“Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well (spring/fountain); whose branches run over the wall. The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob;” (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel:) Gen 49: 22-24
“Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion, A Chief Cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 1 Pet 2:6, quoting Isaiah 28:16
Patriarch Jacob was at the end of his days, he called his 12 sons, wives and grandchildren for a Closing Prayer meeting. In this, the Holy Spirit came and showed him things about each son. All of these are the Blessings of a life in Messiah (Christ). First, he hands over the Headship of the family of Judah and tells him that Messiah (Jesus) will come in his family line. The sceptre shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes and to him shall the gathering of the peoples be. Gen 49:10. (Mashiach (Heb)/Messiah(Eng)/ Christ (Greek) mean The Anointed One).
Then he lavishes Blessings on Joseph, who was separate from his brethren for decades. At the age of 17, Joseph was cast into a pit by his brothers and sold to the Ishmaelites for a slave. And for 22 years, till the age of 39 he didn’t see his family. He didn’t even know if they were alive. All through that time, he kept his faith in Christ (Jesus) unwaveringly. He didn’t have spiritual fathers in Egypt, he was the lone Christian* in that entire nation, like a root out of a dry ground. In pit and prison he was faithful and the Bible tells us that the Lord was with him (Gen 39:2,21). Even in prison, he continued to minister, was full of the Holy Spirit and counselled others, interpreted their dreams etc. From the verses above, we understand clearly that Joseph’s faith was in Christ Jesus all through this time. No doubt he remembered that day when his dad walked into the camp with a limp. He saw into a day afar off and took inspiration from Christ and his faith in the face of wounds and betrayals and death. In all their affliction, he was afflicted (Isaiah 63:9). (* used in the sense for a believer in the Messiah)
Jacob refuses to send Benjamin to Egypt. Theophile Vauchelet. Wikimedia commons
Old Jacob recognizes his son’s pain and summarizes his entire life thus in the above verses 22-24. And he said that even when people shot at him, hated him and wounded him, still Joseph’s hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob. And then He explains that, that Mighty God is none other than the Shepherd and the Cornerstone of Israel.
Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and cornerstone,
Chosen by the Lord and precious,
Binding all the Church in one;
Holy Zion’s help forever,
And her confidence alone. – 7th Century Latin Hymn, Trans by J.M.Neale 1861
(Video below is sung to Regent Square tune, Alt. tune is Westminster Abbey)
How did the name Israel came to be? You would recall about ~25 years before this incident, that one night Jacob wrestled with a Man, who dealt with his crafty nature for hours that night. As morning was dawning, that Heavenly Man (Jesus) touched the hollow of his thigh to break his grip, he also changed Jacob’s name to Israel, saying you are a Prince for you have wrestled with God and prevailed Gen 32:28. I still remember a sermon of Uncle D.G.S. Dhinakaran where he explains what Jacob’s travailing was all about, Jacob wept and sought God’s favour that night (Hosea 12:4).
Why am I saying all these things? Most of us don’t see Jesus at all as the root of the faith of Jacob or Judah or Joseph. Jesus was no stranger to Abraham or Isaac or Jacob. Abraham and Sarah hosted him for lunch etc, Isaac was born as a result of Christ’s visit. They met him physically and had conversations with Christ Jesus. So, the next time you read the scriptures you would do well to see Jesus Christ as the Corner stone of their faith. That is why Jesus asks the so called “educated Pharisees” and the crowds, what is this saying, the Stone which the builders rejected has become the Head of the corner. Who does this refer to? Matt 21:42.
Today when you read news reports of Israel, remember that the very Name Israel came as a result of Jesus Christ coming to the earth to deal with Jacob and give him a New Beginning as a nation. May the little amongst us become a thousand. And the feeble ones a mighty nation in Christ Jesus.
Today because of Corona and the lockdowns, you may feel you are in prison, but don’t stop ministering. The Lord is with you and the righteous will come out of trouble. Prov 12:13. There will again be family reunions and friends and parties and Church and normal life very soon.
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