God's Sovereignty over Evil (Genesis 37:36) - Radical

God’s Sovereignty over Evil (Genesis 37:36)

“Meanwhile, the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.”
-Genesis 37:36

I read this verse because it is not the verse you would expect when you start reading this chapter. This whole chapter starts with a picture of Jacob and his children, specifically Joseph, 17-years-old, the pride of his father. And you see Joseph talking with his brothers about dreams he’s having about him ruling over them. Now, for obvious reasons that didn’t sit too well with his brothers, but it eventually led them to sell Joseph into slavery. At first, they were talking about killing him, but then they decided to sell him into slavery. And by the end of this chapter, this boy with this bright colored coat has been sold into slavery in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard.

And as I’m reading this, there’s so much we could talk about here. But especially as we think about praying over recent days in Genesis, through the realities of sin and evil in the world and the effects of sin and evil in the world. To see the effects of that sin and evil in a family here and specifically in Joseph. Joseph has just been sold into slavery by his own family after they were thinking about murdering him. Like what a picture of sin and evil and the effects of it. And Joseph is experiencing those effects. Just imagine what is going through his mind right now as his whole life has just fallen apart. And he’s been sold by his brothers into slavery, like so many things going through his mind.

And in this story, the stage is now set for God to show how even amidst sin and evil in this world, God is still working. Over and above it all God is still working in ways that will ultimately lead to good. This is one of the mysteries of Divine Providence, of God’s providence in the world. How he can be and is sovereign over evil deeds, not directly responsible in any way for evil deeds. God is Holy and perfect, and everything he does is right and good. And yet there is so much in this world that is ultimately under his sovereign authority that is evil and bad, as a result of sin in men and women, as a result of evil in you and me. And yet God doesn’t let evil and sin have the last word.

So I’m jumping ahead now in the story, I don’t want to jump ahead too far. I want us just to consider, and as we pray today to consider how when things feel like they are falling apart in our lives, we can still know that God is ultimately in control. And as we trust in him, he will ultimately show himself to be the just God of the universe and the faithful God of all who trusts in him.

So, God, we pray for that kind of faith in these kinds of moments. In Joseph kinds of moments when we are hurt, when we have experienced evil done to us when our life is falling apart as a result of the evil done to us. God, we lift our eyes and look to you. And we trust that you are just, that you will bring justice ultimately in this world, that your judgment will be the last word, and that you are merciful. That all who look to you and trust you will see your mercy, in the end, will know your love. And not just in the end, but that you are faithful to give mercy in the moment. And God as we’re going to see in Genesis chapter 39 and Joseph’s life, how you were with Joseph in the middle of the prison. How you were with Joseph in the middle of slavery. How you never left him alone in this world of evil and sin and suffering.

God, we praise you for that reality in our lives. And so, while we don’t understand everything, God, we do trust and know that you are ultimately sovereign. And we’re so glad that you are ultimately in control that injustice, evil, sinners are not ultimately in control, that you are ultimately in control. And that what you say in your word is true. In Romans 8:28, “That you were working all things together for the good of those who love you and have been called according to your purpose.”

So we look to you. We trust in you, and we pray that you would bring about your good purposes, bring them about swiftly we pray. And God I’d be remiss if reading this text we didn’t just pause also and intercede for people who have been sold into slavery in different ways. I think about boys and girls in the Himalayan Mountains or in coastlands of Southeast Asia who have been sold into slavery for sex. Sold into slavery to work on ships and boats.

God, we pray for deliverance for them. God, we pray for an end to slavery-like that. God, we pray that you would give us grace and wisdom to know how best to use our lives and the grace you’ve given to us, and freedom you’ve given to us for the sake of those who are in slavery. God, we pray for people who are enslaved right now. We pray that you’d help us to work on their behalf, help us to give to ministries, organizations that are working on their behalf.

God, we pray in light of the trafficking industry. Even in this country, God, we pray for an end to it. We pray you’d help us to know how to best to help those who are being trafficked, have been trafficked, help to prevent trafficking. God, we pray for an end to slavery and we pray that you’d use our lives. Give us wisdom to know how best we can be a part of that. God, we long for the end of sin and evil and suffering in this world. Come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly we pray, and help us to trust in you until that day and help us to work. Help us to do good deeds to proclaim your gospel until that day. In Jesus’ name we pray. There are so much more we can pray here, but we would pray all these things, oh God, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

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