Joseph, increaser, was the beloved son of his father Jacob, and the first son of his mother Rachel. He had ten older brothers, and Benjamin, his youngest brother. These were the twelve patriarchs, the heads of the twelve tribes of Jacob or Israel. Their history is very peculiar, interesting and wonderful. No other people or nation on earth was like them. God dealt with them as with no other people. They alone were his people, to the exclusion of all other people, until Christ came, then they ceased to be the covenant people of God, because his kingdom was taken from them, and they were driven out of Canaan, the land of promise, as Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden, and scattered to the four corners of the earth.
Jacob's sons, like himself, were husbandmen, as also were Abraham and Isaac, and they were the keepers of herds and flocks. They were a nation of shepherds. There is a special and far-reaching meaning in this. It was a good and peaceful calling. Now, however, there is scarcely a son of Israel who is a shepherd, for they are all money-changers. For this Christ, the Chief Shepherd, drove them out of the temple of God. So far from feeding the flock, they fleece it, but feed themselves. This is the effect of self-righteousness, and it is the same in all who trust in themselves that they are righteous.
Joseph was very lovely in his person and life. From his childhood to his death he was guileless and faithful, and there was no fault in him. God himself was pleased with Joseph, was with him and greatly blessed him. In all this Joseph was a lovely type of the child Jesus. Joseph was the one special son of his father's love and delight, the promise and joy of his life. He clothed his darling boy in a rich and beautiful coat. So it was with the child Jesus, the well beloved of his Father, who anointed him with the Holy Spirit of joy above all the children of God, and adorned him with the robe of righteousness and glory. On this account both Joseph and Jesus were hated, envied and persecuted by their fleshly, sinful brethren.
God gave Joseph a dream, which he innocently told to his brethren; that they were all binding sheaves in the field, when, lo, their sheaves all stood up, and theirs bowed to his. For this they hated him the more. The Lord gave him another dream and he told it to his father and his brethren saying, "behold the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me." His father said to him, "Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying." "And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words." The love of God to Joseph was in his dreams, in which was revealed to him his future dominion, honor and glory. The Lord thus sustained him through the time of his long separation from his father, and his servitude and imprisonment. How needful this divine assurance and comfort was to Joseph. Human policy would say that he should not have told the revelation to his brethren, to incite their envy and hatred. But his telling them his dreams was a link in the chain of providential events which brought his dreams to pass, and all this was in the perfect counsel of God, whose purpose is in all things.
And as it was with the youthful Joseph, so it was, too, with the youthful Jesus in the days of his deep humiliation in the world. He must be put to grief, falsely accused, rejected and cast out by his own people. He was a tender, guileless, loving youth, an obedient Son, like Joseph, his lovely type; therefore the infinite love and wisdom of his Father gave him the wonderful dreams or revelations of the wonderful triumph and exaltation that should crown him at last. This divine support and sure promise of victory and coming glory sustained him, and gave him patient endurance and submission under all the heavy cross and deep suffering, as in the case of Joseph. This is applied with comfort and strength to us, and we read, "let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin." The dear Son of God did this, and overcame all our enemies for us and put away our sins. Then, let us look to him and consider how he suffered for us in our flesh. This will comfort us.
Like Joseph, Jesus told to his Jewish brethren the things concerning himself, and that he should have the dominion and glory. This called out their hatred against him the more, and they were ready to kill him. But they hated him without a cause, as the brethren of Joseph hated him. Yet the hand and the counsel of the Lord was in it all, although it was done by wicked hands.
The time came when Israel said to his youthful son, "Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again." Long years of deepest affliction, trial and sorrow, to both father and son, passed before they met again. When Joseph went to his brethren, in loving obedience to his father, they said to one another, "Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams."
Thus the wicked blindly think they can disprove the counsel of the Lord, and defeat his purpose. "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD, and against his Anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his displeasure. Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion." God would surely exalt Joseph, and crown Jesus. Not all the cunning wickedness and deadly wrath of man could prevent this. Nay, the very wrath of man should be made subservient to the wise and merciful purpose of the Lord, and should praise him. How unreasoning and foolish it is for man to set himself against the Lord, or reply against him, by vainly saying that his counsel is not all-ordering and his power is not all-controlling, but wicked men and devils may prevent, hinder or defeat him in his desire, counsel and purpose. If this were possible, then it might as well be said at once, "There is no God," as the fool hath said in his heart. For if there is any creature, being or power anywhere that might possibly change the least thing in all the universe from the counsel of the Lord, he would at once cease to be the Lord God Almighty, and cold no longer reign sovereignly over all, as he does. For there would then be an opposing counsel, purpose and power greater and stronger than his own. Then there cold not be the least certainty or safety for any one anywhere, but all should be exposed to the ever-present liability of woeful failure, defeat and destruction for ever and ever. Then Joseph might never have gone into Egypt, nor into the prison there, nor to the throne of Egypt, but his dreams might have failed to come to pass, and his brethren and all his father's house might have perished in the famine of seven years. For this great honor to Joseph and rich mercy and blessing to his father's household was brought to pass through the wicked hatred of his hatred of his brethren, who thought to defeat his dreams, but only fulfilled them. Could they have had their own way, instead of God'' way, it would have been to their own destruction. In it all, their hearts and desires were evil only, but the purpose or counsel of the Lord, which shall stand, was good and full of mercy, even to the cruel brethren of Joseph themselves.
Just so it is in all things, for "God worketh all things after the counsel of his own will," wrote inspired Paul. But carnal men, in their enmity against God and blind unbelief, fight against his counsel, reply against his wisdom and holiness, and deny his unlimited power and eternal Godhead. O that all who fear God with a child's loving heart may see the ireverence and sinful folly folly of presuming to be more wise and good and holy than he is, and believe in their hearts that God is as unlimited in his purpose and power as he is in his wisdom and knowledge, as holy men of old believed.
Joseph was carried down into Egypt, and sold as a slave to an officer of pharaoh, Potiphar, captain of the guard. And thus he escaped death at the hands of his brethren. Jesus was also carried down into Egypt, that the monster Herod should not kill him with the harmless children of Bethlehem. The Lord restrains the remainder of wrath. As Joseph was a servant in the house of Potiphar under his authority, so was Jesus a servant in the house of Israel under the authority of Moses, for he was made under the law. And as Joseph was obedient, faithful and true to every obligation in all the time of his servitude, though falsely accused and imprisoned for it, so also was his perfect antitype, our gospel Joseph. In the house of Potiphar, and in the prison of Pharaoh, the God of Abraham was with Joseph, to sustain and honor him, and greatly blessed him to others. So it was in the lowly life of Jesus; God was with him, and his work was a sweet ministration of goodness and mercy, so that his very presence was a benediction and brought the favor of God.
The time drew near when Joseph's dreams should be fulfilled, and he should be made glorious and should rule over Egypt and save his father's house. But he must first make himself of no reputation, and be shut up in the prison-house. In this he was submissive and obedient. The same guiding Providence that sent him to Egypt, sent him to prison. So, too, the same Father above that sent his Son down to the earth, sent him down into the last prison-house; and therefore Jesus was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. So must we be brought to follow him in his steps. This is the good way which the Lord hath ordained. Jesus is the only way of salvation and life and glory, and we must be made like him. "I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction," saith the Lord. First, the predestination, then the redemption or adoption; first the sowing in tears, then the reaping in joy; first, the great tribulation, then the glory which shall be revealed in us; first, the baptism of death, then heaven shall be opened unto us; first, the heavy cross, then the crown of life that fadeth not away.
God gave dreams to two of Pharaoh's officers in the prison, and gave Joseph the wisdom to reveal them, and they so came to pass, and one was put to death, but the other was restored to his place. Then it came to pass that the king himself dreamed a most wonderful dream, which was doubled to him, or dreamed twice, in two forms, which troubled Pharaoh, but no one could reveal the dream to him. This was God's way and time to release and honor Joseph. The forty-first chapter of Genesis gives us a touchingly interesting history of this, and it will do you good to read it. The good hand of the Lord was in it all, bringing to pass his abounding goodness and compassion to the children of men, in the rich display of his infinite wisdom and the majesty of his power. The chief butler in the court of Pharaoh was made to remember Joseph, and told the king of him. He was at once brought from his deep humiliation in the dark prison to the glory of the throne. How wonderful!
Let us dwell on it a little: Joseph had been doomed to the prison by an officer of the king, but it was under a false and wicked accusation, and he suffered innocently. God had now made this known to Pharaoh, who was greater in power than Potiphar, and so the king both justified and glorified Joseph. O how sorrowfully and yet blessedly this was true in the person of our most lovely Antitype! when he was about the same age with Joseph.
Let us see how it might have been, if all things and each even is not fixed in the determinate counsel of God. If not, then Joseph's dreams, the dreams of his two fellow-prisoners, and the dreams of Pharaoh might have been something else, or not at all. If God had not predestinated those dreams, and so made their meaning certain, then they might have had an uncertain meaning, or rather no meaning at all, and Joseph could not possibly have foretold the dreams and their certain meaning and sure fulfillment. This is self-evident. The dreams included some of the most cruel and sinful things, the killing of one of the dreamers, a dreadful famine of seven years, the goodness and great honor of Joseph, the deep and long sorrow of his loving father, the bitter suffering and poverty wrought by the famine, and the extreme distress, remorse, abasement and most abject self-prostration of his brethren, which caused Joseph to weep over them in yearning, forgiving love.
Now, to suppose that the least link in this chain of calamitous dreams might have been lost or failed as a mere chance dream, then all must have failed, and Joseph and all his father's house, with all Egypt, must have perished in the famine. Such is the frightful consequence of denying God's wisdom, counsel and purpose in all things. If Potiphar's wife had been innocent, Joseph should not have been in the prison to dream, or if any of the wise men of Egypt could have interpreted the king's dream, then all must have been a failure, and Joseph might have remained in the prison.
So, if another Joseph had not dreamed, or if the wise men had not dreamed, then Herod might have killed the infant Jesus.
We know that it was through malice and wickedness that Joseph went to Egypt and to prison, yet it was God's way of salvation to all the house of Israel, and in this way, which God only could have brought to pass, he fulfilled his promise to Abraham, that in him and in his seed should all the families of the earth be blessed. In this line of sons was Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Jesus. Denying the purpose or determined counsel of God in all things, great or small, good or evil, as men call them, then all the promised seed of Abraham must have perished through Joseph's brethren having killed him when he was a tender youth of seventeen, as they purposed to do, because the famine must have left Jacob with a child. There could then have been no Moses, No David, no Mary, no Jesus, the Son of Abraham. For all this boundless mercy of God to the children of Eve has been accomplished through hatred and malice, persecution and death, and in the fulfillment of dreams.
"And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it; and I have heard say of thee, and 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." He told the dream to Joseph, who said, "What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout the land of Egypt: and there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; and the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt," &c. Joseph said to him to do this, "that the land perish not through the famine." "And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a man as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: 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 said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. 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; and he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had;; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt."
In all the Bible God has not given us a more blessedly beautiful and glorious type of his own deeply humbled and highly exalted Son than this. O how the believing heart glows with love and honor to both Joseph and Jesus! How deeply hated, wronged and afflicted both the son of Israel and the Son of God were! And yet they were the most innocent, lamb-like and lovely of all men. O why should they have so wickedly persecuted? We can only say, "even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight."
Joseph was lifted up from the dungeon to the throne of Pharaoh; and Jesus was lifted up from the cross of death to the throne of God. The fulfillment of this to Joseph was the salvation from death of all his father's family; and so its fulfillment to Jesus was more blessedly the salvation of all his Father's family from sin and the last enemy, death.
O how great was the honor to Joseph and goodness and mercy to his people, when God gave him the wisdom and power to reveal to Pharaoh his dream, and tell him what God would do. Not all the wise men of Egypt could do this; neither can the wisdom of the world search out the deep things of god, but he must reveal them unto us in the person of his Son by the Spirit. The Spirit of God was in Joseph; and so God gave to Jesus the Spirit without measure. We read: "And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. *** And the sung a new son, saying, Thou are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." "He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." And so, too, the excellent honor to which Joseph was raised, was to the rejoicing and glory of his dear father.
Humility was a lovely virtue in Joseph, and it was perfect in Jesus. "I have hard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it." How this would exalt a vain man, who seeks his own honor, and not the honor that cometh from God only. How many now claim that they have ability to do great religious works. But the meek Joseph said in answer, "It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace." This is the spirit of Christ, who is meek and lowly in heart. He said, "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel."
To see how truly the dreams of Joseph and Pharaoh were fulfilled, and how deeply affecting and touching it all was, read Genesis, chapters forty-two to forty-seven. Only a few things can be written here: "And Joseph's brethren came; and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth." He knew them, but they knew not him; and he treated them as spies. So it is in the experience of the brethren of the Lord Jesus, when they are ready to perish and go to him. "And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in what we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us." At this sorrowful confession of their sin, Joseph turned away from them and wept.
They returned to their father at last, except Simeon, whom Joseph kept until they should bring Benjamin to him. "And it came to pass as they emptied their sacks, that, behold, every man's bundle of money was in his sack: and when both they and their father saw the bundles of money, they were afraid. And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me." These were only the beginning of their sorrows. "And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds: and take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight: take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man: and God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." With the yearning father it was only sorrow for his children, but with the sons it was also guilt and shame, which now overwhelmed them in the deepest distress. They were made to feel utterly miserable, undone and hopeless of finding mercy and favor. They now felt as did their father, "All these things are against me." But with Joseph it was the time of yearning love, tender pity and free forgiveness. When he had deeply humbled them, and they were heart-broken for their hatred and sins, so that now they would be lowly and contrite in spirit, and love him as he loved them, and love one another as brethren, he blessedly made himself known to them, O, it was the time of love!
"And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt."
It was God himself who did all this, and not Pharaoh, nor Joseph's brethren. How wonderfully did God bless Joseph! and his brethren in him! In it all we see Jesus and his sorrowing brethren, as they are drawn to him in their sinful and humbled distress, necessities and helplessness. As the children of Israel must go to the great ruler over Egypt, who only could save them from perishing, yet crushed with guilty fear that he would punish them as they felt they deserved, so do the quickened and deeply troubled children of the covenant go to the exalted Ruler upon the throne of Grace for salvation. But in both cases they solemnly realize that their sins have found them out, and that they are brought into judgment before a righteous Judge, while they have neither claim nor merit. Justice would cut them off and send them away empty, they feel. All unclean, all undone, ruined and wretched. This is the solemn truth taught us in the type of Joseph and his brethren.
O, then, how merciful and blessed is the relief when the revelation is made, "I am Joseph your brother." The experience is too deep and full and tender for words "Your brother!" Wonderful! O it seems too good to be true! Joseph lives! This noble prince is indeed Joseph, our brother. O we shall not perish, but live! And all our father's house shall be saved from death!
"Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid," said Jesus. "Come near to me," said Joseph to his brethren. "And they came near." Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."
All the storehouses of Joseph, the corn and all that he so abundantly provided, were entirely free to his father's house. All their money he returned to his brethren. It was God's provision for his covenant people, his rich mercy, in the time of their great affliction and need. He had provided himself a Lamb for an offering; and he would as freely provide food for them, that they perish not. This they must experience and know, though it both troubled and humbled them, when their money was returned with the corn; for they saw and felt that their money had not helped them, nor obtained for them the least favor. All seemed indeed against them. God would teach them in the person of their brother Joseph that their little could not merit or buy his abundance. The gift of God cannot be purchased. How little this made the sons of Israel feel! We must be treated as beggars! And truly it made them return and fall down before Joseph and be his mercy and favor. O, could all they could do, the best they had, gain them no honor, bring them no reward? No, not with Joseph - not with Jesus - not with God. "My glory I will not give to another." "According to his mercy he saved us." This is God's way - the only way. This was true under the reign of Joseph; and so it is for ever true under the reign of Jesus.
"Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: the archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the Shepherd, the stone of Israel: ) even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: the blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren." O beloved and blessed Joseph!
There is another Beloved, and of him we read: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved." This is the blessing upon the crown of the Head of Joseph - upon JESUS.