God’s Providence is Practical – Bible Study – Genesis 45

Written by Dave Urbanski

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As believers, when we fully embrace and understand the providence of God, our lives will change.

Not only will such an understanding change how we think about the Lord, it also will change how we think about others — and how we think about ourselves. It’s like receiving a big dose of spiritual vitality directly into our souls.

Joseph understood the providence of God — we can clearly see that after having observed his remarkable life unfold before us in the book of Genesis. And in the Lord’s providence, Joseph — and we as well — see God’s sovereignty, his compassion, and his wisdom.

Sovereignty is obvious part of the Lord’s providence. Certainly, Joseph knew who was in charge of his life — whether he was in the depths of prison or on top of the heap as Pharaoh’s ruler in Egypt. We don’t see Joseph spending a lot of time wondering why things have seemingly taken a turn for the worse; instead, he kept moving forward after he got knocked down as the Lord gave him life and breath. Pastor Scott suggested we all ask an important question: Lord, what haven’t I turned over to you yet? May we let go of that which is temporal — no matter what our circumstances — and continually hand things over to God, who’s ultimately in control of everyone and everything.

When we got into chapter 45 again, we picked up at the point where Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, all of whom thought he was gone for good. When it started to sink in for them that Joseph was right there in the flesh — the brother they betrayed and allowed to be sold into slavery — they were quite disturbed. Understandably so.

But Joseph was not vengeful; far from it. Rather, he exhibited compassion (the second element of God’s providence). “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Again, God is in charge — his sovereignty on display.

One of the incredibly freeing things about living in God’s providence is that we no longer are at the center of our lives. While some folks might have a hard time giving up that “status” — whether due to selfishness or some other sin — it’s actually quite a relief. It seems on par someone who very reluctantly is heading to a doctor for a mysterious ache or pain — and the relief that comes by finally handing over control to the physician whose medical expertise really should be driving the situation.

We also saw the amazing overflow of God’s provision for Joseph’s brothers through the generosity of Joseph and Pharaoh — underscored by Joseph instructing his brothers to refrain from quarreling during their journey back to their father Jacob. Wisdom! Another element of God’s providence, which helps us to see the goodness, mercy, and grace that the Lord pours down upon us every day. (I mean, what would believers truly have to argue and fight about when their eyes are focused like lasers on what God is giving to them?)

By the end of the chapter, Jacob’s spirit is revived by the news that Joseph is still alive, and Jacob declares his intention to see his long-lost son before he dies. Truly a dramatic ending and chapter, too, as Pastor Scott pointed out — full of emotion and forgiveness and reconciliation. Cue curtain fall! 

But you and I are still on stage, aren’t we? We’re still part of this grand, divine drama that God has written. So, what is our place in it? What are our roles? But just as important, have we allowed the Lord to revive our spirits as he revived Jacob’s spirit? As Pastor Scott noted, the words in Hebrew describing the miracle of Jacob’s soul coming back to life are the same Hebrew words used to describe the Lord breathing life into Adam. It’s that powerful — and all of us have access to it!

So now, if life has been bringing you down recently for whatever reason — big or small — why not make it a point to turn from the temporal things and to the One who provides living water, who restores our soul (Psalm 23), who quenches our thirst forever. 

And remember: You and I are but dust. We see only infinitesimal pieces of the tapestry God has been weaving since before time and the universe began. Let us be reminded today and in all of our days that God is writing the drama of life and exhibiting his wisdom, his compassion, his sovereignty over all things in the process. Indeed, by the power of his incredible providence.

May we all rest in that truth right now.

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