Concerning Joseph he said: "May his land be blessed by the LORD with the dew of heaven's bounty and the watery depths that lie beneath,
I. HIS FAITHFUL IMPROVEMENT OF TRIAL. The description of Rachel's firstborn is truly pathetic. He is pictured to us as he "that was separated from his brethren." In a sense he had always been separate. In youth, his temper and tastes and predilections were all superior to theirs. They were coarse, vulgar, cruel; he was refined, thoughtful, gentle - cast in a nobler mold. But the reference made by Moses to separation is, doubtless, to that violent and murderous separation, when by his brothers' hands he was sold as a bond-slave and carried into Egypt. How nobly he had borne that treatment is a matter of historic fact. How Joseph's behavior in captivity had led to the development of Israel's fortunes could never be erased from Jewish memory. His affectionate treatment of his aged father, and his generous forgiveness of his brethren, marked him as "separate" from the common herd of men. This is a kind of separateness we may aspire to emulate. Here is a pattern man.
II. HIS FORESEEN PROSPERITY. This forecast of prolific prosperity was founded on a double basis, viz. on the native resources of the district which was to be his favored portion; and on the abiding benediction of Jehovah. Yet these two sources of prosperity were in reality one - one source flowing through many channels. His hills should laugh in fertility and gladness beneath the sunny smile of God. The vale of Shechem has always enjoyed a wide celebrity for its beauty and fruitfulness. Samaria was the paradise of Canaan. Its hills were covered with olives and vines and figs. Its valleys waved with golden corn. One natural source of abundance is its perennial fountains and flowing streams - the "deep that coucheth beneath." Here it was that Jacob made his first purchase of land, and here he digged the well which to this hour bears his name. To this verdant district Jacob's sons led their flocks when drought and barrenness covered the land. And in this district occurred the shameful deed when Joseph was imprisoned in the pit and then sold to Ishmaelites. By a generous retribution of God's sagacious providence, Joseph obtained his permanent portion in this very territory, and with all the energy of his soul Moses prayed, "Blessed of the Lord be his land."
III. HIS FUTURE POWER. A double portion of property and power fell to Joseph. By the dying bequest of his father Jacob, each of Joseph's sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, was to rank in the first degree, adopted by Jacob in the place and rank of his own. Yet the two sons were destined not to grow in the same proportion of power. While there were to be the "thousands of Manasseh," there were to be the "ten thousands of Ephraim." God "divideth to every one severally as he will." The glory of these young men was to be "their strength," and this would be fostered by the fatness of their land. Yet their strength was not pictured under the image of a lion or an eagle. It was to be rather the quiet, patient strength of the ox - the strength which endures, as did Joseph's in the land of Egypt. Horns are the bullock's natural weapons of defense, and these are significant emblems of power. But Joseph's horns were to be like those of the unicorn. His was to be royal authority and strength. Evidently Moses foresaw the day when the sovereignty of the Hebrews would be divided, and when Joseph should wield a scepter in Israel. The royal emblazonry of Britain thus corresponds, in part, with the heraldry of ancient Samaria. "With the horns of unicorns" he was destined "to push the people together to the ends of the earth." His "horn God exalted mite honor." To this hour, a remnant of Joseph's power remains in Samaria. There still in the synagogue is enshrined the ancient Law, and there yet is observed the Paschal feast. - D.
Genesis 49:22): —
Of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land.John 1:13).
(T. G. Rooke, B. A.)
I. THIS FIGURE DESCRIBES JOSEPH'S CHARACTER.
1. He was in clear and constant fellowship with God, and therefore God blessed him greatly. How can we fail to be fruitful if we draw our life and all its vigour from the Lord Jesus?
2. Because Joseph lived near to God, he received and retained gracious principles. We need an instructed people if we are to have a fruitful people.
3. Joseph showed his character throughout the whole of his life. Always the Lord his God is the star of Joseph.
4. This abiding near to God made Joseph independent of externals. If you are not living in God on your own account, your religion may as well fail you at once; for it will ultimately do so.
5. Joseph was very conscious of his entire dependence upon God. Take the well away, and where was the fruitful bough?
II. THIS IS OF ITSELF A GREAT BLESSING. It is a high favour to know the deep things of God, and to enjoy the far-down securities, enjoyments, and privileges of the children of heaven.
1. In deep union with God are to be found the very truth and life of godliness. A man may possess the catalogue of a library, and yet be without a book; and so may you know a list of doctrines, and yet be a stranger to truth.
2. When a man like Joseph can be compared to a fruitful tree by a well, because he is rooted in fellowship with God, he has the blessedness of drawing his supplies from secret, but real, sources. His life is hid, and the support of his life is hidden too. The world knoweth him not; but the secret of the Lord is with him. There is the tree, and there is the fruit, these can be seen by all; but none can see the roots which are the cause of the clusters, nor the deep that lieth under, from which those roots derive their supply.
3. The supplies of such a man are inexhaustible. Infinite mercy is a storehouse for a starving world.
4. The man who dwells near to God has supplies which can never be cut off. We have heard of cities which have been surrounded by armies, and were never captured by assault, but were compelled to surrender because the besiegers cut off the water courses, broke down the aqueducts, and so subdued them by thirst. Jerusalem was never thus captured, for there were deep wells within the city itself which never ceased to flow. Ah, he that hath a well of living water within him is beyond the enemy's power.
5. Supplies gained by nearness to God Himself are constant. Grace is not a landspring, but a well. I do not say that your root can always take in the same measure of water from the well of life; but I do say that it will always be there for you to take; and I think, also, that to a large extent you will be able to partake of it with constancy.
6. The supplies of the believer who dwells deep are pure as well as full. Draw your supplies at first hand.
III. THIS BRINGS WITH IT OTHER BLESSINGS.
1. If you are by the well, sending your roots into waters, you will obtain fruitfulness.
5. Enrichment.Notice how Moses puts it: he mentions quite a treasury of jewels. The best pearls come out of deep seas. He mentions the precious things of heaven, the precious fruit brought forth by the sun, the precious things put forth by the moon, the chief things of the ancient mountains, the precious things of the earth, and the fulness thereof, and the goodwill of Him that dwelt in the bush. All these blessings came upon the top of the head of him who was a fruitful bough by a well. The best wines in God's house are in the cellar. Those who never go downstairs have no idea of the secret sweetness. A deep experience is a precious experience. The Lord fills certain of His people with pain and grief, that they may know His choicer consolations. We are too apt to let our roots run along just under the surface, and so we get no firm rootage; but trouble comes, and then we grow downward, rooted in humility; then we pierce the treasures of darkness, and know the deep things of God.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
The precious things of heaven
I. THE GIFT OF LIFE. Are you using it well? Is yours a sanctified life, fruitful of wise thoughts and worthy deeds? Do not say that if you were somewhere else, or in some other employment, or in an entirely different condition of life, you would then live a truer and more splendid life. "The trivial round," etc.
II. THE PROMISES OF GOD AND OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST. There are more than three thousand of these. Promises of guidance, food, raiment, defence, consolation, mercy, peace, health, prosperity, honour, glory, immortality, eternal life, endless joy in heaven, etc. Rest, then, in the Lord. Be quiet, be patient. He is faithful that promised. The Scripture cannot be broken. All the promises of the heavenly Father are yea and amen in Christ Jesus.
III. REAL, PERSONAL, BLESSED COMMUNION WITH GOD, OUR FATHER, THROUGH THE MEDIATION OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. Remember the Divine method of prayer. There is the way, and it is written plainly in the Scriptures. Listen, and be glad: "For thus saith the high and lofty One," etc. Listen and learn: "If any man sin," etc. Listen and obey: "If I regard iniquity," etc. Listen and trust: "The Spirit itself helpeth, etc. Listen and rejoice: "Be careful for nothing," etc.
IV. A GOOD NAME. "Rather to be chosen than great riches." They flourish like the palm tree. Think of the names of Martin Luther, George Washington, David Livingstone, Richard Cobden, and the Prince Consort. They are like pillars of white marble, to remind us that we may be great and good. Yes, the names of the saints are immortal.
V. THE BEAUTY OF EARTH AND HEAVEN. Make this use of eternal beauty and grandeur. Look at the mountains, and think of God's strength; the flowers, and think of His love; and the sun, and think of His glory. Go into the fields to find God, to the sea to worship Him. In the rich emblazonment and embroidery of nature, see the vesture of the Almighty, and know Him as thy Father in heaven, and thou shalt feel a sense of dignity and blessedness unknown before.
(G. W. McCree.)
The precious things of the earth
(H. G. Trumbull.)
The goodwill of him that dwelt in the bushI. WHAT THIS GOODWILL IS AND WHOSE IT IS. It is the love and free favour of Christ to all His covenant people: that grace of His, in which there is continuance, which He ever bears towards them that are His.
1. Christ ever bears a goodwill towards His people. They are precious and honourable in His sight, they are highly favoured; His thoughts towards them are thoughts of peace, and so they were from eternity (Micah 5:2). The Church is His spouse, His body, His fair one. Every dispensation of Providence is for our good; the sorest strokes that befall us come in love; when persecuted, forsaken, made a shame of before men, His heart stands towards us the same as ever; underneath are His everlasting arms: we endure the fire, and come purged and refined out of it. 2 This favour and goodwill Christ is pleased to discover to His people for their edification and comfort (Song of Solomon 2:4).
II. WHY THIS GOODWILL IS THUS PARTICULARLY DESCRIBED AS "THE GOODWILL OF HIM THAT DWELT IN THE BUSH" (Exodus 3:12).
1. Because the fire in the midst of the bush was a type of the incarnation and sufferings of Christ. For man's nature is a poor, despicable thing, like a dry bramble bush that would be soon fired, as it were, and utterly consumed by the approach of God; but the Son of God dwells in this bush, and though the flame is seen, the bush is not burnt.
2. Because God revealed His covenant to Moses at the time of His glorious appearance. God is a fire to consume, not to enlighten, warm, and refresh ungodly sinners, such as have not made a covenant with Him by sacrifice.
3. This appearance of the angel in the bush sets forth the love and care of Christ to His Church, even in their greatest troubles and dangers. All Christ's mercy, wisdom, power, love, and grace are for us; yea, His very life is on our behalf (John 14:19). It is good to remember former deliverances even in the want of present mercies.
4. Because Moses had at this season the most special experience of the love and goodwill of Christ; it is one of the top manifestations of the Redeemer's fulness and grace to his own soul. There is a great deal of emphasis in my text, "And for the favourable acceptation of my dweller in the bush." As if Moses had said, "Then He revealed Himself to be mine, I saw His glory as my Surety, my Redeemer, my God manifest in the flesh, and to my soul He sealed all the love and grace of the everlasting covenant." Our first views of God and Christ are often exceeding precious ones. This was Christ's first visible appearance to Moses that we read of; now the visions of God began; and what so sweet an introduction to his after-communion with Him as a sight of the second person in the Godhead united to flesh, and in our nature transacting all the concerns of salvation?
III. HOW OR IN WHAT MANNER THIS GOODWILL IS TO BE SOUGHT.
1. Seek this goodwill of Christ, His free grace and favour, as a blessing distinct from and over and above what God the Father hath promised on His own part in the everlasting covenant.
2. This goodwill of God-man mediator is to be sought, as what alone can give life and liberty to the believer in all acts of Gospel worship. Take away the person of Christ as God-man, and the object of worship is as it were lost, for there is no going to the Father but by Him. What can sinners do with an absolute God? Take away Christ's sufferings, merit, righteousness, and intercession, what plea can there be for faith? And believers, when they go in Christ's name, yet if their spirits are not taken up in the exercise of faith on His goodwill, grace, and acceptation, there is no nearness to God. Christ's presence is our life, we have none in ourselves; Gospel liberty is Christ's purchase and gift.
3. This goodwill is to be sought with great expectation and hope. Jesus loves a fear which produces watchfulness in the soul, but He hates those fears which breed torment. The goodwill of my dweller in the bush, says Moses; the goodwill of my Lord and God, say thou. Keep in view the sense thou hast had of past brace and favour under thy burden, and grieve for want of present tokens of it.
4. This goodwill is to be sought in its higher manifestations, and a sweeter experience of it from day to day. Moses leaves the decree wherein this goodwill should be shown to Joseph, to the sovereignty of Him in whom it dwells; but withal, the manner of expression he uses shows that it was no small portion he asks of it for him, the goodwill of my dweller in the bush.
IV. WHEREIN CONSISTS THE GREATNESS OF THE BLESSING, WHICH RENDERS IT SO WELL WORTHY OF ALL OUR SEEKING.
1. The goodwill of Christ, who of old dwelt in the bush, lies at the foundation of every other blessing. The day is coming when none but Christ, an whole Christ, will be deemed a portion sufficient for an immortal soul. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness: this is the one thing needful.
2. Every other blessing is comprehended in this. If Christ be thine, all is thine.
3. This is needful to make our other blessings blessings indeed. The whole world cannot satisfy a soul without this: men may be in straits in the abundance of their possessions; have, and never enjoy; be crying, Who will show me any good? They see nothing worth calling so in what they have already. Now, whence is this? It arises from a want of God, and Christ, and covenant love, and goodwill, to put a sweetness and relish into creature comforts, and to make up all creature deficiencies.
4. This is a blessing infinitely better than all outward blessings, and makes up the loss of all.
(John Hill.)Nec Tamen Consumebatur. But I venture to think that is a mistake; and that what is meant by the symbol is just what is expressed by the verbal revelation which accompanied it, and it is this: "I AM THAT I AM." The fire that did not burn out is the emblem of the Divine nature which does not tend to death because it lives, nor to exhaustion because it energises, nor to emptiness because it bestows, but after all times is the same; lives by its own energy and is independent. "I am that I have become," that is what men have to say. "I am that I once was not, and again once shall not be," that is what men have to say. "I am that I am" is God's name. And this eternal, ever-living, self-sufficing, absolute, independent, unwearied, inexhaustible God is the God whose favour is as inexhaustible as Himself, and eternal as His own being. "Therefore the sons of men shall put their trust beneath the shadow of Thy wings." What more does the name say? He that dwelt in the bush dwelt there in order to deliver; and, dwelling there, declared "I have seen the affliction of My people, and am come down to deliver them." So, then, if the goodwill of that eternal, delivering God is with us, we too may feel that our trivial troubles and our heavy burdens, all the needs of our prisoned wills and captive souls, are beknown to Him, and that we shall have deliverance from them by Him. The goodwill, the delight of God, and the active help of God, may be ours, and if it be ours we shall be blessed and strong. Do not let us forget the place in this blessing on the head of Joseph which my text holds. It is preceded by an invoking of the precious things of heaven, and "the precious fruits brought forth by the sun...of the chief things of the ancient mountains, and the precious things of the lasting hills, and the precious things of the earth and the fulness thereof." They are all heaped together in one great mass for the beloved Joseph. And then, like the golden spire that tops some of those campaniles in Italian cities, and completes their beauty, above them all there is set, as the shining apex of all, "the goodwill of Him that dwelt in the bush." That is more precious than all the precious things; set last because it is to be sought first; set last as in building some great structure the top stone is put on last of all; set last because it gathers all others into itself. So the upshot of my homily is just this — Men may strive and scheme, and wear their fingernails down to the quick, to get lesser good, and fail after all. You never can be sure of getting the little good. You can be quite sure of getting the highest. You never can be certain that the precious things of the earth and the fulness thereof will be yours, or that if they were, they would be so very precious; but you can be quite sure that the "goodwill of Him that dwelt in the bush" may be like light upon your hearts, and be strength to your limbs. And so I commend to you the words of the apostle: "Wherefore we labour that, whether present or absent, we may be well-pleasing to Him."
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
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