Gen 37:4, 8 (NIV, all) When his brothers saw that their father [Jacob/Israel] loved him [Joseph] more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him... His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Rom 15:4 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
This Bible study will explore some of the prophetic, typological aspects of the life of Joseph, and assumes basic familiarity with the events of Genesis 37-45. This "son of Israel" made preposterous claims about himself, which led to his being "cast off by his brothers".Gen 37:19-20 "Here comes that dreamer!" they said to each other. "Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns... Then we'll see what comes of his dreams."
But in fact while his brothers had cast him away, his name was made great among the Gentiles--and all for the eventual benefit of Israel. God's wisdom is about to be repeated.Gen 50:20 [Joseph, after it was all over:] "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
There is much that could be said about this, but for now let us focus in and concentrate on the strange "game" Joseph plays with "the sons of Israel", if you will, before allowing them to know his real identity as their salvation. The story is sweeping enough without comprehending the prophetic overtures. But let us look at it with an eye to understand God's plan to reconcile Israel in our time. God has exalted Joseph to be the prime minister of Egypt. He is the only source for food during a long famine. The situation is desperate.Gen 42:1-2 [Jacob/Israel:] ..."Why do you just keep looking at each other? ...I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die."
Gen 42:6-7 ...When Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them...
Joseph allows the Spirit to lead him through a bizarre process that results in all the brothers being brought together. After all, Benjamin was missing. Let the Spirit show you how the process Joseph goes through is larger than just this particular story.Gen 42:8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.
Imagine the painful sense of expectation Joseph must have experienced. "Can't I just reveal myself now!" Do you ever feel this way about the present "sons of Israel" and the brother whose name has been "blotted out" among them? Hang on, we are in for a wild ride yet.Gen 42:23-25 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes. Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man's silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey...
And now begins the bizarre "frame". They are made to look like exploiters and thieves. They are cast in the role of being guilty--of what they have not committed. Hmmm... Is this happening today to the sons of Israel?Gen 42:28 "My silver has been returned," he said to his brothers. "Here it is in my sack." Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, "What is this that God has done to us?"
They did not recognize their "salvation" the first visit, although they are beginning to see their guilt and that God is behind these strange events. They have recognized their need, but not yet their provider. But note the way in which the "sons of Israel" are trapped. They feel justified that they have "paid" for what they received. But what God, through Joseph, has provided cannot be bought. But they haven't figured this out just yet.Gen 43:12 "Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake?"
So the "sons of Israel" approach their lost brother on the second visit with the same mentality, bringing again the same unneeded "sacrifice". Watch for this to happen again. Joseph, nonetheless, is happy to see them, expectant about what is to happen, and invites them to his house. They, of course, misunderstand what is happening.Gen 43:18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, "We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys."
This misunderstanding of God's grace and mercy to them came solely because they did not recognize their own brother! But that is about to change. The steward gives them a hint of what might be going on.Gen 43:22-23 "...We don't know who put our silver in our sacks." "It's all right," he [Joseph's steward] said. "Don't be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks..."
Now all the "sons of Israel" have been brought to the house of Joseph and are sitting at his table. He is overcome by the sight of the reconciliation God is working out. Can you feel the tension mounting in this story? Can you feel it in the world today?Gen 43:30-31 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there. After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, "Serve the food."
But the game is not over yet. There is one more round of humiliation and entrapment at the hand of their benefactor. This time, there is an extra "catch" to the set-up.Gen 44:1-2 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: "Fill the men's sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man's silver in the mouth of his sack. Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one's sack, along with the silver for his grain."..
Gen 44:4-7 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, "Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, 'Why have you repaid good with evil? Isn't this the cup my master drinks from...? This is a wicked thing you have done.'" When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. But they said to him, "Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that!"
Gen 44:13-14 At this, they tore their clothes... Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.
Joseph's "preposterous claims" have come to pass in a most unusual way. Confused, cornered, and desperate, the "sons of Israel" have come to this. Now let's jump into the narrative, trusting the Holy Spirit to illuminate how this applies to what is about to happen to modern Israel.Gen 44:16,18 "What can we say to my lord?" Judah replied. "What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants' guilt. We are now my lord's slaves--we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup."... Then Judah went up to him and said: "Please, my lord, let your servant speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself."
Gen 45:1-3 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, "Have everyone leave my presence!" So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him... Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph!... his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.
Gen 45:4-8 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will not be plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God..."
Gen 45:12-15 "You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you."... Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.
Perhaps you, like me, suspect that God will use this prophetic message in the end times to bring things into focus for both Jew and Gentile alike. God is about to "entrap" his brothers of the covenant. It will be a time of high emotion and reconciliation. It will be a time when Israel will be "framed" by God, being made to look guilty of sins it has not committed, and will thus repent of sins it has. Consider the following prophecies in light of this.Eze 39:24-29 "I dealt with them according to their uncleanness and their offenses, and I hid my face from them. Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will now bring Jacob back from captivity and will have compassion on all the people of Israel, and I will be zealous for my holy name. They will forget their shame and all the unfaithfulness they showed toward me... When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind. I will no longer hide my face from them, for I will pour out my Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord."
Isa 51:17-22 ...Rise up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk from the hand of the Lord the cup of his wrath, you who have drained to its dregs the goblet that makes men stagger... Famine... who can console you?... like antelope caught in a net... See, I have taken out of your hand the cup that made you stagger; from that cup, the goblet of my wrath, you will never drink again.
Zech 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son."
Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this. (2 Tim 2:7) Lord, we thank you that the Gentiles have benefited and prospered in Jesus Christ for just such a time as this. You have not forgotten Your family, Your brothers, even though they rejected Your most favored Son. Their rejection could never stop You from fulfilling Your promises to Israel. We long for the day that You reveal yourself to Your brothers, and the joy of weeping will sweep the earth in one grand crescendo. Messiah, come quickly to reveal the wisdom of Your plan for the nations. Save us all in the highest way.
The Roman Road... Back To Jerusalem
Rom 11:1-2,11-12 (NIV, all) ...Did God reject his people? By no means!... God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew... Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!
Rom 11:15-18 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?... If some of the branches [of Israel] have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
Rom 11:19-22 You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
Rom 11:23-24 And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
Rom 11:25-29 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written... As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God's gifts and his call are irrevocable.
Rom 11:30-36 Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God's mercy to you. For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! "Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?" "Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?" For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.