•  35 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Listen from:
My Dear Brother:—I propose sending you a short synopsis of the principal subjects of each book of the Bible, to aid in the study of this precious volume that our God has given to us. I do not at all pretend to give the full contents of each book, but only (as God shall grant to me) a sort of index of the subjects, the divisions of the books by subjects, and (as far as I am enabled) the object of the Spirit of God in each part, hoping that it may aid others in reading the Book of God. The Bible is a whole, which presents to us God coming forth from His essential fullness to manifest all that He is, and to bring back into the enjoyment of this fullness with Himself those who, having been made -partakers of His nature, have become capable of comprehending and loving His counsels and Himself. The creation has served as sphere to this manifestation of God; but as a manifestation it would have been altogether imperfect, though in a measure it declared His glory. Sin, moreover, having entered, the state of the creation and the effects of Providence, which regulated its order and details, tended, in the state in which man was, to give a false idea of God. For if he referred this creation and this government to God, while seeing a power which belonged to Him alone, there existed evil which overthrew every idea he could form of powerful goodness. The mind of man was lost in the effort to explain it, and superstitions and philosophy came in to complete the confusion in which he found himself. On one hand, superstitions made falser still the false ideas that man had formed for himself of God; and on the other hand, philosophy, by the efforts which his natural intelligence made to get rid of the difficulty, plunged him into such obscurity and such uncertainty, that he finished by rejecting every idea of God whatever, save the need which had made him seek one.
These superstitions were, in truth, nothing more than that Satan had possessed himself of the idea of God in the heart, in order to nourish with it its lusts, and degrade it in consecrating them by the name of a god who was in truth a demon; and philosophy was but the useless efforts of the mind of man to rise to the idea of God-a height which he was incapable of attaining, and which in consequence he abandoned, making it a subject of pride to do without it. The law even of God, while declaring the responsibility of man to God, and thus asserting His authority, only revealed Him in the exercise of judgment, requiring from man what he ought to be without revealing what God was, save in justice; and in no way revealed Him in relationship with the scene of misery and ignorance which sin had brought upon the human race; did not show what He was in the midst of that, nor could do so; for its office was to require from man a certain line of conduct, of which the Legislator constituted Himself judge, at the end of the career of him who was subjected to it. But the Son of God is God Himself in the midst of all this scene, the faithful Witness of all that He is in His relationship with it. In a word, it is the Son of God who reveals God Himself, and who becomes thus necessarily the center of all His counsels, and of all the manifestation of His glory, as well as the object of all His ways. We shall find then three great subjects in the Bible-the Creation (now subject to the fall); the Law, which gave to man a rule, to man in the midst of this creation, to see if he could live there according to God, and be there blessed; and the Son of God. The two first, namely the Creation and the Law, are bound up with the responsibility of the creature. We shall find all that is connected with these two either guilty or corrupted. The Son, on the contrary, the manifestation of the glory of the Father, the expression of His love, the express image of the subsistence of God, we shall see suffering in love in the midst of this fallen creation and the contradictions of a rebellious people, or accomplishing all the counsels of God, in uniting all things in blessing by His power and under His authority; those even who with hatred have rejected Him being forced to own Him Lord, to the glory of God the Father; and at last, when. He shall have subjected all things, giving up to God the Father the kingdom of His glory as Son of Man, that God may be all in all. Besides all this, there is in the counsels of God a people which is to enjoy eternally with God his favor and blessing, with which the God whom we know in Jesus surrounds Himself; and further, in the purpose of God, before the world was, but hidden until the fit moment when, its redemption being accomplished, the Holy Spirit could, by dwelling in it, reveal to it all the efficacy of its redemption and the whole extent of its blessing, there was a Church chosen in Christ, His bride, which was to share His glory with Him and the blessedness which He was to inherit as Son of God and Faithful Witness of His glory.
Hence we shall find, not only the Creation, the Law, and the Son of God, but the ways by which He has prepared the way for and led men to expect His manifestation; the development of all the principles on which He entered into relationship with men; the consequences of the violation of the law; and lastly, in its place, the manifestation of this Church upon the earth, and the directions He has given to it, with the course of events which are connected with its existence and its unfaithfulness on the earth, as well as with that of the earthly people of God, and of man himself responsible to God and clothed with authority by Him on the earth: the whole closing with the glory of Jesus, Son of Man, maintaining the blessing and union of all things under the reign of God; and, in fine, God all in all. The history of Jesus; the position granted to the Church in glory according to the counsels of God, the mystery hidden from the ages; her participation in the sufferings of Jesus and her _union with Him; and in general the testimony of the Holy Ghost given from on high, are clearly revealed in the New Testament. That of which we have spoken previously forms the course of ages. The Church forms no part of them.
This separates the Bible naturally into two parts:-that which speaks of the two first subjects, the Creation and Man in his relationship with God without law,-and His people under law; and that which speaks of the Son come upon the earth, and all that relates to the Church and its glory: that is, in general, the Old and New Testament.
We shall see, however, that, in the Old, promise and prophecy referred always to the Son-eternal object of the counsels of God: as, in the New, the rejection of the Son gave occasion to the presence of the Holy Spirit on earth-a fact which modified the whole state of the people of God, and introduced special subjects which depended on this presence. For there is this peculiar in the historical part of the New, that the Son was presented first to the world and to the people under the law, to put them anew to the test. The bearing of His coming at first was not the accomplishment of the counsels of God, but to present to man, still placed under the old order of things, the faithful testimony of what God was, if the heart of man had any capacity to receive it, or to discern Him who returned in grace into the midst of a fallen creation, and that even in the form and nature of him in whom the fall had taken place, as well as presenting to the Jews, if they had been willing to receive Him, the Lord of glory, the object of all the prophecies and of all the promises, and in fine to accomplish (the world not having known Him, and His own not having received Him) the Sacrifice, which could lay the foundation of a new world before God and place the redeemed in joy before the face of His Father, heirs of all that was established in Him the second Adam.
From all that we have said, it results also that the Old Testament contains two very distinct parts-often united, it is true, in the same book and even in a single passage -still, distinct in their nature The history of man as he was, and God's way with him, or the historical part, whether before the law or under the law; and the revelation of the thoughts and intentions of God as to the future, which are always connected with Christ. This revelation sometimes takes the character of a positive prophecy, sometimes the form of a typical event, which pre-figures what God would afterward accomplish. I may cite, as an example of this last way of expressing the thoughts of God, the sacrifice of Isaac. Evidently there is an historical instruction of the utmost importance in the touching example of Abraham's obedience; but every one easily recognizes in it the type of a sacrifice, for which God prepared for Himself a Lamb, of which Isaac, the beloved of his father, was but a feeble figure; and where resurrection, not in figure but in power, is the source of life and hope to every believer.
But, perhaps, I anticipate too much the details. Let us proceed to the general character of the books of Scripture. Genesis has a peculiar one; and, as the beginning of the Holy Book, presents to us all the great elementary principles which find their development in the history of the relationships of God with man, which is recorded in the following books. The germ of each of these principles will be found here, unless we except the law. There was, however, a law given to Adam in his innocence; and Hagar, we know, pre-figures at least Sinai. There is scarce anything afterward accomplished, of which the expression is not found in this book in one form or another. There is found also in it, though the sad history of man's fall be there, a freshness in the relationship of men with God, which is scarce met with afterward in men accustomed to abuse it. But whether it be the creation, sin, the power of Satan, the promises, the call of God, his judgment of the world, redemption, the covenants, the separation of the people of God, their condition of strangers on the earth, the resurrection, the establishment of Israel in the land of Canaan, the blessing of the nations, the seed of promise, the exaltation of a rejected Lord to the throne of the world-all are found here in fact or in figure.
Let us examine, then, the contents of this book in order: First, we have the Creation-creation in which man is found placed as center and head. We have, first, the work of God, and then the rest of God: at the close of this work, rest from labor, without presenting the idea that any one participated in it. God Himself rested from His work. Man comes in to take his place then in happiness as its head. But here certain points deserve attention. This revelation from God is not a history by Him of all that He has done, but what has been given to man-to communicate all that regards his own relationship with God. In connection with the second Adam, he will know as he is known; and already, by means of the work of Christ, he has that unction of the Holy One by which he knows all things. But, historically, the revelation is partial. It communicates what is for the conscience and spiritual affections of man. What is here said, is true of the whole Bible. Here it is evident in this, that nothing is said of the creation; but what places man in the position which God had made for him in the creation itself, or presents this sphere to him as being the work of God. Thus, no mention is made of any heavenly beings. Nothing is said of their creation. We find them as soon as they are in relationship with men; although afterward, as a truth, it is fully recognized of course that they are so. Thus also, nothing is said, except the fact of creation, of anything more than of the present form of it. " In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." What may have taken place between that time, and the moment when it was without form and void is left in entire obscurity. This earth, being thus prepared and furnished, Man, made after the image of God, is placed there as lord of all that was in it. Its fruits are given him for food; and God rests from His work, and distinguishes with His blessing the day which saw His labors closed. Man enjoyed the fruit of His work rather than entered into the rest; for in nothing had he taken part in the work.
EN 2In Gen. 2 we have the special relationship of man with God, with his wife, with the creation (type of Christ and his church), and the two great principles from which everything flows as regards man established in the garden, where man was placed in blessing; namely, responsibility in obedience and a sovereign source of life. In these two things, in conciliating these two, lies the lot of every man. It is what is developed in the law, and in grace in Christ. For the law put life as the result of the perfect obedience of him who knew good and evil. Christ, having undergone the consequence of man's having failed, becomes, in the power of a life which had gained the victory over death which was the consequence of that disobedience, a source of life eternal that evil could not reach. His priesthood applies to the details of its development in the midst of evil. In the garden, the knowledge of good and evil did not yet exist; obedience alone constituted the test. The condition of man, in contrast with every other creature here below, found its source in this, that instead of springing from the earth or water by the sole word of God, as a living being, man was formed and fashioned from the dust, and God places him in immediate relationship as a living being with Himself; inasmuch as he becomes a living being, in that God himself has breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. It is important to consider this chapter as laying down in a special manner all the principles of the relationship of man, whether with God, with his wife, or with the inferior creation. Out of this garden, where he was placed by the hand of God as sovereign of the world, flowed rivers which watered and characterized the world without. Upon Adam reposed the duty of obedience.
EN 3In chapter 3 we find-what, alas! has always happened-disobedience and failure;—the subtlety of the hidden enemy of our souls, the distrust of God which he inspires, lusts, disobedience, utter dishonor done to God, whether as regards His truth or His love, the power of natural affections over man, the consciousness of being naked and powerless; effort to hide it from oneself; terror of God, seeking to hide from Him; self-justification, which seeks to cast upon another, and even upon God, that of which we have been guilty. After that we have not the blessing or restoration of man, nor promises made to him, but the judgment pronounced upon the serpent, and, in that, the promise made to the second Adam, the victorious man, but who, in grace, has his birth-place where the weakness and the fall was. It is, the seed of the woman who bruises the serpent's head.
What follows is the present result as to the government of God, the temporal sentence pronounced on Adam and his wife until death, under the power of which he was fallen, seized him. God, however, clothes them with a garment which covers their nakedness, a garment which had its origin in death (the death of another), which had come in, but which hid the effects of the sin which had introduced it. Man was no longer naked, neither in his own eyes nor in the eyes of them who saw him. Adam recognizes that life still subsists, and that Eve is the mother of all living-a testimony it seems to me (obscure, it is true, but real), of his faith. But he is justly driven out of the garden, that he may not perpetuate here below a life of disaster and of misery. The way of the tree of life was henceforth inaccessible to man.
Hereon follows the separation of the families of God and of the enemy,-of the world and of faith. Abel comes setting the death of another between him and God, recognizes the judgment of sin-has faith in expiation. Cain, externally worshipper of the true God, has not the conscience of sin; he brings the fruits which are signs of the curse, proof of the complete blinding of the heart and hardening the conscience. He supposes that all is well: why should not God receive him? Thus is brought in not only sin against God, but against one's very neighbor, as it has been displayed in the case of Jesus; and Cain himself is a striking type of the state of the Jews. Driven from the presence of God, he seeks, in the importance of his family, in the arts and the enjoyments of life, temporal consolation, and tries to render the world, where God has sent him forth as a vagabond, as agreeable an abode as possible, far from God. Sin has here the character of forgetfulness of all that had passed in the history of man; hatred against grace and against him who was the object of it; pride and indifference; and then despair, which seeks comfort in worldliness. We have also the man of grace (type of Christ and them that are his), rejected and left without heritage. Man, his enemy, judged and abandoned to himself, and another the object of the counsels of God, who becomes heir of the world on the part of God. We must remember, however, that they are only figures of these things, and that in the antitype, the man rejected is the same as He who had been put to death.
EN 5In chap. 5, we have the family of God upon the earth, subject to death but depositary of the counsels and of the testimony of God. Here we may remark Enoch, who has his portion in heaven, and who bears witness to the coming of Jesus; and Noah, who preaches righteousness and judgment, and who passes through the judgments to begin a new world. Finally, we find power and force here below, the result of the sons of God not keeping their first estate-of apostasy—and God executes judgment instead of pleading with men by the testimony of His Spirit in grace, which has its allotted term. The judgment of God is accomplished; but he remembers His mercy. He blesses the earth more than before; and the sweet savor of the sacrifice assures the world that a universal deluge will never recur. God makes a covenant with the creation to this effect. Government is established in the hand of Man, and Death begins to furnish him with nourishment. It does not appear to me, that before this, there had been either government or idolatry. There had been sin against God, violence without restraint against one another, and corruption.. The government confided to Noah loses immediately its honor. The earth, relieved (as Lamech had announced) by agricultural care, becomes in its fruits a snare to Noah, who becomes intoxicated, and his own son dishonors him, on whose race consequently the curse falls.
Chapters 10 and 11, give us the world as it was peopled and established after the deluge. The posterity of Noah out of which, from the race of Ham, arises the first power which rules by its own force and founds an empire; and then we have the universal association of men to exalt themselves against God, and make to themselves a name independently of Him, an effort stamped on God's part with the name of Babel, and which ends in judgment and in the dispersion of the race, thenceforth jealous of and hostile to one another. Lastly, we have the genealogy of the race by which God was pleased to name Himself; for God is the Lord God of Shen. But here we change entirely the whole system and order of thought; and a principle, in exercise without doubt from the beginning, but not manifested in the order of things, declares itself and comes into evidence in the history of the earth. Abraham is called, chosen, and made personally the depositary of the promises. Here, although it be not mentioned in Genesis, in order that this great principle may be preserved in its own purity as an act of God, there is a fact which it is well to remark-that the history of the Bible furnishes us with elsewhere; namely, that idolatry had at this time gained a footing in the family of Shem himself. " Your fathers," says Joshua (24:2), dwelt in old time beyond the flood," Terah the father of Abraham and father of Nahor: and they served other gods." Now these gods were devils (1 Cor. 10:2020But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. (1 Corinthians 10:20), it is a citation of Deut. 32:1717They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. (Deuteronomy 32:17)). That is, that (now that God had interfered in judgment and in power) these demons had possessed themselves of this position in the spirit of man, and taken the place in his mind of the sources of this authority and blessing, and of the authors of those judgments which drew forth the worship, the gratitude, and the terror of the natural heart of corrupted man, according to the principles on which he was in relationship with those superior beings, to whom he attributed the power to answer his desires or to avert the things which he feared. It was not merely man corrupted and in rebellion against God, it was his religion itself which corrupted him; and he made of his corruption a religion. The demons had taken the place of God in his mind, and having the ascendancy over his conscience, hardened or misled it. He was religiously bad; and there is no degradation like that. What a state! What folly! How long, O Lord? But if the human race plunges thus into darkness, taking demons for their God, and, incapable of self-sustainment, substitute for their own rebellion against God-servitude to what is more elevated in rebellion, placing themselves in miserable dependence upon it, God raises and lifts us up above all this evil, and by His calling introduces us into His own thoughts-thoughts far more precious than the restoration of what was fallen. He separates a people to hopes which suit the majesty and the love of Him who calls them, and places them in a position of proximity to Himself, which the blessing of the world under His government would never have given them. He is their God. He communicates with them in a way which is in accord with this intimacy, and we hear speak for the first time of faith (xv. 6) based on these communications and these direct testimonies of God.
(* Flood; or river גחר)
From the 12th chapter there is developed a new order of events, which refer to the call of God, to His covenants, to His promises, to the manifestation of His people, to the counsels of God. Before the deluge, it was man such as he was-fallen before God. Afterward, God having interposed in judgment, it was the government of the world and its consequences; but, the nations being established and having submitted themselves to the power of demons, the call of God, His people (seed of the depositary of the promises) rise up to our view.
In the outset, Abram still held to his family; or at least if it held to him he did not break with it: and though he quitted his country on the call of God, he stops as far from the land of promise as before. In fine, he sets out as God had said to him. We have then Abram called by the manifestation of the glory of God (comp. Acts 7) for the journey of faith. The promises are given to him, whether of a numerous posterity or of the blessing of all the families of the earth, in him. He sets out-he arrives. There are not many experiences in a path which is purely of faith; power is there. In the history of Jacob we have many. Arrived in Canaan, he enters into possession of nothing. Such is our own ease. But the Lord reveals Himself to him in communion, speaks with him, unfolds to him how the promise will be accomplished, and Abraham thereon worships Him. He has in the land his tent and his altar. The rest of the chapter is the history of his want of faith. Pressed by circumstances, he does not consult God, finds himself in the presence of the world, and denies his true relationship with his wife, is cherished by the world, which God at last judges, sending Abraham again out from it. During this period, and until he was returned to the place from which he started, he had no altar. What a warning for Christians as to the relationship of the Church with Christ! I would recall here a remark made elsewhere, that the woman in types presents the position in which those prefigured are placed-the man, the conduct faithful or unfaithful of those who are there. After this, we have the disinterestedness and self-renunciation of true faith, and, on the other hand, him, who, though a believer, had as regards the walk of faith only followed that of another, put to the test by circumstances which arise: he chooses the world fair in appearance, but the scene soon after and object of what did not appear-the sure judgments of God. The self-renunciation of Abraham is the occasion of a much clearer knowledge of the extent, and a still firmer assurance of the certainty, of the promise. In a word, we have the believer of the heavenly calling-the faithful believer and the worldly-minded, believer. This last suffers from the iniquity by which he is surrounded, and undergoes the ravages of the power of the world, of which Abraham is victor, and of which he will receive nothing to enrich himself. These last circumstances are the occasion of the manifestation of the kingly Priest, King of Righteousness, and King of Peace, i.e. Christ, Millennial King of the world, blessing victorious Abraham; and on Abraham's behalf, the Most High God, who had delivered his enemies into his hand.
EN 15Chapter 15 We have the detailed instruction of the Lord to Abram regarding the earthly seed and the land given to him, the whole confirmed by a covenant where God, as light to guide and furnace to try, deigns to bind Himself to the accomplishment of the whole. Death makes it sure. Jehovah confirms thus the covenant in going through it; Abram, heir of the promises, undergoes the terror and shadow of it. It is not here precisely expiation, but what belonged to the confirmation of the promises by the only thing which could establish them in favor of man a sinner. Abram seeking to anticipate the will of God and the accomplishment of the promise in its time,-we have the covenant of the law in Hagar, the source of distress and disquietude. God, however, takes care of the seed according to the flesh.
EN 17Chapter 17 We have the manifestation of Jehovah to Abram, who, exhorting him to walk before his face and to be perfect, establishes him father of many nations, with the promise to multiply him greatly; and makes a covenant with him to this effect-to be a God to him and to his seed after him, and to give to him and to his seed after him the land Wherein he was a stranger; and institutes circumcision as the distinctive sign of the covenant. But he recognized the seed of promise as alone having part in the covenant (compare Rom. 4:10-1310How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision. 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also: 12And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. 13For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:10‑13)). All these promises are without condition. The immediate promise of the arrival of the seed is given. Abraham enjoys the most intimate communion with Jehovah, who reveals His counsels to him as to his friend. Intercession is the fruit of this revelation (compare Isa. 6). Judgment falls on the world; and whilst Abraham, on the top of the mountain, communes with God of the judgment which was to fall upon the world below where he was not, Lot, who had taken his place there, is saved so as by fire. Righteousness which walks with the world puts itself in the position of judge, and is at the same time useless and intolerable. Abraham escapes all judgment, and sees it from on high. Lot is saved from the judgment which falls upon the world in which he found himself the place where Abraham enjoyed God is for him a place of sterility and fear; he is forced to take refuge there in the end, because he is afraid to be anywhere else. Abraham denies his relationship with his wife, and is reproved by the world itself, who knows better than he what she should be. God, however, guards the promises in His faithfulness, and judges that which meddles with her who has to say to them. The heir of promise is born; and the heir according to the flesh, son of the bondwoman or of the law, is entirely rejected. Now Abraham reproves the powerful of the earth, before whom he had previously denied his relationship with his wife.
A new scene now opens. The heir of the promise is sacrificed and raised again in figure, and the promise is resumed to the seed. The ancient depositary or form of the covenant (even that of promise) mother of the heir, disappears. For the risen heir, Abraham sends Eleazar the steward of his house, to seek a wife-for his only son Isaac -in the country whither Isaac was not to return;-in the world, such as it is: beautiful figure of the mission of the Holy Spirit, who, fulfilling His office with the elect of God, the Lamb's wife in the counsels of God, conducts her across the desert to her heavenly bridegroom, already adorned with His gifts, but waiting the moment when she shall see Him who is heir of all things that belong to His Father. The walk of the Spirit in man is depicted in the most instructive manner in the details of this history. We have also the election of God, which now sets apart the earthly people Jacob. Jacob values the promises of God; but if Lot was attracted by the well-watered plain, the unbelief of Jacob was manifested in the use of carnal means to obtain them, instead of waiting upon God. Thus his years were " few and evil; " and he was continually the object of similar deceit too. But if in Isaac we have a risen Christ, bridegroom of the Church which the Holy Ghost is descended to seek here below for Him who is on high, in Jacob we have Israel driven out of the land of promise, kept of God to enjoy it afterward. I believe, however, that in his marriages we have the Lord, who, loving Israel, has first received the Gentiles or the Church, and then the Jews.
The wanderings of Abraham were in the land of promise; those of Jacob, out of it; two things very different one from another. God indeed was with Jacob, and never left him; but Abraham walked with God: in the realization of His presence he built his altar. Jacob had none. For such a path takes us out of communion. Although God in His faithfulness be with us, we are not with Him. At the return of Jacob, the hosts of God came to meet him. This does not remove his terror. God, in order not to leave him in the hands of Esau, deals with him Himself. He wrestles with him, sustaining at the same time his faith in the wrestling, and, after making him feel his weakness, and that for all his life, gives him in weakness the place and part of victor. He is a prince with God, and prevails with God and with men. This, however, is not the calm communion of Abraham with Jehovah; he intercedes for others instead of wrestling for himself. So also God does not reveal to Jacob His name, as He had done to Abraham. Jacob still employs his deceitful ways, for he had no thought of going to Seir, as he said, and at last establishes himself at Shechem, buying lands where he ought to have remained a stranger. God removes him out of it. Here, however, he was able to build an altar, using the name which exalted his own position, which took the ground of the blessing which had been granted to him; an act of faith, it is true, but which confined itself to the blessing, instead of rising up to the Blesser. This, indeed, he was not properly able to do yet. However, God led him onward, and now tells him to go up to the place whence he had set out, and there build an altar, where he had entered into covenant with God, the faithful God, who had been with him all the way in which he went. But what a discovery is made here. He must now meet God. He remembers, he knew it well, although he paid no attention to it until he had to meet God,-there were false gods in his family. Meeting God Himself, not in secret and mysterious struggle, but face to face, so to speak, brings all to light. He purifies himself and goes up to Bethel. There God reveals Himself openly to him, in making known His name to him as to Abraham, and confers upon him anew the name of Israel, as if lie had not received it before. Rachel gives birth to him who, child of his mother's sorrow, is the son of his father's right hand, remarkable type of Christ the Lord. The apostate world establishes itself in power, while the heirs of promise are still poor pilgrims upon earth.
What follows from chapter 36 is the interesting history of Joseph, to which even children ever yield a ready ear, although ignorant of all the beauties which the believer finds who knows Jesus, and recognizes his being prefigured there; for there is an intrinsic beauty there, where the heart is not yet hardened, in all that reveals Him. Joseph is heir, in the counsels of God, of the glory, and chief of all the family. His brothers are jealous of this; so much the more, that he is the beloved of his father. He is sold to the Gentiles by his brethren, and, in the figure (that being not possible), instead of being put to death as the Jews did to the true Joseph, is passed for dead. Meanwhile Judah falls into every kind of shame and sin, which does not deprive him, however, of the royal genealogy. Joseph is brought low among the Gentiles; through false accusations put in prison, and " his feet made fast in the stocks"; " the iron enters into his soul" till the time came that his cause was known-the word of the Lord tried him. Rising out of his humiliation, he is elevated, unknown now of his brethren, to the right hand of the throne, and the administration of all power over the Gentiles committed to him. In his humiliation, interpreter of the thoughts and counsels of God; in his elevation, he administers with power according to this same wisdom, and reduces all under the immediate authority of him who was seated on the throne. At the same time, another scene presents itself. His brethren, who had rejected him, forced by the famine, are brought by the path of repentance and humiliation to own him at length in glory whom they had once rejected. Benjamin, type of the power of the Lord upon earth among the Jews, is united to him who, unknown, had the power of the throne among the Gentiles; that is, Christ unites these two characters. Finally, Jacob and his family are placed as a people apart, in the most favored country of all that was under the power of the throne of the great King. Nothing can be more touching than the conduct of Joseph towards his brethren; but I must leave these reflections to the hearts of my readers, placing them, as far as my hearty desires can, under the precious influence of the Spirit of God. It is touching to remark, when Jacob is presented to Pharaoh, though acknowledging that, compared with those of his fathers, his life had been a sad one, he can bless the monarch of all the country, himself a despised shepherd; and " without contradiction the less is blessed of the greater"; the least and most faltering of God's children has the superiority, and is conscious of it in presence of the most elevated men of the world.
One cannot fail to see, in the history of Joseph, one of the most remarkable types of the Lord Jesus, and that in many details of the ways of God in regard to the Jews and Gentiles. Lastly, in chapter 48, we see him heir; the double portion (marks of the eldest heir of the father among the Jews) being given to him (see 1 Chron. 5:1,21Now the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel, (for he was the firstborn; but, forasmuch as he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel: and the genealogy is not to be reckoned after the birthright. 2For Judah prevailed above his brethren, and of him came the chief ruler; but the birthright was Joseph's:) (1 Chronicles 5:1‑2)). We have then the lot of the children of Jacob, and two facts given as a certain pledge of the re-establishment of Israel, left, according to what had been said to Abraham, and in appearance abandoned, in a strange country, whilst the patience of God bore yet with the iniquity of the Amorites, a patience which strikes only when it is impossible to bear the evil any longer.
It seems to me that there is this difference between the prophecies of Jacob and Moses as to the tribes. Here, the prophecy refers to the responsibility of the first parent-source of the tribe, as Reuben, Simeon, Levi; to the counsels of God, which put forward Judah (stock from which the Lord sprung as regards the royalty), and Joseph, type of Christ as Nazarene, separated from his brethren, and afterward exalted. The rest, if we except Benjamin who ravages with power, gives the general characters of the position and conduct of Israel; Dan, of his wickedness and even of his character of traitor. Moses gives rather the history of the people as entering into the country on leaving the wilderness; and we find the priesthood and people, the two points brought into prominence, although power and a special blessing be given to Judah. Remark the beauty of the grace in Joseph (45:7, 8, and 50:17, 19, 20).
(* The word Genesis (Γένεσις) occurs in the Greek New Testament, and is rendered in Matt. 1:11The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1). "Generation;" derived (Greenfield) from Γίνομαι ... to come into existence, be created, exist by creation." The Book of GENESIS would thus be the same as the Book of Creation. It is the name used in the Septuagint for this first book in the Bible-called in the Hebrew Bible בראשיח (at first, or in beginning), which is the first word in the book. I prefer the Hebrew name of the book to the Greek, as being more expressive of dependance upon the text, and in itself more guarded and comprehensive too.-Ed.