Shadows

Genesis 50:15-21 “When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

One of the things that God would have us realize as we read the Old Testament is that the Old Testament speaks about Jesus just as much as the New Testament does. It was Jesus himself that explained this to the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Of this account we are told “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:27).” So, when we read the Old Testament, it is a good idea to pray that God would reveal His truth to us about His Son.

In the Old Testament we find many types and shadows of Jesus, while the New Testament speaks of Him more forthrightly. But even if they are but types and shadows, they are beautiful types and shadows, indeed. One such example is in the account of Joseph and his brothers right after their father Jacob had died. Although Joseph had earlier assured his brothers that he had no intention of exacting revenge against them for their treatment of him many years earlier, they apparently still carried great guilt, and expected that now, at last, Joseph would get them back. Joseph’s reaction, the fact that he wept over this, shows us his heart. In fact, rather than exacting revenge, we are told that “he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”

Joseph is a type of Christ, and his brothers are a type of the followers of Christ. In fact, Christ’s followers are called His brothers and sisters in the New Testament. Every one of us has treated Jesus in despicable ways in the past. Before we knew Him, we may have used His name as a curse word, mocked His followers, and disobeyed Him in many, many ways. But then we realized Who He really was, and our hearts were filled with guilt and the knowledge of our need for forgiveness, which, incredibly, He poured out on us when we turned to Him. However, how often do our minds replay the tapes of our old sins – and even new sins – against Him?  How often do we imagine that perhaps Jesus is a little more like us – unforgiving, bearing grudges, angry – than the Bible says He is? We need to remember that Satan, “the Accuser of our brothers (Revelation 12:10),” is a master of deceiving us into believing such lies, pouring condemnation upon us, and bringing doubt into our minds about the character of Christ. But Jesus, like Joseph in the account above, is a forgiving, merciful, Savior. He is Love incarnate, and love “keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).” How it must grieve our Savior, like Joseph’s brothers grieved him, when we doubt the truth about the complete forgiveness He has lavished on us. Like Joseph, who was but a shadow, Jesus has “cast all our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).” Surely “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:10-12).”

So, do you believe this, really believe it. You should, for it’s God Himself that has told us these things. And in the end, if we love Him, we shall find that as Joseph’s brothers learned that Joseph was more merciful and loving than they could imagine, our God is more merciful and loving than we can comprehend. May we continually praise and glorify Jesus for His awesome love, mercy, and grace to us, people, just like Joseph’s brothers, who deserve none of it. But if you don’t know Him, if you have no concept of His grace and mercy, if you presume upon His kindness, and think that you can spurn Him to the end of your life and things will somehow work out for you, remember that Jesus has loved you enough to warn you that such thoughts will bring condemnation on your head in the end (John 3:18). Just like Joseph’s brother would have died in the famine if they had not turned to him in their time of need, so you will die eternally if you never admit or recognize your great need of forgiveness of sin and turn to Jesus, the only One who can meet that need.

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