76 Sermons On The Old Testament Given By Jesus
Sermon 11 - The Father’s Divine Love foreshadowed in Joseph’s experiences.
April 4th, 1958
Received by Dr Samuels
I am here, Jesus.
I am here again tonight to continue with my series of sermons showing the development of the human love, and the way to the perfection of the human soul, in the Old Testament; and this as the prelude and necessary prerequisite to the bestowal upon mankind of the potentiality of receiving the Father’s Love.
Now in this sermon, I wish to show that the story of Joseph and his brothers is of great importance to the Old Testament as a document which points out, and has pointed out, for many centuries, that human love, as a forerunner of the Father’s Love, can overcome evil; and this story, with its drama of a father’s bereavement, brothers’ jealousy and resentment, the young boy’s change of character through suffering as a slave in a foreign land and his generosity towards his erring brothers in forgiving their sin and helping them to prosperity, is one which has caused many tears to flow and a stirring in the soul on realization that the goodness displayed by Joseph reaches what is most noble in the human heart, and gives an inner knowledge that their goodness is latent in all mankind, and that it comes as a Great Gift of the Father, in His wonderful Love and Mercy.
This story, or at least, parts of it, especially dealing with Potiphar’s wife, was current in Egypt as well as in Palestine, and of course these aspects which deal with Egyptian customs and names are authentic, but the element which treats of love and forgiveness and changes in the human heart wrought by suffering and remorse, as well as the conception that the Father uses the baser deeds of his unredeemed children to beneficent ends, is the result of the Hebrew writer’s inner spiritual understanding that human love, mercy and forgiveness are manifestations of the soul, and that, as these are practiced, man walks in the ways of God, and approaches close to Him.
Now Joseph, being the favorite of Jacob, incurred the enmity of his brothers, some of whom, born of different mothers, plotted to rid themselves of him; in the midst of this hatred stands the figure of Reuben who, though he violated his father’s bed with the concubine Bilhah, would not consent to the slaying of Joseph, and suggested instead that he be thrown into a pit. He intended in truth to take him out of it later, but left the vicinity to obtain water, but when he returned, found Joseph gone. Now Joseph would have been slain had not a group of itinerant Arabs fortunately appeared at the time, for Judah, with Reuben a son of Leah, proposed that Joseph be sold into slavery to them rather than be killed.
But when Reuben returned to deliver Joseph out of the pit, Joseph was gone, for a group of Midianite merchantmen of the caravan had passed by and in Reuben’s absence the brothers sold him to the Arabs, and they sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, captain of Pharaoh’s guards. And Reuben rent his clothes. And he returned to his brothers and said, “The child is not; and I, wither shall I go?” For Reuben was Jacob’s first born and was in a manner responsible for the safety of the brothers, and he felt that a terrible crime had been committed against one of their number, and that he could not face his father with the news.
The old father wept bitterly and could not be consoled, and the brothers realized the enormity of their sin, and the deep pain they had inflicted upon their father only added to their sense of guilt and remorse.
But Joseph was saved by his abiding faith in the Father, and in the rectitude of his behavior towards people. For the blow of his brothers’ hatred and false accusations of Potiphar’s wife, which sent him to Pharaoh’s prison, could not prevent him, despite the unhappy circumstances which they compelled him to face, from overcoming these great evils; for he was good, and kind, and the Egyptians in power found he could be trusted. and he survived, and finally his gift of interpreting dreams, which was very much in vogue among the Egyptians in those days, enabled him to prevail.
Thereafter the story concerns Joseph’s repayment in love and forgiveness the hatred which had boiled against him in his brothers. For Joseph dearly loved his brothers and his aged father, for this was a love that was kept whole by his love of God, for he attributed to God the forgetfulness of the wounds which he had suffered at his brothers’ hands and he saw in them his own flesh and blood in a land of strangers.
Now Joseph knew that, in the course of the famine that stalked all the lands of that region, his brothers would eventually have to come to him for bread, and he knew that they would eventually bow down to him in obedience, as one of his dreams had foretold. But Joseph more than anything else, wanted their love, and if they would but show sincere remorse for their crime against him, he was ready to shower them with his affection. And as Joseph loved those who had sinned against him, does not the Father love with His Eternal Love those who sin against Him and His children?
The remainder of the story, in its essentials, puts the brothers to the test. The requirement that the youngest of the brothers, Benjamin, be brought to prove their word, put them in a precarious position, for if anything befell the youngest, they knew their old father would not survive the loss. If, on the other hand, they did not bring Benjamin to Egypt. They would starve. They were caught in the terrible position of exposing to death a brother, and also their father in precisely the same way they had so callously done many, many years before. But Joseph’s brothers had changed. For where once they had sought in hatred to destroy, they now sought earnestly to save. And this change of heart is further shown by the fact that if they returned to Egypt with Benjamin, they also put their own lives in jeopardy, for, with the sacks filled with gold on Joseph’s orders, they faced certain accusation of theft.
The dilemma with Benjamin, and the leaving of Simeon as hostage in Egypt, made them believe that retribution for the crime against Joseph had come. And they said to one another, …“We are verily guilty concerning our brother Joseph, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.” And Reuben answered them, saying: “Spake not I unto you, do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? Therefore, behold, also his blood is required.” And they knew not that Joseph understood them, for he spake unto them by an interpreter. And he turned himself about from them, and wept….(Genesis 42: 21 - 24)
For Joseph saw that not only were they now very much alive to the sorrows and bereavement of their old father, and that they were courageous enough to face a threatened calamity so that they, their father and their families might survive, but that they had been made aware of the terrible crime they had committed against their own. And, in his great love and mercy, he sought not restoration nor retribution, but the changing of their souls from evil intent and action to that of love. And that had been accomplished, for whereas the brothers had thrown away the life of Joseph for whatever might befall him, they now sought to guard Benjamin’s life with their very own as surety, especially Judah, who had suggested bondage in Egypt for Joseph. And when Judah, on the brothers’ return to Joseph’s house after the money is found in Benjamin’s sack, pleads desperately to be kept in bond instead of Benjamin, so that his old father, Jacob, shall not die of grief. Joseph cannot resist revealing himself to his brothers, because of the common love which they both have for their father, and for their brother Benjamin.
And he wept aloud … and Joseph said unto his brethren, “I am Joseph; doth my father yet live?” And his brethren could not answer him, for they were troubled at his presence. (Genesis 45: 2-3) And he went on to forgive them, and that they be not grieved, nor angry with themselves, that they had sold him to Egypt, finding a reason for it; that it was the will of God that he come to Egypt so as to be the means of saving them all from starvation. And he wept and embraced his brother Benjamin, and kissed all his brothers and wept upon them. And the story ends with Jacob’s joy and the sojourn of the Hebrews in Egypt.
The story of Joseph, then, is an intensely human one, where fatherly affection and brotherly love are able to overcome envy and hatred and bring about after many years a great service to mankind.
Of considerable importance is the conception which Joseph has of the Father, for in many respects it is on a far superior level to what was then considered a deity, even among the Hebrews, for much of the concept which these people entertained of God was embedded in the general ideas which then prevailed in the civilized world of that day. The Father was considered a god to be appeased by various offerings and sacrifices, which if not rendered in the ways prescribed, would bring down the god’s wrath upon the tribe in form of disasters, or plagues that destroyed the crops and domestic animals, or the invasions of ruthless barbarians.
In the story of Joseph, however, the Father is truly a Father of Love, wherein He watches over each of His children, minimizes the effects upon them of the evils of mankind and the vicissitudes of nature, and rehabilitates them for their own and the common good. While He does not by His authority prevent evil thoughts or actions, which to do so would violate the integrity of the human will which He created and respects, yet He weaves and brings about through His messengers those circumstances which will lift His children from the abyss in which they either send others or into which they themselves are thrown. Here, then, was not an angry or a jealous tribal God - such as He is conceived by some in the Old Testament, to be propitiated by ritual or ceremonies, or a fearful God of vengeance for human wrongdoing - but a universal Loving Father, keenly alive to the needs of His children, be they Egyptian or Hebrew, and helping to alleviate their sufferings due to the material failures of nature, through those of His children who respond to His spiritual call as well as through those in the spirit world.
Joseph is saved because he has that deep fundamental faith in the Father that enables him to surmount every blow and obstacle through His certain Aid; he reaches the point where that faith enables him to lay aside his fierce resentment towards his brothers which one can but surmise from the narrative, and in its place, to fill his soul with human love to such an extent that he can love and forgive with a deep devotion to those who had so mercilessly ill-treated him - and the result is the conquest of the great material hardships for the benefit of all.
But this story is not only of human love, but also of the glimpse of that far greater Love - the Divine Love of the Father, to be bestowed upon all mankind. For Joseph’s heart is so full of generosity, love and mercy towards his brethren and his father, and so intense in its nature, and bringing with them such noble and magnanimous actions, that people everywhere who have read the story considered his love and mercy far beyond human capabilities, and made them feel that such an outpouring of such love and mercy must be divine, and that they had been imparted into Joseph from the Father to bring about the salvation of His children from so great a distress. And thus it was that men obtained an inkling that there must be a Divine Love, and of what this Love must be like, and in this way they saw in Joseph a prototype of the Christ to come - that person who would bear in himself the very Love with which the Father loves His children.
With all my blessings, and those of the Father, I am
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens