B’reisheet (Genesis) 44:18-47:27, Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 37, Yochanan (John) 5
Shabbat Shalom friends and family. Welcome to this week’s “Parasha Vayigash“. In this parasha, we are going to wrap up Yoseph’s story and how Yahweh used it all to bring about redemption and salvation for everybody involved. And how all this was predestined according to the will of the Father. and even how everything we struggle with was predestined for us as well.
Last week we left off with Binyamin accused of stealing Yoseph’s cup. This was all engineered by Yospeh as a test. I think this was a way for Yospeh to test the integrity of his older brothers to see if they had truly repented and changed while simultaneously seeking an avenue for revenge. As I said last week, this is the hardest battle he has to fight yet. Because the war that is taking place within him is a war that takes place within all of us, which is a war between the flesh and our spirit.
Now that the roles are reversed for Yoseph, he might be contemplating to himself if he should abuse his power and seek vengeance. I find it interesting that the situation with Binyamin is almost identical to the situation that was going on with Yoseph 22 years ago, but because we all know the ending of the story, the outcome for Binyamin is different for a number of factors.
If we examine, we notice that Binyamin is Yisrael’s favorite just as Yoseph was also Yisrael’s favorite. When Yoseph was sold into slavery, it was because of Yehudah’s idea. When Binyamin was saved from becoming a slave, it was also in part due to Yehudah stepping in and interceding for him. When he intercedes for his brother, Yehudah makes mention of the relationship that Binyamin has with his father Yisrael, which I think, is what helps soften the heart of Yoseph. Because now Yoseph can draw back on that same relationship he had with his father which, to me, further highlights the relationship that our Father in heaven has with His Son Yeshua Ha’Mashiach (or Yeshua the Messiah). Although the specifics of the relationship between Yisrael and Binyamin are different, the sort of love from a spiritual perspective that Yisrael has for his son, does a pretty good job of painting the picture of the sort of love that Yahweh has for Yeshua.
Matthew (or Mattityahu) 3:17 says, “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 3:17
17 “And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
Our hearts are softening because Yeshua has that sort of relationship with the Father and through Yeshua’s example and by His Spirit, we are reminded that is this sort of relationship that we ought to have with the Father, in same way Yoseph was reminded by Binyamin’s example. All of this I find fascinating because 22 years ago, Yehudah and his brothers failed to demonstrate quality leadership. Now, it is as if Yahweh has brought this whole situation about all over again as a way for Yehudah and his brothers to be redeemed for their failed actions in the past and also as a means to test the heart of Yoseph. Because the same feelings of betrayal, hate, and anger that he feels toward his brothers, Yehudah and his brothers felt the same way about their baby brother Yoseph. All because he was Yisrael’s favorite, and they felt betrayed by their father for the special love and attention he gave him. If we pay attention to this dialogue between Yoseph and his brothers, we can come away with some pretty profound lessons
Yehudah mentions, “Then your servant my father [speaking of Yisrael] said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons, and the one went out from me, and I said, ‘Surely he is torn to pieces’ and I have not seen him since. But if you take this one also from me, and calamity befalls him, you shall bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave. Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad’s life, it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave. For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever. Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my master, and let the lad go up with his brothers. For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?”
B’reisheet (Genesis) 44:27-34
27 “Then your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons;
28 and the one went out from me, and I said, “Surely he is torn to pieces”; and I have not seen him since.
29 But if you take this one also from me, and calamity befalls him, you shall bring down my gray hair with sorrow to the grave.’
30 “Now therefore, when I come to your servant my father, and the lad is not with us, since his life is bound up in the lad’s life,
31 it will happen, when he sees that the lad is not with us, that he will die. So your servants will bring down the gray hair of your servant our father with sorrow to the grave.
32 For your servant became surety for the lad to my father, saying, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, then I shall bear the blame before my father forever.’
33 Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.
34 For how shall I go up to my father if the lad is not with me, lest perhaps I see the evil that would come upon my father?”
To me, this is what I think is what breaks Yoseph and why he begins to weep. Because now here he is hearing his older brother speak all these words, and he can tell that he has changed. He can tell he has become a better man. Yehudah is no longer jealous and bitter towards his younger sibling, and instead has become a noble leader in the family. If we try and place ourselves in the shoes of Yoseph and try to imagine his family as our own family and hearing all this for the first time in 22 years, it is an emotional experience for everyone.
Yoseph has two options, he can either follow the pursuits of his flesh by making Binyamin a slave and pushing his own pain on others, and thus becomes indirectly responsible for sending his father Yisrael to the grave. The second option is that he can choose to forgive. He can choose to love those who have persecuted him, and thus open up the door for redemption and reconciliation. If we step through these options, it is interesting to see how it is that sin has its way of corrupting everything and, if we let it, it can devour us. If we choose to walk in the spirit, then we choose life.
Yoseph was sold into slavery by his brothers because they gave into their sinful flesh, and that itself had severe and lasting consequences for themselves as well as the entire family. Then, Yehudah’s self-seeking pleasure passed onto to his children, and his two sons (his two eldest sons) inherited this behavior and thus were killed by Yahweh because of it.
Re’uben is another example. He had the same self-seeking pleasure with Bilhah and thus because of this, he forfeited his birth right. Now here is Yoseph who can do the same, but if he does, the severity of his consequences are even greater than that of his siblings. Although the sinful actions of his brothers caused a tremendous amount of pain for everyone and even a temporary split of the family, Yoseph is still directly responsible for the way he conducts himself. If Yoseph gives into his flesh, the pain of his circumstances, his sin and the sin of his siblings becomes permanent. Any hope for reconciliation to his family and having redemption is gone and likely there will not be another chance.
If Yoseph gives into his flesh, into his sin, he will incur literal and spiritual death upon himself and his family. Yoseph is faced with the toughest battle of his life. The toughest battle we all must go through daily is the war between our flesh and our spirit.
Marqaus (or Mark) chapter 14 and verse 38 says,
Marqaus (Mark) 14:38
38 “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
This is exactly what Yoseph is faced with. This exact lesson from Yeshua. I am sure in Yoseph’s mind, he is thinking if he gives into his flesh, he is only getting even. Yet, that is not how the consequences of sin work. If we can imagine how hard Yoseph’s life has been through all his temptations and trials, then we might better see and understand that Yoseph’s fight is our fight as well.
After all, it was because of the sin of his brothers that caused him to be here in the first place. Yoseph did not ask to be here and yet, if Yoseph tries to sin in retaliation, he only compounds the situation and makes it worse. The profound lesson here is one we have heard many times over, and that is, two wrongs do not make a right. Regardless of what happens to us, we are to love others and seek to do good always.
Ephesians (or Ephesim) chapter 4 says,
Ephesim (Ephesians) 4:31-32
31 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.
32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as Elohim in Messiah forgave you.”
If Yoseph chooses to forgive. If he chooses to love those who have persecuted him, then he has chosen life. He has chosen redemption and reconciliation for him and his family. Praise Yah! This is exactly what he does. This is exactly what Yahweh wants for all of us.
Then Yoseph weeps and says to his brothers:
B’reisheet (Genesis) 45:5,7-8
5 “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for Elohim sent me before you to preserve life.”
7 “And Elohim sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
8 So now it was not you who sent me here, but Elohim; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and master of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Mitrayim.”
So we see this concept of how choosing to forgive and choosing to accept forgiveness brings us life. Whereas, if we hold on to bitterness, resentment, hate, and anger, it only brings death, and is not fruits of the Spirit.
When we take these lessons and cross examine them with our relationship with Yeshua, and why He said what He said, we can gain a deeper understanding of His words.
In Mattiyahu (or Matthew) chapter 5, Yeshua says:
Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:44
44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.”
In Luqa (or Luke) chapter 6 Yeshua says:
Luqa (Luke) 6:35-36
35 “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”
If we choose forgiveness, then we choose life. If we choose forgiveness, then we are choosing love. If we choose forgiveness and mercy, then we are choosing to be like our Heavenly Father. The flip side to that is, we have to be willing to accept forgiveness.
Romim (or Romans) says,
Romim (Romans) 3:23
23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of Elohim.”
There is no difference between the Yehudim and the goyim. There is no difference between the Jew and the gentile for we are all sinners. This is something that Yoseph understood. This is something we must also come to understand. This is why he told his brothers, “do not be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here.”
B’reisheet (Genesis) 45:5
5 “But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for Elohim sent me before you to preserve life.”
It was in that moment that Yoseph forgave his brothers and his brothers also learned to receive forgiveness and no longer walk around with the shame and guilt that only sin brings upon us.
Romans (or Romim) in chapter 8 says,
Romim (Romans) 8:1-2
1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Messiah Yeshua, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Machiach Yeshua has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
This is a concept that Yoseph understood and wanted his brothers to understand. Just as his brothers had truly repented, and he truly forgave, there is no condemnation for his brothers or him because they are all now walking according to the Torah of the Spirit of life in Messiah. The very fact we are sinners by nature makes us a slave to the Torah of sin and death. It was only by the Spirit that Yoseph overcame his sinful nature. It was only by the Spirit that Yehudah and his brothers overcame their sinful nature. It is only by the Spirit that we will overcome our sinful nature.
This entire story of Yoseph is meant to point to the Machiach (Messiah), and how by His blood, by His grace, by His triumph over sin, we are saved. Yehudah and his brothers sinned, and their enslavement to their sinful passion is supposed to represent you and me, and how we are slaves to sin. In a similar fashion, Yeshua went through trials and was tested. Yoseph went through trials and was tested. Yoseph overcame his trials and temptation by the power of the Spirit. Yeshua overcame His trials and temptation by the power of the Spirit.
Elohim used Yoseph to save his families lives. Elohim used Yeshua to save the lives of the world. If Yoseph’s brothers did not accept his forgiveness, and put off the shame and guilt, and instead rejected their brother, then they all would have likely died in the land of Kena’an. Just as if we do not accept Yeshua’s sacrifice as atonement for our sin and we reject Him instead, then we too will die a physical and spiritual death.
This aspect of walking according to the Spirit is prevalent even in this story. This is why Yeshua’s sacrifice is the atonement for all sin, past, present and future. Just as Yoseph had faith that Elohim would make all things right, we too share in that same faith. Even more so now because we have the revelation of Messiah Yeshua. If we hope to achieve anything in this life, we must be walking according to the Spirit and according to the will of Yahweh. In my opinion, the safest place to be is in the will of the Father.
A difficult concept that comes up with the story of Yoseph is one of predestination. Initially, this can be difficult to wrap our minds around because Elohim is totally and completely sovereign. Yet, He does not violate our free will. What if I told you that everything you have gone through and everything you are going through, and everything you are going to go through is all predetermined, but yet it does not violate your free will. That statement itself can be difficult for us to conceptualize. In this story with Yoseph, we get a small glimpse of that.
Yeshua says in Mattiyahu,
Mattityahu (Matthew) 10:29-31
29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
One way to try and conceptualize this is that we have to understand that Yahweh Elohim sits outside of time and space. Time and space are all a part of His creation, so when He created everything, He knew the choices we would all make before we even were alive to make them. This is why Yoseph says to his brothers that it was Elohim who sent him to Mitsrayim and not them. This does not absolve his brothers of their sin. His brothers are still responsible for selling him as a slave. They are still held responsible for their free will choice, but it was all due to Yahweh’s will that Yoseph was sent to Mitsrayim
And it paints the proper picture because as Yahweh knows and sees all things because He exists outside of time and space as we know it, He can choose whether or not to allow a certain kind of existence to take place.
Before He created everything, He already knew that all this would take place. Therefore, it was Elohim’s will that Yoseph would be sold as a slave to fulfill a greater purpose.
This is why Romans (Romim) chapter 8 and verse 28, 29 and 30 says what it says.
Romim (Romans) 8:28-30
28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love Elohim, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.
30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
What all this really means is that Yahweh knew before He created the world as we know it, that there would be some of us who would love Him and some of us who would reject Him. It means before we were created, He knew what every single person would think, what they would do, and how they would act. He knew His creation intimately before He even created it.
How can we really conceptualize this? How can we really fathom the sort of greatness and power that comes from an Elohim like this? Then when we take all of that into consideration, and even though He knew that His own creation would reject Him and His Son, He still chose to create us and love us regardless. That is the definition of what true love is. That is the purpose of why Yoseph went through what he went through. That is the purpose of why you and I go through what we go through. To edify us to help us become more like Yeshua.
The big lesson I want everyone to take away is that, just because someone sins against you, it does not give you the right to hate them or desire evil for them. For it is Yahweh’s will for you to go through the pain in order to learn to love as He loves.
There is this secular saying that I keep in the back of my mind. I know it is secular, but it contains a lot of value and goes like this. “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% of how you respond.” If we are willing to except it, all the pain we go through when we are focused on Elohim can be used for good. It has all been predestined for us anyway so rest assured knowing that you were meant to go through the suffering because on the other side of it, you will come out a stronger person, more resilient and more capable to help others; if you are focused on Yahweh which in turn makes us more like Yeshua.
If you are currently suffering through trials, find solace in the fact that Yahweh has called you to this suffering for a reason. Do not hold it against the other person, for we are not to judge. We are simply to love our brethren and seek to walk according to Elohim’s will. A key understanding that we must have is a love for Yahweh because nothing in this life happens apart from His will. Not everything works together for good to those who do not love Elohim. We all have a purpose, and we are all called according to that purpose, but where our free will comes into play is when it comes to choosing whether or not we love Elohim and want to walk in that purpose.
Take the time to think about how this applies to your life and your love for the Father. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of Elohim. We all have been in both the shoes of Yoseph and of his brothers. We have all made a mess of our lives.
This is why Scripture says that “His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. But they are above ours in every way possible.”
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 55:8-9
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says Yahweh.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
So let us have faith and rest assured that nothing that happens is by happenstance, but it is all according to Yahweh’s will. He is so totally sovereign and in control that we should have no fear of the future and no condemnation of the past if we love Him and walk according to His purpose for our lives.