This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”
You may say, “The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” but this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your fellow citizens who did not go with you into exile— yes, this is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth, a curse and an object of horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them. For they have not listened to my words,” declares the LORD, “words that I sent to them again and again by my servants the prophets.
Part of God’s plan for the Israelites’ ultimate good and the redemption of their souls, which is so much more vital than the redemption of their physical lives, was that they go into exile, brought to desperation, their hearts turned back to God, captivated once again by their True Love. He will not hide his face forever. His plan was and always had been to prosper them and not to harm them.
A life dedicated to God is a life reborn, and the thing that is reborn is not the outer man, but the inner man, and the inner man is the “you” God is talking about when he says that his plans are for hope and a future, to prosper and not to harm. The outer man is an outward manifestation of the inner man, the vessel and the temple for the inner man –the true man. The outer man can be thought of as a kind of avatar, being fueled by the inner man –and it is this man who’s salvation and redemption God is after. Focusing on the outer man is like treating the symptoms. Innate of ourselves we may be able to find temporary relief, satisfaction, or fulfillment, but a house built on the sand will inevitably fall.
When the Israelites’ would turn within their hearts and seek the Lord once again, He promised to be found and free them from captivity. The captivity He first freed them from was the captivity of their souls. They experienced this freedom when the Lord met them in their desperation and showed himself good, faithful, and loving once again.
The physical release from Babylonian captivity was manifested only after the Israelites’’ were released from spiritual captivity. The Lord promised destruction for the citizens who stayed behind while the rest of the Israelites went into exile. They ignored the prophets and the word of the Lord. They refused to consecrate their hearts, no matter the Lord’s plan in getting them to that place of consecration. Sometimes is totally sucks for the outer man, but the inner man is being transformed. As we submit our bodies as living sacrifices, the Lord promises to transform us not by changing our circumstance, but by the renewing of our minds that we might be equipped to live Spirit-led lives in the midst of the perfect will of God, and this will is also good.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt.
Joseph’s brothers didn’t have power over his destiny. People don’t have power over our destinies. I am a child, the beloved, and a princess in the kingdom of God. He alone has power over my destiny. Joseph’s brothers must have thought they sent him into slavery and possibly to his death, but what they didn’t know was that it was God who was sending him to Egypt, Joseph’s brothers were merely pawns in the Lord’s strategic plan, and God sent Joseph to Egypt to be lord of Pharaoh’s household and ruler of all Egypt.
It must have totally sucked to be thrown in prison, and more than even that, to be betrayed by his own brothers, but the mysterious will of God is really not that mysterious at all because He is working all things together for the good of those who love him.
The people of God will be given authority. God trusts his own, people, and creation with his own children. Perhaps Joseph’s greatest purpose for being in Egypt, and certainly the most honoring position He was given by God was to be “father to Pharaoh”. God is pursuing the hearts of all men. He cares about one heart more than all the kingdoms of the earth. I wonder if He did it all, placed Joseph there in Pharaoh’s household, for that one soul, and all that other powerful ruler stuff was just the icing on the cupcake.
Joseph was anointed to be a spiritual father to Pharaoh –the greatest position in the kingdom –humbly serving, empowering, and teaching by example the life of a faithful, passionate, obedient servant and lover in the house of the Lord. God had Pharaoh’s heart, and I wonder if that wasn’t what He was ultimately after in His grace-filled strategy to honor, bless, and love His own. He is after the one, and in the end all we have is Him. He is my great reward.