Jacob: 21. Jacob's Lowly Son Exalted

Genesis 40‑45  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 12
HERE we must be brief, as we have to do, not with Jacob, but with his sons; so that a mere sketch is all that we would now attempt. As man's and his brethren's part was evil toward the righteous Joseph, God wrought in His admirable providence, and caused what they did to injure only the more to accomplish His purpose of good, as well as to set him in honor who deserved it, but had to pass from one humiliation to a worse.
First we see Joseph concerned with the unhappy looks of Pharaoh's chief cupbearer and chief baker, bound in the same prison with himself. They had each his dream, and were grieved that there was none to interpret. But Joseph, replying that this belongs to God, asks to hear, and furnishes the desired light; which was exactly verified in the death of the baker and the restoration of the cup-bearer (chap. 40.). Next, Pharaoh, at the end of two full years of prison trial to Joseph, has his dreams which not all the scribes nor the sages of Egypt could explain. This woke up the forgetful heart of the restored chamberlain who tells the king of the Hebrew youth; and he, hastily sent for from the dungeon, disclaims any source but God for the king's need. But on hearing he is equally clear that God had sent the dreams to Pharaoh, and enabled him to let Pharaoh see what He Himself was about to do. The word came so simply yet convincingly home to the king and his servants, that none was so fit to direct aright the divinely given light as he who had been the means of making it known; and at one bound Pharaoh set the captive over all the land of Egypt, next to himself on the throne. And here again the prophetic dreams were punctually fulfilled to the immense relief of suffering man (chap. 41.). Among the sufferers (42, 43.) were Jacob and his sons, all but Benjamin being sent by their father to buy the food which Joseph alone could supply. “And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him” (8). And a marvelous forecast follows of the way a greater than Joseph, first suffering from His brethren and the Gentiles, interpreter too of God's wisdom in His humiliation, and exalted to the right hand of the Highest, not only administers the richest blessing to the Gentiles, unknown to His Jewish brethren in their dark unbelief, but adopts deep and efficacious means to bring them to repentance and make Himself known as their Brother and gracious Friend in the day of His glory.
On the details, however instructive and necessary to a life of Joseph, we need not here dilate, beyond pointing out the critical part of the contrivance to make Benjamin prisoner, which drew out Judah's confession and plea at all cost to let this youngest brother return to his father (44). Thereon follows (in chap. 45.) Joseph making himself known to his brethren. And here we look on all as living pictures of that great event which will as surely be accomplished when all Israel shall be saved, by a distinct act of divine grace and power, when the fullness of the Gentiles shall have come in (Rom. 11:25-2725For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (Romans 11:25‑27)). As touching the gospel the Jews are still enemies for the Gentiles' sake; for God is still working among the nations, and not at all yet in a national way with the Jews, who are still unbelieving that He who came of themselves, the rejected Messiah, is exalted on high and has long been the source of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles.
But assuredly the time is at hand when the famished Jews will be brought under His gracious hand, and after secret mercy will be brought to own that the man of God's right hand, the Son of man whom He made strong for Himself, is none other than He whom they so shamelessly rejected and forced on the Gentiles to crucify Him, who in His glory will not be ashamed to call them brethren. In order that this should be a real work in their souls, not as often of old a mere external deliverance, but truly of those written in the book and characterized by genuine faith and repentance, they must pass through a special tribulation which will be disastrous to all who having no conscience toward God become apostate. But it will be blessed greatly to those who are born of God and exercised by their most bitter experience, and at length are brought to fully judge all when they behold in His glory for their rescue and blessing Him whom they recognize as the Messiah they had pierced.
The Psalms and the prophets, as well as the prophetic part of the Revelation, to say nothing of the synoptic Gospels also, cast much light, not on the glorious change only, but on the process employed by the Lord to make Himself known to His brethren. Here tradition has been guilty of a double wrong: by appropriating to Christians all that divine light which will surely be afforded gradually and increasingly when God begins to prepare His ancient people in darkness and error and suffering through a work of grace, however ignorant at first, for the blessed and exalted place they are to have under Messiah and the new covenant in the days of the kingdom, the kingdom no longer in mystery but in manifestation. And how precious will those chapters be, when conscience is truly awakened and exercised, and light dawns surely if slowly on their souls, and the true Joseph is at length made known to His brethren! The work will not be complete, until the sins are judged in the light of His personal presence, His glory and His grace. And what type could be clearer than this chap. 45 affords us! Does this diminish our interest and profit too in anticipating the future? Nay, nor this only; for we may see in Joseph's marriage and his sons the shadow of Christian or church blessing, while He is not yet at all known to His brethren as such.
How sad it is to realize, as we enjoy the various light of Christ's humiliation and glory, that the very principle of the higher criticism is nothing but withering and blinding unbelief. For if there be anything more distinctive of it than another, is it not the denial of true prophecy? And what can be more characteristic of scripture than that such simple narratives as this should be so pervaded with that light divine? Alas! it is equally blind to the heavenly light of Christ, of which His miracles were a very real though far from the highest part. For this reason the apostasy is worse in Christendom than in Israel, however grievous and gross this may have been.