January 08, 2017

And What About God?

Genesis 39

The Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did.

—  Genesis 39:23

Readers of the books of Ruth and Esther sometimes ask, “Where is God in this story?” In Ruth the Lord is mentioned as doing something only twice (Ruth 1:6; 4:13), and God’s name does not appear at all in Esther. This has led some people to say that the book of Esther doesn’t belong in the Bible. But God was clearly at work behind the scenes in these people’s lives.

God was continually involved in Joseph’s life too. Far from home, Joseph lived as a faithful follower of the Lord. Though it may seem that Joseph made his own decisions, we read several times that “the Lord was with him” and “gave him success.” God also blessed the household of Potiphar because of Joseph. And when Joseph was framed and thrown into prison, God was still with him, giving him “success in whatever he did.” Like Joseph, Ruth and Esther act in good and faithful ways because God is working in and through them. As they address the problems they face, they act with godly wisdom.

We believe that God’s eyes are on us (Proverbs 15:3) and that God’s will shapes our actions (Proverbs 21:30-31). Never­theless, faith without wise ­action is useless (James 2:20).

As believers in whom God lives today by his Holy Spirit, we know it is wise to imitate the righteous and courageous behavior of Jesus Christ, whose resurrection from the dead we remember this and every Lord’s Day.

Bless us, heavenly Father, as we seek to do Christ’s will on earth. Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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