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Joseph The Increaser

Outreach is not an option for the disciple of the Lord Jesus. It is an on-going requirement of the ascended, glorified Master, who said to His apostles on the mountain in Galilee, 'All authority hath been given unto Me ... go ye therefore'. The year 1995 was devoted to outreach by the churches of God which produce this magazine. Upon reflection, how do we measure its success? Let us pause and consider how increase occurs in the spiritual realm.

During 1995, this magazine published monthly articles on The Life of Joseph. The name Joseph comes from the basic Hebrew root word yasaph, which means 'to add, to increase and continue to increase'. From the root word is derived the name Yowseph (= Joseph), the name given by Rachel to her firstborn son saying, 'The Lord add to me another son' (Gen. 30:24).

Joseph's name reflects one of his greatest characteristics and qualities. When Jacob gave charges to his sons before he died he said, 'Joseph (Y5wseph) is a fruitful bough ... by a fountain; his branches run over the wall' (Gen. 49.22). Embedded in Jacob's words is the key to understanding the full meaning of Yowseph. Boughs and branches bear fruit. In Joseph's case his immediate family was blessed by his knowledge, labour and spiritual discernment. They enjoyed his fruit.

Branches over the wall bear fruit too. The Egyptians and nations of the world tasted of Joseph's benevolence under the mighty hand of God. Fruit contains seed and when the fruit falls to the ground, the seed germinates into plants. So Joseph added, increased and continued to increase. 'The earth brought forth by handfuls... he gathered... and laid up' the increase in store (Gen. 41:46-54).

Joseph is a lovely type of Christ. Increase is one of our Lord's excellencies. Firstly, we have the creative work of the Son of God in the first chapter of Genesis where the earth is instructed by God to 'put forth grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit tree bearing fruit after its kind' (1:11,12).

Moses used the Hebrew word mazriya' for yielding, which means 'causing to sow' (from zara' = sow). The plant was to be a self-seeding creation, which was built into its nature by God. So He provided plants having fruit yielding seed for increase.

Secondly, in the New Testament we have details of His incarnation. As to His deity, there is infinitude of attributes. 'In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily' (Col. 2:9). As to His humanity as He grew up in Nazareth, 'the Child grew (auxano, increased, a Greek equivalent of yasaph), waxed, strong, filled with wisdom' (Luke 2:40). Of John the Baptist as he grew up in the deserts, Luke says, 'the child grew (Gr. auxano, increased) and waxed strong in spirit' (1:80). So far as their humanity is concerned both increased. But when the time of witness arrived, the day of their showing to Israel, from John 3:22,23 we learn that Jesus baptized in Judea and John baptized in Aenon near Salim. John's disciples wanted to know the reason why. Central to John's explanation was 'He must increase (auxano), and I must decrease' (v.30).

Thirdly, Leviticus chapters 4, 5 and 6 legislate for the sin and trespass offerings. Chapter 4 deals with unwitting sin or sins of ignorance. In chapters 5 and 6 the offender was to make confession, and in restoration add a fifth part compensation. The fifth part was yasaph, increase, add, continue to increase. Here is a foreshadowing of the Lord in His Crosswork as the Restorer and Compensator for our trespasses by His own guilt and trespass offering. Five times in Romans chapter 5 we have the expression much more:

God commendeth His own love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through Him (vv. 8,9).

If, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life (v.10).

If by the trespass of the one the many died' much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many (v.15).

If, by the trespass of the one, death reigned through the one; much more shall they that receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, even Jesus Christ (v.17).

The law came in beside, that the trespass might abound; but where sin abounded, grace did abound more exceedingly (v.20).

In Scripture, the number five indicates human weakness. It was through the apparent weakness and defeat of our Yowseph, Jesus Christ our Lord, that much more than the fifth part was added on our behalf by Him, when He 'was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification'

(Rom. 4:25).

What is true of our victorious Lord is equally true of our witness for Him.

Proverbs 11:24 says, 'There is that scattereth, and increaseth (yasaph) yet more; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet (or as the RYM, what is justly due), but it tendeth only to want'. So we can either scatter the Word of God so that there can he increase, or we may withhold what is justly due to God but it tends only to our spiritual want and poverty. The Corinthians were taught by Paul that in working for the Lord, 'I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase (auxano). So neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth; but God giveth the increase' (1 Cor. 3:5,6,7). In his second epistle to them he reinforced the lesson by saying 'He that supplieth seed to the sower and bread for food' shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing,

and increase (auxano) the fruits of your righteousness' (2 Cor. 9:10).

As God's fellow-workers we can sow, plant and water, but we cannot give the increase. Increase belongs to our Yowseph. Increase belongs to God who gave the increase in the past and gives the increase in the present. To God be the glory.