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For the week of December 7, 2013 / 3 Tevet 5774
Torah: Bereshit / Genesis 44:18 - 47:27
Haftarah: Ezekiel 37:15-28

Joseph: The Messiah's Mirror

Now therefore, as soon as I come to your servant my father, and the boy is not with us, then, as his life is bound up in the boy's life, as soon as he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will bring down the gray hairs of your servant our father with sorrow to Sheol. For your servant became a pledge of safety for the boy to my father, saying, "If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father all my life." Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the boy as a servant to my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? I fear to see the evil that would find my father. (Bereshit / Genesis 44:30-34; ESV)

One of the most amazing things about the story of Joseph is how much his life is a reflection of the Messiah. What makes this all the more amazing is that the New Covenant writings make no mention of this. If the New Covenant writers were so keen to draw these kinds of parallels with other characters in the Hebrew Scriptures, then why didn't they do so with the Joseph story? We don't know, but contrary to the New Testament's cynics and naysayers, this is evidence that the story of Yeshua was in no way contrived. For if it had been, then they would have made much of the Joseph story, but they didn't. Let's take a look ourselves and see what we find.

First, just as Joseph was rejected by his own brothers, so Yeshua was rejected by his own people. Both were destined by God for great things. Each in his own way was to rule over their people: Joseph, as second in command in Egypt; Yeshua, as King Messiah. Also, they both unjustly suffered. Joseph was sold into slavery and eventually spent years in a dungeon for a crime he didn't commit. Yeshua was wrongly convicted and executed through most torturous means. I know the parallel is not exact. As far as we know Joseph was never beaten, and, obviously, he was not executed. But like Yeshua he suffered unjustly. Similarly they both experienced a resurrection of sorts: Joseph in being freed from prison and Yeshua in literally coming back from the dead. Then they were both exalted to a high position, Joseph as Prime Minister of Egypt and Yeshua as Lord of heaven and earth. The result of their positions was the saving of lives: Joseph through administering the famine food plan that preserved the people of Egypt and the surrounding region; Yeshua in being the Savior of the world.

Another interesting parallel has to do with how Joseph's brothers didn't recognize him when they came to Egypt to buy food during the famine. He looked like an Egyptian and talked Egyptian. In the same way Yeshua today looks like a non-Jew. But just as Joseph eventually revealed his true identity to his brothers, so the day is coming when Yeshua will reveal himself to his own people as he really is - the Jewish Messiah. I discuss this more thoroughly in the TorahBytes message That's Funny, You Don't Look Jewish!

One more. As explained in another previous message, called Roots of Relational Difficulties, Joseph's motive for giving his brothers a hard time when they came to Egypt to buy grain had do to with seeing if they had changed from when they mistreated him years before. What he was looking for - perhaps even trying to bring about - was not a changed attitude toward him necessarily, but toward their father. Joseph rightly assumed that their past betrayal of him devastated their father. As recounted in the passage I quoted at the beginning, it wasn't until Judah expressed his concern for their father that Joseph revealed himself to them. From this we discover that one of Joseph's primary roles within all this was to bring about reconciliation between his brothers and their father. This is one of Yeshua's primary roles as well. A key aspect of the Bible's overall storyline is the need of the Jewish people to be reconciled to God. According to the Hebrew prophets this was an essential aspect of the Messiah's coming. The whole thrust of the New Covenant was to be "I will be their God, and they shall be my people" (Jeremiah 31:33; ESV)".

The alienation of Jewish people from God is profound. Called to be his people, yet so few know him as our ancestors did. The intimacy with God experienced by people such as Abraham, Moses, David, and Isaiah are viewed as stuff of mythology, not examples for today. For many, if not most, God himself is nothing but myth. The glorious Torah of which the religious are so proud has become an end in itself instead of the means to truly know our God and our Father.

But just as Joseph helped to restore right relationship between his brothers and their father, so Yeshua will do the same for his people. He already has, but it's just the beginning. When Israel finally recognizes him as our brother, we will also be fully reconciled to God.

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