JOSEPH – ‘HE SHALL ADD’
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