Genesis 45:4 So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. 5 And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. 6 For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are yet five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. 8 So it was not you who sent me here, but God. ESV
If anyone had a right to be angry and seek revenge, it would be Joseph. His brothers had sold him into slavery. But now, years later, they find themselves standing before him and he has the power to put them to death. Yet Joseph said to his brother – “It was not you who sent me here, but God.”
The question many will ask is how could God have been a part of the brothers’ sin of selling Joseph into slavery? There was nothing righteous whatsoever in what they did. Yet Joseph said that God was the One who had been in control and that it was He who had brought him to Egypt. How can God be involved with the sins of evil men?
First we must realize that God does not cause the wicked to commit sin.
We read from the book of James-
James 1:14 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. ESV
God did not tell Joseph’s brothers to mistreat and betray him. He did not put it in their hearts to be so mean and cruel. The sin they committed came from the evil that was in their own hearts.
Secondly, we must realize that God knew in advance of the sin they would commit.
The Bible says that God declares the end from the beginning. (Isaiah 46:10) One has only to read prophetic passages such as the book of Revelation to realize that God already knows how it all will end.
Thirdly, we must realize that God purposefully allowed them to do what they did.
Could God have stopped them? Sure He could. But He didn’t. Why? God did not stop them because He knew how He could use their sin to accomplish something good. Joseph said – “…do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.”
Sometimes it’s difficult to see how anything good could ever come from the bad, yet the Bible gives us this promise – “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” (Romans 8:28 NLT) The Bible does not say that everything that happens to us is good, but that God is able to accomplish something good from it.