Theme: Spiritual Glorification (Part 1)
(Key Verses: Gen 35:21-29; Gen 37:1-2)
The book of Genesis starts with a general picture of the creation of this physical world with the focus on one individual, the first man Adam. All of these physical things or visible things of creation are used by God to serve as types of an inward spiritual process which He is working to bring His spirit life through another individual, the last Adam, even Jesus Christ, through whom all things actually have their being from the beginning to the conclusion of this process (Rom 1:20; Rom 5:14; Act 17:28; John 1-1-5; Col 1:15-19; Rev 1:8):
1Co 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
This narrowing down process is repeated throughout scripture to also emphasize this important truth which few can accept:
Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
God indeed has His chosen favourites through whom He works His plan to bring all to spiritual maturity eventually (Eph 1:3-12). Through the creation of heaven and earth, God also brought about two generational lines through Adam and his wife Eve, which again highlights God’s election and how He works with His chosen few to bring forth His purposes and desires (Gen 3:15; Rom 8:5; Gal 5:17; 1Jn 3:1-3; 1Jn 3:12-13). Naturally we all start off with the spirit of the world in us which opposes and hates the new spiritual generation in Christ, but the few chosen eventually become aware of their election in this age (1Jn 2:16; Rom 8:14-17). But through the life of Noah we see that this narrowing down process applies even within those who are called and chosen as the sons of God, as God has a faithful few that will endure until the end (Mat 24:13; Mar 13:13; Heb 12:7; Rev 17:14):
Gen 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
Gen 6:2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
From the whole human population on the entire earth, and from the chosen sons of God of that time, only eight people were saved through faithful Noah (2Pe 2:5):
Gen 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
Gen 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
Gen 6:10 And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
After the flood, the narrowing down process is highlighted again through the generation of Shem, Noah’s one son who received the blessing from God above his other brothers (Gen 9:26-27). Through the offspring of Shem, the focus moves swiftly in the scriptures to the life of Abraham where much more detail is given to us about this man of faith and his descendants (Gen 10:21-32; Gen 11:10-31; 1Ch 1:17-27). Through faithful Abraham, we see the type of spiritual justification which comes through the faith of Christ in us (Rom 4:1-3; Gal 3:6-9). This justification by faith also establishes the foundation from which our Isaac, a type of spiritual sonship in Christ, is entrenched and developed (Gal 3:26-29; Rom 8:14-23):
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Gal 3:29 And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Through the life of Jacob, we learn about the rights of the firstborn of the spirit of God, even our inheritance through Christ (Deu 21:15-17; Rom 8:29; Jas 1:18). As sons of God we also learn through the life of Jacob that the process of sanctification is a long and enduring work of God by which He positions us in the right place to function in God’s kingdom and to serve Him and those we are joined with in His body (1Co 12:12; Eph 4:16; Eph 5:31; Col 2:19). Sanctification has to do with getting purged from immature lusts driven by pride and self-righteousness:
2Ti 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
2Ti 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
After the experiences of Jacob and his family in Shechem and Bethel, and also after the death of Rachel in Ephrath, they journeyed farther with their tents – now under the new name as the family of Israel (the prince that prevails with God):
Gen 35:21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.
A tower usually spiritually refers to an elevation in us, whether it is the high-mindedness of the carnal mind of flesh, or the mind of Christ in us (Gen 6:5; Gen 11:1-6; 2Co 10:5; 1Jn 2:16; Psa 61:3; Psa 144:2; Pro 18:10). The name “Edar” refers to a flock, and it is the flock of Jacob (his own offspring) on whom the spotlight of the scriptures falls in this last section of Genesis. This period in the lives of the sons of Jacob also relates to how the tower of God (His mind) is established to bring in God’s spiritual rulership through the destruction of all human towers, even as typified by the life of Joseph (Jdg 9:51-54; Pro 18:10; Isa 30:25). Jacob was given twelve sons – the first ten sons were all from three different women: Leah, Jacob’s lesser loved wife bore him six sons; two sons from Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid, and two sons from Bilhah the handmaid of Rachel. But the last two sons, Joseph and Benjamin, were born from his favourite wife, Rachel:
Gen 35:23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:
Gen 35:24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:
Gen 35:25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:
Gen 35:26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram.
With Jacob’s return to Canaan, his father Isaac was on his last days and Jacob and Esau buried him when he died. Rebekah’s death is not mentioned in scripture, only the place of her grave with the buryingplace which Abraham bought for his family (Gen 49:30-32):
Gen 35:27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.
Gen 35:28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.
Gen 35:29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Although both Esau and Jacob came together to bury their father, their two households or generations are used in the scriptures as opposing each other, again emphasizing this theme in scripture of the flesh’s opposition to the spirit (Gal 5:17). But now this opposition or contrast shows its application within the household of Jacob. It is this more intimate division in us which needs to be exposed, although painfully so. This also applies to the church of God as the apostle Paul also warns:
1Co 11:18 For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.
1Co 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.
It is indeed through the life of Joseph and what he stood for, that we see how the house of Jacob is divided and disintegrating, to manifest Joseph’s approval by God. It is also through Joseph that the house of Jacob will eventually be reunited after many years of alienation. The theme of spiritual glorification is brought to us through these typical experiences of Joseph – from almost being killed by the brothers who hated him, to be eventually placed in the highest authority at that time, to rule the whole world of his day. What Jesus mentioned and which was written down in Matthew concerning this road of spiritual glorification for His spiritual generation, sounds very familiar when we look at the life of Joseph, who was to be “separated from his brethren” (Gen 49:26):
Mat 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Mat 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Mat 19:30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
This is the road of the elect in Christ who are being changed “from glory to glory” to be His true spiritual rulers on this earth, and they will also be the judges who will sit with Him on thrones:
2Co 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Through Joseph we learn so much about how rulership of this world is established (inwardly first), and how this process of spiritual glorification is masterfully worked by God in His elect (Psa 73:24; Isa 60:1-2; Isa 66:5; 2Th 1:12; 1Pe 5:10). This is how the apostle Paul described this process by which the spiritual sons of God are made faithful to be glorified in the Christ
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Rom 8:18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
Yes, it is only through suffering with Christ that we are glorified to bring fulfillment to God’s plan of salvation for all mankind (Eph 1:4-6):
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
The experiences of Joseph are first given to us in the scriptures when he was at the age of seventeen where he, even at this young age, showed a strong desire for the truth, even at the risk of losing his life at that age:
Gen 37:1 And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan.
Gen 37:2 These are the generations of Jacob [as per Genesis 35:23-26]. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report [Hebrew: “dibbâh” = slander].
The first aspect that is mentioned here in terms of Joseph and his relationship with his ten brothers is this aspect of “their evil report”. In spiritual terms the number ten relates to the flesh, and this physical age is an evil experience which is the report we must first live by (Ecc 1:13). We are first these ten brothers of Joseph before we are given to see and acknowledge our own evil report to our heavenly Father. The Hebrew word for “report” in verse 2 is the word “dibbâh” which means “slander” and this connects with ‘unbridled’ words and deceitful and evil actions (Rom 2:23-24; Eph 2:2-3; Eph 4:22; Php 1:27; Heb 13:5; Jas 1:26). Joseph’s fearlessness in bringing the slanderous words and deeds of his brothers to his father’s attention is very insightful. This slanderous report also relates to those who honour and glorify themselves believing they are God’s shepherds, but in doing so they rather bring dishonour to God. They twist God’s Word and reject His true doctrines (Jer 23:1-2; Jer 50:6). The faithful sons of God will have no fear or show no favour in bringing to the light these evil slanders of the unfaithful shepherds or the “hireling” who opposes the truth and flee when trouble comes to the flock (Joh 10:1-18; Tit 1:9):
Eph 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Eph 5:12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
Eph 5:13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
Jacob is on the receiving end of all these evil slanders of these ten sons. The evil report of the deeds of Simeon and Levi, which was previously also brought to Jacob, caused him trouble and made his name “to stink among the inhabitants of the land” (Gen 34:30). The evil in the hearts of Simeon and Levi was revealed after their sister, Dinah, was raped by the son of the prince of Shechem (his name was also Shechem). Some of the sons of Jacob made a deceitful deal of forgiveness with Shechem and his father to have all the men of Shechem circumcised to allow intermingling and intermarriage between the two groups. But Simeon and Levi slaughtered these men of Shechem on the third day after their circumcision while they were still in great pain. But after this horrible series of events in Jacob’s household, yet another evil report concerning his family reached Jacob:
Gen 35:22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.
Reuben, the eldest son of Jacob, slept with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and this slanderous act was severely condemned by Jacob, even in his final words on his deathbed:
Gen 49:3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:
Gen 49:4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.
The reports of these acts of the sons of Jacob were also not what Joseph agreed with or took part in. He was indeed separate from his brothers in these evil slanders against their father. This is not what these brothers wanted him to do as they wanted him to join them in these slanders. Even when they sold Joseph as a slave, they had no problem to report deceitfully to their father Jacob:
Gen 37:31 And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood;
Gen 37:32 And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.
Joseph is a type of Christ, and the world cannot accept the righteous report of God about His Son (Joh 8:18-19; Joh 8:54-59):
Isa 53:1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
The world also cannot accept the report of the Israel of God who declare with boldness that the Christ is indeed the Saviour of all men and that God “will have all men to be saved…to be testified in due time” (Gal 6:16; 1Ti 2:3-6). The world cannot accept that God has His favour on a few whom He elected because the world cannot stomach the fact that God uses “the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty”:
1Co 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
1Co 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Co 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1Co 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
Joseph, like Christ, was seen as an insignificant immature youth by his brothers, and he was despised and not esteemed by them. These evil slanders are what the Christ, Christ and His elected body of believers, will have to face all the time to be glorified (Luk 24:26; Luk 24:46):
Isa 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were ourfaces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
When the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, who had a “different spirit” than the spirit of the world in their fellow Israelites, came to report to Moses about the prosperous conditions of the promised land and that the inhabitants were actually no problem for God in whom they believed, the majority rejected this report because they preferred to believe the evil and faithless report of the other ten spies:
Num 13:32 And they [the ten spies] brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature.
Num 13:33 And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
Num 14:36 And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander [Hebrew: “dibbâh”] upon the land,
Num 14:37 Even those men that did bring up the evil report [Hebrew: “dibbâh”] upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD.
Num 14:38 But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still.
This is what Moses also codified for our learning concerning the false reports which elevate human perspectives:
Exo 23:1 Thou shalt not raise a false report: put not thine hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.
Exo 23:2 Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest [pervert] judgment.
God’s spiritual land and His spiritual promises will bring life to those who can receive His good news report, while the majority or multitude will love the evil and false reports, even coming through modern day news and media agencies highlighting the importance of human efforts and achievements. They do indeed despise the truth that God works all things after the counsel of His will and that nothing is outside of His control. The good report of God includes the judgment of God on our old man and all its false reporting about God (including all human ideologies and false religions). We shall all give an account of our own multitude who murmurs against God and slanders His ways of doing things in this creation:
Rom 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
It is in giving this truthful account that we break ranks with our fleshly brothers in the first Adam and become the target of those whose works do not witness to the light and truth of Christ. As it happened to the righteous Christ, who also reflected openly about the evil reports of His physical Jewish leaders and brothers, so Joseph brought his brothers’ evil report to his father. This action of God’s elect will always inspire more intense hatred and despising in the hearts of those who oppose the truth, as it happened with Joseph’s brothers towards him (Ecc 4:4; Mat 10:22; Joh 10:34). At this point in time Joseph had no idea what evils were still ahead of him, especially at the hands of his own brothers. But in the end, when they all reconciled with him, he could utter this comforting and truthful report to the same brothers:
Gen 45:5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.
The final report that Jacob received about Joseph was the best report of all. The report of death has changed to a report of life, even as all in the body of death of the first Adam will be given the resurrection from that death to be given spirit life in Christ:
Gen 45:24 So he [Joseph] sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.
Gen 45:25 And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
Gen 45:26 And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.
Jacob revived on hearing the words of Joseph and seeing the wagons, typifying the words of Christ and His provisions through them:
Gen 45:27 And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:
Gen 45:28 And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.
After Jacob’s death, Joseph’s brothers still believed he would take revenge on them and could not as yet accept Joseph’s truthful forgiveness, nor could they understand the sovereignty of God over all things in this creation:
Gen 50:18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
Joseph indeed mentioned their evil again, but it was not done to bring up old matters which they thought Joseph kept in his heart against them, but rather he did that to show God’s report to them and that they were part of His plan and His acts:
Gen 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
Gen 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Gen 50:21 Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
Our own evil and slanderous reports will be replaced by God’s truthful report as being the one true God who works all things to bring forth His holy desires (Job 23:13; Isa 46:10). To compile this report of the works which are all caused by our heavenly Father will require us to see that we indeed live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. This is also what Job had to learn through his painful trials which brought increasing maturity in Job:
Job 2:10 But he said unto her [his wife], Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
Our spiritual glorification as ministers of God comes through the acknowledgement of both evil and good reports – “all things are yours” (1Co 3:21-23):
2Co 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
2Co 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
2Co 6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,
2Co 6:7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
2Co 6:8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true;
2Co 6:9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;
2Co 6:10 As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
God created all things for His good purposes and that is why they are very good as He alone can call evil good (Gen 1:31; Isa 5:20). God is the only one who is accountable or responsible for everything in His creation because He designed and structured all reports and accounts long before we even become aware of this truth – our books are all in His book:
Psa 139:16 (ASV) Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance; And in thy book they were all written, Even the days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was none of them.