How can salvation come through slavery? (from “Spectacular Sins”)

In chapter 6, “The Sale of Joseph and the Son of God,” John Piper lays out the backstory of God covenanting with Abraham, promising blessing, but only after affliction for 400 years.

So how would the people of God enter into a 400-year stay in Egypt? Through a spectacular sin.

Joseph’s brothers sell him off as a slave, little realizing that “in the very effort to destroy this dreamer, they are fulfilling Joseph’s dreams. Oh, how often God works in this way! He takes the very sins of the destroyers and makes them the means of the destroyers’ deliverance.”

It’s happened with me. It’s happened with you. In God’s grand scheme, something we deem a horrible kink in our life’s thread later becomes an integral turning point of the pattern.

In our book study, The Preacher’s Wife compares Joseph to Frodo in The Return of the King. Frodo’s deliverance to the very place he wanted to end up in Mordor was thanks to the paralyzing spider bite of Shelob, which brought on his rescue by a band of orcs. [Watch the battle clip here.]

So what does God want us to learn about salvation through slavery?

1. God knows how to preserve life, often through unexpected means. “God summoned the famine (Psalm 105:16-17). And God prepared the deliverance. And he did it through a spectacular sin.” Which men did he use to get rid of Joseph? The very men that he was trying to save. (Genesis 45:5). Sound familiar?

2. What man designed for evil, God designed for good (Genesis 50:19-20).
“Notice it does not say that God used their evil for good after they meant it for evil. It says that in the very act of evil, there were two different designs: In the sinful act, they were designing evil, and in the same sinful act, God was designing good.”

Again, sound familiar? The story of Joseph foreshadows Christ’s glorious use of the most murderous sin for our saving grace.

How? Piper gives 3 ways:

First, God brought deliverance after sin and suffering. Who should be surprised, then, that brutal suffering and slanders were brought against Jesus prior to the deliverance?

Second, the suffering one is righteous. As Joseph was (mostly) righteous, Jesus was certainly perfectly so. Despite being mistreated, the suffering one for righteousness’ sake is always vindicated by God in the end.

Third, the scepter will not depart from Judah. Through preserving the Hebrew people, God was preserving the blood line of Judah through which the ultimate Lion of Judah was to come, to rescue not only the Hebrews, but all people wanting rescues.

In our Book Study, Lisa at The Preacher's Wife asked us to answer two questions this week:

1. Describe an event in your life intended as both evil and good. Are you allowing God’s purposes to prevail or have you been content in accepting the evil consequences?

2. Joseph was faithful no matter what. Are we being faithful in less than desirable situations so that God can make the most of them? How are lives being preserved as a result of your experience?

Think of your own answers, then check back later in the week to be encouraged by the testimonies that will be shared there.


Lisa @ The Preacher's Wife said...

What an excellent recap! I think the wrong person is hosting this..:))) Thanks so much for your thoughts..:))

Kay said...

I'm up a little too late tonight - not really sleepy for some reason and just reading... these two questions you posted are really good to think about. I'll have to revisit them when I'm a little more clear-headed. :-) But 'The Preacher's Wife's' site is really good and it's good to read about others (like Xandra) who have been through difficult times and seen how God was 'designing good' even in the midst of sinful actions. It's just such a hard thing to wrap your brain around sometimes... pretty amazing.

Lisa notes... said...

Yes, those questions are good to think about. Lisa from "The Preacher's Wife" wrote them. :-) I still haven't written out my own answers to them...soon...

Oh, be sure you watch her Video Greeting on her blog, if you haven't yet. It's so real-life; I love it. :-)


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