Joseph: Does God Keep Secrets from Us?

by Tom Terry

Here’s a baffling question for those who read the Bible. Why didn’t God tell Jacob that his son, Joseph was still alive? Jacob languished for years in mourning for what he thought was a dead son. At any time during his faithful service to a God, God could have spoken to his servant, Jacob, and told him the truth. Why didn’t he?


Now, I can think of a number of reasons why God remained silent on this issue. If God told Jacob then he would have likely discovered the truth of what his other 10 sons had done in selling a Joseph into slavery. There’s no telling what Jacob might have done.


Second, Jacob could have prematurely gone to Egypt, which would have blown the family’s need for time to work repentance in the hearts of Joseph’s brothers.


Third, before he was sold into slavery, Joseph had a prophetic dream that he would rule over his family. That fate might have been put in jeopardy if Jacob had discovered the truth.


But I think there’s a more important reason, which I’ll reveal in a moment.


Here’s an equally baffling question. Why didn’t Joseph send word to his father that he was alive and ruling in Egypt? I find this question to be harder than the first. Once Joseph had solidified his hold on power, what prevented him from sending a messenger to his father with the good news that he was alive and well? But he didn’t do this. In fact, Joseph believed he would never see his family again. Remember what Joseph said at the birth of his son, Manasseh, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family” (Genesis 41:51).


Of course, all of this brings up a much deeper question. Why does God allow people to believe anything that isn’t true at all? After all, most people on the earth who die, die never knowing the truth about Jesus. Why does God permit this? I’d like present seven possible reasons why this may be so.

First, God has revealed truth in the past, this is what Genesis is about. The testimony about God is written in the Bible by authors who had first hand experiences with the Creator. They have passed that knowledge on to us in their writings. It’s our job to distribute that truth.


Second, though deception rules the day, God has left enough truth to be discovered that could lead us to the larger truth of his existence. The book of Romans tells us “What can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (1:19-20). It is man’s responsibility to explore that truth that can lead to a more complete knowledge of the Savior.


Third, Jesus is the physical expression of God’s most important truth. The book of Hebrews tells us that God has spoken to us through his son. We have the record of his life, teachings, death, and resurrection to bring us to the truth. The person who rejects that historical testimony cannot complain that he is left ignorant of the truth.


Fourth, the Bible contains truth God wants us to know, such as the aforementioned life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.


Fifth, God has made man a free moral agent. He can choose to reject or accept the truth. And he is responsible for his decision.


Sixth, God is not obligated by our errors, sin, or outrage to correct us anymore than parents are obligated by their children’s mistakes. Do parents tell their young children everything they need to know about life when they are but children? Not at all. Children learn truth over time as they are able to handle it, and so do we.


Seventh, there is an army of over 2.4 million people today whose job it is to tell people the truth: missionaries, pastors, and their associates like apologists and professors. These are all professionally employed truth tellers.


What we should be asking is not why God allows people to believe wrong things, but why we, who have been commissioned as truth tellers, are not passionate enough to reach everyone with the truth.

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