Genesis 50:19-20. 19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
The life that God offers us is only possible through death and resurrection. Losing our life in order to find the life of God. This is how the curse is reversed. It is how hope is found. We must lose in order to gain. We must die in order to live.
This is the ongoing story of Genesis. Noah in the ark. The barrenness of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Abraham offering Isaac. Jacob wrestling with God. Each story a picture of death becoming life. Evil becoming good.
Genesis ends with this same hope filled theme – you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good. This is not only the climax of the Genesis story, it is the whole Bible. It is the salvation plan of God. God at work restoring life to humanity. Bringing good from evil. Blessing through the curse. Life from death.
In the garden, Joseph’s ancestors chose the knowledge of good and evil over the life of God. They wanted to stand in God’s place. They wanted self-sufficiency as their rule for life. But now Joseph stands refusing to take the place of God. His rule of life has become faith in God.
Joseph is a clear picture of what an image bearer is supposed to be. He refuses to be “like God”, and humbly embraces his humanity. He rules with the ring of Pharaoh, but more importantly with the mercy and justice of God. He serves and protects the poor and needy around him. He practices a form of justice that seeks to restore the humanity of his brothers. He tests their love, forcing them to choose their brother Benjamin over themselves. They too are reborn.
In all of this Joseph is also a clear preview of Christ. Just look at the physical details of his life: Rejected by his own people. Left for dead in a pit. Battling temptation. Enslaved by Gentiles. Caring for those Gentiles. Taking a Gentile bride. Rising to power. Ruling at the right hand of the king. Restoring his own people. Saving the world.
Beyond his similar circumstance to Jesus’, Joseph’s life previews what “to live is Christ” really means. Joseph has risen from death to life. Not just to earthly power and prosperity in Egypt, but to the heavenly life of Christ. The life of dependence upon God. The life of faith in God’s goodness and justice. The life of forgiveness and kindness. The life of repaying evil with good. The life of freedom that comes when you believe that God can turn all evil into good.
“To live is Christ” is not a promise that God will prevent evil in our lives. But it is a promise that God will weave that evil into something beautiful in you. And that beauty is Christ himself. As we suffer evil and trust God’s grace, we are being transformed into the goodness of Christ our Savior. Christ’s hope, faith, and love. A hope of glory beyond this evil life. A faith in God’s deep, deep love for us in the midst of the evil done to us. And a pure, unconditional love flowing out of us as self-sacrifice, even while in the pit of suffering.
This is the goodness that we can only experience in the overcoming of evil. The glory that we can only experience in suffering. The life of Christ found only in the cross of Christ.
Where are you facing evil today? In what way are you trying to stand in the place of God?
You in Christ
In Christ all evil will be made into good. That “good” is the character of Christ formed in you. How does this lift your spirit today?
Christ in you
Is there a place where you can overcome evil with God’s goodness today? An enemy to love and restore? (Rom. 12:21)