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September 22, 1999




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GREAT QUESTIONS OF THE BIBLE:
"Am I in the place of God?"
bluebullGenesis 50:19

___Jesus said, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you" (Matthew 6:33). Joseph of Egypt was a man who lived by this godly code. In the midst of his difficult circumstance, it worked for him.
___If you are like most people who have heard the story of Joseph since childhood, you
slack
BENNY SLACK
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Gainesville

probably think immediately of "his coat of many colors." Andquestions even if you missed this Sunday School experience as a youngster, you've probably heard of the popular musical written by playwright Andrew Lloyd Webber titled "Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat."
___However, once you've studied Joseph's life in depth, you'll probably always think first of his incredible perspective on pain and suffering, often identified as his "Romans 8:28" experience. He believed that God was sovereign in his life and had allowed this terrible experience in Egypt to achieve a divine purpose, even though he also understood that his brothers had acted in a sinful and evil way.
___I'll never forget this lesson from Joseph's life. Although I had thought about it before, I now see more clearly that the series of painful experiences Joseph went through prepared him for his own unique moment in history to fulfill God's purpose in his life. In retrospect, he could see that his resolute faith in God's hand upon his life and had allowed him to be "in the place of God" where he could help his family. It enabled him to have a perspective on crises few of us really learn until we are face-to-face with the impact of evil in the world. When that "evil" intersects our lives and makes us uncomfortable in areas that mean the most to us, we then have a unique opportunity to demonstrate true faith and the biblical truths we so easily verbalize in the context of comfort.
___After their father Jacob's death, Joseph's brothers approached him in fear (Genesis 50:15-18). He responded to his brothers' anxiety both with a human as well as a divine perspective. On the one hand, he was sensitive to their fears and anxieties. He knew they were human and identified with their anguish. "Don't be afraid," he said (Genesis 50:19). He could not and would not retaliate.
___Joseph quickly reiterated why he would never retaliate. He was not that kind of man. He did not harbor bitterness. But even more basic than his gentle spirit and compassionate heart was the fact that his theology affected his attitudes and actions. Joseph understood God's perspective regarding his attitudes and actions. Joseph understood God's perspective regarding what had happened. He made this divine point of view very clear when he asked his brothers a revealing rhetorical question: "Am I in the place of God?" (Genesis 30:19).
___Joseph had come to see God's hand in all that had happened to him. Although there were times during that period in Egypt when he had to trust God in the midst of total darkness and confusion, he now understood why he was sold as a slave and taken to Egypt.
___When the Apostle Paul was in prison in Rome, he wrote to the Philippians and told them what was happening to him really served to "advance the gospel" (Philippians 1:12). Like Joseph, Paul lived by faith in God's providential care. Both these men teach the lesson that even when we don't "feel" good about our present circumstance, if we are "in the place of God" by faith our experience, will always turn out for good. The Christian must behave his beliefs.
___Jesus said, "Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you" (Matthew 6:33). Joseph of Egypt was a man who lived by this godly code. It worked for him. And, in the midst of your difficult circumstance, it will work for you! Read II Corinthians. 5:7.

Previous Columns: 7/14, 7/21, 7/28, 8/4, 8/11, 8/18, 8/25, 9/1, 9/8, 9/15.

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