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Joseph And Moses

In a former paper we have drawn an evident contrast between the call to Noah and his house to come into the ark to be saved from the Flood, and the call of Israel out of Egypt to serve God in the wilderness. Now we briefly draw lessons from the truth seen in the lives of those great men of old, Joseph and Moses. Both were associated with Egypt in times of that land's past greatness. The ways of God with His servants are often passing strange, and things happened which even the wisest of men could never have foreseen. Concerning Joseph and his times we read,

"He called for a famine upon the land;

He brake the whole staff of bread.

He sent a man before them;

Joseph was sold for a servant"

(Psalm 105.16,17).

The outrageous action of Joseph's brothers, in their malice and hatred of his character and his dreams of coming greatness, had to be dealt with, but little did these men know that their malice would be used by God to send a man before them to preserve life, to preserve them a remnant in the earth, and to save them alive by a great deliverance (Genesis 45.5,7). As true as this is, so true is the case of the great Deliverer, the Lord Jesus. Little did the Jewish leaders know that the death of Jesus of Nazareth was vital to the future blessedness of their race. The prophecy of Caiaphas is plain, the meaning of which he little understood: "Ye know nothing at all, nor do ye take account that it is expedient for you that one Man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. Now this he said not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation" (John 11.49-51). Apart from the lonely, agonizing death of the Lord, that nation had long since perished from the earth, but by His death Israel is preserved for a great and eternal future, but, alas, not all Jews are preserved from eternal fire by the death of the Lord. We must distinguish between God's dealings with the nation of Israel and with individual Jews. As to the latter, if they would be saved they must believe with a personal faith in Jesus the Son of God, just as Gentiles must also do.

The sufferings of Joseph were great in the long trek from Canaan to Egypt across the sandy desert wastes, then at last to be sold as a slave, probably in one of Egypt's slave markets, to Potiphar the captain of the guard. His integrity was such that Potiphar left the care of all his affairs in Joseph's hands. But Satan's eye was upon this young man of moral rectitude. He had a tool on hand to seduce him in the person of Potiphar's wife, and her lying words concerning Joseph's behaviour resulted in Joseph being cast into prison. This was an act of a husband and wife, he took her side. Calvary is the result of the sin of a wife, and of a husband who took her side, too. Adam and Eve sinned and fell, and all mankind fell in them, but on the very evening of that sad day, the promise was made of a Deliverer and a deliverance, that the Seed of the woman would bruise the serpent's head. Joseph's way to the throne was by being sold; he suffered because of the sin of others, and, similarly, the Lord's way to the throne of heaven was by being sold by Judas (it was Judah who suggested that Joseph should be sold), and by suffering on behalf of others.

It was need that brought Joseph to the front, even to the throne of Pharaoh. An interpreter was needed to explain to Pharaoh the meaning of his dreams, of seven ears of good grain and of seven fat cattle browsing along the banks of the Nile, of seven ears of grain blasted by the east wind and of seven ill-favoured kine. The seven thin ears swallowed up the full ears, and the seven lean-fleshed kine swallowed the fat kine. All Egypt's magicians and wise men were hopeless to show to Pharaoh the meaning of his dreams. Then Pharaoh's butler remembered his faults. He thought of the young Hebrew who had lifted the cloud from his anxious mind by telling him the meaning of his dream, that he would be restored to his butlership again. He tells Pharaoh, and Joseph is hastily brought from prison; he shaves himself, changes his raiment and is presented to the king. Pharaoh tells his dreams and Joseph interprets them. The seven good ears and the seven fat fleshed kine were seven years of great plenty in Egypt, and the seven thin ears and ill-favoured kine were seven years of famine. A man was needed to be set over the land, to lay up the corn against the years of famine. Such was Joseph's advice, and Pharaoh knows no one like the erstwhile prisoner who could undertake the tremendous task of controlling Egypt's food supply. He said to Joseph,

"Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou: thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou".

Pharaoh's signet ring was put upon Joseph's hand, he was arrayed in fine linen, a gold chain was put about his neck, and he was made to ride in the second chariot, and they cried before him, Bow the knee", and he was set over all the land of Egypt.

As the famine grew sore. in all lands, following the seven years of great plenty in Egypt, the men of all countries came to buy corn, and the Egyptians themselves came and Pharaoh's word to them all was, "GQ unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do." Here is the picture of days yet to come. The fulness Joseph laid up in Egypt's storehouses met a world's need, and there is fulness in Christ to meet the world's need, past, present and future.

Amongst those who came to buy were Joseph's brethren. They did not know him, but he knew them. They bowed the knee before him in their need. It is need that ever brings men to Christ. As there was no other who could save their lives but Joseph with his corn, there is no other to save men than He who is the Bread of God who came down out of heaven to give life unto the world (John 6.33).

Moses' work differs from that of Joseph's. Moses was sent to save a people out of the land of Egypt (Jude 5). They were an elect race. They were chosen in Abraham, a people who would know four hundred years of affliction (Genesis 15.13), and at length a deliverer in the person of Moses would be raised to be the instrument in. the Lord's hands to bring His enslaved people to Horeb, the appointed place where they would begin their service for God.

They went into Egypt to be saved by Joseph, who was called by Pharaoh, Zaphenath-Panean, which the A.V. Margin says means in the Coptic language, "A revealer of secrets", but by others, "The Saviour of the world". But whatever the Egyptian name means, Joseph was both a revealer and a saviour. In the early days of Moses a Pharaoh was reigning who knew not Joseph, but who evil entreated the fast multiplying children of Israel. He was followed by the Pharaoh of the Exodus, an equally proud and hard-hearted monarch who carried on in the ways of his predecessor. In his days the time of deliverance had drawn near. Moses in the time of the former Pharaoh had been brought up as the son of Pharaoh's daughter, and was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in his words and works (Acts 7.21,22). He was a man of intellectual brilliance, and no doubt Pharaoh's daughter looked on him with admiring eyes. Moses had riches and pleasures at his feet and a future of worldly glory, but only a coffin in Egypt at the end, had he stayed there.

He was not an Egyptian; he was a Hebrew. He was an heir of the promise of the Saviour who was coming, the Seed of Abraham. He made his choice; he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He had made his reckoning, and had counted the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, and his choice led him to cast in his lot with his afflicted brethren rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season. The issue of all this found him in Midian where he married Jethro's daughter and became the shepherd of his flock. While engaged in feeding Jethro's flock in Horeb he received the call to go back to Egypt to deliver God's people out of Egypt and the token of this call was that when he had brought them out they would serve God in that same mountain.

Israel went into Egypt to Joseph to be saved with a great deliverance. In Moses's day Israel were delivered from Egypt to serve God. Into Egypt for salvation, out from Egypt for service!