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WHAT’S IN A NAME?

“Manasseh and Ephraim”

“And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him” (Gen. 41:50).

The success of Joseph in Pharaoh’s court brought him much adulation and acclaim; it also brought Egypt wealth and power. Yehovah God had given an inquiring mind to desire to know the meaning of these things which troubled Pharaoh and all Egypt with him. He opened the ears of Pharaoh and his people to hear the words of His servant. God put it in their hearts to fulfill His will in the acceptance of those things which Joseph had spoken and the understanding that he spoke truth. Time and again the daily events of the life of Joseph were manifested as were completely under the express supervision, command and control of the sovereign hand of God, though Joseph may not have consciously recognized it. These daily events and wondrous works were not unique or isolated from every other event of time and space which happen to all men (Ecc. 9:11) for all things come to pass by the good pleasure of Yehovah God. However, these magnificent developments were being evidently manifested in Joseph to the extent that the heathen leader of the land was so moved to publicly acknowledge and proclaim that “God has shewed you all things and there is none so discreet and wise as you” (Gen. 41:39).

It was indeed the Will of God that Joseph be arrogant as he was when he revealed the dream which God gave him to his brothers. This offensive arrogance led to his being sold into slavery and was part of the many interwoven means whereby the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God decreed that Joseph be sent to Egypt. He had no desire to go to Egypt and in the deepest recesses of his imagination, he never dreamt of the events which were about to transpire in his life. It was purely by the power of the will of God that brought Joseph into Potiphar’s house. But this was to be for but a short time as that same immutable and irresistible will decreed that he should be falsely accused and thrown into prison. Here he was preferred of men for no reason save the grace and mercy of God which gave him the understanding of dreams and visions. Then after a two year hiatus, God brought his child out of the prison and into the throne room of the ‘great house’ where He had blinded the eyes and darkened the minds of the wizards and soothsayers of the land. His hand was equally upon the King and his servants as it was upon the life of Joseph, “that I might shew My power in thee and that My name might be declared throughout all the earth” (Rms. 9:17).

God gave Joseph to properly understand and interpret Pharaoh’s dream. He also gave Pharaoh an heart to accept the word of this heathen slave boy who languished in prison. He turned the heart of the pagan king as the rivers of waters to follow the course He had designed it to flow. He put it in Pharaoh’s heart to fulfill His will and, giving him ears to hear and a discerning mind; he heard the words and accepted them as true and good.

The ruler of the ‘great house’, because Joseph had excelled above all the masters of Egypt, called him by a new name, Zaph-nath-pa-a-ne-ah, which has the multiple meanings of, ‘the treasure of the glorious rest’ or ‘the revealer of the truth’ and/or ‘the saviour of the land’. The intention of Pharaoh was that whenever anyone spoke the name of Joseph, they would be praising him in his Egyptian name and thus praising the Egyptian gods. Pharaoh already acknowledged the presence of the Spirit of God within this man but he dare not give praise to another god lest, according to his superstitious nature, he calls down the anger of his gods upon him and his people. Therefore, this form of a multi-meaning name exalted Joseph to the lofty heights of deity himself for he alone was the personification of ‘the treasure of the glorious rest’, ‘the revealer of truth’ and ‘the saviour of the land’. Yes indeed, Yehovah God molded and fashioned the emotions and attitudes of this man He had raised up to be Pharaoh of Egypt to be troubled by a dream, influenced by the words of a condemned man and to relinquish command of the empire to an Hebrew slave.

“I will speak of the glorious honour of THY majesty and of THY wondrous works” (Ps. 145:5).

Nebuchadnezzar attempted this same assimilation of the Hebrew children of the captivity into the world of his gods and society by changing their names. He called ‘God is my judge’ (Daniel) by the name of ‘the prince whom the master (Bel or Baal) favors’, (Bel-ta-shaz-zar). The child whose name was ‘to whom God has been gracious’ (Hananiah) was renamed ‘the royal scribe’ (Shadrach), the name, ‘the one who was what God is’ (Mishael) was called ‘the king’s guest’ (Meshach) and the name ‘Yah is my help’ (Azariah) was called the ‘servant of Nebo’ or ‘the worshipper of Mercury’ (Abed-nego). This was the edict of the King lest there be any reference to Yehovah God in any of the names of the defeated sons of Israel. However, just as with the attempt of Pharaoh to rid the land of any influences from a foreign god whom he knew not, so Nebuchadnezzar could never separate a child of grace from His Father’s hands for; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, persecution or famine, nakedness or peril or sword? As it is written, ‘For your name sake we are killed all the day long and we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter’. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rms. 8:35f). Nor could he, or any other potentate of the kingdoms of this world, stay the hand of Almighty God who sits in heaven and rules over the kingdoms of this world, giving them to the basest of men (Dan. 4:17).How magnificent the way of the Sovereign loving God who assigns to each of His chosen vessels, steps which wind and turn along a hidden path. This path, specifically assigned to Joseph, was leading him from the status of the preferred son of Jacob to the hated and despised brother sold into slavery. It was an uncharted and completely unanticipated course which carried him into Egypt where he was made a prosperous man who became a favoured servant and overseer of his master’s house. The power and purpose of Yehovah caused Potiphar to see that God was with Joseph as His blessings were “upon all that he had in the house and in the field” but only for a short period of time. Almost as quickly as he was preferred by Potiphar Joseph was falsely accused by his wife and sentenced to an unjust incarceration.

Here the mercy of Yehovah gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison, “because Yehovah was with him and that which he did Yehovah made to prosper”. Yet isolated and forgotten for over two years Yehovah lifted him up by the stirring of the memory of the chief butler, to cause him to stand before the head potentate of the land to interpret a dream. Which of the sons of Adam, singularly or collectively, could have purposed, designed, actuated and completed the intricate and complicated steps of this path which brought him from hated and distained to revered and worshipped? What collective force of wisdom and might could have combined in such cooperation as to complete this task in only a mere 13 years? None but the Spirit of Yehovah of Hosts.

“And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of his servants” (41:37).

The interweaving of all necessary components into a cohesive cooperation of time, persons and events is the work which God has finished from the beginning. His ways are as far above the natural mental capacities of man as the heavens are above the earth. Man cannot even imagine the wonders of His ways or that He “works all things together for good to them that love Him, to the called according to His purpose” (Rms. 8:28) yet the theology of Adam is pregnant with ideas and conceptual speculations about the mind and ways of God. From the beginning, man has been attempting to produce aprons of fig leaves, the fruit of the land and the works of his hands, with the presumptuous intent of improving the conditions which God has ordained. His diminutive arrogance spurs him on in this relentless endeavour to change what God has made (while denying the creation), alter the ordained courses established firm and sure from the beginning in hope of affecting the final outcome. The delusional prowess of man has led him to the conclusions that a murder must be perpetrated in order for the works of his hands to be acceptable in the sight of God (Cain). The deception of the pride of his heart desires that a tower should be built so that a legacy may be established (Babel). The weak and beggarly elements of habitual observance demand that a sacrifice must be made and a day celebrated with rituals performed in order to coerce the Almighty into changing that which He has called good (legalism). This is the strong delusion God has given unto Adam that he should believe a lie. It is the pride of the heart of Edom wherein he has been deceived and it is the inherent nature of man who would ascend into the heavens and sit upon the throne of God and say, “Who shall bring me down to the ground?” (Ob. 3).

The Lord God Almighty is not a respecter of man or his conduct. He gives neither regard to the face of man nor respect for his abilities and good intentions. He alone is the author and instigator of every thought, word and deed that comes to pass. He properly prepared Joseph for each stage of his training and education by the lessons that were learned in the previous sessions while simultaneously preparing everyone else in the same manner. His ways are thorough and all inclusive so that when Pharaoh was given the dream, he was also ordained to be disturbed by these visions in the night. He plowed the ground of the heart of Pharaoh and broke up the clods to make him receptive to the butler’s suggestion that he listens to the utterances of this heathen young man. He introduced the necessary ingredients in the proper measure and at the appropriate time so as to give the kingdom of Egypt to the lowest of men, yet Pharaoh, in the arrogance of Adam, thought he could improve upon that.

Pharaoh elevated Joseph to a position of authority by an edict and gave him control over his entire house. He also set him over the whole land of Egypt and made him second in command beneath himself. He then supplied visual evidence of this newly found power by placing his ring of identification upon Joseph’s hand and dressing him in regal attire with a gold chain around his neck. Then he paraded Joseph before the public in open display that they might see and hear the word of the King proclaim that, without Joseph, no man should lift either hand or foot in all the land of Egypt (41:44).

Pharaoh thought to further assimilate Joseph into the poly-theistic system of the religious superstition of Egypt through marriage. He brought forth a young woman whose name was Asenath. She, being the daughter of Potipherah (‘one given of Ra’ - the sun god) and ‘consecrated unto strength and vigour’ (priest of On), ‘belonged to the creator – goddess of war and hunting’ (Nath). The marriage of these influential people and the amalgamation of their two cultures was intended for the cooperation of their gods so as to ensure the prosperity of the land and the people. The offspring of these two spiritual powerhouses would be heirs to prominence as they assumed their rightful places among the elite and noble of Egypt.

These were the antic manipulations of the ruling class in those days as God put it in their hearts to fulfill His will. It was the intent of the heart of Yehovah God, before the foundation of the world that Joseph would be lifted up unto power in this foreign land. This ascension was not through the intrepidity of military campaign or conquest, nor was the mind of the populous swayed through political maneuvering or the proficiency of diplomacy strategy. The hearts and minds of neither the ruling class nor the common man were seeking after Joseph as his fame, not to mention his very existence, was unknown to the nation of Egypt. The events of the last thirteen years were “not by strength, nor by might” and therefore they were not according to any desire, will or action of man. The purpose of God which He purposed in Himself came to pass in the fullness of time by the good pleasure of His Will and the power of His Spirit. He abased Joseph in his youthful arrogance, through trials and tribulations and He elevated the estate of His humble servant that he should be the saviour of Egypt and Israel. He gave him wealth and wisdom to perform the necessary labours before him and occupied his mind with affairs of state and agriculture as Joseph forgot the weariness of his former troubles and “all my father’s house” (41:51).

“...and he shaved and changed his raiment and came unto Pharaoh” (41:14)

A definite transition had taken place between the seventeen year old obstinate pup of a boy to this now thirty year old man. After these many years of heartache and disappointments Joseph had been humbled to a point that he was now ready to be exalted. His years in the king’s dungeon had no doubt been uncomfortable as well as less hygienic than Potiphar’s house but even so, because a man thrust into this place could be returned to his station as easily as being executed, the occupants of this establishment were careful not to offend. If the king were to banish an offender to the outer recesses of this asylum and then, for whatever reason seemed good, were to restore him again, only to find him esthetically offensive or emotionally and socially reprehensible, he would abruptly be returned to less comfortable surroundings if not outright forced into an obligatory emigration unto the habitation of the next dimension. Joseph had no such hope because he had not been incarcerated by the King nor was he entitled, being ‘Hebrew’ (from beyond), to any of the social, political of religious amenities of the indigenous people of the land of Egypt. He knew that he had done nothing worthy of this imprisonment and that his prospects for release grew dimmer and dimmer as the days past, yet now, for reasons yet unknown, the King had sent and called him personally.

There may be many reasons for a man to want to make himself presentable when he enters into the audience of dignity. He may desire to honour the esteemed person he is about to meet. He may also wish to show respect to the hallowed halls of such a prodigious gathering. He may have respect for the institution, whether it is religious or social, or simply to express his thankfulness for this consideration; Joseph had none of these. The record does not indicate that he knew why Pharaoh had sent and called him. Two years had elapsed since the time he was given to interpret the dreams for the butler and the baker and, although he begged them not to forget him, one was dead and the other had been given to forget the Hebrew slave. The interpretation that Joseph had of the dream some eleven years prior had elevated him to the inveterate hatred of his brothers, so even if someone told Joseph what Pharaoh wanted, he would have no indication of what was about to transpire. He quite possibly could have been a bit skeptical or even reluctant about giving another interpretation since he had such ‘good successes with his former endeavours in this area.

Joseph’s expectations before Pharaoh are not disclosed but his actions give evidence of the presence of a contrite heart. Joseph, in shaving (note that the record does not state that he only shaved his beard), had made himself naked before the King. This represented a demonstration of complete subjection to his authority over him. Many years later the Law would demand that persons shave because they had become subservient to a certain condition. It was used as a sign of uncleanliness due to the disease of leprosy (Lev. 13:33), defilement by reason of a dead body (Num. 6:9) and humiliation (II Sam. 10:4). It would also indicate that a person was obligated to the performance of a vow or when that obedience had been accomplished (Num. 6:18).

Shaving was also a manifestation that one had been cleansed of leprosy (Lev. 14:8) or the obsequious posture of subjection and purification unto a lifetime of servitude to the Law (Num. 8:9). The Judge of Israel, Samson, in defiance against the blessing of Yehovah God, was shaven as the means unto the judgment against and the destruction of the Philistines. When Delilah called the unmentioned man to deprive Samson of his impressive locks, he lost his strength and was humbled as a common man (Judg. 16:19). But no matter how it is applied, the removal of the hair from the body was a sign of humility, distinction and contrition.

“In the same day shall Yehovah shave with the razor that is hired, namely, by them beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head and the hair of the feet and it shall also consume the beard” (Is. 7:20).

Joseph also changed his clothing. Where he obtained these new garments is a matter of interest and speculation as it is reasonable to assume that he did not have time to pack a change of clothes when he abruptly departed Canaan. Neither did Potiphar nor his wife make sure that he was properly dressed as he entered into the penal system. He certainly had no money or credit to his name and there was surely no prison commissary where new clothing could be purchased. Nevertheless, a change of raiment was provided for him. He removed the prison garb which he was granted to be arrayed in as the superintendent of prisoner affairs; he laid aside his Hebrew garments and he presented himself before the King in Egyptian apparel. The vesture of his homeland and his father’s house were long gone. The tattered and worn costumes of his confinement were laid aside as he retarded the haste of the King’s guards in order to make himself presentable unto the King.

The manner and customs of the Egyptian society was that it was an abomination to eat with ‘one from beyond’ (Hebrew). It was also an abomination to be one who tended to and herded animals. However, the young shepherd boy from beyond the sunrise was now the man God had established to feed Egypt and Israel. Instead of being the one before whom his family would bow down, Joseph was broken and humbled to the position of bowing himself submissively before the throne of the ‘great house’ (Pharaoh). The ordained path that Yehovah had prescribed for His servant was one of anguish and sorrow, ‘the worm-wood and gal’, which led from the land of promise, through the valley of the shadow of death and up to the pinnacle of power and fame. Joseph’s apprenticeship lasted thirty years and although these years were not spent being tutored in business, agriculture or political science, all necessary ingredients to make him suitable for his labours in the Master’s fields, were graciously given of Yehovah.

Joseph’s elevation to the heights of prominence, his marriage to Asenath and the subsequent birth of his two sons are all interwoven. The time and chance that happened in his life were the basis for the names he gave to the boys. Since the way of man is not in himself, for it is not in him that walks to direct his steps (Jer. 10:23), so then each step of the way must be in absolute accord with the absolute predestination of God. The events of time and chance must have come to pass as ordained of God, each in an assigned order and for the express purpose known only unto God. Since He is immutable and cannot change, then these events are as eternally established as the will by which they come to pass. Therefore, the names of these two earthen vessels prepared of God were ordained of God before the foundation of the world. Before time was created and the children, not yet being born, neither having done any good or any evil, that the purpose of God might stand according to election, He appointed the time of their habitations and the limitations thereof. Yet the fool will continue to contend that Yehovah God of Hosts is not concerned with the ‘little’ things.

“Manasseh”

The name of the first born of Joseph is an indication of the mindset of this young man as he entered into his new vocation as the agriculture secretary and second in command of Egypt. He was ill treated by his family and allegedly forgotten by his father. He had no idea of the manner in which his abduction was reported to Jacob, what actions if any were taken to find and recover him or even if any of his family was yet alive. The past events had become a distant memory as they were replaced with the current events which seemed to completely command the attention of Joseph. He had attempted to impress upon Pharaoh the urgency of the matter as he said, “Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise and set him over the land of Egypt” (Gen. 41:33) “and the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of his servants” (37). Joseph was unqualified to rule, uneducated in agriculture, economic development and social reform yet Pharaoh relinquished command and surrendered control of the land, saying, “forasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thee; 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 you” (39).

Miraculously Joseph was, upon the remembrance and recommendation of the chief butler, sent for by Pharaoh and hastily removed out of the dungeon. He shaved, washed and clothed himself to be presented before the King yet being a child of grace, he gave praise and honour unto Yehovah, saying, “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace” (16). This could have resulted, according to the logic of man, in a disaster for Joseph as the wrath of the king might have been unleashed at such a presumptuous answer. How dare this impudent youngster speak to the leader of the great house who held his future and his life in his hands. The courts of Pharaoh awaited the arrival of this ‘convict’ and were no doubt amazed at the sagacity with which he spake but Yehovah God had decreed, ordained and commanded the remainder of the wrath of Egypt restrained. He had given the heart and mind of Pharaoh such curiosity and trepidations by this dream so as to properly prepare him to listen to Joseph. Instead of racial supremacy, social status or intellectual honesty, Pharaoh was given to be receptive to the words “and the thing was good in the eyes pf Pharaoh and in the eyes of his servants” (Gen. 41:37). He was then moved by the determinate counsel of God to reward Joseph with great splendour and renown.

Within a demonstratively short period of time, Joseph went from an apparent permanent fixture as a ‘trustee’ in the federal penitentiary to a man with a new and promising career. A new wife soon followed this promotion unto magnificent power over the land of his former captors and a child then followed in due course. Yet in the midst of all these things and commensurate to these wonderful events in Joseph’s life, the Spirit of God continued to bear witness with his spirit. He was not forgotten of the Lord for he was exactly where he needed to be to fulfill the Will of God.

Joseph stands as a type of the child of grace who, because of the eternal love of the Father and the indwelling of the incorruptible seed in him, is never abandoned by Yehovah God. The eternal vital union of the Godhead and His seed in Him is not readily recognized in the trials and tribulations of the habitation of this dwelling which causes the natural man to doubt and fear. The promise of the immutable God is that, according to His own nature which is indivisible, so He shall never leave nor forsake those for whom He bled and died. All that the Father knew He gave unto the Lamb, before the foundation of the world. Each and every one of these has had their sin in Adam imputed unto He who knew no sin. Therefore they, being raised up together in Him, stood with Him, before they became partakers of flesh and blood, having done neither any good nor any evil, that the purpose of God, according to election might stand (Rms. 9:11). They are sealed by the Messenger of God (Rev. 7:3), they have the name of the Father in their foreheads (22:4) and each has “a new name written, which no man knows saving he that receives it” (2:17).Their names are engraved in the palms of His hands (Is. 49:16) and inscribed on the breastplate of righteousness (Ex. 28:29 & Is. 59:17). These were written in the book of life of the Lamb and although the steps of the path they walk leads into the valley of the shadow of death, yet they are reclined in their Beloved as they hear His voice say; “Lo I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).

“Yehovah, you have deceived me and I was deceived: you are stronger than I and you have prevailed: I am in derision daily, everyone mocks me” (Jer. 20:7).

There is nothing recorded of any prayers or supplications which Joseph made along this arduous journey but there can be no doubt how that on numerous occasions he questioned the dream which God had given him. How often he must have wished he had kept his mouth shut before his brothers and his father. One minute he was standing before his family members armed with the enthusiasm and wonder of a dream that Yehovah God had given him and a short time later he was under the sentence of death. He must have questioned why his brothers responded in hatred against him for he believed that of a certainty this was the word of God. He had to be confused over what he thought the dream meant and what was coming to pass. He certainly did not ‘realize his dream’ as he was cast into the pit wherein there was no water. Nor was he ‘standing on the promises’ as he was sold to an unknown people en route to an undisclosed location. He was not ‘laying hold of the promises of God’ as he was stripped of his clothing and delivered to an house where he could not even speak the language. He had no ‘blessed assurance’ as he was falsely accused by Potiphar’s promiscuous wife. There was no ‘name it and claim it’ going on as he languished in the King’s prison, yet now, within a short period of time, Joseph was elevated to prominence; but what of that dream?

The vision which God gave to Joseph was of the binding of sheaves in the field which stood aright. One sheave remained upright as the others did obeisance. Joseph was given to interpret the meaning of the dream as being his sheaf standing tall and his brothers bowing down to him (Gen. 37:7); this enraged his brothers. Now as the subsequent events of the next thirteen years unfolded, Joseph found himself apart from his brothers, separated from his father and mother and a great distance from his home land. Herein this strange land a foreign people were bowing down before him; could this be what God meant?

He was given yet a second dream of God in which the sun moon and eleven stars did obeisance to him. This dream he also told to his family and his father rebuked him saying, “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to you on the earth?” (37:10). The intended meanings of these visions were clear to all as the brothers now envied Joseph but Jacob gave heed to the saying. Thirteen years of complete separation and isolation from his family were occupied with learning the Coptic language and culture. These had crowded out the remembrance of the evil of his father’s house to the point where Joseph did not know anything of the family. He did not know if his father was alive, he did not know that his mother had died and he was ignorant to the fact that he had a younger brother.

Joseph may indeed had felt that he had been deceived of God as to the meaning of the original visions. Nothing in the last years of his life had come even close to resembling anything in the dreams and nothing in the immediate future gave any indication that the course of his life was going to revert back to his father’s house. But wait! Pharaoh had a dream. This one was about seven fat-fleshed and well favoured cows grazing in a meadow which were devoured by seven poor and ill favoured ones, “such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness”. He also had a second dream just as Joseph did and this one was about seven ears of corn on one stalk which were devoured by seven thin ears. This time God gave Joseph the interpretation and it as good. The only sentient conclusion that Joseph could make was that he must have wrongly interpreted the first dream and the real meaning was being manifested in Pharaoh’s dream. And so, with his ascension to greatness and power, Joseph named his first son Manasseh; “For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father’s house”.

“And the name of the second he called Ephraim: For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (41:52)

The prosperity and authority which accompanied Joseph as he prepared for the upcoming famine was attributed by him to the sovereign goodness of Yehovah God. Although this whole encounter from the hatred of his brothers in Hebron to the palace in Egypt was not at all an enjoyable adventure, God made Joseph to prosper whithersoever he went. When he was delivered unto Potiphar’s house, Yehovah was not only with Joseph where “he was a prosperous man”, but God also revealed this attribute to the master of the house; “and his master saw that Yehovah was with him and that Yehovah made all that he did to prosper in his hand”. As a result of this God given and divinely manifested ability and awareness, Joseph ascended to the position of overseer of the house; “and he (Potiphar) left all that he had in Joseph’s hand and he knew not aught he had save the bread which he did eat; Joseph was the form of a handsome figure” (Gen. 39:2ff). This prosperity was for but a brief moment. The conditions in his life quickly changed from performing the business of the master’s house to being in prison on a ‘trumped up charge’ for the heart of Potiphar’s wife was drawn out after this handsome figure.

“But Yehovah was with Joseph and shewed him mercy and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners that were in the prison and whatsoever they did there, they dealt with him” (39:21). The surroundings may have changed along with his ‘forwarding address’ but once again Yehovah made his way to prosper and caused those about him to entreat him properly. Even though the might and wisdom of Yehovah God was manifestly declared to be upon Joseph, he was destined to remain ‘prosperously forgotten’ in the dungeon for another two years until the time appointed of the Sovereign Ruler.

This time the audience was before the dignitaries of the land who stood speechless before a troubled Pharaoh whose spirit was disturbed by a dream. Joseph did not call for the assistance of his fellow man as he entered into the presence of the King. He did not need the current weather forecasts or the latest market indicators for agricultural futures. “The preparation of the heart in man and the answer of the tongue is from Yehovah” (Pro. 16:1) and so the Spirit of the Lord God Almighty once again gave him the answer. He had also opened the ears of the hearers, convinced their minds and turned their hearts to accept the words of this Hebrew slave. Thus the way of Joseph continued to prosper through trials, tribulations, heart-aches, injustice and cruelties because this was the path God had devised specifically for him. As a result, not of his ambitions, visions or entrepreneurial abilities but according to the word of God, the conditions in Egypt prospered immensely; “and Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left off numbering for it was without number” (41:49).

Was this prosperity because Joseph was a good person? How could this be when “there is none good but one, God” (Mark. 10:18)? Was this young man blessed of the Lord because of his obedience? What in this whole ordeal could be called obedience? His being cast into a pit he could not get out of? Or his being sold to the traders and bought of Potiphar? Or, perhaps his unfailing ability and success was the result of an unjust incarceration without charges? Some may say that all these things befell him for his disobedience as he arrogantly proclaimed himself superior to his brother. If this were so, then why did he prosper in Egypt if the judgment of God was upon him? Shall we prosper in wrath? Then let it be said that we should be disobedient in order to obtain the blessings of God through His wrath. Such foolishness is the logic of Adam and his teachers.

“What shall we say then, shall we sin that grace may abound? God forbid!” (Rms. 6:1).

Obedience is a commandment of God and therefore total compliance to His commandments is pleasing in His sight. Habitual observances to prescribed ritual in types and foreshadows could never compare with a contrite heart being made obedient to the word of God, for; “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17). Neither could superficial compliance based upon the purest of intentions be equated with the sincerity of the heart of a child of grace being obedient to their Father’s commandments; “Has Yehovah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Yehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams, for rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry” (I Sam. 15:22).

Obedience is not inherent within the nature of man. Adam was commanded to eat of every tree of the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; he could not comply. This was not because he chose to reject the word of God but rather because he was created incapable of being obedient. He acted according to his nature and followed his instincts which were right in his own eyes. These natural tendencies are after the natural desires (lusts) of the flesh. His obedience to his own understanding demonstrated that the way of man is not the way of God. Adam was not created having the mind of God neither can he know His ways yet Adam’s conduct was the necessary means whereby sin entered into the world and death by sin. The Lamb of God stood as He had been slain from the foundation of the world for God had already concluded all under sin; “But God commended His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rms. 5:8).

Adam could not be obedient to the commandments of God because he was created devoid of faith. If he had been created with faith, which is the fruit of the Spirit, then he would have been obedient but since he failed to hit the mark of the perfect standard of the righteousness of God (sin) he manifested that he did not have faith; “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rms. 14:23). Since faith is a gift from God; “for by grace are you saved through faith and that not of yourselves it is the gift from God” (Eph. 2:8) and “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6), therefore they who are obedient and keep the commandments of God have faith. Since faith is the evidence of the indwelling of the Spirit of God (Gal 5:22) then they who are obedient have the Spirit within and are therefore His; “now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rms. 8:9). If one is not a child of grace born from above by the Spirit of God, then they are the children of wrath who walk according to the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience (Eph. 2:2). Shall their disobedience procure the blessing of God? God forbid!

The children of the Kingdom of God walk in the light of the Lord. They delight in the light for they abide in He who is the Light of the World. They despise the darkness wherein the deeds of man are evil for it is contrary to the light and they cannot sin for the seed within is incorruptible. Their conduct is according to the leadership of the Spirit of God who causes them “to walk in My statutes and ye shall keep My judgments and do them” (Ezek. 36:27). They have the testimony of the finished work of the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah and they keep His commandments (Rev.12:17). Each and every son of God loves Yehovah their God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, which is the first and greatest commandment. They also love the fellow sheep of His pasture as they love themselves and on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matt. 22:37ff). This is the testimony of the redeemed of Yehovah to the world and by this shall all men know the disciples of the Lord (John 13:35).

Neither obedience nor disobedience then is a condition upon which either the blessings or cursings of God are dispatched. He has loved His children in Him with an everlasting love and has blessed them with all spiritual blessings in the heavens. The path which He has assigned unto them leads them in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake as “the steps of a good man are ordered by Yehovah and He delights in His way” (Ps. 37:23). He has given them His Word, which is alive and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, as the lamp unto their feet and the light unto their path (Ps. 119:105) as they walk through the valley of the shadow of death, which is this present evil generation. Not one of these can ever fail to accomplish the labours assigned unto them for they have been created in Christ Jesus unto good works as they have been “elect according to the foreknowledge of God, through the sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and the sprinkling of the blood of the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah” (I Pt. 1:2). The blessings of the Lord are essential elements of their eternal life not a reward for good behavior.

He has also hated the wicked with an eternal wrath and has reserved them unto the everlasting destruction. These are of their father the Devil and his works they shall do. He is the god of this world and the prince of the power of the air. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth because there was no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks of his own for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). These are the children of the seed of the serpent whom God has created and reserved unto the Day of Judgment. Their conduct is the result of their nature in Adam and the nature of the seed within. The cursings of God against them are also necessary elements of their existence. They do not come to the light for their deeds are evil. They cannot hear the Word of God for His Word is not for them. They speak lies in hypocrisy having their consciences seared (I Tim. 4:2). God has “given them up unto vile affections”, “and even as they did not like to retain God in knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient” (Rms. 1:26ff). They do not believe the witness of creation, the testimony of the Word or the gospel of deliverance because they are condemned already, therefore they do not believe (John 3:18).

Joseph was not punished by God for his inherent arrogance in Adam as he spouted off before his brothers; he was sent down the path God had ordained for him. Each and every necessary element was present and in good working order as he was delivered safe and sound into the foreign land. The prescriptive method of God’s magnificent plan included and therefore was in absolute control of all his emotions and outbursts. Each and every one of these emotional impulses were absolutely essential attributes of the young man that were part and parcel to the deliverance of Israel many years later. God blessed Joseph in his adversity and strengthened him in his labours. He was not blessed because of any proper conduct or righteous intentions that he may have had, “for there is none righteous, no not one” (Rms. 3:10). He was blessed with every essential element and ingredient necessary to accomplish the Will of God. His conduct, intentions and ambitions were a result of the blessings bestowed upon him; “for it is God who works in you both to will and do His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). He was made a prosperous man in every predicament he found himself in and therefore, in testimony to the grace and glory of God, he named his second child, Ephraim; “For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction”.

“And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto you in the land of Egypt before I came unto you into Egypt, are mine, as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine” (Gen. 48:5).

The two sons of Joseph stand as a representation of the hidden mystery of the gospel of the Anointed Salvation of Yehovah. They were the offspring of a man who was presumed to be dead and a gentile woman. They were born in a foreign land of fortifications and many entrenchments and were raised to be sons of Pharaoh and children of Egypt. There were no epiphanies of the Angel of God to proclaim the promise of the inheritance of the Promised Land. There was no speculation about a land flowing with milk and honey as Joseph and his family had all the wealth and luxuries of the resources of Egypt at their disposal. There was no need, like Abram the nomad who had left his father’s house and wandered in a foreign land, to look for that city whose builder and maker was God for Joseph was the builder of Egypt. This was his home where his wife and children would dwell and be raised. There was no lineage to speak of as Joseph had forgotten “all my father’s house” and now his family was of the renowned heritage of the family of Potipherah, priest of On. His sons were taught the Coptic language and would be educated in the history and customs of the Egyptian people. Their assimilation into the Egyptian community was not because of their pedigree in Jacob but because of their birth-right in Zaph-nath-pa-a-ne-ah, the savior of Egypt. Amidst all of these wonderful events, Joseph appears to believe that his miraculous ascension to the throne was indeed the fulfillment of the dream God had given him those many years ago; so what need had he to look for a future land of promise?

The mystery of the gospel is that Yehovah has shown forth His salvation and all flesh has seen it together (Is. 40:5). Though these things were hidden from the beginning from the eyes of the Lord’s people yet there were many open testimonies to the existence of the true Israel of God from generation to generation. Here were two vessels that would stand in type of the house of the redeemed of Yehovah. These, after the evaluation of the purists and according to the carnal logic of man, had no right to the promises in Abraham. Joseph was apostate from the faith and his children were, like Ishmael, the sons of an Egyptian maid. He had done, like Esau, that which would have displeased Jacob in taking to wife of the daughters of the land. The blood line was now tainted for which their religious heritage must be forfeited. They were children of another nation, raised in an heathen society which worshiped pagan gods. What aggravated this perceived abomination was that now had they become prosperous in the merchandise of this world. Certainly these were not of the election according to grace for they were “aliens of the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of hope, having no hope, without God in this world” (Eph. 2:12).

“And Israel took his journey with all that he had and came to Beer-sheba and offered sacrifice unto the God of his father Isaac” (Gen. 46:1).

In the second year of the great drought and famine, Jacob/Israel brought his house and all his possessions into the land of Egypt. Joseph’s sons were, at this time, somewhere around 10 years of age. The boys had been born unto Joseph when he was 30 years of age before the seven years of plenty as Joseph and all Egypt prepared for the famine. The entire land was either employed in the building places to store the grain and corn or in the harvest and storage of the fruit of the land. Manasseh was born before the seven years of prosperity began and Jacob sent to buy corn in the beginning of the years of famine. Then about two years into the famine (45:6), at the end of the second journey, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and Jacob made his journey.

However, it was not for another 17 years that these two boys are introduced to Grandpa Jacob. For unrevealed reasons, Joseph did not bring his sons to meet his father until the time drew near for Jacob to die. Jacob requested that Joseph swear unto him that he would not be buried in Egypt but that he would lie with his fathers in the land of promise. At that time, with his father sick upon his death bed, Joseph brought his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, with him to the death bed of Jacob (48:1).

The heart of Jacob is drawn out to these two sons of a stranger as he recited the promise of God to his heritage. Jacob declares that these two “which were born unto you in the land of Egypt before I came to you” were his children. There were no credentials needed which showed the correct lineage or proper succession and there was nothing obligatory upon Jacob to do what he did. Israel was strengthened when these two were brought unto him and he was given grace in his heart to accept them not only as part of the family, but to proclaim them equal to the first and second born of the family. The feeble hands of Jacob were stretched forth and as he purposely placed his right hand upon the head of the younger Ephraim, he announced to all that this one was as Reuben, the first born. With his left hand upon the head of Manasseh, he gave his blessing upon the two young men and when Joseph protested his father refused to alter his blessing. God had revealed to Jacob that the younger Ephraim would be greater than Manasseh “and his seed shall become a multitude of nations” (48:19). He also enabled Jacob to stand as an example of the love of the Father for His children no matter where they are, what they have done or what their nationality was.

Israel was gracious to Joseph, whom he loved, by restoring unto him the blessing that was lost when he was presumed dead. “Moreover, I have given to you one portion above your brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow” (48:22). This second portion was because in the one, Joseph, was the peace of the family restored. In this peaceful one, Shulamite, was as it were the company of two armies (Song 6:13). Herein is the church in the wilderness which for a while was hid yet in the fullness of time was revealed as being one in the Father.

The fruitfulness (Ephraim) of the Israel of God is in the building of righteousness (Reuben). This is His church, the Holy habitation of God. Those who hear the voice of the Shepherd, being the sheep of His pasture, hearken unto His voice and “hearing with acceptance and understanding” (Simeon) they obey and follow Him. Strangers shall call unto them but another’s voice they will not hear nor will they follow him. These are they whose trespasses and rebellion in Adam has been removed as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12) and they shall never be called into remembrance again (Manasseh).

In the time appointed of the Father, He reveals Himself in His children. Then they see the wickedness of the evil ways and the fruitfulness of this world is revealed as unpalatable and the riches of this evil generation are reputed as worthless as dung. Then do they feel themselves unworthy to be called the sons of God for they abhor themselves as “a cage of every unclean and hateful bird” (Rev. 18:2). Yet they are of “the general assembly and called out assembly of the first-born, which are written in heaven” (Heb. 12:23). Though they do not appreciate nor enjoy the chastening hand of the Father, yet this is a testimony unto them that they are the sons of God; “for whom the Lord loves, them also does He chasten” (Heb. 12:6). This is the birth-right wherein they have the right, memorial and portion in the inheritance of the children of light wherein they are “heirs of God and joint heirs with the Anointed; if so be that we suffer together that we may also be glorified together” (Rms. 8:17). Herein do they feast in the mountain of Yehovah at the table prepared for them upon the feast of fat things and wine upon the lees; Fat things full of marrow and of wine on the lees well refined (Is. 25:6).

“For thou shalt break forth on the right and on the left and your seed shall inherit the nations and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. Do not be afraid, for you shall not be ashamed neither be confounded, for you shall not be put to shame for you shall forget the shame of your youth and shall not remember the reproach of your widowhood and more” (Is. 54:4).

Manasseh and Ephraim also represent the atrocities of the natural man. When God blessed the nation of Israel and caused them to prosper, then they forgot their God. In their affluence and prosperity they went a whoring after the gods of this world and gave praise unto the works of their hands. They worshipped the idols of wood and stone and acclaimed their prosperity to the forces of nature and the queen of heaven. Therefore, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of man, who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rms. 1:18).

“For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty and not many noble are called: But God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty and the base things of the world, and the things which are despised has God chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in His presence” (I Cor. 1:26ff). This propensity towards lasciviousness and complacency is why there are not many rich or noble among the brethren of hope. The called out assembly of Jesus Christ are a poor and afflicted people who have been left of Yehovah in the world and chosen in the furnace of affliction. This is another testimony of the Spirit to the sons of God for the refiner’s fire and fuller’s soap is for the perfection of the saints and the revelation of the glory within.

There is nothing mentioned about the antics or life-styles of either of these men but their families manifest the attributes of the lusts of the flesh and the weakness of Adam’s arm. Yet there remains a remnant according to grace for the foundation of God is established and sure; Yehovah knows them that are His.

Your servant in Christ,
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
February 2015

The Banner of Hope
Volume 9, No. 1
February 2015