Perhaps the most encouraging verse in the first book of the Bible is Genesis 50:20:
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
The word for “meant” in both instances in this verse comes from a Hebrew word that assumes a planning process, a calculation with a purpose behind it.
There was evil intent on the part of Joseph’s brothers when they sold him into slavery. However, at the same time, God orchestrated the chain of events so that Joseph would be at just the right place to save many lives, including those in his own family.
This has exciting implications for our lives now and for our roles in Jesus’ kingdom after He comes for us!
You see, what Joseph realized so long ago is this: Evil never thwarts God’s divine purposes for us, never. He’s sovereign over the affairs of humanity even when evil people seemingly act contrary to His will.
We see this in the story of our redemption.
Jesus’ Death on the Cross
Notice how God arranged the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus. Pontius Pilate, Judas, and the Jewish religious leaders of the day all followed the promptings of Satan and his minions in their various roles that led to Jesus’ death. They thought they were carrying out their own plans; but in the end, they accomplished the Lord’s design for the ages to redeem a people for His own.
Acts 4:27-28 speak to God’s predestination even of those who put Jesus on the cross:
“…for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”
Satan thought he had won a great victory, but in reality, the crucifixion sealed his doomed and forever won our pardon.
Paul sums it up this way in 1 Corinthians 2:7-8:
“But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”
We must not stop here. The words of Genesis 50:20 relate to the perilous times in which we live.
Christ’s Thousand-Year Rule Over the Nations of the Earth
Today, we see Satan busily preparing the world for the arrival of his man, the antichrist. The globalists are far along in their plans to implement a New World Order. Because they remain confident of their ultimate success, they recently announced that they are speeding up their timetable for the United Nation’s Agenda 2030, which is a Marxist world government.
The great evil that we witness in our day is rapidly advancing the plans of Satan for the world government that both Daniel and the book of Revelation refer to as the beast.
However, these elite powerbrokers cannot thwart God’s ancient plan of giving the nations to Jesus as an inheritance (Psalm 2:6-9). In fact, they themselves are bringing about the conditions that will lead to the Lord’s thousand-year rule upon the throne of David.
“How are they doing that?” you might ask.
First, the Lord will use them to bring about several of His judgments in the Tribulation period. In Revelation 6, Jesus releases the deadly seal judgments that result in the deaths of one-fourth of the world’s population through famines, hyper-inflation, and wars. We already witness the elite powerbrokers setting up these things, which, after the Rapture, will result in a great loss of life. The judgments described in the book of Revelation are necessary to prepare the world for Jesus’ kingdom.
Second, it will be the antichrist that facilitates the realization of the Jewish people that Jesus is their true Messiah. We read about this future repentance of the Jewish people in Zechariah 12:10:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.”
Contrary to the deadly intent of the man of lawlessness, the Jewish people will recognize Christ as their Savior near the end of the Tribulation period.
The globalists of our day intend their actions for evil and death; but God is leading the world to a glorious climax, the return of Jesus as a Conquering Hero and the establishment of His rule over the nations.
And we will be with Jesus when He returns and will reign with Him in His glorious kingdom. How amazing is that!?
The Death of Death
There’s another time when from a human vantage point, it might appear that Satan is working as an independent actor and even winning. But such is not the case.
The Bible tells us that toward the end of Jesus’ millennial reign, God will release Satan from his imprisonment. We read about this in Revelation 20:7-9:
“And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them.”
For a brief time, it will seem as though evil is prevailing as people rebel against the Lord, but in the end, judgment rains down on those who choose to follow Satan.
What is the Lord accomplishing through this final rebellion of humanity?
First, it’s a final test for people living under the perfect conditions of the Millennium with a perfect Ruler, Jesus. It will demonstrate the wickedness of the unregenerate heart despite living in a pristine environment under a righteous King.
Second, it signals the end of God’s usefulness for Satan. When the devil accomplishes this last task for the Lord, he experiences his permanent judgment. Revelation 20:10 tells us:
“and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Third, it leads to the death of death itself (Revelation 20:11-15). The last people ever to experience physical death will be those who rebel against the rule of Jesus over the world.
Satan designed his rebellion to end Jesus’ reign. God, however, planned it to forever destroy Satan and death and ultimately bring in the eternal state with a new heaven, a new earth, and the glorious New Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:4 describes life in the glorious eternal state after death has been forever vanquished:
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
The Eternal Purpose to Our Suffering
I know you all have heard sermons that point out the benefits of our suffering for this life, but let’s go beyond that.
Joseph’s life illustrates the eternal aspect to the afflictions we all endure.
In my book, The Triumph of the Redeemed, I wrote this about the parallels between Joseph’s life and our roles in Jesus’ kingdom:
What if someone had told Joseph as he trudged—bound in chains from neck to feet—across a hot desert that he would someday rule alongside Pharaoh of Egypt? Wouldn’t he have thought that person insane? Yet, by the end of the story, we see that was God’s purpose behind all the many afflictions Joseph experienced. He rose from slavery and years in prison to become the second most powerful man in the world at that time.
The Lord used Joseph’s betrayal by his brothers, his time in the household of Potiphar, and his imprisonment as training ground for what He had planned for him. Joseph learned wise stewardship as the head of Potiphar’s household and the value of faithfulness as Potiphar’s wife tempted him and then falsely accused him. In prison, Joseph trusted God’s ongoing presence as he interpreted dreams for the baker and cupbearer and waited for what must have seemed a lifetime or his situation to improve.
The Lord intertwined all these experiences to position and prepare Joseph for when he would rule over all of Egypt alongside Pharaoh.
Do you see the parallel for us? Like Joseph, we will someday see how the Lord’s purposes in all our experiences and suffering fit together for His unique plans for us in His kingdom during the time we will reign with Him. [i]
Is it any wonder why Satan hates the future thousand-year rule of Jesus over the earth and does all he can to squash any mention of it in churches today? You see, it’s during this time that we will see the full outcome of all our earthly experiences as the Lord blends them together in the roles that He has for us in His glorious kingdom.
The problem with the popular “your best life now” preaching in so many Bible-believing churches is that many saints never see the end of their suffering. And even with those that experience God’s restoration in a meaningful way, the scars of their past remain. And everyone experiences the many trials of aging as time progresses.
What we see on this side of eternity is only one aspect of Joseph’s remarkable statement of faith in Genesis 50:20. The Lord is working out eternal plans for us, and no one, but no one, can interfere with that.
No one can thwart God’s eternal purposes for us, not even we ourselves. No amount of evil done to us in this life can change His kingdom plans for us in eternity; we will reign with Christ someday in precisely the way that He intended all along.
I believe our future place in Jesus’ kingdom will be a glorious culmination of all our talents, gifts, experiences, and afflictions from this life.
My book, The Triumph of the Redeemed-An eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times, is available on Amazon. In this book, I go further in explaining why God’s promises for eternity bring so much comfort and encouragement into the daily pain that we all feel in this vale of tears.
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[i] Jonathan C. Brentner, The Triumph of the Redeemed (Crane, MO: Defender, 2021), p 221.