Numbered With The Transgressors
Genesis 40:1-3 (1) And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt. (2) And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers. (3) And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. The Apostle Peter once described the revelation given by Jesus Christ unto His apostles (the New Testament, in effect) as “...a light that shineth in a dark place...” (2PE 1:19), the “dark place” referring to the prophecy of “...old time...” (2PE 1:21), that is, the Old Testament. The Old Testament, like the moon, was a “...lesser light to rule the night...” (GEN 1:16) until Jesus Christ, “...the Sun of righteousness...” (MAL 4:2) came to fulfil the Old Testament, outshine it, and dispel its relative darkness. Like John the Baptist, the O.T. “...was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (JOH 1:7-8). But even in that lesser light of the O.T., Christ could be seen in shadows that are profitable for our learning, patience, comfort and hope (ROM 15:4; 2TI 3:16-17). One such place is in our featured text and its context. Joseph's life and experiences have many parallels with that of the Lord Jesus Christ, Who, like Joseph, was the precious Son of His Father (GEN 37:2-3 c/w MAT 3:17). Here, we see the innocent Joseph, like Jesus, numbered with the transgressors (c/w ISA 53:12). Like Jesus, Joseph was unjustly sold out by his own brethren, falsely accused and turned over to a pagan civil authority, “...but God meant it unto good...to save much people alive” (GEN 50:20). The Spirit was, in the story of Joseph, essentially signifying “...the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow” (1PE 1:11). Truly, the O.T. Scriptures testified of Christ (JOH 5:39); it “...was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ...” (GAL 3:24). While unjustly in common straits with men who had offended the civil power, Joseph prophesied of deliverance to only one of them: the butler (GEN 40:8-19). What Bible believer can not see here a parallel to Jesus Christ hanging on a cross between two transgressors, only one of whom is promised a bright future (LUK 23:39-43)? The butler was told that within three days he would be liberated (GEN 40:12-13), and that only to an earthly lord. But the favored transgressor in Christ's hour, though he must die, was promised that he would THAT day be with THE Lord in PARADISE (LUK 23:43)! Truly, “...to depart and to be with Christ...is far better” (PHIL 1:23). Whereas it was the transgressor who made the plea to the innocent Jesus, “...Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom” (LUK 23:42), it was the innocent Joseph who basically plead thus with the transgressor, “...make mention of me...and bring me out of this house” (GEN 40:14). Joseph could only hope that he might be delivered from prison in three days, given the weak and forgetful nature of man. But Jesus Christ had the certain promise of God that He would “...not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” (ACT 2:27). Jesus had also the certain sign of Jonah, that the “...Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (MAT 12:40) and no more. The torments of His soul and the subsequent entombment of His body were to be temporary. “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph...” (GEN 40:23) but God did not forget Christ: “...God raised him from the dead” (ACT 13:30). Truly, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man” (PSA 118:8). May saints be ever grateful that their hope of deliverance is not hinged on the forgetfulness of fallen men, but on the blessed forgetfulness of God Who says, “...their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (HEB 10:17), and Who will surely remember them in the day of Christ's return (1TH 4:15-17). This was Job's expectation: Job 14:12-15 (12) So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. (13) O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! (14) If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. (15) Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. Job 19:25-27 (25) For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: (26) And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: (27) Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. May saints also be grateful that their hope of deliverance is not hinged on the shaky performance of fallible sinners but on the solid, positive promises of God through Christ, “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen...” (2CO 1:20).