‘I seek my brethren’! And I just remembered Barnabas too going for Saul (Paul). And, O the bosom required of us all too! When there is a seeking, whether in the Old Testament or New Testament, a great story unfolds ceaselessly thereafter. The cases of Joseph and Paul and Barnabas are just handy.
So, Joseph got direction from this ‘certain man’, and he was off. And he saw the brethren. What follows immediately and thereafter are well known chains of stories full with great life-lessons. But we start from the end:
In Genesis 49:22-26 we read: “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.”
This is a great combination of Joseph’s past, present and future. ‘Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall’. To think this is only about prophesy concerning Joseph’s future is only half-truth. Yes, through Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48: 5) this is true in the future, but we also know that Joseph was already in a very great way what Jacob said here: ‘a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall’. Up till this point all of this is already true with Joseph, even though the future element cannot be denied also. If by this time there was only one fruitful bough in Jacob, a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall, it was Joseph.
In fact, if there was only one fruitful bough in the then world, a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall, it was Joseph, the Prime Minister of Egypt and the lifeline of Pharaoh and the then world. So, Joseph was not only a fruitful bough by now, but also a fruitful bough by a well whose branches were already running over the wall. All of that may well be another way of saying Joseph had a bosom that reaches out. Joseph is ‘a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall’. Think about it!
“The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel)”. This is clearly in the past tense. The archers here represents his brethren that hated and sold him, Potiphar’s wife who grieved him with arrows of sin continually and lied against him, and Potiphar himself who threw him into prison etc. But his bow (some think this refers to his righteousness and moral character) and arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob. The parenthesis that follows in the quoted scripture reveals for the first time One called THE SHEPHERD, THE STONE OF ISRAEL. This is one of the greatest revelations in Scriptures.
That it came whilst Jacob was blessing Joseph must not be surprising to us. Joseph with his father’s flock and with Jacob’s household in Egypt, and with all Egypt as prime minister was a shepherd par excellence. And it takes a bosom to be that. Joseph could have well decided to close his channels to his brethren, family, the Egyptians and the whole then world, and nothing may have gone amiss with him in the reckoning of Pharaoh, for Joseph’s words and actions were, as it were, ‘yea and amen’, and this is coming from Pharaoh himself: “According unto thy word shall all my people be ruled”.
Bosom forgives, and enriches the offender; and it doesn’t matter whether they are offenders without (as with Potiphar and family) or within (as with Joseph’s brethren)! Joseph didn’t recompense Potiphar and his family for their evil, but became their benefactor as he was to all Egyptians: “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” – Genesis 41:39-44; “And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do” – Genesis 41:54-55.
Then talk of his brethren! From their initial visits to Joseph’s revelation of himself to them, to the coming of their father and all his, and to their stay in Egypt until you see a nation forming within a nation, Joseph was exemplary bosom all through. This love must recommend itself to all of us in this dispensation.
Brotherly love: We saw it hugely in the early church, and God added to the church daily they that are saved! We must go back to it for by this shall men know that we are Jesus Christ’s disciples, so the Scripture tells us. And if men do not know that we are Christ’s disciples I wonder if God knows! We must have bosom, we must love, we must share and communicate; we must be concerned with one another’s welfare; and we must live together in a way that sees none having too much and none lacking. That is the bold and exemplary way of living in the Household of Faith in the New Testament.
We are still with Joseph. It takes a man with bosom to occupy the office Joseph occupied in Egypt; an office that saved the then world: “And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt. And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands” – Genesis 41:56-57. Only a godly heart, a nursing mother’s breasts and a flourishing bosom can accomplish that.
It should not be surprising that God promoted, blessed and honored Joseph this way. His righteousness at every point – from when he started bringing ‘evil reports’ of his brethren to his father as a young boy to his premiership of Egypt – is evident and exemplary. And it will also interest you and me to know that Joseph gives nothing of Egypt or of Pharoah to his family except that which he paid for (as in Genesis 43: 23) or asked for from Pharoah and duly granted (as with the land of Goshen – Genesis 46: 31-34). That he handled the wealth of Egypt the way he did speaks volumes and should always be example to all of us including our modern day ‘prosperity’ preachers. There is needed or commensurate righteousness that handles wealth or we make shipwreck of our faith. Joseph’s righteousness, bosom and faithfulness will always remain a challenge to all of us under grace.
Therefore now, hear Jacob looking at Joseph’s future in these blessings and prophesies concerning Joseph: ‘… Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren’. That is verses 25 and 26 of Genesis Chapter 49.
This is how the New Living Translation puts it: “May the God of your ancestors help you; may the Almighty bless you with the blessings of the heavens above, blessings of the earth beneath, and blessings of the breasts and womb. May the blessings of your ancestors be greater than the blessings of the eternal mountains, reaching to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills. These blessings will fall on the head of Joseph, who is a prince among his brothers.” That is the blessing of being ‘faithful in little’.
Eternity is near. The blessings of God’s own eternal mountains that reaches out to the utmost bounds of His everlasting hills shall all be the saints’; and indeed they shall fall on the heads of each of His saints, who today would live as ‘prince among his brothers’: A prince, not only in its ‘royal’ sense but also in its ‘generous’ sense or meaning, for a prince is also a ‘good man’ or ‘a man who is outstanding especially because of his generous nature’, to draw from the dictionary! Joseph was both: royal and generous, and we all should.
He that is faithful in little today shall, in all of eternity, be given that which no man or any man’s machine-device can quantify now. Very soon the blessings of His everlasting hills will break forth and fall on the head of the saints. The rapture of the saints is here. Let us therefore keep ourselves pure and holy, and let us also be faithful as caretakers of all that is with us – which we have noted somewhere in this series is actually ‘another man’s’ – so that we can be given that which is truly our own when we dwell with the God that inhabits eternity.