This last week during our Sr. High Bible school class the question was asked, “Can you surprise God?” This came from a discussion on Psalm 139 and how God knows everything about us. I know there have been people who have tried to surprise God by doing something crazy. But, the irony is that God is not surprised because He knew you were going to try to surprise Him. This make people bang their heads against the wall in confusion, but don’t worry God knew you were going to do that also.
In Genesis 37, we have the story of Joseph. There is an attempt to foil God’s plan, but by doing that there is an actual fulfilling of the plan.
You may or may not remember the story of Joseph from the Old Testament. Joseph was one of Jacob’s sons. We find out:
“Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him.” Genesis 37:3
I have four kids and know what would happen if I consistently favored one of my kids over any other. As it is now, I need to measure everything out perfectly so that no one mistakenly gets less. Naturally, this was a source of tension for Joseph’s brothers.
“When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” Genesis 37:4
Hatred takes the place of any kindness they might have felt for their brother. To compound the problem, Joseph had a dream showing him ruling over his brothers. One might wonder why he told his brothers that, but I guess that is part of the fun of this story. The point is that they hated him even more as a result.
“His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” Genesis 37:11
You know the interesting thing about jealousy is that it makes people do rash things. Jealousy makes people who are otherwise rational, do irrational things. Joseph’s brothers come up with an inconceivable plan.
“Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes out of his dreams.” Genesis 37: 20
Holy smokes fellas! This is your brother you are talking about here. I have had fights with my brother that were rather gruesome, but never did I actually devise a plan to kill him. At least Reuben had some common sense and a heart in all of this and convinces them to sell him and not kill him. Of course, they sell him to Egypt and tell their father that he died.
Here’s the irony of this all. It was God’s plan all along for Joseph to actually rule over his brothers. They can be jealous all they want, but the plan stays the same. Their attempt to disrupt that plan actually fulfilled the plan. Their attempt to surprise God actually was exactly what He was going to use to fulfill the plan. Imagine how this all turns around as Joseph goes to Egypt and ends up eventually being in charge of Egypt. God had a plan and this plan, as much as it made those guys jealous, actually was a blessing to them in the midst of a famine. Who had grain? You guessed it; Egypt had grain and Israel needed it.
No you cannot surprise God. He knows you. He knows your situation, your heart, your challenges, your strengths; He knows it all. This is not something to fear, this is something to celebrate. As much as we try to steer and direct the hand of God, God never loses control. This is incredibly encouraging to me in the midst of all the challenges of the world, not to mention the ones that are right in front of me.
People do bad things to other people. Jealousy and selfishness places a burden on relationships. No matter what schemes man dreams up, no matter how much trouble the world finds itself in. God’s plans are not foiled! Our job is to trust Him completely and recognize that He is always God, no matter what.