I have accepted my friend’s invitation for two primary reasons: the doctrine of predestination heavily influenced my thinking as a young Christian and a young student of eschatology, and both areas remain a subject of ongoing interest and study for me, now. The second reason is because the process of how a person gets from Starting-Point-A to Conclusion-Point -B by both individual choice and God’s involvement-or-domination during that process is a passionate, engaging discussion among those who seek Him.
In Genesis 41:25, Joseph has been retrieved from the king’s private-use prison to interpret a dream for Pharaoh. Joseph immediately explains to Pharaoh that through the overall dream sequence, “God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do.” (NASB) After repeating the particulars of Pharaoh’s dream back to him, Joseph says again, “It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh: God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do.” (v. 28)
The upcoming situation is then explained as being one of, first, seven years of abundance. They will be, in fact, “seven years of great abundance…in all the land of Egypt.” (v. 29) Joseph then tells Pharaoh that “after them, seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will ravage the land. So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe. Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about.” (Gen. 41:28-32, NASB) Joseph then proposed that Pharaoh should “appoint overseers in charge of the land” and that the overseers should carefully store up grain for food so there would be food available throughout the second seven-year span of time. For his interpretation and insight as to action, Pharaoh subsequently sets Joseph “over all the land of Egypt.” (v. 43)
Push the “pause” button right here: “…the matter has been determined by God,” and “…what He is about to do.”
What is He about to do? What has He determined? Is God about to create the famine…. provide the provision to survive the famine…or both?
Keep that thought in your mind as we do a quick review of Joseph’s life up to this point:
Born in Israel’s (previously named ‘Jacob’) old age, and loved “more than all his sons” (Gen. 37:3); Became the older brothers’ object of hatred and jealousy (Gen. 37:4); Had two dreams, both showing Joseph as the object of others bowing in deference to him (Gen. 37:7, 9); Was sent by his father to check on the brothers’ welfare while they were shepherding, and upon arrival was jumped by his brothers, stripped to his waist, and thrown into a pit (Gen. 37:23-24); Was sold into slavery and transported to Egypt (Gen. 39:1); Became a trusted overseer in Pharaoh’s house, until falsely accused of attempting to rape Pharaoh’s wife (Gen. 39:2-18); while imprisoned, given the responsibility of overseeing all the prisoners and affairs of the private prison, then brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dream (Gen. 40:21-23, 41:14).
Starting-Point-A to Conclusion-Point-B. Did God preordain Israel’s choice to “play favorites” among his sons? Did He preordain that Joseph’s brothers would choose to walk in hatred and jealousy towards Joseph? Did He preordain the suffering and humiliation Joseph suffered simply for His own undisclosed Purposes ….or did they come as the result of ungodly choices as his brethren lived outside God’s will and desire for them, willfully violating the moral code they knew to be Truth?
Just beyond Eden, while Cain angrily faced God’s rejection of his offering, God spoke and said, “…if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Gen. 4:7, NASB)
This is not to argue that God did not have a call on Joseph’s life, simply that fulfilling the call did not require the path that came his way. And I submit – so it is with us. Each one of us also has a call… and there are many ways to arrive at Destination-Point-B…as long as we keep walking in Him.
Proverbs 20:24 asks the question, “Man’s steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way?”
Due to the New Covenant, we now have an answer: He has given us access to Himself. We are now able to stay in touch with God. By trusting Him. By seeking Him. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “…he who is spiritual appraises all things….for who has known the mind of the Lord, that He will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (I Cor. 2:14-16). We walk by faith by choosing to believe that His Goodness, Mercy and Love are the core values by which He involves Himself in our lives.
One more thing….is your finger still on the “pause” button….and have you answered the nature of “the matter” He had decided?
I have. In earlier times, I would have stated that He was the initiator of both the famine and the provision. My natural default would have been to say that there’s simply no understanding the ways of God, as Isaiah wrote, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9, NASB)
But now I know Him better. In the wake of a catastrophic famine coming across the earth, God chose to step in and enable life. Who “decided the matter?” God the Father. God the Son. God the Spirit. All together. All in unison. Utilizing a yielded person who willingly walked a rocky road…and never doubted His Goodness.