Light for the Last Days

The awesome Grace of our Lord’s forgiveness

SHORT TALK

The next few verses are, I think, some of the most moving verses you can see in the Bible and that’s hard to read them without crying yourself. But let’s read them. Genesis chapter 45:

Then Joseph could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried out, “Make everyone go out from me!” So no one stood with him while Joseph made himself known to his brothers. And he wept aloud, and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph; does my father still live?” But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence. And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. For these two years the famine has been in the land, and there are still five years in which there will be neither ploughing nor harvesting. And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

“Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry. 

Genesis 45.1-9

Wow! Can you imagine what the brothers thought when they heard that? They must have been totally overwhelmed. Well, what do what can you say: amazed, gobsmacked, whatever. totally says they were dismayed/terrified נִבְהֲלוּ [nibhălû]. It says that they couldn’t answer, they were dismayed in his presence. The word implies they were were terrified. Suddenly, they realize who they’re standing before. They’re standing before the one whom they had sold into slavery, who they thought was now going to be just a either dead or in some very lowly and menial position.

Yet, now, they find him standing before them as the second Lord of Egypt, the one who’s able to give them bread to live on, and who tells them that, it was God who sent him down there, because God sent him down there in order to preserve life, to preserve their lives so that they would stay alive in the famine and they they would be able to have children themselves and continue as the children of Israel.

It’s all God overruling and they can ensure a posterity in the earth and fulfil the promise God made to Abraham and have a multitude of descendants.

“Hurry and go up to my father, and say to him, ‘Thus says your son Joseph: “God has made me lord of all Egypt; come down to me, do not tarry. 10 You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children’s children, your flocks and your herds, and all that you have. 11 There I will provide for you, lest you and your household, and all that you have, come to poverty; for there are still five years of famine.” ’

12 “And behold, your eyes and the eyes of my brother Benjamin see that it is my mouth that speaks to you. 13 So you shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that you have seen; and you shall hurry and bring my father down here.”

Genesis 45.9-13

He tells them to hurry back to Jacob tell Jacob that what they’ve seen that Joseph is the Lord of Egypt. And he says he going to give them a place to dwell in in the land of Goshen fertile region in the northeast of Egypt and he weeps and kisses his brothers and is fully reconciled to them.

Remember I said this is a story not just about repentance but also about reconciliation and what you can see here when you look at this in the light of the New Testament is a theme which ties in with what Jesus taught in relation to sin, repentance, and reconciliation.

It provides us with the accounts of the brothers who committed a grave sin against Joseph, a sin that had been on their conscience for all those years (some 20 years). They’d have this on their consciences and the recognition of this comes out when they “said to one another,

21 “We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.”

Genesis 42.21

So, Joseph wants to see a change of heart in them before he reveals himself to them. He arranges these tests in which they have to choose between acting in a selfish, heartless way and being self-sacrificing.

Barnabas Synergoi

Judah goes from being the most cruel and the most heartless to being the most self-sacrificing. He acts on his word when it turns out that Benjamin is in trouble and he offers to take his place in chapter 44,

18 Then Judah came near to him and said: “O my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s hearing, and do not let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even like Pharaoh. 19 My lord asked his servants, saying, ‘Have you a father or a brother?’ 20 And we said to my lord, ‘We have a father, an old man, and a child of his old age, who is young; his brother is dead, and he alone is left of his mother’s children, and his father loves him.’ 21 Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me, that I may set my eyes on him.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The lad cannot leave his father, for if he should leave his father, his father would die.’

Genesis 44.18-22

It is at this point that Joseph reveals himself to them.

There is a principle here of forgiveness and reconciliation. Joseph could forgive them knowing that God meant it for good. Jesus teaches us to forgive. Jesus’ teaches:

12 And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.

Matthew 6.12

‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’.

Therefore, we forgive those who trespass against us, but we are not necessarily reconciled to those who trespass against us. Sometimes, when there’s a terrorist act, some people, Christians, stand up and say: ‘I forgive the people who did this‘.

Okay, that is right, it is better than wanting revenge on them. But, in fact, you can’t be reconciled with them unless the person who has perpetrated the deed repents and wants to be reconciled with you.

And this is the point here; that is what this story is about. Not just that they should be forgiven but that they should be reconciled. For them to be reconciled, they have to acknowledge the sin they’ve committed in the past and put it right. They then become reconciled to their brother, to Joseph.

Barnabas Synergoi

And so it is with us too, and with our fellow humans. We have to be reconciled with God, we have to acknowledge our sin and ask God to forgive us. And if it’s someone who has sinned against us, okay, we can forgive them in one sense which is basically what Jesus means when He says we should pray: ‘forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us‘, but unless they repent, unless they’re sorry, then we can’t be reconciled to them.

“You answered them, O Lord our God;
You were to them God-Who-Forgives,
Though You took vengeance on their deeds.”

Psalm 99.8

We can only be reconciled if they acknowledge their sin and put it right. That is what this whole story is about. Joseph’s brothers have to acknowledge that they have sinned and they have to put it right and show by their actions also that they’ve changed their ways which is what God is looking for.

First, you have a story which speaks about sin, repentance, and reconciliation in the New Testament through Yeshua the Messiah, through the blood that He shed for us on the cross.

Second, Joseph is seen as the type of the Messiah that the rabbis see, the 2 portraits of Messiah in the Old Testament as Māšīaḥ מְשִׁיחַ Ben Yosef (Messiah son of Joseph) and Māšīaḥ מְשִׁיחַ Ben David (Messiah son of David). Messiah son of Joseph is the suffering Messiah, the one who goes from the highest place to the lowest place, from being the best/favourite son, the best endowed to being ill treated being put in the lowest place, to being put to death and being treated as worse than a slave. We see that is what happens to Joseph.

Joseph goes from the highest place to the lowest place. His brothers want to kill him. They sell him as a slave. Potiphar’s wife tells lies about him, makes a false accusation, has him put in prison. Even in prison, the butler who he helps forgets him.

But God is overruling in all these things so that he can be exalted to the highest place, become the second ruler under Pharaoh, the second ruler in Egypt.

This reminds us of Philippians chapter 2 where Paul says,

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2.5-11

Now, not only is Joseph a type of Jesus but also the brothers are a type of the Jewish people. His Jewish brethren notice that when they come down to Egypt, they are alienated from him, they don’t recognize him, they see a gentile, an Egyptian Lord before them, they don’t see in this apparent gentile Lord their brother. Joseph doesn’t speak their language, he’s dressed differently, he even has another name.

So it is with the Jewish people and Jesus right through the ages. There have been Jewish people who recognized Yeshua as the Messiah, yet the majority have not recognised Him at all, and He has become alienated from them.

Barnabas Synergoi

When Jewish people look at the Jesus of the church, they say that ‘He is the god of the gentiles‘, ‘He is not one of us‘, ‘He is not one of our brethren‘, ‘He is dressed in funny clothes’, ‘His ministers are dressed in funny clothes which are not our clothes‘. ‘We don’t recognize Him. He is speaking another language; He has even got another name: Jesus Christ instead of Yeshua HaMashiach חַמָשִׁיחַיִוָּשֵׁעַ׃ [ḥamāšîḥayiwwāšēaʿ]’.

God wants to bring them to the point of recognizing that He is their brother, that Yeshua is their brother, He is a fellow Hebrew, He speaks their language. He is their brother and He loves them and wants to give them His life so that they can have redemption with God and, through a time of trial, He wants to make Himself known to His Jewish brethren and, in this, He will fulfil it like in Joseph’s dream, they will come and bow down before Him.

The Bible speaks about the time of Jacob’s trouble in Jeremiah 30 and in Zechariah 12. It says,

Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah. “For thus says the Lord: ‘We have heard a voice of trembling,
Of fear, and not of peace.
Ask now, and see,
Whether a man is ever in labor with child?
So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins
Like a woman in labor,
And all faces turned pale?
Alas! For that day is great,
So that none is like it;
And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble וְעֵת־צָרָה הִיא לְיַעֲקֹב [wǝʿēt-ṣārâ hîʾ lǝyaʿăqōb],
But he shall be saved [Yeshua] out of וּמִמֶּנָּה יִוָּשֵׁעַ׃ [ûmimmennâ yiwwāšēaʿ]. ‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’
Says the Lord of hosts,
That I will break his yoke from your neck, And will burst your bonds; Foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God,
And David their king,
Whom I will raise up for them.

Jeremiah 30.4-9

10 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced אֲשֶׁר־דָּקָרוּ [ʾăšer-dāqārû]. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.

Zechariah 12.10-14

In their time of unique מֵאַיִן כָּמֹהוּ [mēʾayin kāmōhû] trouble, Jews will look to Yeshua the Messiah.

I think there’s a great parallel between that and Joseph’s brothers here. Through the time of trouble, they look to Him, to Jesus, and they recognize that He is their brother as He reveals Himself to them. But there has to be an act of repentance before they can be reconciled to Him. That is why, as Zechariah speaks about the Spirit being poured out in chapter 12, he then says in the very first verse of the next chapter,

“In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.

Zechariah 13.1

The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin and, for all of us, whether we’re Jewish or gentile, to be reconciled to God we have to come through the blood of Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah to have a relationship with God.

11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.’

Leviticus 17.11

For those who are alienated from God to come into the presence of God, to love God, and to know God, the story of Joseph points forward to Yeshua, the One who brings reconciliation with God.

2 Corinthians chapter 5 says,

15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ (through חַמָשִׁיחַיִוָּשֵׁעַ׃ [Yeshua HaMashiach]), and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

2 Corinthians 5.15-21

Praise the Lord!

The Messiah son of Joseph, the suffering servant of Isaiah 53 who is

… despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53.3-6

Maybe some of us have thought just as Jacob did: ‘All things are against me‘ (Genesis 42.36).

Maybe there are many people out there in the world who are saying ‘all things are against me‘, but whatever is against you in the world, if you come to Yeshua, then God is for you and, if God be for you, who can be against you?

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” (Psalm 44.22)

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8.31-39

Therefore, believe on Yeshua / Jesus the Messiah, be reconciled to God, be reconciled to one another. Repent, believe, and receive through the blood of Yeshua the forgiveness, cleansing, and reconciliation with God which we all need. Amen.

Tony Pearce

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