Joseph makes himself known to his brothers: “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt!” (Genesis 45:4). Jesus makes Himself known to His disciples (Matthew 16:13-17). In Joseph’s self-identification, there is a statement about why God had sent him into Egypt – “it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you … God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance” (Genesis 45:5,7). Jesus was sent by God to call out the “Church” by an even greater deliverance – deliverance from “the gates of hell” (Matthew 16:18). Joseph said, “God has made me lord of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:8). Concerning Jesus, Scripture declares that God has made Him Lord of all – He has “the keys of the Kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19). The words, spoken by Joseph’s brothers to their father, Jacob, bring out another connection with Jesus. “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt” (Genesis 45:26). Jesus is alive and He rules over all. He is the risen and reigning Christ. The connection between the story of Jacob (or Israel) and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is highlighted in Psalm 14:7. The Old Testament longs for the coming of the Saviour – “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!” It looks forward to a time of rejoicing, a time of gladness – “When the Lord restores the fortunes of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!”
Tuesday, 23 January 2018
Monday, 22 January 2018
We noted a parallel between Joseph and Jesus – the time of testing for Joseph’s family and Jesus’ disciples and the revelation of love coming to them from Joseph and Jesus. Here, we note another parallel between Joseph and Jesus. Joseph gives food to his own family and also to the whole land of Egypt. Jesus gives food to His own disciples and also to a great multitude – “four thousand, besides women and children” (Matthew 15:38). There is an important principle here – the Bread of Life is not only for the Church. It’s also for the world, the multitudes who are hungry for the spiritual food which only Christ can give to them. To hunger for the presence of the Lord, while feeling that He is far away, is a painful thing. This was the experience of the Psalmist in Psalm 13:1. He was facing very difficult circumstances. His enemies were saying, “I have overcome him.” His foes were rejoicing when he fell (Psalm 13:2,4). Despite all of this, he continued to trust in the Lord. He kept on rejoicing in the Lord. He kept on singing praise to the Lord,. He kept on giving thanks to God for His goodness (Psalm 13:5-6).
Sunday, 21 January 2018
We may see a parallel between Joseph and “the twelve” (his eleven brothers and his father, Jacob) and Jesus and “the twelve” (His disciples). Joseph is leading them into a situation of testing. His long-term intention is to show them that He loves them. Jesus comes to “the twelve” in their time of testing. He shows them that He loves them. Joseph reveals his identity to his family brothers. Jesus reveals His identity – “those who were in the boat worshipped Him, saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God’” (Matthew 14:33). In Psalm 12:7, we have the great declaration of faith – “You, Lord, will keep the needy safe and will protect us forever from the wicked.” In both stories – Joseph and Jesus, we see the salvation and protection of God. In Genesis 50:20, we read of God’s purpose in the events of the Joseph story – “the saving of many lives.” In the story of “Jesus … walking on the lake”, the “terrified” disciples became worshipping disciples (Matthew 14:25-26,33). This is what God’s salvation does in our lives.
Saturday, 20 January 2018
Joseph was the forgotten man. He asked the chief cup bearer to remember him (Genesis 40:14). The chief cup bearer forgot Joseph (Genesis 40:23). He wasn’t remembered until “two full years had passed” (Genesis 41:1). As he languished in prison, these two years must have seemed a very long time. Nevertheless, Joseph kept close to God, and when the time came for him to speak for God, he was ready. Joseph didn’t seek glory for himself – “I cannot do it.” He gave all the glory to God – “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires” (Genesis 41:16). John the Baptist was also imprisoned (Matthew 14:3). For John, unlike Joseph, there was to be no release. Whatever our circumstances, we must seek to honour God. The important thing is not the outcome of our adverse circumstances. It’s our faithfulness in these difficult times. Whatever is happening to us, we must remain in “the straight paths” and must not “walk in dark ways” (Proverbs 2:13).
Friday, 19 January 2018
What a contrast there is between the unrestrained lust of Judah (Genesis 38) and the sexual restraint of Joseph – “How then can I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). Joseph was unjustly treated, and put in prison. Nevertheless, God’s purpose was not hindered – “the Lord was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did” (Genesis 39:23). When we read of Joseph, being thrown into slavery and, later on, into prison, we see the similarity to Jesus – “Only in his home town and in his own house is a prophet without honour” (Matthew 13:57). Whenever things are going badly (Joseph in prison, Jesus – “a prophet without honour”), we must remember – “The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne” (Psalm 11:4). We must learn to say, “In the Lord, I take refuge” (Psalm 11:1). We must rest in this assurance: “upright men will see His face” (Psalm 11:7).
Thursday, 18 January 2018
When Joseph spoke of his dream, “his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind” (Genesis 37:11). Jacob was becoming aware that Joseph was the man whom God had chosen to carry the purpose of God forward into the next generation. Joseph’s dreams had been given to him by the Lord. God was indicating to him the “new thing” (Isaiah 43:19) that He was about to do. God spoke to Joseph through dreams. God spoke through Jesus in parables (Matthew 13). Whether we’re reading about Joseph’s dream concerning God’s continuing purpose or Jesus’ parables of the Kingdom, we must remember this: “The Lord is King for ever and ever” (Psalm 10:16).
Jacob “struggled with God” before he was “blessed” by God (Genesis 32:28-29). The blessing of God comes to us as we live in obedience to Him – “whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). When the Word of God comes to us, Jesus says to us, “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:10). As we receive God’s Word in obedient faith, our knowledge of God increases. As we get to know Him better, we desire to Him in even greater depth – “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance” (Matthew 13:12). There is, however, also a warning – “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (Matthew 13:12). To despise the blessing of God, like Esau did, is to become like “the wicked man”, described in Psalm 10:1-11.
Wednesday, 17 January 2018
We have read about two times of blessing in Jacob’s life (Genesis 28:10-22; Genesis 32:22-32). Here’s a third time when the Lord blessed him (Genesis 35:9-12). The Lord’s blessing doesn’t come only once. He blesses His people again and again. He leads us on to a closer walk with Himself. The blessing of God doesn’t pass automatically from one generation to another. Isaac had been blessed by God. Esau turned away from God. He missed out on God’s blessing. The blessing of God is not to be taken for granted.
Monday, 15 January 2018
In Genesis 28:10-22, we read about a turning-point in Jacob’s life. Here, in Genesis 32:22-32, we have another turning-point. It’s summed up in Genesis 32:28 – “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob may “have overcome”, but there is no-one who has overcome so mightily as our Lord Jesus Christ. He “drove out demons by the Spirit of God” and, in Him, we are overcomers – ”They triumphed over him (Satan) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11). Victory comes from the Lord – “He holds victory in store for the upright” (Proverbs 2:7). He is our “shield”; He “guards” and “protects” us in the heat of the battle (Proverbs 2:7-8). As we walk in the pathway of victory, we are led in “every good path” (Proverbs 2:9). We are led in a way which, the Lord says, “will be pleasant to your soul” (Proverbs 2:10).
Criticism of Jacob by Laban (Genesis 31), criticism of Jesus by the Pharisees (the criticism of the disciples is implicitly a criticism of Jesus – Matthew 12:1-2), criticism of the Psalmist (“O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!” – Psalm 9:13) – criticism is directed against the Lord’s people in every generation. Whatever criticism there may be, we must learn to hear, with faith, the Word of the Lord – “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight” (Matthew 12:18). These words are, supremely, true of Jesus. Nevertheless, they are also true of Jacob who took his place in the ongoing purpose of God, David who “declared God’s praises … and rejoiced in His salvation” (Psalm 9:14) and ourselves who have been saved by His grace. In our conflict with evil, we must take our problem to the Lord, praying, with the Psalmist – “Arise, O Lord, let not man triumph” (Psalm 9:19).
In Genesis 29-30, we read of many births. The significant birth, in terms of God’s purpose of redemption, is the birth of Joseph (Genesis 30:22-24). There is, of course, another Joseph in Scripture – Joseph, the husband of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The birth of Jesus was a mighty miracle. Jesus was the Son of God. He had a special relationship to God the Father – “no one knows the Father except the Son” (Matthew 11:27). To whom does the Son choose to reveal the Father? – He reveals the Father to those who respond to His gracious invitation – ”Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). To those who come to Jesus Christ, God’s promise is given: “Those who know Your name trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You” (Psalm 9:10).
Jesus said, ”Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of Me” (Matthew 11:6). The story of Esau became a story of an increasing falling away from the Lord. The story of God’s enemies is summed up in Psalm 9:3 – “My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before You.” The testimony of the saved is summed up in Psalm 9:1-2 – “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all Your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing the praises of Your name, O Most High.”
Friday, 12 January 2018
Matthew 10 tells of the disciples being trained for their later work of being Christ’s witnesses in the world (Acts 1:8).
Proverbs 1:20-21 – “Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square; on top of the wall she cries out, at the city gate she makes her speech.” The Gospel is not to be kept to ourselves. Christ is to be proclaimed.
Thursday, 11 January 2018
In Genesis 24, we see the progress of the promise given to Abraham. From generation to generation, God is fulfilling His purpose. Once Rebekkah had agreed to marry Isaac, she received this blessing: “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies” (Genesis 24:60). This is clearly referring to the long-term fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham. It was fitting that God’s purpose should be carried forward through Isaac. He was a godly man – “He went out to the field one evening to meditate” (Genesis 24:63). If we want to live a godly life, we must learn to spend time with God.
Following on from the love story of Isaac and Rebekkah, we find Jesus, in Matthew 9:15, speaking of Himself as “the bridegroom” who has come to find a bride for Himself. From a story of human love to the Story of “love divine, all loves excelling, joy of heaven to earth come down”, we turn our hearts to worship – “Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9).