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God's Power Is Greater Than Evil

Acts 7:9-10
'Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.' (NIVUK)

Stephen was giving the 'speech of his life' at his trial, accused of blasphemy. It was because Stephen spoke positively about Jesus that false witnesses invented evidence to support the charge (Acts 6:11-7:1). But the Holy Spirit enabled Stephen to show how God's power was greater than human anger. So Stephen reminded them of Joseph, the eleventh of Jacob's twelve sons. Even though his brothers would, one day, become the leaders of the tribes of Israel (Israel was a special name God gave to Jacob), they were intensely jealous of Joseph and murderously angry with their younger sibling who told them about the dreams God had given him. Do read the true story in Genesis 37:2-36 and Genesis 39:1-41:57.

In summary: Joseph's brothers threw him down a well and left him there to die. But when Midianite traders came that way, they saw an opportunity to make money by selling him as a slave. On reaching Egypt, the traders sold him on to a government official. He served well and God enabled him to be trusted; but his master's wife tried to take sexual advantage of him. He refused and she became so angry that she accused him of her own lustful desire. Joseph was put in prison for more than two years until he was called to interpret some strange dreams which disturbed the Pharaoh.

The dreams were from God, telling Pharaoh that there would be seven years of big harvests and then seven years of drought which would precipitate a large-scale famine. When Joseph interpreted the dreams and advised Pharaoh how to respond to the impending disaster, Pharaoh recognised his wisdom and made him Prime Minister with full authority to run the country. God had changed Joseph's circumstances; and through him saved Egypt, and his own family, from famine.

Jesus was also despised, falsely accused, and left to die. But His suffering did not stop Father God's plan: He used the apparent disaster to achieve the plan. The same was true for the apostles: arrested, falsely accused and condemned for believing in Jesus. But their teaching about Jesus changed the lives of thousands during their lifetime and billions eventually. So do not be disturbed by bad things which upset your peace. Do not manipulate your way out of the problems. Commit them to the Lord and let Him transform them, in His time, into marvellous ways of achieving His purposes - bringing glory to Himself and blessing to you (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Sovereign Lord. Thank You that nothing can ever stop You achieving Your purposes. Forgive me when I only see the hardship, grief and disaster, and stop trusting that You know what You are doing. Help me to grow in confidence that You can and will use evil to accomplish Your purposes in my life, and the lives of those around me at home and at work. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams