During the second half of last year our bible study group worked through a great book called ‘The Promised One – Seeing Jesus in Genesis’, by Nancy Guthrie. This is the first of a series under the banner of ‘Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament’, which takes its inspiration from the teaching of Jesus to the two men on the road to Emmaus after his resurrection:
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27)
We studied the 50 chapters of Genesis in just 9 weeks, and I was impressed by the insights drawn from studying Genesis from this fresh perspective.
Particularly poignant was the study of Joseph, covering the last 14 chapters of Genesis. It’s interesting what becomes apparent when you deal with the whole story in one hit.
Firstly, Joseph is a picture of, and points to, Jesus. Nancy Guthrie speculates as to what Jesus may have said to the two disciples when he got to the story of Joseph, something like,
“Remember how Joseph was rejected by the sons of Jacob? So was I. Remember how Joseph’s brothers wouldn’t listen to what he said and conspired to kill him? So did my Jewish brothers refuse to listen to me and conspire to kill me. Remember how Joseph left his home of privilege with the father who loved him and became a slave in Egypt? That’s what happened to me when I left my Father’s home in heaven and came to this world, taking the form of a servant. Remember how Joseph was eventually exalted to the king’s right hand and his brothers came and bowed down to him? That is what is ahead for me. Shortly I will ascend to my Father’s right hand, and the day will come when every knee is going to bow and every tongue is going to confess that I am Lord.” (page 239)
Secondly, reading the story in one hit, I was struck by Joseph’s attitude as his life went from bad to worse. Nowhere do we read of Joseph becoming angry, or bitter or depressed by his unfair treatment. Joseph “held on to the revelation from God of his future exaltation” (page 241, referring to his dreams). And then in Genesis 50, addressing his brothers, he says
“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.” (Genesis 50:24)
Guthrie’s application of this to our lives is convicting:
“How different Joseph was from the way we are. We are so quick to assume that if God is with us, there will be no pit, no pain.” (page 244)
“I have to ask you, is this resounding truth and confidence anywhere in your story? Is it anywhere in your perspective about the circumstances that have shaped your life? What in your life would change everything about your life if you were to write across it, ‘You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good’?” (page 247).
Think about that. Is your story a demonstration of confidence in God’s plan?
(Oh, and consider studying this book in your Bible study group in 2017)