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Friday, December 9, 2016

December 9: Jesus and Joseph, Man's Intentions vs. God's Plans

Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. - Genesis 50:17b-20, ESV

Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. - Acts 2:22-24, ESV

Jesus and Joseph:
Man's Intentions for Evil vs. God's Plans for Good

Betrayed by his own people. Sold by those closest to him. Condemned unjustly, yet his betrayal was the way God planned for the salvation of His people. In the end, his condemnation by jealous men led to deliverance from death. Am I describing Joseph, favored son of Jacob, or Jesus, only Son of God? These same words could describe them both. 

Joseph's Coat Brought to Jacob
Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari, c. 1640
Joseph was Jacob's 11th son. He was both to Rachel in a supernatural way. He came as the answer to prayer after many years of barrenness for Rachel. His brothers hated him. He was obviously favored, both by God and by his father, Jacob. In natural and supernatural ways, through many-colored coats and prophetic dreams, Joseph's superior position was evident. This evidence only made his brothers hate him more. Finally, their jealousy and bitterness caused them to sell Joseph into slavery, after they had planned to kill him outright. Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver. 

Joseph suffered more injustice, at the hands of pagan unbelievers, before he was finally exalted to the right hand of majesty. He was exalted to the right hand of the most powerful ruler in the world, Pharaoh. From this exalted position of honor, Joseph was able to provide salvation and blessing to God's people, his family. He was able to provide them with food, safety and a new home. 

In so many ways, Joseph is a clear picture and prefiguring of Jesus. The parallels are numerous:
  • Jesus was born in a supernatural way. 
  • He was hated and envied by His brothers. Many supernatural signs showed the superiority of Jesus, but both his close biological half-brothers (including James and Jude) and his national brothers, the spiritual leaders of Israel, envied and opposed Him.        
  • Jesus was eventually sold by one of those closest to Him. In Jesus' case, He was sold for thirty pieces of silver. 
  • After He was sold, Jesus suffered more injustice at the hands of pagan unbelievers, Pontius Pilate and Herod.
  • After He had suffered grave injustice - cultimating in His death on the cross and burial in a tomb - Jesus was delivered from the pit and raised to the right hand of majesty. In Jesus' case, He was not exalted to Pharaoh's side but to the right hand of God Almighty.
  • From His exalted position at the right hand of the majesty, Jesus provides salvation for His people. He provides food (His own body), security (being held in His hands) and a new home (in His kingdom). He saves His people from eternal death.
In the lives of both Joseph and Jesus, we can see that man's intentions and God's plans are often two very different things. Joseph's brothers thought they were getting rid of him. Little did they know they were providing for their little brother's exaltation to glory and for their own family's salvation. The Jewish leaders conspired with Judas and Pilate to get rid of Jesus. Little did they know how they were actually doing what Jesus wanted them to do, to provide for God's people and to move Jesus toward His exaltation!

The more we study the Old Testament with Jesus in mind, looking for Christmas throughout God's story, the more wonderful patterns we see emerge. On December 3rd, we observed: "Like the Master Storyteller He is, God gives clues, hints and details that foreshadow the story's climax from the very beginning. Some are more obvious and others are quite subtle." As we have spent several days in Genesis, we have seen these foreshadowings of Jesus agains and again. With each new discovery, we are given more reasons to praise God for the gift of His Son! 

Lord Jesus, You came to earth in order to redeem us. You gave Yourself into the hands of sinful men, knowing that they would only be accomplishing God's good purposes in their evil actions. Help us to see how You turn every evil action of men into a way for You to be glorified and Your people to be saved and blessed! Amen.  

"The Promise" by Michael Card rejoices in the long-awaited fulfilment of God's promise in Jesus:

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