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Here is Genesis 37:25-28.

The context is Joseph has been put in the cistern by his brothers and they are trying to determine what to do next.

“As the sat down to eat their meal, they looked up and saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were loaded with spices, balm and myrrh and they were on their way to take them down to Egypt. Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmailites and not lay our hands on him; after all, his is our brother, our own flesh and blood. His brothers agreed.

So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ismaelites, who took him to Egypt.”

So the question is – Who’s choice was it for Joseph to go to Egypt?

I suppose you could say that there were two willing parties – Joseph’s brothers and the Merchants. I suppose if you are looking for direct causation, it was the Merchants who committed the act that brought him to Egypt. They caused it.

But I think there was another person who caused Joseph to be sent to Egypt. In a more real way (or as real a way) than the merchants. That person would be God. God is sovereign. Things don’t happen without it being his will.

So the answer comes back to me. I don’t know, that’s pretty mean. Joseph clearly didn’t want to leave his father. I don’t think God would do that. God doesn’t force things to happen.

But what does the bible say? “It was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.” So you say, either “Well, that’s just Joseph talking, he might have been mistaken” or “God didn’t send him to Egypt, he sent him (with Miraculous Dream Reading) from Prison to the Palace. That’s not nearly so mean.”

Well have you read Psalm 105:17, by the inspired Psalmist: “and he sent a man before them, Joseph, sold as a slave.”

Isn’t that pretty clear?

So we have the bible saying both that it was the Brother and the Merchants decision (100%) that caused Joseph to go to Egypt, and it was God’s decision (%100) for him to go there. The Bible shows that with an Infinite God, cause is not a zero sum game.

And what else did Joseph say about it?

“As for you, you meant it for evil against me; but God meant it for good.”

Note that, God didn’t just work with the bad act to make something good happen from it, God meant it for good. God caused it to happen with good things in mind.

How am I mistaken?


  1. My Friend


This harmless-sounding phrase has lately become a way for one person to talk down to another. . .


Person A. What? Don’t tell me that you are a Theological Universalist.

Person B. That’s exactly what I’m telling you, my friend.


. . . or for one person to express to another that they both are a step above all who disagree with them – Collusion.


Person A. Wow, you don’t suppose that they still think that Man has landed on the moon.

Person B. It sure looks like it, my friend.



2.  The Repeat.


The hope here is that if a statement is repeated it will give credence to what they are saying.


Person A. Well, it is certain that the Iraqi’s need stability.

Person B. But the question is: What do the Iraqi’s want? What do they want?


3. The Combo.


Sometimes a discussion causes a person to go for the doubly-troubling difecta.


Person A. Boy, I sure can’t understand why anyone would think that way.

Person B. I can’t either, my friend. I can’t either.


It doesn’t matter whether or not I agree with the speaker/writer on the point that they are discussing, if they use either of these, I suddenly find myself assuming that they think too highly of themselves.

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February 2007