JESUS SEEN IN THE LIFE OF JOSEPH

Number 11

Joseph, the benevolent and forgiving brother, had revealed himself to his offending brothers in what must be described as an astonishing way. Joseph drew them all near to him (Genesis 45.4), encouraged them not to be angry with themselves or grieve (45.5), and then opened up for them the glorious plan of God, showing that He superintended the whole series of episodes leading them all up to this family reunion (Genesis 45.5-8). Joseph then proceeded to instruct them with such matter as was needful for the moment.

"Haste ye, and go up to my father and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not (Genesis 45.9)." Surely the king's business required haste. They, no doubt, would have preferred to linger and bask in the glow of the moment, but they must now return home. Joseph had so willed it to be. This much reminds us of the account of the wild man of Gadara out of whom the Lord cast legions of demons. "And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. How-beit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them bow great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee (Mark 5.18,19)." "Go home!" Thus said Joseph also to those upon whom he had shown compassion. The forgiven brethren must now go home to their father and relate to him all that pertained to their exalted brother. What wondrous news they were to carry back. They must apprise their father of how the matter had fallen out, and how great their dear brother was in putting all their sins behind them, to be recounted no more forever. It should be noted that there was no requirement for them to fully understand all this business. Joseph was sending them home with the message of his exaltation, and his bidding was sufficient for the moment.

"Go up to my father." it is interesting to see that he does not tell the brethren to go up to their father, but rather, "Go up to my father." Vividly this again gives us a glimpse of Jesus in the life of Joseph. The first admonition Joseph delivers to his restored brethren regarded his, and their, father. In the early life of Jesus we find the following: "And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my father's business (Luke 2.49)?" Jesus ever regarded His Father, as did Joseph before him.

"God hath made me Lord of all Egypt." Joseph was in absolute supreme authority in Egypt; he was lord of all, and he says so. He also relates in unmistakable terms that God had done it. Pharaoh, his immediate mentor, was given no credit for his lofty elevation. Joseph, a model of decorum if there ever was one, sought no acclaim for the rigid discipline he exercised that led to many favors during his sore trials. No; the humble eye of this now regal son of Jacob saw only the hand of Divine providence in his astral circumstances. We see not a trace of pride or boasting in the statement. Rather, we observe a sublime sense of simple acknowledgment. Joseph was lord of all, and God had ordered and executed the business; thus, "God hath made me Lord."

We feel obliged to stress the point that if God made Joseph Lord, then everything, positively everything, that was involved, great or small, incidental or direct, leading to the lordship of Joseph was under the same decrees that led to his ultimate elevation. If this is not the absolute predestination of all things what would it be? Joseph knew the whole business better than anyone, then or since, and he surely was persuaded God directed the whole affair with no exceptions. Conditionalists may demur, but the record is far too clear for serious protest. Joseph could not possibly have become Lord of all Egypt had not his brothers initially hated him, abused him, and sold him into slavery; unless you believe in pure chance. His elevation over the house of Potiphar, the attempted seduction by Potiphar's wife, his dreams and interpretations in prison, the famine and his certain knowledge of what to do about it, the will of Pharaoh to promote him over his whole realm; was this all chance? If any small part of the whole had turned about some other way, could the end have been the same? We are persuaded none but madmen could believe seriously that the elevation of Joseph in Egypt could be traced to anything other than the absolute decrees (determined before the foundation of the world) of God.

After hastening his brethren to return to father Jacob, and proclaiming his lordship in Egypt was directly from God, Joseph then issued the following directive: "Come down to me, tarry not." Egypt was not simply down geographically, where he bid them come. It was to be for a long number of years down positionally. The land of promise they were leaving was their most elevated status; particularly as regarded Jerusalem. Throughout the Scriptures, when any of the citizens of Israel journeyed, they were said to be going down. A case in point is that of the Good Samaritan. "And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead (Luke 10.30)." The same was true if they were going to Samaria, Damascus, Galalee, or Carmel, all up geographically. When an Israelite removed himself from the seat of God's government over them, they were said to be going down.

David was at the low point in his life when the hid in the cave of Adullam. He dare not at that time frequent any of his usual haunts, for fear of Saul's death threats. "...and when his brethren and all his father's house heard it, they went down thither to him (I Samuel 22.1)." To be with David, the anointed of God, his brethren and family must go down to him. Thus we see that the family of Joseph, like David's following, must go down to him. Joseph and David alike are beautiful figures of our Lord, Who left the lofty heights of heaven to gather to Himself all His beloved family here in this low ground of sin and sorrow. Though Joseph was residing in a land of heathen darkness, he was supreme, and thus bids the family, "Come down unto me, tarry not."

"And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast (Genesis 45.10)." We see again so vividly in this pronouncement of Joseph that there is positively no offer system to be found in the Word of God. Joseph did not invite the brothers to sit down in conference to work out a convenient plan for their futures. No! he says "Thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen." And blessed were all those brothers, for surely did Joseph undertake to care for them in all things. Surely they were confounded enough without having to chart their lives during the impending famine. They would surely be doomed unless he took full care of them. Just so does Jesus our brother instruct and care for us in the affairs of our sojourn here in this Egypt world. If Jesus says, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden," or, "Go ye into all the world", we may be sure He has our well-being in mind, though we may have but a faint glimpse of the circumstances. Our Saviour does all things well for us, though He often does not fully bless us to know the reasons why matters fall out as they do.

Goshen was the finest of all the land of Egypt and Joseph chose it for his family to dwell in during their sojourn there. It is remarkable to see the power he possessed. No doubt but many of the natural citizens of Egypt coveted that choice and fertile land for themselves, but Joseph reserved it for his own dear family, sinful though they had been. After his revelation of himself to them, and fully pardoning them, their evil conduct was all past; and nothing but the best would do for them.

Probably 200 years earlier God had come to Abraham while a deep sleep had come over him, and apprised him of this very time that Joseph would fetch his family to Egypt. "And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance (Genesis 15.13,14)." Whether Joseph knew of this prophesy or not, he certainly, under the direction of his God, furthered it by bringing the family, Abraham's natural seed, down to Goshen. Could he, or they, have done otherwise? If they could, what would have become of the clear statement of God to Abraham? What then appeared at the time to be the richest of all blessings towards the brothers of Joseph, would shortly become bitter servitude, yet down to Egypt they must go. However, it must be kept in mind that God had also told Abraham that after the appointed time they would come out with great substance. Thus, in a manner of speaking, they would go from good, to bad, to good again, and all at the direct appointment of their Sovereign God.

Isaac too seemed to have some knowledge of the purpose of God to bring the family down to Egypt. "And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of (Genesis 26.1,2)." Gerar was a little town just to the South of Gaza on the coastal route to Egypt. Probably, Isaac interpreted the famine as the fulfillment of the prophesy to Abraham, and had begun his journey through the land of the Philistines when the Lord more fully instructed him. God directed him to sojourn in that land, not Egypt, where He would there bless him and his seed. "And Isaac dwelt in Gerar (Genesis 26.6)." It is marvelous to see how that each generation felt the promise would apply to them, yet God had appointed it to be brought to pass at the time when Joseph delivered his family to Goshen. None could run before they were sent, for God's timetable must be kept.

"And thou shalt be near unto me." Only moments before the brothers would rather have been anywhere else on earth than near Joseph. Their sins had loomed up before them with relentless condemnation. Joseph was perceived as their worst enemy. But now, with tenderness and words of both forgiveness and explanation of the works of God in the matter, the offenders had been set free from their worst fears. And now, they would be near the regal monarch, Joseph, their compassionate friend, benefactor and brother.

We fail to see how any could plead for free will in the salvation of sinners when we have such a clear illustration and figure here in Joseph of Jesus bringing His family near to Him, not only to forgive, but further to undertake for them. To be near to Jesus is determined by Him just as surely as to be near Joseph was his, not the brothers, decision. In this context we do not understand the expression "Near unto me" to only respect physical proximity. They were at that very time being sent from the immediate presence of their brother. Rather, the full scope of the expression regards their total care by Joseph from then on. As sovereign, Joseph's rule and presence was as extensive as his domain. Thus, even when on their journey back to Jacob, the will and sway of Joseph was with them. Their lives were under his total and absolute regulation. This again is a beautiful figure of our dear Saviour. When He calls a sinner by His grace, no matter where his lot may be cast, they are near to Him, or we may say He is near to them. "...and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28.20)." Could a poor redeemed and forgiven sinner want for more?

Not only would the brothers be near to Joseph, but so too their children, their children's children, their flocks, their herds, and all that thou hast. This was about as near total control as you could find, yet not one word of complaint falls from the brothers' lips. How could they complain? These pitiful fellows had come to Egypt for corn lest they die of starvation. In the development of circumstances they found themselves with guilt-ridden consciences, and Joseph, the very one they had sinned against, was the only person on earth that could deliver them. If one was inclined to believe in luck they would no doubt feel that these brothers surely had a terrible run of bad luck. This series of events was, however, produced neither from bad luck, chance, or fate; it was the precise development of God's good plan to deliver His people. So, at Joseph's command, they would either perish or find deliverance. In a magnificent type of Christ's dealing with His family, he freely forgave them, comforted them, provided for them, and then assured them of his complete care for them. Surely, there was no room for dissension. Joseph spoke with consummate authority, and henceforth they would be near him.

"And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty (Genesis 45.11)." That is about as positive a statement as one could find in, or out of, the Bible. Not just any place would he, Joseph, nourish his brothers, but there in the land of Goshen. Joseph determined the bounds of their habitation just as surely as God does ours (Acts 17.26). Jeremiah also said in this vein that, "...it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps (Jeremiah 10.23)." If it was in man to direct his own steps, the brothers of Joseph might just as well have walked off to Ethiopia or elsewhere and sojourned there, rather than in Goshen. But what a happy people we are when the God of all grace reveals to us that we are not only bought with a price, but kept by the power of God. Even so, did Joseph keep and nourish his beloved family, and that right where he proposed.

"And there will I nourish thee." No contingencies here. Nor is this a vague proposition tendered to the eleven. This is a firm declaration, sealed up in the perfect will of Joseph. It would, no doubt, be a pleasure for the brothers to have all their needs fully met by their brother, but it would be a sad oversight if we failed to see that it was first his pleasure to sustain them. And why was it his pleasure? Again, we affirm, it was because they were his family, and he loved them, despite their crimes against him. This again gives us a blessed glimpse of Jesus in His care for the elect family. It surely was not our will that turned Him to care for us; no more than it was the will of the brothers to elicit Joseph to care for them. Joseph was pleased to care for his family in Goshen; Jesus cares for His chosen ones in His kingdom which is not of this world. As Goshen was prepared for the sons and daughters of Jacob then, just so is the Kingdom now prepared for those who shall inherit it. Joseph was lord over Goshen; Jesus is Lord over the kingdom. Much more might be said here, but we will leave it for the reader to thresh out the rest.

"And there will I nourish thee." Though thousands of others may have come to Egypt to buy corn, just as the brothers did, none of them were bidden to reside in the favored land of Goshen. They too had needs and families to feed, yet the bowels of compassion were not moved in Joseph for them; only for his kin. There should be little doubt that when the word got around that Joseph was showing special favor to his little band of relatives, many were moved with anger, possibly even hatred. "Why not us?" they would ask. We suspect his response would be something similar to that of the goodman of the house (Jesus) when he paid off the laborers. "And when they ! had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal to us, which have borne the burden and the heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen (Matthew 20.11-16)."

If the Lord wills, we hope to take up this sublime subject again in another article.

J.F. Poole
The Remnant
November-December 1993
Volume 7, No. 6