Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Parallels of JOSEPH and JESUS (and Church history)

Our church just finished an excellent series of messages on the life of Joseph (the one from Genesis). All of them showed that Joseph was a man of integrity and the stories provided good material for application to our lives. But the positive note took a slight twist for the last message. Before I get to that (see ** below), I think it would be good to go over how Joseph is an excellent parallel to the Messiah and church history.
In the Godhead of Elohim, Yeshua was the Father’s only beloved Son, while Joseph was the most beloved son to his father Jacob. This favoritism set the stage for rivalry with his brothers. It was heightened even more by the dreams that Joseph had. Dreams and visions were given about Yeshua as well through Anna and Simeon in Mary’s hearing; she pondered them in her mind and stored them in her heart, as Jacob did to the stories that Joseph told. “There we were, binding sheaves in the field, when behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright. And your sheaves bowed down to my sheave.” To this the brothers sneered, “Shall you indeed reign over us?” They hated him for this. Then, in another dream, Joseph said to his father and brothers, “The sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to me!” In disbelief and disgust, the brothers seethed with hatred, but Jacob stored these things away. Yeshua, who made the sun, moon, and stars, was sent by His Father to visit His Jewish kinsmen. Though some received Him gladly, many were offended and hated Him without a cause. So too, Joseph was sent by his father to visit his brothers; when they saw him approaching in his special coat, they were incensed. They tore off Joseph’s coat, threw him into a pit, and said “we'll see what comes of his dreams”. They sat around eating a meal and conspired what to do with him. So too, the chief priests and other authorities conspired how to get rid of the trouble maker Yeshua: “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people. (We'll wait for the right time)” Joseph’s brothers, because of the intervention of Reuben, decided to fake Joseph’s death and sell him as a slave. They killed a sheep, and dipped his coat into the blood. It was this act of dipping that would preserve the remembrance of the betrayal. During the Passover, Yeshua said, "He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me." We dip the karpas in the salt water to remember this. Judas found the chief priests and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" And they counted out to him 30 pieces of silver. Seeing a caravan approaching, the brothers went out to it and sold Joseph as a slave for 20 pieces of silver. 
And so the trap was set; the chief priest’s soldiers arrested Yeshua at night and after a brief interrogation and false accusations, he was brought down the winding steps of a pit like dungeon where He waited out the night. In the morning, he was brought before Pontius Pilate and then faced the Roman soldiers. They stripped off His garments, flogged and mocked Him and led Him out to be crucified. Though the Lord was with Joseph in Potiphor’s house, he was falsely accused and sent to prison where he met the baker and the cup bearer. They both had dreams that Joseph interpreted; he prophesied that one would die and one would live. So too, Yeshua was hung between two criminals; they both spoke with Yeshua and He said that one would die and one would be with Him in paradise.  Yeshua died to pay the price of salvation; He rose to make the transaction complete. 
Yeshua was 30 years old when he began His ministry as the second highest authority in the universe. Joseph was 30 years old when he began His service as the second highest authority in the world. His dreams were finding their fulfillment through the irony of a famine that caused his brothers to come down to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph’s brothers came in and they bowed down before Joseph. They did not recognize Joseph because He did not look like the brother they remembered. He was clean shaven, dressed in Egyptian clothes, and did not speak Hebrew. 
In the first century, Messianic Jews and Gentile Christians composed what Paul called the mystery of the Fellowship which was/is the Body of Messiah. For 30 years they fellowshipped together in harmony.  But when this Body was split apart by the Great Jewish Revolts of 70 and 132 AD and the ensuing two centuries of Roman history, the founding Messianic fathers were forced into obscurity and the Gentile converts were scattered into disparate colonies where they distanced themselves from their Jewish roots. When these Christians emerged from the catacombs two centuries later, the Holy Roman Empire was convening councils and enacting rules against the Jews that would not see their equal until the Nazis replicated their restrictions 1600 years later. If you were a Jew then and saw the Jesus that was on display, you wouldn’t have recognized him. The Jesus who was portrayed did not look like the brother you expected. He was dressed in Roman clothes, did not speak Hebrew, had nothing good to say about Torah, and persecuted the Jews with disdain. And so the test that Joseph put his brothers through (to test their motives) would find its counterpart in the centuries that have lead up until our own day. Just as Joseph revealed himself to his brothers when he sensed that they had changed, so Yeshua will reveal Himself to his brothers when he senses that his brothers have changed (Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord). The Church needs to create an environment where such a  statement is possible.
** But there is more to the story of Joseph. Up until now, he has been a model of integrity and high character. He was tested through pain, poverty, sexual temptation, and rejection without failing a test. But when he was given the power and wealth of the kingdom, he mostly failed the test. Chapter 47 shows the economic and social change that he enforced. God is not mentioned and the steps that were taken were harsh and manipulative. The people didn’t starve, it’s true, but they lost their freedom.
Geness 47:11-27  "And Joseph situated his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. Then Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father's household with bread, according to the number in their families. Now there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine. And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought; and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, "Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed." Then Joseph said, "Give your livestock, and I will give you bread for your livestock, if the money is gone." So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys. Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year. When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, "We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. "Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh; give us seed, that we may live and not die, that the land may not be desolate." Then Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh's. Then Joseph said to the people, "Indeed I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh. Look, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. "And it shall come to pass in the harvest that you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. Four-fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and for your food, for those of your households and as food for your little ones." So they said, "You have saved our lives; let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants." And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have one-fifth, except for the land of the priests only, which did not become Pharaoh's. So Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions there and grew and multiplied exceedingly.”
You may recall that the Egyptian kingdom at this time was run by the Hyksos, which was a Semitic people group that invaded Egypt from the East before Joseph arrived. As such, they oppressed the ethnic Egyptians and were friendly to the Hebrews. Yes, Joseph’s dealings with the Egyptians saved their lives, but it was done in such a way that the Egyptians were embittered. When Egypt finally expelled the Hyksos many years later, the ethnic Egyptians had a score to settle with the Hebrews and they enslaved them bitterly.
When the seven year famine was over in Egypt, Jacob’s family did not go back to the land of “Israel”. Goshen was lush and familiar. Why go back to that barren place on the other side of the desert? Life is good here. And so historical inertia kept them there until God heard their cry of Ze’ekah! And that is when Moses comes in.

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