And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. And now be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that you sold me here: for God did send me before you to preserve life, (Gen 45:4-5.
Would you have thought twenty years before that statement that God was doing anything? Here is the one He has sent to preserve the chosen people of God, the forbears of the Messiah, and he is sold as a slave and then falsely accused and thrown into prison and forgotten by the man he helped. And now those chosen people are in danger of death from a famine. But yes, God was accomplishing exactly what He set out to do, using the imperfect and illogical actions of men.
Years later the people of God are under constant attack from marauding Midianites who regularly swoop in and take the produce of their farming and herding, leaving them barely able to survive and afraid to perform even menial day to day tasks.
Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, “The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor,” Judges 6:11-12.
O mighty man of valor? A man so scared he is trying to thresh wheat deep in a hole? A man whose first task he would only try in the middle of the night? A man who needed sign after sign to reassure him? And then he has only an army of 300 against a host of 135,000 (Judges 8:10)? Yes, that was the man and the method God chose and that man ultimately came through, delivering the people and acting as judge for forty years after.
They lay crafty plans against your people; they consult together against your treasured ones. They say, “Come, let us wipe them out as a nation; let the name of Israel be remembered no more!” For they conspire with one accord; against you they make a covenant-- Ps 83:3-5. Imagine how it looked to the few faithful throughout Israel’s history—the 7000 who did not bow their knee to Baal, the righteous remnant that watched as the city of God fell to invaders who performed sacrilege after sacrilege to prove that their god was more powerful than Jehovah. And that is exactly how it looked.
And then think of those disciples as Jesus was carried away, tortured, and killed. Here was the Messiah, they believed, and how could this be happening? They had placed all their hopes in him and now that hope was lost.
But that too turned into the most unlikely victory—11 men standing on a mountain wondering how in the world they could fulfill the mission they had just been given. Once again God managed, not to just eke out a victory, but to overwhelmingly conquer as Christianity swept the world.
Did they give up when persecution hit them almost immediately? Did they give up thirty years later when Nero tried it again? Or the next time, or the next?
Just who do we think God is? He is not a loser. He is in control. His ways are not ours—surely you’ve quoted that verse yourself. It may look like things are going south, but what has happened throughout history, over and over and over? GOD WINS. The victory is not always easy for His people. Sometimes they are hurt. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they die horrible deaths. When you committed your life to Him, what did you think you signed up for? Comfort and ease? Riches and popularity?
Stop wailing and whining because things are bad. The first century church came into a world every bit as bad—or worse! It was a hard victory, but it was a victory. Some of them celebrated it in another plane, and that may yet be our future too. But do not ever doubt who is in control and who will win.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and your dominion endures throughout all generations…Psalm 145:13.