Online Bible Commentary
Delivered Out of All Our Troubles
Acts 7:9 "And the patriarchs, becoming envious, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him 10 and delivered him out of all his troubles, and gave him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11 Now a famine and great trouble came over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance. 12 But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13 And the second time Joseph was made known to his brothers, and Joseph's family became known to the Pharaoh. 14 Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people. 15 So Jacob went down to Egypt; and he died, he and our fathers. 16 And they were carried back to Shechem and laid in the tomb that Abraham bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem. (NKJV)
The time is the early days of the New Testament Church, in A.D. 30 or 31. The disciple Stephen has been brought before the religious leaders that made up the Sanhedrin Council.
Stephen is being falsely accused of blaspheming the temple and the law of Moses (also known as the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible) while preaching the gospel in a synagogue. The false witnesses testified that Stephen had said that “Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.”
The High Priest questions Stephen asking "Are these things so" (v. 1)? Stephen responds with a lengthy sermon which covers Acts 7:1-53, of which this passage is part.
In verses 1-8 Stephen has begun at the beginning, the beginning of Israel. He has reminded the religious leaders of their roots, who they came from and who they belong to. In this passage, Stephen now speaks of the patriarchs, the twelve sons of Jacob, who was later named Israel.
The patriarch Joseph was sold by his brothers because they were envious of Joseph’s favoritism with their father (v. 9). Joseph was the oldest son of Jacob by Rachel, the most favored of Jacob’s wives.
Joseph soon found favor with the “Pharaoh, king of Egypt”, who “made him governor over Egypt and all his house” (v. 10). Meanwhile, back in Canaan, Jacob and his family were facing drought conditions and had no food. Hearing that there was grain to be had in Egypt, Jacob sent the brothers there to purchase some (vv. 11-12).
Joseph was then reunited with his brothers in Egypt, and all was forgiven (v. 13a). Also, Joseph’s “family became known to the Pharaoh” at this time (v. 13b). Joseph then sent for “his father Jacob and all his relatives to him, seventy-five people” (v. 14). Stephen used the Greek translation of Genesis 46:27 to arrive at 75 people. The Hebrew text lists the number as 70. The difference represents the difference in counting family members between the two cultures.
Jacob and the rest of the family were reunited with Joseph in Egypt, where Jacob later died (v. 15a). Jacob and some of the patriarchs were buried in the family tomb in Hebron, while Joseph and, perhaps, other patriarchs were buried in Shechem (vv. 15b-16).
Abraham had bought a family tomb in Hebron (Machpelah), about twenty miles south of Jerusalem, from the sons of Heth, where he was buried next to his wife Sarah (Gen. 23:16-20). The tomb, the cave at Machpelah, is still there. It is covered by the massive walls of the Haram, a mosque which stands out in the city of Hebron.
Joseph was buried in Shechem, on land that Jacob bought from the sons of Hamor (Gen. 33:19). It appears that Stephen lumped the two burial site accounts together for the sake of brevity. Both Hebron and Shechem are located in Canaan.
So, in this passage, Stephen tells the story of the great Jewish patriarch Joseph. Joseph was a man of God as expressed in the passage “God was with him and delivered him out of all his troubles” (v. 9b-10a). Because he was a man of God, Joseph was delivered out of all his troubles.
This does not mean that Joseph had no troubles. His family abandoned him and left him for dead. He was unjustly imprisoned in Egypt for two years before gaining the favor of the king. He faced death, as we all do. Instead, it means that whenever he encountered troubles he was always delivered by God.
As Christians if we are in God’s will we, also, can expect to be delivered out of all our troubles. But our delivery may not look like we wish it to be. God works in mysterious ways. We cannot always figure out what He is doing, this side of Heaven.
So our job is to remain faithful throughout and to keep trusting in God. He had a plan for Joseph, and He has a plan for us.