Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 111




The book of Genesis, in which nearly all of the truths in the Bible are sown as seeds, may be considered a biography of eight great men: Adam, Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. These eight men are arranged in two groups of four. Adam, Abel, Enoch, and Noah make up the first group; and Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph form the second. The first group represents the created race, the Adamic race, whereas the second group represents the called race, the Abrahamic race. Because of the failure of the created race, God had a new start with the called race. The created race began with Adam and ended with Noah. At both the beginning and the ending, the created race was a failure. Adam, the head of God's created race and its representative, became fallen. With Abel we have the coming back to God. In Adam, man fell away from God; but through God's redemption, Abel came back to Him. Enoch, who came after Abel, not only returned to God, but also walked with God. The issue of his life was a type of the rapture. Enoch was raptured out of death unto God. Enoch's life issued in Noah, who also walked with God and who had an experience of reigning, although his reigning was neither adequate nor full. However, Noah's reigning issued in a fall. Noah's descendants rebelled against God at Babel, and that rebellion resulted in God's giving up of the created race. Forced to have a new beginning, God visited Abraham and called him out of the rebellious created race. This marked the beginning of a new race, the called race, the Abrahamic race.

With this called race God certainly achieved a great success. Beginning with Abraham and continuing through Isaac and Jacob, the way rose higher and higher. Eventually we see a full reign in Jacob. As we have pointed out, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph should not be considered separate individuals. Rather, they represent four aspects of a complete, mature saint. In them we see God's selection, God's calling, and justification by faith. We see how a called and justified saint can live in the presence of God by faith to enjoy all the riches of the inheritance. However, such a one still strives to gain the birthright. But all his struggles cause him nothing but suffering. In his sufferings God's hand comes upon him to deal with him, and he is dealt with by God until he becomes mature. Hallelujah, in the called race we see the maturity of life! This matured life has a reigning aspect, an aspect portrayed by the life of Joseph. This is the reason that in the book of Genesis Joseph is so excellent and marvelous.

When I was young, my mother used to tell us Bible stories. She spent a long time on the story of Joseph. Oh, how I sympathized with this excellent one when I heard that he was cast into a pit and sold into slavery! Although I loved Joseph and realized that he was someone special, I did not know why he was so excellent. I knew only that Joseph was very good and that I wanted to be like him. Even after I had ministered the Word for years, I still did not know the reason for Joseph's excellence. But now I can boldly give you the reason Joseph was excellent: it was because he was the reigning aspect of the mature life. And he was the reigning aspect of a matured Israel, not of Jacob. Thus, Joseph was the cream of a matured life.

What we see in Joseph, of course, is simply a shadow. In reality and in actuality, the reigning aspect typified by Joseph is Christ constituted into our being. We all are Jacobs, but we have the constitution of Christ within us. On the day we were regenerated, Christ was constituted into us. Eventually this Christ becomes our constitution. That part of our being that is constituted with Christ is neither our flesh nor our mind; rather, it is our spirit. Second Timothy 4:22 says that Christ is with our spirit. This means that Christ is constituted into the depths of our being. The Christ-constituted aspect of our regenerated being is fully represented, portrayed, and typified by Joseph. Because Joseph represents the reigning aspect of a victorious and mature life, his life is recorded in the Bible in such an excellent way.


The first three chapters regarding the reigning part of a matured life are chapters thirty-seven, thirty-eight, and thirty-nine. As a child, I used to dislike these chapters because they were filled with hatred, plotting, and betrayals. Chapter thirty-eight is a record of Judah's incest, and in chapter thirty-nine we see darkness and the indulgence in lust. Have you ever loved these chapters? After I was saved and began to love the Bible, I did not spend much time on these chapters. Having become familiar with the story found in them, I did not care to read these chapters again. When in 1955 I conducted a study on the book of Genesis, I skipped over them. But during the twenty-three years since that study was conducted, I have received more light. After I came to this country, I saw the value, the preciousness, of Joseph's dreams, which are the controlling view of these chapters. If you have not seen the vision of Joseph's dreams, you will be able to know no more than the story contained in these chapters. You will not be able to know the depths of the significance of this story. Joseph's dreams controlled and directed his life. Joseph conducted himself in such an excellent way as the reigning aspect of a mature life under the direction of this controlling vision.

Chapter thirty-seven begins by telling us how Jacob loved his dear son Joseph, and how Joseph reported the evils of his brothers to his father. Then we are told about Joseph's dreams (37:5-10). In these days the Lord has shown us that Joseph's dreams reveal the actual situation of God's people in His eyes. God's people are all sheaves of life. A sheaf is a bundle of wheat full of life and life supply. The sheaves contain life grains which are good for life supply. Do not say, "I don't like the Israelites, because they are so evil." Remember the case of the Gentile prophet Balaam who was bribed to pronounce a curse upon Israel. At that time, Israel actually was evil. Nevertheless, Balaam, under the control of God, said that God had not beheld iniquity in Jacob nor perverseness in Israel (Num. 23:21). On the contrary, in God's eyes all His chosen people are sheaves of life, full of life supply. Furthermore, God's people are like stars shining in the sky.

After telling us of these two dreams, the record of the book of Genesis reveals that Joseph's brothers plotted to kill him and that he was sold into slavery in Egypt. In chapter thirty-eight we see the incestuous sin of Judah, and in chapter thirty-nine, the darkest temptation and most unjust treatment of Joseph. According to the sequence of events in these chapters, we see that Joseph's excellent behavior was under the direction of his dreams. In his first dream he saw that he was one of the sheaves; and he was not a sheaf falling down, but a sheaf rising up. I believe that from the time of that dream Joseph realized where God had put him and what God wanted him to be. He no doubt understood that God wanted him to be such a sheaf. He was not to be driftwood full of death, but a sheaf standing up full of life. If you had had such a dream, would you not be influenced, if not controlled, by it? Would this dream not govern your behavior and direct your conduct? Certainly it would. I believe that Joseph's dream of the sheaf directed his behavior.

This was also true of the second dream, the dream of the sun, the moon, and twelve stars. Suppose you had a dream in which you were the star that was worshipped by the other stars. Would you not as a result esteem yourself highly? Would you not say, "My, I am a star! I am not a scorpion or something low and dark. I am a bright star shining in the heavens." If you had been the one to see such a vision, would it not control you? If it did not control you for the rest of your life, it would at least govern you for a period of time. You would begin to behave like a shining star and say, "Last night I saw that I was the star worshipped by all the other stars. From now on, I must act like such a bright star. In the past I have been dark, but I must not be like this any longer. Instead, I must be bright and shining."

Joseph behaved so excellently and marvelously because he was directed by the vision he saw in his dreams. Children are influenced by what they see on television. I have observed my own grandchildren act out what they saw on a certain program. If even the little ones are influenced by what they see, then how much more was the young man Joseph influenced by the heavenly vision, the vision that he was a sheaf rising up full of life and that he was a star worshipped by all the other stars! Do you not believe that Joseph was influenced and impressed by this vision? I definitely believe that he was. The point I am making is that Joseph's excellent and marvelous behavior was due to the vision he received. The vision of his two dreams controlled his life and directed his behavior. He behaved as the sheaf standing up and full of life, and he conducted himself like a heavenly star shining in the darkness. With this viewpoint, you are able to understand the significance of these three chapters.

A. His Brothers Giving Vent
to Their Anger

In these chapters two gross sins are recorded. In chapter thirty-seven there is the sin of anger (37:18-28). Joseph's brothers seized the opportunity to give full vent to their anger. This was not an insignificant case of anger. The one Joseph's brothers were plotting to kill was not a thief, but their own brother in the flesh, the dear son of their own father. If they had had any human affection at all, they would never have considered doing such a thing. Reuben, however, did think of how it would affect their father; and Judah suggested that they not kill him, but sell him, which was far superior to shedding his blood. Nevertheless, in chapter thirty-seven we see the anger of Joseph's brothers. In the next chapter, chapter thirty-eight, we have Judah's indulgence in lust, even in incest (38:15-18). After the fall of man, the first issue to come forth was the killing of a brother in the flesh. And the sin that brought in the flood as God's judgment upon the fallen race was the indulgence in lust. These two sins, the sins of murdering a brother in the flesh and of indulging in lust, are repeated here.

B. Joseph Emerging from Anger,
Surviving in a Death Situation

The anger of his brothers afforded Joseph the opportunity to live as a sheaf of life. While all his brothers were drowning in the water of anger, Joseph, the reigning aspect of the mature life, lived as a sheaf of life, emerging from the death water of human anger. The record, under God's inspiration, uses fallen anger as the background to demonstrate how much life was in the sheaf. This sheaf was filled with life. When all the rest had sunk into the death water of human anger, this sheaf emerged and survived in that situation of death.

Is this not also the record of our life? Day after day, we are surrounded by the death water of human anger. But instead of drowning, we emerge out of the death water and survive. If this is a portrait of your daily life, then you are the reigning aspect of the victorious life. Although, humanly speaking, we are prone to lose our temper, we nonetheless have the constitution of Christ that emerges out of the situation of anger. Thus, we are today's Josephs, sheaves of life rising up and standing up.

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