Fulfilling God’s Plan — Whether We Know it or NotNovember 22, 2021 - 12:00 am
“So he said to him, ‘Go and see if all is well with your brothers and with the flocks, and bring word back to me.’ Then he sent him off from the Valley of Hebron.”— Genesis 37:14
Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Vayeshev, which means “and he lived,” from Genesis 37:1—40:23.
Recently, I was walking with my daughter and we were talking about the most recent group of Jews that The Fellowship brought to Israel from the former Soviet Union. She asked me a question that made me think. “If The Fellowship hadn’t brought them to Israel, would God have found some other way to get them here?”
Of course, the easy answer is “yes,” but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that there’s more to this question.
The Bible says that God will ingather the nation of Israel after centuries of exile, but every one of the millions of Jews in Israel arrived here as the result of human decisions. As people of faith, we know that God has a plan for the world. But we also know that God gave us free will, and we can choose what we do.
I once heard a great explanation for how our free will works together with God’s plan. Imagine you’re playing chess against a grandmaster. Even though you have freedom to choose where to move your pieces, the chess master knows how to move his pieces in a way that will cause you to make certain decisions. You have free will, but the chess master’s plan will win in the end. And quite often, God uses us for fulfilling His plan — whether we know it or not.
Fulfilling God’s Plan — Whether We Know it or Not
In this week’s Torah portion, the Bible says that Jacob sent Joseph to see his brothers “from the Valley of Hebron.” The Hebrew word for “valley” is emek, which also means “depth.” Because the place, Valley of Hebron, was never mentioned before and has no importance to the story, the Jewish sages saw this verse as hinting at God’s plan.
They taught, “Jacob sent Joseph because of the deep plan that was spoken to the one buried in Hebron,” referring to Abraham who was told by God that his descendants would be enslaved in a foreign land.
Jacob sent Joseph to see how his brothers were doing. Because of their deep jealousy of Joseph, his brothers sold him into slavery, and Joseph ended up in Egypt. Eventually, this led to the entire family living there, beginning the exile that would end with the Exodus.
For Jacob, he was just sending his son to check on his brothers. But in the plan of God, this moment would change history forever!
Your turn: In your prayers today, ask God to use you for fulfilling His plan, even if you won’t know it at the time.