 1, "If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all His commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth."
Proverbs 8:35 "For whoever finds Me finds life and receives favor from the Lord."
Isaiah 41:10, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."
Psalm 16:11, "You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand."