The Bible has all the essentials for making one wise unto salvation and for life and godliness. A major part of its contents are narratives of lives of many people. Some of them were good and others were evil. These provide the readers examples to follow or warnings to avoid pitfalls. Out of all those people whose lives were exemplary, Joseph and Daniel stand out. This doesn’t mean that they were perfect. But we only mean that their lives are worth emulating. In the present issue of HT, the first among these two, Joseph, is in focus.
He Shall Add’
His mother, Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel was barren. God heard her cry and granted her desire. When she got her first born child she said, “The Lord shall add to me another son” and called his name Joseph, which means ‘he shall add’ (Gen.30.24). As far as Rachel was concerned, the birth of Joseph gave her an assurance that God took away her barrenness. It gave her the surety that she would get another child. Thus, Joseph’s birth gave her a hope of Benoni.
Looking at Joseph’s life we may say that he lived true to the meaning of his name. He added virtues and values to life. This made his life fruitful and successful in manifold ways.
Joseph’s life of hundred and ten years might be divided into three sections. The first section, about seventeen years, he grew up with his father. This was followed up with his years of wanderings and sufferings. Third period of his life was the time of glory. These remind us of the life and various stages of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Pt.1.11). Yeah, ‘Joseph reminds us of Jesus’.
We may say that none suffered as Joseph suffered, as far as the Bible characters are concerned. Yet, in all the trying situations, his character stood out magnificently. Rather than giving up on his virtues and values he kept on adding to these. His life is an all time challenge for all.
If his mother’s words were prospective, his father’s words were retrospective. His father Jacob stated, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall” (Gen.49.22).
These words, Jacob told on his death bed, from his firsthand experience by living with his son Joseph. The first seventeen years of Joseph, he lived with his father Jacob in Canaan, and the last seventeen years of Jacob, he was with his son Joseph in Egypt. Thus, they lived together for about thirty four years. Added to these were the updates he received about the years of separation. Based on these, Jacob said that Joseph was a ‘fruitful bough’. This utterance of Jacob also indicates the fact that Joseph lived according to the meaning of his name. He kept the essentials for a fruitful life and bore fruit. He was like a tree ‘by a well’. In describing the blessed man psalmist says that such trees planted by the rivers of water “brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither and whatsoever he does shall prosper” (Ps.1.3). Prophet Jeremiah also testifies to this (Jer. 17.8). For a believer the rivers of water is the Lord Himself. One should abide in Him to be fruitful (Ps.36.9; Jn.15.4,5). Branches of tree ‘running over the wall’ indicates the growth of the tree. Without growth no tree can bear fruit. Personally and spiritually Joseph kept growing. And, mind you, these he did against all odds.
‘Neither Barren Nor Unfruitful’
Following through the life of Joseph, we see this character of ‘adding’ seen throughout. He increased in his love to his father and siblings. His presence was a blessing to his master’s house. He grew in integrity even in the prison. He became the Savior to the Egyptians and other nationals during the time of famine. He added the wealth of Pharaoh. He added comfort of his brethren in their stay in Egypt. He caused their confidence in him to increase. What his mother said about Joseph at his birth and what his father said on his death bed were very true of Joseph.
Peter says, “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pt.1.5-8). Peter instructs believers to ‘add’, that is, to be ‘Josephs’ – ‘he shall add’. Then we shall not be barren or unfruitful but shall be abounding in fruit bearing, for the glory of God!
By Thomson B Thomas
Father! … Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22: 7) – the classical question Isaac asked his father Abraham as they were going to offer a special sacrifice which God had asked for. I do not know how long it had taken Abraham to answer this, but being a father I can understand to a certain extent the emotional strain he was possibly going through when his only son, whom he loved asked him this question as he was being taken to be sacrificed. I believe Abraham’s intimacy with God and his acquaintance with God’s ways led him to give an apt answer, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22: 8). As Abraham believed, God provided him with an animal for the sacrifice moments before his knife landed on his beloved son’s neck.
Was the question that Isaac asked his father only his? Is it not the heart-cry of every person who seeks a substitute for himself, to pay the penalty for his sins? “Where is that lamb which can truly take away my sins?” God sent His only begotten Son to be that lamb in His own predetermined and appropriate time. The Heavenly Father (God) did not leave this question unanswered. He answered it in the New Testament when John the Baptist introduced Jesus Christ, the Messiah to the waiting Nation (Israel), in John 1: 29 -“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” Jesus Christ was that Lamb who alone could take way sins of mankind. . Christ’s uniqueness which qualified Him to be that Lamb include, His sinless birth, life, and works; His willingness to die bearing the penalty and guilt of sins of the entire mankind ever since they existed; and His certification by God as the One who pleased Him. Who else could satisfy God’s high demand of justice and propitiation?
In contrast, when God searched for righteous people on earth, He found none. He says, “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3: 10-12) How did humans become so devoid of good in the first place? The Bible makes it clear that we did not become sinners after we did something bad, but we were born with an inherent nature of sin, which hinders us from being and doing good and enforces us to be and do evil. As for every violation, even sin deserves a penalty, which involves eternal separation from God, the holy Being, in a place of ruin -hell. However, God is also love, and it hurts Him to see His creation eternally separated from Him without any hope of returning to Him. Therefore, He came as a human (Jesus Christ) to bear the penalty of the sins of the entire mankind and become a perfect propitiatory Sacrifice.
He offered up Himself to the cross taking the place of every human, died, and was buried. Nevertheless, He being God did not end with death, He arose from the dead on the third day, as He had foretold. Now, He is alive and invites everyone to accept and own up His Sacrifice personally, and thus escape eternal damnation. He assures forgiveness of sins and eternal security in His kingdom—Heaven, to everyone who truly believes Him to be their personal Savior and Lord. He says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” He makes no distinction, but presents an open invitation to all who are willing to accept His gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal security.
Now, all that a person has to do to receive this gift of forgiveness of sins and pardon from the penalty of their sins is: to admit their helplessness to deliver themselves from sin, and accept the fact that Christ bore the penalty of their sins when He died. God says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10: 9). If you accept God’s gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, you understand that your question regarding the atonement for your sins has been answered. May God lead you also to do so.
By Tobais James