Thursday, 16 January 2014

(17) January 17: Genesis 41 and Matthew 13v1-32

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider how Joseph’s experience patterns that of Christ.

To ponder:
Joseph has been in prison a further two years. However God’s timing is perfect. The cupbearer remembers just when it would advance Joseph to the position the LORD had for him. It’s a reminder to trust God's timing in our own hardships or witness.
            Egypt was the superpower of the day and Pharoah thought to be divine. Yet he and his magicians and wise men are impotent, and subject to God’s rule (v8). Moreover, where Joseph may have been tempted to credit himself with his interpretations to gain favour from Pharoah, he still credits only God at every opportunity (v16, 25, 28, 32). This could have provoked Pharoah’s wrath. But “the king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Prov 21v1). So God moves Pharoah to exalt Joseph to the highest position in the world of that day – second only to Pharoah himself (v40-41). What achievement: In just three generations God’s ability to fulfil his promise is spectacularly proved. And he blesses the world through Joseph (v57, 12v3). All peoples receive life through the one God raised up from the most lowly position.
            Much then is patterned here. Joseph is to Pharoah what Adam might have been before God: He is wise, obedient, given a wife, and given the role of vice-regent over the world. To Israel the story therefore speaks of what they might be if faithful to the LORD – a light in the darkness to which the nations look for wisdom and life (Is 60v1-3). The names of Joseph’s sons would have reminded them that such a glorious future would enable them to forget their own rocky past and sufferings in Egypt, as they enjoy fruitfulness in the promised land (41v51-52).
For us of course, we cannot but think of Christ being exalted through suffering to reign on his Father’s behalf and dispense blessing and life to the world. Yet in him, the church reigns too. We are the body of Christ through whom his blessing and life is dispensed. And this great privilege in some way enables us to forget our prior troubles (v51-52). It certainly will when the church is exalted in the kingdom to come.

Praying it home:
Thank God for the blessing and life he gives us in Christ, and how this causes past trials to fade. Pray for the speedy fulfilment of the worldwide mission of the church - that Christians would “shine like stars as they hold out the word of life” (Phil 2v15-16).

Thinking further:
Jesus taught that the whole Old Testament looks forward to him (Lk 24v44-49, Jn 5v39-40). A key way we see this is through what are termed “types.” These are people, events or institutions that God has shaped in such a way that they pattern or are like Christ and our redemption in him. Romans 5v14 speaks of Adam in this way. The idea of “shadow” expresses the same idea (Col 2v17, Heb 8v5, 10v1). A shadow patterns the thing it shadows. As such, it gives us the shape of something coming that we can look out for; and by contrasting it, it highlights how much more glorious the reality it points to is. Because God does not change, it is no surprise that his interaction with his people in one era in some way patterns his interaction with his people in another. It is for this reason that the Old Testament can teach us (1 Cor 10v1-13, Rom 15v4). Indeed, because this was God’s intent for the Old Testament, we will see how often he shapes history so that it does indeed point us forward to Jesus, whilst stressing how much more glorious God’s work in him is.

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