Genesis, Typically Considered

J. N. Darby.

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(Notes and Comments Vol. 1.)

Genesis 16

We have then the hurry of the flesh seeking for that which would be had only by promise, bringing in the old covenant - the means are always the great point of faithfulness to God, for here it is He is trusted in patience, for the flesh is always readier, the flesh engenders by its confidence, the old covenant and sorrow is with Israel; what we seek for our good in it, turns to our sorrow in that point, and the new covenant loses its position in us. The bondwoman must return, and submit to the free, but if Israel fail, for so it was verified in history - (principles are continually brought into their history now, for we have got into details, as in chapter 15 at the close) - still, as cast out, they are under the eye of Him who liveth and seeth them even in this condition.

Genesis 17

We have Abram's family covenant. God reveals Himself - appeared to him - as the Almighty God; He was known to him by this name, see Exodus 6. A covenant between God and him, to multiply him. And God talked with him - he on his face; covenant with him - father of many nations - and kings - a God to him and his seed after him - the land and their God. All this for ever, without condition, and his name changed for the covenant. Here, being a pilgrim, and continuing so, God is not ashamed to be called, and to lay the basis of being called, his God. The covenant of circumcision given to be kept - true circumcision to us by Sarah, the new covenant - he shall become father of nations, at least she shall be mother of them, even of kings. Howbeit, as Abraham's seed, but before this covenant, and after the flesh, Ishmael should become a great nation, but that was all of him - the son of the new covenant was joy; God left Abraham and went up, and Abraham kept the covenant, and with his house was circumcised.

136 This chapter, though with an important break, goes on to the end of chapter 21. We have again quite a new presentation of the way of God in the promises - it begins all afresh. Jehovah lays a new basis - Jehovah comes and reveals Himself by His name of relationship to Abram - chapters 15 and 16 were all within the circumscribed sphere of covenant lordship - He is simply the Lord Jehovah. We have now the father of nations consequently brought out - the heir promised by Sarah - the new covenant - and the separation of His people's family by circumcision - His fellowship with Abraham as His friend - His revealing His counsels and mind to him - Abraham's intercession - God's judgment of Sodom, where Lot, or the earthly-minded remnant was, yet who were of Abraham - for God remembered him and saved Lot - and here there is the break I spoke of.

The end of chapter 19 gives the posterity historically of Moab and Ammon; Abraham was up above, out of the judgments - not escaped from them. In chapter 17 we have God in His own supremacy - in chapters 18 and 19 the Lord in His covenant actings in promise and judgment - chapter 17 is the proper revelation of God to Abraham as such, and bringing him, and his family, into covenant with Him because they were his family.

Genesis 18

We have now a most blessed portion. Having settled Abraham as the father of many nations, and the new covenant in Sarah as the mother of them and even of kings; after this we get the communications of God with Abraham for his own soul, and joy, and as to His dealings with a corrupt world - a world where (here moreover representing the Jews and Israel) Lot was.

This is a blessed truth, i.e., Abraham being on this ground of "father of nations," and the new covenant brought in; he is the subject of the communications of God of the immediate gift of the heir, and His judgment of the evil world "I will certainly return" and "shall I hide."* The Church at large laughs at the idea of the gift of the Son though long ago promised, and originally desired.

{*In the end of note on chapter 22, this is still equally true.}

But God comes down to see the state of the world, though even the cry is risen up till He comes down and sees; His long-suffering is perfect even to the very end - how different we. Yet as to the consequence it is our privilege and place to say "Lord, how long" in the desolation of His people, for love and for His glory.

137 Intercession is Abraham's place, he has nothing to do with the judgment - but knowledge of it - but the Lord is far more accurate in His ways, and does not take this step till the case is hopeless, for He is very patient, though in the end a consuming fire. Blessed be His name in all things; for judgment itself is mercy, clearing the evil that good may be blessed.

Genesis 19

The judgment of the world in its sin manifested.

Here there are but two, and they as ministering angels, and just Lot is delivered, but this is because of the promise and favour to Abraham - it is grace; it is a question of the world and a remnant, and that remnant near the ruin (though delivered, so as by fire) because it had taken the world when it seemed well-watered everywhere, as the garden of the Lord, and very little like the place of fire and judgment to the eye of the flesh. God had given, men might say, all these things, so He had in a sense; what then? Man was a sinner, and relinquishment, service and promise was his place; why promise, if he had his portion, and had not to declare plainly that he sought a country? First he chooses the well-watered plain - then pitches his tent towards Sodom - then lives in it - and then is driven out, with loss of all, by judgment of destruction.

Genesis 20, 21

It seems to me that the Spirit of God takes up much more the Jews in the latter day here; it is not that we have not, in principle the same thing as in chapters 17, 18 and 19, but its proper force is there. And it arises on this question with the king of the land over Abraham's wife, over the Jewish people as having a Husband, and as belonging to Him - they may treat them well in ignorance, but the Lord claims them for Himself, and others cannot thus have them.

138 Here also it is all God - not the Lord - not the order of covenant, or ordered relationship, but God in His supremacy. In the case of Pharaoh, it was the world, and Abraham is treated well, and Pharaoh plagued with great plagues - here the judging after the flesh - Abimelech is in the land, and does it in the integrity of his heart, but is bound to own Sarah to be another's - then he can reprove Abraham, and give him the land to live in. Thereupon the heir is born, "to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given"; thereon the heir, as under the old covenant is clean turned out, and Abraham can reprove Abimelech - give to him - set the borders of his lands - and then take possession of the land in a figurative sense - plant and grow there - call on Jehovah, the everlasting God, who now (figuratively) had given him the promises - the world (who owned however the Lord, see verse 4) acknowledging that God is with Abraham in all that he did - this after the entire casting away of the old covenant, and so it shall be. We may enter into this in spirit now, but it shall be accomplished in the latter day.

Chapter 12 is much more the Church and the world - Abram being the general depositary of promise; query - would not this suppose the bringing in of the new covenant (even as to the Jews) before the birth of the heir to them? The power of deliverance is a distinct thing from the preparedness of heart before God, and this last is a thing owned in Jewish dealings; Psalm 119 seems to teach the same thing - there the law is written on the heart, but salvation or deliverance is not come. This is an important principle in prophetic Jewish history. The Church stands on other grounds in its address to the world, although the same effect is produced. Is not this too seen in the Lord's life, in grace going to the chief of sinners, and yet saying "except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye can in no wise enter"?

In these two chapters then we have Abraham and Abimelech - the heir born - and Abimelech and Abraham again; in chapter 15 the covenant of the land - the heir and land - the Gentile world being refused; in chapters 16 and 17, the two covenants in their contracted character, and the heirs respectively of each; in chapter 18, the new being made known, Abraham thereon the depositary of the immediate promise of the spiritual Heir, and of the divine mind, closing with the execution of judgment; chapter 19, the close is special.

139 Here we have the relation of the believers, or those that hold the promise, before the heir is given and after, subject to (by their own folly, it is true - for God was Almighty, and they were to walk before Him) the world, or its king, and fearing before him, and then the Heir born to them and ruling the world - true in principle ever. It will have a special earthly accomplishment in the Jews, received under the new covenant with the Heir - the old covenant turned quite out, and the world reproved; but the Church anticipates these questions.

We have already seen that the man represents the conduct, the woman the state of the relationship with God; thus then it was not only generally with Abram and Sarai; but Abraham denies the total separation of his wife - the Church - to himself, even as Sarah, but it was not Abimelech's fault but Abraham's; so with the Church - it is not the world's fault, but the Church's - believers' - that the Church is put into the hands of the world in this sense. Sarah is finally reproved, though both are in fault, and Abraham intercedes for the world then, when Sarah is restored - this has special reference to the Jews and Christ - so in Numbers 12, Aaron, though also guilty, interceded for Miriam; Abraham takes Christ's place in spirit then - and so indeed the remnant, though guilty, noted hereafter.

Save the natural, original sin of man, God preserves His own seed in this - and the glory of Christ - by secret providence; but its condition before the world is lost - Abraham has no wife - believers recognise none of this separation of the Church to Christ as His own.

We have then the Son born according to the new covenant - to us indeed now in spirit - but actually, when He comes as such into the world, and then instead of Abimelech's reproving, Abraham reproves Abimelech.

As to the Jews, I should say it was the interval immediately before the coming of Christ as the Son born to them, in which the Gentiles are entirely unfruitful while they are in their hands - the Son is born, and they give up and cast out the old covenant, and then Abimelech recognises that God is with them in all that they do, not seeking to use them for his own purposes.

NOTE. - It is Sarah who is reproved, for she ought not to have acquiesced, and Abraham is dealt with, in the way of grace, as a prophet - for so God looks at the Church in Christ for intercession according to His mind, as full of the Spirit; compare Numbers 12, where the judgment is on Miriam - Aaron interceding, though in the fault secondly, if not first.

140 The age of Sarah moves me nothing - for the Church or Jews, the people of God, lose nothing in the sight of the world for their purposes, though in the sight of God in themselves grown old and barren. I see no necessity to assert that the fact happened where it is placed, but in its typical order I have no doubt it is in the right place, and in this sense it bears a most important character in the sight of God; it is when Sarah bears the burden - or may be supposed to do so, for it is not directly stated "for the day and hour knoweth no man," but from the place it occurs, looking back from the fact in chapter 21 to the promise in chapter 18 - of the Heir of all, the laughter of those that hoped, and the glory manifested of His Father in the world.

If it be the case, as above, about the Jews, then there is a recognition of them in Abraham in blessing, before the full blessing comes in - indeed it is so for Christ's sake, for in all their affliction, blessed Lord, He is afflicted - and thus Abraham would represent both Christ and the Jewish remnant, before the open manifestation of Christ, but it is more a display of principle than full details. It was when Hagar wandered and lay down, in despair, that Abraham made a covenant and reproved Abimelech after.

Many of the types present the perfections of God, or Christ in one sense, and the actings and therefore failure of faith in the other.

I have no doubt that, in the type strictly, Abimelech, Sarah and Abraham present what is Jewish at the close - God secretly preserving the remnant, but they in the world's hands and the people treated well - Satan seeking to keep them there. Then the Son born, and the distinction of Hagar fully made, and she cast out, and then the supremacy over the world; but, though all this may pass actually among the Jews then, it is true spiritually, not only with the Church, but even an individual soul, for example, getting under the old covenant, and seeking its blessing and heirship there.

Then with some necessary adjuncts from chapter 22 to the end of chapter 24, we have a new distinct revelation. In the previous part we had the Lord's revelation of Himself to Abram as El Shaddai - the covenant of circumcision - and also father of many nations - and the relative position, under this, of Church and Israel in Abraham and Lot. Then the new covenant and the Heir - here we have the Heir distinctly brought out - in connection with the Church - sacrificed and raised again in a figure; afterwards His Father giving Him all He had, sends His messenger (who had all in His hand and takes an earnest and proof), to seek a wife, and brings her back to the Risen One come out to meditate, having left the place where the providence of God had met and secured the subject and type of the old covenant; chap. 16:14.

141 The force of all this can hardly be mistaken - the Holy Ghost taking the graces and gifts, and revealing that all was given to the Son; and seeking by the Father's will a bride for the Son, whom He brings back to Him, He having left the place of providence and the old covenant.

Sarah, the Jewish mother, is here removed ever viewed in the new covenant, and Rebecca is brought into her tent, and so Isaac comforted - and so the true Isaac. Meanwhile the land became the burying place of all their hopes, and that is all - all that Abraham, the depositary of promise, took in the land, and that not as his, but bought in it. It was only for the dead - a possession - pledge of other title to it, however. The world which has received Him in death, He must have for an inheritance; on the sacrifice and resurrection, the promise was confirmed to the seed. Verses 20-24 of chapter 22 come in, that the chain of history may be complete.

Genesis 22

We have then, the heirship and its principles and effects having been stated generally, the manner of accomplishment of the blessing in figure, and the extraordinary course, which was taken with the Heir, by reason of sin, and here we find the promise confirmed to the seed (Christ), which had not been mentioned since Abram's call - for all between was strictly, properly, Jewish, though the change of name might, as to the election, be extended to the Gentiles - "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."

In this most beautiful chapter of his personal intercourse with Him, who, if He spared Abraham, did not spare Himself in giving His Son, we have the principle clearly brought in - the inheritance is taken in resurrection, and therefore on a sacrifice which can purify the joint-heirs to be with Him, according to the power of that resurrection, while many blessings may come therewith to the natural seed.

142 Genesis 23

Here we have Sarah disappearing as the mother of the heir consequently, for grace in resurrection has children and not parents, and thus the Jewish Church as the mother of Christ, though honoured as such, gives place to the King's daughter, the same expressed in a new character ("instead of thy fathers thou mayest have children") as Sarah in chapters 20 and 21 was looked at, as we have seen, as the mother of the heir and so Jewishly. Abraham still declines to have even this from the world - a burying place for Sarah - to owe any man anything; if Israel as of old be buried, it shall be buried not by the goodwill and favour of man, nor take its grave from anyone but he who honours it.

Genesis 24

Here we have the father sending Eleazar - a type of the work of the Spirit, with a testimony that all was given to the Son to bring back the Church (to whom He displays many gifts, and on whom He confers them) - to Isaac; the details are very beautiful.

This will be true in the recall of Israel in the latter day, but has full truth in the Church now, Jesus being glorified.

We have here the most perfect and lovely account of the work of the Holy Ghost in the call of the Church; no doubt Christ will have the earthly Jerusalem in a similar manner.

Genesis 25

We have here the extension of general blessing to other nations, though Isaac be heir of all. We have then the principle, not of death, resurrection, and inheritance, but of election and separation in those who might seem, externally, the heirs, and the apostasy of him who had the natural derivative right - an important principle, looking only to present things, the things that are seen, instead of saying "our light affliction, which is but for a moment," etc., "while we look not at the things which are seen," etc. - "thus Esau despised his birthright"; so the Church - so Israel - in not recognising the Holy Ghost, but taking the world and its mess of pottage - the other saying "we have no king but Caesar"; though if grace went to the Gentiles, it was "away with such a fellow from the earth." In Esau was all the energy of the flesh too, as well as the birthright; but it was announced beforehand, "the elder shall serve the younger." It is with the barren and the weak that the blessing is always found, for He chooses the weak things.

143 We have now Isaac as the resurrection Church and power. Fear was the principle of Abraham's conduct with Abimelech; note the difference of the flesh for God's commands, and the Spirit acting in faith; chapter 21:11 to 22:3.

The seeking the Church by Eleazar, for Isaac, is after the setting aside of the Jews in Sarah, while Abraham had not so much as to set his foot on, and had to buy only a burying place - the earnest of possession; so with Jacob, and Joseph when in Egypt.

Rebecca is taken into Sarah's place, and Isaac is comforted concerning his loss of Sarah - the Jewish mother.

From verse 12 we have the blessing of the nations, as sharing the goodness of Abraham, the depositary of promise - but Isaac is heir; they might enjoy the blessing, but were not heirs with him - so of the nations brought in.

Then the great depositary of all promise, however accomplished, and developed, passes from the scene, and it closes alike as to flesh and spirit - Isaac and Ishmael bury him; and we begin again quite fresh with Isaac, the resurrection heir, and the path of faith or unbelief (as it was with Abraham) under that principle. Isaac now takes up the place of blessing and subject of testimony. He is found now in the place of God's providence to Israel, cast out under the old covenant - the place he had left to receive Rebekah.

Ishmael has the pre-eminence after the flesh - twelve princes according to their nations - and Rebekah barren; here another principle comes out - distinctive election. Abram, though chosen, gave especially calling; this, predestination - there were two people, but the elder should serve the younger. Esau grows - is mighty - the elder and beloved of his father, for carnal reasons after the flesh - but is profane, and for a morsel of meat - having no thought of the privilege of God, or of what was beyond selfish life, beyond his death - sells his birthright for a mess of pottage; he despised note, not the blessing - none do that when present - but the birthright which gave him nothing.

144 Though true of anyone, I apprehend in Esau we have specially the type of Israel - Ishmael is Israel under the law - but Esau is the profane rejecting the birthright for the mess of pottage - their Messiah, for a few momentary carnal privileges, and security under the Romans.

In Jacob we have Israel also, and their history; cast out - wandering, but God with them to bring them back - the promises secure to them and temporal earthly blessings - and this, after all, under God's favour their object; the stone of Bethel is still in the land for them, and praise to be rendered in God's house out of covenant earthly blessings.

Note also here, that Christ for the Jew (i.e., in its earthly order) is born of the new covenant.

We have then the call of Abram, as the depositary of promise - then failure generally, and thereon enriched by the world - the renouncing of worldly object, and the seeking it, and so distinction made; Abram being identified thus with the inheritance of promise - Lot, saved through mercy, with the place of judgment - finally Lot carried into the world (hostile) as a captive - Abram victorious over his enemies, and thereon coming into the blessing of Melchizedek, God being Possessor of heaven and earth; these were great principles, wherein Jewish or Church things take their place, but they are the great scheme or order of principles. In chapters 15 and 16 then we have the promise of the seed, and a numerous posterity - God being his shield and reward - and the earthly inheritance defined - the effort to have it through man's will by the old covenant. In chapter 17, we have the proper appearance of the Lord to Abram himself, giving him his place, and taking His name of relationship to him - Almighty God - circumcision, the seal of this covenant with the Father. Then the promise of the seed by Sarah, the new covenant - the judgment of the world asserted - and the deliverance of Lot; note, here Abraham takes the place of faith and intercession - the heir of faith is to be born to the new covenant. Therefore Abraham is more specially here, the Church in the heavenlies - the heir is not born to Israel yet. Then in chapters 20 and 21 we have unfaithfulness, or the connection of worldly power in a fleshly way; God's asserting His right to Sarah, as in the new covenant (and the heir) - rejection of the old - superiority of Abraham, thereon, to Abimelech - the land defined as Abraham's. Then resurrection placed as the basis of blessing, and the call of the Church - he with Christ in that.

145 Genesis 26

We have here a different phase of the relation of the Church and the world. No longer returning into Egypt in the famine, but to sojourn in the land promised, and God be with him - the obedience of Abram securing blessing in the seed. But the associate power of evil within its borders - the power of the world, and its resource in the trials and difficulties - the famine in which he found himself - and here again the unity and identification of the wife is denied, though their intercourse (His kindness to her) makes it evident that she was so. But here the power of the world is made to show favour to Isaac and his wife; for the Lord was with him to bless him sojourning in the land in obedience to the Lord's directions. Therefore though weak and failing in faith - for he drew towards the world in dwelling in Gerar, which never became actually Israel, but the evil was presented on the world's part - though he sinned, he denied not, did not give up his wife. Blessing was upon him manifestly from the Lord, and worldly power ruined him - that which was in the land, but was not of the seed of God, and they stopped the wells - would not allow the drinking places of the seed of God, though they had digged them; Isaac recedes, having first met contention and then hatred, and giving way - at last, room - that they might be fruitful; and then he returns to the place, where Abraham had fixed the mark of his portion - the well that he digged for himself - the utter border of Israel.

In this sense, though when come again in power, Israel should have it all, yet then Isaac had no business in Gerar - he was to sojourn in this land, but then he had no occasion to go into the place of what was of the world (and the world in controversy with Israel about the borders of their land) where he is brought into fear, contention and hatred, through their envy; but he has, in such case, only to recede where the mark of God, given of old to faith, will be the place of renewed blessing, as given to the father of the faithful. And there, upon the blessing of God, the hostile world, which just before drove him out, now seeks his favour and alliance; in a word, we have the direction to the resurrection Church - its conduct, still clinging to the world - within its borders - the world jealous of its blessing - contending - hating - and the Church giving way - yields all to it - comes into the border of the promise, where God blesses it. Then the world is glad to come and own that the Lord is with it - humbly submitting itself to him, whom it now owns is now "the blessed of the Lord" - the world never owned this while the Church was within its borders, but ruined it - the same day, the Lord gave them that water, fresh digged, which had been to Abraham the seal and occasion of the testimony of what belonged to himself, and where he had called on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God, who had now shown a fulfilling of His faithfulness and mercy in this name - it is an instructive picture.

146 Genesis 27

In this chapter we have the dealings of God with the seed after the flesh, and after the Spirit, bringing in their actings too as such.

The more man is brought in, the more misery and wretchedness manifests itself, and here especially by a mixture of right and wrong, which however God fully discovers. In Esau, we have the profane elder brother, whom yet Isaac, who stands representing the general body here in this dispensation, loves best (according to the flesh) and would bless; but he was profane and had sold his birthright, and could not inherit the blessing of God in promise (so that the purpose of God according to election should stand, as it is written) and so Esau finally proved himself - this, divine judgment and power ordered, i.e., that he should not. Jacob had proved his value for it (strength and self was Esau's portion) and he would have it, but he set about to get it - not in patience on God's will in God's way - by the womanly cunning of his mother; here - not profaneness, but ecclesiasticism which, not being intrinsically and profanely strong to seek a blessing, is always wickedly cunning, and full of lies - she, in her place, was as bad as Isaac who would have blessed the profane (but this is sad declension) but God ordered all aright - Esau did not get the blessing, though he got a blessing by his hand, according to his character, one analogous to him; Jacob got the blessing according to the faith which valued the birthright; but for the manner in which he sought it, present trouble, sorrow, rejection, and the wrong and deceit himself had exercised - God is faithful to give, but He is faithful to judge and chasten those He gives to.

147 It was all a sorrowful scene - God yet provides for keeping him from Esau's evil, in sending him away - he was not to marry the daughters of Heth.

We have now two great parties - the profane apostate seeking present blessing, and the failing and deceitful heir using, and led by deceit, valuing however the birthright, and inheriting the blessing, yet through trouble.

Genesis 28

We have here, when the character which God put upon this transaction with Jacob was manifested, Esau's imitation of a conduct thus directed; this we must expect, but in fact it only revives the previous lawlessness from God, and does not remedy but rather increases the evil - the sentence was already passed, and when there had been any opportunity for it, or good of it, it was not God's will, but his own he did, now this imitation was too late.

Jacob departs under the direction of his father; he leaves this well of the oath where the covenant of blessing was established; and here, before he gets into his misery, the Lord in the dream shows the whole economy of the providence, and government of God occupied with this outcast Jacob as its object, and the Lord declares He would be with him, and not leave him till He had done the thing He spoke to him of, and here in the blessing we have him and his seed mixed up for the blessing of the families of the earth, for now we have left the resurrection Church and come to Jacob and Israel - and upon the ground of these blessings, while outcast, he vows to take Jehovah for his God. As Isaac was the type of the resurrection Church having been so received in a figure, so here we have the type of the Jewish outcast state to return humbled but as a Prince with God - we have then the subject opening into wider details, because we must have the history of the Church during the period of Jacob's outcast state.

148 This chapter is the security of Jacob under the promises, made to the fathers, that he alone, forlorn, was the object of God's special care - the centre of the service of the messengers of heaven - down upon earth; and then, in the land given to him, would be God's house to him. The relationship of Jacob's ways, founded on this, was earthly, see verses 20-22.

Genesis 29-31

Here we have Jacob taking rather the Lord's place in type - though all through we may trace Jacob's actual character as Israel's in the flesh - but then it is the Lord's earthly character. He meets Rachel, serves for her, but has Leah instead - yet afterwards receives Rachel. As the Jewish mother, God remembers her too afterwards - she was barren, grace takes her up; so that afterwards, we have the history of Christ, rejected and elevated to glory, in Joseph her son, and Benjamin the son of his father's right hand, and his mother's dying sorrow - the earthly power of Christ for Israel when He comes to Joseph, i.e., when Christ takes this character, Israel comes into the enjoyment of the best of this world's possession; but this, after - here God secures Jacob's temporal blessing, in spite of this world's wrong. He secures him against the power of the world, also taking him up in his trouble. Though he feels the effect of his evil ways, his individual history is a deep lesson of a believer's not entirely trusting, but using his own carnal wisdom, or listening to another's, to secure a blessing which is ever according to God's purpose. Alas! they may have it too often from the Church, properly so called.

God, note, turns all this to blessing, and secures Jacob from any profane union with the worldly Canaanites; hence, Jacob is properly Israel looked at as a remnant, but the remnant as partaking of Israel's sorrow, and hence, in its place, of Christ.

Thus, whatever the real evil which God has chastised in him, as between him and the profane, Jacob has been blessed and has obeyed his father's voice, and so of this remnant.

There is difference between Ishmael and Esau; Ishmael was not the wilful profane one, it was merely that Ishmael took up the birthright promise - blessing after the flesh - whereas Esau despised his birthright, and so was profane. It is true of all apostates, but Israel was in the former position, as under the law; in Hebrews they are set on the ground of Esau rather. They hate the heir of God's election. I cannot help thinking that the beginning of chapter 29 is typical, and that now Jacob assumes the character of Christ, though we have much of Israel's sorrow, and besides that, of his personal failings too.

149 He was a stranger, unknown, and seeks Rachel only - he would have her alone. The flocks, in general, cannot be watered until the well is opened, but He opens it and waters Rachel's flock, and Rachel here is His Jewish chosen and beloved flock and bride. It was His - was His flesh and bone - He was a Jew.

But after all He has not Rachel, but Leah first; still He has Rachel, for He serves for her too, and withal for His inheritance.

All this was the time however of Israel's sorrow, and outcast state, and of Christ's sorrow and suffering with them, yet it is the time of the begetting of the children, as well as watering the flock and tending them. It was "high day" - the time of rest was not yet come.

But Jacob oppressed, and ill seen among the Gentiles, returns, urged by circumstances, but really directed by God, to the land of his pilgrimage, as of the fathers.

NOTE. - Benjamin, the son of his father's right hand, and of his mother's dying affection, was the only one born in the land.

Rachel here carries her images with her.

The secret providence of God has blessed Jacob and preserved him all this time, though it was a time of failure - a spirit of cunning instead of confidence in God - the time of his being outcast, and rejected, in this type of Israel, though this was really the time of the begetting of children, "for more are the children of the desolate, than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord." Also had he Rachel last of the two, though he sought her first.

Genesis 32

Jacob, thus preserved by the secret providence of God, where nothing can be owned in him, yet blessing secretly secured, and preservation, returns to the land of promise.

150 Edom is to become the portion of the profane; still here, this profaneness of the flesh is the stronger as to flesh, and the flesh must be put down in Jacob, before he can be fully blessed - for, though on the borders, he is not yet come into the land, nor up to Bethel. It is quite a different account - there Jacob had had the instruction of God's interfering with Laban - here the Angels of God met him, and he recognises God's host, still the thought of Esau possesses his mind - he had wronged him in manner - getting by fraud what he might have waited on God to secure to him; he did not wait on God - that was the great evil. Present after present goes to appease Esau, rather his own fears, for Esau's mind was quite turned, he had no evil intention against him. He cries, however, to God in his distress, alleging God's command for him to return; also he sends over his children and wives - he was alone - for God's mind was to take all this flesh into His own hand for correction. So our blessed God does - in another's hand it would be enmity - here it is love, and He who deals with it, strengthens withal the new man within. He does not leave Jacob with Esau in the fear of the flesh, but takes him alone to Himself, for the correction of the flesh. All this was in secret. The day - breaking was coming, and He was not revealing Himself, yet He shows the weakness of flesh in His hand - blesses, but refuses His name; but on the morrow Jacob passes on first, and without fear.

Here Jacob has prevailed with God, for faith and life were there, and has hence his name, but still with struggle and mark of what power had been there struggling with him, not in revelation; further it was struggling that he might be blessed, not in intercession, or peaceful, though reverent nearness as Abraham - that is rather the Church's place - still he was blessed there. But, I repeat, it was a struggle to be blessed himself - the Man wrestled with him - did not talk with him as one to whom He should reveal His mind, as to His friend, and go up when communing was done, then judgment of the world was the subject.

Genesis 33 - 34

Esau now leaves the promise however to him, and goes to the place God hates - to his own portion.

Israel now, not at Bethel, and yet unpurged, see chapter 35:2, buys in the land where he was a stranger; hence righteousness itself becomes confusion and violence.

151 Yet God is still with him, and he is driven out from this ungodly settlement, for it was not his rest as yet.

Genesis 35

He receives the direction of God - purges out the idols - goes to Bethel to the God, who met him in his distress, now remembered - thus the God of promise, providence and mercy. None now pursue him - he builds his altar, El Beth-El, for El Elohe-Israel was too soon before. Here Deborah, Rebekah's nurse - Israel, as of old - the cradle of the Church, dies. Jacob is looked at as now only come out of Padan-aram; God reveals Himself by the name of his father's God, i.e., as He had to Abraham and Isaac, and blesses him then, and gives him the name of Israel, and this is the true blessing and honour. It is a new Beth-El now. Rebekah was the heavenly Church, as we have seen, brought by the Holy Ghost to Christ; Deborah was its earthly Jewish care-taker in infancy - its nurse - what went with, but was not the spouse.

Jacob was never properly blessed till now, i.e., as standing brought back before God - I speak not of promise by Isaac - here he comes into Abraham's place; this would not be at Jabbok, nor at El Elohe-Israel, nor, really, till now. Here also we find Benjamin brought forth - Christ as the right hand of power - His mother's affliction, who dies and passes away in producing Him, but the Son of His Father's right hand. Also here, the beginning of Jacob's strength, after the flesh, is proved "unstable as water" that cannot excel. Jacob has his lot in his father's sojournings, at Hebron, large as his family, and great as his possessions were.

Such is the history of the secret, but restoring, Providence - the judicial process which took all into its own hand, that it might bless in spite of Esau, still the effort at fleshly establishment, and at last purged Israel moving (from Padan-aram) to Beth-El, and the full renewal of blessing to him, thus restored. Esau entirely away, and the hand of strength now born to him in the land - Rachel passes out of sight, but Jacob takes the place of Isaac in the earth.

152 Genesis 36

Esau's royal and ducal strength - his family greatness before there was any king in Israel - for God reserves His own time, man's time is always - Jacob being but a poor shepherd, a plain man; this closes this part.

The counsels of God are now to be developed more, in the Person of the Lord Jesus; so it is indeed in Isaiah. When Joseph was born, Jacob thought already to pass out of Padan-aram, but all was not then accomplished - the inheritance not yet served for. The power of life and faith with God is however most wonderfully shown in Jacob's wrestling - and even in the wrestling, though not peaceful communion; yet more, this wrestling may be in intercession, as in Epaphroditus, it may be - but perhaps the Lord alone had it purely so - in the conflict of bearing; for in us, though this may be, it is corrective also, but there is prayer that we may not enter, and so passing through the trial with God.

Genesis 37

Jacob is now in his natural place, but a stranger there - for all trial and correction and discipline does but bring one to one's proper natural place, though it may be with more experience of one's self and God; but simple faith in what God is, has its dignity, above experience itself, though it be experience of God - always blessed. The history recommences to bring out the Person of the Lord in Joseph. Joseph was loved of his father, and envied of his brethren, and further had communication of the mind of God. He is presented here as taken from among his brethren - he has the consciousness (though little and simple) of his own exaltation in the mind of God, and this is important - it is in no way pride, but owning God's mind and purpose, and gives wonderful strength from God, and glorifies Him - we see it constantly in the Lord Himself - no service can be done, as of God, but through this, and therefore service must be given up, or else thus alone true humility preserved; "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business" is consistent with the most perfect humility, and spirit of obedience. It supposes, till experience is made of man, that all will acquiesce in it, as of God, as simply as he who walks in it does, because it is of God, in obedience, as owning Him; hence, when opposed man's state is known, and God becomes all to the soul, we may marvel at their unbelief. God in this feeling is everything - we see it in the Lord.

153 There is difference in the dreams of Joseph - one is, his brethren first - as the Lord would be amongst the Jews - but then He was under His father and mother - He would have been a Jew and taken His place in nature, but when the Sun and Moon, as well as the eleven Stars are subject, all authority and all power, Judaism and every constituted authority is put under Him. Jacob himself is startled - he generally stands as the remnant and heir of privilege.

Yet so it is with the Lord - no Jacob, nor descendible privileges reach the scope of the thoughts of God concerning Him - He is above all; "let thy mother's sons bow down to thee" could be a blessing from patriarchal and prophetic lips, but Joseph's were to be above the blessings of his progenitors to the utmost bounds of the everlasting hills, and that as on the head of Him, as to circumstance, who was separated from His brethren; but in truth it was his in the mind of God, for even they were prophetic and so circumstantial, i.e., moving within the ordained sphere; the bowing of his father and mother evidently came direct from God, and Jacob understood it not, though he might learn it - not bless as the greater - not observe the saying that fell from the little one's mouth, the communication of God directly to him. His brethren envied him - God's supremacy was an ill thing in their eyes - their own as given very agreeable; righteousness in Joseph has already detected their evil - he visits his brethren according to the order of subjection, in which he stood, the messenger from their father to them; here he is rejected, with some remorse in Reuben, and on the suggestion of Judah, sold to the Gentiles.

Genesis 38

Thereupon, in Judah's history we find the utter wandering and misery of Judah, but therein again, and out of this, the genealogy of grace; he marries Canaanites - sin is in his family - commits fornication with his own daughter-in-law - all was gone wrong. Yet in this sprang Him in whom men should bless, saying: "the Lord make thy house as the house of Pharez, whom Tamar bore unto Judah" - "do thou worthily in Ephratah, and be thou famous in Bethlehem"; though it might be said of him, how hast thou broken forth?

154 Genesis 39-40

The righteous Joseph, charged with the sin of which his accuser was guilty, is treated as a malefactor by the Gentile authority - his feet put in the stocks, and the iron entering into his soul; he is delivered to the Gentiles, and by them mystically put to death. There he is the interpreter of restoring blessing and fatal judgment; before there was the counsel of the Lord to Messiah's natural Jewish and supreme advancement, and exaltation in principle - here rejection and death comes in, but with it, the Lord's mind in saving and condemning the guilty according to His true counsels.

Genesis 41

Interpretations belong to God. All through this, the Lord was with him, though thus rejected and clean forgotten as a dead man out of mind. It is as thus rejected that he becomes the interpreter, there is no true interpretation without the cross, it is there that God's interpretation has its place, its ways their accomplishment, there is in the principle of it - moral principle - the wisdom of God. His general counsels in result might be before Messiah's glory: yea, that it was to be set above the heavens, this glory of man in Jesus; but this but paved the way for Him who was lifted up to be cast down, and there all the moral ways of God have their discovery. God did as Joseph had interpreted. But also here he is to interpret the whole history and fortune of the world, its blessing and its misery, its time of comfort and of trial, and provision for it. Counsel as well as knowledge is here - the wisdom as well as the knowledge of what God's mind was. All the interpretation is identified with the low estate of Joseph, quod nota; then after righteous humiliation, and wisdom comes exaltation to power to the right hand of the throne, he becomes head of power, and conducts everything according to wisdom, and everything is reduced under Pharaoh. Here he is not only Lord but he has his Gentile wife. We have then generally in Joseph the depositary, as well as object, of the Messianic counsels, head among the Jews, supreme as to his personal dignity, the sun and moon are also to bow to him, then the interpreter of the counsels of life and death in his prison and the word of the Lord trying him also, and then the knowledge and counsel both of the world's condition, so that thereon by power all should be reduced under the authority of the throne.

155 Genesis 42

The need of Jacob now forces (for this is a new scene - Joseph is seen here in his exaltation over all) to seek in Egypt what he found not in his state of pilgrimage; the world knew not what to do, but then thus Joseph's brethren are brought into close contact with him, though they know him not. He, however, knows them. He makes himself strange, and then by their distress their conscience is awakened as to their old fault, while there is severity used towards them, yet is it according to the principle of the fear of God. Also grace is in exercise, though this makes them afraid, feeling that God is with them - Conscience being awakened, that vast and vital step.

But they are brought into the same position of feeling very graciously and in grace, still by power they could not struggle with, as the sufferer in the sin they had committed - they are all first thrust into prison themselves, and then in the person of Simeon, kept under bondage, and made to feel, through their father's interest in Benjamin, what the selling of Joseph was.

Genesis 43

Jacob clings to Benjamin - the Jewish character, in power, of the Lord Jesus, and so of the remnant hope - but there must be complete submission. If Joseph has been rejected by their hatred, Benjamin and all must be surrendered even by Jacob, and Benjamin must take his place with Joseph before the store house of the world, and the best part of Egypt be opened and given to Israel. Joseph must be bowed to of force, and owned according to His revelation of Himself - there can be no keeping of Benjamin, according to Jacob's mind, as if Joseph were not because His brethren had rejected Him.

156 Joseph had taken cognisance of all their condition - there was no escaping. They return humbled by the grace - alarmed by it - having no idea of grace; then, Judah surety for his brother, they own the glory of Joseph without knowing him as their Joseph, as the rejected one - bow to him - find further grace in the restoration of Simeon - and find that they are perfectly known, though they know not. Joseph is by himself, but his brethren according to their age.

Genesis 44

They are now brought to the deepest anguish as to the loss of their brother, and thus in spirit really to suffer - Judah himself, rather than Benjamin be lost.

Genesis 45

Thus morally restored, Joseph at once reveals himself to them; there stood no man with him. Here there is identification for the first time between his person and their fault - and instruction in God's counsel in it. They had felt the abstract sin before in themselves, but they had not known him who was thus now dealing with them in it; not till then was a complete moral renovation of their heart, by a process of apparent severities, and real grace bringing them to this point of obliged submission and actual reward. The restoring love is most touching and perfect; the mind of the Lord communicated to them, and God's love made the solution of it all.

Genesis 46

They are then brought - and that nationally in Jacob - into the best of the land near Joseph, but He reveals Himself to them individually as His brethren. Now his father was to hear of his glory in Egypt, for indeed Messiah was dear to him (Jacob), though he had not understood His glory far above and away from him.

157 Genesis 47

Pharaoh, as on the throne, has the same mind, and makes the power and resources of Egypt bring him down there, that all the good of Egypt might be theirs. Joseph is the source, and centre in nearness of relationship, but the authority and power and resource of Pharaoh is in the same mind. Jacob then is the remnant looked at nationally, and abstractedly - his sons, the actual brethren, the Jews - especially Judah, under the influence of the discipline of Christ, as before rejecting Him; Reuben, the body at large, i.e., the tribes in general, or three of them. Rachel here is the Jewish mother - "my wife" Jacob calls her; Joseph is born of her, but has not His glory there. Joseph is now known as alive - Governor of the world - its Source of blessing - and Jacob is brought to Him in this character of glory and power. Israel has still, however, his own portion, and separate place in the world in 4 Goshen, and in the best of it.

Now also Joseph reduces into full order, and subjection to Pharaoh, all the land, all its inhabitants - the priests are excepted through privilege, they have their own portion - now, in the fullest sense, the heritage and possession of Pharaoh, Lord alike of Goshen, and of all; this closes at verse 26. Blessed be the Lord who orders all this! We have a touching evidence, in passing, of the superiority of the saint's portion, however poor a saint he may be. Jacob, confessing his poverty, as such, blesses Pharaoh, the great power and glorious one of the world - its head - and "beyond all controversy, the less is blessed of the greater."

Though reduced into order and subjection, it is really in blessing - "Thou hast saved our lives; let us find grace in the sight of my lord," is the people's word - "we will be Pharaoh's servants."

From verse 27, we recommence with Israel - he is the representative, as indeed in name now of the people; hence, in the Spirit of God, he unfolds their lot. Still Joseph is the one on whom he leans, that the desire of faith may be accomplished concerning his bones, for if now in Egypt by providence and judgment, hope - faith - turns to the place of promise, and seals its confidence in the promise by having his resting place there; if he be not, his bones are to be found there, for if Israel has left the land, God has not relinquished His title; His title is not touched, founded on this, the answer of the oath of Joseph - securer of this promise. Israel worships God, feeble, and in a certain sense outcast as he is, for, as such, he is now to pass away from the scene.

158 Genesis 48

I think in this chapter we have the evidence of the root bearing - this - children of Joseph when relegated into glory from the apparent title of blessing, but the Jewish character of motherhood formally lost at the same time in Rachel; yet these same strange children equally loved because of Joseph, who, after all, was Rachel's child - yet here in grace, as even the younger is set before the elder. They are then directly on the root of promise, but only as adopted - being children of Joseph in a strange land and Gentile glory, their own mother being not Rachel. Here also the double portion - the inheritance of the elder - is given to Joseph, in spite of his brethren's fraud, in spite too of Satan's craft, by the power and will of Jacob, as of God; the birthright was to Joseph, despised and rejected as he was - this, however, has a certain Jewish aspect, as all questions of inheritance have.

Communion is the proper place of the Church, as united to Jesus - Jesus' own glory in the Father's love - not God giving an inheritance to the man, though this rests true even - we have obtained an inheritance, it is God's inheritance in the saints.

It is evident that this chapter is the prophetic history of Israel, as an earthly people, issuing of Jacob according to their settlement in the land in relationship with him; not the thoughts in grace of God towards them as to be accomplished in the latter day, as in Deuteronomy 33 - one was paternal after the flesh, though of revelation, the other prophetic of the man of God.

NOTE. - In Deuteronomy the benediction of the heir, as even for the whole people in particular; we have here evidently the object of favour or grace.

Genesis 50

We have then the interpretation of Joseph himself, on all the designs of God in this matter, in his touching answer to his brethren.

159 Joseph might be supposed to have some respect for his father, for that which had stood in such a relationship to himself - as Messiah issuing of Israel, and was their beloved - but when Israel was set aside, as viewed in this light, and Joseph was to deal with his brethren simply as such, then he might take vengeance.

But grace is perfectly brought out - he was not sparing, simply because they were his father's children, but of his own love and grace, and judging of his own position by the counsels of God. Grace, supreme grace ordered the relationship, and will, between the blessed Lord, and His Jewish brethren in that day - all title of Israel as of old is passed - it is gone and passed away. But He is full of grace and favour towards His brethren, they have been forced indeed to recognise Him, and that is utter humiliation, and the truth of his dreams, though they would have set them aside, and, because they understood not, fulfilled them, but now, all is grace.

After they are brought back, humbled by grace, Joseph sympathises with them, and shows that his rejection, though meant ill by them, was God's counsels in good towards them; also, now he would sustain them - grace took its free, and unhindered plan.

The counsel of God having brought about the means which made grace free and unhindered to bless on this new ground - evil done away - the relationship of brethren there - and the very evil, in God's wisdom, having put him in the place of power above all, whence in blessing, evil being far, grace could act in all its bounty - such was Joseph's - such is the blessed Lord's plan, especially in that day towards His brethren. He speaks to their hearts, verse 21 margin; this closes.

Joseph now takes, as such, the place of prophet attached to the promise, and far from Canaan, and the restoration yet distant, faith has equal assurance of it, and he gives commandment concerning his bones; the splendour of Egypt made the promise nothing less precious, long might be the time (for now he takes Israel's earthly place as prophet - the counterpart of Gentile exaltation) sorrowful the delay to Israel, but it was not the less sure, and his bones in Canaan was more to the hope of the heir of promise, the spirit of hope in the prophet, than the most lordly grave in Egypt, far from the promise of God; and when God had identified Himself with His people in hope, Egypt was empty of this - Canaan full of it to his heart - whatever its condition to man, or the present excellency of Egypt to the thoughts of the flesh, his hopes rest there, and identify themselves with Israel's future return. Here he was, as I said, the type of Israel's hope, now far from the land, as before, of the heavenly glory of Christ; blessings were indeed on the head of him that was separate from his brethren, above the blessings of his progenitors - the whole way of God's counsels are opened out in this blessed and favoured servant and type of the Lord - type of glory above, and prophet of hope to Israel below - the place of the Lord Jesus now, though Israel must be humbled to receive it, and own Him of whom it shall be said, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."

160 Here remark it is a thing entirely future; it is not as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob buried there as a sort of pledge of the land belonging to them - to Israel in time to come - to the Lord for ever; it is out of Canaan - faith in a future restoration, when God should accomplish His purpose concerning His people.

- 24, 25. In the first two classes of the details of faith (Heb. 11:8-22) we have the absence of sight, and of possession, and of the power of nature, and God counted on. The promises make them heavenly, the names are El-Shaddai (God Almighty) and Elion (Most High), Possessor of heaven and earth - one, security on earth when it is not his - the other, opening heaven, if he does not get earth. Then after that, renouncing earthly promise in flesh as a present thing, but counting upon it in future as set up in Christ - Isaac, heir of promise, given up in flesh, known in resurrection; the purposes of God in Jacob and Esau; the heir and inheritance - double portion in the sons of Joseph (compare Genesis 49:22-26) and 1 Chr. 5:1, 2 - this producing worship, God's proper blessing, and inheritance in the true Joseph, and then the literal promise of the land on earth, in Joseph's bones.

Here the book closes, and the actual principles of deliverance, and relationship are opened out - actual then for Israel, and typic of God's accomplishment, known to faith; the bones of the fathers were pledges of the hope of promise in Canaan, Joseph's of restoration from Egypt.