Is the blessing which Jacob gave to his sons, he said, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall.” The character and life of Joseph is very fruitful in the many and varied presentations of his antitype, Jesus. In his experience with his brethren, and afterwards in his afflictions in Egypt, indeed his whole life presents an unlimited fullness in the hand which God outstretched to him in every trial and every necessity. While he was yet a lad, his father Jacob’s heart was filled with love toward him, in evidence of which he made him “a coat of many colors,” designating him from all others of his father’s family, as the one who received the fullness of his father’s love. As the type of Jesus he was the beloved of his father. Of Jesus God said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The many colored coat, as the vari-colored rainbow of God’s promise to Israel, is evidently intended to represent Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to that people, as embracing all things in every shape or color, both in heaven and in earth, which were placed in his hands to the end that he should be exalted above the heavens, a Prince and a Savior of Israel. The envy and jealousy of the carnal nature is usually stirred into action according to the degree that one is elevated above his fellows. The knowledge that Jacob loved Joseph more than all his brethren, caused the brethren of Joseph to envy and hate him; and when he had told them his dream concerning them, that their sheaves made obeisance to his shief, signifying that they should at some time make obeisance to him, and also the added dream that “the sun and moon and eleven stars” should make obeisance to him, then their envy and hatred were so aroused that they were ready to kill him. Did not Israel in like manner so hate Jesus? When Joseph went down to Dothan, where he found his brethren, he went not to do his own will, but to do the will of his father. But wherever Joseph went, or whatsoever he did, God was with him; therefore was he prospered, that the purpose of God should be fulfilled concerning Israel. In presenting Joseph as a type of Christ, and a type of the fullness of the riches of grace, and also of the experience of the saints of God, we are comforted in the blessed truth that God is the moving power in it all. As in the beginning “the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters,” so in all time that same Spirit sways kingdoms, rules principalities, directs the thoughts and actions of every man, is above all and in as all. God wrought in the mind of Joseph’s brethren that they did not kill him as their wicked hearts dictated, but sold him into Egypt instead. But my object in writing is to present Joseph as “a fruitful bough,” yielding plenteous fruit, in comparison with the fullness of grace, grace without measure, which God bestowed upon Jesus in the perfection of his wondrous work of salvation. We can hardly conceive of anything that could be more discouraging to Joseph, when he was sold as a slave in a strange country, separated from home and all its comforts, but however discouraging the outlook, let us wait for the ripening of the fruit, remembering all the time that God was with him. As I write my glad heart can almost imagine that even my pen is joyfully anxious to write the hopeful and assuring words which mean so much to the weary pilgrim, “The Lord was with him.” When as a slave in his master’s house, Potiphar discovered that everything in Joseph’s hand prospered, then did his master make him overseer of all his house, and his estate, and trusted him so implicitly that Potiphar “knew not aught he had save the bread that he did eat.” But the end is not yet. God had a greater work for Joseph to accomplish than could be found in the house of Potiphar, and he must needs suffer to accomplish it. So, as Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil, so also in the house of Joseph’s prosperity he was sorely tried and tempted, and although he preserved his innocence and his integrity, and resisted the temptation offered by Potiphar’s wife, yet he suffered contumely by being thrown into prison. How wonderfully secure is the tried and tempted child of God when the Lord is with him. The effect of abounding grace is to turn the heart and the eyes of the simple-hearted wanderer away from the wiles and seductions of the foolish woman, for he walks by faith, and not by sight. In his heart “wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.” Confidence in the flesh is severed. The light of truth reveals “a garden inclosed, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” And the glory of that heart is, that the Lord is with him. Although Joseph was cast into a dungeon, yet the Lord was with him, and prospered him. He found favor with the jailer, and he gave the care of all the prisoners into the hands of Joseph. And while he was prospered of the Lord in the prison, yet he must suffer yet longer as a prisoner and in disgrace. The Lord’s ways are not our ways. Ofttimes we presume to take judgment into our own hands, and murmur and complain when events prove contrary to our desire and judgment. When Joseph had interpreted the dreams of the chief butler and baker of Pharaoh, to the restoration of the one, and the destruction of the other, Joseph urged the chief butler, when he was restored to his office, that he would remember him in the prison. But contrary to the desire of Joseph, the chief butler did not remember him, so that he remained yet two years in prison. But God remembered Joseph, and in his own time and way he caused him to be released, that he might receive honor and glory from the whole nation of Egypt, to save much people alive, and to restore Israel unto himself, that they might continue a nation which God had separated unto himself from the world as his own peculiar people.
We now begin to witness the rising of the son of Joseph’s prosperity, when as “a fruitful bough” we catch a glimpse of the profuse budding in the fullness of which it cannot be measured. The king of Egypt dreamed a dream, and when the wise men of Egypt, the soothsayers and the magicians, were called together, there were none found that could interpret the dream of Pharaoh. But God was with Joseph, and he caused the chief butler to remember the young Hebrew in prison that had interpreted the dreams of himself and the chief baker. Then was Joseph brought before the king, and made known unto him. I cite Joseph now as an example of all the Lord’s people in all ages, that it is in their heart to disclaim any power or glory to be attributed to the creature, but ascribing all power and glory to the God of heaven, who is above all and in us all. When Joseph stood before Pharaoh the king said unto him, “I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” The heart of man is so deceitful, and so desperately wicked, (as for example the conduct of Joseph’s brethren) that it will deceive the world, deceive its neighbors and deceive itself. But when it stands naked before the righteous Judge of all the earth, sin is condemned in the flesh, and the man is honest and trembles before his Maker, not with the abject fear of punishment, but with a realizing sense of his just condemnation, and of the glory of God. All the glory and honor which Joseph received in Egypt was not due to any merit in himself personally, but because God was with him, fulfilling his wise purposes in him to the establishment of Israel in Egypt. The interpretation by Joseph of the dreams of the king of Egypt, foretold the occurrence of events which should take place in Egypt during the next fourteen years, including seven years of great plenty, succeeded by seven years of sore famine. Although the Israelites were not counted among the nations of the earth, and especially by the Egyptians they were looked upon as a people far below them in the social scale, only fit to be slaves, or as beasts of burden, yet because of the wisdom of God as manifested in Joseph, he found favor in the sight of Pharaoh, God putting it in the heart of the king to exalt Joseph I hat Egypt might be preserved. Joseph therefore was made governor over all of Egypt, and all power was given into his hands to do as seemed best in his sight. His authority was second to none save the king himself. Now henceforth from this period in the life of Joseph, his whole history manifested the fruitfulness which God designed should spring forth and mature to the perpetuation of the kingdom of Egypt and the nation of Israel, typifying the fullness of grace with which Jesus was endowed of his father. Egypt represents the world of nature, and there is a sense in which the whole world is saved by the power and authority and kinship of Jesus; that is, it is preserved from day to day, to serve the glorious purpose of the salvation of God in Jesus Christ to the church of Christ, which was chosen in him before the worlds were made, until the fullness of time has come, when that perfect building of God (made of lively stones, of which Jesus is the chief corner-stone,) shall have been completed, then time shall be no more. The continuance and preservation of Jacob and his posterity as the nation of Israel, manifested the unfailing promise of God to Abraham that his seed should become a great nation innumerable for multitude. The fruitfulness of Joseph therefore extended through all time, in which our hearts rejoice to-day that our God extendeth mercy which endureth forever; that he changeth not, and in him is neither variableness nor the shadow of turning. As “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well, whose branches run over the wall,” so also Jesus is “the true Vine,” sending his life into all the world, breaking down the middle wall of partition between the Jew and the Gentile, and putting his Spirit into the hearts of his people in every nation, kindred, tongue and people. In evidence of the fullness of the power and authority of Joseph in Egypt, he rode in a chariot next to the king. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled. Only in the throne will I be greater than thou. * * * And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck.” How wonderfully precious is this simple narrative, and all it conveys to the understanding of the children of God when they have Jesus in their mind and in their heart. For as we look beyond the watchman to find him whom our soul loveth, so also as in this case we must look beyond the type, and find in our gracious Redeemer the fullness and foundation of every precious truth which our heart possesses. Joseph was a personality in Egypt. In the person of Joseph was vested all power and authority without regard to his lineage, his birth, or his right of succession, &c. His office and position was all embraced in his own personality. He had neither predecessor nor successor, therefore, like Melchizedek, he was without beginning of years or end of time. The work that was set before Joseph was all accomplished in his own person. The king had placed his ring upon the finger of Joseph. The ring of a king is the signet with which he stamps his authority upon all documents confirming his decrees. Jesus came to do the will of his Father. In him was vested all power and authority to accomplish the purpose whereunto he was sent. Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. He differed from the Father in that he was a personality. In his person was all the salvation of God accomplished. With him was not beginning of years nor end of time. As Joseph gathered the corn from every part of Egypt, so Jesus gathered his people from the four quarters of the world. He is the “Shiloh” of which was spoken by one of old, that “Unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” The signet or seal with which Jesus sealed those whom he saved, and brought up out of great tribulation, and who stood with him upon the Mount Zion, engraved the Father’s name upon the forehead of each one of them, by which mark they are known and recognized even unto this day; the mark of his precious grace and light of truth. Joseph was arrayed (by order of the king) in vestures of fine linen, and rode in the second chariot next to the king. So this people saved by the Lord, of whom one of the elders asked, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” and who also answered, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” And the king put a gold chain about Joseph’s neck, signifying an endless life, and the power and glory of it which encircles all the saints, preserving them forever and ever. Cannot then we echo the words of the apostle, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out”?
B. F. COULTER.
Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 6, 1899.
Signs Of The Times
Volume 68, No. 1.
JANUARY 1, 1900.