In his book "All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten," Robert Fulghum said "Remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of
all - LOOK."
I love the observation by Sherlock Holmes, in "The Science of Deduction," by Arthur Conan Doyle, who deduced that Watson's deceased brother was careless, had periods of prosperity and loss, and was a drunkard, just by carefully observing his pocket watch. It is a wonderful example of the value of observation, by looking carefully and putting clues together. Maybe that is why I like mysteries! I can reason, analyze, and, just as Pooh attempted, to "think, think, think." Perhaps that is why I like to read the Bible without help from commentaries. I want to analyze the meanings myself, and concluding what God is up to on my own. I think there is great value and resulting insight in asking questions of the text and looking carefully at the details.
For example, were there reasons God send Joseph ahead to Egypt, beyond providing food for his family and so many others in the future? I think there are clues in Genesis 15:13-14,16; 46:33-34; and 47:19. (Read the passages as we go along.)
Genesis 15:13-14,16 - God had a plan. He always does. God told Abraham in advance that his offspring would be strangers in a foreign land, enslaved and oppressed for 400 years. But judgment of this nation would be forthcoming, and they would somehow be released and have lots of stuff. God knows the future. My future. And a side tidbit, the Amorites needed time to repent, if they would. If not, they would face judgment. God is patient with the Amorites, even while the Hebrews suffer. Have you needed patience? Have you suffered, perhaps for someone else's need? I have.
Genesis 46:33-34 - So shepherds are detestable to Egyptians? Why is that important to mention? Seems to me that will keep them separate and keep them from intermarrying with the Egyptians, which God forbade. And God had a reason for this, too; He wasn't being elitist. Again, He has a plan. For the whole world. He wanted to bless Abraham and his offspring to be a blessing to the world, by creating the line of the Messiah, but also, as an example of how following God brings blessing. It is still true today. The list of blessings in listed in Deuteronomy 28, and in chapter 30:11-20, he admonishes the Hebrews to choose life!
Genesis 47:19 - Why should Abraham's descendants become slaves, by choice? Well, initially to stay alive. Better alive as a slave than dead, they figured. Later God would fulfill His own prophecy. Exodus 2:23-24 says they cried out to Him for help and He heard, remembered, and took notice. When we call out, He provides; We are humbled, and we thank and praise Him for his answers. Being joyous and praising Him is so much better than complaining and worrying. And it builds our faith in Him as He provides.
God displayed His wonders for the Egyptians so that they could know Him, too; In fact, He gets a worldwide reputation! In Joshua 2:10-11, Rahab exclaims, "We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt (which was 40 years earlier), and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed. When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone's courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below." God's worldwide fame has increased, and His name is honored. Notice that she says "your God" at this time, but later, Rahab is incorporated into the line of the Messiah (see Matthew 1:5). He must have changed to be her personal God, I should think, after all the answers to what her prayers must have been.
So God did have a plan and He accomplished it, with many trials and hardships along the way. I'm sure it is the same in your life and mine. Thank you, Lord, for your amazing plan, and telling it to us, cloaked in mystery. Lord, teach us about Yourself. It is so fun to go on a treasure hunt in Your Word!
"To interpret the Bible accurately, study it like a detective examining evidence."
— Charles R. Swindoll