This has been a month of celebration for many people. Earlier this mornth we celebrated Chanukah and like many others we remembered the “great miracle that happened there.” That is, the providential care for the Jewish people by God when he gave the Maccabeus victory over their Greco-roman oppressors. Also many people this month celebrated Christmas, a Gentile expression of thanksgiving for the birth of the Messiah. While these celebrations are quite different in their orientations they both are celebrated more culturally then spiritually. The sad thing about it all is that much is said about God and specifically much is said about Yeshua while the fact is that God and specifically Yeshua is often the uninvited guest to many celebrations commemorating the marvelous things he has done. Yeshua is our brother in exile.
In our weekly Torah readings, we just completed the long narrative about Joseph. Joseph serves as a paradigm for many of the descriptions of godly prophets and kings in the Bible. There are many similarities between Joseph and the Messiah. Let me name just a few and what it means to us at this time of year.
- Joseph and Yeshua were misunderstood. From the very beginning of the narrative in Genesis 37 we read that the brothers were jealous and that they hated Joseph because of his relationship with Jacob and because of his dreams of overseeing his brothers. (Gen. 37:4-8). Likewise Yeshua was and still is greatly misunderstood. When Yeshua spoke up on the 7th day of Sukkot his words of invitation and blessing were met with confusion. Some understood him as the Messiah but others wanted to attack him. There are a number of passages that tell us that there was confusion and division over the words and actions of Yeshua. (Jn. 7:43, 9:16, 10:19)
- Joseph and Yeshua were rejected. The brothers of Joseph desired to kill him. But God spared him and rather than death, he spent the rest of his life in Egypt. Yeshua was rejected by his brothers as well. In John 18 and 19 we read the narrative of the arrest, humiliation and execution of Yeshua.
- Joseph and Yeshua both desired to bless their brethren despite ill treatment. When the brothers of Joseph encounter him when they come to Egypt in search of food they do not recognize him. However Joseph recognizes them. We read a long section in which Joseph makes them go back home and return to Egypt several times. Joseph was very desirous of seeing his brother Benjamin and his father Jacob. We read that Joseph wept when he saw his father and when he saw Benjamin and when he reveals himself to his brothers. Weeping was an emotional expression of endearment. When the brothers realize that it is Joseph with whom they had been dealing they do not weep. In fact they never really show much remorse or contrition for what they had done. They show fear. They concoct a story to tell Joseph so that he would forgive them. Even though they never realy repent or show remorse, Joseph forgives them and treats them well. When Yeshua approached Jerusalem for the last time he looked over the city and he wept. (Luke 19:41). He lamented the people’s rejection of him (Matt. 23:37-40). In Romans 5 we read that while we were helpless..while we were enemies…Yeshua provided salvation and reconciliation for us (Rom. 5:6, 10). Both joseph and Yeshua took the initiative and treated their brethren much better than the way they were treated.
- Ultimately there is reconciliation. The brothers of Joseph are received by him and they are blessed in the land of Egypt – until a new Pharaoh came who knew not Joseph (Ex. :8). Regarding the Messiah the day will come when all Israel will be saved – when all Israel will embrace Yeshua and be blessed.
Today Yeshua is in exile from his brothers. He is still misunderstood and rejected. He desires that we as Jewish people and the nations accept him so that we can participate in his promises. How sad must he be to see all of the celebrating going on while at the same time he remains the uninvited guest. He still stands at the door and knocks. God has called us to stand in the gap and intercede on behalf of our people. May we do so in a way that bridges the gap so that our people will know Messiah and experience his blessings of forgiveness and reconciliation.