"God did send me before you to preserve
"God sent me before you to preserve... a
It is clear from this double statement - "God sent
me before..." - that Joseph was one of God's
pioneers of the heavenly way. His history holds some very
helpful things in relation to the goings of God. Let us
repeat what we have said before in such connections: that
we are not engaged with a biography of the people
referred to, but only with what they represent in
spiritual truths as to God's pursuit of His ultimate end.
We must remind ourselves that God's full and final end is
comprehended in His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore the
Bible is the book of Jesus Christ throughout. Every part
of it has, in some way, to do with that end and object.
There are few cases in the Old Testament that more deeply
and clearly foreshadow Jesus Christ as God's end than
This is inclusively indicated in the two fragments
mentioned above which gather up the whole purpose of his
history. We can only understand the life and history of
Joseph as we recognize the purpose governing all. When
this has been pinpointed we can see without difficulty
how he points to Christ. His double statement is that the
sovereignty of God in his history had the one inclusive
end and object to "preserve life".
The life of an elect people was the all-governing object.
That undoubtedly was the mission of God's Son, and it is
the fundamental factor in the whole Bible.
Having said that, we can note the course by which that
end was pioneered: only pausing to interject that ALL
ministries in the choice and appointment of God are
related to the one end of Christ.
The story of Joseph is both a very human story and a very
Divine story, but with one key to both. That we shall
come on presently.
On the human side, if read ONLY from the natural
standpoint, there are features which may be regarded as
quite regrettable. For instance, a father's favouritism
for one member of a large family is really an unwise
thing. Whatever argument there may be for it, it only
engenders jealousies and complications. Joseph was
clearly a favourite with his father, and was perhaps - or
evidently - singled out for special partiality. Then
Joseph had dreams which put him in a special position of
superiority over his brothers. It is quite all right to
have dreams, but it is of doubtful discretion to tell
your family of them if they are of this sort. Quite
naturally they could give the impression of arrogance and
self-importance. It would therefore be very natural for
the family to develop a dislike for such a brother.
You know, Jesus was a special object of His Father's
love. He DID know the destiny bound up with His
life. Further, NOT IN HIS CASE indiscreetly, He
told quite frankly to the family of Jacob (the Jews) both
those things - His Father's love for Him, and what His
destiny would be as OVER THEM. This was undoubtedly the
ostensible and natural reason for their hatred of Him and
for what they did to Him.
There are intimations that He was the lone and suspected
member of His own family, for it is definitely stated
that "His brethren did not believe in him". He
was therefore a lonely man, discredited in His family and
in the world. "Despised and rejected of men."
This in His case, as in Joseph's, led on to deep and dark
soul-sufferings, malignings, intrigues, mysterious ways
of Providence, and apparent forsakenness of God.
"The iron entered into his soul", or "His
soul entered into the iron". A long period of
patient waiting unto God's time for the completion of His
God-appointed mission was involved.
The other details of Joseph's history need not be
followed out here. We have to retrace our steps to lay
hold of the Divine side of it all. The sovereignty of God
is unmistakable. "God sent me before." The
sovereign foreknowledge in that word "before"
is, at last, clear to Joseph when, in the full light of
God's deep and hidden ways - "Mysterious
Providence" - he declares to his brethren: "Ye
meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." What
a "But" - "But God!"
"Thy way, O Lord, is in the deep."
Having mentioned the human side and the Divine, we have
not told the whole story. There is an element that is
neither of these: it is the satanic. This extra factor is
one with which all pioneers of the HEAVENLY way
have to reckon. The jealousy and hatred of Joseph's
brethren AFTER THE FLESH, and that in the case of
Jesus, were not just natural. There was something
sinister in it. It is not easy for us to understand how
Satan knows, but it is clear from Scripture that he has
an uncanny intuitive knowledge of God's intentions, and,
more strangely those intentions being bound up with the
life of elect vessels of ministry related to those
intentions. This is QUITE evident - and fully so
in the case of the Lord Jesus. From Herod's
satanically-inspired murder of the babes with the sole
object of destroying One, right on to the Cross this
sinister and devilish motivation is evident because he -
Satan - knew who that One was, and what His destiny was
to be. It was all so unnatural, and can only be explained
on the ground between the human and the Divine.
So with Joseph. Say what you will as to the human, there
was something deeper in his history than men's attitudes
and actions. He was marked out in the Divine councils as
a pioneer of life, and Satan knew it. Joseph's life from
the beginning was dogged by something that was an element
of adversity, although beloved of his father.
The ways of any pioneer of heavenly purpose will always
have this involvement in difficulties and adversities
which are not the lot of ordinary people. As vocation is
the principle of election, so the vocation is the cause
of all the trouble. A pioneer in the way of God's eternal
purpose will know much of "the fellowship of his
sufferings"; but the throne and the crown and the
glory are in view, for "God meant (and means)
From "A Witness
and A Testimony" March-April 1969, Vol. 47-2.