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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 45

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the BibleSpurgeon's Verse Expositions

Verses 1-5

Jesus and His Brethren

October 4th, 1885 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren. And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life." Genesis 45:1-5 .

I need not say to, you beloved, who are conversant with Scripture, that there is scarcely any personal type in the Old Testament which is more clearly and fully a portrait of our Lord Jesus Christ than is the type of Joseph. You may run the parallel between Joseph and Jesus in very many directions, yet you need never strain the narrative so even much as once. I am not about to attempt that task on the present occasion; but I am going to take this memorable portion of the biography of Joseph, and to show you how, in making himself known to his brethren, he was a type of our Lord revealing himself to us. It seems that, at last, Joseph could bear the suspense no longer. He knew who his brethren were, he knew which was Benjamin, and which was Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, and the rest, and he recollected all the story of their early days together; but, they did not know him. They thought him some mysterious potentate, some great ruler of the land of Egypt as indeed he was, but they did not know so much about him as he knew about them. Consequently, there was a distance between him and them, and his loving heart ached to bridge that gulf by manifesting himself to them. It is the way of love to desire to make itself known. Now, in a still higher sense, the Lord Jesus Christ knows all about those in this place whom He has redeemed with His precious blood. The Father gave them to Him from before the foundation of the world, and he took them into covenant relationship with Himself of ever the earth was. Often has He thought of these His beloved Ever since these redeemed and chosen ones have been born into the world, He has watched them so carefully that He has counted the very hairs on their heads. ones; His delights have been with the sons of men, and He has looked forward, and foreseen all that would happen to them. They are so precious to Him, as the purchase of His heart's blood, that they have never taken a single wandering step but His eye has tracked the mazes of their life. He knows them altogether knows their sins, knows their sorrows, knows their ignorance of Him, knows how sometimes that ignorance has been willful, and they have continued in the dark when they might have walked in the light; and now, at this moment, speaking after the manner of men, the heart of Christ aches to manifest Himself to some of them, He wants to be known, He thirsts to be known, He can only be loved as He is known, and He pines for love, and so He pines to manifest Himself to His loved ones. Ay, and there are some of them who do know Him already in a measure, but their measure is a very little one; it is but as a drop compared with the great deep sea. I have been praying, and am praying still, and I am not alone in the prayer, that this very hour, the Lord Jesus may be pleased to manifest Himself to His own blood-bought ones. To all who have been called by His grace already, and to many not yet called to Him, may He come in the fullness of His own glorious revelation, and make Himself known; for know ye not this that the revelation of Christ in the Word will not save you unless Christ be revealed in you and to you personally? Nay, more than that; the Christ born at Bethlehem will not save you unless that Christ be formed in you the hope of glory, He must Himself come to you, and make himself known to you. It will not suffice you to read about his healing the sick, He must touch you with His hand, or you must touch the hem of His garment with your hand; but somehow there must be personal contract between yourself and the Lord Jesus Christ, or else all that He did will avail nothing to you. Let this be our prayer now that to each man and woman and child here the Lord may graciously make himself known. I. Notice, first, that THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, LIKE JOSEPH, REVEALS HIMSELF IN PRIVATE FOR THE MOST PART. Joseph cried, "Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren." It would not have been seemly for this great ruler to lose all command of himself in the presence of the Egyptians. His heat was carried away with love to his brothers, and the cry that he lifted up was so loud that the people in other parts of the palace could hear that something strange was going on; but he could not bear that they should all should stand around, and gaze with curious eyes upon their ruler as he unbosomed himself to his brothers. They would not have understood it, they might have misrepresented it; at any rate, he could not bear that the scene of affection which was now to be enacted should be witnessed by strangers, so he cried, "Cause every man to go out from me." My dear friends, do you really want savingly to see and know the Lord Jesus Christ? Have you never yet beheld Him by the eye of faith? Then, permit be to exhort you to be literally much alone searching the Scriptures, and much alone in private, secret prayer. That gracious revelation of Himself to you as bearing your sins, and putting away your guilt, will nor be likely to come to you until you get a little time in private, where you call quietly meditate upon your Lord and His great atoning work. The mischief of this busy London is that we are fretted and worn with incessant occupations; we should all of us be much stronger and better if we saw less of the faces of men and more of the face of God. But for a penitent sinner, who desires to behold his pardon written in the smiling countenance of Christ, there must be solitude. You must rise earlier in the morning, and get a half-hour to yourself then, or you must sit up later at night, or you must steal out of bed at the dead of night, or you must even resolve that you will not go to your business until the first business of finding Christ is ended once for all. I feel persuaded that, with some of you at least, there will be no peace to your heart, and no comfortable sight of Christ, until you have gone upstairs, and said, "Here, alone, with every man put out and every wandering thought excluded, will I bow the knee, and cry, and look, and hope, and believe, until I can say, 'I have seen the Lord; I have looked to Him whom I have pierced, and I have seen my sin put away by His death upon the tree.'" Further, I want you to notice, not only the excellence of solitude in general, but the benefit of a kind of mental solitude. Brethren, if in the house of God, in the midst of the assembly, the Lord Jesus Christ is ever to manifest Himself personally to us, it must be in a kind of mental and spiritual solitude. I believe that the preacher will never succeed in winning a soul if he tries to make himself prominent in his own preaching. An old man, who was accustomed to catching trout in a certain stream, was asked by one who had been fishing in vain, "Have you caught any fish today?" "Yes, Sir," he said, "I have a little basketful." "Oh!" said the other, "I have been fishing all day long, and I have taken none." "No," said the man, "but there are three rules about catching trout, which, Perhaps you have not observed. The first is Get quite out of sight; and the second is Get still more out of sight, and the third is Get still more out of sight than that; and you will catch them so." And I believe that it is just so in preaching. If the preacher can get quite out of sight, and still more out of sight, and yet still more out of sight, then he will be the means of bringing souls to Christ. And you, dear friends, will only see Him well in any kind of preaching when you try to forget the man. I mean that remark to apply in two ways. Perhaps the preacher is one whom you dearly love, ind you expect much from him. Well then, forget him, expect nothing from him, but look away from him to your Lord. Or perhaps the preacher's voice has no particular charm for you, the man is not very bright in his utterances; well, forget him, and try to see his Master. Forget the preacher for good and for bad, for better and for worse, and get to the Lord Himself. There is a story told of Mr. Erskine having preached on one occasion before the communion, and a good woman, a child of God, heard him with such delight, and was so much fed and satisfied, that she left her own pastor, and went some miles on the next Lord's day to go and hear him again. That morning, he was dreadfully dry and barren, or at least she thought that he was. There was no food for her whatever; and being not a very wise woman, she went in to tell him so. She said, "Oh, Mr. Erskine, I heard you at the communion with such delight; you seemed to take me to the very gates of heaven, and I was fed with the finest of the wheat; so I have come this morning on purpose to hear you, and I confess that I have got nothing out of you!" So he said, "My good woman, what did you go for last Sabbath-day?" "I went to the communion; Sir." "Yes, you went to the communion; that was to have communion with the Lord?" "Yes," she said, "I did." "Well," said Mr. Erskine, "that is what you went for, and you got it; and the Lord blessed my word to you, and you had communion with Him. Now, what did you come here for this morning?" "I came to hear you, Sir." "And you have got what you came for, there is nothing in me. "Think of this story when you are remembering the Lord's servants, and forgetting their Master Himself. I do believe that, as you are sitting here, you whose eyes have already been opened by the Spirit of God, if you will but say, "Cause every man to go out from me; shut to the door, I have entered into my closet even while in the pew; I am alone now, and I desire to see no man save Jesus only," you shall see Him, for He manifests Himself to His people all alone. Oh, that each one here would say, "There is nothing but Christ that I desire to see, there is nothing else I wish to remember, I would think only of my Lord Jesus; may He be pleased to reveal Himself to me!" II. The second remark I have to make is this when the Lord Jesus Christ reveals Himself to any man for the first time, it is usually in the midst of terror, and THAT FIRST REVELATION OFTEN CREATES MUCH SADNESS. When Joseph made himself known to his brethren, and said to them, "I am Joseph," "they were troubled in his presence." Judah had made a very plaintive speech when it was threatened that Benjamin should be detained in Egypt, and all the brothers were in deep trouble; so that, when the great ruler said to them, "I am Joseph," they were not filled with joy by his words, so we read, "His brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence." He was Joseph, their brother, and he loved every one of them; yet "they were troubled at his presence." It was the best thing that could have happened to them to be in the presence of him who was sent of God to save their lives with a great deliverance; yet "they were troubled at his presence." And you and I recollect, perhaps, when, under a deep sense of sin and sorrow, we had our first perception of Christ's salvation, instead of being glad at it, we were "troubled at his presence." "Why!" we said to ourselves, "this Christ is He whom we have despised, and rejected, and crucified." There did not seem, at first, much comfort for us in the manifestation of Christ. One said, in order to cheer us, "He died for sinners." "But," we answered, "surely not for such sinners as we are." Even the very sound of that blessed word "salvation" grated on our ears, because we thought we should be like the fabled Tantalus, up to our neck in water which we could not drink, or surrounded by fruit which we could not have pluck. "He may have died for others," we seem to say, "but scarcely for us." "We were troubled at his presence." Even the house of God, to which we continued to go, was a place of terror to us and we cried, like Jacob did at Bethel, "How dreadful is this place!" In the worst sense of that word, it really was "dreadful" to us, full of dread although we believed it to be "none other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven." We said, "What right have we to be in the house of God? How can we expect to enter heaven even though its gate is so near to us?" We heard that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by, but we sorrowfully exclaimed, "Ah, that is only too true! He will pass by, He will stop to look at us." We heard that precious text, "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life"; yet we said, "What is it to believe in Him? How can we believe in Him?" The light seemed shifting all around us, but our eyes were blind to it; the music of heaven was sounding in all its sweetness, but our ears were closed to its melody; everlasting love was coming near to us, yet our hearts did not open to receive it; and therefore we could not answer Christ, for we "were troubled at his presence." Dear friends, if any of you are in this sad state, do not therefore be driven away from our Jesus, our greater Joseph but still stand in His presence, even though you are troubled at it, for that experience, though it be bitter, is a bitter sweet. There may be trouble in Christ's presence, but there is a far greater trouble in being driven front His presence, and from the glory of His power. So keep standing just where you are, even though you stand trembling, for by-and-by, and perhaps this very hour, He will graciously reveal Himself to you, and you shall no longer tremble at His presence, but, on the contrary, you shall rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, as you perceive that this Joseph, this Jesus, is your Brother, your Savior, your Friend, your all in all. III. Now, thirdly, though the first appearance of Jesus, like that of Joseph, may cause sadness, THE FURTHER REVELATION OF THE Lord JESUS CHRIST TO HIS BRETHREN, BRINGS THEM THE GREATEST POSSIBLE JOY. If you look at this passage when you are at home, you will perhaps say to yourself, "The second time that Joseph spoke to his brethren, he had not much more to say than he said the Fist time," for then he said, "I am Joseph; doth my father yet live?" And the second time there was as much the same burden in his language: "I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." So, when Christ reveals Himself in grace to any poor heart, the revelation, for substance, is much the same as at the first, yet there is a great difference. When, for the first time, I heard the gospel to my soul's salvation, I thought that I had never really heard the gospel before, and I began to think that the preachers to whom I had listened had not truly preached it. But, on looking back, I am inclined to believe that I had heard the gospel fully preached many hundreds of times, before, and that this was the difference and that I then heard it as though I heard it not; and when I did hear it, the message may not have been any more clear in itself than it had been at former times, but the power of the Holy Spirit was present to open my ear, and to guide the message to my heart. O dear friend, if you have heard me preach Christ crucified, and you have not yet seen Christ cried, your soul's salvation, I pray that you may do so now! I do, not suppose that word, there will be any difference in the sermon, or in the truth proclaimed; the difference will be that, in the one case, it has not reached your heart, and in the other case it will. O blessed Master, speak comfortably to the hearts of sinners, and to the hearts of thy people, too. Make the old, old gospel to be new to us by clothing it with a new power within our within our hearts and consciences, and throughout our lives! Yet, there were some differences in the words which Joseph uttered to his brethren. If you turn again to the narrative, you will see that he began his second speech by saying to them, "Come near to me, I pray you." There was a longing for nearness to those he loved, and that is the point of my sermon it this time. I want you, who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, but who are, nevertheless, His elect, His redeemed ones, to come near to Him now by an act of faith, and trust Him with yourselves, your souls, your sins, and everything else. Stand not back through shame or fear, ye chief of sinners, for he says, "Come near to me, I pray you. 'Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I Will give You rest.' "As for you who are His brethren already, come you near to Him, for to you also he says, "Come near to me, I pray you." Oh, if our Lord were actually here in bodily presence and I can almost picture Him in the loveliness and glory of Divine Majesty if He were to stand here, and say to us, "Come near to me, I pray you," we would, with solemn reverence, bow before Him, but we would with joyful obedience come near to Him, and try to hold Him by the feet and worship Him. Would not each one of you press forward to come near unto Him? I am sure that you would; well, that is what you have to do in a spiritual fashion. We know not Christ after the flesh, but we do know Him after the Spirit. So, come near to Him, dear brethren in Christ; believe in Him again as you did at the first, look to Him again as if you have never looked before. Worship Him as your Lord and Your Redeemer, prostrate yourselves before Him, and adore Him as the Son of God revealed in our midst; come near to Him. Then talk to Him; tell Him all that is in your inmost heart. Unburden to Him your cares and your doubts; ay, and come near to Him with your fondest affection, and say to Him now, in the silence of your spirit, "Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee." Come near to Christ with all your tears of penitence, come near with your alabaster box of gratitude, come near with the kisses of your lips of love, come near with your whole heart's purest affection, and come now, for that is what He invites you to do. It is a part of His manifestation of Himself to you that you should endeavor to come near to Him. Cry, "Stand back, O self! Stand back, O devil! Stand back, all care for the world! Stand back, even care for the church just now! My heart must come near unto her Lord, and sit like a dove on His finger, and be satisfied to look with her gentle eyes at the beauties of His countenance." God help us so to do, in in response to our Lord's gracious invitation, "Come near to me, I pray you."

Then, as of to help us to come near our Lord, in this revelation, declares His relationship to us. The speaker in the type says, "I am Joseph your brother"; and the Lord Jesus Christ, though He is Head overall things to His Church, and King and Lord of death and hell, yet says to everyone who believes in Him, "I am your Brother; I am your kith and kin; Head of the family, but still of the family; and touched with the feeling of your infirmities, for I was in all points tempted like as you are." Do not imagine, concerning the Lord Jesus, that there is only a fanciful or sentimental brotherhood between Him and You. It is a real brotherhood; there is no such brotherhood under heaven, so complete and true, as that which exists between Christ and every blood-washed soul, for it is not a brotherhood according to the flesh, but an everlasting, spiritual brotherhood. An eternal union of the closest and most vital kind is established between Christ and every one who believes in Him.

We do not reckon it hard do we, to win a brother's heart? If we have been a little cold towards a brother, his heart soon warms to us again; and as for our Lord, if we have not seen Him of late, if any of us have not loved Him as we should, if we are saying, "We are troubled at His presence, we hardly dare come to His table," may He say to us, "Come near to me, I pray you; I am your Brother. Come near, come nearer, nearer still. I am pleased when you are near." Come with your sin and your lukewarmness; come just as you are, as you came to Him at the first; and He will receive you, and will manifest Himself unto you as He does not unto the world. In addition to revealing his relationship, which was a great motive for inviting his brethren to come near, he also told them a secret. He said, "I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." I think he mentioned that to show them that he must be Joseph their brother, for who else in all the world knew of that shameful action on their part? I do not suppose that the Midianite merchants, who bought Joseph, knew that he was sold by his own brethren; or if they did know, there were none of them in Pharaohs palace, for they were Ishmaelites, and they had gone their way to traffic somewhere else. All who knew of that wicked transaction were Joseph and his brothers, so by this password he lets them know that there was a sort of freemasonry between them. This was the sign, "I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt." It made them blush, I dare say; and it must have made them mourn; but it also made them feel, "Yes, that is our brother; nobody but Joseph would know that we sold him into slavery." And, dear friends, have you never seen your Well-beloved as He reads your heart? I have known Him read mine from the first thought in it to the last, and I have thanked I Him as He has read it, for I have said, "Lord, Thou hast read that book right through, and now Thou knowest all things, Thou knowest that I love thee. Alas! I did sell thee into Egypt; there was a day when I chose Egypt and its pleasures rather than 'Thyself; and there have been days since when I have sold Thee again into Egypt by treating Thee with lukewarmness, and giving myself up to other lovers. Yes, Lord, I have sold 'Thee to the Ishmaelites by doubting Thee and mistrusting Thee; and by my sins I have stripped Thee of thy many-colored garment, and by my own folly I have let Thee go away from thy Father's house, and from the chamber of her that bore Thee. 'Thou knowest all this, my Lord, but I know Thee, too, because Thou knowest me so well." Then notice that, when Joseph thus revealed himself to his brethren, he did not say more till he had sweetly put away till their offenses against him. They had been troubled because they knew that they had sold him into Egypt, but he said to them, "Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither." So Jesus says to His loved ones, who have grieved Him by their evil deeds, "Be not grieved, for, I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins.' Be not angry with yourselves, for I will receive you graciously, and love you freely. Be not angry with yourselves, for your sins, which are many, are all forgiven; go, and sin no more. For my name's sake, will I defer mine anger; wherefore, 'Come now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.' " Many of you know the way our Savior talks; I pray that He may just now make every believer sure that there is not a sin against him in God's Book of remembrance. May you, dear friends, be clear in your conscience from all dead works! May you have the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, to keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus, and in the clear white light of your Savior's glorious presence, may you see the wounds He endured when suffering for your sins! Then will you sing with the disciple whom Jesus loved, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen." Last of all, Joseph was not satisfied with thus revealing himself to his brethren, and assuming them of his forgiveness, but he promised them rich supplies for the future. To my mind, this was the next best news to his message of forgiveness. He said to them, in effect, "You have had two years of famine. It is only through me that you have been preserved alive; you have come down to Egypt with your asses and your sacks, and you have taken home provender to my father and to your households; but there are yet five more years in which there will be no plowing and no harvest. What will become of you? What little you had in store, is already all consumed. God has sent me here that, through those five years, I may nourish you. You shall come down, and live in Goshen, on the fat of the land of Egypt, and you shall never have any want, for all the treasures of the land of Egypt are mine, and I will take care of you, you shall never know any lack." In like manner, beloved, your Lord stands, and says to you, "You will have many more troubles yet." Some of my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, who are here, will be in heaven before five more years have expired; they have good reason to be very grateful to God. But to some of its who are younger, it may be that God has appointed many a year to abide here; but our Savior lives.

"He is at the Father's side, The man of love, the Crucified;"

and the arrangements of providence are in His hand, and all that providence shall be over-ruled for us. "No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly." You will be in Egypt for a while longer, dear friend, but you will be in the Goshen of Egypt, and the good of all the land is yours. Oh, what a blessing it is to think that we have a Brother who reveals Himself to us as the Universal Provider, who will not let us have a want, but will take care that, before our need comes, the supply shall be ready, and we shall have nothing to do but to rejoice in Him who careth for us! Let not that sweet thought take away from your minds what I want to be the center of all the meditation, namely, that you should come near to your Lord. We never use a crucifix; we should think it sinful to do so. Neither do I want to have an imaginary crucifix, by trying to set Christ before you so that you should picture Him mentally; but I want Your faith to do much more than imagination can. The Lord Jesus Christ is spiritually here in the midst of us, according to His gracious promise, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world"; and He hears me speaking these words at this moment, I am as sure of it as if I saw that mystic presence with my natural eyes. If I did see Him, I know that I should fall at His feet as dead, and the rest of this service would have to be spent in awe-struck silence by everyone that did behold Him. But, O thou Son of God and Son of Mary, Jesus Christ our Savior, we trust Thee wholly and alone to save us, and we love Thee with all our heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; and as we live by Thee, we pray thee to help us to live for thee, to live to thee, to live like thee, and by-and-by to live with Thee! We could almost wish that we might now fall down and kiss thy dear feet, but Thou art not here in visible presence; for Thou hast gone up into the glory; but Thou art here spiritually,, and we come to Thee, and say, "Lord, Thou art ours, and we are thine; we will hold to Thee, and will not let Thee go."

"Sun of my Soul, thou Savior dear, It is not night if thou be near."

Come, stay with me while yet the evening shade shall linger, till death's dark night comes on, and then, instead of night, let the morning break upon my gladdened eyes because it is Thyself that has come, the life, the resurrection, and not death at all! Come, beloved, can you not get nearer to your Lord? Can you not speak familiarly with Him? Can you not whisper into His ear the story of your love?

"Come, Holy Spirit, heavenly Dove,"

and help us now to come near to Jesus! Amen and Amen.

Verses 3-5

Joseph and His Brethren


May 11 th 1862 (1834-1892)

“And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were trembled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.”--Genesis 45:3-5 .

JOSEPH is a very eminent type of Christ. When he was hated of his brethren because he protested against their sins, and when they sold him for twenty pieces of silver, he was doubtlessly a portrait of the despised and rejected of men whom his disciple betrayed. Afterwards in his temptations in the house of Potiphar, in the slander and consequent imprisonment in the round house of Pharaoh’s prison, in his after advancement, till he became lord over all the land of Egypt, we clearly see our blessed Lord right well portrayed. Indeed so well is the picture drawn that there is scarcely a stroke even though it should seem to be a mere accidental incident of the picture which has not its symbolic meaning. You shall read the history of Joseph through twenty times, and yet you shall not have exhausted the type; you shall begin again and find still some fresh likeness between this despised son of Rachel, and the Son of Mary who is also God over all, blessed for ever. Amen.

It is not however my business this morning to enter into a full description of Joseph as the type of Christ, I have a rather more practical object in hand. I shall endeavor in the Lord’s strength to deal with tried and troubled consciences, and if it shall be my happy lot to be the means of cheering some sorrowing heart, and opening some blind eye to see the personal beauties, and the intense affection of the Lord Jesus, I shall be but too glad to have been God’s messenger to your hearts.

To tarry no longer, but to proceed at once to so good an errand, hopeful that God will help us to accomplish it, I shall direct your attention to the picture before us as being a representation of the way in which the Lord Jesus Christ deals with his erring brethren, those whom his Father has given him, and whom he has purchased with his blood.

It seems to me that the condition of Judah and his brethren is a very notable picture of the state of sinners when they are awakened by the Holy Spirit, that the disguise which Joseph assumed when he dealt so roughly with them, is a masterly representation of the manner in which Jesus Christ, the loving one, seems to deal hardly and harshly with poor coming sinners, and that thirdly, the manifestation which Joseph afterward made to his brethren, is but a faint representation of the declaration of love which Jesus makes to repenting spirits when at last he reveals himself to them in mercy.

I. We think that the condition and posture of Judah and his brethren at the feet of the throne of Joseph, trembling in alarm, well describe THE CONDITION AND POSITION OF EVERY TRULY AWAKENED SINNER.

By different methods Joseph had at last awakened the consciences of his ten brethren. The point which seemed to have been brought out most prominently before their consciences was this: “We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.” And though, in the speech which Judah made, it was not necessary to accuse themselves of crime, yet in the confession, “God hath found out the iniquity of thy servants,” Joseph could see evidently enough, that the recollection of the pit and of the sale to the Ishmaelites was vividly before their mind’s eye. Now, beloved, when the Lord the Holy Ghost arouses sinners’ consciences, this is the great sin which he brings to mind: “Of sin because they believed not on me.” Once the careless soul thought it had very little to answer for: “I have not done much amiss,” said he, “a speedy reformation may wipe out all that has been awry, and my faults will soon be forgotten and forgiven; but now, on a sudden, the conscience perceives that the soul is guilty of despising, rejecting, and slaughtering Christ. What a sin is this, my brethren! And what pangs we endured when first this crime was laid to our charge, and we were compelled to plead guilty to it! O Lord Jesus, did I accuse thee to thine enemies? Did I betray thee? Did I adjudge thee to the cross? Were my cries virtually heard in the streets, “Crucify him, crucify him?” Is it true that my sins were the nails which fastened thee to the tree? Is it so, that I had a share in thy bloody murder- a tragedy by which the world became a deicide, and man the murderer of his own Redeemer? It is even so; if our conscience be in a right state, we are forced to acknowledge it. Dost thou not know, sinner, every time thou dost prefer the pleasures of this world to the joys of heaven, thou dost spit in the face of Christ; every time when to get gain in thy business, thou doest an unrighteous thing, thou art like Judas selling him for thirty pieces of silver; every time thou makest a false profession of religion, thou givest him a traitor’s kiss; every sermon which you hear, which makes a temporary impression on your mind, which impression you afterwards blot out, makes you more and more Christ’s despiser and rejector; every word you have spoken against him, every hard thought you have had of him, has helped to complete your complicity with the great crowd which gathered around the cross of Calvary, to mock and jeer the Lord of life and glory. Now, if there be any sin which will make a man deeply penitent, I think that this sin when it is really brought home to the conscience will affect us. To slay him who did me no hurt, the holy and the harmless One! To assist in hounding to the tree the man who scattered blessings with both his hands, and who had no thought, nor care, nor love, save for those who hated him. To pierce the hands that touched the leper, and that broke the bread, and multiplied the fishes! To fasten to the accursed wood the feet which had often carried his weary body upon painful journeys of mercy! Oh! this is base indeed. But when I think he loved me, and gave himself for me, that he chose me, before the stars were made, or the heavens upreared upon their everlasting arches, and that I, when he came to me in the gospel, should have rejected and despised, and even mocked at him, this is intensely, infinitely cruel. Jesus, thou dost forgive me, but I can never forgive myself for such a sin as this.

Dear friends, has the Holy Spirit made you feel that you are guilty? If so, I am glad of it, for when we once feel guilty concerning the death of Jesus, our brother, it is not long before he will reveal himself to us in mercy, blotting out our sin for ever.

A second thought, however, which tended to make Joseph’s brethren feel in a wretched plight was this, that they now discovered that they were in Joseph’s hands. There stood Joseph, second to none but Pharaoh in all the empire of Egypt. Legions of warriors were at his beck and command; if he should say, “take these men, bind them hand and foot, or cut them in pieces,” none could interpose; he was to them as a lion, and they were as his prey, which he could rend to pieces at his will. Now to the awakened sinner, this also is a part of his misery, that he is entirely in the hands of that very Christ whom he once despised; for that Christ who died has now become the judge of the quick and dead, he has power over all flesh, that he may give eternal life to as many as his Father has given him. The Father judgeth no man, he has committed all judgment to the Son. Dost thou see this, sinner, he whom thou despised is thy Master? The moth beneath thy finger, which thou canst crush, and that cannot escape from thee, may well fear, but thus art thou beneath the fingers of the crucified Son of God. Today, he whom thou hast despised, has thee absolutely at his will; he has but to will it and the breath is gone from thy nostrils, and while yet in thy seat thou art a corpse, and more, at his will thou art in hell amidst its flames. Oh! what an awful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God, for even our God is a consuming fire.

Remember, sinner, you are in his hands in such a way that except ye repent, and receive him- except ye “kiss the Son,” at once he may be angry, and ye may “perish in the way when his wrath is kindled but a little.” For lo! he cometh riding upon the clouds of judgment. Jesus of Nazareth cometh, robed in majesty, the books shall be opened; and he shall divide the nations as the shepherd divideth the sheep from the goats. Then in vain shall ye ask the pitiless rocks to give ye shelter in their flinty bowels, or the stern mountains to conceal you in their hollow caverns, ye shall seek to hide from the face of him that sitteth upon the throne, but neither heaven nor earth, nor hell shall afford you shelter; for everywhere the eyes of him that wept shall follow you like flames of fire: and the hand of him that was once nailed to the tree shall crush you as a cluster in the hand of the gleaner of grapes. You shall feel that it is an awful thing to have turned long- suffering mercy into righteous hatred. You shall know that to have rejected mercy is to have drawn down upon your head the full fury of the justice of the avenger. Yet, further, there was another thought which combined to make Joseph’s brethren feel still more wretched; being in his hands, they felt also in their souls that they deserved to be there. We are verily guilty, said they. They offered no apologies, nor extenuations, for that one sin- that crying sin. They might for the matter of Benjamin: but they said, we are verily guilty concerning our brother. Oh! my brother in Christ; thou knowest what it is to have the Holy Spirit in thy heart, making thee plead guilty. Well do I remember when I stood at the bar of God’s justice and heard the accusation read out against me. Nothing could I answer, but guilty only. Indeed, my guilt was so plainly before my eyes that my lips could not frame a denial, and had the judge put on the black cap that day, and said “Take him back to the place from whence he came, and give him his portion with the tormentors,” I should have been lost, but the great God would have been most just and righteous. Careless sinners may talk about the hardness of God in condemning man to punishment, but once let the Holy Ghost show man the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and you will never hear a word about that. No! the sinner cries, Lord, whatever thou canst do with me, thou canst not chastise me more than I deserve. Though thou shouldst crush me beneath thy feet, or though thou shouldst pile up the fires of Tophet, and thy breath should be as the stream of brimstone to kindle it, yet thou couldst not curse too heavily or consume too fiercely thy traitorous, rebellious, depraved, and infamous creature. I deserve everything except thy love and thy pity; and if thou givest me these, I shall be compelled to say, for ever and ever, that thou gavest grace to the most undeserving- the most unworthy rebel that ever profaned thy universe. Brethren, when conscience goes against a man, he has a stern enemy to contend with. When it is written “David’s heart smote him,” such blows come home. So is it with every sinner that is truly led to see his own state. He will feel that he is not only guilty, and that he is in the hands of one from whom he cannot escape; but he will feel that it is right he should be so, and the only wonder he will have in his own mind is that he has been out of hell so long; that the long- suffering and mercy of God have been so marvelously extended to him.

Under a sense of all these things- note what the ten brethren did. They began to plead. Ah! nothing makes a man pray like a sense of sin. When we stand before God guilty, then our groans and sighs and tears make true and real supplication. I fear me there are some of you present here who have from infancy repeated a form of prayer who have never prayed in your lives, ay and some of you too who use an extemporary utterance and yet who never pray. I do not think men generally pray as a matter of duty. When men fall down in the streets and break their limbs they do not cry out as a matter of duty, they cry because they cannot help it, and it seems to me that such a prayer God hears, that comes out of a man because he cannot help praying, when the deep agony of his spirit makes him groan, when he cannot be kept from his secret chamber, when he would sooner pray behind a hedge, or in a field, or in a garret, or even in the streets, than not pray at all. If there were an edict issued that no man should pray at all, the really praying man would go into Daniel’s lions’ den, for he could no more cease to pray than cease to breathe. Can the hart in the wilderness cease from panting for the water brooks? Can a sick child cease from crying for its mother? So the living soul cries after God because he cannot help panting after him. He must pray or he must die, he must find grace or perish and therefore in his sore extremity- from an intense and awful agony of heart he cries again and again, “God be merciful to me a sinner.” This is the prayer that God heareth; such are the petitions which are acceptable to the Lord Jehovah.

Brethren, will you look at your own selves and at your own experience this morning and see if you ever were brought down to the spot where Judah and his brethren stood, for I fear we have never been brought rightly unless we have been brought here. He that was never condemned I think was never forgiven, he who never confessed his guilt cannot have had a pardon, and if we have never trembled before Jesus the judge, we can never have rejoiced before Jesus the elder brother.


Joseph always was their brother, always loved them, had a heart full of compassion to them even when he called them spies. Kind words were often hastening to his lips, yet for their good he showed himself to be as a stranger and even as an enemy, so that he might bring them very low and prostrate before the throne. My dear friends, our Lord Jesus Christ often does this with truly awakened souls whom he means to save. Perhaps to some of you who are to- day conscious of guilt but not of mercy, Christ seems as a stern and angry Judge; you think of him as one who can by no means spare the guilty; your only idea of him is of one who would say to you, “Get thee behind me, Satan, thou savourest not the things that be of God.” When you read the Scriptures, your mind perhaps is led to dwell upon his denunciations rather than upon his promises. Such dreadful chapters as the twenty- fifth of Matthew are more upon your mind than those blessed portions in John, such as “Let not your heart be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me.” When you do think of Jesus it is not as of one who is saying, “Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” But you rather think you hear him say, “Woe unto you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites.” Poor hearts, you discern all the sternness of his upbraidings, but not the softness and gentleness of his compassion. You see him dealing fiercely with Pharisees, and reason that he will be even more severe with you; nay, you think you have had some proofs that the Lord is not willing to bless you. As Joseph took Simeon before their eyes and put him in prison, as he laid heavy things to his brethren’s charge, and said to them, “Ye are spies, to see the nakedness of the land are you come, by the life of Pharaoh surely ye are spies,” and as he demanded of them to bring Benjamin down or else he would never see their face again, so you think that Jesus Christ has treated you. You went to him in prayer; but instead of getting an answer he seemed to shut up your prayer in prison and keep it like Simeon bound before your eyes. Yea, instead of telling you that there was mercy, he said to you as with a harsh voice, “It is not meet to take the children’s bread and cast it unto dogs.” He appeared to shut his ear to your petitions and to have none of your requests, and to say to you, “Except ye renounce a right eye sin and a right arm pleasure, and give up your Benjamin delights, ye shall see my face no more,” and you have come to think, poor soul, that Christ is hard and stern, and whereas he is ever the gentle Mediator receiving sinners and eating with them, whereas his usual voice is, “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” to you he seemeth no such person, for he has put on a disguise, and ye understand not who and what he is.

But you will perceive, brethren, in reading the narrative, that even when Joseph disguised himself there was still much kindness discoverable in his conduct: so to the awakened sinner, even while Jesus appears to deal hardly, there is something sweet and encouraging amid it all. Do you not remember what Joseph did for his brethren? Though he was their judge he was their host too; he invited them to a great feast; he gave to Benjamin five times as much as to any of them; and they feasted even at the king’s table. And so, poor sinner under an awakened conscience, you have occasional feastings at the table of hope. I know while I was under distress myself I did have some glimpses of hope. Oh, there were times when his name was very sweet! There were seasons in the thick darkness when some few rays of light flashed in; when like the dog that eateth the crumbs under the table, now and then there fell a big crust, and my soul was feasted for awhile. So has it been with you. Christ has rebuked and chastened you, but still he has sent you messes from his royal table. Ay, and there is another thing he has done for you, he has given you corn to live upon while under bondage. You would have despaired utterly if it had not been for some little comfort that he afforded you; perhaps you would have put an end to your life- you might have gone desperately into worse sin than before, had it not been that he filled your sack at seasons with the corn of Egypt. But mark, he has never taken any of your money yet, and he never will. He has always put your money in the sack’s mouth, You have come with your resolutions and with your good deeds, but when he has given you comfort he has always taken care to show you that he did not confer it because of any good thing you had in your hands. When you went down and brought double money with you, yet the double money too was returned. He would have nothing of you; he has taught you as much as that, and you begin to feel now that if he should bless you, it must be without money and without price. Ay, poor soul, and there is one other point upon which thine eye may rest with pleasure; he has sometimes spoken to thee comfortably. Did not Joseph say to Benjamin “God be gracious unto thee, my son?” And so, sometimes, under a consoling sermon, though as yet you are not saved, you have had a few drops of comfort. Oh! ye have gone sometimes out of the house of prayer as light as the birds of the air, and though you could not say “He is mine and I am his,” yet you had a sort of inkling that the match would come off one day. He had said- “God be gracious to thee, my son.” You half thought, though you could not speak it loud enough to let your heart distinctly hear it, you half thought that the day would come when your sins would be forgiven; when the prisoner should leap to lose his chains; when you should know Joseph your brother to have accepted and loved your soul. I say, then, Christ disguises himself to poor awakened sinners just as Joseph did, but even amidst the sternness of his manner, for awhile there is such a sweet mixture of love, that no troubled one need run into despair.

But, dear friends, I am met by a question. Some one asks, “Why doth Jesus thus deal with some coming sinners? Why doth he not always meet them at once as he does with some, while they are yet a great way off, and fall upon their necks and kiss them?” Perhaps we can answer this question by another. Why did Joseph thus hide himself, and not manifest himself to his own flesh? The answer is here; Joseph knew there was a prophecy to be fulfilled; the sun, and moon, and eleven stars must make obeisance to him; and their sheaves must bow down before his sheaf. So there is a prophecy concerning us- “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;” and were it not that Christ doth thus deal roughly with us, perhaps we should never bow ourselves with that deep humiliation and prostration of spirit, which is necessary for our good as well for his glory. I am sure that any of us who have passed through this state of mind, feel it a privilege to bow down before him. All hail, Jesus! We bring forth the royal diadem and crown thee, Lord of all. We wish not to dispute thy sovereignty, nor to interfere with thine absolute dominion. Give him all the glory; give him all the honor. Our spirit boweth down with even deeper reverence than the cherubim, who bow before him with veiled faces, crying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth.” Besides, my dear friends, Joseph’s brethren would not have been convinced of their sin at all, if it had not been for this. It was needful that they should know the greatness of the wrong, that they might know the value of the free pardon. The delay of manifested mercy has done much good to many of the saints; it compelled them to search the fountains of the great deep of their natural depravity, and led them to admire the freeness and richness of divine grace. We should have been but poor fools in Christ’s school, if it had not been for the rod with which he whipped us, and the ruler with which he knocked our knuckles in our early days. That black board of conviction was a useful implement enough in the school house. If he had not ploughed deep, there never would have been a hundred- fold harvest. Since he would build a high house of joy in our hearts, there was a “needs- be” that he should dig out deep foundations of sorrow, and he did it so for our lasting and perpetual good. Could John Bunyan have ever written “Pilgrim’s Progress,” if he had not felt abounding sin, and rejoiced in “Grace abounding?” Could he have ever compiled such a wondrous work as the “Holy War,” if he had not himself felt all the attacks which the Town of Mansoul knew, and heard the beating of the hell- drum in his own ears, just as the Mansoulians did, whose tale he tells. Masters of divinity are not to be made by shallow experience. We make not sailors on dry land, nor veterans in times of peace. Christ’s rugged warriors who shall do great exploits for him, must be like the Spartan youths, they must be brought up by a Spartan training, and flogged, and made to bear the yoke in their youth, that afterwards they may be good soldiers of Christ, able to endure hardness and to achieve great victories. This that looketh so cruel in Christ is only masked mercy. He putteth the vizard on his face, and looketh like an enemy, but a friendly heart is there still towards his chosen. Let us remember, then, if we are today guilty and moaning our guiltiness- we ought not to forget that Christ is a brother though he seems to be an enemy, that he loves us with a pure and perfect love though he speaks hardly to us. If he do not answer our prayers he still intends to do it; if no pity or compassion are expressed, yet beyond a doubt he is not flinty of soul, nor is he hard to be moved to commiserate his children.


The reading of the chapter which we heard this morning, is enough to bring tears to all eyes that are connected with tender hearts. I must acknowledge that when reading the chapter in my own study, I could not resist weeping copiously at the picture which the Holy Ghost has so admirably drawn. Those ten poor trembling brothers, Judah’s speech just finished, and all of them on their knees supplicating the clearing of the court house, and then Joseph, whose soul was swelling with such grief and love, bursting out with that “I am Joseph.” What a scene for tender souls! Though he must have spoken in deep affection, yet, “I am Joseph,” must have fallen on their ears like thunder. “Joseph!” where are we now? Better for us that we were in a lion’s den, than here with him whom we mocked, saying, ‘Behold, this dreamer cometh, with him whom we sold, and dipped his coat of many colors in blood, and then took it to his father, saying, ‘See whether this be thy son’s coat or no. ’” Well might they tremble! And then look at the tenderness of Joseph when he says to them again, while they are retiring from him afraid, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt, I pray you come near to me.” You hear his pathetic speech as he discovers his brotherhood and relationship, and then you see that generous embrace when, beginning with Benjamin, his next of kin, his own uterine brother, he afterwards weeps with all the rest, and sends them home with favors, enriched and happy. Dear friends, I say this is but a picture of what Christ does to some of us, and of what he is prepared to do to others of you who are trembling at his feet. Notice that this discovery was made secretly.

Christ does not show himself to sinners in a crowd; every man must see the love of Christ for himself; we go to hell in bundles, but we go to heaven one by one. Each man must personally know in his own heart his own guilt; and privately and secretly, where no other heart can join with him, he must hear words of love from Christ. “Go and sin no more.” “Thy sins which are many are all forgiven thee.”

Mark, that as this was done in secret, the first thing Joseph showed them was his name. “I am Joseph.” Blessed is that day to the sinner when Christ says to him, “I am Jesus, I am the Savior;” when the soul discerns instead of the lawgiver, the Redeemer; when it looks to the wounds which its own sin has made, and sees the ransom- price flowing in drops of gore; looks to the head its own iniquity had crowned with thorns, and sees beaming there a crown of glory provided for the sinner. Sinner, poor troubled sinner, Jesus speaks to thee this morning, from his very cross where he bled for thee, he says, “I am Jesus, look to me, trust me and be saved, repose thy confidence wholly upon me, I will wash thee from thy sin, carry thee safely through time, and land thee gloriously in eternity.”

Having revealed his name, the next thing he did was to reveal his relationship; “I am Joseph, your brother.” Oh, blessed is that heart which sees Jesus to be its brother, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, the son of Mary as well as the Son of God. Sinner, whom the Holy Ghost hath awakened, Christ is thy brother, he feels for you, he has a fellow sympathy with you in the present pangs that wring your heart. He loves you, he loved you before you knew anything of him, he has given you the best proof of that love in that he has redeemed you with his blood. And revealing his relationship, he also displays his affection. “Does my father yet live?” As a brother does he remember the head of the household. Jesus tells you that the brotherhood between his soul and yours is not fanciful or metaphorical, but lets his heart go out to you. Penitent sinner, can you believe it? Jesus loves you- loves you though you hated him. Poor awakened simmer, thou think it possible? It is. It is not only possible, but certain. He who is heaven’s Lord, before whom the angels bow, loves thee. I remember one man who was converted to God, who told me that the means of his conversion was hearing a hymn read one Sabbath morning in the congregation, when we were worshipping in Exeter Hall, and that hymn was this- “Jesus, lover of my soul;” and just those words struck him. “Does he love my soul? Oh!” said he, “nothing had ever broken me before, but the thought that Jesus loved me was too much for me. I could not help giving my heart to him.” The old school- men used to teach that it was impossible for any man to know that another loved him without returning the love in some degree. And surely, sinner, though thou feelest thyself to be the vilest wretch on earth, when we tell thee that it is “a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, even the chief,” this should be a reason why thy heart should go out to him. He loves thee, oh quickened, convinced sinner. Oh, trust him, and taste that love in thine own heart.

And then will you please to notice, that having thus proved his affection, he gave them an invitation to approach. “Come near to me, I pray you.” You are getting away in the corner. You want to hide away in the chamber alone; you do not want to tell anybody about your sorrow. Jesus says, “Come near to me, I pray you. Do not hold your griefs away from me. Tell me what it is you want. Confess to me your guilt; ask me for pardon, if you want it. Come near to me, do not be afraid. I could not smite with a hand that bought you; I could not spurn you with the foot that was nailed for you to the tree. Come to me!” Ah! this is the hardest work in the world, to get a sinner to come near to Christ. I thought myself that he was such a hard, hard Christ, and that he wanted me to do so much before I might come to him. When I heard that gracious message, “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth;” my heart ventured to look, and oh! joy of joys, the burden rolled away, the sin was blotted out, my soul stood accepted in Christ. “Come near to me I pray thee.” Oh that I knew where a broken heart was this morning! I think I would point him out, and look him in the face, and say in Jesus’ name, “Poor sinner, come near to me, I pray thee.” Oh, wherefore do you stay when Jesus invites? Wherefore do you tarry in your despair when Jesus bids you come to him? Shall the prisoner hug his chains? Shall the captive cleave to his dungeon? Arise! be free! arise, he calleth thee- sinner, come near to Jesus. Salvation is in him, and, as he bids thee, take it.

I want you to notice again, having given the invitation, what consolation

Joseph gave! He did not say, “I am not angry with you; I forgive you:” he said something sweeter than that- “Be not angry with yourselves,” as much as to say, “As for me, ye need not question about that: be not grieved nor angry with yourselves.” So my blessed, my adorable Master, says to a poor, cast down, dejected sinner- “As for my forgiving you, that is done. My heart is made of tenderness, my bowels melt with love; forgive yourself; be not grieved nor angry with yourself: it is true you have sinned, but I have died; it is true you have destroyed yourself, but I have saved you. Weep no more; dry those eyes and sing aloud“‘

I will praise thee every day, Now thine anger’s turned away:

Comfortable thoughts arise From the bleeding sacrifice. Jesus has become at length My Salvation and my strength; And his praises shall prolong, While I live, my pleasant song. ’”

Dear friends, last of all, having thus given them the consolation, he gave a quietus for their understanding in an explanation. He says, “It was not you, it was God that sent me hither.” So doth Christ say to the poor soul that feels itself guilty of the Lord’s crucifixion. “It was not you,” says he,” it was God that sent me to preserve your lives with a great deliverance. Man was the second agent in Christ’s death, but God was the great first worker, for he was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, man did it to destroy righteousness, but God did it to save even the ungodly. Man hath the crime, but God hath the triumphing; man rules, but God overrules. The gall hath become honey, out of the eater hath come forth sweetness. Death is destroyed by Jesus’ death; hell upturned by hell’s blackest deed. Sinner, Christ died to save thee with a great deliverance, what sayest thou? Art thou willing to come to him? if so, he made thee willing. Dost thou say, “But what is to come?”- to come to Christ is to trust him. Are you willing to renounce yourself and your sin and trust Christ, and take him to have and to hold, for better for worse, through life and through death, in time and in eternity? Doth thy heart say “Yes.” Wilt thou come to this man? Shall there be a match made of it this morning? Shall your heart be affianced and married into Christ? Ah! then, put this ring of promise on thy finger and go away affianced unto Christ, and this is the ring, “Though thy sins be as scarlet they shall be as wool, though they be red like crimson they shall be whiter than snow.” I feel this morning as though my Master had given me such a sweet message that I cannot tell it as I would, but it may be that there is some soul here that is like a little flower which has opened its cup to catch the dew drop, and it will be good for such a soul. It may be there is a heart here that has been in darkness, and though it be but a candle I can bring, yet that light shall be pleasant to its poor eyes so long used to this horrid gloom. Oh! that some heart here would trust the Lord Jesus. Is there none? Must we go back, and say in the closet, “Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?” Surely, there is one. Perhaps it is a stranger here, of whom I shall never hear again in this world. Well, but the Lord shall hear of it, and he shall have the praise. Perhaps it is one that has long sat in this house of prayer, invulnerable up till now. Perhaps the arrow has found a joint in the harness. O soul! by him that stretches out his arms of love to thee, and by the grace that moves thee now to run into those arms, come to him. “Be not grieved nor angry with yourselves.” It was God that put Christ to death, that he might save you with a great deliverance. Trust Jesus, and you are saved, and you shall give him praise, world without end. Amen

Verse 28

Jacob and Doubting Souls A Parallel

June 20th, 1886 by C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892)

"And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die." Genesis 45:28 .

I think that the patriarch Jacob may well serve as the type and emblem of a doubting soul, one who has been told the good news of salvation, the gospel of God's grace, but who cannot bring his mind to believe it. Let us think for a few minutes of old Jacob. First of all, he was a man who was very ready to believe evil tidings. When his sons held up before him a coat dipped in the blood of a kid, and asked him if it was not the coat he had given to Joseph, the patriarch answered, "It is my son's goat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces." He had no doubt about it, yet it was not true; and we have many hearers who will believe anything that is very terrible, even though it may not be true. If there is something in the sermon which seems to condemn them, even though it may not be meant to condemn them, they are sure to take home that part of the discourse. If they see any passage of Scripture that appears to frown upon them, they retain that in their memory, and they keep on stinging themselves with it, often making themselves unhappy with that which was never intended to apply to them. I wish that readiness to believe the dark sayings could be turned to an equal readiness to receive the consolations of the Word of God. Surely, we ought not to be so prejudiced against ourselves as to accept every evil thing and to reject every good thing. No, let us fairly weigh the evidence for either form of teaching, and believe, or reject either, according as the evidence for it may be strong or weak. Jacob would, all the while, have willingly believed that which was good, if he could have believed it. If you could have asked him if he had any objection to believe that Joseph was alive, the old man would have answered, "Oh, no! it would be the joy of my heart if I could but think it to be true." There are some whom I am now addressing who are in similar case. Ask them whether they have any objection to believe that Jesus Christ is their Savior, that he loved them, and gave himself for them, and they would every one reply, "Object to believe this? Why, I would give my eyes, I would give my life, if I could but think it to be true." Such an unbeliever as that is a ye hopeful one, because it is evident that he is not a wilful unbeliever; he does not desire to be so. His heart longs to grasp the truth which, for the moment, his mind dares not accept. Jacob in this respect is the type of very many who hear the gospel, but dare not receive it; and yet oh, how they wish they could! Their very soul hungers and thirsts after it, but they are afraid to take it lest they should be taking that which is not truly theirs. So far, the parallel between Jacob and the doubting soul runs very properly. Next notice that, to the patriarch, the truth about his son Joseph seemed altogether incredible. Joseph was alive, and governor over all the land of Egypt; but the old man had so long believed the contrary, that he could not readily get out of the rut. He had sorrowfully said, "Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces;" and this idea, though it was most painful to him, had, nevertheless, eaten its way into his belief, and he could not get it out of him. So do I know some who have written bitter things against themselves. "I shall be lost, I know I shall; it is not possible that Christ will save me. He will certainly reject me." And, although that is quite untrue, as untrue as Jacob's belief that Joseph was dead, yet they have hugged their despair so long that they cannot give it up. They are like the man who refused to be comforted, or those afflicted ones of whom we read, "Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death." Oh, that the Holy Spirit would come upon these poor unwilling doubters, and help them to know that a falsehood, however long it is believed, is not the truth! Though we may be in despondency of spirit for years, yet, if there is no real cause for that despondency, it is a pity that we should continue in it. Oh, that the Holy Spirit would enable us to break those bands asunder, and joyfully to believe what is true, that there is a Savior, an all-sufficient Savior, that all power is committed into his hands, and that he will rejoice this very hour to save and bless our souls! The news appeared incredible to Jacob because it seemed "too good to be true." His eyes flashed for the moment with a joyful light. "Joseph alive? Joseph my Joseph ruler over all the land of Egypt?" And then the very brightness of the thought seemed to blind the eye of his faith. "It cannot be true," said he; "it is too good to be true." Suppose that one of you had lost a son many years ago, and that a person met you outside the Tabernacle, and said to you, "That boy of yours, who was reported dead twenty years ago, is not dead; he is in Australia, alive and well," you would be staggered, would you not? And I have no doubt you would say to yourself, "It must be somebody like him, or somebody else of the same name; it cannot be my son; it is impossible, do I not know that he is dead?" You would hardly believe it; therefore, do not blame poor old Jacob for his doubts. There are many who are, spiritually, just in that state. They say, "What! you say that Jesus died for me, that I have been redeemed with his most precious blood, that I can have my sins forgiven? It cannot be. What! that I can be taken up to dwell with Christ in heaven? Oh, that it were true! It cannot be true. I did sing, just now,

"'Even me, even me, Let thy mercy light on me;'"

"but oh, surely, it cannot come to me! I must be left out; when the showers of blessing are falling, I cannot hope that there will be even a drop for me." Well, then, you and old Jacob are very much alike; I think you must be first cousins. Yet Jacob was wrong and so are you; the news is not "too good to be true." Through not believing his sons, Jacob began to faint in spirit. When they told him that Joseph was yet alive we read that "Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not." There is nothing that so stops the action of the heart, and brings on faintness of the spirit, as unbelief. As soon as the old man began to believe the good tidings that his sons brought, "the spirit of Jacob their father revived." Faith makes our spirits revive, but unbelief seems to strike us dead. I do not wonder that some of you are sad, and dull, and unhappy; as long as you cherish your unbelief, you must be so. O Holy Spirit, deliver them from this unbelief! Revive them by enabling them to believe what is true, that there is a Savior, a Savior yet alive, a Savior who is Lord of all, able and willing to save them. There, then, is the parallel between Jacob and a doubting soul. But, at last, Jacob rose out of his despondency and doubt; according to our text, "Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die." I think the time has come for some others to say, "It is enough." After having been attendants on the means of grace, perhaps for thirty years or more, they ought to be able to say, "It is enough." There came in here, last Lord's-day, from a distant part of the country, an aged man, a farmer. He came up on Saturday for no other reason but to find the Savior. He heard me say that I would see enquirers on Tuesday, so he was here then. He said, "I left my farm, though it is a large one, "and then he told me something about himself, and he added, "I want to find the Savior. I thought, sir, I would come and see if I could find Christ on the Sabbath day, and I waited on that I might go to the prayermeeting on Monday night, and then come and speak to you about my soul." I thought, "Yes, and it is worth while to leave your farm to find a Savior, it is worth while to come from a distant county of England, it would be worth while to come from the ends of the earth if one might but find the Savior." Ere I left him, I think he could say, "It is enough; Jesus is yet alive, I will trust him even now;" and he went on his way rejoicing. Oh, that some others might be able to say with him, "It is enough"! There are two points upon which I think Jacob could say, "It is enough." First, the evidence was enough to convince him: "It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive." Secondly, the conviction was enough to move him: "I will go and see him before I die." The second point is quite as important as the first; indeed, it is that to which the first ought practically to lead us. I. The first point is, that Jacob had ENOUGH EVIDENCE TO CONVINCE HIM: "It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive." The question for us to consider concerns, not Joseph, but Jesus. He is yet alive. He died upon the cross, but he has risen from the dead, and gone into the glory; "wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." The evidence that good old Jacob had received was personal testimony. His sons said concerning Joseph, "We have been to Egypt, and we have seen him." There have been many witnesses to testify that Christ is yet alive. Not only did the eleven apostles see him many times, but over five hundred brethren at once saw the Son of God after he had risen from the dead. There is no fact in history that is better attested than the fact that he was crucified, and that he rose again. The resurrection is as true after nearly nineteen hundred years as it was the day it happened; the distance of time does not alter the fact. Jesus Christ, the Son of God who died on Calvary, and was buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathaea, the third day rose from the dead, no more to die, and ascended into heaven, where he sitteth at the right hand of God. To this fact, his disciples bore unfaltering witness; they were honest, simple minded men, without enough imagination to make up the story. They were so sure of this truth that they died rather than deny it; most of them died by the most painful forms of death, yet nothing could ever make one of them speak a word to the contrary. They declared that they had seen him, that they had eaten with him, some of them could say that they had touched him, and one had put his finger into the print of the nails. Yes, brethren, Jesus Christ is yet alive, and I pray that each one here may say, "The testimony of these many witnesses is true, I believe it. It is enough; Jesus is yet alive." Moreover, the Holy Ghost bore witness to this fact, for after the ascension of the Savior, the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles and their companions, and they began to speak with other tongues. They went into all the countries of the world, and wherever they went, they were able to speak the language without having to learn it. At the same time, the Holy Ghost enabled them to work miracles by which the sick were healed; and these two things together were the witness of the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ the Son of God still lived, and that in his name salvation was to be preached to the sons of men. To me, this is evidence enough, the witness of faithful men, and the works of the Holy Ghost. Beside that, there are many of us who are witnesses teat, in answer to prayer, we have received pardon through the living Christ. We have also received, through that living Christ, a new life into our soul; we have passed from death unto life, and those who knew us before our conversion must notice a very remarkable change in us. They may not all admire it, but they must all admit it, and bear witness that we are now other than we used to be. The Lord Jesus, in whom we have trusted, has given us new motives, new desires, in fact, a new nature, and a new life, and we are witnesses to this truth that he is a living Savior, still mighty to save. I wish you could all say, with regard to these witnesses, "It is enough." I do not know what more witnesses we can give you, and I may say of the apostles, and of all those who bear witness by the Holy Spirit, "If ye receive not their witness, neither will ye believe though men should rise from the dead and bear testimony to the fact that Jesus lives to save the sons of men." But then, Jacob had, in addition to this personal testimony of witnesses, the testimony of accurate reports, for we find that Jacob's sons told their father "all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them." Those words of Joseph were remarkable words, for he traced God's providence in all that had happened. He said to his brethren, "God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God, and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt." Jacob knew that those words were after the manner of Joseph, for Joseph always lived in the fear and love of God. As for our Lord Jesus Christ, he has come to teach us of the Father. He reveals God to us; that which he speaks to us, he speaks not of himself, but in the power and in the name of God, and we know that his word is true, because it is a word which glorifies God and not man. Joseph also spoke somewhat about his own position and power. "Tell my father," he said, "thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt." So, the Lord Jesus Christ has told us that all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth, and therefore we are to go and teach all nations, and bring them as disciples to his feet. The words he speaks concerning himself are not boastful or false; but they are the utterance of a humble, meek, and lowly Savior who never said a word more or less than the truth. Joseph had also spoken to them very tenderly and kindly about their father. He would do everything for his father and his brethren, giving them the best of the land; and our Lord Jesus has spoken very tenderly to us. "Come unto me," saith he, "all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." The words of the Lord Jesus Christ, if you hear them or read them, are their own witness. There is a certain distinct unique majesty about the language of Jesus Christ which somehow penetrates to the hearts of men, and carries its own convincing witness into the mind. I pray you, then, you who have for years heard his words, say, "It is enough; we have heard quite sufficient from him to compel us to believe that he liveth, and that he is able to save." How long must he continue to speak to you who are now getting old hearers of the gospel, and yet have not believed it? How much longer must we persuade, entreat, exhort in the name of the Lord Jesus? How much longer must his words be read and quoted in your hearing? May God the Holy Ghost speedily end your indecision, and bring you each one to say, "It is enough; Jesus is alive, there is a living Savior, I will take him to be my Savior"! There were also abundant tokens which greatly helped to convince old Jacob: "When he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him," he said, "It is enough." To what shall I liken these wagons? It seems to me that some of you, who are doubting whether Christ will save you, ought to think to yourselves, "Well, there is the Sabbath day, which is a special token of God's love." As I came here this evening, I thought to myself, "Why has God appointed a Sabbath day if he does not mean to give rest to men?" What a mockery it is to have one day in seven set apart for you to think of God if God does not mean to think of you! The very institution of the Sabbath seems to me to be a "wagon" in which to bring you to Christ. And why does God send ministers to preach his gospel? I said to myself, as I came here this evening, "I am going on the silliest errand that ever moved the foot of man, unless God means to save men by the message he has given me to deliver." What is the use of my talking, and talking, and talking, unless there is a living Christ, and unless that living Christ is really able to save? He has sent you a minister who, with all his faults, loves your souls, and who would do anything within the compass of a human mind to bring you to Christ if he only knew how to do it. Surely, God did not send us to speak in his name, and move us to an agony about your souls, if he did not mean to bless you. So, the Christian ministry itself is like a "wagon" in which to bring men to Christ. I have often thought to myself, when I have been going home after preaching, "I have put the truth before my hearers so plainly that, if they want to be saved, I have very clearly shown them the way to Christ." I used to attend the means of grace very, very often when I was under concern of soul, and to the best of my knowledge and belief I never heard the gospel simply and plainly put to me while I was listening for it. This is the pity, that so often our brethren preach very fine sermons, but they are no good to seeking souls, and they do not lead them to Christ. But as soon as I heard that poor Primitive Methodist preach Christ, and he preached Christ alone, because he did not know anything else, and I myself am very much in that condition, why, as soon as ever I heard that, I laid hold of it. When fish are hungry, they bite at the bait; and if you really want Christ, you will at once lay hold of him. If you do not accept him, at any rate he has been plainly set before you; and if you refuse him, you shall deliberately and wilfully reject and refuse him. I pray that you may not do that. O sinner, play not the fool with your own soul! If you must play, go home to your children, pick up their toys, throw their balls and twist their skipping-ropes; but trifle not with your souls, and with God, and heaven, and hell! If I have lied to you about these matters, condemn me, for I deserve it; but if I have spoken the truth to you, hear me, or if you hear not me, hear the still small voice of your own conscience, or rather, hear the voice of God which has been speaking through me. Believe in Jesus now that you are under the influence of a ministry which may be to you what Joseph's wagons were to old Jacob. Think also, why is it that you are instructed in the truths revealed in the Word of God? Why is it that there are so many expostulations and warnings in it? Why is it that this precious Book is put into all your homes? Why is it so full of invitations and promises, but that all this is intended to be a "wagon" to bring you to your Joseph, even to Jesus? When you see God, as it were, moving heaven and earth to help you to salvation, bending providence in the direction of aiding you to hear and to believe the gospel, surely you ought to say, "It is enough; Jesus is yet alive; God means mercy for me; Christ Jesus can save me, and he will save me."

"Jesus sits on Zion's hill, And receives poor sinners still."

The evidence brought before Jacob was sufficient to convince him; he said "It is enough." Oh, that you also may say the same concerning the evidence brought before you! II. But now comes the tug of war: THE CONVICTION WAS ENOUGH TO MOVE HIM. "Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive; I will go and see him before I die." Oh! how many people there are in the world who say, "Yes, there is a Savior;" and yet they are not saved! Some of you have often sung,

"There is a fountain fill'd with blood, Drawn from Immanuel's veins; And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains."

Is it so? Do you believe that? Then, why have not you lost all your guilty stains? "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." You never doubted the truth of that text, and yet you have not believed on the only-begotten Son of God and you have not received everlasting life. I can understand those who reject the Scriptures altogether, and who deny that there is any Savior for sinners; I see where they are, and feel that there is some kind of consistency in their conduct, deeply as I grieve over it; but I cannot comprehend what you mean when you admit the truth of what we preach, yet do not practically obey it. If the gospel be true, why do you not believe it? If you believe it, why do you not act upon it? It is not sufficient merely to say that you trust Christ for salvation, and then to fancy there is nothing further to be done. I have often tried to expose that delusion by representing a pilot as being brought on board a vessel, and the captain and sailors saying that they all had confidence in him, that he would take the ship safely into the haven. They said they trusted him, but having declared their faith in him, they all went below, and lay down to sleep. Now, of course, the pilot wanted to have the sails attended to, and the ship put in good trim, and he needed the helmsman to manage the rudder, so he called out, "What are you all doing down there? Why have you all run away from me?" And one of them answered, "Because we trust in you; you are the pilot, and you said you would bring us safely into port. We trust in you; so the captain has gone to his cabin, and all the sailors have gone to the fo'c'sle. You see, it is a wet night, a strong nor'wester is blowing, it is very cold, and we would rather be comfortable and snug in our berths than up there on deck. You said that you would bring us to the haven, and we trust in you to do it." The pilot would of course reply, "You do not really trust in me, for if you did, you would do as I bid you. You are mocking me, you are insulting me; you have brought me on board your ship to make a fool of me; if you really trusted me, every man would take his proper place, and do his duty, and then, as I gave the word of command, it would be obeyed, and so you would be brought safely into port." It is just so with Christ and ourselves; we trust him entirely to save us, but we have no right to say that we are saved if we do not practically obey him. It is beyond all excuse that men should know that they need a Savior, and that there is a Savior, and yet that they should not trust that Savior. It is as if Jacob had said, "Joseph is yet alive; but I shall not trouble my head about him." Oh, no, no, no! The patriarch does not talk like that, but he says, "Joseph is yet alive. I will go and see him before I die." And, straightway, the poor old man and his household started to go down into Egypt; for the very next verse reads, "And Israel took his journey with all that he had." One reason why Jacob wanted to go to Egypt was because he wished to see his son. Some of us know the delight of seeing again a dear son who has been absent from us for years, and of seeing him return again well. It is not so much a matter for us to talk about, it is rather a thing for our own hearts to rejoice over and to remember; and we often breathe the prayer, "God grant that we may see our beloved son again!" Yet, after all, to see a son is but the gratification of a natural affection; there is a great deal more reason why we should, by faith, see our Savior, for he who truly sees the Son of God shall live for ever. O dear hearts,

"There is life for a look at the Crucified One!"

A faith-look to God in human flesh, a believing sight of him who bore our sins in his own body on the tree, will bring you life for evermore. I think that every sinner who knows that there is a living Christ ought to say, "I will go and see him, whatever else I do not go to see." There are some sights in the world of which we say, "I should like to go and see that." Well, you may forego all the things of beauty that ever charmed the eyes of men; but, I charge you, do not forego this sight of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the heaven of angels; he is the delight of God himself; there is no true life for you other than that which will come through your looking to him who says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth." Since you believe that there is a Savior, I pray that you may be moved at once to say, "I will go and see him." May you be preserved from putting it off even till the daylight breaks again! This very hour, through your tears, look straight away to the gross; and may the Lord Jesus Christ reveal himself to you, that in his light you may see light! Further, this old man, who said, "I will go and see my son," yet felt that it was but for a little while. He says, "I will go and see him before I die." He had seventeen more years to live, but he did not know that; he felt so old a man at one hundred and thirty that he thought he should only just manage to see his son, and perhaps die on his neck. He said, "But I will go and see him, even though it be only with my dying eyes. I will die with the sight of Joseph before me, and that will be enough to make me happy." And, dear souls, if you did but get to Jesus, you might be happy if you could only say, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." But it need not be death to you any more than it was to Jacob. Indeed, when you have seen him, you shall live, and never die; but your eyes shall be opened to see yet more and more of him, and the light of Christ shall so shine into your soul that you shall behold him after a still more glorious fashion till he shall be the joy of your heart, and the heaven of your soul for ever. Therefore, singe there is such a living Savior, go to him, I pray you, and you shall not merely see him for a little while, and then die, but you shall see him and live for ever. Therefore, hasten by faith to see him this very moment. Old Jacob also felt that age should not hinder, but rather speed him. He believed that he was soon going to die, but he said, "I will go and see him before I die." I think that Jacob's age really made him go more quickly. "Ah!" said he to himself, "I shall be dead soon; therefore, let me hasten down to Joseph, that I may see him before I die." So, dear friends, do not let anyone gay, "I am too old to be saved." Who is too old to trust Christ? Who is too old to seek and find the Savior? I have often heard stories told about people not being converted after they are five-and-forty, or thereabouts; but that is all untrue, and I do not believe a word of it. I have seen just as many people in proportion converted at one age as at another. There are more young people in the world than there are aged persons, and therefore there are more people converted, by God's grace, while they are young. There are fewer old people than young ones; but I do thank God that, even in this building, I could point out a great many who I know were baptized after their hair had grown grey. Some of them put their trust in Jesus when they were threescore years and ten, and others even later than that. There was a dear old brother, who came in here when he was past eighty years of age, and he found the Savior. He was such a Little-faith or Feeble-mind that he hardly dared to "peak to any of us as he came in and out amongst us, but at last he said to himself, "I must join the church." I fancy that he was eighty-eight when he was baptized, and he was so happy with us for about six months, and then he gently slipped away and went home. I am sure I never saw a more childlike person, or a more genuine conversion than that of this dear old man. However old you are, friend, come along. If Methuselah were here, I would preach to him the same gospel that I would teach to one of these dear girls; for, however old a sinner is, there is nothing in the gospel about limiting it to persons of a certain age. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature;" does not mean, go and begin picking out the creatures, and saying, "I only preach the gospel to people who are under a specified age." Go home, and go to bed, sir, if that is how you talk; Christ never sent you on such an errand as that. He sent us to preach the gospel to every creature; and to you who are almost worn out, if there be but life in you, I cry, "Come along, trust in Jesus, and he will save even you."

"While the lamp holds out to burn, The vilest sinner may return;"

and, returning, he shall find Christ. Be quick about it, however, you who are getting on in life, you who are far advanced in years, and may God bless you! Yesterday, I had many kind letters congratulating me on completing my fifty-second year, but there was one that did a little surprise and amuse me. One brother writes that he has read my sermons for many years, and that, at my advanced age, he cannot pray that I may have many returns of the day; but he does trust that God may spare me at least two or three years longer for the good of the church. Well, as I read the letter, I could not help smiling, as you do, for I do not feel that I am quite as advanced in age as that; but still, I thought that, perhaps, this brother's letter might be prophetic. We may be older than we think we are, and two or three years may be all the time we are to have here. At any rate, I will try to work for Christ as earnestly as if I had only two or three years to live, and then it may be that he will add to us yet more; and, if not, what matters it? We shall go home to him who sent us, and be gathered to our Father in peace. Once more, old Jacob was not kept back from going to see his son because it was a long journey into Egypt. Journeys appear longer to old men than they do to young folk, and it was a very great undertaking to go so far with those seventy and more people around him. There would be a deal of packing up to be done, and there were no Pantechnicon vans in those days to carry everything for the whole company. It was the transplanting of a grand old tree, and it was a difficult task to move so venerable an oak, with such wide-spreading roots and branches. Yet Jacob said, "I will go and see Joseph before I die." Now, dear friend, if it does seem a long way to Jesus, yet undertake the journey; and if you can persuade your wife and all your children also to go, so much the better. Christ will receive them all in Goshen, and they shall dwell with him for ever. I wish that there might be a blessed migration of many who have been rooted to the soil of the old Canaan, the sinful place, who will now go, not down to Egypt, but up to Jesus in the land of plenty and of purity, to dwell with him for ever. That which ruins so many is that hesitancy, that delaying, that halting between two opinions, which I find in the original is hopping upon two twigs, and never resting upon either; let not that be the case with you. Procrastination is the devil's net in which myriads are entangled to their utter destruction; may the Lord deliver any of you who have been caught in it! Decide for Christ now, I beseech you; may the Holy Spirit constrain you to decide at once, for Christ's sake! Amen.

Bibliographical Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Genesis 45". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/spe/genesis-45.html. 2011.
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