Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The story of Joseph's being recognized by his brothers is the longest story in the book of Genesis, occupying three and a half chapters, from the beginning of chapter forty-two to the middle of chapter forty-five. When I was young, I thought that Joseph was too hard on his brothers. I thought that it was all right for Joseph to be hard on them the first time they came to Egypt to buy grain. As a man of God, he had the patience to discipline them, and for at least six months they underwent a trial. However, when they came to Egypt the second time, I thought that Joseph should not have done anything further to discipline them. According to my opinion, Joseph should have immediately revealed himself to them. However, Joseph did not do this.
For a long time I wondered about the reason for this. Certainly the first test of Joseph's brothers was necessary. We all agree with Joseph in testing them the first time. However, perhaps you also have wondered why Joseph tested his brothers again. On the one hand, he spread a feast for them and ate with them. But on the other hand, he gave them more trouble. What was Joseph's purpose in doing so? I believe Joseph expected his brothers to notice certain hints or indications and thus to recognize him. There should have been no need for Joseph to reveal himself to them directly.
In order to understand chapter forty-three, we need to remember that Joseph is both a type of Christ and also the reigning aspect of the mature life. Because Joseph was a type of Christ, we should not criticize anything he did. We are far below Joseph's standard. Whatever he did was the best, whether we agree with it or not. The Christ typified by Joseph could not do anything wrong. We would not do the same thing Joseph did because we are not as mature as Joseph was. We do not represent the reigning aspect of the matured life; we represent disobedience. This is the reason we do not agree with Joseph. However, if we came up to Joseph's standard, we would admit that what Joseph did to his brothers was the best. In his dealing with them there was no trace of childishness or foolishness. On the contrary, his dealings were wise and full of discernment. He dealt with his brothers so that they might be disciplined. Nothing he did to them was for his own benefit.
Just as Joseph's brothers were forced to turn to him again, so the children of Israel will be forced to turn to Christ (43:1-15). According to the Bible, the house of Israel will return to Christ at the end of this age and recognize Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah. However, before they do this, they will need to be tested. The book of Zechariah reveals that the remnant of Israel will be put on trial. Even a good number of the Israelites will be killed. At the time the house of Israel turns to Christ, not very many Israelites will remain. They will be tested because they refuse to return to the One they need.
Consider the nation of Israel today. How they are struggling to protect themselves! Since 1918 I have been watching the world situation. Before the reformation of the nation of Israel, the Jews were scattered, and people paid little attention to them. Especially since 1967 the Middle East has been the focus of world news, the most crucial place on earth. Israel is opposed by nearly the whole world. Both the Arab countries and the United Nations condemn them. At times even the United States disagrees with Israel. Thus, she must fight for her existence. Israel is condemned by other countries because she has possession of the Golan Heights and the land west of the Jordan River. Israel insists on keeping these territories because she needs them to maintain her existence. However, if the nation of Israel would turn to Christ, everything would be solved. But Israel will not turn to Christ until she is forced to do so.
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