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Tus ka 1, 1962.
sought Him sorrowing, and to their anxious questioning He replied, “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business ?” his mother “kept all these sayings and pondered them in her heart.” Parallel passages such as these, though apparently of little moment, are of great significance, as showing the relation between the narratives in the Old Testament and in the New.
Joseph dwelt in communion with his father at Hebron, while his brethren wandered from Hebron to Shechem, from Shechem to Dothan,* now seeking the high lands and anon the springs of water, their earthly occupation engrossing all their thoughts, and even their lawful calling alienating their hearts from him. But the father's heart yearns for them, and he bids his beloved
Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with their flocks, and bring me word again.” But " when they saw him afar off, even before he came unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.” Need we remind the reader of the parable by which, in words so very similar, the Lord of Life unmasked the hatred which filled the hearts of Israel against Himself ? “ Last of all, he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my
But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance."
If the narrative of Joseph's sufferings have any reference to those of Christ (and few will doubt that they have), it is evident that the Spirit has designed to represent in them the twofold rejection of the Son of God by Jew and Gentile. The shameful story of Judah's wrongdoing, intervening between the account of Joseph's being delivered to the Gentiles and of his life in Egypt, renders
* Hebron-joined together; communion. Shechem--the shoulder; a ridge of land. Dothan-two cisterns (a place of good pasturage, where Joseph found his brethren feeding their sheep, because of the abundance of water).
these two circumstances the more distinct. Thus Peter charges Israel not only with being the betrayers, but the murderers, of the Prince of Life, although the Romans actually crucified Him ; while at another time he fixes the charge upon the heathen and the kings of the earth and the rulers, in the words of the second Psalm, combining "Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel,” as the joint perpetrators of the dreadful deed.
In the history of Joseph this is foreshown, with the indefiniteness indeed of a shadow, but with the unmistakeable resemblance which a shadow bears to the substance by which it is cast. Say Joseph's brethren, “Let us slay him and cast him into some pit, and we will say some evil beast hath devoured him; and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Here was the seed which developed itself in fruit when the chief priests, mocking Jesus, with the scribes and elders, said, "If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.” Such is the reception which dreams from God ever meet at the hands of men. But heavenly dreams are surer verities than the realities and facts of earth. How little did Israel think, either in the days of Joseph or of Jesus, that their own rage against the dreamers should be God's means of verifying their dreams of rule.
As soon as Joseph came they stript him of his coat of many colours before they cast him into the pit. The coat was the father's token of his affection, the sign of the honour in which he held the son of his love. They saw no beauty in the dress; love of their father had little place in their hearts, and in stripping Joseph of his coat, they dishonoured their father as well as him. So Jesus said, “I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.” “ He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him." • He that hateth me hateth my Father also.”
While Joseph is in the pit his brethren sit down to eat bread; they have at least for awhile got rid of him. But lifting up their eyes, they see a company of Ishmaelites bearing spicery and balm from Gilead into Egypt. The Ishmaelites were here to find, however, a better balm; here, unexpectedly, should they pick up a treasure of which neither they nor those of whom they bought it could estimate the value. Egypt, through generations yet to come, should rejoice in all her coasts by reason of this Balm of Gilead, sent by God to heal her woes. And is it difficult here to trace the shadow of the Christ that was to come ? How little did the scribes and priests, and elders and people of Israel, think of the priceless treasure they were handing over into Gentile hands. Poor blind Israel! they did not know their King. Surely it had been an honour to Jacob's sons for one of themselves to become so exalted as that they might worship him. But
" The ox knoweth his owner
My people doth not consider me.” “For they that dwell at Jerusalem and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath-day in their ears, they have fulfilled them in condemning him."
And they sold him for ever. No more should Joseph be exclusively their own. When they see him again he shall be great in Egypt-king of another nation; and if his brethren are blessed through him at all, it shall be in subordination to the Gentile people over whom he reigns. Even so, having rejected Jesus, Israel's blessing comes through, and secondary to, the Gentile Church.
Joseph was at first in favour in Egypt; just as Jesus, through his boyhood, grew in favour not only with God,
He was trusted, too; for the world knows well
the value of the honesty and uprightness of men of God. But his master's wife, because he is a goodly person, seeks to ensnare him into sin ; and her darkness being made manifest by the light, she hates him, and Joseph is cast into prison.
Glory to God for those immortal words, “How shall I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” How many a waverer may have been strengthened to endure by that heroic answer; even as, on the other hand, the sin of David and others has been used by some as an excuse for sin.
Joseph did not parley with temptation : he fled away. Discretion is the best part of valour. And down to the days of Paul, the Holy Ghost had revealed no safer way than to "flee fornication.” Joseph would not trust himself: he knew there was a traitor in the camp, a treacherous heart within, and he wisely fled, and got himself out. He might have bethought himself of the consequences of leaving his garment in her hand, but he only troubled himself about pleasing God. The fear of man was not before him, but the fear of God, and so he could boldly say, “ The Lord is my helper : I will not fear what man can do unto me."
There are circumstances in which we must stand our ground and fight, as our Lord did in the wilderness, and put the tempter to flight. But there are others from which the only path of duty is to flee away. Perhaps, however, these may often be avoided. It is possible that had Joseph been fully upon his guard, he might have escaped this temptation. Knowing that to which he was exposed, he might have avoided entering when “there were none of the men of the house within,” or he might have taken the precaution of being accompanied by one of them. Being forewarned we should be forearmed. Our Lord has bid us watch as well as pray, lest we enter into temptation. And the wise man said of old, “Enter not into the
path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” We have seen lately some agonizing requests for prayer to be delivered from besetting sins. Here is the remedy. Look to Calvary. Keep the cross between yourself and sin. Let the blood flow between you and it. Never pass that Rubicon. If you think of it, let it be to devise means to keep it from touching you. For the wheel of nature is combustible stuff, and is easily set on fire of hell. A look ignites it, a touch sets it in a blaze.
The child of faith is a man of sorrow; pre-eminently so the Author and Finisher of faith. The beauty of this world was laid as a snare before the Holy One of God. And as the Saviour was tempted in the days of his flesh, so are his saints to-day. May God the Spirit write upon all our hearts the words wherewith the Lord of Glory silenced the tempter—“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Perhaps there never was a day on which that temptation of our Lord was so literally brought to pass as on this First of May, 1862. The glory of all the kingdoms of the world here lie before us, wooing us to sin. Now, Lord, teach thy children to use this world as not abusing it. Now may the Holy Ghost guard thy people against the adultery of worldliness; for “know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God?” “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world : if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. For the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away and the lust thereof; but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever."
(To be continued.)