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Did God Use Force?

Joseph

was force used?

Hmm,” said Micah, thinking back over the story, trying to remember if God had thrown anyone into a deep, dark dungeon. “No, I don’t think so. I mean, Joseph’s brothers threw him into a deep pit but that wasn’t really a dungeon, was it?”

“No. I guess it wasn’t,” said Grandpa, uncertain how that related to the question. “Well, if God didn’t use force, how did He accomplish His purpose?”

Micah had no idea, so he just shrugged his shoulders.

Seeing the blank look on his grandson’s face, Grandpa said, “Well, look at it this way. Were the brother’s in favor of God’s plan to make Joseph the head of the family?” Micah shook his head. “Right, because they so deeply hated Joseph,” continued Grandpa.  “Did God force the brothers to stop hating Joseph?”

“No,” said Micah, “He used their hatred.”

“Exactly right,” confirmed Grandpa. “He used their hatred to send Joseph to Egypt, and also to break their father’s heart. Their father’s sorrow made them realize how wrong it was to hate Joseph and made them regret it.”

Micah nodded his head slowly as Grandpa continued, “Now Micah, let’s list the people involved in the story and see if God used force on them to accomplish His purpose or if He accomplished it some other way.  Who are the key people in the story?”

“Well,” said Micah, counting off his fingers, “There were the brothers, and there was Pophi-tar and his wife.  Umm, the butler. And I guess Pharaoh. And, I think that’s it.”

“Ok,” said Grandpa, holding up five fingers. “We already talked about what God used with the brothers,” putting down his thumb, “What about Potiphar?  Did God force Potiphar to put Joseph in the head position?”

Micah shook his head, “No.  God blessed Joseph and so Pophtar kept giving him more to take care of.”

“Very good,” exclaimed Grandpa.  Putting down a finger, he asked, “Then what about Potiphar’s wife?  Did God stop her from wicked intentions?”

Again, Micah shook his head, “No.  He let her tell lies and get Joseph thrown into jail.”

“Did it seem like God was thwarted in what He was doing when Joseph ended up in jail?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“I think you are right,” agreed Grandpa, putting down another finger.  “Who else? Oh yes, the butler. What did God do to the butler?”

“Well,” said Micah hesitantly, “I guess He gave him a dream.”

“I guess you are right,” agreed Grandpa, “This showed the butler that Joseph could interpret dreams.  Did God do anything to the butler when he forgot Joseph in prison?” Micah hesitated, then slowly shook his head.  Grandpa nodded, “That’s right. God didn’t send an angel to remind him or anything. But his forgetfulness didn’t undo the plan of God.”  Holding up his last finger, Grandpa asked, “How did God get Pharaoh to make Joseph the ruler of the country?”

“Well, first He gave Pharaoh a dream that nobody else could interpret.”

“Exactly right,” nodded Grandpa.  Leaning forward, he looked earnestly at Micah. “You see, Micah, God didn’t force anyone to do anything in order to get His purpose accomplished.   He allowed each person to make their own decisions, even when they decided to do what was wrong. Instead of reversing their choices, our sovereign God was wise enough to use their sinful choices to accomplish His purpose in a manner so effective that we can’t hardly imagine how He could have done it better.  Do you follow me?”

Micah nodded his head, a smile breaking out on his face.  “Wow,” he exclaimed. “That’s just cool!”

Returning his smile, Grandpa leaned back in his chair and said, “That’s what the sovereignty of God is.  See, true sovereignty is being able to accomplish your purpose no matter who tries to stop you. In the story of Joseph, we can see how God took a family full of hatred and brought them together in unity, thus successfully laying the foundation to accomplish His purpose of making a single nation from them.”

“Well, my young friend,” said Grandpa, holding up the empty pitcher of tea. “There is more that could be said, but it looks like we are out of sweet tea.  Why don’t you plan on coming over another day, and we can talk about Moses if you like? His life also gives us a good glimpse into the sovereignty of God.”

“Ok,” said Micah enthusiastically, and tipped his glass up to catch the last drop of the tea.  Setting his glass back on the table, he bounded off the porch and jumped on his bike. Waving as he went down the drive, he shouted, “Thanks for the story and everything.  See you later!”

Smiling, Grandpa John waved in return, then gathered the glasses and pitcher from the table and turned towards the kitchen.

The next story will follow the early years of Moses, before God spoke with him from the burning bush.

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