Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Joseph's Release (part 1 of 2)

The shackles hurt his feet; his neck was placed in an iron collar, until the time of his prediction came true.  The Lord’s word proved him right. – Psalm 105:18-19  (NET)

Oftentimes, it is a relatively simple matter to find Jesus and the Gospel being spoken of in a proleptic manner in the Hebrew Scriptures  On numerous occasions, when the aforementioned Scriptures are viewed through the lends of the cross and the Christ-event, it is not at all difficult to find Jesus especially reflected in the purported accounts of the life of Joseph.  Here in the one hundred fifth Psalm, the link between Joseph and Jesus, and with it the presentation of Jesus and the message of the Gospel (Jesus is the crucified and resurrected Lord of all), seems to be one of the most explicit and direct that one will ever be able to find. 

In verses eighteen and nineteen, as the Psalmist recounts a portion of the tale of Joseph in Egypt, the reader is reminded that Joseph’s feet were in shackles, while his neck was in an iron collar.  This situation existed until he was vindicated by a prediction that he is reported to have made.  One would be hard pressed to find an analogy closer to that which would eventually be experienced by Jesus.  With these verses then, the reader is reminded of Jesus’ death, along with His being placed in a tomb, as death and the grave symbolically (and somewhat literally) take the place of the shackles and iron collar. 

As was said to have been the experience of Joseph, Jesus too was imprisoned.  This prison was a tomb.  How long did His imprisonment last?  Naturally, it is well understood that the duration of His imprisonment was three days.  On a deeper level however, one could insist that the imprisonment continued until the time of Jesus’ hopeful predictions about His Resurrection came true.  With that Resurrection, like Joseph (who experienced a veritable resurrection), He was vindicated.  To borrow the language of the Psalmist, He was proved right. 

In the verses that follow, the Psalmist provides an analysis of this release from prison.  For Joseph, it is said that “The king authorized his release” (105:20a).  Pharaoh released Joseph from his imprisonment, and the believers knows that this release by the king to be true of Jesus as well.  The Creator God---the sovereign ruler of the universe---released Jesus from the shackles of death.  Indeed, in the very first public proclamation of Jesus’ Resurrection, as recorded in the second chapter of Acts, Peter speaks about death and says that “it was not possible for Him to be held in its power” (2:24b). 

Of Joseph it is said that “the ruler of nations set him free” (105:20b).  With His being freed from death, it is more than appropriate to speak of Jesus with such words, while also finding that it is said of Joseph that Pharaoh “put him in charge of his palace, and made him manager of all his property” (105:21).  In fact, if one was to turn to the original story of Joseph, there it would be found that Joseph was made second in command over the empire of Egypt.  Only Pharaoh was greater than Joseph. 

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