The following text is taken from the concluding section of Lesson 19 of Bible First. Lesson 19 is the second in a two-part series on the life of Joseph.
Joseph is the final hero of faith set forth in the book of Genesis. Though his life represents one of the most compelling illustrations of godly character found anywhere in Scripture, his story contains a deeper lesson, far more valuable than recommendations of devout living.
Joseph is a figure of the coming Christ. His story is replete with clues and parallels that point the reader to Messiah. While earthly prosperity may be found by emulating Joseph’s behavior, eternal life is found by believing on the Savior he so vividly personifies.
Consider the beginning of the great famine. By that time, Joseph had overcome all obstacles and had succeeded in laying up the provision needed to save Egypt, the surrounding nations, and in particular, his own family. This provision, however, did not initially bring any tangible benefit to Jacob’s household because Joseph and his brothers had become estranged. Through their own wicked deeds the brothers had alienated themselves and their families from the only man on earth capable of delivering them from starvation.
Similarly, Jesus Christ has overcome death and made all the provision necessary for the salvation of sinners. He died in our stead, was buried, and rose again to pay the sin-debt of every single human soul God has created. “And [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
Yet the majority of men do not benefit from this atonement because, like Joseph’s older brothers, they are still estranged. Sin has placed man at odds with his Maker, blocking him from God’s life-giving presence. Sin is a disease so terrible, it prevents the patient from approaching the physician. “But 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)
When Joseph’s brothers realized the gravity of their plight, their fear of death drove them to Egypt where, as they humbled themselves, they became reconciled to Joseph who in turn saved their lives.
When a sinner begins to understand the hopelessness of his position, he, like Joseph’s brothers, is faced with a choice: march on proudly towards his own destruction, or flee to Jesus for salvation.
While it is true that a sinner cannot come directly to God (for no sin may enter His holy presence), Christ has brought His blood before the Father as a preemptive atonement, thus bridging the gap and opening the way to make peace. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” The author of Hebrews describes Christ’s priestly work in more detail: “But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” (Hebrews 9:11–12)
Based on this marvelous redemptive work, Paul implores the sinner, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20) It is as though the Apostle is warning his readers, “Forsake your fields in Canaan. They are desolate and will not yield the fruit you seek. The famine has taken hold, and you are all dead men unless you flee to the country of the Governor. There and only there you will find rest, provision, and life.”
“For he that is entered into his [Christ’s] rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” (Hebrews 4:10–11)
Friend, where do you stand today? The world around us is dying, starving amidst the famine of sin. Are you still in Canaan, trying to produce good works out of dead ground? You have but one hope. Flee to the Savior! He has prepared a feast for you and all that remains is that you forsake the barren fields of unbelief and turn to Him in faith. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Trust no longer in your own dead works, but believe on the name of Jesus Christ alone. Salvation is not as far as you may think. “…The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” (Romans 10:8-9)
Bible First!, Lesson 19
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