"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good." Genesis 50:20
"God can use what He did not choose," declared a noted television evangelist. This is more than a play on words. It coincides with what the Bible teaches.
The fact that God can change the evil designs of people into good is heavily underscored in the life and work of Joseph as prime minister of Egypt. He told his brothers, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives" (Genesis 50:20). Earlier he had told them, "God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance" (Genesis 45:7). It was necessary, according to God's plan of salvation, to keep alive a remnant of Jacob's descendants, notably the tribe of Judah, for from the tribe of Judah the Messiah was to be born.
God did not choose--He did not so order or ordain--that a man named Saul the Pharisee should in his youth be educated in the wrong conceptions of the law of Moses and become self-righteous. But after Saul's conversion, God used the sharpened mind, the now properly directed zeal, and the power of speech of Saint Paul to further the kingdom of Christ.
It was not God's choice that Christ's enemies should persecute the young church in Jerusalem and stone Stephen to death. But God used their evil plotting, directing it to a good outcome. The persecution had the good effect that it scattered the Christians to surrounding regions. Wherever those Christians went, they proclaimed and lived the saving Gospel of Christ.
In his sermon to the religious leaders in Jerusalem Saint Peter cited the greatest instances of God turning to the eternal good of mankind the evil Christ's enemies chose to do: "You handed Him over to be killed, and you disowned Him before Pilate ... You killed the Author of Life, but God raised Him from the dead" (Acts 3:13, 14).
"Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save," writes the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 59:1). This is still true today. What God did not choose He can use to bring about good outcomes in our time, in our world, in our lives.
PRAYER: Lord, God, for Jesus' sake, turn the evil in my life to good outcomes. Amen.
(Devotions from "With Jesus Every Day" copyright 1997, CPH. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend. For information on other devotional material, please contact CPH at 800-325-3040 or visit CPH at www.cph.org.)
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