Has God ever made you a promise that you were eager to see come to pass, but before it could ever manifest, everything that could go wrong did? Maybe you’re in this place now. God has given you a surefire word to stand on (like He did Abraham regarding Isaac), but everything’s hitting the fan. In short, everything going on around you seems like it will make null and void the promise of God, so what should you do and believe? This very thing is what I’ve come to talk to you about today: the opposition that occurs before the promise.
Sisters, opposition occurring pre-manifestation isn’t something that recently began; it’s been occurring since the biblical days. In the Bible, we meet several men of God who were given a promise, or told they’d do something great for God; yet, they were met with great opposition. Today, we’re going to briefly look at the lives of two of them—Joseph and David.
Joseph is a young man whom we first meet in Genesis 37. His father is Israel (also known as Jacob), Abraham’s grandson, and he [Joseph] is one of twelve sons (remember the twelve tribes of Israel?). We are told in verse 3, of chapter 37, that Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because Joseph was the son of his old age. Favoritism isn’t hard to recognize, and Joseph’s brothers recognized it right away. Verse 4 tells us that “when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.”
Now, we see that Joseph was already profoundly hated by his brothers, but the dream he’s about to tell them will incense them even more. In verses 6 and 7, Joseph says to them, “Hear this dream that I have dreamed: Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.” Joseph’s brothers understood the dream straightaway and said to him, “’Are you indeed to reign over us? Or are you indeed to rule over us?’ So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words” (verse 8). In verse 9, we see that Joseph had yet another dream indicating that he’d one day reign over his family, and of course, it made his brothers more envious and jealous.
So, in their minds, they had to do something about Joseph; he was too much of a “problem” for them. First, they conspired to kill him (verses 18-20), but their brother Reuben wasn’t comfortable with that. However, he was okay with throwing him into a pit, so that’s what they did. They stripped Joseph of his robe (that his father had given him) and threw him into a pit (verses 21-24). Following that, they sat down to eat (like nothing had ever happened!). When they looked up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Just then, Judah decided it would be of no profit to kill their brother and conceal his blood, so instead, they should sell him to the Ishmaelites; so they did. They sold Joseph for twenty shekels of silver, and the Ishmaelites took him to Egypt (verses 25-28).
In Egypt, Joseph was sold (as a slave) to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard. There, the Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man (39:2)—he was made overseer and put in charge of all that Potiphar had. That is, until Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of trying to rape her, after Joseph, a man who feared God and respected his master, refused to go to bed with her (39:6b-18). Because of her lie, Joseph was imprisoned. But, even there, the Lord was with him and gave him favor in the sight of the prison keeper (verse 21). “And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison” (verse 22).
Later on down the road, we see Joseph’s dreams and word from the Lord fulfilled, when he was raised to leader of all Israel (see chapters 40-41). In spite of the opposition, the evilness done by his brothers in an effort to thwart the plans of God, God prevailed… and those same brothers, when the (promised) famine hit the land, would have to come and bow to Joseph for the sake of their very own lives (see chapter 42).
No plan of God’s, sisters, can be thwarted!
In 1 Samuel 16, we meet David and see him anointed by the prophet Samuel as the new king over Israel (as Saul, Israel’s first king, had been rejected by God due to his rebellion). Between his anointing and his reign, which would come about fifteen years after his anointing, David endured much hardship. Saul, who’d loved him after his slaying of Goliath, began to hate him when David’s success, in his eyes, obscured his own (cf. 1 Samuel 18:6-9), and when he saw that God’s hand was heavily at work in David’s life (and no longer at work in his). Because of his jealousy and envy toward David, Saul tried, on numerous occasions, to kill him (the first we see in 1 Samuel 18:10-11).
For years, David had to run (from Saul) and fight for his life, yet the opposition didn’t defeat him (it actually made him stronger), and it didn’t cancel out the promise God had spoken over his life.
Like it was with Joseph and David, sisters, most of us will face opposition and delay before our promise is manifested. If you’re wondering why, I believe it’s because God uses the opposition and delay as faith-strengthening mechanisms. Secondly, we have a very real enemy who hates the children of God and fights us tooth and nail, as we see through Joseph’s brothers and Saul. Nevertheless, as we also see via our text, the enemy shall never prevail. Yes, God sometimes allows the enemy’s plan to unfold, but it’s never without purpose. What the enemy intends for our harm, God uses for our good.
If we go back to Joseph’s story for a moment, we can see that Joseph came to that very conclusion. After their father had died, Joseph’s brothers feared he’d try to pay them back for all the evil they’d done him, but instead, he says to them, “Do not fear, am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:19-20).
Joseph’s brothers, fueled by the enemy (and likely their own flesh too), meant to harm him, but God wanted to train and refine him through them. The same was true for David.
I know you may feel in your heart of hearts that you’re prepared and ready for the thing God has promised you, but God, who is all-wise and all-knowing, knows us far better than we know ourselves.
With that being said, if you find yourself today in between the promise and its manifestation, I want to encourage you to not fret, but to stand on the word that God has spoken to you. Will it be hard sometimes to stand? Yes. But does that give us a pass to live in doubt? No. The Bible tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Therefore, no matter how strong the opposition, continue to fight. No, the promise may not manifest tomorrow; it may not even manifest in five years, but because you serve a faithful God who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19), get prepared, for it will manifest, just as He said.