Monday, March 12, 2012

Gospel: A different kind of divine sovereignty?

Technicolor Joseph dominates the story of Genesis. The first book begins with Adam and runs to this second Adam. An altogether Messianic figure, a suffering servant who is then raised up fills up the final quarter of the book - a strange figure who isn't in the line of the true second Adam but resembles him vividly.

Early on his brothers hate him. They hate that he's loved by the father. They hate that its prophesied that all will bow to him. (Genesis 37)

And then it begins to happen. (Genesis 41). Except, when the Pharaoh tells the world to go to this Christ - this world-saviour - its not to be oppressed by a tyrant.

They come in days of famine. The world is cursed.

And he has food. Abundantly.

His sovereignty is of a kind that feeds them. Where else would they go? He is life to them...

This is the sovereignty of a loved one, who has been afflicted and now having been raised up gives to the afflicted.

Gospel shaped sovereignty isn't about imposing, but providing, giving, loving.

Sovereignty that fills the empty tastes very different, doesn't it?


  1. The story of Joseph is so rich with the gospel, though it seems many only look at it as a general picture of suffering rather than a portrayal of an Isaiah-53-style suffering servant, odd given he's a spirit-filled, father-loved, dead-and-resurrected son through whom life comes to the world...

  2. It's cool and all to find Jesus like this in the OT but I'm sceptical of drawing the parallels between Joseph and Jesus (loved by the father e.t.c) when the NT itself never does it.

  3. Joel,

    I appreciate the concern you raise, however...

    My first step is to read Genesis as a book, as literature, which sets out both the personality of the Triune God, as one whose goodness spreads - and a search for a saviour who will image this God into his world. Adam fails, so we ask is it Abel, Enoch, Noah,... Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph (figures who dominate the storyline)... not to mention that the LORD (whom Jesus claims to be) sets foot among his people in the garden, takes Abraham out to see the stars to bring him to faith, eats with Abraham, judges Sodom and appears to Jacob...

    None of the men in Genesis is a true saviour who brings blessing to the whole world and defeats evil and death - though Joseph gets close, except he too dies - and his people don't end up in the land.

    The hope of a son, loved by his father, filled with the Spirit who overcomes evil and death and brings blessing isn't reading the New Testament into the Old, its just reading Genesis.

    Then comes Jesus... bewildered that the experts in Genesis don't recognise him. Befuddled that having provided them with a book about himself, via Moses, they've missed all the signs. They've unbelievingly missed that they need a second Adam, a better Abel, one like in the days of Noah, Abraham's true offspring, the one who will carry through God's purpose in election (Jacob-Esau)... and whose very words will feed hungry people.

    It's not that the NT never draws parallels between Joseph and Jesus - everything in the New Testament says "what else where you expecting". If you want a quote then God working all things for good is pretty close... in Christ, as in the christ before him... but you don't need a quotation when the whole story has sung the song. We wouldn't know Jesus of Nazareth is The Christ without the Old Testament... the tragedy is that the Pharisees were largely blind to this, though as the converted Pharisees Paul preached - "I'm saying nothing that Moses and the prophets" said. And while he doesn't always cite chapter and verse the literature paints its story, its hopes and expectations vividly.

    Or at least, it looks like that.