Division 2. (Gen. 3 — 50.)

The breach with God having come in, separates now between the world and His people, who are the recipients and witnesses of His salvation in it.

Typically. — Sin having divided from God, the creative steps become a "growth up unto salvation" (1 Peter 2:2), in which the divine life is distinguished and separated from the life of nature (Seth's seed from Cain's, Isaac from Ishmael, etc.)

The subdivisions are as follows: —
1. (Gen. 3.) "The promise of life in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 1:1) and the new birth in grace.
2. (Gen. 4, 5.) The breach shows itself in the contrasted seeds in the world at large, and in the strife of good and evil within the saint, of which this is the type.
3. (Gen. 6 — 11:9.) The resurrection of a world, and the threefold division of mankind after the flood. Typically, the saint raised up with Christ (the ark).
4. (Gen. 11:10 — 21.) Abraham, the "heir of the world," and the pilgrim-walk and trial of faith.
5. (Gen. 22 — 26:33.) Isaac: self-surrender the responsibility of sonship, and the recompense of it.
6. (Gen. 26:34 — 37:1.) Jacob: the discipline of sons.
7. (Gen. 37:2 — 50.) Joseph: the Christ-life developed in full "image."

There is a real and evident analogy between the typical significance of this series of lives and that of the six days' work already given; only here, as the six in one case answer to the seven in the other, the numerical stamp becomes a double one from the fourth on, as will be seen. Here is the table: —
1st.The light shining on the "deep;" conviction, repentance, the light of life beginning, as in Adam, subdivision 1.
2nd. Division of the waters, appearance of internal division, the two natures, subd. 2.
3rd. The bounding of the seas, the stable and fruitful ground brought up out of the waters, resurrection ground (Noah), subd. 3. (This day is divided in two: God speaks twice; and this second division answers to the significance of Abraham's life; so that now we have two numbers attaching to each subdivision; here, 3 and 4: — )
The fruit of resurrection, the pilgrim walk of faith, Abraham, subd. 4.
4th. Luminaries: the epistle of Christ is read in self-surrender to Him, as in Isaac, subd. 5.
5th. Fruit from the waters: exercise under the government of God is His effective discipline, as in Jacob, subd. 6.
6th. The dominion of the man: mastery of the world is developed with the Christ-life, seen in Joseph, subd. 7.

It will be noticed how, with Abraham onward, the typical character is the main thing, — gives, one may say, the only sufficient meaning to whole chapters, and abundance of minor details. Moreover, it is to be observed how the literal and the typical (as is natural in this case,) blend in a common spiritual lesson. This will be no surprise to those who recognize God's aim to be every where spiritual, and that this is what the typical meaning develops and enforces.

Subdivision 1. (Gen. 3) Adam.

The promise of life in Christ Jesus. The new birth, in grace. (Light, the first day.)


Solemn as is the subject of this section, and tremendous as have been its issues, it does not need much comment. It is man's awful new beginning as away from God, and we may easily find in it our own birthplace morally as sinners.


In this second section, we have very plainly the discovery of the breach between God and the soul, the announcement of the conflict between good and evil beginning on the earth, and with this, the announcement of salvation. We have four subsections. —
1. The call of God: a call of mercy to repentance and confession. The serpent therefore has no call, as for him no recovery is possible.
2. The sentence upon the enemy, in which the conflict is announced and the salvation: though, in effecting this, the heel of the woman's Seed is crushed. This has doubtless a secondary accomplishment (such as we find in the fourth chapter) in all that are born of God. The strife with which the world has been filled since was first sealed with the blood of Abel, — a type of Him whose blood "speaks better things."
3. The woman is destined to conceive in sorrow, but thus life — as Adam expresses it in the name he gives his wife, Eve, Chavah, "life," — springs out of travail-pains; already a gospel-hint of resurrection.
4. To man, there is toil upon a cursed earth, and death as the end of it: a picture without relief, whose light must come in from elsewhere.


And now we have what indeed manifests God; for this it is the glory of the gospel to do, though here it is as yet a type-gospel, the time of plain speech being not yet come. Faith acts in Adam in the name he gives his wife. He has heard of life from her, and so he calls her Life; and God answers his faith, clothing them both with the spoils of death, and thus putting away the shame of their nakedness. The conscience of sin, which is what made them flee from God, is removed, God's hand removing it. The sanctuary, so to speak, is open to them once more, and inward healing and restoration are implied.


But the world-trial now begins outside of paradise.

{Critical Notes

The Tempter.

Scripture leaves not the slightest doubt as to who the tempter was, although here again there is a vail which only the New Testament fully removes. Revelation (Rev. 12:9; Rev. 20:2) is explicit: "The ancient serpent" is "the devil and Satan." That he was not permitted to come in his own angelic form was clearly a lessening of the temptation, and still more his coming in bestial form. Adam had looked over all the beast-creation, and found no help for him in any. How great was his sin, and what renunciation of his higher place, then, in listening to a beast!

The curse upon the serpent had (and has) plainly its expression outwardly, while, as plainly, this only symbolizes the deeper reality. How this and similar things which the Word of God abundantly declares should open our eyes to this language of nature, and enable us to read upon its face the truths of revelation! See the affirmation of this curse in Isaiah (Isa. 65:25), "Dust shall be the serpent's meat."

Notice, again, that as Satan fell by pride, it is pride especially by which he would work in the woman: "Ye shall be as God." And in him whose coming is after the working of Satan, this is developed as far as in man it can be: "He sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." (2 Thess. 2:4.) Repentance, the undoing of this pride in self-abasement, is thus the way of escape out of his hands.

The Temptation.

Notice, that while the woman was deceived, and not the man, yet the man falls as the woman does. Nor is the woman suffered to be assailed with open evil until she has already invited it. The first question might have been answered innocently. The woman's heart was her strong point, and not her head, and her heart should have answered easily in paradise! But she makes the question put to her a question in her own mind, and it then becomes a question of God's love, and a prelude to the open disobedience. She tampers with God's word, adds to the prohibition, trifles with the penalty — as to the certainty of it, and the bold attack of the wicked one naturally follows.

"The Promise of Life."

The prophetic announcement of the Seed of the woman and of His victory is plainly the "promise of life which is in Christ Jesus," "which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began." (2 Tim. 1:1, 9; Titus 1:2.) The last expression, "before the world began," found in both passages, is a peculiar one (pro kronon aionion), which is only found once beside in Scripture. (Rom. 16:25.) The R.V. gives "before eternal times," the word being one every where else rightly translated by "eternal;" but here, "times" can hardly be eternal! The truth is, that as the noun, (aion), from which aionios is derived, has two senses in the New Testament, — "eternity" and "age," — the adjective here follows the latter meaning, and the expression should be rendered "before the age-times," — the dispensations of which this earth has been the theatre.

It is a "promise in Christ Jesus" — the Seed of the woman, — not to Christ Jesus, as many practically make it. "God, that cannot lie," and "given to us," are expressions which speak with perfect plainness as to the recipients of the promise. The name "Eve," or "Life," given by Adam to his wife just after, shows that to his faith some "promise of life" had been made; and it is consequent upon this confession of it that God clothes them both with the fruit of death. Death becomes their minister, and this, too, is assurance that life has become victorious over it.

The "promise," though in the unusual form of a sentence upon the serpent, has been none the less known to man's heart as such ever since. The heathen religions are full of remembrances of it, recognizable amid all their distortion. Nor need we confound this promise with any setting up of the first-Adam head again. It is a promise in Christ, — not the first man, but the Second. And He is just what the first man was not — the Seed of the woman.

The texts we are considering require us to omit the period of innocence from these "age-times," or dispensations; and so the six days' work in its typical aspect decides also. The first day answers to the time before the flood, and is plainly a first step in restoration.

The Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The common idea that Adam was created holy — "upright" he was — would make the knowledge of good and evil to have existed before the fall. On the other hand, the thought of what innocency of this kind involves which some have, would really make the fall "a fall upward." Certainly man was a moral being from the outset, and it is a distinctive mark which separates him from the beast. The fall did not create a moral faculty: nay, if he had not had this before, he could not have fallen.

Moreover, Adam, at least, was not deceived. His eyes were indeed opened by the shock of the fall, but not in this respect. A moral judgment he had of the evil as soon as it was presented to him, spite of his yielding to it. He yielded in the face of the protestation of his moral consciousness.

In what sense, then, did they not know good and evil before the fall? and how is it that God says after it, "The man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil? In what way was the tree the tree of knowledge in relation to these? and was it only by the fall that it became so?

There is another question which must be asked first: Does the "knowledge of good and evil" mean the knowledge of good in itself and evil in itself, or of these in relation to one another? And again, is it possible to know good in itself without knowing it as in opposition to evil? For many tell us that all knowledge is the knowledge of difference — that you cannot know a thing without knowing its opposite; and that if Adam had not the knowledge of evil as distinct from good, he could not have known good either! In this case, the fall must be a "fall upward."

Must we not seek to put ourselves, difficult as it may be, into Adam's position, in order to realize the truth of the matter?

He was in a world where as yet evil was not, for in himself it was not, and he was the only moral being there. But the witness of good was all around him: did Eden speak nothing to him of the hand that had planted and the love that had provided it? How, then, did God make man upright? and is nothing but insensibility innocence?

Holy, it is true, Adam was not; for holiness speaks of the repulsion of evil, and there was as yet no evil. All was good, and the prohibition good also, and all they had to do was to abide in it as good, — to receive it as the love-gift of their glorious Maker. Their safe-guard was in this, — most easy as it seems and was made to them, — to abide in the good. Evil was not permitted really to assail them, until themselves invited it; and this, as we have seen, the woman did. The first open appearance of it is in her own words, her light dealing with the divine command.

The question might in itself have been an innocent one, and have been answered without the suspicion of evil. To have no suspicion was to be safe. She suffers the question to become
suspicion, and is in heart already fallen. Here is indeed a great mystery — the origin of evil in an upright soul. We will not spend words over it. But this shows, at any rate, how the conception of evil became, in fact, the entertainment of evil with the woman. The beginning of the breach was here which the taking of the tree of knowledge consummated.

But if the tree became thus fatal, could it not, as a gift from God to them, prohibition and all, have become the very opposite, and been, — nay, must it not have been, if used aright, an instruction in holiness to spiritual beings?

The transgression of the prohibition was the only thing that, abiding in the good, they might yet realize as evil. To abide in the good and know evil would be holiness. But Satan points the question so as to make it a question of God, though it would seem to one in Eden a point dull enough after all. But it was all that was permitted him: so carefully and well were these first human beings guarded. Yet they fell; and the knowledge of evil to them came as the knowledge of an inner experience, — it became conscience, and the sense of guilt shows itself as knowledge of their nakedness.}

Subdivision 2. (Gen. 4, 5.) The Seeds.

(Division of the waters, second day.) The breach shows itself in the contrasted seeds in the world at large, and in the strife of good and evil within the saint, of which this is the type.

The breach now shows itself as division among men. There is at the very beginning of the world what answers to the seed of the serpent among men; and there is (but only through grace) the seed of the woman also. The natural outcome of fallen man we see in Cain, — man, as sin and the devil have made him. Cain is therefore the elder; for "first" we have "that which is natural, and afterward that which is spiritual." But the natural has first possession of the earth, and throughout man's day keeps it. "Cain" is therefore "acquisition," a name expressive, in the first place, of his mother's natural joy, but which stamps his and the natural man's character. Gain is what he seeks, and seeks to hold; and though in the land of vagabondage, builds a city, and adorns and furnishes it. His descendants are for that period the world's great men. Morally, lust and violence mark them as out of the presence of God, although, after their own sort, religious too. The name of God — El — in the names of his descendants testify for this.

Abel stands out every way in contrast. His name is "exhalation, vapor," as his life is. He is not a success on earth. And of Seth's seed who continue the line of the bruised heel, their history in the world is a blank: they but live and die, although God numbers these apparently barren years of theirs; they are something in His account. Out of this line too Enoch goes to heaven without dying, before the flood; and Noah goes through the flood, safe to the world beyond. Thus they fill heaven, and at last earth also.

That this is the picture of "man's day" upon earth is plain. It is the "world that now is" in contrast with the "world" that is "to come." And a deeper look confirms this fully. Here Cain is the type of the self-righteous Jew, the Pharisee who brings his gift to God, knowing nothing of faith's way of acceptance, or of a lost condition, and who, after the death of Christ (the Offerer of the only acceptable sacrifice), at the hands of His people, was cast out from the land in which God had made known His presence, into vagabondage (Nod), though marked for preservation nationally. The type is here, one would say, too manifest for doubt.

But within the individual saint there is the same breach realized, and Cain and Abel have here also their representatives. Cain gives us the "flesh" in its spiritual significance, — self-righteous, Christ-rejecting, and away from God, yet marked as not to be slain by human hand. Abel, on the other hand, is that which is of God in us, as new born, but as known in experience simply, — a thing very important here to note. The new nature which we have of God, of course cannot die; but in our experience, ere yet we know God's way of power for us, it is just the lesson of death that we have to learn, and to cry, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

The hopelessness of mere effort to produce fruit from the new nature is seen in the death of Abel; the flesh, unchanged in evil to the last (Rom. 8:7), is traced in Cain's descendants, Tubal-cain the last son of this line, being but (according to the name) "Cain's issue." Then in the third section comes Seth, and Abel is replaced by one who is really fruitful for God.

"Seth" means, according to Eve's words, "set" (in the place of Abel). He represents to us Christ, and the man in Christ. This realized is that "law of the Spirit," which is the law "of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:2) which "delivers us from the law" — the practical dominion — "of sin and death." The man in Christ is never a matter of experience, but only of faith. Seeing ourselves in Christ, we are lifted out of ourselves. We find a new self in which without pride we can glory, while in ourselves we do not glory, save in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us. (2 Cor. 12:2, 5.) Self-occupation is exchanged for occupation with Christ, and "we all, with open face beholding the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, as by the Lord the Spirit." (2 Cor. 3:18.) Faith and its blessed effect are here pictured.

Seth's issue is thus Enosh — "frail man" — the opposite of the Cainite Lamech, the "strong man" and then men begin to call on the name of Jehovah. Here is the full typical expression of the apostle's words, "We are the circumcision who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." (Phil. 3:3.) All self-confidence, though in the saint, is confidence in the flesh.

Thus, in the genealogy following, we have no Cain nor Abel, but Seth and his issue only, and the image of God again appears. The fourth section (Gen. 5) pictures the fruit that follows, though our eyes may be dim to trace it.

{Critical Notes

"A sin-offering coucheth at the door." (Gen. 4:7.)

The common translation is "Sin lieth at the door;" but it is allowed on all sides that the word means just as well "sin-offering." The question between these must be decided on other grounds than that of the dictionary.

Now the idea in "sin lieth at the door" is not, as the common one is, that sin lies against the person. Sin must really be represented as a couching animal; for this is how the word "lieth" really reads. The thought is, then, "If thou doest not well, sin couches like a wild beast at the door," — why "at the door"? and would it not be, in the case supposed, that sin had prevailed over, rather than that it was merely watching and ready to attack?

But on the other hand, that "if thou sinnest, a sin-offering lies [or couches] at the door," is clear, beautiful gospel-truth for Cain. And not for Cain only, but for all his age and generation. It is "at the door," not to seek or hunt after, but a victim ready to render its meek life up for the sacrifice. Thus God openly announces the way of approach to Him at the beginning, — His way, in fact, all through.

In connection with the typical meaning also, the sin-offering declares God's way of sanctification, condemnation passed upon the flesh — our old man crucified with Christ. And thus the cross clears the way for occupation with Christ; not merely our sins taken away, but ourselves also, — nature, as well as the fruit of it, judged in the cross for our deliverance: "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, — yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."}

Subdivision 3. (Gen. 6 — 11:9.) NOAH.
The resurrection of a world, and the threefold division of mankind after the flood. Typically, the saint raised up with Christ (the ark).

In Noah, we have a plain figure of resurrection, the whole world passing away also in the judgment of the flood, and a new world emerging from the baptismal waters. The apostle Peter teaches us to see in this a type of salvation (1 Peter 3:20-21), and to the man in Christ, risen with Him, old things are passed away, and all things become new. The figure is here very plain, although many a detail may be hidden from us.


God's purpose and provision are the subject of the first section. There are two subsections, in the first of which we find the whole world one in evil, and all the fashion of man's thoughts but that; on the other hand, God's election of grace in Noah. In the second, we have the ark as His means of salvation, — plainly Christ, in whom we have already met and passed through the judgment, dead without dying, in His precious death for us. Indeed, the type speaks more fully than this of what atonement is, the gopher-wood not only giving us the tree cut down, but the "copher" also with which the seams are pitched, the very word for "atonement," probably the resin from the tree, (whether or not the cypress, as the ancients thought,) at least shows the need of more than death for this.


In the second section, what seems marked is, the solemn contrast between those within and those outside the ark of salvation. God calls the one to enter, and Jehovah — the covenant God — shuts them in. On the one hand the call of God, on the other the obedience of Noah, are certainly the marked features of the first subsection.

The second, shows the death which comes through disobedience, the increase of the flood, the ark going on the face of the waters, until the earth is covered.


The third section gives typically the resurrection part, and is naturally much larger and more various. It speaks of the ground of resurrection (the resurrection of Christ) upon which faith now builds, beyond all possible floods — high ground and "holy ground," which "Ararat" is said to mean. Nothing is so holy and so productive of holiness as the rest of the gospel. And here we find also the sanctification proper to it detailed. There are five subsections: —
1. The new beginning is in rest: the ark grounds upon Ararat, and the new earth begins to be visible.
2. The raven shows us the flesh still in the believer, at home in a scene desolated by judgment, and using the very cross itself only as a means of enjoying the world better. The dove is plainly the figure of the Spirit in a world such as this, — the type, at once, of love and sorrow. The Spirit and flesh are here seen in essential opposition. In a world upon which the waters of judgment rest, the dove can find no rest. The second time, she brings back the olive-leaf — the assurance of fruitfulness, and judgment past. The third time, she leads them in taking possession of the new earth, returning to the ark no more.
3. Liberty for these voyagers to the new land is now accordingly at hand, although Noah waits for the word of God to sanction its enjoyment, and when he goes forth, consecrates it and the earth with his altar (the first time we read of one) and his sacrifice, Christ typically, in person and work, the material of worship. In the sweet savor of this, is the pledge of abiding blessing, spite of what man has been seen to be. As on the third day of the creation-series, the dry ground is to bring forth fruit.
4. But there are still conditions of fruitfulness, and we come now to consider them: the order in which we reach it suggests the conditions under which it is to be attained. (Notice that, as in the last subsection we have "Jehovah," the covenant-name, it is now "God" blessed and "God" spake.) And first, we need to know that fruitfulness is a gift in grace, and to be received, therefore, as such in faith: He blessed, and said, "Be fruitful." Then sovereignty is restored; they are to be masters in their new position; even as all things work together for good to those that love God. Death too serves: it becomes now, as not before, the food of life, — a type, thank God, most easy to realize. Thus are we sustained, and energy is given to us. And now the deeds of the flesh are to be judged, the image of God in man is to be maintained and honored. Finally, all hindrances thus removed, the fruit is reached.
5. And now, as the token of God's covenant between Himself and the earth, the bow is ordained in the heavens. It bands the clouds which might seem to threaten the renewal of a judgment which can return no more. The light (and God is light) is seen and displayed in its glory upon the storm-cloud, as it was in the cross. And so also to the soul exercised thereby, the blessing is sealed to us in the glory of the cloud. Tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope. God is seen and realized in it. The God who brings the cloud is the God with whom we are in covenant; and all things serve Him.


The trial of the new world is next seen, and weakness and failure are soon apparent. Typically, it is the history of the Church, the company gathered on the ground of that resurrection of Christ which is the assurance of the work done for us having been accepted. The division into diverse families of that one family brought through the flood is soon accomplished. Failure begins with the head of newly constituted government — with Noah. Noah's snare is the abundance of the new-blessed earth; and it is here the earth-side of the heavenly life that we have to do with. But this earth-side is Nazariteship; and the Nazarite must drink no wine: falling by this, the stimulus of nature, the nakedness of nature is discovered to our shame. Such failure in the Church brings out the character of those who in exposing it reveal their own profanity. Ham is the "black" — the "sun-burnt" — one darkened by the light; and the light, if not received, becomes a source of darkness to the soul. And Ham — it is noted — is the father of Canaan, the "trader," as his name means. Canaan is, in the professing church, its fruit — the trader in divine things: a sad history sketched in the fewest possible words.

Noah's prophecy, on awaking from his wine, passes over Ham — the indefinite multitude of mere natural men, — to fix upon Canaan its denunciation. Shem and Japheth seem to give us in their various blessing two tendencies which are apt to be sundered and should not be. Shem's is the recipient contemplative life, whose danger is, to run into the mystical: Japheth's is the energetic, practical life, which, in its one-sidedness, tends to divorce itself from faith. In the blessing of Shem, it is Shem's God, Jehovah, who is blessed, as it is indeed the highest blessedness of faith that it has God for its portion and its praise; while Japheth's blessing is in enlargement and dwelling in the tents of Shem, for the practical life finds its true home in faith alone, and true service is but worship in its outflow among men.


That the genealogies come under the number which speaks of God's governmental ways will hardly be strange to any. We have here the distribution of the nations in their lands. 1. Japheth, the type of energy and independence, gains at present little notice, passing away very much from the central point of sight to the outlying border-lands. 2. In Ham's family, we have the earliest development of the world-empires, and the most open opposition to God. 3. Shem, (the "name") to whom Jehovah is revealed, has fittingly the third place: he is marked as the father of all the children of Eber, (“passage,") the pilgrim race.


Lastly, here we have the history of Babel, without doubt the picture of Babylon the Great, though not in the full development of the book of Revelation. The account is remarkable for its clearness and simplicity. The process by which the professing church settled down in the world, and then built up for itself a worldly name and power, could scarcely be described in plainer terms. How with one consent they turned their backs upon the sunrise (2 Peter 1:19), and, leaving the rugged and difficult places in which they were first nurtured — too painful for flesh and blood, — descended to the easier if lower level of the world; — how, settling there, ease and abundance wrought in them desire to possess themselves, in security, of the earth, and make themselves a name in it; how Babylon thus was built, a city after Cain's pattern, whose builder and maker God was not, and a tower of strength, human, and not divine: all this, he who runs may read. Let us notice, further, that this is a carnal imitation and anticipation of God's thoughts, and that thus the earthly city usurps the titles and prerogatives of the heavenly one. But Babylon cannot be built of the "living stone," which is the God-made material for building; they have moved from the quarries of the hills, and must be content to manufacture less durable "brick" out of the mere clay which the plain affords: they have brick for stone, and slime (or bitumen) for mortar — i.e., not the cementing of the Spirit, the true Unifier, but the worldly and selfish motives which compact men together, and are but fuel for the fire, in the day that the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

This is just the Catholic church of antiquity, not many generations after the apostolic. The unity whereof it boasted was not God's, and if God came down to see what man was building, it was not to strengthen, but to destroy — not to compact, but scatter. The many tongues of Protestantism are but His judgment upon the builders of Babel; its multitudinous sects but the alternative of the oppressive tyranny with which when united she laid her yoke upon the minds and consciences of men, and under which the blood of the saints ran like water. They are but a temporary hindrance, moreover, for at last we find her saying, "I sit as a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow." Then, however, her doom shall be at hand: "in one day shall her plagues come upon her."

Subdivision 4. (Gen. 11:10 — 21.) Abraham.

Abraham, the "heir of the world" (Rom. 4:13); and the pilgrim-walk and trial of faith. (Fruit of the ground, third day.)

Abraham occupies an especial place in Scripture, as the pattern of faith so far as the Old Testament could give it, "the father of all them that believe." Coming after Noah, in the series of Genesis-lives, he typically presents to us, and in the most striking way, the pilgrim character, which is the result of the consciousness of the heavenly calling. Called to Canaan, the type of our heavenly portion, he does not yet possess it, except in faith, and is therefore a sojourner only, — a man of the tent, and not the city. Lot is his contrast and opposite in this, and that he is a child of God makes him more strikingly so.

His history divides into two sections: the first of which gives the call of God and his obedience to it (Gen. 11:10 — 14); the second, the conflicts of his faith as regards his relationships and the promises of God.

Section 1. (Gen. 11:10 — 14.)

The call of God and the obedience of faith.

We have in the first section a complete sevenfold picture: —
1. His genealogy, or birth-title, as descended from Shem: the line of promise. (Gen. 11:10-26.)
2. The hindrances of nature to faith. (Gen. 11:27-32.)
3. Abram in the land: the heavenly portion realized. (Gen. 12:1-8.)
4. His failure in Egypt: the saint going down into the world, and its consequences. (Gen. 12:9-20.)
5. Abram and Lot: our choice and God's choice for us. (Gen. 13.)
6. Abram as overcomer: the strife with the kings. (Gen. 14:1-16.)
7. Where the heart rests. (Gen. 14:17-24.)

God, nature, heaven, the world, victory over self, and the victory over opposition from without are all represented here, while the last of this series closes it with so blessed an assurance of what Christ is for the heart occupied with Him that we know without any doubt that there can be nothing beyond it. Let us look more closely at these things.

1. Abram's descent from Shem shows him in the line of promise. Jehovah's revelation of Himself to Shem was to be realized above all in that Seed of Abram whose day his own faith rejoiced to see. But the promise itself expressed a grace in God which preceded all personal claim whatever on Abram's part. In the chosen line itself, though we have only a scanty record of names and of the length of life, it is plain that there is decay, and that continuous. No doubt the years of man's life were every where shortening, but there was at any rate no exception, and elsewhere we read of spiritual apostasy on their part, which left all possibility of hope to the sovereign grace of God. The root of all the blessing following is here and only here.

2. But not only does nature furnish no help: it is in conflict with the call of God when this has come, and not least so when it volunteers obedience which it never performs, and proposes to lead where it cannot even follow. "Terah" means "delay," and he delays: they went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and they came to Haran and dwelt there. And Terah died in Haran.

3. Now, and not before, Abram comes into the land. We have here, (1) the call of God with its accompanying promise; (2) his coming into the land to the place of Shechem, or "shoulder," to the oak of Moreh, "instructor." The "shoulder" is that which bears the burden, and it is in stooping to serve that we acquire ability to learn of God: "to virtue" we add "knowledge." (3) Jehovah appears to him, and Abram builds an altar and worships. His tent is pitched in view of Ai ("ruins"), — a judged world upon the one side, and Bethel, the house of God, upon the other.

4. But as yet he cannot hold this place. The south country attracts him, and he gravitates toward Egypt. A famine in his own land follows, just as barrenness in spiritual things comes surely when we are looking toward the world. Then, upon going down into it, the boldness of faith gives place to disguises and prevarication. As the direct result, Abram loses his wife, and is enriched by the world. Sarai, as the apostle tells us, speaks of the terms upon which the believer is with God. She is the "covenant of grace:" the grace in which we stand God has linked with faith, and with faith alone. It belongs not to the world. We are of God, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one. But who can maintain such testimony when the world's help is wanted and association with it sought? Sarai must be left open to the world as such; and thus, by sacrifice of their exclusive place, Christians have bought the favor of the world today. But the world will yet learn by judgment that Sarai is not its own. This manifest, the world's favors cease, and Abram is sent away.

5. Abram gets back to where he was at the beginning, and his real restoration in heart comes out in this section; while, on the other hand, he who has been walking with Abram rather than with God manifests the power of what he has been in still over him, as we shall see. Abram's own power over Lot seems lost also by his failure. The wealth acquired on both sides comes in to separate; but Abram, master of himself once more, offers to Lot his choice as to the land before him. Lot without hesitation chooses, and you see the man in his choice. The plain of Jordan is like the garden of the Lord — like paradise! there is his religious self-justification, and Lot will keep his religion and the world as well. Here is the under-current that carries him: it is like the land of Egypt. Association with the world follows, however bad the world may be, and Lot's tent (soon to be given up) stretches toward Sodom.

Then he who has not chosen is shown what the Lord has chosen for him, and he is bidden to walk through it and enjoy it as his own. So faith is called to enjoy its heavenly portion.

6. As Sodom is a type of the world in its open evil, so Babylon is clearly identified in the New Testament with the world-church, whose head is Rome. (Rev. 17:9, 18). Here we have, not Babylon named, but Shinar, first in a coalition of four kings — the world-number, while the kings on the other side are five — the number of the senses, the merely sensual man. Between the open world and the world-church there is constant strife; but man must have a religion, and the latter in general prevails, and puts its yoke upon the other. In the present war, Lot, dwelling in Sodom, is carried captive with the rest: the way a child of God falls under the power of spiritual evil is here pointed out; it is through getting into the world. Abram the overcomer is noticed here (the only time) as the Hebrew, the passenger, the pilgrim. This is the secret of spiritual power. Lot is thus delivered by the power of another, but because only thus, falls back into Sodom.

7. And now we come to Melchisedek, king of righteousness, king of Salem (peace), priest of the Most High (God's millennial name), possessor of heaven and earth, — type of Christ in the day when He shall claim the earth for God and bring it back to Him. To him Abram gives tithes of all. Faith owns in Christ the One to whom all belongs, partaking of His true "bread and wine," the memorials of His fruitful suffering, and so refuses to be enriched at the world's hand. Present rest for the heart is here, and the future rest when He fulfills this type. The end of this series is reached, then, with this.

Section 2. — Faith's conflicts.

A very different line of truth is found in the second section. We have here faith's conflicts as to relationship and the word of God. The fifteenth chapter clearly gives a new beginning, as Abram here for the first time is recognized as righteous by faith, the true beginning for every soul spiritually. Here again we have seven subsections: —
1. The covenant of promise and the righteousness of faith. (Gen. 15.)
2. Hagar: the legal covenant, manward and Godward. (Gen. 16.)
3. Circumcision, the seal of the covenant of promise, and faith in the God of resurrection. (Gen. 17.)
4. The tent-door at Mamre, and the intercession for Sodom. (Gen. 18.)
5. The gate of Sodom and the end of Lot. (Gen. 19.)
6. The Philistines' land and the failure there. (Gen. 20.)
7. Isaac: the promise fulfilled. (Gen. 21.)

The connection of these chapters is mostly plain, and Isaac is evidently the Melchisedek of this section. He is, in fact, the type of the same blessed Person, but in quite a different character: here as "dwelling in the heart by faith." The first leaf we turn in this gives us the promise as to Him; the last shows us (typically) the fulfillment. All through, directly or indirectly, we are occupied with Him.

1. The promise is really threefold: of the one seed, Isaac, typically Christ; of the numerous seed, which, as represented by the stars of heaven, directs our eyes especially to the present children of Abraham by faith; thirdly, of the land, type of our heavenly possession. The first is the ground of the second; the second, of the third.

Christ, the heavenly seed, and the heavenly inheritance are all (typically) the subject of promise here. The covenant is of promise, — that is, of grace; the answer to it is faith — dependence on another; and the believer it is who is counted righteous. Every thing is assured to us by God without condition, and to take freely what is freely given is the secret of all joy, all peace, all power. Faith in one's self is what we are never called to, and is but so much glory taken from God. But this we are slow to learn.

In the third promise, as to the land, we have the worth of Christ's sacrifice opened up to us. In these different animals He is variously seen, and by these, passing between the divided parts, God binds Himself. He is seen also as the God of resurrection. The deep sleep falling on Abram is like that of Adam, and even the Egyptian oppression which it represents was, as it were, the death of the nation, from which only such power as that of resurrection could bring them forth. Here, the might of the sacrifice is seen when faith itself seems in collapse. He who guarded it from the birds of prey is now guarded by it; and in the furnace of Egypt, no less than in the word of deliverance, it is the covenant-keeping God who acts. Grace secures holiness, and the means to it; and God acts from Himself and glorifies Himself, where man is powerless. Thus the promise is complete.

2. Promise is grace, and thus the promise already given can only be fulfilled in Sarai, who speaks of this. (See Gal. 4:24.) Her name is Sarai — "my princess," for "grace reigns." She is the free-woman and brings forth to freedom; but in contrast with her, another is now seen — Hagar, the law, the full account of which, spiritually and dispensationally, is given us here.

Hagar is an Egyptian, as the law is the "principles of the world" (Gal. 4:3), and she gravitates naturally to Egypt. She is Sarai's handmaid, as the law is to grace, but taken up by the believer in whom some strength of nature still remains, in the impatient desire for fruit. Grace in him even urges him to it; but God has not to do with it, except that when the relationship is entered on, He sends her back to Abram that the fruit might be seen as not what He had promised. Thus the law came in, (faith and grace having long been joined together of God before it,) not at the beginning, but as sought of man himself naturally: and God takes her up, and by the fountain of water makes this child of nature to know Himself. We get thus the law and revelation joined together in the Old Testament. But God declares at the same time the fruit of law, easy enough to produce, to be but lawless (the wild man), though "God hears" the child of law — the Jew.

3. God now re-affirms His principle; for circumcision is the seal of the covenant of promise, and the sign of righteousness by faith. (See Rom. 4.) Abram's body is now "as good as dead," as Sarai's womb is. Grace will do nothing except as the power of the living God works in it, and for this, nature must be seen as worthless. God is now to be the Almighty, and Abram to walk before Him as such. Significantly thereupon He changes his name, adding but one letter, in fact, to it, in the middle of it — the letter "h," the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and which stands for 5. This, we have seen, is 4 + 1, — "the weak creature in the presence of the almighty God:" thus Abram ("high father") becomes Abraham, ("father of a multitude.") He is abased to be multiplied; and this we know well to be the spiritual law. How blessed are the thoughts of God!

Circumcision is thereupon ordained in the flesh of all the family of faith: in its inner meaning, "the putting off of the body of the flesh." (Col. 2:11.) The typical answer, the "bearing about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifest." (2 Cor. 4:10.) As born into the family of God, and come into the new creation (the eighth day), and as purchased with the money of atonement, still we are to have this sign.

And now God declares Himself the God of resurrection. Sarai is to have a son — the first positive announcement of it. And her name also is changed: from Sarai (my princess) she becomes Sarah (the princess), the merely personal element removed with the "i," which stands for the number 10 — the number of responsibility, to make way again for the "h" — the 5, where the creature stands once more in its weakness before this almighty God. Thus grace and faith, the ways of God and the conscious need of man, exactly suit, and are united to one another; and now grace shall be fruitful, Sarah shall have a son.

4. Hereupon the practical fruits appear. Abraham is found in his tent-door in Mamre ("fatness"?), and this is here as characteristic as the "gate of Sodom," in the next chapter, is for Lot. Here, Jehovah appears to him in the new form of man: communion is evidently more realized than at previous times. Note how faith in Abraham recognizes God; how suitably yet to His manifestation of Himself he entertains Him; and how ready a response is given to his invitation.

The material for entertainment is typically Christ, in His death, and in the glory of His person; three measures of meal — all the fullness of the Godhead in Him bodily. Such material have we ever to invite God to remain with us.

Then comes once more the promise, in which God more openly takes His place than before. The powerlessness of man is more revealed, faith in the Almighty is challenged, and unbelief rebuked.

And now God reveals as to His "friend" His purposes as to Sodom — the world; as to which, judgment does not come till there has been full testing: only when the state of things is fully proved does God proceed as if He "knew."

Then Abraham draws near to intercede, pleading that the righteous should be distinguished from the wicked, and God's governmental ways come out. For the sake of even ten righteous He will spare the city, and after six successive and effectual pleadings, Abraham stops with this.

5. The gate of Sodom now comes before us, and Lot sitting there. All is in contrast with the former chapter, — the evening; the visit of two angels, not now "men;" the invitation hardly accepted; the city fare, poorer than that under the tent; — all this makes a significant picture.

Then comes the interruption of the men of Sodom: (Abraham had none!) — like the evil things which association with the world produces to destroy communion. How Lot also smells of the company he keeps!

God can manifest Himself here only in judgment, and call to separate from what is to be destroyed; but Lot's dwelling in the city has rendered ineffectual his witness against it, and his sons-in-law take it as a jest. (Notice how, through all the sorrow of this scene, the "angels" become once more "men.")

Lot too lingers: they hasten him, lay hold upon him, bring him out. Notice how different the prayer of unbelief from that of faith! — his plea is unbelief, fear of the consequences of doing what he is bidden; a little city — God can do a little thing! Blessed be His name, He spares it.

Then the judgment comes, in which his wife also is involved. His own being spared is now seen also as for Abraham's sake: of him, though one of His own, God is ashamed.

Finally, we have the end of Lot in a shame which is that of his daughters also. His death need not be mentioned. But from him thus spring Moab and Ammon, the enemies of the people of God.

6. In the Philistines, we find undoubtedly a form of that which meets us in full development in Babel. They are not Canaanites, though sons of Ham. They sprang, according to Gen. 10:14, from Mizraim, — i.e. were of Egypt; yet we find them in the land of Canaan always, on the lowland of the south-west coast, with their outlook indeed toward Egypt, with which they had (Ex. 13:17) the freest and most unobstructed communication. They hold but a border of the land of Canaan, and its lowest part; beyond that, may ravage, but not possess; although looming in men's eyes so large as to give their name ("Palestine," from "Philistine,") to the whole of it. It is easy to see in this the picture of the world as come into the church, and become the church. Abimelech, whose name (whether "whose father [was] king," or "father of a king,") speaks of successional derived authority, is their king, and Phicol, "the voice of all" — as men say, "the voice of the Church," — is the captain of their host. Who can fail to see here the shadow of that traditional authority to which human religiousness, ignorant of the living Spirit, ever appeals?

This externalism speaks much of grace, divorcing it from what God has joined it to alone — the living faith which is seen in Abraham. Alas! faith too may easily yield here its exclusive claim, and with the son of the bondwoman in the house, and not yet Isaac, seem ready to yield up its choicest possessions to the demand upon it. This is a chronic evil, as is plain here, and apt to reproduce itself, as we see in Isaac afterward. Philistines are, as we know, ready enough to claim Sarah: the men of tradition speak largely of "grace," but it is in their sacraments and outward observances. And this claim imposed for ages on even the men of faith. Yet Sarah in the Philistines' house cannot, do what they may, become their own: grace will not be handled by men's hands. Nay, more; her presence there stops all the wombs of the house of Abimelech: this barren pretension to grace prevents all real fruit; with it, they are just as the "ninety and nine just persons who need no repentance," and so cannot repent; but that is where all true fruit begins. But how guilty, then, are we if we seem even to justify them in this claim! and how well may they reproach us with it!

On the other hand, with Sarah we may sojourn in the Philistines' land, for it is our own, though only a border tract. To adopt their language, we may say, for instance, the sacraments "sacraments remain to us, though only two, (the witnesses to something better than themselves,) not seven (as Rome makes them), the perfect fulfillment of that of which they speak. This is only a sample. All the land here is ours, and it is a fruitful land: may we claim it all!

7. And now the promise is fulfilled, and Isaac is born to dwell in Abraham's tents: the consummation of the life of faith is when Christ dwells in the heart through faith; the true fruit of faith in us is Christ thus abiding. Dispensationally, it is the coming of Christ and Christianity that we reach here, the two, as it were, identified, for are they not one? Therefore the child is circumcised, (as I take it, at the cross,) and weaned gradually, and there is a great feast when the child is weaned. Is not this the blessed truth which was given through Paul, and which especially brought out the mockery of unbelief and persecution of the Church by the Jews? Then the bondwoman and her son are sent away, the nation is in the meantime as such rejected. The wandering in the wilderness of Beersheba (the "well of the oath"), is a striking picture of their present condition. The water, the word of life, is spent for them, and the well they see not, though the oath of God, the covenant with their fathers, secures it for their final possession. This, therefore, their eyes are yet to be opened to, and Hagar herself to become a means of blessing to them (Deut. 30:1-3); their dwelling still and ever outside of Canaan — the heavenly inheritance.

The contention for the wells is characteristic with the Philistines: they do not dig them, but stop them with earth, though they are made here finally to own that God is with the man of faith, and that the well he digs is all his own.

Subdivision 5. (Gen. 22: — 26:33.) Isaac.

Self-surrender, the responsibility of sonship; and the recompense of obedience.

Isaac is the double type of the Son and of the sons of God; and in him the dispensational application is very prominent. No wonder, when the object of the Spirit is to take of the things that are Christ's and show them unto us. In fact, the individual application, which is elsewhere generally the main thing, seems almost to fail us, just where the other acquires fullness of detail. This may be, of course, only due to our ignorance; for the types of life, involving as they do often the appeal to inward experience, become naturally harder to read as we go on.

1. The twenty-second chapter is a most striking picture of Christ in the fulfillment of the responsibility which He undertook for us. Here it pleased God for a moment almost to remove the vail from the sacrificial types, and to show the reality that lay under them. Man it is that must suffer and die, although not Isaac, who is saved by the substituted ram. Isaac is withdrawn, but we have the witness that God will provide Himself a Lamb for a burnt-offering.

At the same time, the Father's gift of the Son is no less brought before us than the Son's obedience. The God who provides the Lamb is in the antitype the Father Himself; and to the cost to Him of that wondrous gift our attention is especially called. Our human hearts are arrested by this spectacle of a father's trial, but to find in it all the heart of God declared.

Isaac is only as "in a figure" received back from the dead (Heb. 11:19); Christ in reality; and to Him thus the promises belong: it is Christ raised from the dead who is the source of blessing to all the families of the earth.

The individual application is still in this chapter plain. The responsibility of a son is obedience to the father's will, and according to it we are to present our bodies a "living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." (Rom. 12.) Here, Isaac's being in will and intent offered, and yet spared from death, becomes completely intelligible; while the substitution of the ram in death is divinely significant. It is with Christ we have died, He bearing the burden of it but we are taught also to reckon ourselves dead, while yet we live, and live in the power of His resurrection. Not only are we justified, but sanctified also (set apart to God), in the offering of Christ for us. So comes the blessing also through us to others: the dead men who live are the great means of blessing to the world.

2. In Sarah's death it is not hard to read the passing away of the nation of whom after the flesh Christ came (Rom. 9:5), and their committal to a stranger's tomb, though in the faith of resurrection. Thus Israel makes way for the Church, the bride of the true Isaac.

Although unable to see fully the individual application here, yet Machpelah seems a beautiful testimony. Purchased out of the hands of the sons of Heth (fear) with the silver money (of atonement), it becomes the portion of faith, — a sepulchre, indeed, but with a fruitful field attached, and right opposite Hebron; in view, that is, of "participation" (with Christ). For Christ has been in death, and through death annulled him who had the power of it, that He might deliver those who all their lifetime through fear of death were subject to bondage. (Heb. 2:14-15.) Death thus becomes but conformity to His death. No wonder Jacob should desire to be buried in Machpelah!

The name "Machpelah" means a "doubling," or turning back upon itself, — a hint, as it would seem, of resurrection.

3. We have typified in the next section the mission of the Spirit to find among the family of faith (Abraham's kindred) a bride for the risen Christ, the Father's heir. The story is told at a length which shows how much God's heart is occupied with it: first, the mission of Him who comes in servant-character. Striking lesson for those through whom the Spirit of God acts, the servant's name is not made known to us: he is content to speak only of his master.

His course is marked by dependence: he waits upon God in simplicity of faith, taking his stand by the spring of water, — the Word of God in its living power; and there Rebekah is found. Evidently it is not the call of sinners by the gospel, but of saints to a special relationship with Christ on high. This is what began at Pentecost, plainly, where the hundred and twenty gathered were already of the "kindred." Rebekah has the well when the call is received to be Isaac's bride in Canaan. Indeed, Isaac's gifts are already upon her before she receives this: she is betrothed and endowed before she realizes or has received the message. So at Pentecost, and for years after, the Church, already begun, knew not yet the character of what had begun. It is only through Paul's ministry that her place with Christ is at last made fully known.

The ways of God leading up to this are also made known, and although she is really Isaac's, her choice is pressed upon her. Then she must break through all hindrances, resist all temptations to delay, do but one thing, and go out to meet the Bridegroom, with the earnest of what is before her already on her.

The individual application here I cannot give, though Rebekah should have some significance; but I prefer to omit what is conjectural.

4. After Rebekah — the Church, Keturah's sons would seem to represent the millennial nations; and these, with Ishmael's seed, the plain type of Israel, give us the rest of the family of Abraham, and the picture of the various blessing through him for the families of the earth. Isaac comes into this picture to show the relation to it of the heavenly saints, who live by the "well of" a higher "vision," but in connection also with those blessed on earth. While Abraham's death may have place here as showing how now faith passes into this higher state, as Abraham gives way to Isaac. Thus a very complete view is given.

5. We come now to a section in which the history of Isaac is linked with that of Jacob, just as Abraham's before was linked with that of Isaac. The life of Jacob gives us as its lesson the story of that fruitful discipline by which the Spirit of God brings us from weakness to power, — from nature's strength and strivings to that wholesome weakness in which alone is strength. But, for this, natural strength has to be crippled; and this is provided for in two ways: first, in allowing us to realize the power of another nature (Esau), which we cannot subdue in any strength of our own; and secondly, in the direct dealing of God with our souls. The germ of this history we find already in Isaac's life, because discipline and the need of it grow out of sonship: "what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" But the lesson is given us at full length presently: it is too important to be merely treated as a secondary theme; so that Jacob comes to the front in a little while, and then accompanies us, to some extent, (and we see for what reason,) practically to the end of the book.

No wonder that this section, then, has stamped on it the number which reminds us of governmental ways, and also (as in the addition to Abram's name) of the weakness of the creature in the presence of the almighty God!

First, we learn here that Rebekah is as barren as Sarah, except for the power of God. No principle of truth, no inherent power of grace, suffices for us apart from the direct operation of God Himself. And this is the basis-truth for Jacob's history.

But Rebekah conceives, and then a struggle is felt within her, which is once more that internal struggle of contrary natures, realized all through our course here, beginning before it has become an outward manifest thing, and the true meaning of which God must teach us. Then we learn the meaning of the struggle, and that in God's purpose and election lies the strength of the younger over the elder — for "that which is first is natural" still, — and that the elder is to serve the younger: strange mystery this, whereby the very evil in us is made to work for blessing to us. But so it is; our senses are, by reason of use, exercised to discern both good and evil; and the wonder of God's grace is known as else it could not be.

Later, these tendencies come into open light, and get their names: Esau is red, and all over like a hairy garment, — unmistakably of the earth, but full of strong, wild life. Jacob is seen in this, from which he gets his name of "heel-catcher" — "supplanter" — that his hand lays hold of Esau's heel. Here is seen the spirit that would by fleshly effort set aside the flesh. Therefore the power of the flesh is felt, and the power of God is not felt, or felt in opposition. Yet Jacob after all is the simple and homely spirit, kept by his affections, and living in tents, as customary with the men of faith. Esau is the free rover, bound but by his own will, pursuing his own objects, — the hunter, Nimrod-like, who can pursue indifferently beasts or men.

Presently the manifestation comes. Esau is seen in despising his birthright to be profane; Jacob values it, but seeks it in crooked ways. Esau now is seen openly as Edom, — that is, Adam, only a little changed outwardly, and not in heart.

6. And now we have two sections which almost repeat the history of Abraham which we have considered. We are, as there, in the Philistines' land where Isaac denies his wife as Abraham did, and is exposed and rebuked by Abimelech in like manner; while the strife for the wells is found here as there, ending in the covenant at the same place — Beersheba, which receives its name again from the similar oath of the covenant. The numbers of the sections are also the same.

Isaac, however, does not lose Rebekah, even for a time, and grows very great during his stay in Gerar, so that they pray him to depart, as mightier than they. He digs again, and renames Abraham's wells, but gives up well after well rather than contend with the Philistines, at last finding one for which they do not contend.

7. At Beersheba, God appears to him once more, and blesses him. The Philistines make here a covenant with him, owning that Jehovah (not merely God, as in Abraham's case,) is with him in all he does.

It is easy to see in all this blessing, so uniform and unbroken as it is, the recompense of the obedience with which Isaac's life begins. There are no changes, no experiences such as we find in Jacob. He never leaves the land, and seems already almost in possession of it, Hagar's well and the Philistines' land are alike his own, as the children of grace now inherit the portion of the Jew and the legalist, — all the riches of God's Word from the beginning, — finding every where a new fruitfulness, and the face of God revealed.

Subdivision 6. (Gen. 26:34 — 37:1.) Jacob — Israel.

The discipline of sons, which Israel's history as a nation illustrates.

The lesson of Jacob's life is understood more variously than any other of these Genesis-lives. He has been taken to represent the life of service, and the path, to a greater or less extent, of the perfect Servant. His wives have been supposed to picture the Jewish and Gentile brides of Christ. Or, again, the lesson taught us has been said to be that of discipline, which would seem to forbid our finding in it any picture of the Lord at all. That this last is the true view the numerical structure decides at once. Jacob's is the sixth life in this series, and we have seen that "discipline" comes under this number. To this also correspond the two names which distinguish the two parts of his life, before and after this has done its work. He is Jacob in his methods long after his heart is set upon divine things; he is Israel when, his human strength broken down, he halts upon his thigh. His first act in the moment of his birth gives him his natural character and name, (Jacob, the heel-catcher, over-reacher,) what divine grace has to meet and master in him, and in us all.

These two names — Jacob and Israel — are applied all through Scripture, in a perfect and beautiful way, to the nation which sprang from him, and of which he is the representative throughout. Only the effect of the Lord's discipline with them is hardly to be read rightly in their history hitherto: to read it aright, we must take in prophecy, which is, in its main features, clear enough. Their history has in the past been that of Jacob: it will be yet said "of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought!" It is not unimportant to note here, that whereas Isaac's seed is compared to the stars of heaven (Gen. 26:4), Jacob's seed is compared to the "dust of the earth" (Gen. 28:14), and Abraham's to both. (Gen. 22:17.)

As connected with the lesson of discipline, Bethel, the house of God, finds easily the significant place which it has in Jacob's history. It is as El-beth-el, "the God of His own house," that he learns at last to recognize the One who is in covenant with him; and it is there that his name of Israel, "a prince with God," is afresh conferred, and finds its full significance. The holiness of God's house imposes the necessary conditions upon which alone he can be "a prince with God."

Jacob's history divides evidently into three parts, — his early life in Canaan, his stay in Paddan Aram, and his life as again restored to Canaan; just as the history of the nation broadly divides into their first occupation of the land (or Old-Testament history), their present dispersion, and their future and perpetual enjoyment of it when God brings them back in the time certainly now not far off.

Section 1. (Gen. 26:34 — 28.)
God the unchanging Blesser, but the righteous God.

We have first, then, to consider Jacob as Jacob, blessed in the purpose of God, but the blessing yet barren, because he is this. Let us remember that he does not really gain the blessing through deceit, but that God had already destined him to it. By his deceit he only gets driven from the land, twenty years a fugitive. That the blessing could not be Esau's we are first of all reminded here. At the end of forty years (the period of perfect probation), he marries at once two Canaanitish wives, chooses in self-will the people of the curse. How could the blessing go with this? Yet Jacob too fails, and would supplement God's assurance of blessing by his own craft; thus he is blessed, indeed, but delays the enjoyment of the blessing. Esau's blessing is not really such, and though living by his sword, not by the soil, he is to serve his brother, though not without slipping his neck at times out of the yoke. We are all quite conscious that the flesh does this. For the present, indeed, Jacob has to give way before Esau, — the necessary fruit of his own doing. And between Jacob merely and Esau the victory is ever with Esau. So the Jew sought the blessing, but in carnal ways which drove him from the land. The applications of this are many and various.

The dream at Bethel takes place when Jacob is just about to leave the land, and we are all aware of how the Lord applied this vision to Himself. He, as the Son of Man, in fact, secures to Israel Jehovah's care and ministrations while outcast from their inheritance, and when they shall, with Nathanael's faith, confess Him Son of God and King of Israel, they shall have, in a more blessed way than ever yet, their house of God on earth. Meanwhile, only the faith of a little remnant has answered to the glorious vision, and it could not hinder their present banishment out of their land. Jacob's covenant with God shows the low and legal spirit which is incapable of rising to the height of God's grace here.

Beautiful it is to see how, the moment he is under chastening, and a wanderer, God can appear to Jacob. But the dwelling of God with man implies the holiness which becometh His house forever. We must stoop our necks to the yoke and accept the fruit of our own ways. God can assure Jacob of no escape from this, but that in it and through it all the blessing shall be attained.

Section 2. (Gen. 29 — 31.)

Increase in the place of humiliation.

The history at Paddan Aram is harder to read; and the details of its application to Israel's history as scattered from their land, above all so: and yet it is easy to understand how this should be. During his twenty years of exile, Jacob enjoys no further such revelations of His presence. In the meantime, God deals with him as with one for whom He has purposes of blessing, only to be reached through disciplinary sorrow. He is multiplied through unwelcome Leah and the bond-maids mainly, serving long and with hard labor for wives and flocks. Like his descendants, he is multiplied as the dust, while trampled into it: they, enslaved, trodden down and yet preserved, and merging in the end into wealth and power, witness to the care of that God of Bethel whom yet they know not.

It is a striking thing, in this connection, that it is when Joseph is born that Jacob begins to set his face homeward, although he does not actually start till six years afterward; gaining, however, in wealth continually in the meanwhile; and that his history practically ends with the birth of Benjamin. These two sons of Rachel we must know in their typical significance in order to be able to read aright much — indeed the larger part — of what follows in this book.

Joseph, then, is the one separated from his brethren; having by them been delivered up to death, by them sold to the Gentiles, and coming to power among these, while yet Israel is a stranger to him; having his Gentile wife and children, causing him to forget all his kindred and his father's house, until a famine in all lands forces them to him who becomes their saviour, and the saviour of the world. Joseph, therefore, represents the Lord as we know Him, and as Israel must know Him, to find their blessing in the last days. The birth of Joseph would seem, thus, to speak typically of the dawn of light for them as to Christ whom they have rejected.

On the other hand, Benjamin, the son of the mother's sorrow, becoming the son of the father's right hand, in Jacob's prophecy of the last days foretold to be the warrior-tribe of the nation, is plainly the type of Christ exalted and in power upon the earth. To a reigning Messiah the nation cling, but they do not see that through the Sufferer alone can they find the Conqueror. Thus the order here; and when the hearts of the remnant in the last days turn to the suffering Christ they have rejected, then it is that their restoration begins, although having to meet many trials, and find in them their needed discipline, as we see in the next section.

The individual application is here, however, the most easily read. It is, indeed, impossible, one would think, to miss the lesson of a retribution which is the holy discipline of God for us, that we may be partakers of His holiness. The measure we mete is meted out to us again: what we sow we reap, and in what is the equity of divine government we find the chastening of a Father's hand. Jacob receives from a relative the deceit he had practiced on a relative, has to learn painfully the rights of the first-born which he had disregarded, and, instead of the superiority he had sought, becomes a servant for hire. How hard a matter is the breaking of the will in man!

The names of the wives seem quite significant. Rachel, "sheep," is surely the type of the spirit of discipleship which, in its meekness of self-surrender, shows us the opposite of Jacob's self-seeking temper. But her he must obtain by means of Leah, whose name, "wearied," suggests the tribulation by which patience is wrought out. Nor only so, — for Rachel being barren, and in the despair which comes through unbelief, the bond-maids come into the house, Bilhah, "terror," and Zilpah, "a dropping," as of tears. Then Leah bears again; and the children's names all the way through speak of blessing; Joseph's — in whom Rachel is at last fruitful — means "adding," and quite according to his origin, we find in him that martyr-spirit which is, in the Christian, the soldier "virtue," or courage, which the apostle bids us "add to" faith (2 Peter 1:5), the secret of all true progress. This we shall see afterward to be the moral of his life. As the fruit of Rachel's long trial, he shows us the result of waiting upon God; and from the time of his birth, Jacob's affairs assume another aspect. He begins to look again toward Canaan; and though he tarries six years more, they are years of growing prosperity.

His compact with Laban as to the flocks, and his plans to secure himself a recompense, show still, indeed, that he is Jacob. In these, successful as they are, there seems to be a lesson for him, which he might well take home, and which remains for us a notable one. Plainly, the sheep in presence of the rods seems to show how "the eye affecteth the heart," — how we, and all that comes of us, are moulded by the object that we have before us. So the Lord connects the "eye" and the "master." (Matt. 6:19-25.) Our object is what controls us; and in a world like this, how many objects compete for the possession of us! Thus, if our mind be set on things which are above, the characteristics of a "life hid with Christ in God" are developed in us. (Col. 3:1-3.) What need have we of concentration and of jealousy over ourselves, lest that in the midst of which we are, gain possession of us!

After all his planning, Jacob has to learn that it is the power of God to which he owes the increase. God has looked upon his affliction and his toil, and ordained him a recompense. But his prosperity alienates Laban from him, as spiritual increase separates from the world. Then comes the call of God to return to Canaan. Laban, who cannot get on with him any more, is yet rendered openly hostile by his withdrawal, — just as the world feels the sting of separation, though there can be no more communion. He follows Jacob; God appears for him and shields him; and Jacob finally departs in peace with a covenant between him and Laban, at Galeed, the "heap of witness."

Section 3. (Gen. 32 — 37:1.)

Israel: the prince with God, and the holiness of the house of God.

We now follow Jacob on his return to his own land. This, in its application to the nation, brings us into the field of prophecy: for them, as for their father, Peniel must prepare the way to Bethel; that they may not fall into the hands of their enemies, God, whose name is yet unknown to them, must take them into His own, crippling the human strength with which they contend with Him, that in weakness they may hold Him fast for blessing. Thus broken down in repentance, and purged from idolatry, they will have their second Bethel, when God will reveal to them His name so long hidden, and confirm to them the promise to their father Abraham. Christ, Son of His Father's right hand, will then take His place among them; and so they will come to Mamre and to Hebron — to the riches of a portion which is henceforth to be enjoyed in fellowship with God.

The individual application we can trace more fully. Here it is good to note how, ere Jacob reaches the land really, the angels of God meet him; God Himself not yet, for not yet is Jacob prepared for this. "This is God's host," or "camp," he says; and he calls the place "Mahanaim," — that is, "two camps." Here he must have taken in his own, of which he speaks directly in his message to Esau: "I have oxen and asses, flocks and men-servants and women-servants."  Yet in a little while we find him dividing this into "two camps," saying, "If Esau come to the one camp and smite it, then the other camp which is left shall escape"! Such is our strength when built upon, although we would fain, perhaps, associate God's power with it. But then in the time of need, our own, what is it? and God's, where shall it be found?

The dread of Esau is upon Jacob's soul. His messengers bring him only the alarming news that his brother is on his way with four hundred men to meet him. He betakes himself to his devices, and then to God, and then once more to his planning. In solitude and in the night God meets him, — unknown, and as an antagonist, the attitude to which Jacob's own has forced Him; and when Jacob's stubbornness stands out against Him, He cripples his strength by dislocating his hip-joint. Then he can wrestle no more, but only cling in helplessness, and thus he prevails: when did man's weakness ever fail to constrain the power of God? He is blest; but God cannot yet disclose His name. He gives Jacob a new one. Crippled, he becomes Israel — a prince with God: the secret of power is disclosed to him; God is not: when the day breaks, He has disappeared.

Jacob calls the place Peniel; "for," he says, "I have seen God face to face"; but his conduct as yet shows nothing of this. He cringes before Esau, though God has disarmed him, — returns to his old deceit, telling him he will follow him to Seir, and going off in another direction, to build him a house at Succoth, which again he leaves to pitch his tent at Shechem on a piece of ground which he purchases, there to meet a deep dishonor, and to witness its bloody retribution, impotent to avert it.

The power of his name it is evident he has not yet got. His altar proclaims God to be his God (El-elohe-Israel); but this, it would seem, he uses only to walk in his own ways more unblushingly than before: his house at Succoth, his purchase at Shechem, both tell the same tale. He is scarcely now the pilgrim, and losing his separateness Dinah is defiled. The slaughter of the Shechemites follows: judgment so cruel, and with such deceit in it, that it is itself pronounced accursed by the Spirit of God in Jacob afterward. And now he is shaken out of his ease and security, and plunged into distress and fear once more. God's grace will not comfort those who will not use it holily.

But now He comes in again, and discloses the remedy: "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there, and make there an altar to God that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother." Yes, he had forgotten Bethel, God's house, in building his own; he must get up to a higher level, and build his altar to El-Beth-el — the God of His own house. Hitherto he had known only a God that belonged to him; now he is to learn and own that he belongs to God. At once the difference is apparent: the false gods tolerated at Shechem, spite of his altar there, must now be put away, and they must be clean. Then the fear passes from their hearts to those of the nations round them, and they journey to Bethel in peace.

Every thing shows that now he has really reached the goal. All his journeyings in the land are passed over in the quiet words which treat him as just come back to it: "And God appeared to Jacob again after he had come from Paddan Aram." He had spoken to him before, wrestled with him before, blessed him before, and Jacob had spoken of having seen His face at Peniel, in the dark, where he could not see it! But now God appears to him, and, as if to show how practically ineffective Peniel had been, gives him afresh the name which he had given him there. "And God said to him, Thy name is Jacob" — still Jacob! — "thy name shall not henceforth be called Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name. And He called his name 'Israel.'" Thus we learn that if weakness be the secret of strength (as it is,) it is only strength to walk in God's ways. Israel must come to Bethel to be Israel. How good to remember this!

And now God reveals Himself almighty, as with Abraham, and confirms to him the promise he had made to Abraham; and Jacob sets up his pillar of stone, and pours his drink-offering and oil upon it; and he too names the place afresh — Bethel, as if he had never named it before. Nor intelligently had he done so.

And now we find Benjamin's birth, and Rachel's death at Ephrath: a notable combination of things in this place! Ephrath means "fruitfulness," for now Israel is to be fruitful. But how? Benjamin is Christ in power upon the earth, as we have seen: Christ in us it is who is our power. That we may have it, Rachel herself passes away; for Rachel typifies, as we have seen, that subjective state we seek after, but which must, as a substantial presence with us, pass (as Abel gave place to Seth), that Christ may be alone our occupation. Once more, the "I, yet not I," of which we need again and again to be reminded.

This truth, the fall of Reuben, — "my might, the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power," says Jacob afterward, — confirms from the other side. It is a more emphatic "Enos." But here comes in this new name of Jacob's beautifully. All awake he is, but without a murmur bows his head at his own dishonor, — "Israel heard it."

And so this chequered history ends with Mamre and with Hebron, where now Isaac gives up his place to him as the vessel of testimony for God upon the earth. Only now is he ready to fill the place.

But before the story is closed up as ended, Esau's seed is shown us for many generations, prematurely ripening into dukes and kings. Isaac's prophecy becomes, in one part of it, soon fulfilled. Esau leaves Canaan for Seir, and his posterity soon, as their names would seem to show, live by their sword in this barren region. Two texts for us here have special significance: first, that "Esau took his wives and his sons and his daughters, and all the persons of his house, and his cattle, and his beasts, and all his substance which he had got in the land of Canaan, and went into the country from the face of his brother Jacob;" while the section closes with one verse which, in its brevity, speaks volumes to the ear that hears, contrasting Jacob's portion with that of his brother, — "And Jacob dwelt in the land in which his father was a stranger — in the land of Canaan."

Subdivision 7. (Gen. 37:2 — 50.) Joseph.

The Christ-life developed in full "image."

Joseph presents, in the main features of his life, a complete contrast to Jacob. As the one shows us the fruit of the flesh, though in a saint, the other gives us the fruit of the Spirit. It is thus no wonder that if he portrays the development of the Christ-life within us, he should represent also, more fully than any other of these Genesis biographies, the life of Christ Himself. There is in this respect a very substantial agreement among the mass of interpreters, from the so-called "fathers" downward. It is only in details that there is really room for question.

The individual application, though easy to be seen as there, is in the details often very difficult to follow; but the reason for this is simple: it is experience that largely unfolds to us these types of the inner life, and in this experience we are sadly deficient. And yet it may well be, also, that (as we have just seen in Benjamin), in the stage to which we have come, the objective largely takes the place of the subjective; the soul freed from self-occupation is all eyes, all ears, for its Object. Just so, John the apostle has many a word for the babes and the young men both, suited to their need; while to the "fathers" he simply says, and repeats, "Ye have known Him that is from the beginning." (1 John 2.) However it may be, we shall find that it is largely with the image of Christ Himself that we shall be taken up in the history of Joseph.

Joseph is the picture, as we have said, of what is essentially the martyr-spirit, whose courage is shown in endurance, in unflinching facing of consequences. In him, patience has her perfect work, and thus, in result, he rises to mastery over all around, because he is master of himself first, and receives from God's hand, does not take things into his own. In the blessing of Jacob at the close, he is divinely pictured, as contemplated here, as the one separated from his brethren, whom the archers have galled and shot at and hated; but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob. Here, indeed, we find Joseph to be Jacob's son, and Jacob's lesson to be fully learned. How fruitful an one! and how the branches run over the wall, yielding their fruit up within no narrow enclosure, but to be gathered freely! For who may not gather such fruit? Not in the exercise of much wisdom, the bringing out of internal resources, but simply "man's weakness waiting upon God;" and who may not wait on Him?

Very like Isaac is he in this, that the path of surrender leads into that of largest blessing. And this is God's constant way.

Six sections carry us now to the end of the book. Let us take them separately.

Section 1. (Gen. 37:2-36).

God's counsel and man's rebellion.

The first section shows us God's counsel as to Joseph and man's rebellion against it. The first view we have of Joseph is, at seventeen years, feeding the flock along with his brethren. The typical ruler for God is ever the shepherd. But He is with the children of the bondmaid, — a significant expression of Israel's condition, perhaps politically as well as spiritually, when our Lord came in the flesh. Separated too, Joseph is from them morally far, as with the Lord, the ground of the after-separation upon their side, not on his. "Me the world hateth, because I testify of it that its deeds are evil."

He is hated too as the special object of his father's love, of which the embroidered coat is the expression. It is not precisely "of many colors," nor a seamless robe of one piece such as characteristically the Lord wore. It is a "tunic of pieces," implying variety, and I think would refer to the manifold powers which showed themselves in the Lord in those mighty works which He spoke of as "from the Father" (John 10:32; John 14:11), and for which His brethren after the flesh pursued Him with hatred.

The dreams come as a third incitement to hatred, — in which God makes known the future supremacy of the beloved of the father. This is easily read. Together, these three signs give us the Holy One, object of the Father's love, hated for His holiness, hated for His glorious works, hated for the announcement of His coming glory.

Being, then, such as He is, His love-mission to His brethren, as sent of the Father, puts Him into their hands. He goes out of the "vale of Hebron" ("company"), the place of participation with the Father, to find them, not in Shechem ("shoulder"), in subjection to God, taking His yoke; but in Dothan, which some (rightly, I think,) take as meaning "laws;" not in the sense, however, of "precepts" — moral, spiritual guidance, such as the divine law (the thorah) was, — but of imperial "decrees." To Israel after the flesh, away from God and from the true spirit of obedience, such had the divine word become.

At Dothan, then, Joseph's brethren are found, and at once they counsel to slay him. In fact, they cast him into a pit, but it holds no water — "It is not lawful for us," the Jews said to Pilate, "to put any man to death;" and out of this they draw him, to sell him to the Ishmaelites. So by Israel was the Lord transferred to the Gentiles.

How striking is that touch in this terrible picture, "And they sat down" — with Joseph in their pit — "to eat bread"! How much more terrible the case of the Pharisee-persecutors, who "would not go into the judgment-hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the passover"! History does indeed repeat itself, because each generation is but the repetition of the one before it: as Ahab, Israel's worst king, was but after all, what his name signifies, his "father's brother."

Thus Joseph is "separated from his brethren." In the individual application, though the details are less plain, the general thought is easy. "Elect of God, holy and beloved," in the world through which we pass, all is hostile to the development of that which is of God. He that separateth himself from evil maketh himself a prey;" and separation from evil is a fundamental principle of the divine nature. Hence, persecution for righteousness should be accepted as the necessary result for the people of God in a world such as the present.

But for those true Josephs in whom is developed the soldier-"virtue," which with inflexibility of purpose presses on through whatever difficulties in the path of faith, separation will be found (not invited) from those who are not the world, but, though chosen out of it, still practicing conformity to its ways. Nay, one's brethren are, alas! often in this case more hostile than the very world, just because their consciences are more awake to a testimony which condemns themselves. Thus, within the circle of professed Christian fellowship, the Josephs have still to be disciples of the cross. Their path is not merely individual, as the path of true faith must always be, but solitary also, save only for the God with whom they walk, and indeed because they have chosen to walk with Him. Yet it is thus a path of deepest blessing.

Section 2. (Gen. 38).

Judah's separation from his brethren and humiliation.

At this juncture, the history of Judah is introduced, which as that of Judah alone is itself significant. Israel (the ten tribes) has for long had none: the Jews represent for us the whole people. Here, at the outset, Judah separates himself from his brethren, and connects himself with the Canaanite — the "merchantman" — marrying the daughter of Shuah (or "riches"). Surely these names give us in plain speech the characteristics of the nation for these centuries since the cross! His seed is thus, however, continued upon the earth, although God's wrath is upon the first two sons (whose names may speak, Er, of "enmity," and Onan, of "iniquity"), while the third son, Shelah ("sprout"?), speaks of divine power in resurrection, bringing out of death. Thus is a remnant preserved.

The story of Tamar shows us how, in God's marvelous way of grace, Christ comes into connection with Judah, and thus it is her name appears in the Lord's genealogy in the gospel of Matthew, first of those four women's names, whose presence there demonstrates the grace which has stooped to take up men. Each of these four has its own distinctive gospel-feature to bring out, as elsewhere shown. It is Tamar's sin that brings her in, as it is Rahab's faith; while for Ruth to come in, the sentence of the law as to the Moabites must be set aside, and Bathsheba — named even as the wife of Urias — shows us grace triumphing over even a believer's sin. A salvation for sinners, — through faith, — apart from law, — and eternal: this is what the simple insertion of these names declares. Tamar's sin was the very thing which brought her into the Lord's genealogy: and as sinners simply have we title to rejoice in a work accomplished for sinners. Judah will find, in a day that is near, his title, not in legal righteousness, nor in mere descent from Abraham, but in the truth which God has emphasized for us here.

Section 3. (Gen. 39: — 41:52.)

Zaphnath-paaneah, "the Revealer of Secrets."

With the next section we return to Joseph, to see Christ in connection with the Gentiles. It is plain that, thus viewed, there is no continuity with the thirty-seventh chapter, but in some sort, a new beginning. Even the position of Joseph, under an Egyptian master, may remind us of Zechariah's words, which I, with others, believe to be intended of Christ, "Man acquired Me as a slave from My youth." (Zech. 13:5, Heb.) Here, notice, it is not said, Israel: the lowly service to which He has stooped has the widest scope. But what response did this service receive from man? "What are those wounds in Thy hands? Those with which I was wounded in the house of My friends."

With Joseph in it, the house of the Egyptian is blessed of God; but with Christ ministering in it, how unspeakably was the world blest! All the power was there, and manifesting itself, which could have turned, and will yet turn, the need of man, however great and varied, into occasion for the display of the wealth of divine loving-mercy. But it availed not to turn man's heart to God: false witness casts Joseph into Pharaoh's prison, where, however, again all things come under his hand; while under false accusation, the Lord descends into a darker prison-house, in result to manifest Himself as Master of all there.

A higher power than man's was working beneath all this in Joseph's case. The path of humiliation was to end for him in glory; the sorrow of the way was to issue in joy — love's own joy of service in a higher sphere. "God did send me before you to preserve life," he says to his brethren afterward; and he who in prison reveals himself as the interpreter of the mind of God, is, as such, qualified to administer the resources of the throne of Egypt, for the relief of the distress which is at hand for the world. All this is easily read as typical of the Lord, only that the shadows of the picture are immeasurably darker here, as the lights are inexpressibly brighter. From the humiliation and agony of the cross, in which He is the interpreter of man's just doom on the one hand, and of the mercy for him on the other, the lowly Minister to human need comes forth to serve as the Wisdom and Power of God upon a throne of grace.

Seven years of plenty to be succeeded by seven years of famine, which shall devour them up, — such is the prophecy of Pharaoh's dream. Even yet is the world enjoying its plenteous years, and little it believes in its plainly predicted future. The time of famine is nevertheless not far off, which is to manifest the resources of Him who will then be seen alone competent to meet its terrible exigencies. In that time of sore trial, both Israel is to be brought back to Him whom they have rejected, and the world subjected to the throne whose provision of grace He ministers.

But first, and as soon as ever he is exalted, we hear of new relationships for Joseph: "And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnath-paaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath, the daughter of Potipherah, priest of On; and Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt." The name given we may take as Hebrew, and in the meaning anciently given to it, "Revealer of Secrets." How precious a title for Him who has revealed to us the secrets of the heart of God! And especially appropriate is it in connection (as the text suggests) with Joseph's Gentile marriage. To Christianity belongs above all the revelation of the divine "mysteries." The "mysteries of the kingdom," the "great mystery" of Christ and the Church," "the mystery of His will … for the administration of the fullness of times to head up all things in heaven and earth in Christ" (Matt. 13:11; Eph. 5:32; Eph. 1:9-10) are given to us for the first time in these Christian days, while He is Himself, in His own person and work, the "mystery of godliness."

Even the false church appropriates (though but to pervert) this idea of mystery (Rev. 17:5); while the apostle desires no better estimation for himself and others than "as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God." (1 Cor. 4:1.) For us even the stored treasures of the past dispensation are revealing themselves, and things which happened unto Israel happened unto them for types, and are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come. (1 Cor. 10:11.) All these things are pledges of new relationship, confidences, unspeakably precious, of the heart of Christ. (John 15:15.) Revealer of secrets indeed is He; no truer or sweeter name for Him who has been pleased to take, in these plenteous days before the time of the world's famine, a Gentile bride.

At the same time, if our Joseph's title can be shown to have in Egyptian the meaning, "Saviour of the world," we need not reject it. This is indeed the outward aspect in which Christ is now revealed.

As to Asenath, if the meaning of her name is conjectural only, those of her two sons are very significant. Born before the famine, and while Joseph's brethren are yet strangers to his exaltation, "he called the name of the firstborn Manasseh, — for God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house;" while "the name of the second called he Ephraim, — for God hath made me fruitful in the land of my affliction." For His Church, His heavenly bride, He has been content to be as if He remembered not His relationship with His people of old. The thread of prophecy lies unwoven in the shuttle of time, as if its wheel had stopped forever. Why this apparent forgetfulness on the part of Him who never slumbereth nor sleepeth? Surely, no change; but the pursuance of eternal purposes, which accomplished, Israel shall look upon the face of Him whom they have pierced, and a fountain be open to them also for sin and for uncleanness.

In the individual application we are again unable to go into much detail. We may easily, indeed, see how the wisdom of God, and His power in measure too, abide with such an one as our type represents. He is master of the circumstances by which at times he may appear mastered. All things necessarily serve the One who is ever with him, content Himself to find, through seeming defeat, His sure, eternal victory. Through all, he is preparing for the place where at last both his brethren shall be restored to him, and also the world shall be his own; for when Christ reigns (of which we have been tracing the figures here), His saints shall reign with Him.

Section 4. (Gen. 41:50 — 47:26.)

The Days of Famine.

Now comes the time of famine; and when God's judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world shall learn righteousness. Not in the plenteous times of Christianity will the world as a whole turn to God; and therefore come drought and famine from the same hand which, unknown, bestowed the blessing. The present dispensation closed by the removal of the Church to be with her Lord, the times of the Gentiles will close, as the Lord Himself predicts (Luke 21:25-27): "And there shall be signs in the sun and in the moon, and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, with power and great glory."

Before He appears, and amid all the trial of a time such as the world has never seen, Israel will be preparing to recognize and receive her rejected Lord. And this is what we find typified in the chapters to which we have now come. The way in which it is expounded here shows surely the divine interest in their recovery, full of touching pathos as they are known to be.

The famine in all lands reaches Canaan also, and Joseph's ten brethren come down to buy corn in Egypt. We are all familiar with what follows, and how their hearts and consciences are probed by one who knows and loves them well, but whom they know not. They obtain, indeed, a temporary supply for their necessities, but leave Simeon in prison, and are bidden not to appear again except they bring Benjamin with them. Famine again forces them to come down; and this time, Judah having undertaken for Benjamin with his father, they bring him also. They are feasted by Joseph, still unknown; are sent away with the cup in Benjamin's sack; pursued, and brought back under the charge of theft; Benjamin is to remain as Joseph's slave, but Judah, his heart fully reached, offers himself in his stead: then Joseph's love bursts out; he makes himself known to them; they own their sin, are reconciled and comforted with his love.

In all this, it is plain how all turns upon Benjamin and their state toward him. This is made the test of their condition. The power for their deliverance lies in Joseph's hand alone, however, and their exercises as to Benjamin all tend to awakening conscience and heart as to their sin against Joseph. The key of the typical interpretation is to be found in this: —

Joseph is Christ as we know Him, once rejected and suffering, now exalted: this is He whom Israel does not know. A Christ triumphant simply, and reigning upon the earth, is the Benjamin who is found among them, whether in the days of the Lord's rejection or the latter days. The Conqueror they were prepared for; the Sufferer who must go before Him — not knowing their own deep need, — they have refused. Yet the two are really one, and for them the Conqueror cannot be till they receive the Sufferer: not the faith of a Sufferer merely, but the One who has been this. Power lies with Joseph, not with Benjamin.

But Joseph's heart longs after Benjamin, — that is, Christ longs to display this character of power for them; but for this they must be brought to repentance, and He uses their ideal, prophetical Messiah to bring their hearts back to Himself the true one.

Amid the sorrows of the last days, this will be accomplished for them. He who, unknown, is seeking them will make them realize their Benjamin as Benoni — "the son of my sorrow," and that as the fruit of their own sin. (Gen. 44:16.) Benjamin is taken from them: they have lost their part in Messiah as having rejected Him. All the depths of Judah's heart are stirred; and in his agony for Benjamin, he is met and overwhelmed by the revelation of Joseph. They look upon Him whom they have pierced, and mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son, and a fountain for sin and for uncleanness is opened to them. But this brings the whole nation into blessing under Christ.

After this, we read of the reduction of Egypt itself under the immediate authority of the throne. The people, bankrupt through the famine, receive back their lands from the bounty of the king, returning him one fifth of the produce as the token of their indebtedness to the grace from which they have received. It is thus that the world, under Christ, will find its place in true blessing before God. In the one fifth rendered, we are reminded once more of the Abrahamic 5, — the impotence of the creature and the omnipotence of God, — the one part a recognition of divine sovereignty. If we take it as two tenths, it may remind us of the double claim of God upon us — by creation and by redemption. This the world will acknowledge in the day to come.

Section 5. (Gen. 47:28 — 49:27.)

The moral conclusion: the end as the way.

The fifth section, well-nigh the close of the whole book, is Deuteronomic in character, giving moral results. Here, Jacob again, rather than Joseph, is the central figure, his day brightening at the end to a serene sunset. He dies at a hundred and forty-seven years old,—a number not without meaning, we may believe, in its 7 X 7 X 3, the number of complete accomplishment intensified, with that of divine manifestation. With him, the single, simple, patriarchal life is ended, the first division of this primitive divine history is over.

In the first place, here we have the vow which Jacob exacts from Joseph—that he shall be buried in Canaan, in the sepulchre of his fathers. He thus links himself with them as waiting, even in death, for the promise to be fulfilled. Thus the promise is a promise of life which death cannot vanquish or undo.

Next, we have the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh, in whom Joseph receives the double portion of the birthright, Reuben having lost it. (1 Chron. 5:1-2.) It shows how Joseph fulfills his name, which is, "adding," or "increase." This is, indeed, the beautiful lesson of his life. The law of spiritual increase we find in him, as indicated by the name of his son, "Ephraim." — "fruitfulness." But the way to fruitfulness is by "Manasseh" — "forgetfulness," as with the apostle, "Forgetting that which is behind, I press on." (Phil. 3:13-14.) Manasseh is the first-born, in fact; but as the end is greater than the means, so Ephraim is, in the mind of God, greater than Manasseh. Nature would often with us, as in Joseph here, resist so simple a conclusion. Manasseh before Ephraim is in truth the very principle of asceticism in all times.

In the third place, we have the blessing of the tribes as a whole, in which, from their characters as already shown, or their names as indicating character, their future is predicted. Thus the government of God shows itself throughout it.

In the enumeration, we have, first, the sons of Leah, then those of the bond-maids intermingled with one another, and then Rachel's children. These are plainly three divisions.

Of Leah's, the first-born is Reuben; but just as the might of nature which is fallen, he is necessarily deposed from his primacy: we have seen Joseph getting what Reuben loses here; the two are opposites. Reuben represents, not the flesh, — for God does not bless the flesh; but the dignity of nature, — of man as natural, now indeed fallen, but not necessarily fallen. And man's nobility lies essentially in that intelligent will, which alone is "will," and without which he would be the mere machine worked by other hands, or the boat adrift without oar or rudder. Reuben — "see a son" — is thus man in that which makes him the "offspring of God," His image, — not merely a cause, but a causer. Sin has come in, alas! and his will has become self-will an independent energy with "vanity" stamped on it; a "bubbling over," as the word "unstable," said here of Reuben, really means, which scruples not to shame and defile the man himself, the source of it. Thus the will in man has lost its dignity, and become his degradation; and that which is his glory as man lowers him beneath the beast. For indeed his pre-eminence is necessarily connected with this power for self-debasement, which the beast has not.

But one may ask, Where is the blessing of Reuben in all this? for it is said of all, "Every one he blessed according to his own blessing," — that is, according to what would be blessing in each case. For Reuben, it must be found, then, in this very deprivation of his. When the will accepts its humiliation, — when we say, but from a different cause from that which made the Lord say it, "Not my will, but Thine"! then is it blessed, and its glory returns to it.

Dispensationally for Israel, Reuben represents the time of its energetic youth, when upon the ground of the first covenant, — that is, of its own responsibility, when its corruption deposed it from the primacy among the nations with which God had endowed it, and the birthright passed to Him who alone is able to support it; here the blessing could only be attained in their humiliation.

Violence necessarily follows corruption, as Simeon and Levi follow Reuben. They are united together, as brethren well agreed in character, and actually united upon that terrible occasion of which Jacob here so energetically speaks. Notice how the thought of agreement — confederacy — runs through what is said, and how the doom upon them, which, as in Reuben's case, works for blessing, is to be disunited, "divided," "scattered." To be brought into loneliness, individuality, weakness, would be the reproof and the remedy for that "strength" which comes of "union," and which so constantly manifests itself in deeds of violence. Conscience is individual, and brings in God. The weakness of individuality makes Him our necessary resource. But thus all the highest character of manhood is developed by it. Confederacy annuls the individual conscience, begins in craft, and develops into tyranny as power is acquired. The doom is here the remedy, and is to bring Simeon and Levi back to the true meaning of their names: Simeon — "hearing," to find the answer which God gives to human prayer; and Levi — "joined," to own the ties only which have divine origin and sanction.

Here, then, relationship to others is the question, as in Reuben, what man is in himself. In the divine life both must be met; and one's associations come only next in importance to the fundamental one, Who is my Master? Indeed, the first question truly answered answers all; but because we answer it so little truly, God would search us out with one upon another, till He has shown us all.

Dispensationally, we find here, as it would seem, the history of Israel during the times of the Judges, and until David. Coalitions and divisions, strife and violence, fill up this period: there is no king, and no real turning to God.

The blessing of Judah comes in the third place. "Judah," as we know, means "praise," Leah saying, when she bore him, "Now will I praise the Lord." It is striking to see in the history of the people of which these blessings give us the general outline, how, when Judah came to power with David, the worship of Jehovah revived. The ark in the days of Saul the Benjamite had never been inquired at. (1 Chron. 13:3.) David brought it to Jerusalem with rejoicing, and Solomon built the house in which it was enshrined. When the great schism came, and the ten tribes went after the golden calves, Judah remained thus far faithful. David was himself Israel's sweet psalmist, and has given to the saints of every generation since songs of praise that never grow old. Thus Judah's name has vindicated its prophetic character, and the rise of the tribe to power is connected with a real revival of spiritual power, which in Israel ever was the basis of political revival. Judah, therefore, was not to lose the sceptre until Shiloh came (the "Man of peace") — Christ springing out of Judah, and to Him would the obedience of the people be. This carries us plainly through the whole of the Old-Testament history, and into the New, while then, (strange as it might seem,) Judah's sceptre, it is implied, would pass away, just when the coming of Christ would seem to make it permanent. We know well the reason, and see once more how prophecy justifies itself. Messiah comes to His own, and is rejected and cut off.

In its individual application, we find the spirit of praise as that of power — necessarily, because God is exalted in it. It is what the fiftieth psalm challenges on His part from His people: "Offer unto God thanksgiving, and pay thy vows unto the Most High; … whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me." It is this that marks the life which comes from God, that it turns back to God again; and the joy of the Lord is ever its principle of strength. A simple lesson, but, oh, that it were learnt! The "wine" so abundant in the portion of Judah is the sign of a joy in which there can be no excess; and the "milk" may show that here there is not merely stimulus, but nourishment as well, and that in a form in which the merest babe may find it.

In the fourth place, we come to Zebulon; and again his name is plainly referred to. It is a "dwelling with," in intimacy, as Leah's use of it shows; but Jacob here uses another word, which has, in this place, evidently a bad significance. Its primary meaning is, "to lay one's self down," and Zebulon does this at the haven of the sea — the haven for ships, and his border is toward Zidon. While the idea of prosperity, or at least the industrious seeking of it, is plain, yet for Israel, we must remember, this commerce with the idolatrous nations was not a good sign, nor in result good, and her border reaching out toward Zidon prophesies dangerous obliteration of what divided Israel from the nations. Coming in the place in which it does also, there is a clear intimation of how the people, having turned from their God-sent Deliverer, would turn to the world.

What is the blessing here for Zebulon? and what is the principle which underlies it, similar to what we have found in the former blessings? Openly, God does not come in at all, either to bless or judge, except it be in this, that his portion comes to him from Him in that which it is evident he chooses. And is not this often for us judgment and blessing in one, when God apportions us the very thing we desire, that we may taste the bitterness of our own ways, and learn, in result, the happiness of His? It is not the best way of learning; but yet it is not seldom the only way in which we can learn, and God means at any rate to teach us. What these nations would be — have been — for Israel, we shall learn in Issachar.

In Issachar, we find Israel content to be the drudge of the Gentiles; one who would not endure God's yoke tamely accepting that of men. Here, too, the name is dwelt upon: "there is reward;" ease and gain are alone what is sought. How true to the character of unbelieving Israel! And these are the governmental ways of God, who, unknown by them, yet ordains their circumstances; and this is more plainly from Him, and for good, than in the case we were last considering.

This ends the tale of Leah's sons, who give us, as it appears to me, the history of Israel according to the flesh until the present time of God's seeming forgetfulness is ended, the Church removed to heaven, and the "end of the (Jewish) age," God's determined time upon them, in which He brings them back to Himself, begins. The children of the bond-maids represent this, for it is in the time of their lowest degradation that He brings in salvation for them. In the first place here we have Dan; and Dan judges his people as one of the tribes of Israel. This is the prophecy of the restoration of the people to self-government, — Dan as well as the rest, though the least of them all. The rise from Issachar's burdened condition is very evident. Yet it is just at this time that their worst trouble and their deepest fall are found. Hence the mingled character of the abrupt address. For it is when the Jews, restored, though in unbelief, by Gentile aid, have once more become a nation, at least partially independent, that the last antichrist, claiming to be their Messiah will appear amongst them (long since, from this very prophecy, connected with the tribe of Dan). He will be the "lawless one" of 2 Thess. 2, and the willful king of Dan. 11. He will be "a serpent in the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse-heels, so that the rider falleth backward." Here, satanic character is apparent, and the cry bursts from Jacob — prophetically, the cry of the remnant of grace in those darkest hours before the dawn, — "I have waited for Thy salvation, O Lord." Thus cast upon Him, now the road is upward.
2. Or, "Gad, a troop shall rush upon him, but he shall rush upon the heel." Conflict, with final victory, is depicted here: the assaulting foes are routed and pursued.
3. Quiet possession of the land, and abundance, follow with Asher, the "happy one." And —
4. Naphtali is free as the hind, the female deer, no longer a warrior, with nothing to dread; and giving goodly words: for Israel's tongue will at last be loosed also, and she shall give forth words of joy and praise and sweetness such as she has never done.

Thus God has come in, and salvation is attained; but we have yet Rachel's children, as a third series, and we are in no doubt as to the significance of these. Joseph, the One separated from His brethren, and Benjamin, the Son of the right hand: both these we know, — the Christ they knew not, now their joy and boast, and the Christ they clung to, but whose dependence upon the rejected One they knew not. Now they are together, the double witness of a double salvation.

1. Joseph whom they despised is, however, the main figure here, whose fruit, maintained for us by the living power of the Spirit, has run over the Jewish wall; and will run over, that the Gentiles also may rejoice in Him; galled, shot at, hated by the archers, yet His bow abides in strength, and the arms of His hands are made strong by the hands of Jacob's Mighty One, the God of grace. Resurrection has confirmed in this way His power, and as the Risen One He becomes the Shepherd of Israel, the Stone made the head of the corner. Fullness of all blessings are on the head of Him who was separated from His brethren. What a testimony for the Jew today!

2. Benjamin ravens as a wolf, but the notice is slight as compared with that of Joseph. The Messiah believed in by Israel is but little indeed beside the greater and more glorious figure. Still, Christ will fulfill both types; and judgment also be His needed though "strange work."

Section 6. (Gen. 49:28 — 50.)

The final victory: of life over death, and of God over evil.

The sixth section closes Joseph's history and the book together: a sweet if a solemn ending; for what does the number speak of but of the limit of man's life of toil, — a limit imposed through sin, and for our discipline because of it, —  a limit in which we recognize God's mastery of evil, the victory of good over it? Just so does this last section speak. One might say its subject is death: Jacob dies and Joseph dies. All that our hearts have linked themselves with passes under the shadow in which for the present we leave them, though in the faith of a future beyond. And this, we may be sure, is good. The night lets fall the dew. Our souls grow soft and tender with fruitful memories. Day and night together, linked by the ordinance of God, we learn to link, and call it, from the brightness that is in it, but "one 'day.'"

There are two points, as I take it, in this section.

First, Jacob dies, and is buried. Again we find him charging, this time all his sons, to bury him with his fathers in Machpelah. Do we not need the impressive reiteration that the promise of life is all untouched by death? The living man sends his dead body in to take possession in hope of his inheritance.

Jacob they bury with great lamentation, and the Egyptians — all the world — lament. We read of nothing like this in the case of Abraham or Isaac, or even of Joseph afterward. Why does the Spirit of God dilate on this mourning for Jacob? It is in "the threshing-floor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan," that this mourning of the Egyptians is specially marked; and Atad is the buck-thorn, from one of the kinds of which tradition asserts that Christ's crown of thorns was procured. It is not necessary to affirm this in order to get the lesson from it. The threshing-floor conveys aptly the very moral of Jacob's life of discipline. The thorn is the sign of the curse, — the growth of a barren soil. These thoughts associate themselves together without difficulty. The "thorn in the flesh" was a needful discipline for even the chief of the apostles. The threshing-floor of buckthorn doubly emphasizes, then, the sorrow of Jacob's life, "beyond Jordan," — that is, the earth-side of death, looking, as we mostly do in Scripture, from Canaan, not toward it. Here are the thorns, and here is the threshing-floor; and here, too, is the mourning. Only, the world, as well as faith, can see the thorns; but faith alone can see the threshing-floor. The world laments the "few and evil days," — the blighting and the poverty of life. Faith, smiling through her tears, owns the necessary chastening of a Father's love. Joseph and the Egyptians are not one, although the Canaanites may indeed confound them.

In the second and last place, we have Joseph before us — Christ abiding when all else departs; and abiding in His love unchangeably. The unbelief of Joseph's brethren only brings out and confirms to them this. How the truth of Christ's love is questioned by His own, because of the testimony of our lives against us! Conscience may rightly upbraid us: Christ does not upbraid. Let us not make our Joseph weep afresh.

Now Joseph himself departs; but we have not lost him: here is an exception from all else we have seen. He is not to be buried. Why? There is absolutely no thought of burial, so far as this book is concerned. Israel's future departure from Egypt is seen in faith, and when God visits them, and they become pilgrims, they are to carry his bones with them on their pilgrimage. Though He be no longer dead, but living, are we not also bidden to "bear about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be manifested in our body"?

Sweet and suited admonition wherewith to close the story of "Life" in the book of Genesis. "That the life may be MANIFEST:" is it not the great aim of all these communications to us? Let us turn it into a prayer, and make it our own: Blessed Saviour, grant that in us indeed Thy life may be manifest!