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Israel Restoration Ministries

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Introduction

My name is Tom Cantor, and I would like to relate some of the unique experiences that were involved in my Jewish upbringing and also in the Life of Joseph. This, I hope, will help readers to understand more about the history and future of the Jewish people. My family’s history includes a long line of rabbis and cantors who originated in Lithuania. Our original family name was Cantorovich (son of a Cantor), but when the Cantorovich’s emigrated to the United States, someone at Ellis Island decided to shorten the name to simply Cantor. After settling in America, my great-grandfather and grandfather both became Rabbis; one in Pittsburgh, and the other in Petersburg, Virginia. The Cantors carried their old country traditions into the new by performing ceremonial responsibilities for Jewish communities. These responsibilities included such tasks as ritual slaughtering of chickens to make them Kosher and serving as moyles who circumcised male babies on the eighth day after birth.

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1950, but was raised in Los Angeles, California as a secular Jew. Of all the rituals I witnessed as a child, circumcision stood out the most to me. As an obstetrician and the son of a rabbi, my father occasionally performed these circumcisions. I remember the familiar scene well – the baby dressed in a white suit, the moyle coming with a smile and a circumcision knife, the blood, and the baby’s screams. The whole ceremony was presented as if it was one of the essential parts of what it meant to be Jewish. Seeing these rituals, I always thought, “If I knew when I was eight days old what was going to happen to me, I would have said, ‘You know, I hate to say this, but if there’s an option for me to not go through this circumcision, I would take that option and just forego the circumcision and being Jewish.’” Well, at eight days old, like all other Jewish babies I unfortunately had no choice in the matter. Being a Jew starts early, and it’s a tough job for a child just eight days old; he has to go through circumcision whether he wants to or not. There is no personal choice involved.

As Jews, my family always celebrated our ethnic customs. For example, we had a Passover dinner in our home every year during which we would remember how the Jewish people had been marked out for extermination, and how we were saved. It was a rather strange celebration. On one hand, the persecution in Egypt and the deliverance under Moses seemed so distant, but on the other, we were all keenly aware of the Nazi disaster which had occurred during the lifetimes of many around that table. The Passover table was interesting because everyone gathered around it somehow bore certain common characteristics -- family and friends alike. We did not look exactly the same, but we had similar Eastern European and Jewish features and knew relatively well the places in the old country from which each had come. Some of us had roots in Lithuania, some in Germany, some in Romania, some in Poland, and several were from a shtetl, or small Jewish village in Russia, the Ukraine, and the Black Sea. Sometimes, the conversation would refer to Nazi concentration camps, and somberness would fill the room. No one asked for any details as we remembered once again that we are a persecuted people. This persecution though, was what caused both the diversity in our appearance and unity in our purpose to survive.

Despite our diversity, one tie that bound us together was our language; a distorted form of German called Yiddish. Often we used Yiddish words that did not seem to have an English equivalent, so we assumed that it was the best way to communicate. Then there were the Jewish jokes that made fun of everyone and everything. We found ourselves learning not only to laugh at these jokes, but in time to make them up as well. When we heard Yiddish references to the same places of origin in the old countries, laughed at Jewish jokes, or saw others with the same Jewish characteristics as our own, we somehow knew that we were Jewish and what that meant. Much of what it meant to be Jewish was not a matter of choice.

Cultural Definition of a Jew

Whenever the question is raised of what it means to be Jewish, there are many responses, but only one real answer. In reality, being Jewish has nothing to do with a choice, but rather with birth; if someone is born a Jew, then on the eighth day he will be marked as such without his consent by a ceremonial circumcision. He will then normally be raised in a Jewish culture.

I know that not all Jews come from Eastern Europe, but for a time I was unaware of the incredible diversity of my people. There are English Jews, Spanish Jews, and Jews from Arabic countries such as Morocco. Latin Sephardic Jews look different from European/ Russian Ashkenazi Jews, and they do not laugh at our humor! I once asked the person sitting beside me on an airplane where he was from. He said that he was from Cuba. His name was Victor Ben Torah. I then asked if he was Jewish, and when he said he was, I replied that I didn’t know they made Cuban Jews! I have since learned that there are also Black Ethiopian Jews who are Jewish by birth, not conversion as I had assumed. Another time, I had a friend from Russia named Sasha, who showed me that his passport has a special symbol, which identifies him as Jewish, not Russian. Therefore, he told me he was not a Russian, but a Jew.

As I mentioned, my family were secular Jews, which meant that we observed the important high holidays like Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah by going to the synagogue and we observed Passover. All of my friends were secular Jews as well. None of us ever spoke about God, nor would we ever say that we had any kind of inside relationship with God, we did not know Him.

Attending the synagogue and learning Hebrew were required aspects of my childhood. These topics were not open for discussion. All of my friends and I had to learn Hebrew in order to be able to recite portions of the Torah. Ever since I was young, my parents had told me that at age thirteen, I would have my Bar Mitzvah and would get lots of presents. There was a catch to getting the presents though; first, I had to learn Hebrew so I could recite the Torah on my Bar Mitzvah day. So, while all the Gentile kids were having fun after school, my friends and I had to go to the synagogue to learn a language which no one we knew even spoke.

While I was growing up, the nation of Israel was promoted in the synagogue as the Jewish homeland, a wonderful, exciting pioneer state. In the 1950s, some rough and tough type of Jews moved to Israel and made it their home; some went but quickly returned to Los Angeles when faced with the unfavorable conditions of the environment. They described life in Israel as very inconvenient; with swamp-like land and occasional Arab shootings. As a secular Jew living in Beverly Hills, I would wonder why we even needed a homeland. What could Jerusalem offer that we did not already have in Los Angeles? Our rabbis taught that Israel is the only true home for Jews. No one was allowed to forget the plight of the Jews who thought they were at home in Nazi Germany. After all, they were German citizens, and there was no denying the tragedy they endured in the place they called home. In order for the “Never Again” to work, Jews needed a homeland. The synagogue’s promotion of the homeland extended to giving money to plant trees in Israel and to learning Israeli pioneer songs.

Going to the temple did not make me a good kid. None of my friends were angels and to say that I wasn’t either would be an understatement. As a result, my parents sent me to a boarding school in Switzerland. From a completely Jewish environment, I was suddenly transferred to a very Gentile atmosphere. My last name labeled me as a Jew, which made me very unpopular with my North African Muslim teachers, especially since I attended during the Six-Day War in 1967. As I silently cheered on the Jewish nation, hoping they would destroy their enemies, all my Muslim teachers openly cursed Israel, while the Gentile student body did not care one way or the other.

Growing up, I could not identify the origin of the Jews or define what makes a person Jewish, nor did I have any knowledge of what the future held in store for my people. It was not until I turned to the Book of authority, the Bible, that I found answers. In 1970, when I was nineteen years old, I was being driven by an inner sense of dirtiness from my immoral lifestyle and was seeking for anything that could take away my inward guilt and shame. Nothing I tried could erase my past memories. Although I had a form of religion from attending the synagogue, I was certainly not on speaking terms with God. I resorted to look for God in the Bible. I was unaware of the difference between the Old and New Testaments, but the New Testament (the Greek Scriptures) intrigued me because it was new, and since it was shorter than the Old, I figured that I could find God faster by using it. I soon reached the fifteenth chapter of Matthew, and there, the truth spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ addressed my problem.

“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man.” (Matthew 15:19-20)

After I read that verse I thought, “He knows me!” However, while the truth I had read diagnosed my problem, it did not solve it. I found the solution a little while later in the book of John.

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

I was certainly interested in knowing how my sin could be taken away! Once, at a Seder dinner, my Uncle Pete had said that Christians believed Christ was the Passover Lamb, and I had never forgotten it. From his statement I went to Exodus 12 to try to find out how the Lord Jesus Christ, as the Passover Lamb of God, could take my sin away. There I saw that the last plague of the Egyptians, the killing of the firstborn, was universal in that it happened to both the Jewish and Egyptian people. I also noticed that Moses had prescribed a very specific way to avoid the plague, selecting and killing a perfect lamb for each family. The blood of that lamb had to be painted on the door posts of each house, and if this command was followed, God would pass over that house and spare the firstborn. I saw that plan as clear and specific.

Months passed, and I met a Jewish-Christian lady named Eve who encouraged me to meet with her pastor. In that meeting, the pastor showed me how to make Jesus my Passover Lamb by receiving Him as my personal Savior. He explained that I had to sincerely pray a prayer to God in which I told Him four things. First, that I was a sinner. That was no problem for me. Second, that I hated my sin, which I certainly did after all the guilt and shame it had plagued me with. Third, that I believed God’s record in the Bible – that God had become a man (the Lord Jesus Christ) in order to die for my sins as the perfect Lamb. And finally, that I wanted to receive Jesus Christ into my heart to be my personal Lord and Savior. I did those things in September of 1970, and immediately my haunting feelings of guilt and shame left, never to return again. That is the day life really began for me. God and I were finally on speaking terms! The Bible became my daily food to nourish my new life. I was very interested to find out from the Bible what it really meant to be Jewish from God’s perspective and what would happen to my people in the future.

The Bible also explained to me that a true Jew is a Jew by choice and not simply by birth. From the Scriptures I learned that the origin of the term Jew, can be traced to the blessing of Jacob’s son, Judah. Judah had not exactly been an exemplary son; he was fond of prostitutes and had not amounted to anything. But when it was time for Jacob to give his final blessing, God opened his eyes to the fact that the Messiah would come through Judah. Because of this, he became Jacob’s most important son and the Hebrew people took on his name. In Hebrew, the name for Judah is Yehudi, but in English, it is shortened to Jew. Taking on the name Judah, or Jew, expresses hope in the Messiah. The Greek word for Messiah is Cristos or Christ (John 1:41). A Christian is a person who also has his hope in the Messiah, meaning that Jew and Christian are synonymous. Being born Jewish or Christian does not involve the will, but choosing to be Jewish or Christian is an expression which represents hope in the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ of the tribe of Judah.

The Conversion of Paul as a Pattern for Israel’s Future

An important Jewish man wrote most of the Greek Scriptures. These Scriptures record that he was a devout Pharisee named Saul, who zealously persecuted those who turned to the Lord Jesus Christ as Messiah. A great change happened in Saul’s life, marked by a change to his name. While on a journey to harass more converts to the Lord Jesus Christ, God Himself broke into Saul’s life.

“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.” (Acts 26:14)

Saul was already under intense personal conviction. He looked up to Heaven and uttered a reply which became the burning question of his life: “Who art thou, Lord?” God answered, “I am Jesus, whom thou persecutest.” What Saul heard from Heaven was the Hebrew Ani Yeshua or “I am Jesus” and then his passion and life’s course were transformed. His purpose became a quest to know God more. His life’s work was now not only to know God, but to make Him known throughout the world. Saul, now called Paul, came to understand the all important truth that knowing God as Jesus was the difference between possessing eternal life or death.

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3)

Paul understood that coming to know God, the most important thing in life, was to be  translated from a destiny of Hell to a destiny of Heaven. Even at the end of Paul’s life, he wrote that his life’s goal had not changed and was still, “that I may know Him.” (Phil. 3:10). Describing his conversion, Paul made a statement about his life which bears direct reference to the future of the Jewish people.

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

Paul spoke of the greatest discovery he had ever made, one that he knew everyone must receive and accept as he had. This discovery was that Christ Jesus came into the world to save anyone who put their trust in Him. Paul stated that he was at the head of the line of sinners, but realized that being a chief sinner and obtaining God’s mercy was a pattern for others. This pattern was one that he knew his people, the Jews, would eventually follow. With his statement, Paul was telling the Jewish nation who they were and what they would face in the future. Jews today, like all people, are sinners, needing God to save them. In turn, God is patient and wants to give them mercy so they can be saved and inherit everlasting life and fulfill their destiny of bringing the knowledge of God or the Lord Jesus Christ to the world.

The Origin and Calling of the Jews

According to the Bible, the physical Jews originate from one man, Abram, a seventy-five year old Syrian. Abram’s call is recorded in Scripture:

“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” (Genesis 12:1-4)

The account opens in Ur of the Chaldees, where Abram lived in a city called Haran. Abram’s first test was the command to leave everything that was familiar: his country, city, relatives, even his family, (sometimes Jewish people have follow their father Abraham by doing the same as Abraham when they hear God’s call to come to the Lord Jesus Christ). God called Abram alone.

“Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.” (Isaiah 51:2)

Abram had a secret, an intimate relationship with God that was shared only between them alone. The record of the Scriptures never says that God called Abram’s wife Sarah, but she was a woman who trusted God enough to follow her husband and we can be sure that she had her own personal relationship with the Lord. As the father of the Jewish people, Abram possessed a faith that challenges every Jewish person to ask, “Do I, like Abram, have a secret intimate relationship with God that only we share?” Abram lived in an idolatrous country, and undoubtedly his family also worshipped idols. God’s call was a test to determine if Abram was willing to value God more than his country, kindred, and family.

“So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.” (Genesis 12:4)

Abram passed the test. His obedience was his distinguishing quality: believing and following God without question. Abram left his country, kindred, and (with help from God when his father died), his family. God did not tell Abram where he was going. For Abram, a relationship with God was a treasure, and being close to God was part of the relationship, even if it meant following Him into the unknown. Abram’s faith poses another question for the Jewish person. “Do I, like Abram, value God over my country, kindred, and family?” A Jewish person who chooses to follow the Lord Jesus Christ may find himself, like Abram, separated from his Jewish family, but if he, like Abram, chooses God over all else he will find that God fills the emptiness and loneliness by blessing him and making him a blessing like He did for Abram.

To commemorate the fact that Abram’s old life was over and a new life begun, God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, meaning “the father of many nations.” God explained to Abraham that He would make of him a great nation, and through him all families of the earth would be blessed. Jewish people, as descendants of Abraham, have a purpose, and until they become through God a blessing to all the families of the earth by bringing the knowledge of the true God, the Lord Jesus Christ to all families, they will never find their fulfillment in life.

The greatest problem for all families of the earth is sin, its bondage, hurts, guilt, scars, and ultimately, its eternal judgment in hell. God chose to bring the remedy for sin, the Messiah, through Abraham. For Abraham’s descendants to be a blessing to all people is for them to follow Abraham’s challenge to bring all people the knowledge of the Messiah to the peoples of the world. Every Jewish person should consider how much his response to God resembles that of Abraham. How far is each Jewish person willing to follow their father Abraham’s example to set God over country, kindred, and family? Abraham had such a close relationship with God that God referred to him as His friend. Would God call you His friend?

“But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.” (Isaiah 41:8)

“Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” (James 2:23)

God has a unique plan for His Jewish people to be a blessing to all nations. This plan is illustrated by a historic meeting between God, who had become a man, and an immoral Gentile woman at a well (recorded in the Greek Scriptures in John 4.) This Gentile woman was great need; her immorality showed that she was a sinner and had left her in a state of empty defilement. Her soul was thirsty for relief from sin. Yet standing before her was the fulfillment of the promise of relief from her sin made to Abraham. Representing Israel or the Jewish people, the Lord Jesus spoke to the Gentile world when He spoke to her, plainly declaring that He was the Messiah. Then He exposed the error and ignorance of Gentile worship.

“Ye worship ye know not what.” (John 4:22)

What a statement! This is a commentary on all Gentile religions that they wander in the dark and leave people in the sad state of insecurity, ignorance and bewilderment. The Lord Jesus was saying that all attempts to reach God through different man made religions, efforts, and ceremonies are futile – hopeless gropings in the dark. Worshipers in Gentile religions cannot be one hundred percent sure of heaven because they are not based on having a personal relationship with the only God on His terms. Fortunately, the account in John 4 does not end there. In contrast to Gentile religions, the Jewish Messiah Lord Jesus explained the alternative.

“We know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22)

The Lord Jesus Christ was saying that God revealed to the Jewish people His terms for all men to come to know how to find salvation from sins through knowing who God is (the Lord Jesus Christ) and knowing Him personally. God called the Jewish people to do, to take that message from God for how to know Him to the world. That is what He meant by, “salvation is of the Jews.” The Lord Jesus Christ was directing the Gentile world to look to the Jewish people for His message of hope and salvation. The Lord Jesus Christ is salvation personified and He came from the Jewish people, therefore, salvation is of the Jews. Abraham’s descendants have been given by God what all families of the earth need in order to find their greatest blessing – salvation. This great need of every individual is to be saved from sin with it’s guilt, presence, consequences, and power. In Hebrew, the Messiah’s name is Yeshua, meaning God saves. The Messiah came from the Jewish nation to bring salvation to all the world. Today the most famous Jew known over all the world by billions is the Lord Jesus Christ.=

Joseph’s History Explains the History and Future of Israel

Please read Genesis 37 and 39-48. Today we do not see Jewish people bringing the knowledge of God and salvation to the world. The world has been brought famous musicals like West Side Story by the Jewish composer Leonard Bernstein, famous scientific discoveries such as the theory of relativity by the Jewish physicist Albert Einstein, and famous medical breakthroughs like the polio vaccine by Jewish doctors Paul Sabin and Jonas Salk. But, Jewish people have not brought the world the knowledge of how to go to Heaven through the Lord Jesus Christ. Although the life goal of the Jews was supposed to be bringing salvation to the world, something went wrong. The explanation for what happened comes from a man named Stephen, who spoke to the Jewish leaders of his day just before they martyred him for his faith. In his speech, Stephen summarized the history and current state of the Jewish people. His description of Israel’s past also matches the pattern of Paul’s life before his conversion.

“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers.” (Acts 7:9-15)

Stephen chose the life of Joseph to explain the past, present, and future of the Jewish people; a significant choice. As we shall see it was very important when Stephen said “and at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren.” When the brothers saw Joseph the first time in Egypt “they didn’t know who He was”, but the second time they knew Him. Although little is known about Joseph’s boyhood, Scripture records that as a boy, Joseph had two dreams which indicated that his family would someday bow down to him. These dreams earned him his brothers’ hatred.

Loyalty to the Father

As a teenager Joseph brought his father a bad report about some of his brothers which further fueled the hatred of his brothers.

“These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.” (Genesis 37:2)

Whatever Joseph learned about his brothers, it was obviously negative, and its discovery left him with a decision. He could either be loyal to his brothers, ignoring their sin, or he could be loyal to his father and tell him the truth. He chose to honor his father, showing that he was keenly aware of the responsibility in his hands and the need to be loyal to those who trusted him. Joseph was put to the test again in Egypt while he was a slave to Potiphar and his wife tried to seduce him.

“There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9)

In the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ knew that God, His Father, trusted Him to bring salvation to man. Everyone has wasted days which they would like to redo, but this was never the case with the Lord Jesus Christ. The Messiah, or sent One, every day of His life was focused on the One who had sent Him and what He needed to accomplish. He never finished a day with regret.

“And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” (John 8:29)

Hated for His Youth

Joseph’s youth was another factor in the disrespect he received from his family. Joseph had ten older brothers, and for his father Jacob to favor Joseph, the second youngest, over all of them fomented much of their hatred.

According to Scripture, the Lord Jesus was about thirty years old when he began His three years of public ministry. During that time, the Lord Jesus Christ stood before the Jewish scholars, men who were typically at least fifty years old. Before them, the Lord Jesus appeared as a very young man. When the Lord Jesus spoke of Abraham, the elderly scholars taunted Him about His age, revealing that the Lord Jesus, like Joseph, was despised because of His youth.

“Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?” (John 8:57)

Hated for His Father’s Favor

Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel, had only two sons. Joseph was the firstborn, which made him Jacob’s favorite. The second son would be born later to Jacob after Joseph was allegedly killed. That son was named Benjamin or Ben-oni. He was named Ben-oni or son of my strength because his mother Rachel died giving birth to him and losing all her strength. However, Joseph was her firstborn son, which made him Jacob’s favorite. To express the special affection he felt for Joseph, Jacob made him a beautiful coat of many colors. This gift made it obvious that Jacob intended to elevate Joseph over his brothers when it came to the inheritance, and this infuriated the rest of Jacob’s sons.

“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.” (Genesis 37:3)

Just as Jacob showed Joseph favor, God the Father loves the Lord Jesus Christ more than all others and has given all things into His hand. This relationship is spoken of in the Psalms and the Gospels.

“Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness: therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Psalm 45:7)

“The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand” (John 3:35).

Hatred Made Normal Conversation Impossible

The hatred that Joseph’s brothers bore for Joseph made it impossible for them to speak to him without an argument. Like Joseph’s brothers, the Pharisees hated the Lord Jesus Christ so much that they saw conversation only as a way to entrap Him. While the Lord Jesus responded to their questions, the Pharisees were devising ways to use His answers to accuse Him.

“And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him”

(Genesis 37:4)

“Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.” (Matthew 22:15)

Hatred Because of Envy

We are given a very simple reason for the brothers’ hatred of Joseph – envy.

When the Jewish leaders delivered the Lord Jesus for crucifixion, Pilate, a Roman governor, was aware of the real reason they wanted the Lord Jesus Christ executed. Envy caused the religious leaders to hate the Lord Jesus Christ.

“his brethren envied him.” (Genesis 37:11)

“he knew that for envy they had delivered him” (Matthew 27:18)


Hated for His Predictions of the Future

Joseph had two dreams which shaped his life, and he viewed them for what they were - the Word of God. In the beauty of his innocence, Joseph shared these dreams with his family, never giving the consequences of rejection a second thought.

“And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?” (Genesis 37:6-10)

He was excited to share his messages from God, but the exaltation implied in his dreams further inflamed the hatred of his brothers. They were infuriated to think that he might rule over them.

Similarly, at the trial of the Lord Jesus Christ also explained the truth of His coming exaltation, but just like Joseph’s brothers, His accusers were infuriated.

“Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands.” (Matthew 26:64-67)

Relationship with the Father

Concerned for his sons, Jacob asked Joseph to care for them, and he responded quickly with a ready “Here am I.” He loved doing his father’s will because of the special relationship the two enjoyed, and Jacob knew Joseph could be trusted to do whatever he was asked.

“And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I. And he said to him, Go, I pray thee, see whether it be well with thy brethren, and well with the flocks; and bring me word again. So he sent him out of the vale of Hebron, and he came to Shechem.” (Genesis 37:13-14)

The Bible reveals in the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4 that all three persons in the God-head, Abba Elohim (or God the Father), Ben Elohim (or God the Son) and Ruach Elohim (or God the Spirit) are all of one character and purpose. They have a special relationship of Echad or Oneness between them.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” or “Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad” (Deuteronomy 6:4)

We know the special relationship of Echad or Oneness between Ben Elohim God the Son or the Lord Jesus Christ and Abba Elohim God the Father because Ben Elohim has revealed many aspects of that Echad relationship to us.

A relationship of communication.

“All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”

(John 15:15)

A relationship of confidentiality. What the Father and Son know of each other, they keep secret until both are in agreement that it should be revealed.

“All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27)

A relationship of comfort. The Son feels comfortable pouring out the struggles of His heart to the Father.

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39)

A relationship of choice. The Father gives His Son a choice of whether or not to obey.

“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

A relationship of collaboration. The goals and priorities of the Father are fully adopted  by the Son, becoming His own.

“And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)

A relationship of confidence. The Father trusts His Son enough to give Him all things.

“All things are delivered to me of my Father.” (Luke 10:22)

A relationship of commitment. The Son is committed to ensuring that His Father should not be defamed.

“And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.” (John 2:16)

A relationship of cooperation. Both Father and Son work together and at the same time.

“But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.”

(John 5:17)

A relationship of compliance. The Son puts the Father’s will over His own, wholeheartedly obeying the Father even though He has the power not to.

“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18)

“I have kept my Father’s commandments” (John 15:10)

“I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”

(John 5:30)

A relationship of constant companionship. The Father and Son delight to be in each other’s company.

“I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” (John 8:16)

“Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him.” (Proverbs 8:30)

A relationship of consistency. The Son mirrors the Father; they are the same.

“He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9)

“I and my Father are one.” (John 10:30)

A relationship of confirmation. The Son is not ashamed of His Father, and declares Him to the world.

“I speak that which I have seen with my Father” (John 8:38)

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18)

A relationship of consideration. The Father and Son honor each other.

“I honour my Father” (John 8:49)

“It is my Father that honoureth me.” (John 8:54)

A relationship of comprehension. The Father and Son possess intimate knowledge of one another.

“As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father.” (John 10:15)

A relationship of love.

 “the Father hath loved me.” (John 15:9)

A relationship of communion. When the Father and Son were separated, they missed each other.

“I go to my Father, and ye see me no more” (John 16:10)

“obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.”

(Philippians 2:8-9)

Focused on the Father’s Business

Joseph set off to help his brothers, satisfied that he was obeying his father, and never considering danger. Having found their camp, Joseph was happy that he could please his father by caring for his brothers. However, the brothers had an opposite intention, focused on destroying the one who was sent to help them. As Joseph approached, they began to conspire.

“And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:18-20)

We know very little about the Lord Jesus as a child. He did not come into the public eye until his ministry began at the age of 30 years old. Just one event from the Lord Jesus’ childhood is recorded, giving us a small insight into His youth. As a child, the Lord Jesus already knew His life’s calling – to save people from their sins and bring salvation to Israel and through them to the world. In preparation for this great work, He began to gain firsthand knowledge of Israel’s leaders by asking them questions. In this phase of preparation as a child, the Lord Jesus fully gave Himself to His Father’s work.

“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”

(Luke 2:41-49)

The result of the Lord Jesus’ investigation of the Jewish leaders was the knowledge that His people were being misled into thinking they had to keep the law and traditions and good works in order to go to Heaven. They were not being taught about the marvelous grace of God or the provision of the perfect Lamb to take away their sins. This lack of knowledge was destroying God’s people.

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)  

To keep Israel from destruction, the Lord Jesus Christ began to teach. Later, after He started His public ministry, the Jewish leaders plotted His death, just as Joseph’s brothers plotted to kill Joseph. The leaders finally succeeded by paying off one of the Lord Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot.

“And he taught daily in the temple. But the chief priests and the scribes and the chief of the people sought to destroy him.” (Luke 19:47)

“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.” (Matthew 26:14-16)

Envy Transitioned to Hatred and a Murderous Plot

“Behold, this dreamer cometh. Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:20)

As Joseph approached his brothers, they began to repeat the phrase that reflected their envy: “this dreamer cometh.” The dreams emphasized the fact that God had ordained Joseph to rule over them. Without even considering that God was behind the dreams, they placed the blame solely on Joseph. As they repeated the phrase, Joseph’s brothers worked themselves into a murderous frenzy, following the same pattern as Cain.

Cain envied Abel’s sacrifice because it was favored by God, and he also allowed his envy to turn into a murder-inducing hatred. Likewise, the Jewish leaders understood exactly who the Lord Jesus Christ claimed to be: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob or God Almighty.

“Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” (John 8:58-59)

By claiming this, Jesus stated He was the “I AM” and God that the Israelites cried out to for their rescue as they were losing hope during the Egyptian bondage. God heard their cry, commissioning Moses to rescue his people. At first, Moses was doubtful; doubting the Israelites would listen. To give him credibility, God instructed Moses to claim the authority of the I AM, who then proved Himself through a series of miraculous acts.

He broke the back of the most powerful nation on earth, Egypt using ten plagues.

He opened up the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross over on dry land.

He destroyed the Egyptian army with its Pharaoh in a watery grave.

He fed millions of Israelites in the wilderness for forty years with a sustaining food called manna.

He provided water from rocks in the desert during the same forty years.

He kept the Israelites’ clothing and shoes from wearing out during their travels.

He defeated the Israelites’ numerous and strongest enemies.

He gave the Israelites their enemies’ lands, houses, vineyards, and orchards.

The Israelites owed everything to the I Am. To know and be a friend of the I Am was the greatest treasure possible; it meant alignment with the source of life and protection. The Lord Jesus’ honest proclamation ignited murder in the hearts of the leaders, who took up stones to kill Him. His enemies were faced with either repentance, submission and worship or murder.

Hatred for the Exposure of Sin

““Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.” (Genesis 37:2)

“Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.” (John 12:5-8)

Joseph’s brothers and Judas had both been rebuked, and the fact that someone had spoken out against their sin did not cause repentance, but instead, hatred for the person who had confronted them. This is a typical response for those who want to continue in their sin without remorse.

“Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

(John 8:12)

“For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” (John 3:20)

The Pain of Hearing Life and Death Negotiated

“And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it. And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver.” (Genesis 37:24-28)


“And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly. Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.  And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas. Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?  For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.  When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.  But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.”  (Matthew 27:12-20) “Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.”  (John 18:29-31)


From the pit of death, Joseph could hear his brothers calmly discussing the pros and cons of the best method of his disposal.  He heard the Midianites’ approach, the brother’s discussion, and the financial proposal.

The Jewish leaders brought the Lord Jesus to a Roman governor and falsely accused Him of many things. The Lord Jesus Christ could have easily refuted all the accusations, yet He stood in majestic silence as the Lamb of God.  He listened as Pilate and the Jewish leaders discussed whether it would be best to release Him or a murderer. It must have been incredibly painful for both Joseph and the Lord Jesus to listen to negotiations for their deaths.


“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”  (Isaiah 53:7)

Hurting the One Who Came to Help

The very reason Jacob sent Joseph to find his brothers was Jacob’s concern for his sons; Joseph was sent to care for them. In return, his brothers callously sold him as a slave.

“Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” (Genesis 37:28)

For the same reason, God the Father sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ to care for His creation, mankind.

“The Lord…is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4)

The Father is aware that man has sinned and is therefore headed for hell, yet that fate is not His desire. The Lord Jesus was sent to earth to make a way for men to be saved from their sins.

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”(Luke 19:10)

“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” (Acts 2:22-23)

Neither the Lord Jesus nor Joseph was received by those they came to save. Joseph was thrown into a pit; the Lord Jesus was crucified. Both were aware of the danger they faced, yet they obeyed their fathers anyway.

Covering Up What Really Happened

Joseph’s brothers wanted him gone, but obviously they did not want their father to know where he was.

“Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” (Genesis 37:20)

It was not comfortable for the brothers so when it was said that they should “come now therefore” they were overriding their consciences with a call to close ranks and join together in their wrong actions. If Jacob knew his favorite son was in Egypt, not only would he severely punish his sons, but he would also immediately go to the rescue him. To avoid this, the brothers planned an elaborate deception designed to keep Jacob from the truth – providing him with proof of Joseph’s death. Their proof was the coveted coat of many colors covered with the blood of an innocent animal, the brothers said that they found the coat in the wilderness.

A similar situation occurred when the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead just as He had predicted. The resurrection was an unwelcome event to the Jewish leaders, who would lose their reputations and positions if the Lord Jesus was proven to be Messiah. They had to cover up the truth. Their solution was to pay the tomb guards to say that the Lord Jesus’ disciples came and stole His body. The real issue was never about truth or reality, but a new reality created by guilty people to benefit themselves.

Coat the Spoke Wrongly of Demise

“And it came to pass when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him.”(Genesis 37:23)

Joseph prized his colorful coat not for its beauty alone. In a deeper sense, the coat represented his father’s special love and the close relationship the two enjoyed. Powerless to prevent what was happening, Joseph painfully saw the coat used by his brothers to deceive his beloved father.

The Lord Jesus also possessed a special coat, truly remarkable because it had no seams. Roman guards who had previously taken his other clothes and divided them for the fabric saw the beauty of this garment, and decided to gamble for it. They reasoned that the Lord Jesus did not need the coat because He was never coming back. Like Joseph’s coat however, this was deceptive because He was most certainly coming back just three days later when He would resurrect from the grave.

“Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.” (John 19:23-24)

Dehydration

The word cast describes how Joseph was placed in the pit. The word implies anger; it is also used in the book of Revelation to describe sinners being cast by God into the lake of fire. The passage below specifically states that there was no water in the pit. For all Joseph knew, he was facing death by dehydration in the hot desert.

“And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.” (Genesis 37:24)

Similarly, David foretold the Messiah would suffer from dehydration.

“My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.” (Psalms 22:15)

Psalm 22 is a graphic description of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because crucifixion was so horrible, its victims were usually offered a narcotic concoction of vinegar and gall. This drink, a hallucinogen, was made available to the Lord Jesus also. In essence, the Romans were advising the Lord Jesus not to go through this horrible death in His right mind.

“They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink.” (Matthew 27:34)

When the Lord Jesus Christ tasted the liquid he was offered, He refused to drink it even though He was parched with thirst. The Lord Jesus Christ had come to the cross with the purpose of completing a certain work. The cross was the place for the atonement, something that only the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, could accomplish.

“Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”(Hebrews 2:9)

The work of atonement or his Cross work is described as “tasting death.” In order for the Lord Jesus Christ to fully taste death, He needed to be entirely conscious regardless of what He felt; so there could be no narcotic. The Messiah did not have to be forced or dragged to the cross unwillingly. Knowing His Father’s will and how many souls would be saved by His death and made eternally happy the Lord Jesus spoke clearly of His willingness to lay down His life:

“Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:17-18)

The cross was the Lord Jesus’ life work. On the cross, the Messiah made atonement possible and He was determined to finish that work completely. Because He did so, any sinner can be fully forgiven. When the Lord Jesus Christ had finished the work of atonement on the cross, dehydration had so affected Him that He was unable to shout the victory cry.

“My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death.” (Psalms 22:15)

By the end of His ordeal, the Lord Jesus could not speak, and finally accepted the vinegar and gall only to free His tongue. Before the narcotic took effect (note that Scripture says He “had received the vinegar;” there was no time for the gall to take effect), He gave the victory cry.

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a spunge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.”(John 19:28-30)

But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. (John 19:33-34)

After He cried, “It is finished,” it was obvious that the Lord Jesus was dead. When a soldier came to confirm Jesus’ death, he did not even need to break His legs, as was customary. Instead, the soldier took his spear and jabbed it up into the Lord Jesus’ side, straight into His heart. The Lord Jesus lost so much blood that He had probably experienced hypovolemic shock, meaning His heart in the end beat rapidly in an effort to pump the little remaining blood throughout His body. The rapid heart rate caused the lungs and the pericardial sac around the heart to fill with excess water. Because of this, when the soldier pierced the Lord Jesus’ side with his sword, all of the water and remaining blood were released. Like Joseph, the Lord Jesus had been put in a place with no water, and He died of dehydration.

The Hardened Hearts of the Unmoved Spectators

“And they sat down to eat bread.” (Genesis 37:25)

“And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear.” (Genesis 42:21)

The first verse illustrates just how callous Joseph’s brothers were – it was a small thing to them to dispose of their brother so lightly. In the second, describing a later event, the brothers remembered the anguish they had seen on Joseph’s face, yet their biggest worry had been for lunch. Joseph in the pit was only entertainment.

It seems the crowd at the foot of the Lord Jesus’ cross should have been awed by the moment, realizing that they were witnessing the atonement, the fulfillment of the Scriptures. However, just the opposite happened. The crowd decided to sit down and just watch the Lord Jesus Christ die; it was no major concern to them. They saw it merely as another crucifixion, just like the many they had already witnessed, a diversion to pass the time.

“And sitting down they watched him there.” (Matthew 27:36)

Unwilling to Get Their Hands Dirty

“And they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt. And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” (Genesis 37:25-28)

Something about what they were doing did not sit well with Joseph’s brothers. They were just too close to the responsibility for their own brother’s death, too close to dirtying their hands with blood. As they considered this, an unexpected solution presented itself – a band of Ishmaelites. These merchants were from Midian, and in a broader designation they were known as Ishmaelites, emphasizing their ancestry to Ishmael rather than Isaac. The emphasis is the fact that these merchantmen were Gentiles, perfect candidates to do the brothers’ dirty work. Judah was the first to verbalize the idea, but his brothers eagerly agreed to the plan. This was not the only time that Gentiles were used to perform the dirty work of Jewish people. King Saul, jealous of his servant David, tried to destroy him by sending him into battle with the Philistines.

“Be thou valiant for me, and fight the LORD’S battles. For Saul said, Let not mine hand be upon him, but let the hand of the Philistines be upon him.”

(1 Samuel 18:17)

Yet again, the Jewish leaders repeated the pattern with the Lord Jesus Christ, because, like Joseph’s brothers, they did not want to put Him to death themselves. In this case, the Gentiles were cruel Romans who did not hesitate to execute Jews to instill fear in others. There was a problem, however. Pilate did not wish to cooperate with the leaders; in fact, he literally washed his hands of the matter. Pilate was aware that the Lord Jesus was innocent; he declared on two separate occasions that he could find no fault in Him. Furthermore, the Roman governor was also conscious that he was being used to do the dirty work of envious religious leaders, a pawn in an internal affair. Pilate challenged these men by asking, “Am I a Jew?” He was using this rhetorical question to ask why he, a Gentile, should be the one to get rid of their Messiah the Lord Jesus, and he also worked very hard to release the prisoner. The leaders retaliated by using a political sensitivity to make Pilate afraid of his superior and force his hand. Therefore, Roman hands, not Jewish ones, whipped and tore the flesh from the back of Israel’s anointed one. Romans put the crown of thorns on the King of Israel and drove the nails through the hands and feet of the Messiah. Gentiles were used in both cases of Joseph, and the Lord Jesus, to divert guilt from the true offenders.

“Then said Pilate to the chief priests and to the people, I find no fault in this man.” (Luke 23:4)

“But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews? For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.”  

(Mark 15:9-10)

“Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?” (John 18:35)

“When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God… And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” (John 19:6-7, 12)

“When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.” (Matthew 27:24)

Financial Gain from Betrayal

It appears Judah reconsidered the plan to kill Joseph and saw a financial opportunity. If they were going to get rid of Joseph anyway, they should at least make some money off of him.

“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” (Genesis 37:26-28)

The rest of the brothers agreed, so they stopped the Ishmaelites and sold their brother as a slave, showing their hardness of heart. The fact that they could calmly negotiate over the price of their brother revealed just how far into insensitivity they had fallen.

Jesus had a Judah also – Judas Iscariot. Judas recognized that the Jewish leaders would eventually destroy His master, and decided to profit from the inevitable, since he was in the perfect position to betray the Lord Jesus.

“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” (Matthew 26:14-15)

The Betrayal Turned Away Unbelievers

“we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear.” (Genesis 42:21)


Joseph’s brothers were not the only ones to see Josephs’ anguish. Ishmaelites also witnessed the event, a shocking scene. In no culture do brothers sell one of their own, yet these hardened men betrayed their own brother without shame. The Ishmaelites must have wondered what kind of people these Hebrews were; men who could sell one of their own flesh and blood. The act ruined the Israelites’ name in the eyes of the merchants and discouraged them from wanting to know anything about the God of Israel. The Israelites certainly were not fulfilling their destiny by reflecting in their lives a God of love, mercy, and grace. Instead, they were displaying ruthless treachery, and by their actions alienated the Ishmaelites from any desire to know more about the Israelites’ God, who they so desperately needed.


“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  (Genesis 12:2-3)


“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests.”  (Matthew 26:14)“Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?” ( John 18:35) “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15)


 It became widely known that one of the Lord Jesus’ own inner circle was His betrayer. As the Lord Jesus Christ was given up for execution, Pilate was repulsed that He had been given up by His own countrymen, and made sure to distance himself from the Jews. It had been millennia since God’s commission to Abraham and his descendants to bless the earth, and now those very people clamored for His death. To fulfill their mandate, the Jewish people were supposed to carry knowledge of the saving God of Israel to the world, specifically the Gentiles, but who would listen to a message of forgiveness from a people seen as calling for the death of their Messiah?

“And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”  (Exodus 19:6) “Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God.  And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength.  And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”  (Isaiah 49:1-6)

The passage above promises a light to help bring salvation to the Gentiles. This light was the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. When the Lord Jesus was just an infant, Simeon held Him in his arms and referred to Him as Yehoshua or salvation. This passage is clearly in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. Later, Paul and Barnabas also had something to say about this passage.

“For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”  (Luke 2:30-32)


“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”  (Acts 13:46-47)


 We see that both Joseph’s brothers and then Israel as a nation, failed to provide a good testimony of God’s love and plan of salvation to the unbelievers around them. The people of Israel have not fulfilled their destiny for thousands of years, but they will do so in the future, as described by the prophet Zechariah.


“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.”  (Zechariah 8:23)

No Response to a Perfect Plea

“we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear.” (Genesis 42:21)

Joseph’s brothers were not the only ones to see Joseph’s anguish. Ishmaelites also witnessed the event, a shocking scene. In no culture do brothers sell one of their own, yet these hardened men betrayed their own brother without shame. The Ishmaelites must have wondered what kind of people these Hebrews were; men who could sell one of their own flesh and blood. The act ruined the Israelites’ name in the eyes of these merchants and discouraged them from wanting to know anything about the God of Israel. The Israelites certainly were not fulfilling their destiny by reflecting in their lives a God of love, mercy, and grace. Instead, they were displaying ruthless treachery, and by their actions alienated these Ishmaelites from any desire to know more about the Israelites’ God, who they so desperately needed.

“Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests.” (Matthew 26:14)

“Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done?” ( John 18:35)

“But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15)

It became widely known that one of the Lord Jesus’ own inner circle was His betrayer. As the Lord Jesus Christ was given up for execution, Pilate was repulsed that He had been given up by His own countrymen, and made sure to distance himself from the Jews.

“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:2-3)

It had been millennia since God’s commission to Abraham and his descendants to bless the earth, and now those very people clamored for His death. To fulfill their mandate, the Jewish people were supposed to carry the knowledge of the saving God of Israel to the world, specifically the Gentiles, but who would listen to a message of forgiveness from a people seen as calling for the death of their Messiah?

“And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:6)

“Listen, O isles, unto me; and hearken, ye people, from far; The LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name. And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me; And said unto me, Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified. Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain: yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God. And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:1-6)

The passage below promises a light to help bring salvation to the Gentiles. This light was the Lord Jesus, the Messiah. When the Lord Jesus was just an infant, Simeon held Him in his arms and referred to Him as Yeshua or salvation or Jesus. This passage is clearly in reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. Later, Paul and Barnabas also had something to say about this passage.

“For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.” (Luke 2:30-32)

“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (Acts 13:46-47)

We see that both Joseph’s brothers and then Israel as a nation, failed to provide a good testimony of God’s love and plan of salvation to the unbelievers around them. The people of Israel have not fulfilled their destiny for thousands of years, but they will do so in the future, as described by the prophet Zechariah.

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zechariah 8:23)

The Slow Disappearance Contradicted Sovereignty

“They drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” (Genesis 37:28)

As the Midianites took Joseph, his brothers watched him disappear into the horizon. Marching into the horizon his departing form grew smaller and smaller until finally, he was gone. Their last sight of him was as a slave – a far cry from the sovereignty his dreams had claimed. The Lord Jesus Christ also claimed to be Sovereign, the One who had delivered Israel from Egypt, and the Great Judge who would try all men. Yet, sitting at the foot of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, crowds sat and watched Him suffer through the stages of dehydration. They watched His life fade away until at last He commended His spirit to the Father and was gone. They even nailed up a sign mocking His claim to be the King of the Jews.  It was clear that neither Joseph’s brothers nor the Israelites expected to ever see Joseph or the Lord Jesus Christ again much less as their judge.

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” (John 5:22)

“I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

Not Gone, but Exalted

“And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art. Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:39-45)

No, Joseph wasn’t gone. Great things happened to Joseph; things that his brothers could not witness. He became head servant in his Egyptian master’s home, and after being sent to prison for a crime he did not commit, was made head prisoner in the prison because of his ability to interpret dreams. This God-given ability eventually gave Joseph the second most highest position in the most powerful nation on earth, as well as the Egyptians’ reverence. Meanwhile, Joseph’s brothers were completely ignorant of what was happening to him.

After the Lord Jesus’ death, he too was ignored by the crowd who had watched Him die. As far as they were concerned, He was simply gone, because they could not see what happened to Him after His death. The crowd also was ignorant of what happened to Him after His death.

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)

“when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels.” (Hebrews 1:3-4)

“yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion.” (Psalms 2:6)

The words “exalted” and “extolled” are ram ya nisa in Hebrew. This phrase of elevation is used only to describe God (and the devil who tried to make himself like God.)

“Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.” (Isaiah 52:13)

The Lord Jesus Christ has been exalted to the most powerful One in the universe, and He is at the right hand of God the Father. Many Gentiles know this, but many Jews are unaware of His exaltation, just as Joseph’s brothers were unaware of what happened to Joseph during the time when all of Egypt hailed Joseph as their saving prime minister.

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Jewish Identity Removed by Gentiles

Pharaoh and the Egyptian people were very happy with their new prime minister, but they knew he had been rejected by his own. It was embarrassing for the Egyptians to think that their exalted king was a former slave, betrayed by his brothers. The solution for them was to Egyptianize Joseph. First, he was given an Egyptian name; then he was given an Egyptian wife – and not just any woman, but the daughter of a prominent Egyptian priest. Although he now looked and sounded Egyptian, Joseph could never become Egyptian in heart or break the ties to his family. He constantly thought of them and the day he would reunite with his father and brothers.

In like manner, the Lord Jesus Christ came to His own, but they didn’t want Him and over the years have tried to remove His Jewish identity and apply Him only to Gentiles.

“I am found of them that sought me not: I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name. I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts.” (Isaiah 65:1-2)

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. (Isaiah 60:3)

The first congregation of believers that formed after the Lord Jesus Christ began His ministry was composed of Jews. These believing Jews were often outcasts from their communities – poor fishermen, tax collectors, and women of ill reputation whose lives were changed when they became followers of the Lord Jesus. Then, more Gentiles became believers and the cultural makeup of the congregations began to shift. By the end of the first century, the church had become essentially Gentile. Like the Egyptians, Gentile believers were aware that their Lord Jesus Christ was the despised and rejected King of the Jews, and this rejection was an embarrassment to them. Gradually, the fact that the Lord Jesus was Jewish was de-emphasized and believers began to view the Bible as a Gentile Christian book rather than a Jewish book. Pictures and statues of the Lord Jesus and other Biblical characters were made to look Gentile, and traditional Jewish feasts were dropped in favor of Christian holidays. As an example of this, I remember an experience I had when my wife and I were visiting the Accademia Museum in Florence, Italy. We were looking at the famous Michelangelo sculptures and came to the statue of David. I stood staring at it in amazement, and when my wife asked me why, I said, “I can’t believe it. Look at the statue of David. He is not circumcised – Michelangelo made him not circumcised. He made David into a Gentile! And not only that, look at his face! He looks Italian!” Paintings depicting the Lord Jesus Christ do not look Jewish either because Gentiles who honor the Lord Jesus were embarrassed that He was rejected by the Jewish people so they sought to make Him a Gentile. However, just as with Joseph, God has not forgotten His chosen people in favor of the Gentiles who honor Him.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”(Matthew 23:37)

The Lord Jesus describes Himself as an anxious hen that has lost her chicks and will not give up her feverish searching until they are safely gathered under her wings. The analogy of the hen is important; the use of the word “her” shows ownership as well as personal involvement in the gathering of the chickens. Even though His people rejected and schemed to kill Him, the Lord Jesus Christ never rejected them; rather, He still desires to love and protect them. Just as Joseph orchestrated the salvation of his family from the famine, the Lord Jesus has planned the salvation of the entire nation of Israel. We are nearing the time of what the Bible calls Jacob’s Trouble when the exalted Jewish Messiah will turn and apply pressure to His people to give them repentance and forgiveness of sin and own Him as their God and Messiah.

“Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s Trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (Jeremiah 30:7)

“Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31)

Affliction Reached Home

“Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another? And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.” (Genesis 42:1-2)

The famine had now reached Joseph’s family back in Canaan. Egypt was fed by storehouses of food that Joseph had built throughout the country, but Joseph’s family was not under his rule and care. God had not forgotten them, however, and had worked their salvation into His plan long before. God set Joseph in charge of Egypt for the salvation of both the Egyptians and Hebrews, but the Egyptians received help faster because they honored and obeyed Joseph without the prejudice, hatred and envy his brothers displayed. Likely, Gentiles passed by Jacob and they were carrying food purchased in Egypt, causing him to realize that there was food and a generous sovereign there. It was natural for him to become jealous of these Gentiles who had food while he and his family were starving, but when Jacob turned to his sons to go and get food for the family, they were not excited about the trip. The very thought of Egypt evoked the disturbing memory of a terrible secret and stirred up an immense amount of guilt. No doubt Joseph’s brothers assumed the guilt from their sin would have been erased by time, but instead it only got worse and more haunting. Joseph’s anguish had burned deep into their souls and stayed to torment them. Traveling to Egypt would require them to face their past sins, but the famine was getting worse. There was no other choice.

“And they said one to another, we are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear.” (Genesis 42:21)

In a similar manner, the Lord Jesus Christ was preached by Stephen as bringing about a guilt or remorsefulness for what was done by them in bringing about His death.

“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:30-31)

Just as adversity was brought on Joseph’s brothers in order to bring them face to face with Joseph, prophecy clearly states that a divinely-originated adversity will bring Israel face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ. The work of redemption did not stop when the Lord Jesus Christ left the earth; the Lord Jesus continues to work to bring Israel to repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The Word of God describes the condition of Israel without their Messiah.

“And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me. And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.”(Ezekiel 2:1-8)

No less than six times in eight verses did God say that Israel is rebellious. Their rebellion though, was not too hard for God to break and bring them to repentance. God still loves them and will not fail to remove the rebels from among them. The Scriptures call, “Jacob’s Trouble” a time when Israel will be forced to look beyond themselves turning to God for help.

Seen as Sovereign, But Not Their Own

“And the sons of Israel came to buy corn among those that came: for the famine was in the land of Canaan. And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.” (Genesis 42:5-6)

Finally, Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt. They probably traveled with Gentiles and hoped to get there and then leave with food as quickly as possible, without encountering their brother, who they presumed was still a slave. They had no idea that Joseph was the governor – all they knew was that they were honoring the most powerful man in Egypt. This man controlled the food supply, and therefore held the power of life and death over them. To be on good terms with this man meant life, while to be on bad terms meant death by starvation. Without even knowing it, Joseph’s brothers had placed themselves under Joseph’s authority, and their fate was in his hands.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made by him” (John 1:1, 3)

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” (John 5:22-23)

In the same way that Pharaoh gave Joseph absolute power over Egypt, God the Father has given the Lord Jesus Christ power over the world. One of the titles given to the Lord Jesus Christ is Word of God. This title is simply an unchangeable statement of fact. The truth is that Jesus Christ is God, and therefore holds authority over the entire universe. In Hebrew, He is Melech Ha Olam (King of the Universe) or Adon Olam (Lord of the Universe).

Someone once said, “If you do not like that, then find yourself another universe to live in.” As Joseph’s brothers bowed before their brother without recognizing their relation to him, so for thousands of years have the Jewish people worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ as God without knowing Him. They see their God as the all-powerful One who has the authority of life and death, yet they do not realize that this King of the Universe is their Messiah, Jesus Christ. To be on good terms with this King, a personal relationship with Him means life, while to be on His bad side means eternal, continual death. The fact that the Jewish people do not know Jesus is God does not change the fact of His authority over them.

Recognition and Identification with Family

“Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth. And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them” (Genesis 42:6-7)

Joseph never cast off his brothers. He loved them, and longed for reconciliation with them. Joseph knew he had been given authority for the purpose of saving people from the famine, and now he saw that this salvation extended to his own family. Joseph had never abused his authority to please himself, whether it came from his father, Potiphar, the chief of the prison, or Pharaoh. Now, God had set him in the place of highest authority for a specific purpose, and Joseph again yielded himself to the will of the One who had given him power.

“God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones.” (Genesis 50:20-21)

With these words, it is clear that Joseph was looking beyond his trials to see what God meant for him to accomplish through his circumstances. We can only imagine the flood of emotion that must have been triggered by the sight of his family. In the Psalms, David describes some of what Joseph must have been feeling as he looked back over the years Joseph had to wait for reconciliation with his family.

“Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread. He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” (Psalm 105:16-19)

Joseph immediately understood that the famine that drove his family to him was not a coincidence, but an event orchestrated by God to break the confidence of both Egyptians and Hebrews in their ability to provide for themselves. Since his interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams and the ingenious plan to build and stock storehouses across the country, it must have been tempting for Joseph to claim full credit for his ability and ideas, but he was careful not to let that happen.

“And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace…And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art.” (Genesis 41:16, 38-39)

Another important fact that Joseph recognized was that he had not simply been sold for a servant, but rather he had been sent to Egypt with the purpose of saving his family from destruction. He saw clearly God’s plan of salvation and his role in it. Over the years, it would have been easy to give up on God through his trials, but the memory of his dreams remained as God’s promise that he had been sent. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, Joseph was tempted to doubt God’s motives, but Joseph’s confidence in the good character of God never wavered. Although he had the ability to take personal vengeance, Joseph was determined not to miss the opportunity to please His God.

“I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.” (John 8:37)

“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (Romans 11:1-2)

The Lord Jesus Christ also knew He had been placed in authority. Yet he never tried to seek His own will but only His Father’s, even from childhood. Neither Joseph’s nor the Lord Jesus’ family understood their callings for a time, but that did not stop either one from following God’s will.

“And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:28-29)

“I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”

(John 5:30)

“And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast…And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?...And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” (Luke 2:42, 49, 52)

“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” (John 4:34)

For Joseph, God’s will was to save Israel from destruction. For the Lord Jesus Christ, the will of His Father was saving man from the destruction of eternal hell, giving them instead everlasting life in Heaven. The words below were spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ to Nicodemus of Himself, and in those words His heart’s passion is seen as focused on God’s will. He was not in the world to condemn wrongdoers, but to save them, just as Joseph saved his unrighteous brothers from starvation.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)

In the case of the blind man of John 9, the Lord Jesus’ disciples were sure that his condition was a judgment.

 “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:1-3)

The Lord Jesus Christ, however, saw it as a way to bring glory to God. The blind man received not only physical sight, but also the ability to see that the Lord Jesus was God and trust Him  for eternal life.

During a mock trial, when the Lord Jesus Christ was asked if He was Israel’s Messiah, He responded forthrightly with the truth.

“But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.” (Matthew 26:63-65)

As with Joseph, the Lord Jesus knew beforehand that He would someday be exalted to a position of great authority, and He suffered when He spoke of it. It would be a long time before the Lord Jesus claimed His authority, and though He could have taken the easy way out and called it quits, He held on to the confidence that all things would be made to work together for good, and He stood firm. His life was an adventure of finding opportunities to do the work of His heavenly Father.

“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matthew 26:39)

“Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?” (Matthew 26:53-54)

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” (John 9:4)

Purposefully Kept Himself a Stranger

“And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food. And Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him. And Joseph remembered the dreams which he dreamed of them, and said unto them, Ye are spies; to see the nakedness of the land ye are come. And they said unto him, Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. We are all one man’s sons; we are true men, thy servants are no spies. And he said unto them, Nay, but to see the nakedness of the land ye are come.” (Genesis 42:7-12)

With his brothers bowing down before him, Joseph knew the time had come to enter the next phase of God’s plan to save Israel. He hid his identity not because he hated his brothers, but because he was waiting for them to realize their helpless state. The fact that Joseph knew his brothers denotes more than recognition; he also knew that his brothers were still the same sinful men he had known years before. The point of reconciliation can be reached only from the point of repentance, and Joseph was aware that his brothers were not repentant. Therefore, he continued to speak through an interpreter, using his Egyptian language, looks, and lifestyle to conceal his true identity so that his brothers could not claim familial attachment. This was all part of the trouble Joseph brought on his brothers to make them realize their helplessness.

“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” (2 Corinthians 5:19)

“Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2)

Sin alienated Joseph’s brothers from Joseph, and in the same way, man has alienated himself from God. Although it might seem from his actions that Joseph did not want to reconnect with his estranged family, it was really his brothers who had sabotaged the relationship. Just as reconciliation was Joseph’s ultimate goal, it is the goal of the Lord Jesus Christ to reconcile lost sinners to God – that was the reason He came to the earth.

“Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.”(Matthew 12:18-21)

“Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” (John 4:16-19)

“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)

Through His delicate interaction with a broken woman recorded in John 4, we can see the wisdom and gentleness the Lord Jesus used to apply pressure, leading to repentance. He asked the woman a simple question: could she bring her husband to the Lord Jesus? In this way, He showed that she had not lived a chaste life and that she now had no one as a true husband. Her response, “I have no husband,” was not one of repentance, so the Lord Jesus had to pressure her further. He proceeded to tell her just what she had done – that she had already had five husbands, and the man she was living with was not her husband. The woman was now at a crossroads. She could turn away in rebellion and self-righteousness or submissively repent and turn for salvation to the One who called her actions sinful. Both Joseph and the Lord Jesus exercised great forbearance and patience, gently working with the rebellious to bring them from self-righteousness to repentance so that they could be forgiven.

“The riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering…the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)

“For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

“I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early.” (Hosea 5:15)

“But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:12-13)

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

God made it clear to Israel through His prophet that there can be no help for Israel until they acknowledge their sin. Man must admit that he is lost before he can be found. To claim self-righteousness is rebellion against God, a weapon that must be thrown down in surrender to the mercy of God. God did not come to save people that were already righteous; He only grants salvation to those who realize their need.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

“And he [Saul] fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:4-6)

This is just another example of someone who had to be pressured in order to repent. The “pricks” Saul kicked against, were troubles that God had placed in Saul’s life to bring him to repentance. Saul’s life changed when he heard the words Ani Yeshua, “I am Jesus,” just as the lives of Joseph’s brothers changed when they heard the words Ani Yosef, “I am Joseph.” As a Pharisee, Saul thought he had lived a good life and knew God. But when God stopped Saul in the road, Saul had to ask who He was, showing that Saul did not really know God, just as Joseph’s brothers did not know Joseph, and the Jewish people do not know their Messiah. God had to speak to Saul through difficulties. Joseph had to speak to his brothers in a foreign tongue through an interpreter, and today God uses foreignness of Gentiles to speak to His Jewish people about their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.” (Isaiah 28:11-12)

The End of Self

“If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: But bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die. And they did so. And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us. And Reuben answered them, saying, Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required. And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter. And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.” (Genesis 42:19-24)

Here we can see Joseph’s wisdom at work. He knew that his brothers needed to divorce themselves from their self-righteousness and untruthfulness, but was also concerned for the welfare of his father and brother at home, so he devised a test. He kept Simeon in Egypt as security, gave the rest food, and told them not to come back without proof that they were truthful. He immediately saw progress as his brothers began to admit to each other that they were guilty of sin against Joseph and their untruthfulness over what they had done to Joseph. Hearing their admission, Joseph was so happy that he had to turn away and weep for joy, but he stuck to his plan and even added to it by putting his brothers’ money back in their sacks. By keeping Simeon in Egypt, Joseph was testing the sincerity of his brothers’ repentance. In the past, the same brothers had been happy to leave one of their own brothers imprisoned and forgotten (Joseph). Joseph’s test was to find out if they had changed since then, and would return for their brother Simeon. Soon, the food supply in Canaan again ran out, and Jacob was forced to allow all of his sons to return to Egypt. Again, they stood before Joseph and shared a meal with him.

When Joseph’s brothers returned the second time, Joseph’s steward was not only observing the process of repentance, but he was involved in it as well. He knew the ultimate goal, so he comforted Joseph’s brothers, encouraging them to look to God.

“And they came near to the steward of Joseph’s house, and they communed with him at the door of the house, And said, O sir, we came indeed down at the first time to buy food: And it came to pass, when we came to the inn, that we opened our sacks, and, behold, every man’s money was in the mouth of his sack, our money in full weight: and we have brought it again in our hand. And other money have we brought down in our hands to buy food: we cannot tell who put our money in our sacks. And he said, Peace be to you, fear not: your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks: I had your money.”(Genesis 43:19-23)

Notice that Joseph was not concerned with the eternal state of his family only, but Egyptians as well. His steward was part of the fruit of Joseph’s witness. Now, the faithful steward would help him with one more test. Joseph had the man plant a silver cup in Benjamin’s sack, so that it would appear to have been stolen. When the brothers started for home, he had them chased down and brought back to his palace to be punished for thievery. Expressing a great change of heart, it was Judah who took initiative as the spokesman.

“And Judah said, What shall we say unto my lord? what shall we speak? or how shall we clear ourselves? God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants: behold, we are my lord’s servants, both we, and he also with whom the cup is found.” (Genesis 44:16)

At this point, Joseph’s brothers finally began to reach the end of themselves. The Judah who had spoken over the pit in Canaan was much different than the one that now stood humbly before Joseph. Speaking for the group, Judah acknowledged that God had exposed their iniquity. Their repentance was genuine in that they realized that their sin was primarily against God. What made their confession so real was the fact that they thought they were speaking to a heathen Egyptian. Joseph, of course, personally knew how important it was to demonstrate their wholehearted repentance; when tempted to sin with Potiphar’s wife, he refused because he could not sin against his God, let alone his master. Now that his brothers had finally abandoned their position of “we be true men” (Genesis 42:11) and had acknowledged their troubles as God’s punishment, they were relying on the governor’s mercy alone. Upon his brothers’ repentance Joseph could finally reveal himself for who he truly was.

Like the brothers of Joseph, who saw themselves as true men only needing physical food, there was a father who had come to the Lord Jesus desiring only physical healing for his son. In this passage, the father had brought his lunatic, suicidal child to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ saw that two works were needed in this family – deliverance from an evil spirit for the boy, and deliverance from unbelief for the father.

“And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming. And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:20-24)

The Lord Jesus Christ saw his true need and focused on the man’s statement, “if thou canst do anything.” The Lord Jesus Christ essentially replied with a passage from Scripture:

“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14)

Then, the Lord Jesus showed the man that it was not He who was limited, but the man’s faith. The father had only to believe. A person is saved only after he fully surrenders all his arguments of self-righteousness, throws them down, confesses his need, and begs for mercy. The father in this account quickly realized and admitted his need, and his son was healed as a result.

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)

Another needy man came to Christ wondering what he could do to inherit eternal life.

“And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother. And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up. Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me. And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.” (Luke 18:18-23)

This man’s problem was in realizing that the Lord Jesus was good, but not recognizing that He was God. The Lord Jesus instructed the ruler that if He was good, then He had to be God, since man is sinful. This man was very moral and ethical, but he had broken the first and most important commandment, to love God with all his heart and have no other gods before Him. This man’s god was money, and it kept him from loving God with all his heart. The Lord Jesus as God gave the ruler a prescription – to sell all of his possessions and distribute the money to the poor in order to have treasure in heaven.

There was a Roman centurion who begged the Lord Jesus Christ to come heal his servant, the Lord Jesus Christ went with him. Although the Lord Jesus was sent primarily to Israelites, He was not willing for anyone to be lost, as can be seen by His response to the Gentile centurion.

“I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)

“The Lord is not… willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.” (Matthew 8:5-7)

Joseph had the same concern for others; although he was in authority for the primary purpose of rescuing his family from the famine, he used his power to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of an entire nation.

 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may   obtain mercy. (Romans 11:31)

The book of Romans was written to Gentile Christians and teaches them about the Jewish people. Paul, writer of Romans, explained that it is the Gentile believers’ responsibility to go with love to unbelieving Jews and share the good news of the Gospel with them. Paul was following the example of Joseph’s steward who encouraged Joseph’s brothers to look to God.

“And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee.” (Luke 15:11-18)

This parable is about a son who lashed out against his father, demanding his inheritance immediately so that he could escape from his father’s authority. Later, the son fell on hard times and repented. When he returned to confess his sins, he said he had first sinned against heaven and secondarily against his father. He realized that all sin is against God, and when true repentance occurs, the sinner sees his sin as rebellion against God.

“Against thee, thee only [God], have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.” (Psalms 51:4)

This quote was made by David after his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the murder of her husband, Uriah the Hittite. Like the Prodigal Son realized his sin was against God, David also realized that his sin was toward God and begged Him for forgiveness. David had certainly sinned against many people by his selfish act, yet he saw that the worst part of his sin was not against people but was directed against God Himself. A sinner experiences many feelings as a result of his sin: guilt, shame, sorrow, remorse, and regret, but unless he recognizes that he has sinned against God there can be no repentance. That is why the Apostle Paul, the Jewish writer of Acts, stressed the importance of repentance, which is not just turning over a new leaf in life, it is taking a new life.

“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:21)

Basically, there are two ways people take to find heaven. One is the road of good works, the Mitzvaot road, which relies on the word “do.” This road is burdensome because no one can keep the six hundred thirteen laws in the Hebrew Scriptures, and to even attempt that not only weighs a person down, but leaves the person with a lack of assurance.

“A man is not justified by the works of the law… for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)

This road is also fatal because when good works are paraded before God for approval, He nearly vomits because we are so unclean that even our self righteousness is filthy and putrid  before Him.

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 16:25)

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)

By contrast, God has His reliable road to heaven, the Khen road (Hebrew for grace). This road relies on the word “done,” and is all about what the Lord Jesus Christ has done on the cross to pay the price for all our sins.

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Like Joseph’s brothers, King David, and the prodigal son, a sinner has to move from the Mitzvaot road to the Khen road, God’s reliable road to heaven

No Forgiveness without Acknowledgment of Sin

Until anyone, Jew or Gentile, comes to a place where he acknowledges his sin and asks for forgiveness, there can be no reconciliation. After confession, the Yom Kippur (Day of Covering), the atonement can come. At the cross, all sin was dealt with and paid for which opened the way for any sinner to be forgiven, and have his sin removed. God’s intention for the cross was to provide a basis for forgiving all sin, and when God forgives, He does not even remember that the sin was committed. Once the sinner has been forgiven, he can freely enjoy a cloudless relationship with God because his sins are gone. During the Egyptian famine, Joseph was a picture of this salvation. To have a relationship with Joseph was to have life, and to not have a relationship with Joseph, was to not have life. Joseph provided salvation from a physical death, and the Lord Jesus has provided salvation from spiritual death. Eternal life is simply found in knowing the Lord Jesus Christ.

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all.” (I Timothy 2:5-6)

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3)

Eternal life is to know the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12)

Refusal to Acknowledge Sin Ends in Disaster

There was a time when Joseph’s brothers hesitated to go to Egypt for relief during the famine. To Jacob, the need was clear, but his sons knew that making the trip entailed a danger that their sin would be discovered. Finally, hunger overcame their fear, and they made the trip. If they had persisted in their stubbornness, they and their families lives would have ended with a horrible death. Tragically speaking, the worst thing a person can do is persist in his futile attempts to be saved while refusing salvation through the Lord Jesus. It is entirely unnecessary for someone to persist and refuse God’s salvation and be cast into hell. The most common cause of this, is their self assessment that they are not so bad after all, not as good as some, but not as bad as others. Yet we have already seen how Isaiah describes our own righteousness as filthy rags. These people are deceived, sincere perhaps, but deceived.

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

The people described here, believed with complete sincerity that they had found in their lives a way to heaven that was right. They called Jesus, Lord, and did good works in His name. There is nothing wrong with doing good works, but these people never had a heart-to-heart relationship with the Lord of Life, the Lord Jesus Christ – He never really knew them. The passage above says that only those that do the will of the Father will enter heaven. God the Father’s will is clearly stated in Scripture.

“And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)


A Goal of Repentance, not Destruction

“Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.” (Genesis 45:1)

After his brothers reached the point of brokenness, Joseph did not proceed to crush them by withholding his forgiveness any longer. Their impending reunion was an extremely private family affair. Everyone but family members was sent out of the room, but Scripture allows us to peek through the window and witness the scene. No doubt, Joseph’s brothers had no idea what was happening; all they knew was that the governor with the power of life and death was preparing for some major event involving them. They certainly did not know they were getting ready to have the biggest “What have we done?” moment of their lives. In the same way that Joseph’s brothers came to the end of themselves, Israel will one day understand that they are in great trouble and begin to cry out in utter desperation. This time, there will be a private moment between the Jewish people and their Messiah as the Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself to His brethren. It will a very intimate time between the Jewish people and their Jewish Messiah.

Realization of Ignorance

Keep in mind the palace scene – Joseph’s brothers alone with a powerful ruler who has just ordered everyone else to leave. The brothers must have been wondering how the ruler was going to communicate with them, since he had used an interpreter previously. Saul’s question, “Who art thou, Lord?” must have been playing through their minds as the realization dawned that this man was not who they had assumed. They were, in that moment, in the same place Saul had been on the Damascus road when he realized the God he thought he served was entirely different from what he had been taught. The cries in both instances were urgent cries of necessity to know the person, the ruler who had brought them to that point in their lives.

A Cry and a Declaration

What occurred next must have surprised Joseph’s brothers greatly. The Egyptian governor did not speak, but began to weep so loudly that the Pharaoh’s entire house heard him. That cry spoke more than words could ever express. It showed just how deeply he had been hurt not only by the initial rejection, but by years of separation from those he loved. It also signaled to the brothers that their suspense was nearing an end. Regaining composure, Joseph looked at the men before him and uttered two simple words that sent them all into shock. “Ani Yosef…”

“And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.”

(Genesis 45:2-3)

Ani Yosef – I am Joseph.” Joseph, the rejected one. It was the same phrase Saul heard on his journey to Damascus: “Ani Yeshua – I am Jesus.”

“And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” (Acts 26:14-15)

Upon acknowledging the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, Israel will likewise hear, “Ani Yeshua.” When Joseph identified himself in Hebrew, his brothers were shocked. It was hearing him speak in the Hebrew tongue that shocked them and then hearing him say in Hebrew, “I am Joseph.” The past suddenly began replaying in their minds: the dreams, the hatred, the rebellion, the rejection, the truth. Could it really be Joseph before whom they had bowed? The reality was so shocking that the brothers were paralyzed and did not even hear the rest of Joseph’s sentence, a query about his father Jacob.

“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.” (Luke 19:41-42)

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”(Matthew 23:37)

As Joseph’s brothers were shocked to hear in the Hebrew tongue the words, “I am Joseph” so Saul was shocked to hear, “I am Jesus” in the Hebrew tongue. Seeing Jerusalem, the Lord Jesus wept over it because of a deep pain in His heart, the same pain that caused Joseph’s cry so many years previously. He wept over Jerusalem because of its lost opportunity. Those last three words – ye would not – are the most tragic in the Bible. To turn down God’s personal invitation of reconciliation is to incur His anger, which is a fearful thing.

“For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, the Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:30-31)

Love is the Message that Breaks Barriers

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.”

(Genesis 45:4)

The shock and fear on the faces before him were a sharp contrast to the gentleness with which Joseph invited his brothers to come to him. Guilty, the brothers assumed Joseph could only want vengeance, but his words revealed his clear intention for reconciliation. Before, as the powerful governor, Joseph had been speaking in authoritative roughness, but his commands gave way to entreaties. He did not violate their dignity of choice by grabbing them or throwing himself on them, but rather granted them the sovereignty of personal choice – reconciliation had to be their decision. Joseph took a chance, making himself vulnerable. His brothers could easily have chosen to continue the hatred that they had cultivated years before and reject him the second time. Accepting Joseph’s invitation showed that the brothers had made their decision to forget the past and make peace with the only man who could save them from the famine.

“When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son.” (Romans 5:10)

“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people.” (Romans 10:21)

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Joseph’s brothers were enemies when Joseph’s invitation of reconciliation was extended to them, just as we as sinners were enemies of God when He designed His plan of salvation for us. God is holding out His arms to sinners, begging them to come near to Him just as Joseph did. He does not call them to a religion, a statement of faith, or even a new way of life, but simply to Himself. Yet God leaves man free to make his own choice in the matter; He never forces anyone to come to Him, and He honors each individual’s decision.

“For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:12-13)

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:17)

There is only one qualification for heaven; a choice. God’s promise is clear that He will save whoever calls on the name of His Son. God has decided that heaven will be populated not by those who were forced to be there, but by those who have chosen of their own free will to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Help for Confession and Restoration

“… I am Joseph your brother.” (Genesis 45:4)

This time, Joseph added two more words. Not just, “I am Joseph,” but now, “I am Joseph, your brother.” After all they had done to hurt him, it would have been easy for Joseph to disown his brothers. Not only that, Joseph had been in Egypt for a long time. He had been adopted into Egyptian society and had taken on their looks and habits. He had even started his own family in Egypt, and must have looked nothing like the boy his brothers had sold so long ago. No doubt the brothers needed a little reassurance that this man was indeed their brother.

“I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.” (Genesis 45:4)

Although he still loved his brothers, Joseph had not forgotten their rejection and cruelty, and he owed his brothers a painful but necessary reminder. While Joseph had not forgotten their sin, he chose to love them in spite of his memory. Proving that he remembered their sin but was willing to be reconciled anyway was Joseph’s way of showing full forgiveness, and allowed a new relationship based on love and trust to begin. The indication of forgiveness and reconciliation was the fact that Joseph could now talk freely with his brothers.

“And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck. Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.” (Genesis 45:14-15)

The Egyptians treated Joseph better than his own family did. Likewise Gentiles have treated the Lord Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, better than the majority of His own people.


“When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:10-12)

Despite this, God has not given up on Israel. Someday He will make Himself known as the Lord Jesus Christ, their brother and crucified King, displaying His nail pierced hands.

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36)

He has not forgotten their betrayal, but is willing to forgive, bringing a time of healing for the Jewish people as they come near to the Lord Jesus and accept His offer of forgiveness, beginning a new relationship.

“He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11)

“God hath not cast away His people.” (Romans 11:2)

In Hosea’s day, Israel had again sinned against God, taking them so far they did not even want to come back. They could not even compose words of confession, yet God reached out to them, pleading for their return.

“O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.”(Hosea 14:1-2)

God knew Israel in her present state was half-hearted about repentance and did not know that the first step was confession. Thus, God stepped in, helping them to create a confession which they needed only to repeat with sincerity of heart. God’s hand is not too short to save, nor does He have a hearing problem. The problem is with us – our sins have separated us from Him.

“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.” (Isaiah 59:1-3)

How does one begin a relationship with God when his sin has completely separated him? It is done the same way as Jacob, David, Saul, Joseph’s brothers, and every other person who accepted a relationship with God, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah. Pride and rebellion are surrendered, sin is confessed; forgiveness requested. At Calvary, where the Lord Jesus died sacrificially, all sin debts were paid, the initiative was taken by God, and all that is left is for anyone to accept the gift. Reconciliation is easy because all the work has been done by God!

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Just as Joseph provided enough food for everyone to be saved from famine, Christ has provided for everyone in the world to be saved.

“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

(1 Timothy 2:3-4)

God is Greater Than Sin

Joseph’s care shows his heart – he actually pitied his brothers for their guilt and anger towards themselves. He knew that they no longer needed to feel guilt because they had been forgiven and their sin had been used as part of God’s plan.

“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5)

Before the Lord Jesus spoke these words in Luke 23, He submitted to Roman soldiers who mocked, beat, tortured, and spit upon Him; just as prophets had predicted.

“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)

Walking up the road to Calvary, the Lord Jesus was so weak He could not even carry His own cross. A group of teary-eyed Jewish women followed the Lord Jesus, mourning His impending crucifixion. Jesus was more concerned about them than His own death.

“And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.” (Luke 23:27-30)

Later, He asked for the Father to forgive the very people who nailed Him to the cross, and with His dying breath He pointed the way for another sinner, the thief hanging beside Him, to go to heaven.

“And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

The Lord Jesus was not focused on His own pain, but on the spiritual rescue of others, just as Joseph cared similarly towards his brothers.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”

(Hebrews 4:15)

Knowing all the suffering that the Lord Jesus Christ has gone through and still remained sinless for us makes Him easy for us to come to as our great High Priest.

Full Forgiveness

“Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:5)

Joseph could easily have punished his brothers for their sins, but instead he chose to forgive them completely. The brothers in turn, keenly aware that Joseph had power to make them pay, were probably skeptical of his quickness to forgive; perhaps once he had a chance to think about it, he would reconsider. But Joseph’s brothers judged him by their standards, not God’s. The reason Joseph was able to forgive was because of his close relationship with God, the ultimate example of forgiveness. This relationship was one of trust; and he knew his calling was to save people’s lives, not indulge in vengeful destruction, even of those who mistreated him.  

During His earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus and His disciples traveled to Samaria, a village of people half Jewish and half Gentile. He came to bring them the knowledge of the God of Israel and salvation, but in disbelief they refused to see Him. The disciples infuriated, wanted to call down fire from the sky and destroy the entire village as Elisha had done. The Lord Jesus refused to grant permission for such an act, showing the same forgiveness Joseph had shown to his brothers. He explained to them that His job was not destroying, but saving.

“And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:52-56)

His life’s purpose was bringing salvation to the world, and He gently reminded His disciples to keep the right focus.

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

After being scourged by the Romans, the Lord Jesus Christ did not at all appear as the Almighty Judge of the universe. By claiming the power of life and death, Pilate was also claiming that he was more powerful than God.

“Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.” (John 19:10-11)

What Pilate could not realize was that he was simply one tiny little part of God’s perfect plan. The Lord Jesus knew that His present circumstances were ultimately controlled by His Father.

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain.” (Acts 2:23)

If the Jewish leaders had not clamored for the Lord Jesus’ death, and Pilate had not given in to their demands and ordered his soldiers to carry out the sentence, the Lord Jesus would not have been the sacrificial Lamb of God. His crucifixion was not just coincidence, but God’s plan. The physical, emotional, and spiritual trauma the Lord Jesus experienced on the cross was greater than anyone has ever endured. How was He able to go through it all? Like Joseph, the Lord Jesus Christ stayed focused on the end result of His suffering, the joy that was set before Him and that joy was the vision of seeing many sad sinners forgiven and eternally happy.

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

God’s Call Enabled Forgiveness

When Joseph told his brothers that God has sent him to Egypt to preserve lives, he was not referring only to those of his family. Joseph knew that his brothers’ rejection had also enabled him to save an entire nation of Gentiles. God had shown Joseph that He loved all people and wanted to save them too. Just as Joseph was aware that his mission was to save the lives of many people, the Lord Jesus Christ knew His calling was the salvation of a world of people. This offer of salvation included Gentiles as well as Jews, but that salvation only happened because of the Jewish people’s rejection.

“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”

(John 10:16)

Restored Relationship Evidenced by Conversation

“Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.” (Genesis 45:15)

Although Joseph voiced his forgiveness, his brothers did not believe he meant it until he kissed and wept over them. These were signs of the deepest sincerity and love, and assured his brothers that he was speaking the truth. They began to relax and speak with Joseph – evidence that their relationship had been renewed. A similar situation occurred after the beginning of time between Adam and Eve when they sinned in the Garden of Eden. Before their sin, Adam and Eve talked with God face to face, but afterwards their guilt made them too afraid and ashamed to approach Him anymore. God had to come find Adam and Eve and start a conversation with them to prove that although they had sinned and would have to face consequences, He still loved them. Any person who likewise repents of his sin can be reconciled to God and speak with Him freely.

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.” (Genesis 3:8)

A Future Under the Care of Their Savior

Joseph’s invitation was for his family to come under his protection. With this new relationship came a new provision, a new protection, a new security, a new place to live. The family’s new provision was so wonderful that they were told that they did not even need their belongings from back in Canaan.

“Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: And there will I nourish thee;” (Genesis 45:9-11a)

 All the good that happened as a result of reconciling with Joseph is a picture of what will happen to the Jewish people when they reconcile with their Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

The Lord Jesus’ invitation to His people is not to adopt a new religion or creed, but to a person: Himself.  

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” (John 1:12)

The Future Predicted

What does the Bible predict about the Jewish people? There was a point in Joseph’s history when Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, who assumed he had no significance to their future. Now, the Jewish people are at the same point; like the brothers, they have betrayed their Messiah, who they likewise assumed had no importance in their future. For 2,000 years the Jewish people have continued in the status quo without their Messiah. What interrupted the status quo for Joseph’s brothers? It was the same intervention is needed and will come as the Bible  predicts for the Jewish people to lead them to repentance.

Divinely Induced Trouble

“For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.” (Zechariah 14:2)

Israel will suffer hardship in the future, as recorded in the prophets. In Joseph’s day, the affliction was a famine, but Zechariah described something much more terrible. Notice that God uses the word I; it is God Himself who will gather all nations against Israel. For some time, many nations stood with Israel, but they all eventually turned. As far as major nations go, only the US stands now with Israel, and even its stance is now in question.


“And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them…” (Zechariah 13:9)

I will bring the third part through the fire. Two thirds will be killed, and only one third will remain. At the rise of Nazi Germany, there were about 18 million Jews alive. Hitler killed one third: 6 million. Now they have built up a little bit more, to about 13 million. We called that the catastrophe, the showa. The event being referred to here, also called Jacob’s Trouble, will be twice as awful, when two thirds of the Jews will be ruthlessly killed.

“Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.” (Zechariah 14:3-4)

Just when it appears that all is finished and Israel is going to be annihilated, God Himself will come and fight against the opposing nations. It is then that Israel will reach the point where they accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, their long awaited Jewish Messiah.

Israel’s Repentance

“And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications, and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.”(Zechariah 12:10-14)

These verses describe such a tremendous heartbreak, one that each person will have to go through alone. Comfort will not be found in spouses, families, or friends. The hurt will be too deep for words; each individual will wish to be left alone. Their only solace will be in crying out to God. It will be the greatest “What have we done?” moment in history. Israel will have to look at the One they pierced and realize that they carry the full blame for His suffering. But thank God, He doesn’t leave them there for long.

Purified from Trouble to Reconciliation

“In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.” (Zechariah 13:1)

There are two things every person needs in his life: to be forgiven of his sins, and to be cleansed from his uncleanness. The fountain that Zechariah foretold is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ which does both of these things. After being washed in the cleansing fountain, Israel will be redeemed and will truly become the people of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then they will finally be able to bless all the families of the Earth.

Fulfillment of Destiny

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zechariah 8:23)

At this point, Israel will finally grasp its purpose. They will be enabled to move on with life, because God will have forgiven their sin. They will become the people of God, and God will claim them as His people. That is Israel’s future, but now they are fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah.

“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

Jacob’s Trouble will cause a change of heart, which in turn will lead to conversion. Conversion is brought about through repentance, confession, and forgiveness of sin. Conversion of individuals will birth the nation that should have been. That nation will be the ambassadors and representatives of God, bringing salvation to the whole Earth. The Greek Scriptures describe this event as a resurrection. It is the hope of Israel, the future that God has stated from the beginning. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.

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When I went to church for the first time forty years ago, I thought I was becoming a Gentile. After studying the Scriptures, I realized that they do not teach this principle of a Jew becoming a Gentile when he comes to the Lord Jesus Christ. What really happens when a Jewish person accepts the Messiah? Paul gives the answer in Romans 11.

“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew.” (Romans 11:1-2)

God has been holding His hands out to His people for so long, and has been rejected by them for so long that it seems He should give up on them, cast them away. The verse above however, rejects this idea. Paul presents himself as the prime example of God’s longsuffering and forgiveness. It does appear that all people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are Gentiles, not Jews. In fact, until I learned about the Apostle Paul, I thought I was the only Jew that ever got saved.

“God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.” (Romans 11:2-3)

In the next verse below, Elijah was actually interceding against his people, because they wanted to kill him. He thought he was the only person left in Israel who believed in the one true God.

“But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Romans 11:4-5)

Elijah did not have the knowledge God had; he was unaware that there were actually seven thousand men in Israel who had refused to become a part of the idol worship. Today, God has reserved Himself a small remnant of His Jewish people who remain true to Him, who accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah. Right now, those descendants of Israel that have not received the Lord Jesus are blinded, but God is able to take away that blindness if a person turns to Him.

“What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.”(Romans 11:7-10)

Israel would not accept the salvation that was offered to them, but today a remnant of the Jewish nation has accepted it and someday all the surviving Jewish people will accept it.

“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles…” (Romans 11:11)

A physical salvation of Gentiles is also illustrated by the life of Joseph. It was not only Joseph’s family that benefited from the food Joseph had stored up for the years of famine; other nations also profited as a result of his presence in Egypt.

“… but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” (Romans 11:11)

Many Jewish people wonder why some Gentiles claim to have 100% assurance that they are going to Heaven when they die. These Gentiles, Christians, speak of the Jewish Scriptures and the Jewish Messiah, causing Jews to wonder what they are missing.

“Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;”(Romans 11:12-17)

God, in His mercy, is always willing to accept anyone that comes to Him for salvation, Jew or Gentile, even to the extent of re-grafting broken branches back into His tree. In fact, the above passage makes it clear that it is God’s will and desire for His Jewish people to come back to Him so that He can receive them with open arms. The same principle was explained by the Lord Jesus Himself:


“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

God is a God of patience, but He does have a limit. Scripture records repeated warnings of the danger of delaying a decision.

“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)” (Hebrews 3:7-11)

This beautiful analogy of the olive tree in Romans 11:12-17 is given so that people can understand the gospel of salvation more plainly, but it is the responsibility of every person to make a choice based on God’s message. The choice will not be made automatically, nor can anyone make it for you. Now is the time of decision – what will you personally do with the Lord Jesus Christ? Someday, you will want to know what He will do with you. The response to this question determines each person’s individual destiny; where he will spend eternity. It comes down to a choice between Heaven and Hell. Those who reject the Lord Jesus Christ reject God, and will be separated from Him forever, but for those who receive Him, a wonderful future awaits. The only requirement is repentance from sin. Repentance can be likened to a person walking down a road, then turning around and traveling back in the opposite direction, it is a complete change of heart, mind, and attitude.

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.”  (Isaiah 1:2-4)

This passage is a definition of prejudice. A prejudice does not allow for any considerations or exceptions. A prejudice against people of a different race or social positions is sinful, but a prejudice against God because His name is the Lord Jesus Christ is more serious. God calls it rebellion. His people have rebelled against Him, and their punishment is destruction, yet in His mercy, God will save a small remnant of His Jewish people who call on the Lord Jesus.

“Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” (Isaiah 1:9)

In Abraham’s day, God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah as a punishment for their continued wickedness. God told Abraham about His plan, and Abraham began to beg God not to destroy the city, fearing that some righteous people might be killed with the sinners. He pleaded with God, naming lower and lower numbers until God promised not to destroy the cities if He found at least ten righteous people in them. It turned out that only Abraham’s nephew Lot, along with his wife and two daughters, escaped with their lives.

Abraham understood that if a very small remnant existed within the city, God would spare it on the basis of their righteousness. Today, some Jewish people look at other Jews who, like myself, have received the Lord Jesus Christ, and they believe that these converts are the reason for their problems. It was documented that just before the concentration camps began to operate, a fair number of Jews turned to the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of the Rabbis blamed these people for the horrible things that the Nazis did to their nation, but the Scriptures reveal the opposite that they were actually a small remnant that was helping to preserve Israel.

Here God promises that if his people wash themselves from their sin, He will willingly take them back.

“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil… Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But If ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” (Isaiah 1:16, 18-20)

He invites them to bring Him their need and He will provide the solution. A refusal to this invitation will result in more punishment.

“O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.” (Hosea 14:1)

The command is simple: return to the Lord your God. Some though, may be confused about how they are to return, and for these, God provides more explicit directions.

“Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.”  

(Hosea 14:2)

These words are sometimes referred to as “The Sinner’s Prayer.” All one has to do is confess His sins and beg God for forgiveness; God promises to do the rest.

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (James 4:8)

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41)

God does not want to send anyone to Hell; it was not created for man, but for the Devil and his angels. Man only goes to Hell because of rebellion. God wants to save every man and He has opened the door of salvation, pleading and holding out His arms. Man must simply accept His offer. What a wonderful Savior we have in the Lord Jesus Christ!


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Universal Application

You may be wondering what does Joseph’s history as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ have to do with anyone personally. What a tragedy it would be to come to understand who the Lord Jesus Christ is, but not respond to His invitation! How about you my friend? You do not have to wait to go through Jacob’s Trouble yourself, hoping you are part of the third that survives to acknowledge your sin and receive the Messiah as your personal Savior. You can come to Him today! The Zechariah 13:1 fountain of forgiveness has been opened for thousands of years to whoever will believe, and it is opened to you personally today. The Lord Jesus Christ was speaking to individuals when He said in John 10:9-10, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Why don’t you now, in the privacy of your heart, acknowledge to your Creator that you have sinned morally against Him. Tell Him that you are turning from rejecting, despising, and disowning the Lord Jesus, to now accepting Him, esteeming Him as God, and taking Him as your Lord and Savior who died for your sins.

As Joseph yearned for, and invited his brothers to be reconciled, the Lord Jesus Christ is doing the same for you now. But, just as Joseph’s brothers had to take that step to accept Joseph’s invitation to come close, so you must take that step to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him. Joseph’s brothers were cared for and protected after they reconciled with Joseph, in the same way, you will be wonderfully cared for and protected after you reconcile with the Lord Jesus. As Joseph’s brothers received Joseph to be their savior, will you receive Him as your personal Lord and Savior? Will you do it today? Will you do it now?


The Life of Joseph

“Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

(John 5:39)  

And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.”

(Luke 24:44-45)