Theme: Death (Part 4)
(Key Verses: Gen 50:14-21)
The theme of death concludes the book of Genesis which brings such important spiritual aspects to the fore. Through the time of mourning, the preparations for the funeral and the burying of the dead corpse, so much can be spiritually gleaned as to how we are to deal with our old man. The elect of God know that through the baptism into the death of Jesus, dominion over sin and freedom from the bondages of our old man are indeed achieved (Rom 6:9-17):
Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Rom 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Rom 6:4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
Rom 6:5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of hisresurrection:
Rom 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified [Greek aorist tense = an ongoing process] with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
Rom 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.
Through the death of Christ and our dying with Him, the resurrected life of Christ is working in us to yield our physical bodies to be “servants of righteousness unto holiness” (Gal 2:20):
Rom 6:18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
Rom 6:19 I [Paul] speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
In the process of dying to the old self, we become the instruments of God to bring healing to this broken world, even in establishing more secure relationships, which we see with Joseph and his family. It was with the death of Jacob in Egypt and his burial in Canaan that the rest of the family of Joseph, especially his ten brothers, finally had to come to terms with their guilt and sin:
Gen 50:14 And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.
On their return to Egypt, these brothers of Joseph finally opened their hearts to him about the things which haunted them for seventeen years while they lived in Egypt under his care:
Gen 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
When death occurs it brings forward the need for healing. In this discussion we will see how Joseph is also the type of those who are chosen by God to heal the broken-hearted:
Psa 34:18 The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
Isa 61:1 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.
The natural law versus the spiritual law
When we listen cautiously to what people say, and when we carefully observe their actions, we can detect the condition of the heart. It was Jesus who also declared that from the abundance of the heart “fruit” is brought forth through words and actions (Mat 7:17-20; Luk 6:43-44):
Luk 6:45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
The natural man’s heart is filled with “evil treasures” from its creation by God’s design and purpose, even as the thorns and thistles were part of the six-day creation before their hearts were manifested through sin (Isa 45:7; Gen 1:11-13; Gen 3:17-19; Jas 1:14-15). Like Adam and Eve, we are all ignorant of all the evil in our hearts, which is only revealed to us at the appointed time. The brothers of Joseph also needed to come to see themselves for what they were – marred vessels in the hand of the Potter (Jer 18:1-6). But first we naturally want to do to others as they have done to us, which is just part of the natural law in our evil hearts:
Exo 21:23 And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life,
Exo 21:24 Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,
Exo 21:25 Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.
The natural man is an unholy sinful man, and he follows the natural laws of his evil heart (1Ti 1:8-10). This “life-for-life” philosophy, of course, is not what the spiritual law of Christ propagates (Mat 5:38-42):
Pro 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I [God] will render to the man according to his work.
These ten brothers of Joseph believed Joseph will act the way they would have done if he were in their shoes. But Joseph was different from them even as the natural law is totally the opposite to the spiritual law of Christ. Joseph is a type of the new man in Christ whom God inspires to do “His good pleasure” according to the law of Christ. This is a strange thing for the world, as they cannot grasp, for example, how anyone can love the enemies who want to kill them. But those who are dead to self and alive in Christ, follow Christ, and they indeed do His commandments which are counterintuitive to the natural mind:
Rom 12:17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
Rom 12:18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Rom 12:19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance ismine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Rom 12:20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Rom 12:21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
In Joseph’s time of rulership in Egypt he actually gave shelter and food to these very brothers who hated and despised him so badly (Gen 37:4-36). Joseph’s journey from the pit in Canaan to the throne in Egypt is a type of the resurrection from the dead for those in the first resurrection. Joseph “kept his soul in well doing” all the time, and this is one of the attributes which they have whom God has chosen to be rulers during the thousand year reign on earth – those who came up in the blessed and holy first resurrection (1Pe 4:19; Rev 20:1-6). These rulers in the first resurrection overcame the hatred and the despising of their enemies through the love of Christ in them (1Jn 5:1-4). Joseph ruled over those whom he overcame with love and obedience, and that applies to the elect of God. It is only the overcomers in Christ who can “keep His works unto the end” and who will rule the nations with a rod of iron:
Rev 2:26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
Rev 2:27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
Even as the hearts of those brothers of Joseph were still as evil and deceitful under his rule and provisions for seventeen years in Egypt, even so will be the hearts of those nations and people during the thousand year period of God’s rulership here on earth through His elect in Christ. Joseph’s brothers were in need of correction – their hearts needed to be broken in shivers. Even during the time of the exodus from Egypt, these twelve tribes of Israel were constantly tempting God as they did not obey God’s instructions:
Num 14:22 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice.
It needed a new generation to enter the promised land as the old generation, which typifies the flesh with all its unbelief, must fall in the desert:
Heb 3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
Heb 3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?
Heb 3:19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.
Acknowledging the sin and evil we are guilty of
Like Joseph, the elect of God is chosen to bring God’s spiritual health to people within their broken relationships. The first thing we see in Joseph’s brothers, which brings a positive step to the healing process, was that they could actually acknowledge the evil which they did to him:
Gen 50:15 And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
“…all the evil which we did” is an important step in the salvation process – to give an honest account to God. But acknowledging the evil man of sin in us, and in the process experience shocking revelations about ourselves, is but the “beginning of sorrows”:
Mat 24:3 And as he [Jesus] sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Mat 24:4 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
Mat 24:5 For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
Mat 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
Mat 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
Mat 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Like all of us believed at some time, the ten brothers thought that by asking and receiving forgiveness for their sin that petition will cancel God’s righteous judgment:
Gen 50:16 And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
Gen 50:17 So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father.
These instructions of Jacob are not recorded in the scriptures, except here through the mouths of his sons, but we can see how the heart of man works concerning the process of God’s judgment. When the evil of our natural man is revealed to us, we are first obsessed with forgiveness and not with restitution and judgment. Restitution and judgement is part and parcel of forgiveness (Exo 22:1-14; Lev 6:2-5; Psa 37:21; Luk 19:1-10). Forgiveness is not a big problem with God as He actually has forgiven us in Christ. However it is something for which we still need to be asking and also giving to others on a daily basis (Mat 6:12; Eph 4:32; 1Jn 1:8). The purpose for this is to teach us humility which only comes through the whole process of judgment. Humility is indeed an important aspect in the healing of broken relationships (Mat 8:5-10; Mat 9:20-22). This we also see in this approach of the brothers of Joseph after the death of Jacob (this death of Jacob refers to the death of our old man). If we know that God is working all things after His will and He alone is responsible for all things, including the sins we commit, we will know why we need to give an account of that sin when we also acknowledge His sovereignty in all:
Rom 14:11 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.
Rom 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
It is only through much tribulation that we can enter into God’s kingdom to receive the new heart to walk in His righteousness – His “pure and white linen and having [our] breasts girded with golden girdles”:
Act 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
Isa 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
This sounds very familiar:
Joh 11:35 Jesus wept.
We weep indeed when we see the unbelief in them who are not yet given to see what we can see:
Luk 19:41 And when he [Jesus] was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
Luk 19:42 Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.
It is actually on the basis of other’s unbelief that we have found how God’s mercy for us works:
Rom 11:30 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:
Rom 11:31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.
Rom 11:32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
But the weeping of Joseph and Jesus in these verses mentioned above also shows their compassion – their association with flesh for what it is. Deep compassion drives the words and actions of God’s elect to be His instruments for healing. When we cannot see the loving character of God and cannot see His righteous purposes with all, we will believe a false doctrine which paints God as very confused and puzzled as to why His creatures will not listen to Him or accept His Son. This false doctrine unashamedly propagates that a frustrated God who will burn all these evil creatures for all eternity to His delight and pleasure, but the scriptures are clear that this concept of an eternal hell never entered God’s mind:
Jer 7:31 And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my heart.
God is in total control of everything and has a perfect plan which is still working 100% since its inception. It is the “high places” in the pride-filled minds of evil men where this belief that God will burn His sons and daughters in a literal fire “for ever and ever” is promulgated. God in His love indeed recompenses and judges evil and disobedience with His “sore judgments”, which include His spiritual fire (Jer 5:14; Jer 23:29; Eze 14:21; 1Co 3:13-15; Heb 12:29; Rev 20:11-15). Although Joseph tormented his brothers when they came to Egypt to buy food and they could not recognise him, he still loved them and had compassion on them. Joseph could not be this person if he did not go through the very same process of humiliation and judgment ahead of his family – this is the “two-edged” principle of God’s Word (Psa 149:4-9):
Heb 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
What applies to others, indeed applies to us. God’s righteous torment in His judgment is first on our own old man before we are giving the “honour” to execute judgments on others – when the beam is removed from our own eye (1Pe 4:17; Psa 149:9; Mat 7:5). It is the angels, who are the servants and messengers of God, who are carrying and bearing the plagues before it is given to all others to cause them to enter God’s holy temple (Gal 6:17; 1Pe 4:17):
Rev 15:6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.
Rev 15:7 And one of the four beasts gave unto the seven angels seven golden vials full of the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever.
Rev 15:8 And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.
We learn through this first-hand experience that His judgment is indeed merciful and loving toward every spiritual son He receives (Heb 12:6). It is not an eternal thing, as Joseph’s brothers also believed Joseph was keeping the evil which they did to him in his heart all those years. This false doctrine that God’s vengeance and anger goes on forever and ever, as some translations have it, is such an evil accusation against a holy and forgiving God. God is purposeful in everything He does. Yes, even His torment has an aim in mind – it does not continue “for ever and ever” as that is not a good translation of the Greek word “aiōn”:
Rev 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
Rev 14:10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever [Greek: “eis aiōn aiōn” = the eons of the eons]: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Rev 14:12 Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.
The words “here is the patience of the saints” give us an idea what this torment of God will achieve in us. When God’s purposes are fulfilled, the torment also will end – and for all eventually!
Gen 50:17 …..And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
Gen 50:18 And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
Every knee will bow before Jesus when they can see what the plan of God was all about – to receive the spirit of God and to be His children:
Php 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
Php 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1Co 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
Vengeance indeed belongs to God
God will never leave sin to continue forever in His creation, or go unpunished. We can trust in His righteous, yet merciful judgement. Joseph knew that vengeance is not his, but God’s prerogative:
Gen 50:19 And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
We should not fear man, but we do fear God, for vengeance belongs to Him alone:
Heb 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
These words of Joseph did not give his brothers an escape route. It just confirmed here that judgment will be fulfilled in the second resurrection for all who are not part of God’s elect (Rev 20:11-15). Evil and sin is extremely the opposite of God’s holy character, and this is also what Joseph wanted to emphasize here in these words:
Gen 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me….
It is only God who can use evil for good, as He also warns us in these words:
Isa 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
We fear God alone, and we do not see the hand of evil man as separate from the hand of God. This is how we know that even Satan is God’s hand, as God puts forth Satan to bring torment to Job:
Job 2:4 And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.
Job 2:5 But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Job 2:6 And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.
Joseph knew how God worked through them, but his brothers had a limited and restricted view of what God was doing. Their evil thoughts and deeds against Joseph were indeed coming from their hearts, even as God controls the “preparation of the heart of man” and knows our thoughts “afar off” (Pro 16:1; Psa 139:2):
Gen 50:20 But as for you, ye thought evil against me, God meant it [the evil] unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Joseph comforted his brothers
From the viewpoint of the natural man things are out of control and this brings panic to the carnal mind. But from God’s point of view, His heavenly view which He shares with His elect, this is all 100% on track as He planned it before the beginning of this physical or carnal age:
1Ti 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
1Ti 2:2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
1Ti 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
1Ti 2:4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
1Ti 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
1Ti 2:6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
Like Joseph, Christ will nourish everyone He created in Adam, and He will speak kindly to them:
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.
When we have come through the trials and tribulations of this life, we are comforted by God to know why it all happened. And with that comfort we reach out to those in sincerity and truth:
2Co 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
2Co 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
2Co 1:5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
2Co 1:6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
2Co 1:7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.