Genesis 45:25-28 (ESV)
25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to the land of Canaan to their father Jacob. 26 And they told him, “Joseph is still alive, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt.” And his heart became numb, for he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “It is enough; Joseph my son is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”
It’s funny how faith and resurrection themes are really all over the Old Testament. It is true that every story in the Bible has whispers of the story of Jesus. This morning, I see one that I’ve never noticed before in the story of Israel (Jacob) hearing of Joseph’s life in Egypt.
In a quick note of preface, I’m not arguing that this is clear authorial intent. I could be wrong. I could be over-imposing an understanding of the New Testament story. I’m not arguing for prophecy here. This story certainly does not completely cover every aspect of the gospel. However, I will still draw the picture, because I think it could be significant.
Israel believed Joseph to be dead. He was continuing to mourn his loss. Thus, we have set before Israel a figurative resurrection. Joseph had been “dead,” and he is now said to be alive.
This return of Joseph to life for Israel poses a dilemma. Will he believe the story? Will Israel be able to set aside his grief and his mourning in order to actually receive the truth that Joseph is alive?
Moreover, the faith of Israel in the fact that Joseph is alive leads to great blessing. If Israel will believe, just believe enough to walk out of his house and get on a wagon, he will be reunited with his son. Not only will he be reunited with his son, but he will be given a new home and all the blessings that are available to a man living in Egypt at that time.
Thus, in a figurative sense, we can see a salvation of sorts for Israel. He was sorrowful and headed for the deepest part of the famine. He had no hope. But, because Joseph was alive—back from the dead in Israel’s mind—he has a future. If Israel will simply believe the story of Joseph’s life, he will receive a physical salvation and the joyful blessing of life with his son in a new land. Of course this belief requires change, as Jacob not only has to declare belief, but that belief has to move him to such a degree that he leaves his home, gets in the wagon, and heads to the land of Egypt where his son awaits.
There is an echo of the gospel here for sure. We are hopeless and destined for destruction because of our sin. Jesus died and returned from the grave. If we will believe this and place ourselves in his care, he will forgive our sins, take away the consequences of our sins, and grant us eternal life with him in a state of perfect joy.