Deuteronomy 33:13
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,
Sermons
Watchwords for the TribesR.M. Edgar Deuteronomy 33:6-25
Benjamin and JosephJ. Orr Deuteronomy 33:12-17
At the BushA. Maclaren, D. D.Deuteronomy 33:13-17
By the FountainSpurgeon, Charles HaddonDeuteronomy 33:13-17
JosephT. G. Rooke, B. A.Deuteronomy 33:13-17
Royal Donations on JosephD. Davies Deuteronomy 33:13-17
The Goodwill of Christ the Best of BlessingsJohn Hill.Deuteronomy 33:13-17
The Precious Things of the EarthH. G. Trumbull.Deuteronomy 33:13-17
Things that are PreciousG. W. McCree.Deuteronomy 33:13-17
It is instructive to observe with what loving ardor Moses speaks of Joseph. No sooner does he mention this name than his tongue, the ready servant of his heart, gives vent to a flood of eloquence. No good is too great to predict for Joseph. No benediction is too costly for him. The finest imagery that his fancy can invent is employed to foreshadow his greatness. The imagination of the dying saint fondly revels in the prospect of Joseph's prosperity and power. Touching Joseph, we have mentioned -

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.







Of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land.
The character of Joseph is not often correctly apprehended, although it comes out very distinctly in the picture which Scripture has given us of the boy, the youth, and the man. Its most conspicuous quality was firm resolution and indomitable strength of will. There was nothing weak or undecided in him; and from this sterling root of character, sanctified as it was by true piety, sprang the virtues which all can recognise in Joseph's behaviour throughout his chequered experiences; a master sense of duty, cheerful courage, and perseverance under misfortune, rigid justice, and indefatigable diligence in all to which he set his hand. Ephraim was evidently the true son of Joseph in all his natural force of character; and, in the history of the Hebrew nation, we find him practically absorbing the individuality of his elder brother Manasseh. But, unlike his father, Ephraim seems to have been proud and selfish and overbearing, asserting his claim to supremacy without regard to the feelings or the rights of others, and angrily resenting every sign of resistance to, or questioning of, his right to the chief place among his brethren. Such a character is sure to secure its ambitious ends, at least, for a time, if only it is backed by the ability to rule; and in this way alone we might account for the tacit submission of all Israel to Ephraimitish dictation from the days of Joshua, the greatest hero of the tribe, and a man who reproduced all the spotless virtues of Joseph himself, until the disastrous "day of battle," when "the glory departed from Israel," and when Shiloh, the former centre of Joseph's dominion and of the religious worship of all his brethren, ceased to be God's chosen dwelling place, and was turned even into "a curse to all the nations of the earth." But something more than the mere ancestral force of the Ephraimitish character explains this long-continued supremacy of the tribe in Israel. The distinction which Joseph claimed among his brethren seemed to be invested with an almost sacred authority by the traditions of his father's express appointment, which, moreover, Moses appears to acknowledge in the blessing which is now before us. His richly coloured phraseology is reproduced in part by Moses in Deuteronomy, whilst the thought which underlay the words of the older prophecy is manifestly present to the mind of the later seer. Now what that thought really was is revealed in a brief incidental passage of 1 Chronicles. We are told by the author of these annals that Jacob transferred from Reuben to Joseph the birthright of the first-born son; that birthright consisting of a double portion of the patrimonial estate, as well as of titular headship in the family, such as the father himself exercised until his death. Jacob assumed the liberty to take away this high distinction from his eldest son, who had justly forfeited it by gross misconduct, and to confer it upon the latest-born but one, whom he had already singled out for other peculiar privileges when the lads were young and living together at home. And further, as if to emphasise the liberty of preference which he thus assumed, the dying patriarch singled out the younger of Joseph's two children as the special inheritor of this transferred birthright. But some will very naturally doubt whether he did not go beyond other limits which his recognition of the Divine decrees ought most distinctly to have set before his mind. For God had assigned the headship of His chosen people to Judah, and Jacob was not ignorant of this arrangement, but had given utterance to it in his prediction concerning the royal sceptre which his fourth son was to stretch forth over his enemies and his father's sons alike. Perhaps he may have drawn some subtle distinction in his thoughts between this regal honour, which also had a certain spiritual aspect, and the temporal substance of the birthright which he desired to transmit to Joseph. And this theory was very likely present to the mind of Moses when he adopted so much of Jacob's former blessing, and seemingly confirmed it absolutely to Joseph. But this was a judgment after the flesh, and not after the spirit; and in Jacob's case the assumption of a right to judge at all in such a matter was specially unwarrantable, and is all the more surprising because he had been so often punished for former acts of similar self-willed interference with the course and directions of God's providence. Could the patriarch have foreseen all the evil consequences of what he did, he would surely never have attempted to advance the tribe of Joseph into the place of preeminence which God had reserved for Judah. It was in the death chamber of Jacob in Egypt that birth was first given to that disastrous rivalry which for more than a thousand years weakened the house of Israel, and which still points a mournful proverb for the Church of the living God. One is tempted to linger over the very serious lessons which are suggested by this striking instance of the conflict which may arise between Divine election and human self-will, and of the well-marked differences in the fortunes and character of those whose inheritance is chosen of God, and of those whose inheritance is derived from men. How often do we think to do good to our friends or to our children by setting apart for them special gifts or asking specific requests for them from God, when, in truth, we are only procuring them evil and a curse; whereas, if we had left them in faith to God, and taught them to submit cheerfully in all things to His sovereign will, they would indeed have been blest more richly than we could have desired or conceived! And how often do we congratulate ourselves upon the proud advantages which human affection or policy has conferred, forgetting that there is only one inheritance which avails eternally and truly — that which pertains to the children of Divine election, "who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).

(T. G. Rooke, B. A.)

(with Genesis 49:22): —

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.

2. Unselfishness.

3. Fixedness.

4. Safety.

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
Happy is the mall who aspires to possess precious things. We need not be poor, blind, miserable, naked. There is available for us a hoard of precious things — things earthly and heavenly, present and future, temporal and eternal.

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
It is the poetic sense which perceives beauty in the things of the natural world, where the purely prosaic mind would see nothing to attract or impress. What we call the "poetry of nature" is, in fact, that view of nature which is in the eye of the poet observer. Dr. Shairp has, indeed, claimed that poetry itself is as true a form of thinking as is science in its estimate of external nature; and that the place of poetry in the present order of things in our universe was not made by the conceit of man, but was intended by the Maker of this order. He is sure that, as Wordsworth claims, poetry is "the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge," and "immortal as the mind of man." The poetic spirit invests the things of nature with the emotions of the human heart; looking down through that which is seen, into that which is thought and felt. There are associations of scenery which grow out of the lessons of history; and just in proportion as the man of poetic soul is informed in these lessons is the scenery about him transfused with their glory and imbued with their inspirations. The arid wastes of desolated Egypt have fullest meaning to him who reads in the mighty monuments which tower above these wastes the story of the Pharaohs and the shepherd kings; of the priests of Isis and Osiris; of all the legendary rulers of the land of Mizraim from Menes to the Ptolemies. The fields of Marathon and of Marston Moor and of Waterloo have a meaning in the light of their history which makes the scenery about them vocal with the praise of noble deeds. And who could look upon the scenery of Palestine but in the glow of its sacred history? But history is never so dear to us as memory. No associations with those of whom we know only in story can so vocalise the poetry of our surroundings as do the recollections of our own former days of joy or sadness in that locality, and of our fellowship there with those whom we loved, and from whom we are now separated. But, after all, the best associations of natural scenery are the associations of truth; the associations, not of history or of memory merely, but of truth — of immutable truth that takes hold of the past, the present, and the future. There is truth pictured in all nature, even in the commonest phases of nature; and poetry is the heart's view of truth. There are associations of God's presence with every phase of natural scenery; and he who looks at mountain, or forest, or ocean, or plain, without recognising and rejoicing over these associations, lacks the true poet's soul and the true poet's eye. On the contrary, he who notes and heeds them finds comfort, as well as poetry, in them everywhere.

(H. G. Trumbull.)

The goodwill of him that dwelt in the bush
I. 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.)

I think this is the only reference in the Old Testament to that great vision which underlay Moses' call and Israel's deliverance. There seems a peculiar appropriateness in this reference being put into the mouth of the ancient lawgiver, for to him even Sinai, with all its glories, cannot have been so impressive and so formative of his character as was the vision granted to him solitary in the wilderness. It is to be noticed that the characteristic by which God is designated here never occurs elsewhere than in this one place. It is intended to intensify the conception of the greatness, and preciousness, and all-sufficiency of that "goodwill." If it is that of Him that dwelt in the bush, it is sure to be all that a man can need. So then here, first, is a great thought as to what for us all is the blessing of blessings — God's goodwill, "Good, will" — the word, perhaps, might bear a little stronger rendering. "Goodwill" is somewhat tepid. A man may have a good enough will, and yet no very strong emotion of favour or delight, and certainly may do nothing to carry his goodwill into action. It is more than "goodwill"; it is more than "favour"; perhaps "delight" would be nearer the meaning. It implies, too, not only the inward sentiment of complacency, but also the active purpose of action in conformity with it on God's part. If I might dwell for a moment upon scriptural passages, I would just recall to you, as bringing up very strongly and beautifully the all-sufficiency and the blessed effects of having this delight and loving purpose directed toward us like a sunbeam, the various great things that a chorus of psalmists say it will do for a man. Here is one of their triumphant utterances: "Thou wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt Thou compass him as with a shield." That crystal battlement, if I may so vary the figure, is round a man, keeping far away from him all manner of real evil, and filling his quiet heart as he stands erect behind the rampart, with the sense of absolute security. That is one of the blessings that "the favour, or goodwill, will secure for us." Again, we read: "By Thy favour Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong." He that knows himself to be the object of the Divine delight, and who by faith knows himself to be the object of the Divine activity in protection, stands firm, and his purposes will be carried through, because they will be purposes in accordance with the Divine mind, and nothing needs to shake him. So he that grasps the hand of God, not because of his grasp, but because of the hand that be holds, can say, "the Lord is at my right hand; I shall not be greatly moved." And again, in another analogous but yet diversified representation, we read: "In Thee shall we rejoice all the day, and in Thy favour shall our horn be exalted." That is the emblem, not only of victory, but of joyful confidence, and so he that knows himself to have God for his friend and his helper can go through the world keeping a sunny face, whatever the clouds may be. So the goodwill of God is the chiefest good. Now, if we turn to the remarkable designation of the Divine nature which is here, look what rivers of strength and of blessedness flow out of the thought that for each of us "the goodwill of Him that dwelt in the bush" may be ours. What does that pregnant designation of God say? That was a strange shrine for a God. That poor, ragged, dry desert bush, with apparently no sap in its grey stem, prickly with thorns, with no beauty that we should desire it, fragile and insignificant — yet that is God's house. Not in the cedars of Lebanon, not in the great monarchs of the forest, but in the forlorn child of the desert did He abide. "The goodwill of Him that dwelt in the bush" may dwell in you and me. Never mind how small, never mind how sapless, never mind how lightly esteemed among men, never mind though we make a very poor show by the side of the oaks of Bashan or the cedars of Lebanon. It is all right; the fire does not dwell in them. "Unto this man will I come, and with him will I dwell who is of a humble and a contrite heart, and who trembleth at My word." Let no sense of poverty, weakness, unworthiness ever draw the faintest film of fear across our confidence, for even with us He will sojourn. Again, what more does that name say? He that "dwelt in the bush" filled it with fire, and it burned "and was not consumed." Our brethren of the Presbyterian Churches have taken the Latin form of the words in the incident for their motto — 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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