Verses of Genesis 45
Genesis 45:27 Commentary - Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
JACOB’S RESOLUTION TO VISIT JOSEPH IN EGYPT
Gen 45:27-28. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: and Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.
IT is of very great importance to exercise sound wisdom and discretion in interpreting the Holy Scriptures, lest, by imposing on them a forced or fanciful meaning, we bring the sacred oracles themselves into contempt. Yet is there a certain latitude allowed us, provided we do not set forth the subordinate and accommodated sense as if it were the true and primary import of the passage. The Apostles themselves frequently take this liberty. The prophet, speaking of the Babylonish captivity, says, “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping: Rachel, weeping for her children, refused to he comforted for her children, because they were not [Note: Jer 31:15.].” This passage St. Matthew applies to the slaughter of the children in Bethlehem, to which, in its primary sense, it had no reference [Note: Mat 2:17-18.]: nevertheless, the citation of it was just, and the accommodation beautiful. A similar use the same evangelist makes of a passage primarily referring to the atonement which Christ should offer for the sins of mankind: he applies it to his miraculously healing their bodily disorders [Note: Compare Isa 53:4 with Mat 8:16-18.]. These examples, and others which might be adduced, would justify a considerably greater latitude of observation than we propose to adopt on the present occasion. In considering this portion of sacred history, we do not found upon it any doctrine relating to the Gospel: we do not even insinuate that it was originally intended to illustrate any of the peculiar doctrines of Christianity: we shall merely take occasion from it to introduce to your notice some useful observations, with which indeed it has no immediate connexion, but with which it has a very striking correspondence.
Joseph having made known himself to his brethren, and cautioned them against “falling out by the way,” (an event too probable in their circumstances,) sends them back to their father, with orders to inform him of all that they had seen and heard, and to bring him and their respective families down to Egypt. Jacob, when first he received the information, could not credit it: but upon further conversation with his sons he was convinced of the truth of their report, and determined to accept the invitation which his beloved Joseph had sent him.
Now we propose to notice,
The grounds of his doubts—
There seem to have been two reasons for his questioning the truth of the information he received;
The report contradicted all that he had before received for truth—
[‘He had above twenty years before had reason to believe that his son Joseph had been torn in pieces by a wild beast; he had even seen his son’s coat torn and drenched in blood; nor had the lapse of so many years brought him any other information: how then could this son be the person that presided over the kingdom of Egypt at this time? There might be some one that resembled him in name; but it could not possibly be his darling son: had Joseph been alive, he must long since have heard of him: whoever therefore the person might be, or whatever he might profess to be, he could not be the long-lost son of his beloved Rachel.’ Such were Jacob’s arguments, and such his reasons for rejecting the testimony of his sons.
And do we not here see one ground on which the testimony of those who preach the Gospel is rejected? We find men rooted in certain sentiments, which, in their opinion, they have adopted on very sufficient grounds. The general acceptance which those sentiments meet with, and the confirmation of them during a long course of years, concur to render them, as it were, fixed principles in their minds. But the doctrines of the Gospel are directly the reverse of those which pass current in the world. The extreme depravity of human nature, the desert and danger of all mankind, the insufficiency of any good works to recommend us to God, the necessity of seeking justification by faith alone, the nature and extent of true holiness, and the impossibility of being saved without an entire consecration of ourselves to the service of God, are as opposite to the doctrines and sentiments of the world, as light is to darkness: and on this account they are rejected by the generality with scorn and contempt. It was on this ground that Nicodemus rejected the doctrine of the new birth; “How can these things be?” ‘I have never held this sentiment; therefore it cannot be true.’ And on the same grounds it is, that the preaching of the Gospel is at this time, no less than in former ages, accounted foolishness.]
The tidings were too good to be true—
[There is a proneness in the human mind to believe evil reports more easily than those which are favourable. Jacob instantly acceded to the idea that his son Joseph had been torn in pieces, notwithstanding, if he had considered the spirit and temper of his brethren towards him, there was very abundant reason to doubt the fact. But, when he is told that Joseph is alive, and at the head of the Egyptian kingdom, he cannot entertain the thought one moment: “his heart even faints” at the mention of the fact, (not because he believed it, but) because he believed it not.
Here again we trace the workings of the human mind in relation to higher things. If we come and tell persons that they must make their peace with God by a long course of repentance and good works, they will believe us readily enough; though, if they duly considered the nature of such tidings, they would have evidence enough of their falsehood. But if we declare to them, that Christ has made a full atonement for our sins; that a free and full salvation is offered them through Him; that they may partake of it “without money and without price,” that is, without any thing on their part to merit it; and that their former guilt, however great and aggravated, is no bar to their acceptance with God, provided they simply and unfeignedly believe in Christ; ‘all this seems too good to be true: it can never be, that the way to heaven should be so easy.’ This is the argument used by all the train of self-righteous Pharisees, who, “being whole, feel no need of a physician;” and by multitudes also of repenting “Publicans, who dare not lift up their eyes to heaven,” or entertain a hope, that “grace should ever so abound towards them, in whom sin has so greatly abounded [Note: See Isa 49:24-25.].”]
Having canvassed thus his doubts, we proceed to notice,
The means of their removal—
Of these we are minutely informed in the words of our text. They were,
A fuller recital of Joseph’s words—
[Jacob’s sons had told him of Joseph’s elevation; but not obtaining credit, proceeded to “tell him all the words that Joseph had said unto them.” Now their testimony became so circumstantial and convincing, that he could resist no longer: his incredulity was borne down by a weight of evidence that could not be withstood.
Thus also it is that the Gospel forces its way into the hearts of thousands, to whom, at its first statement, it appeared no better than an idle tale. Ministers set forth innumerable declarations which Jesus has made respecting us: they report his gracious invitations, his precious promises, his tender expostulations; all of which evince such a perfect knowledge of our state, and are so suited to our necessities, that we cannot any longer doubt from whom they come. They shame us out of our doubts, and constrain us to exclaim, “Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief!”]
An actual sight of the tokens of his love—
[A view of the waggons which Joseph had sent, stored with every thing requisite for his accommodation in his journey, completed his conviction. All the patriarch’s doubts were dissipated, and his “spirit instantly revived.”
And what will not give way before the sensible manifestations of God’s love to the soul? Let “His love be shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost;” let the promises be applied with power to the soul; let “the Spirit of God once witness with our spirit that we are God’s;” and no fears will then remain respecting the truth of the Gospel or the power and grace of Christ: we shall then “have the witness in ourselves,” that “Jesus is exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour,” and that he is “able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him.”]
With the removal of his doubts there was an instantaneous change in his determinations. This will appear while we consider,
The effect which their removal produced upon him—
He had been hitherto reluctant to leave his home; but now,
He desired nothing so much as to see the one object of his affections—
[Joseph was now more dear to him than ever; and if he might but live to enjoy a sight of him, he should consider himself as having attained all for which he wished to live: “It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die.”
And let us once be persuaded that Jesus is set at God’s right hand, far above all principalities and powers, and that he has all heaven at his disposal, and has sent to invite us to come unto him, and has made ample provision for us by the way, and prepared mansions for us at the end of our journey, and engaged that we shall dwell in his immediate presence for ever and ever; let us be persuaded of this, and shall we feel no disposition to visit him? Will it not, on the contrary, be the first desire of our hearts? Shall we not say, “Whom have I in heaven but Thee; and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of Thee?” Will not the attainment of this object appear to be the only thing worth living for? And having an assured prospect of this, shall we not say, “Now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace?” Yes; this desire will swallow up, as it were, every other; and to secure this happiness will be the only end for which we shall wish to live.]
He disregarded all the difficulties he might encounter in the way to him—
[It was not a pleasing thing for an infirm old man, who was one hundred and thirty years of age, to leave his home, and set out upon so long a journey: but the mountains became a plain, when such an object was to be attained.
Nor is it pleasing for flesh and blood to encounter the difficulties which we must meet with in our journey heaven-ward. But who that loves our exalted Jesus will regard them? who will not welcome reproach, and take up with cheerfulness whatever cross may lie in his way to that blessed kingdom 2 Suppose that we must suffer the loss of our worldly interests and accommodations; who will not account them mere “stuff,” that is unworthy of one moment’s notice? who will not readily exchange them for the fulness of the heavenly land, and for the enjoyment of the Saviour’s presence? Difficulties become no difficulties, and sacrifices no sacrifices, when by faith we behold the Saviour’s glory, and have an assured hope of participating it for ever.]
How amiable is the exercise of unfeigned love!
[Joseph, for peculiar reasons, had imposed a restraint upon his feelings, till the proper time arrived to give them vent: but when he was no longer under any necessity to conceal them, they burst forth in a torrent of affection, as waters that have broken down the dam by which they had been confined. He retained no anger against his murderous brethren, but fell on their necks and kissed them. His charge to them “not to fall out by the way,” shewed how ardently he desired that they might maintain, with each other as well as with himself, the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. And how animated was his message to his dear aged father! “Haste you, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph; God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down to me; tarry not: and thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen; and thou shalt be near unto me, thou and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast: and there will I nourish thee!” Nor was the aged patriarch’s affection less ardent, when once he was persuaded that his Joseph was yet alive. His whole soul was wrapt up in his darling son: and, in his determination to visit him, he lost sight of all his temporal interests: the thought of enjoying plenty in Egypt seems not to have entered into his mind: all that he cared for was a sight of Joseph; and beyond that he had no wish in life.
Would to God it were thus in every church, and every family! Thus indeed it will be, wherever the grace of God reigns in the heart. Instead of “rendering evil for evil,” we shall “heap coals of fire on the heads” of those who injure us, to melt them into love. Instead of harbouring envy, or hatred, or a selfish indifference in our hearts, we shall feel the sublimest happiness in the exercise of love: parents will love their children, and children seek to requite their parents, and “brethren delight to dwell together in unity.” O let us cultivate such a spirit, which shall be the best evidence, both to ourselves and others, that we are Christ’s disciples.]
How delightful will be our interview with Christ in heaven!
[If we had beheld the meeting of this aged patriarch with his beloved Joseph, who amongst us could have refrained from tears? — — — But what must be the meeting of the soul with Jesus, on its first admission into his presence? Who can conceive the tender endearments of the Saviour’s love, or the admiration, gratitude, and joy with which the soul shall be overwhelmed in his embrace? Surely such an interview is worth the longest and most arduous journey. Well may we account every thing as dung and dross, to obtain it; more especially because it shall not be transient, like that which Jacob enjoyed, but permanent and everlasting. Behold then, we invite you all to a participation of it. He has said respecting you, “Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me.” And is there one amongst you that will not add his Amen to that petition? Make haste then, tarry not: “Mind not your stuff” but commence your journey instantly: and soon shall death transport you into his presence; and “then shall you be for ever with the Lord. Comfort ye one another with these words.”]
Verses of Genesis 45
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Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae (Old and New Testaments)
Charles Simeon (1759 - 1836) was an English evangelical Anglican cleric.
Horae Homileticae reflects the rich source of Biblical understanding of Simeon, a towering figure in the history of evangelical theology.