Monday, April 15, 2013
Today’s Topic: Suffering Before Glory
Today’s Text: Genesis 37:3-4 (ESV) 3 Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors.
4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him.
The book of Genesis is fascinating. It tells us the accurate, actual, and Holy Spirit-inspired history of the creation of the world and the first 2,500 years of the human race from Adam and Eve up to the beginnings of the nation of Israel in Egypt.
The one aspect of this incredible book that fascinates me the most is the typology of all the stories. In other words, each and every story contains a picture of the major doctrines of the Bible and the main characters of the accounts are true and accurate pictures of Christ himself.
For example, the story of Abraham is a clear picture of the doctrines of election and faith. In Isaac we have the picture of the Divine Sonship of Christ and the new spiritual nature of man in Christ, while in Ishmael we have pictured the old man of the flesh. In Jacob, who would be named Israel, we see the conflict between the two natures that lingers in us all, and the loving discipline of God to bring eventual triumph over the flesh.
In Joseph we see the heirship of Christ and all believers typified. His life story points to the future Savior who would first suffer and then be glorified, and who calls all of His followers to the same path in life. One day, as Joseph’s family discovered, we will reign together with Christ, but not before we have learned to suffer as He did.
There is an important distinction that we must understand from Scripture as depicted in the lives of Jacob and Joseph. You see, Jacob was disciplined by God as a son, but Joseph suffered like Christ as an heir. Discipline is the loving hand of God applying correction and training to the lives of His children because of their flaws, while suffering is the testing ground of faith to prepare His children for their inheritance.
It is the suffering for righteousness sake that we see in Joseph, and it is the beginning point of his story in Genesis 37. His father loved him more than all the others, yet that love brought him undeserved suffering. Yet it is in these martyr-type sufferings we see in Joseph that will mark the path for all those who will reign with Christ in glory. It was His path. It will be our path.
As we mature in our faith, it will become increasingly important for each one of us to learn to discern this truth. We must begin to understand the difference between the discipline of the Lord in our lives because of sin and character flaws, and the suffering that we have been called to as we stand for righteousness in an unrighteous world. It will benefit you greatly to spend quality time meditating on this truth and recognizing its importance.
In general practice we tend to avoid both. We ignore the discipline of God because it means admitting weakness and sin and involves correction and change, all of which are contrary to the nature of our flesh. We also tend to avoid a consistent and public lifestyle of faith whenever there is a threat of rejection or harm for being unashamed of the Gospel and representing Jesus Christ. But both are necessary. In Jacob we see the necessity of God’s children being disciplined and trained in righteousness. In Joseph we see righteousness lived out with such fervor and conviction that no amount of unjustified suffering could convince him to deny his God.
As it was true of Christ, and Joseph as a type of Christ, let it also be true of us, that we may understand that it is in and through righteous suffering that we are proven as heirs with Christ of all things and become partakers of His glory.