Let's suppose that you get home from work and find that your book order had been delivered that day. You open it up and there is the latest novel from your favorite author. You can hardly wait to get started reading it, but you eat dinner, spend some time with the family, and then finally plop down in your favorite recliner and open the book.
But instead of starting on page 1 like you usually do, you decide to skip the first 2/3 of the book and begin reading on page 1081. And your first thought is that this book isn't nearly as good as all the other books this author has written. The plot seems to be disjointed, and none of the characters are developed like they usually are. But the problem isn't really with the author or the plot or the characters, is it? How did you expect to get excited about this book when you left out the background to the theme of the book?
But isn't that the same way that many approach the Bible? We just want to jump in and begin with the biographies of Jesus at the beginning of the New Testament and skip all the books of the Bible that were written before the life of Jesus. We even call that part we skip the Old Testament, which implies that whatever is contained there really isn't relevant to our lives today. I mean what would you rather read something ancient and old or something fresh and new?
It has been a few years since I have done a series of sermons. Some may remember the Wilderness series where we wandered in the Wilderness for over a year. Recently, I have been impressed to do a series of sermons on the theme of the Bible- Jesus Christ. I have broken this down into five division in the Old Testament and five divisions in the New Testament. There will be one sermon from each book of the Bible dealing with Jesus Christ. Also, we will cover some background information for each division.
It will be my job to make this exciting and informative. It will be your job to learn and apply what you learn to your everyday life.
Our text today is found in Genesis 3:15. And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Our background for today's sermon begins with these words:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. There is no indication given in the Bible when God first created the heavens and the earth. The Book of Genesis opened with the earth in a chaotic condition without form or void and covered with water, and darkness was everywhere.
The rest of chapter 1 and 2 go on to describe that creation. Chapter 1 is an overview of that entire process, and then chapter two focuses mainly on one aspect of creation – the creation of Adam and Eve. During this recorded creation, God speaks into existence everything until he comes to creating man. At this point, there is a discussion to create man in the image of God, after their likeness. God loved man enough to personally take the dust and form Adam with His own hands, and then He breathed His breath into Adam to give him life. He then becomes a living soul.
We see man's value to God in the fact that after all the rest of the creation, God looked at it and said that it was "good." But at the end of the sixth day, when He created man He proclaimed him to be "very good." And God gave Adam dominion over all the creation, and He blessed him and commanded him to subdue the creation and to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.
Adam was without a mate, and God had compassion on Adam and formed Eve from one of his ribs. How long they lived in the Garden, we are not told. However, they are given instructions about how they were to conduct themselves in regards, to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. But by the time we get to Genesis chapter 4, something has gone wrong everything has fallen apart in the Garden.
Before we get to the part where everything falls apart for Adam and Eve, let first look at God. No matter how you think, things should end with this story, understand God is sovereign. It is His creation, and He gets to make the rules and determine exactly how that creation is to operate. You have no say in the matter. He alone decides what is acceptable and not acceptable within that creation. His decision about what is acceptable applies to His creation today. But within that sovereignty, He did not create man as an android. He created man in His image, which means that man can make choices—right or wrong.
In understanding the character of God, we must see every side of that character. First, God is loving, gracious and merciful. When Adam and Eve sinned, He did not strike them dead on the spot, which is exactly what He could have done, He had warned them what would happen. Despite the serpent's words that assured Eve, she would not surely die if she ate the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that is exactly the penalty that God had promised in the instructions He had given to Adam in Genesis 2. But instead of executing immediate judgment, God exercises mercy and grace here.
After both Adam and Eve sin it is not long before they hear God walking in the garden, they hide. But God demonstrates his graciousness by seeking them out. God certainly didn't have to do that. He could have let them stew for a while. He could have let them tremble behind their fig leaves every time they heard a noise in the bushes. But instead, God sought them out, not because they deserved that in any way, but because it is His nature to be gracious. This was a demonstration of the grace of God toward the first sinners.
He doesn't approach Adam and Eve in the way that we probably would have done. Instead of being angry and leveling accusations against them, God begins by asking a question. In fact, this is the first question we find God asking in the Bible. And when God asks a question, He isn't doing it to gain information. He is doing it to get the man to think about his situation. When He asks, "Where are you?", He already knows where Adam was, but He used that question and the other questions He asked to help Adam and Eve recognize that they had sinned and are lost. This is the first time in which conviction of sin takes place in the Bible.
Regarding the serpent, it is entirely the opposite of how God deals with it. Instead of asking questions of the serpent, God merely speaks to him and pronounces a curse. That is because there is no chance of redemption for Satan after his rebellion against God.
The second act of mercy and grace is seen in verse 21 where we learn that God made Adam and Eve garments of animal skins. This is the first time a blood sacrifice was made for sin. It was possible this was when God instructed Adam in the requirements for the atonement of sin.
Finally, even though it might not seem like it to us, the fact that God banished Adam and Eve from the garden is also an act of mercy. Think about it, if Adam and Eve had been permitted to also eat from the tree of life, they would have continued to live in a state of separation from God, experiencing the consequences of their sin, for eternity. That would have precluded any possibility of being reconciled to God.
But love, grace, and mercy are not the only traits of God that we see here. We also see that God is holy, righteous and just. He didn't just tell Adam and Eve, "That's OK. Don't worry about your sin. After all, I created and loved you and would do nothing to hurt you." He imposed the penalty that their sin required. While they did not die immediately, because of their sin they would die physically one day, just as God had said. But even more severe is the fact that they were now dead spiritually.
God also imposed some serious penalties on Adam and Eve that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. While God was going to provide a way for their sins to be covered, that didn't mean that the consequences of their sin were going to go away. The principles of sowing and reaping would not be altered for their actions.
When God deals with the serpent, it is important to note that God curses the serpent directly – "cursed you are." You'll note that God does not curse Adam and Eve directly, but only pronounces a curse on certain aspects of their lives. It is also interesting to see that God imposes these penalties in the same order that the rebellion against God occurred – first the serpent, then Eve and finally Adam.
As we'll see, God would bring about man's salvation and Satan's destruction through the seed of the woman. Although God does not curse Adam, the ground that he has cultivated will now be cursed and so Adam will, for the first time in his life, experience what it means to sweat. Even more devastating is the fact that Adam will one-day die, just as God had said, and that his body would return to the dust from which God had created him.
This brings us to our text the Promise is given.
The Seed of the Woman
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.(Galatians 4:4,5)
And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory. (John 1:14)
Messiah would be born of the seed of a woman (Gen 3:15, Luke 1:34-35)
The whole intent of Satan in lying to Eve was to destroy the relationship God had with Adam and Eve. Satan had lost dominion of the earth when God gave it to Adam. To regain his authority over the earth, Satan had to cause Adam and Eve to disobey God. Using Eve to carry out his plan he offered her the status of a god. Eve falls for the lie. Adam, we are told was not deceived but made a willful choice to eat of the fruit. The result was their eyes were opened, and they realized they were naked.
Up to this time, both Adam and Eve are clothed in light. This was part of the image of God that surrounded them. When they decided to disobey God, the light covering them was gone. Satan had won.
What Satan did not realize was God had foreseen what would happen and already had a plan in place to bring about reconciliation. After the curses were handed out, Satan no doubt was ready to resume his place as ruler of earth. He did not see what was coming next. There would be a Promised Redeemer that would put mankind back in his rightful place, reconciled with God.
The Promised Redeemer would come from the seed of the woman, an actual human with body and spirit. To become the acceptable substitute and undo the damage caused by the first Adam and all his descendants, the second Adam must present Himself the perfection of the first Adam before he fell and become the Head of humanity.
To be truly human the Promised Redeemer must have a physical immortality that can be voluntarily sacrificed on behalf of others to remove the sting of death and bring redemption to their bodies. Romans 8:23. This Promised Redeemer must be without spot or blemish caused by sin. He must have a holy character to stand as a substitute for sinners who are unacceptable in the sight of God. The Redeemer need never die but must be willing to lay down His life and embrace death. John 10:18. To reverse the tragedy of the Garden of Eden, a new Adam must become the Head of a new race of redeemed followers. This Redeemer will have a body made by a woman.
The Promised Redeemer must be made flesh to become a substitute for all mankind. He must be incarnate, embodied, identified with the seed of Abraham and the seed of Adam. Hebrews 2:16. The identity of this Promised Redeemer is found at the beginning of creation. Before He was given a human body, He was Himself God the Creator. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was at the beginning with God. He made all things, and without Him was not anything made that was made. . .
He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.
Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.
Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (Gen 12:3, 17:19, 28:14, Luke 3:23-34)
Messiah would be a king in the line of Judah (Gen 49:10, John 1:49)
At any time in history, the LORD Jesus could have appeared as Man if God had chosen to prepare a body for Him from any woman's seed who was a descendant of Abraham as was Mary. To this extent, physiologically considered, the Incarnation might have taken place any time at all: long before Mary or long after her, during the centuries that have intervened from Eve right down to the present moment. It may, therefore, be asked, "Why did the Lord appear just at that time?" and "Why was Mary chosen and not one of her equals?" What circumstances converged to make that moment and that individual so favorable? In what sense, if any, was Mary herself unique so that she should be chosen to become "the mother of the Lord," as Elizabeth called her (Luke 1:43)?
One of the areas of the Life of Jesus that is often ignored is that of Mary. She had a unique personality. She was called upon to give birth and bring up as a child one who was her Creator and God. She was also the means of connecting the Messiah to Abraham and David. Let's look at Mary to understand the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Promised Redeemer.
Mary was a special person.
I don't know if you ever noticed that on some occasions the LORD pointedly played down his family relationships which we count so important. We find it perplexing that He should never, according to Scripture, have referred to or directly addressed his mother as a mother. He never referred to Joseph as his father. It is customary in many societies, to give credit always for a notable son to the parents, not to the child himself.
We found examples of this custom when Saul desired to honor David after his defeat of Goliath; he did not ask "What is his name?" He knew David well enough, David had often soothed his frayed nerves with his harp. What he asked was, "Whose son is he?" This was by an almost universal custom, to reward his father, not David himself. Many societies have always credited the goodness of a son to the worthiness of his father (1 Samuel 17:55-58).
The reverse is also true, of course. A man must be held partially accountable for his bad son. So, when Noah found what his son Ham had done to disgrace him, he could not curse his son for that was to curse himself! So, he cursed his son by cursing his grandson, Canaan Genesis 9:21-25
In 1 Kings 11:11-13 we find that for his father David's sake, Solomon is not punished for his disobedience (verse 10), but his son is punished. We are told this quite explicitly: "Notwithstanding, in thy days I will not do it, for David's sake thy father: but I will tear [the kingdom] out of the hand of thy son." In 2 Samuel 3:27-29 we have a further illustration in which Joab is to be punished in his descendants.
By contrast, a woman who wished to compliment a man upon the greatness of his son could not with respectability address herself directly in such a fashion to the father, and so she would praise the mother instead. This is what took place in Luke where the woman wants to recognize the true greatness of the Lord, when she said, "Blessed are the breasts that have nursed thee." However, contrary to what was normal, the Lord rebuked the speaker for drawing attention to Mary in her role as his mother. For He said, "Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God and keep it."
Now we run into this strange situation frequently in the Gospels. We begin with the Wise Men from the East who came with their gifts, and these were presented not to Mary and Joseph, but to the Lord Himself. And it is Jesus, not Mary whom they worship (Matthew 2:11). The text is most specific. "They fell and worshipped Him. . ." and "unto Him" did they present their gifts. Mary, the mother, is removed from the picture.
At the age of twelve, we find Jesus staying behind at the Temple when his parents began the return journey to their home in Nazareth after the Passover festival (Luke 2:41-52). Naturally, when his parents discovered his absence towards the end of the day they anxiously returned in search of Him. They found Him in the Temple after visiting all the friends and relatives without success for three days. They were excusably amazed that He had not given them some warning as to his whereabouts. They were probably in fact not merely troubled but even possibly angered a little, but the joy of rediscovery dispelled their personal reaction.
He reminds them they have no claim on Him when he says, "How is it that ye sought Me? Did you not realize that I must be about my Father's business?"
Then we come to the marriage in Cana of Galilee (John 2:1ff.). At a crucial point in the celebrations, the host found himself suddenly in the embarrassing position of being out of wine. Mary as a guest felt the embarrassment as keenly as her host, for her whole family was there. And in her concern, she at once turned to her Son, expecting from Him some special action to relieve the situation simply because she was his mother. She said to Him, "They have no wine." That was all. Nothing more. No spoken request that He do something. He knew it was a request. And He at once rebuked her for a kind of common presumption. Jesus said to her, quietly no doubt, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come." It would seem that He was disrespectful of His mother. However, the woman is a term of respect. It does not in any way indicate an insulting attitude. Nevertheless, it seems strange that He so consistently avoided the use of the word Mother in direct address in public. That there was no disrespect involved in the utilization of the term woman is revealed at the end of his earthly ministry, in that last gracious act from the cross. Here He saw his mother, largely forsaken the family was never wealthy it seems, and Joseph was dead; and his other brothers and sisters now appear to have repudiated Him. Despite the agony of his position on the cross after several hours turned to one of the few of his disciples who refused to desert Him and said to his mother, "Woman, behold thy son"! (John 19:26,27). Then to the disciple John, He said, "Behold thy mother"! And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. Not one of her other children had come to her aid or offered her shelter. Can you even begin to imagine the burden she carried all her life? And now at the end of her son's life, she is forsaken as any mother has ever been. Despite her loss in the last moments of her Son's life it must have seemed to her the right time for Him to acknowledge her as His mother. Even with death closing in He did not call her mother.
Again, and again, Mary was challenged by a kind of rejection that could only appear like the worst kind of cruelty. Her whole life seems to have fulfilled the prophecy spoken to her in the Temple by Simeon, "Yea, and a sword shall pierce through thine own heart also" (Luke 2:35). In Mark 3:31-35 we have the story of his mother and his brethren coming to "rescue" Him whom they all felt was killing Himself with overwork. It seems they could not even get near Him! But he was soon notified of their concerned presence: "Behold," the people said, "thy mother and thy brethren outside seek for thee." What was his response? He asked, before the crowd, "Who is my mother and my brethren?" Then, to make his point clearer, He added, "Behold my mother and my brethren! Whosoever doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, my sister, my mother." No wonder his brothers and sisters were not there at the end, as far as we know--but Mary was.
Throughout his whole ministry, He demonstrated personally what He had told his disciples in Luke 14:26. Namely, that all such relationships must be held very lightly relative to our relationship with our Father in heaven as his children: so lightly, in fact, that it must seem we hate our parents relative to the love we have for God. It was and is a hard saying.
In all these things we see the Lord Jesus Christ restoring perspective regarding his actual position as a member of the human family, not simply the son of Joseph and Mary. And we have proofs of Mary's extraordinary grace in that she kept these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19, 51) even though she could not understand them. She seems never to have raised her voice in protest or sought in any way to assert her rights as his mother. She accepted her calling humbly as the "handmaid of the Lord" (Luke 1:38) and all that her unique position imposed upon her. No mother of such a great son was ever less possessive or less complaining.
Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob (Gen 12:3, 17:19, 28:14, Luke 3:23-34)
Messiah would be a king in the line of Judah (Gen 49:10, John 1:49)
For those not familiar with Jewish modes of reckoning pedigrees that Mary, through whom the Lord's body as to the flesh must be traced back to David's loins to validate his right to David's throne, does not appear in the only genealogies we have relevant to the issue. Ever wonder why neither Matthew nor Luke includes her name when they traced the line from David to Jesus? Both pedigrees end with Joseph, not Mary. This situation was foretold in Psalm 69:8, "I become a stranger unto my brethren and an alien unto my mother's children."
Matthew did not include Mary. There is some reason to believe that Matthew's account of the circumstances of Jesus' birth stemmed initially from the fact that Matthew was Joseph's friend. Joseph probably sought advice from Matthew when he first heard rumors of Mary's condition. Matthew seems to have been a lawyer, or if not a practicing one, at least a man trained in the law, for he is elsewhere called Levi, i.e., lawyer (Mark 2:14). From Joseph, he learned much that was very personal about Joseph's inward struggle which he subsequently recorded in his Gospel. To present Joseph's relationship in the Davidic line seems to follow naturally from these circumstances.
We might have expected Luke would have shown Mary's place in the Davidic line. He was not merely a physician but a historian with the mind of a scholar. He says (Luke 1:3) that he had been involved in the circumstances "from the very first," and if this is so, he would surely have known Mary's father's name. But instead of tracing Mary back to Heli, Luke has stated that Joseph was the son of Heli (Luke 3:23) which not only seems to prevent Heli from being Mary's father but also contradicts Matthew 1:16 which makes Joseph to be the son of Jacob. If the bloodline from David to Jesus must be established according to Jewish law, why was Mary's name omitted by both writers, for indeed the bloodline could not be traced through Joseph since he was not the natural father of Jesus?
It is important to understand that in Israel a blood line was always traced officially through males only. No females are ever listed as actual links in the chain. If a man happened to have only daughters and no sons to continue his line, it was customary to put the daughter's husband as her representative in the pedigree and so to enter his name as a son not as a son-in-law, as we would judge him to be. So, the line passes from the father to the son-in-law to the grandson: not from the father to the daughter to the grandson.
Occasionally both the son-in-law and the daughter (his wife) are simply passed over so that a whole generation is omitted. The blood line is then shown as passing directly from the father to the grandson. This is the reason that Mary's name is omitted in Luke's genealogy, while her husband's name stands in her place. And this is the reason why her husband is shown not only as Jacob's son (in Matthew) but as Heli's son (in Luke). Meanwhile, there is no break in the blood line from Heli to Jesus, for although Joseph had no connection, Mary is the physical link. According to Numbers 27:1-11 regulating birth rights in a "daughters only" family, the one stipulation was that a girl marries a man from her tribe.
The evidence combined shows how God preserved both the seed and the title and joined the two in Joseph and Mary to channel them and unite them in the Lord Jesus Christ. The supposed right to the throne of David was directed through Joseph according to Matthew, and the blood line of David's seed was directed through Mary according to Luke.
Typified in the person of Melchizedek- the High Priest (Gen 14:18)
The promised Redeemer was a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Melchizedek is a mystery. Moses tells us very little about this man. "And Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought forth bread and wine; and he was the priest of the Most High God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. Gen. 14:18-20
The Promised Redeemer was to bring about reconciliation between God and man. The need for mediation of some kind is necessary, and meditation requires a mediator. The mediator must perform what must be done to bring the two parties together, to reconcile them and to bring about goodwill between them.
Man, convicted by the Holy Spirit that he is a sinner with whom God has reason to be angry, needs a mediator who would reconcile him with God. Since the beginning of time, there has been the priest, whose duty it was to serve the gods and to bring sacrifices to appease their anger. Because of guilt, man feels the need to have a mediator to reconcile them with their god.
To accomplish the task of mediation, a mediator must be a person who is pleasing to the offended party. In the case of the heathen priest often they were self-appointed mediators. They were not appointed by God, and it is evident that they cannot reconcile man with God. Only a mediator appointed by God can bring about the needed reconciliation. God is the offended party, and it is His choice who the mediator will be to satisfy his divine justice.
When God called Moses to lead the Hebrews from Egypt bondage, Moses and the Levitical priesthood were appointed to be mediators; but they were not appointed to take away sin. Their office was to point forward to the Mediator whom God would send into the world, and only through faith in the future Mediator was Israel to be reconciled to God. Moses and Aaron were mediators for Israel only, there needed to be a mediator who would be valid for all people.
It should be noted that before God separating Israel as a particular nation which he entrusted with the message of salvation, our text tells us that there was a priest who was not of the lineage of Abraham, to whom Abraham gave tithes, and was from the order of the High Priest yet to come. David writes, The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. Arron was for Israel only; Melchizedek was for all nations; the Promised Redeemer was after the order of Melchizedek to be the mediator for all.
Isaac - the sacrificed son (Gen 22)
Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90 when God gave them the Promised Son. Several years after the birth of Isaac, God asked Abraham to take Isaac up to Mount Moriah and offer him as a sacrifice.
This was an astounding command because Isaac was the son of promise. God had promised several times that from Abraham's own body would come a nation as countless as the stars in heaven (Genesis 12:2–3; 15:4–5). Later, Abraham was explicitly told that the promise would be through Isaac. Isaac accompanied his father to the land of Moriah not realizing that he was going there to be sacrificed. He willingly laid on the altar Abraham had built waiting for his father's knife to plunge in him and kill him. But the angel of the Lord stayed Abraham's hand, and Isaac was spared.
How did Abraham respond to God's command to sacrifice Isaac? With immediate obedience; early the next morning, Abraham started on his journey with two servants, a donkey, and his beloved son Isaac, with firewood for the offering. His unquestioning obedience to God's confusing command gave God the glory He deserves and is an example to us of how to glorify God. When we obey as Abraham did, trusting that God's plan is best, we exalt His attributes and praise Him. Abraham's obedience in the face of this crushing command extolled God's sovereign love, His trustworthiness, and His goodness, and it provided an example for us to follow. His faith in the God he had come to know and love placed Abraham in the hall of faithful heroes in Hebrews 11.
Abraham's faith was such that, even if he had sacrificed Isaac, he believed the LORD would keep His word and raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:17–19). God uses Abraham's faith as an example of the type of faith required for salvation. Genesis 15:6 says, "Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness." This truth is the basis of the Christian faith, as reiterated in Romans 4:3 and James 2:23. The righteousness that was credited to Abraham is the same righteousness credited to us when we receive by faith the sacrifice God provided for our sins—Jesus Christ. "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Old Testament story of Abraham is the basis of the New Testament teaching of the atonement, the sacrificial offering of the Lord Jesus on the cross for the sin of mankind. Jesus said, many centuries later, "Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56). The following are some of the parallels between the two biblical accounts:
• "Take your son, your only son, Isaac" (v. 2); "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son…" (John 3:16).
• "Go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there…" (v. 2); it is believed that this area is where the city of Jerusalem was built many years later, where Jesus was crucified outside its city walls (Hebrews 13:12).
• "Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering" (v. 2); "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3).
• "Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac" (v. 6); Jesus, "carrying his own cross. . ." (John 19:17).
• "But where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" (v. 7); John said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29).
• Isaac, the son, acted in obedience to his father in becoming the sacrifice (v. 9); Jesus prayed, "My Father if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will" (Matthew 26:39).
• Resurrection – Isaac (figuratively) and Jesus in reality: "By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.' Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death" (Hebrews 11:17–19); Jesus "was buried, and . . . was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:4).
Joseph - the rejected brother (Gen 37)
Starting at the 37th chapter of Genesis, we read the account of the life of Joseph.
Joseph is one of the most striking types of Jesus in the Old Testament. In Jewish thought, the Messiah was pictured as the son of David, but also as the son of Joseph. As the son of David, he would rule upon David's throne bringing glory to Israel and peace to the world. They also pictured him as the son of Joseph – someone who would suffer at the hands of his brothers before being exalted. So, let's look at some of the clearer pictures in Joseph's life that have their fulfillment in the life of the true Messiah, Jesus
Gen 37:5-8 ‘Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him more. He said to them, "Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it." His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.'
Even from an early stage, Joseph was different. Genesis 37:3 tells us that Joseph was Jacob's most loved son. And from the dreams he had it was clear that he would one-day rule over his brothers and for this they hated him. Jesus encountered the same reaction both from those in his hometown as well as from his actual brothers. After trying to teach and minister in His hometown, He was met with the following response –
Matt13:55-57 "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor."
While the religious leaders called, Jesus possessed, even some of those in His own family wouldn't acknowledge Him. We read in John 7:5 that His own brothers were asking for more signs because they did not believe.
John 7:5 ‘…even his own brothers did not believe in him.'
Just as Joseph's brothers conspired to kill him, there were those who plotted to kill Jesus.
Gen 37:18-19 ‘So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. "Here comes that dreamer!" they said to each other. "Come now, let's kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we'll see what comes of his dreams."
Because of jealousy and envy, Joseph's brothers conspired to kill Joseph. What they hated most were the dreams that elevated Joseph above themselves. They also hated the fact that their father Jacob dearly loved Joseph and their jealousy and anger led to a plan to destroy him. In like manner, the leaders of Israel hated Jesus because He didn't submit Himself to their rule but showed through word and deed that He was above them. His claims to be from heaven, to be greater than Abraham, or to be the one of whom Moses wrote, met with deadly reactions and ended in a plot to take His life.
Matt 26:3-4 ‘Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.'
Betrayed for a few silver coins
Gen 37:26-28 ‘Judah said to his brothers, "What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let's sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh, and blood." His brothers agreed. So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.'
The anger and jealousy reached its peak and Joseph was sold and betrayed for 20 measly pieces of silver! And also note who it was that lead the betrayal – Judah! This is translated from the Hebrew name ‘Yehuda,' and it is the same name which can be translated Judas! No surprises then that Jesus, like Joseph, would be betrayed by one of those closest to him – this time for a great total of 30 silver pieces!
Matt 26:14-16 ‘Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.'
This was, of course, a fulfillment of the great prophecy in Zechariah where God himself is priced at 30 pieces of silver!
Zechariah 11:13 ‘And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"—the handsome price at which they priced me! So, I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.'
While Joseph didn't understand it, God had other plans and would use this betrayal to exalt Joseph and through him give how both Gentiles and Joseph's own Jewish family would be saved. I'm sure you see the picture of Jesus!
Falsely accused though he did no wrong!
Gen 39:17-20 ‘Then she told him this story: "That Hebrew slave you brought us came to me to make sport of me. But as soon as I screamed for help, he left his cloak beside me and ran out of the house." When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, "This is how your slave treated me," he burned with anger. Joseph's master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king's prisoners were confined.'
After being betrayed by his brothers and led to Egypt, Joseph soon finds himself being accused of a crime that he didn't commit. The slander and lies presented lead to Joseph being thrown into prison. He had no say in the matter even though he was innocent. It was the same with Jesus, after His betrayal, Jesus was falsely accused and slandered in a series of one-sided trials. Like Joseph He had done no wrong but that didn't stop His accusers!
Mark 14:55-64 ‘The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree... Again, the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the blessed One?" "I am," said Jesus. "And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven." The high priest tore his clothes. "Why do we need any more witnesses?" he asked. "You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?" They all condemned him as worthy of death.
The two fellow prisoners
Gen 40:4-5 ‘After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.'
Joseph wasn't alone in jail though. Two other servants of Pharaoh, the cupbearer and the baker, where shortly thrown in there with him. Each spoke to Joseph a dream they had had which Joseph interpreted for them. This pictures Jesus in His prison, upon the cross, and the two thieves that were crucified with Him.
Matt 27:38 ‘Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.'
The result of the two prisoner's dreams meant death for one, and release and exaltation for the other. This is a type of one of the most amazing salvations ever to happen –
Luke 23:39-43 ‘One of the criminals who hung there, hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Like Joseph, one prisoner with Jesus would die, but one would find real life and be released and exalted into the greatest place – Paradise!
The exaltation of the suffering servant!
Gen 40:39-41 ‘Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only concerning the throne will I be greater than you." So, Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I at this moment put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He had him ride in a chariot as His second in command.'
Joseph went from being condemned in prison to being exalted to Pharaoh's right hand in a single day. Apart from Pharaoh, there were none above Joseph! What a picture of the Lord Jesus, who through the resurrection, went from the cross to His exaltation back at the right hand of the Father. After the resurrection, Jesus said ‘all authority in heaven and earth had been given to me…' And as the Egyptians bowed at the feet of Joseph, so the entire world will one day bow down at the feet of the Lord. Philippians explains it all –
Phil 2:8-11 ‘And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.'
Gen 41:45 ‘Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife.'
Upon his exaltation to the right hand of Pharaoh, Joseph was given a gentile bride for his wife. This is a picture of the Lord Jesus who, upon His exaltation, took a bride for Himself (the church) from among the gentile nations.
The reconciliation of Joseph and his brothers
Gen 45:1-5,14 ‘So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh's household heard about it. Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still living?" But his brothers were not able to answer him because they were terrified at his presence. Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you… Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping.'
One of best pictures has got to be the reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers who had betrayed him. The great famine had struck the area and Joseph's brothers had come seeking provision. On their first visit to see Joseph they didn't recognize him, but all was revealed when they met the second time! There was great weeping as they realized that the one who they had betrayed was not only alive but ruled over the entire land. Like Joseph's brothers, Israel didn't recognize Jesus at His first coming, but oh the weeping and reconciliation that is to come at His second coming. The prophet Zechariah spoke of that day and said
Zech. 12:10-12 ‘I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each tribe by itself.'
What Israel meant for evil, God meant for good!
Gen 50:18-20 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. "We are your slaves," they said. But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid... You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish… the saving of many lives. So then, don't be afraid. I will provide for you and your children." And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Joseph's brothers, upon their reconciliation with Joseph, were extremely repentant of the evil that they had done in plotting and betraying Joseph. Joseph didn't hold the grievance against them but with grace stated that 'what they meant for evil, God intended for good, to save many lives!' What an excellent picture of Jesus! Yes, Israel betrayed Him, planning to do Him harm. God intended it for good, to save many lives! And that He has done, and continues to do, throughout the entire world!
Look also at Joseph's kindness to his brothers. Not only did he not hold anything against them, but he assured them that he would provide for them. The millennial blessings that will come to the Jewish nation after they have returned to the Lord are the fulfillment of this type. Speaking of the benefit that will come upon that nation after their acknowledgment and acceptance of Jesus, Paul writes, Romans 11:12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!
Joseph is truly one of the greatest types in the Bible of the Lord Jesus Christ. From his betrayal at the hands of his brothers to his exaltation and authority over the Egyptian empire; from his taking of a gentile bride to his final reconciliation with his Jewish brothers; all is a glimpse from God of past, present and even future history!
Genesis 3:15 is no doubt the greatest promise in the Bible. God has promised to send a Redeemer to reconcile us with Him. This Promised Redeemer was the Son of God who came through woman, to provide us with the perfect sacrifice to restore the lost fellowship between God and Man. He became our High Priest and makes intercession for us before the Throne of God. In Jesus Christ we have the Promised Redeemer, who fulfills all the requirements of the Perfect Sacrifice to be the Savior of all mankind.