Then God spoke to
in the visions of the night,
and said, “Jacob, Jacob!” And he said, “Here I am.” So He said, “I am God, the God of your
father; do not fear to go down to Israel , for I will make of you a
great nation there. I will go down with
you to Egypt ,
and I will also surely bring you up again; and Joseph will put his hand on your
eyes.” ( Egypt Genesis
The word “providence” is a composite word—from “pro,” meaning “before,” and “video,” meaning “to see,”—thus, “to see before,” and describes God’s foresight in directing people and events to His predetermined purpose.
The Old Testament story of Joseph is a dramatic demonstration of this doctrine. God birthed a dream in Joseph’s heart that his brothers would someday bow to him. That seemed impossible, when through a series of events, Joseph was cast down into a pit, went down to Egypt as a slave, was put down into a dungeon as a prisoner, and yet this would be the very means by which God would bring him up! He becomes the second most powerful man in the world, and his brothers bow before him, just as God had foreordained. This became the means by which Jacob’s family was saved from famine—and we may add, how we are saved from hell! Christ would be born of this line—and had they perished of starvation, then we would have no Savior!
In the story of Joseph we learn that God’s providence is universal—it extends to all people and to all places. Though He does not make us puppets on a string, He takes even the bad decisions people make and works them for eternal good and glory. Certainly, evil things were done to Joseph. God didn’t make his brothers, for example, do what they did, for He cannot inspire evil, still, He used those very actions to work His will.
His providence is never unrighteous—though it may seem unfair at times. Surely, Joseph must have felt that way—and so do we. All he ever tried to do was to be faithful to God and an obedient son. What did it get him? The pit! In Potiphar’s house, he was a loyal servant, and rejected the seduction of his master’s wife, and what was the result? The prison! Yet, there was more to the story, and we see the righteousness of God prevail over man’s sinfulness.
His providence is not always understandable. God knows more than we know, sees farther than we see, and works in ways beyond our grasp. Although we eventually see what God was doing in Joseph’s life, we still wonder why He worked in this way. I can only say, it was the best way, but only God knows why!
His providence is unchangeable. Much is made of the “freewill of man,” and yet, those very choices freely made will ultimately result in the will of God being done. His agenda cannot be thwarted! No angel in heaven, no demon below, neither ruler on earth, nor circumstance in life can stop the irresistible movement of God’s program. Always remember that when life seems out of control, God is very much in control. How comforting!