Week 53: Bigger Picture, Bigger Plan

by Justin Lau

(Genesis 42-46; Romans 7-11)

As we near the end of Genesis, we reach the climax of one of the Bible’s greatest rags-to-riches story of Joseph who is now second greatest in Egypt just under Pharaoh. As Joseph’s brothers travel from Israel in search of food, so begins a Shakespearean throne room scene of nerve-racking drama, disguise and deception.

There’s a striking juxtaposition between the brothers’ perspective and Joseph’s attitude: the former believe God is punishing them for their treatment of Joseph, karma coming back to haunt them. (See Gen 42:21,22,28; 44:16.) We don’t know to what extent Joseph wanted to exact revenge on his brothers (he does put them in prison!), but what is striking is Joseph’s attitude of forgiveness and grace—in stark contrast to what his brothers believe they deserve!

It takes a massive heart of humility for Joseph to say that ‘it was not you who sent me here, but God’ (45:8) as part of God’s bigger plan to save many lives. He truly understood: ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’ (Rom 8:31

There’s an interesting connection to be made with Paul’s lengthy exposition in Romans 9–11 about God’s relationship with Israel: how she was chosen to be His people, fell away and was rejected, but will again be saved. Thankfully, God had a bigger plan and redeemed Israel’s failure: now salvation is for all, both Jew and Gentile!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a great mystery worked (and working) out over our vast history (11:33–35). The Lord brought salvation to the Gentiles by working through Israel’s stumbling—and then, in turn, is using the Gentiles’ salvation to make Israel jealous and turn back to him (11:11).

Regardless of how it’s carried out, we know that God sees the bigger picture and has a plan that cannot be thwarted. Just like how God brought so much good out of the evil that befell Joseph, so He continues to bring good out of hopeless situations. His heart is for all to turn to Him.

God reaffirms the promise He made to Jacob, assuring him not to ‘be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation there.’ (Gen 46.3) Israel is not forgotten nor forsaken. God is a God who keeps His word.

  • Do you have the tendency to view bad circumstances as God punishing you? If so, what can the death and resurrection of Jesus teach you?
  • Have there been situations in your life that at the time seemed hopeless, but later in hindsight you saw God’s hand working through it?
  • What promises has God made through Scripture? What promises has God made to you personally? Do you find it easy or difficult to believe they’ll come true?