However, when they relayed all that Joseph had told them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob was revived.
I. OUR ENJOYMENT OF WHAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR US IS DEPENDENT UPON OUR CONFIDENT BELIEF AND EXPECTATION.
1. Separation from the old for the new life involves a struggle with self, with circumstances, with fellow-men.
2. The future must be laid hold of. We must believe that the better place is prepared for us, that the will of God is good.
II. WE GAIN THE VICTORY OVER NATURAL FEARS, DOUBTS, AND DIFFICULTIES WHEN WE SIMPLY LOOK AT THE FACTS AS GOD HAS SET THEM BEFORE US, BOTH IN HIS WORD AND IN HIS PROVIDENCE. The men were deceivers. The facts, the wagons, the good things, the blessings plainly sent of God, earnest of the future, would not deceive.
III. THE TRUE FAITH IS THAT WHICH GRATEFULLY ACCEPTS THE INVITATION OF DIVINE GRACE, ACTING UPON IT, BOTH BY THE DECISION OF THE WILL AND BY THE DEVOTION OF THE LIFE. "It is enough, I will go.
IV. THE REWARD WHICH IS PREPARED FOR THE TRUE OBEDIENCE IS MUCH GREATER THAN WE CAN ANTICIPATE. To see Joseph was the patriarch's anticipation. The purpose of God was much larger for him. Joseph and Jacob met in the abundance of Egypt. The earthly pilgrimage leads to the true Goshen. It is enough. We follow the voice of our God. It hath not entered into our heart to conceive what is before us. - R.
1. No wonder certainly that Jacob could not believe his sons. You know from their history, and particularly from that part which is mingled with the earlier days of Joseph, how deceitfulness (inherited, too, from their parents and ancestry) had marked their conduct towards their father Jacob, whose life, I suspect, was often rendered very bitter by sad instances of their deceitfulness, and by the painful reflections upon his own conduct in his earlier days, which those instances would produce. Even Joseph's messages were not believed by Jacob, not because Jacob doubted them, but because he could not believe the messengers.
I. IT IS, AT FIRST, RECEIVED WITH INCREDULITY.
When he saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived.
I. Jacob's heart fainted; but old men, dying persons, often feel that some unrealized object detains them here. Jacob was like watchers who have gone to the point and taken lodgings, to be the first to hail the ship; and as pennon after pennon flutters in sight they hail it, but it is not the expected vessel, and the heart faints, until at last the well-known signal waves in the wind. Sense sees it, and faith revives.
II. The lesson of the patriarch's history is that faith may not realize all it desires, but it may realize what confirms, revives, assures. "He saw the waggons": "Faith cometh by hearing"; it is a moral principle created in the mind, not so much by facts as probabilities. Faith is moved and swayed by antecedental considerations. So these waggons were, in all probability, an aid to faith, and his heart revived. Treasure up marks and tokens of another country; you will find they will not be wanting.
III. If you deal faithfully with the tremendous hints and probabilities sacred to your own nature, sacred to the Holy Word, sacred to the infinite manifestation of God in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, they will hold you fast in the power of awful convictions, and in the embrace of infinite consolations. The waggons assured Jacob that Joseph was yet alive, and there are innumerable conveyances of grace which assure us that Jesus is yet alive.
(E. Paxton Hood.)
II. IT IS AFTERWARDS ACCEPTED UPON OUTWARD EVIDENCE.
III. IT ENABLED JACOB TO VINDICATE HIS OLD CHARACTER
1. His faith triumphs.
2. His dark destiny is about to be cleared up.
3. He anticipates his peaceful end.
(T. H. Leale.)
II. And that Jacob believed at last, was convinced of the truthfulness of the messages, and going down to Egypt, he saw Joseph, often enjoyed his society, and finished his eventful pilgrimage there in peace, and with the full certainty of being buried in "the promised land." A sight of Joseph's waggons convinced him.
III. We have in this affecting narrative an illustration of two important ways by which truth may be received, and indeed. through which it may be communicated. The difference betwixt the mode of teaching a truth by a simple revelation or message, and by the medium of the sight, is not, indeed, in the strictest sense of the term, that of an "objective " and a "subjective" truth; but it is very nearly this. For though indeed it may be said truly enough that teaching by means of any of the senses is "objective," there is nearly all the difference between "objective " and "subjective " in teaching by means of the sight and by means of words; because whatever the eye learns is learned by a real object, or by an object which does not profess to be the thing itself, but a recognized representation thereof. Thus the message of Joseph delivered by his brethren to their father was really (in my view) a "subjective" truth; I mean it was truth which he was to receive. But then, though the ear was the medium of reception, faith or credibility in the veracity of his children was necessary ere he could profit by it. And this faith he had not in them. He could not believe them, and he only became agitated; but the sight of the waggons convinced him. The truth was exhibited by another means; but I think also it was truth in another form. It was the truth that Joseph was alive, "objectively" brought home to Jacob by visible tangible realities. They were not like Joseph; they were not pictures, "carvings," imitations of him; but there was a reality, a matter of fact truthfulness about what he there saw before him, which, though not a convincing demonstration, was a thoroughly satisfying "objective" realization to the eye of what would not have happened but for the true loving tenderness of his long lost son. And this "objective" truth seen as an object by the eye gave reality to the " subjective" message, heard by the ear, indeed, but receivable only by the mind through faith, so that though it is said of that "subjective" truth Jacob believed not the messengers, it is immediately recorded of the "objective" truth that "when he saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived, and he said, "It is enough; Joseph, my son, is yet alive: I will go, and see him before I die."
IV. The application of these observations to the Lord's Supper, and indeed to either of the Sacraments, appears to me to be obvious and easy. Your only means of salvation is Christ Jesus, crucified for you and risen. God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself; Christ, the Son of God, who, by His one oblation offered once for all, hath put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself, forms, through the Holy Spirit, your great hope of acceptance with God. The messages sent to you from heaven are true, and abound in tenderness; they are like Joseph's message, full of truth and love. From various causes men demur to receive them. We who bring the messages are often not believed, You to whom the messages are delivered are conscious of many things which you think incapacitate you from applying them to yourselves. The blessed truths of salvation thus presented for your faith to receive and to make personally your own "subjectively," are too often not received. But then, amidst all this clatter of disputings, doubtings and arguing, what meaneth this service? What meaneth it that to-day, that every Sunday throughout Christendom, in thousands and thousands of churches, and by many thousands and even millions of Christians, a simple though significant act is celebrated, even as it has been since the last Passover, and will continue to be so "till He come" who at first appointed it? Why is it that Christians from time to time gather together to break this bread and to drink this cup? What mean ye by this service? It is "objectively" for you what the waggons proved to Jacob. It is a very simple, but "objective" act, which brings before you vividly the love of Christ, in giving His body and His blood upon the Cross for you.
(G. Venables, S. C. L.)
1. In the first place, like those that came from the Egyptian palace, the King's waggons now bring us corn and meat, and many changes of raiment. We are apt to think of the fields and the orchards as feeding us, but who makes the flax grow for the linen, and the wheat for the bread, and the wool on the sheep's back? None but a God could clothe and feed the world. None but a King's corncrib could appease the world's famine. None but a King could tell how many waggons to send, and how heavily to load them, and when they are to start. Oh! thank God for bread — for bread!
2. I remark, again, that, like those that came from the Egyptian's palace, the King's waggons bring us good news. Jacob had not heard from his boy for a great many years. He had never thought of him but with a heart-ache. There was in Jacob's heart a room where lay the corpse of his unburied Joseph; and when the waggons came — the king's waggons — and told him that Joseph was yet alive, he faints dead away. Good news for Jacob! Good news for us! The King's waggons come down and tell us that our Joseph — Jesus — is yet alive; that He has forgiven us because we threw Him into the pit of suffering and the dungeon of shame. He has risen from thence to stand in a palace. The Bethlehem shepherds were awakened at midnight by the rattling of the waggons that brought the tidings. Our Joseph — Jesus — sends us a message of pardon, of life, of heaven; corn for our hunger, raiment for our nakedness. Joseph — Jesus — is yet alive 1 The King's waggons will, after a while, unload, and they will turn round, and they will go back to the palace, and I really think that you and I will go with them. The King will not leave us in this famine-struck world. The King has ordered that we be lifted into the waggons, and that we go over into Goshen, where there shall be pasturage for our largest flock of joy; and then we will drive up to the palace where there are glories awaiting us which will melt all the snow of Egyptian marble into forgetfulness.
3. I think that the King's waggons will take us up to see our lost friends. Jacob's chief anticipation was not of seeing the Nile, or of seeing the long colonnade of architectural beauty, or of seeing the throne-room. There was a focus to all his journeyings — to all his anticipations — and that was Joseph. Well, my friends, I do not think heaven would be worth much if our brother Jesus was not there. Oh! the joy of meeting our brother Joseph — Jesus! After we have talked about Him for ten, or fifty, or seventy years, to talk with Him I and to clasp hands with the Hero of the ages, not crouching as underlings in His presence, but as Jacob and Joseph hug each other. The king's waggons took Jacob up to see his lost boy; and so I really think that the King's waggons will take us up to see our lost kindred. How long is it since Joseph went out of your household? How many years is it, now, last Christmas, or the fourteenth of next month? It was a dark night when he died, and a stormy day it was at the burial; and the clouds wept with you, and the winds sighed for the dead. The bell at Greenwood's Gate rang only for a few moments, but your heart has been tolling, tolling, ever since. You have been under a delusion, like Jacob of old. You put his name first in the birth-record of the family Bible, and then you put it in the death-record of the family Bible, and you have been deceived. Joseph is yet alive l He is more alive than you are. Of all the sixteen thousand millions of children that statisticians say have gone into the future world, there is not one of them dead, and the King's waggons will take you up to see them. In my boyhood, for some time, we lived three miles from church, and on stormy days the children stayed at home, but father and mother always went to church. That was a habit they had. On those stormy Sabbaths when we stayed at home, the absence of our parents seemed very much protracted, for the roads were very bad, and they could not get on very fast. So we would go to the window at twelve o'clock to see if they were coming; and at a quarter to one; and then at one o'clock. After awhile, Mary or Daniel, or De Witt would shout, "The waggon's coming!" and then we would see it winding out of the woods, and over the brook, and through the lane, and up in the front of the old farmhouse; and then we would rush out, leaving the doors wide open, with many things to tell them, asking them many questions. Well, I think we:are many of us in the King's waggons, and we are on the way home. The road is very bad, and we get on slowly; but after awhile we will come winding out of the woods, and through the brook of death, and up in front of the old heavenly homestead; and our departed kindred who have been waiting and watching for us will rush out through the doors, and over the lawn, crying: "The waggons are coming! the King's waggons are coming!" Hark! the bell of the city hall strikes twelve. Twelve o'clock on earth; and likewise it is high noon in heaven.
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