Questions from Genesis 50:20 we did not get to answer
Q: Did God DO the evil to Joseph?
See answers below.
Q: Is God morally responsible for the evil that the brothers did?
Does this mean God did evil? So man has a freedom to act yet God is still sovereign over that freedom?
(MHJ) A simple yet profound reality of Scripture is that YHWH is holy, and he is just, and he is good. We see that from the first two chapters of Genesis. Don’t forget, the very foundation of establishing a Christian worldview is to have firmly fixed the first two chapters of the Grand Narrative in our framework of interpretation.
All YHWH creates is good, and it is contrasted with the darkness which he never calls good. It is likely that Moses is recording for us the fact that rebellion has already happened in the heavenly realm, and it really foreshadows what is about to happen in Genesis 3…the human rebellion.
YHWH never does evil. Evil’s beginning is in heavenly rebellion and that is carried out through the enticement of humans to join that rebellion. From that point on, evil comes directly from men.
See the answer to the next question for more…
Q: Is the beginning of Job a good example of this concept? In many examples in scripture (such as Psalm 105, Job 2:3, Job in general etc) God is actively causing pain and disaster through nature which is fully outside the decision of man. How is God not responsible for the tragedy of death that results from these disasters? Are they not evil? Also- is God’s inactive allowance of man’s evil or even active causing of man’s sin (like pharaoh’s heart being hardened by God against Moses and the lord) not the same as being responsible for evil? To clarify, isn’t his allowance of evil to exist when he is sovereign over all things mean he is still responsible or not stopping evil?
(MHJ) Note in the cited passage of Job the dialogue with Satan and Yhwh. Satan speaks as if Yhwh is the one to do the hurting, but in actuality it is Yhwh allowing Satan to have access to do his evil. So, we see even from that passage that God, being good, never does evil or hurts his people. YET, Job’s perspective is that ultimately Yhwh is in charge, and he attributes the entirety as being in the ultimate control of the Lord. Job 1:21b-22 “…Yhwh gave, and Yhwh has taken away…In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Job 2:10b “…Shall we receive good from God, and show we not receive evil? In all this Job did not sin with his lips.”
AND note what the inspired author says, “In all this Job did not sin with his lips.” It is no sin to say that Yhwh has ultimate control even over Satan, and can allow Satan to do evil, and still direct Satan and his evil to be for good for his people, and be completely holy and right and good, and hold Satan accountable and responsible for evil. Job see’s Satan’s evil as ultimately in the hand of God to release or to withhold. Personally, and from my experience through some hard stuff, I’m glad to know that Satan does not get to take free shots at me, and that he must go through the permission of Jesus and be released to get any shot at me.
Jesus even affirms this in one of his interactions with Peter. Luke 22:31-32 (ESV) Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Satan had to come through Jesus to get at Peter. I’m glad for that. AND I can without a doubt and with joy say the Lord through his bound up dog of a servant Satan, did that for me and my good and the good of others through me.
(MHJ) One observation that needs to be dealt with here, and the actual nature of the question may not be coming over clearly from the text message to our eyes, is the “causing of man’s sin” statement. First, God did not cause sin. Adam and Eve introduced sin into God’s creation, and everything died. “The day you eat it you will die.” God warned man that sin would ruin everything. The last completely free act man took was to rebel against God, and from that point on sin has been man’s default and the thing that holds man in bondage until set free through the gospel. Man sins naturally in his state of death apart from Jesus Christ. Man sins, not God. What the text of Scripture works out is that man’s sin in no way ever gets the upper hand on God. In fact, God is able to orchestrate, cooperate, maneuver, move and shake to cause man’s natural and effortless evil to be shaped and turned for good. Man sins, and God wins…every.single.time.
Q: I pray this over my family members who are not believers. How do I reconcile this verse with God’s sovereignty? In Ezekiel God says “ say to them, as I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” How do we share the truth of Genesis 50:20 with people who are grieving without them receiving it as cliche or ignoring their wounds?
(JMO) The truth of Genesis 50:20 is much like the truth of Romans 8:28. These are truths, God is working all things together for His glory and our good. Even the evil intentions of men. But there is an appropriate time and place to share these truths with someone who is in need of comfort.
(MHJ) Pastor Justin is correct. God’s word is the lamp for our feet and light for our path. However, how we turn that light on to illuminate dark things can make the difference. When someone is hurting, weep with them. When they are celebrating, laugh with them. Through that human to human, Christian to Christian relationship the Holy Spirit brings “ripe” moments to light up darkness and reign in over-exuberance. I suppose you may say, it’s all in the delivery.
Q: Does Joseph think that the story is about him alone? It seems Joseph has a bigger picture. Did the Jews make the connection about the suffering servant? Did they realize that those were prophecies of the messiah?
(MHJ) Joseph clearly sees what his brothers and parents don’t. Joseph has been given the gift of interpreting dreams. It is also clear he sees YHWH as the source of these dreams, and there is a confidence that YHWH is communicating in them. I believe that leads Joseph to trust and have a bigger picture regarding the purpose of saving his family from the famine.
(MHJ) Some Jews made that connection i.e. Abraham. See Romans 2-4. They didn’t see the full realization, but they believed in YHWH by faith, and it is counted to them as righteousness. Thus, Romans 3:21-26 is key. YHWH passed over previous sins until Jesus would come and pay for them on the cross. These Jewish believers were saved by faith in Jesus through trusting YHWH, who Jesus is.
(MHJ) Aided by the Holy Spirit after salvation and Jesus’ class on OT interpretation in Luke 24, the apostles and first disciples learned how to read the narrative of the OT as one cohesive narrative that preached Jesus, his person and his works. A good book to wade through for you would be G.K. Beale, “The NT Use of the OT.”
Q: Can God use sinful intent to bring about good on both a universal and individual level simultaneously? How do we see the evil acts of Jacob’s favoritisms, and Joseph’s pride interact with jealous brothers to bring good for each of them individually as well as for the saving of nations from famine?
(MHJ) Listen to this answer on the video to be posted soon.
Q: If God is the one who causes the dice to turn out in a particular way, as shown with Matthias, why don’t we use perceived forms of chance that are under His sovereignty, like rolling dice or flipping a coin, to determine the Lord’s will for our decisions?
(JMO) The incident with casting lots to choose a replacement for Judas is the last recording of casting lots in Scripture. Since Pentecost, believers are filled with the Holy Spirit and are instructed to “test the spirits” and learn to discern the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives instead of casting lots, rolling dice, flipping coins, etc.
Q: If we have freedom to choose our actions and God is sovereign and knows the outcome, how is that different from a “puppet on a string” mentality?
(MHJ) The challenge with all illustrations is that they always come up woefully short. The puppet on the string illustration can go only so far to describe merely human relationships to how man perceives God. The problem? Man does not perceive God well apart from Scripture. Not to be trite, but it would be apropos to cite the whole bible here. The Scripture constantly affirms God is sovereign. The Scripture constantly affirms we have a task to do that really matters and consequences that are real. The Scriptures also affirm that God is Creator and I am creature, and that he had the role of potter and I have the role of clay. How do these work together? We don’t know. What we do know is that they do and it transcends any illustration we can put on it. God is sovereign. We are not, but we really have to act, have consequences good and bad, and are responsible for our actions.
Here is a nice excerpt from Grudem’s chapter on God’s providence regarding our real decisions that really matter and God’s directing hand for good:
“But we must guard against misunderstanding. Here also, as with the lower creation, God’s providential direction as an unseen, behind-the-scenes, “primary cause,” should not lead us to deny the reality of our choices and actions. Again and again Scripture affirms that we really do cause events to happen. We are significant and we are responsible. We do have choices, and these are real choices that bring about real results. Scripture repeatedly affirms these truths as well.” Excerpt From Systematic Theology, Chapter 16.
Q: How can you justify bad things in someone else’s life if you, personally, have lived in that “ivory tower” your whole life because you haven’t experienced what they have? How can you justify bad things in someone else’s life if you, personally, have lived in that “ivory tower” your whole life because you haven’t experienced what they have?
(MHJ) No follower of Jesus speaks any word of authority from the position of experience. Experience is never THE foundation from which any truth comes. I don’t want to skydive because there are too many people whose shoots have not opened. So, their experience says, “don’t skydive”. Many have never done anything enjoy skydiving, and they swear its the coolest thing ever. Why? Their experience. But an objective critique says that truth tells me that gravity is real and can eat me alive. I don’t need to have one of those experiences to justify not skydiving. I justify it by knowing factually that if I jump from a plane I’ll fall at 9.8 meters per second squared, and that translates to bookin’ it when I hit the ground. Conclusion: Don’t do it.
Point: experience is never THE foundation of facts.
The Scriptures are truth. John 17:17 uses the noun version of “truth” to describe what the Bible is. It’s very essence is truth. Therefore, we can speak truthfully about the things God has spoken truthfully about in a prophetic and loving and any other necessary mode because God has given us that truth.
Our experience or lack of it is never a reason to NOT speak to, counsel, or love with God’s word. It is a lamp for our feet and light for our path.
Therefore, be winsome, gentle, wise, corrective (as the situation dictates) with God’s word, let the Spirit do his work with his word. You be faithful.
That is no excuse to be rude when you should be kind, but you get the point. The word is truth whether we have experience or not. So, share it.
Q: There are tribes overseas who have never been reached or even heard the name of Jesus, especially during a period of time during the 1800s where no missionaries were being sent out. People probably died without even hearing the word. I would count this as bad. Therefore, I pose these questions: Is there any good that can come out of the bad of people not sharing? Is there any way to know Christ without a person telling them? Also, what would happen to all those who never got to witness God through Joseph’s family prior to Christ?
(MHJ) I believe Romans 1:18ff address this clearly. From God’s viewpoint, there is no such thing as not knowing. Man knows due to internal and external witness, and in his sin he has worship and served the creature rather than the Creator. Man actively suppresses the truth with lies.
Man knows. It is evident.
The question then becomes, can natural theology save? The answer is, “no”. The gospel is the only message that can save. See Romans 10.
So, man knows through internal witness and external witness, but it is not a knowledge for salvation. It is a knowing for accountability.
Luke 12:35-48 (ESV) 35 “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, 36 and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. 38 If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! 39 But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
41 Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 44 Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, 46 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. 48 But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.
Q: Describe the difference between God orchestrating man’s evil actions and God causing man’s evil actions? What are we to make of “believers” who suffer and persevere well for years and years, and then become discouraged and fall away? If God is sovereignly orchestrating all things, how have people “changed God’s mind” through prayer?
(MHJ) The difference is in who does the evil. In the first option, man does evil, and God orchestrates the men and the evil they do to be for good.
We cannot say it enough, GOD DOES NOT DO EVIL. All through Scripture, evil comes from man’s heart through his actions.
We believe that Christians do not fall away, rather they persevere in Christ (See Hebrews 10).
The bible does not speak of Yhwh changing his mind, rather 2 Samuel 24:16, 1 Chronicles 21:15; Psalm 106:45 speak about Yhwh “relenting” from the calamity he was bringing for judgment.
God’s relenting or repenting is not due to unforeseen things or because of sin he has committed. Rather, it is his change of attitude he has ordained through the provided means of grace such as prayer.
Rather, the repentance of God is his expression of a different attitude and action about something past or future—not because events have taken him off guard, but because events make the expression of a different attitude more fitting now than it would have been earlier. God’s mind “changes,” not because it responds to unforeseen circumstances, but because he has ordained that his mind accord with the way he himself orders the changing events of the world. – John Piper
Q: Even though we receive the spirit when we become believers…there are still things God may not heal until we are in heaven. Is that correct? It was kind of just said that when we receive the spirit he will heal all things. Hurts and disappointment. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” he never says when that will happen. It doesn’t say it will be here on earth.
(MHJ) Here is a link to the discussion sermon Keith and I did https://threeriversc.org/sermons/sermon-audio
I believe you are correct. There is no promise in Scripture that God will perfectly execute justice on our individual behalves in our lifetime. He may. He may do justice on the last day at the resurrection.
What we can affirm is: Romans 12:19 (ESV) Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”, and this quoted by Paul from Deuteronomy 32:35.
Please listen to the sermon audio (link above); I’m not sure we ever said when we receive the Spirit he will heal all things in the way it seems it was heard.
What I can affirm from my own history is that when Jesus saved me and gave me the Spirit, he gave me all I need to understand my past stuff and gave me a renewed will to not be a victim.
The truth of his word in Genesis 50:20 keeps me sane because I know nothing has happened to me that has not been providentially filtered through grace. My growing up is not fully healed, but I’m also not a victim of it either…I refuse to be a victim because I have a freed up ability to see it from God’s perspective.
So, everything may not be made right on this side of my understanding and desire, but I’m also not anyone’s victim, and in that way, I’m well, trusting, and healing.