Prayer & Teaching Newsletter - April 2016
Shalom from Mt. Carmel, Israel! This month, we will continue in our series on the life of Joseph as a type and shadow of our Messiah Yeshua. I believe it is no coincidence that we are talking about Joseph, who represents the suffering Messiah and Passover is just around the corner. Having said that, Joseph's life is not just about Yeshua's first coming, but it is a prophetic picture of what will happen when He comes again!
Joseph: Shadows of Yeshua (Part 2)
In Part 1 of “Shadows of Yeshua” (Newsletter – March 2016) we began to discuss the similarities in Joseph’s life to Yeshua’s suffering. We noted how the Jewish sages saw Joseph as being a prophecy about Messiah. In fact, they gave Him the title of Moshiach ben Yosef (Messiah, son of Joseph) to reflect that He would be the suffering servant of the LORD as described in Isaiah 53. We also noted that in Jewish thought, what happens to the fathers is a portent for what will happen to the sons. So, many of the things which Yeshua endured as the ultimate Son of Israel, is a mirror image of Joseph’s life. In addition, as one of Jacob’s sons, Yeshua chose to identify with His brothers, who are the Jewish people. In a sweeping gesture of self-denial, He chose to suffer as they have suffered. He chose to endure rejection, as one of them. He was abused, loathed and scorned as the Jews have been abused, loathed and scorned throughout history.
Let’s skip ahead in our story and discover together more important similarities which will help us to understand what is happening with regard to Yeshua’s brothers today.
Many years passed, and with their passing, a variety of events take place in Egypt, culminating in Joseph’s promotion to the second highest position in the land under the Egyptian King. Our “dreamer” becomes known as an interpreter of dreams when Pharaoh gets a glimpse of the future famine that will come upon the earth. Through Joseph’s efforts, disaster for Egypt is averted by storing up grain, and the Torah tells us:
“…all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy provisions, for the famine had become severe in all the earth.” (Genesis 41: 57)
The Brothers Are Tested
These are the events which brought about the eventual reunion between Joseph and his brothers. Let’s fast forward and focus in on what happens just before Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. According to the Torah in Genesis chapter 42, Jacob decides to send his sons down to Egypt to buy food. However, he does not allow Benjamin to go with them. Benjamin is the only son he has left of his beloved Rachel, and so believing Joseph to be dead, Benjamin has become the favored son. Also, keep in mind that Benjamin was never part of the plot to get rid of Joseph. One could say that Benjamin never rejected his brother.
When the ten sons of Jacob arrive in Egypt, they are sent to Joseph. He recognizes them, but they do not recognize him. Why is that? This is an often overlooked gem that deserves our attention. The brothers do not recognize him because Joseph was dressed like an Egyptian. In all ways, he looked, sounded and acted like an Egyptian. He was second in command of the entire kingdom of Egypt, and to his brothers, he was Egyptian. Joseph proceeds to accuse them of being spies. They refute his accusation by explaining who they are, the twelve sons of Jacob, recalling that the youngest son is still with their father, and that one son is no more. This does not satisfy Joseph, who is playing a game with them to test their hearts. He sends them into prison for three days and then brings them to him again, telling them if they will leave one brother in prison in Egypt, return home and bring their youngest brother, Benjamin, back to him, their story will be verified. They depart with grain and provisions in tow, leaving Simeon in Egypt. Finally returning home, they relate their experiences to their father.
Benjamin waves goodbye to his brothers
Jacob is upset, and refuses to allow Benjamin to return with them. Eventually, their provisions run out, and the brothers are forced to return to Egypt once again. They remember what Joseph told them, not to return without Benjamin. They approach their father Jacob to tell him they must return to Egypt in order to buy more food so they do not starve. Here is where our story gets interesting. After Reuben’s preposterous suggestion earlier (Genesis 42:37) that Jacob could kill his own sons – meaning Jacob’s grandsons -- if they did not return with Benjamin, Jacob responds to their suggestion to return to Egypt:
“Then Israel said, “Why did you treat me so ill by telling the man that you had another brother?” And they said, “The man persistently asked about us and our relatives saying, ‘Is your father still alive? Have you a brother?’ and we responded to him according to these words; could we possibly have known that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down’?” Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the lad with me, and let us arise and go, so we will live and not die, we as well as you as well as our children. I will personally guarantee him; of my own hand you can demand him. If I do not bring him back to you and stand him before you, then I will have sinned to you for all time.” (Genesis 43:6-10)
Note the comparison of Judah’s selfless offer to Reuben’s previous offer. Reuben offers to sacrifice his own sons. Judah offers to take personal responsibility for Benjamin’s life. Judah’s heart is changing. Also, we should note that suddenly, the Torah changes from speaking of Jacob to Israel, the name that God gave him at Bethel. Why? We believe this is an important clue that there is more going on here than a simple story about Jacob and his sons. This is prophetically speaking of Israel, the nation that will come from the twelve sons of Jacob. This is a shadow pointing to future events. The second thing to note is when Israel is reluctant to send Benjamin for fear of losing him; Judah intervenes and speaks, not to Jacob, but to Israel. Again, this is a hint to us that this is about the nation of Israel at some future time.
The Arrest of Shimon
Another important note is that it was Simeon, Shimon in Hebrew, who was left behind in Egypt. Shimon means hearing. From Shimon comes the word shema, and the holiest prayer in all of Israel:
Shema Yisrael, Adonai eloheinu, Adonai echad: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.
The word shema carries with it the idea of both hearing and obeying. In Judaism, there is no hearing without obedience. If you hear only and do not obey what you hear, you have not heard anything at all.
So, they left Simeon (who represents their hearing) back in Egypt, and it is Judah (who represents the known Jews today) who intervenes and promises to protect Benjamin (who represents the brother who never rejected Joseph). Shimon (Simeon) is arrested
If he fails in this, he agrees that he will have sinned against Israel for all time! This is an amazing statement, and we shall understand why these two things are so important and why they have prophetic implications for us today.
Resuming our story in Genesis 43, the eleven brothers go down to Egypt. This time, Benjamin, whose name means “son of the right hand” is with them. They arrive in Egypt and come to Joseph’s house. Simeon, (who represents the brothers’ ability to hear and obey), is brought to them. Now all the brothers are together at the same time. Everything is ready for a beautiful and miraculous reunion.
They come before Joseph. Joseph again inquires about their father. Joseph sees Benjamin and he is so moved to compassion that he has to leave the room and weep, away from the brothers’ presence and hearing. He feeds them and then proceeds to orchestrate one final test by hiding the money they brought to Joseph and his own silver goblet into Benjamin’s sack. He then sends them on their way. Then Joseph sends his men after them, accusing them of evil, of stealing. The brothers all protest saying they would never do such a thing, and then declare that whoever has the money will die and the rest of them will become the slaves of Joseph. Joseph responds instead that the one who has the money will become a slave and the others will go free. Joseph is orchestrating the biggest test of all -- he wants to see how they feel about Benjamin, which will reveal the condition of their hearts. Are they willing to abandon Benjamin in Egypt as they had once abandoned him? Are they going to break their father's heart for a second time?
The "Stolen" Silver Cup
Of course, the brothers are horrified when the money and the silver cup is found in none other than Benjamin’s sack. It is interesting to note here that the silver cup, which represents redemption, is found with Benjamin. Here we see their anguish expressed:
They rent their garments…when Judah arrived with his brothers to Joseph’s house, he was still there. They fell to the ground before him…So Judah said, “what can we say to my lord? How can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has uncovered the sin of your servants.” (Genesis 44:13-16)
The “sin of your servants” is what they did against their father and to Joseph. It is Judah who admits it, and takes responsibility for it by speaking it. It is interesting that he does this, because the Torah tells us that after the brothers had agreed not to kill him when Reuben begged for Joseph’s life, it was Judah who suggested they sell him. In fact, the rabbi’s believe that the brothers ended up blaming Judah for the entire incident.
Coming up next month...
We will finish this amazing story and see a clear picture of what will happen when Yeshua returns!
Prayer Points - April 2016
- Spring has arrived in Israel, and with it wild and wacky weather. We have already had some warm days reaching into the high 80's! It's too early, and we still need rain as we really did not get enough this winter. Please pray that our God will have compassion on us, and that He will send us the latter rains, that they will continue throughout April, and even May. Our crops still need water. It is always good to keep in mind that rain represents the Spirit of God in prophecy, and it is appropriate to pray as the rains fall, that the hardness of the soil in the hearts of Israelis will be refreshed and softened to be able to hear the Gospel message. "So rejoice, O sons of Zion, and be glad in the LORD your God; For He has given you the early rain for your vindication. And He has poured down for you the rain, the early and latter rain as before. The threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with the new wine and oil." (Joel 2:23-24)
- Stabbing attacks from the Palestinians have slowed of late, though even one attack of one innocent person is too many. Please pray that calm will be restored, especially as Passover is approaching. Pray that the fear of the God of Israel will come upon Arab Israeli's and Palestinians, and that they will come to their senses and have a revelation of the soon coming judgment of God if they do not cease their murderous rampage. "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,“Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,“As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” (Psalm 2:1-6)
- The Passover season is upon us -- it is just 10 days away. It is a hectic time in Israel, much like the winter holiday season in America. Israelis tend to be preparing for large gatherings, and the telltale signs of busyness in the malls and grocery stores, along with heavy traffic and a shortage of parking spaces all serve to increase the stress level. Please pray that the spirit of commercialism will not sink its claws into our people this year. Pray that the true meaning of Passover will be revealed, and that the Jewish people will have a revelation of their Passover Lamb, who has already come to make peace between them and their God. "He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:3-5)
- Also pray for our believing Jewish brethren. There are many outreaches during this time, especially bringing food to those in need. Pray that we will all be a true reflection of our Messiah, His kindness, His goodness, His patience and grace toward those we serve. And as we clean out the chametz (leaven) from our homes, let us remember this is symbolic of getting rid of the sin in our lives. Please pray that we will walk in humility, unity and love for one another. "Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)
- Continue to pray for a spirit of national repentance to fall over this Land and all those who dwell here, especially in light of Passover. Yeshua will not return until the Jewish people cry out for Him. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (Matthew 23:37-39)
Our God will most certainly bless you for standing in the gap for the Jewish people, lifting these precious souls before our King! May the joy of this Passover season fill your hearts anew with a fresh love and grateful heart for what our Messiah has done for us! Hag Pesach Sameach!
*Bless Israel Network is a 501(c)(3) Non-Profit Ministry affiliated with A.C.T. Intl.*
Blessings in Messiah
Daniel & Devorah