The story of God delivering Israel from Egypt and the story of Joseph reveal how all things work together for good for God’s children: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). God does not allow evil men to carry out to the fullest their sadistic plans. However, God has the sovereign ability to use the plans of evil men to carry out His eternal purposes. Yet, God will stop man’s evil ways when necessary. We see God clearly stating this truth when He told Israel:
For I will cast out the nations before you and enlarge your borders; neither will any man covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year” (Ex. 34:24).
God indicated that He would intervene to prevent Israel’s enemies from attacking them when they were following God’s instruction to participate in His sacred yearly feasts. This would be a good time for the enemy to attack, but their sovereign God would not allow this to happen—He would overrule any plans of the enemy.
In the story of Christ’s birth we see God using Christ’s archenemy, Herod, to direct the wise men to Bethlehem. Herod sought the chief priests of Israel and learned that Christ would be born in Bethlehem. Because Herod then “sent them to Bethlehem” (Matt. 2:8), the wise men were able to bring the gifts that Joseph and Mary would need to flee to Egypt with Jesus when Herod ordered all male children ages 2 and under to be killed. The man who plotted to kill Jesus provided for Him.
Knowing God’s sovereignty enables us to wait patiently and hopefully when we are under attack by Satan and evil men. Their plans may be to destroy us, but God will turn their plans and cause them to work together for our good. We may not like what is happening, but we can be assured that our sovereign God is in control of the situation. This understanding will enable you to wait on God day by day in calm, faithful trust.
All men are under God’s sovereign control. God has a purpose in allowing evil to proceed on earth. God will allow Satan to carry out many evil plans. However, through it all God’s people will be tried and strengthened. That is why James could write:
“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).
As we learn to wait patiently, faithfully, and hopefully on our sovereign God, we will be developing the very character we must have in order to be ready to meet Jesus when He comes.
The trials God allows us to go through are essential to the development of Christ’s character in us. According to John we must become just like Jesus before He comes in order to be ready for that great event: “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
Ellen White wrote the following about the disappointing trials we go through: “In the future life the mysteries that have annoyed and disappointed us will be made plain. We shall see that our seemingly unanswered prayers and disappointed hopes have been among our greatest blessings” (Ministry of Healing, p. 474).
Personal reflection and discussion
1. What do the biblical stories of God delivering Israel out of Egypt and the events in Joseph’s life reveal about God’s sovereign rule over men?
2. What does the story of Christ’s birth reveal about God’s rulership over the enemies of His people?
3. Why does God allow difficulties and trials to come into the Christian’s life?
4. What did Ellen White say about the most difficult times in our life?
• Call your prayer partner and discuss this devotional with him/her.
• Pray with your prayer partner:
1. Pray for God to baptize you with His Holy Spirit.
2. Pray for God to revive you and His church.
3. Pray for God to help you to believe that even events that seem bad will work out for your good.
4. Pray for the individuals on your prayer list.
Excerpt From: Dennis Smith. “40 Days.”