Each patriarch lived his covenant-life with God in a personal way that was peculiar to him and shed new light on man’s fundamental relations to God, on his life with God. When Israel, the people of God, made a total commitment of faith in God’s promise (Abraham); when they lived in the awareness of their sinfulness, recognizing that the fulfillment of the promise transcended them and depended entirely on the gracious love and power of God (Jacob); when they lived lives of steadfast covenant-love with God in solidarity with their brothers (Joseph) – then were they incorporated into the lives of their fathers. Then they truly became “sons of Abraham, Jacob and Joseph.” The patriarchs became corporate personalities unifying the people of God. The solidarity of the people of God in their corporate relationship to God through their fathers foreshadows the revelation of our relation to God through Jesus Christ, who is at once a person and a corporate personality. Through baptism we are incorporated into Christ the Redeemer who is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham: “For you are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus. All of you who have been baptised into Christ have put on Christ……. All of you are one in Christ. Now if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs to the promise” (Galatians 3:26-29). The men of the Bible, in expressing their solidarity with God and with one another in terms of a person, have helped us to understand the nature of our solidarity with Jesus, through whom, with whom, and in whom we are united with God and with all mankind. This is the hope and spirit of The Mystical Order and Starlight of Israel together moving mountains to a higher plane.
Pre-eminence is also the lot of Joseph, Gideon, David and Solomon all younger sons. The mysterious ways of God in electing those who are, humanly speaking, the least eligible finds an echo in Paul: “God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nought the things that are, so that no human being might boast in His sight” (I Corinthians 1:27:29).
Jacob had cheated his father in his old age by acquiring the birth-right. The law of talion is seen operating when Jacob is cheated by the loss of his favourite son Joseph.
The Joseph-typology may very well appear in the Marcan passion story: as Joseph the Patriarch buries the old Israel (Genesis 50:4-6), so Joseph of Arimathea buries the new Israel (Mark 15:42). (The New Testament does not explicitly set forth Joseph as a type of Christ.)
What had been the characteristically personal mark of Abraham’s, Jacob’s and Joseph’s relationship to God, now became the universal hall-mark for all the people of God living the same lives of faith, hope and covenant love. Their father’s way of life with God was now incorporated and extended among his numerous progeny (to beget) according to the spirit, if not also the flesh. The patriarchs in this way became truly corporate personalities unifying the people of God. (Yes, reconciliation)
Thus the Old Testament patriarchs were but dim shadows of the reality to come, for in the humanity and Person of Jesus, God has shown and given to his people the Way, the Truth, the Life. We have seen the Wisdom and Glory of God, which force us to declare the good news of St. John that “God is love.” Our Israelite fathers have prepared us for understanding the profound truth that love, wisdom, life, and truth are ultimately, not mere empty concepts, but are found in a Person: Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
I hope to have shown the need for understanding how the men of the Bible thought of their patriarchs in order to grasp the significance of both the Old Testament and the context of the New Testament teaching about Jesus as an individual and as Head of the Mystical Body. We have shown how people of God personified their consciousness of their solidarity with their fathers in their basic relation to God.
Jacob-Israel not only represents an historical person, but what is vastly more important, Israel (the people of God) itself. Therefore, when we read that Joseph was the son whom “Jacob-Israel loved.. more than any other of his children” (Genesis 37:3), we must employ the same principle: Joseph, too is not only an historical individual, but the people of God’s (Jacob’s) idealized, personal representation of what their life of covenant love with God should be. Joseph is everything the people of God (Jacob) love most. Joseph expresses the hunger of their souls for the idealized fulfillment of covenant love in his perfect obedience and fidelity to God, his redemptive suffering which is turned to the good of his people, his merciful forgiveness, his solidarity with his brothers, the children of Jacob-Israel (the people of God), his providential care for them, feeding them in famine, leading them to repentance, his fulfillment of his father’s last wish to be buried in the Promised Land. If we recall that Jacob-Israel is also the people of God, then Joseph is the fulfillment of the people of God’s last wish, too; he is their ultimate hope for a Messiah. Thus, in Joseph, the people of God are not only looking back to the meaning of covenant love as expressed in one of their fathers; they are also looking forward to the type of a person who could save them. Joseph is their last wish. Joseph will bring them to eternal repose in the Land of Promise. Joseph does bury Jacob-Israel in the Promised Land. But this Joseph only reveals himself to the sons of Israel, (people of God) after they have repented of their past wickedness. From Moses to the last of the prophets, John the Baptist, Israel is always being called to repentance. Only when they have been converted from their infidelity, will the Messiah (Joseph) become known to them, reveal himself. Only after reconciliation will Israel’s (Jacob) last wish be granted.
Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Israel’s messianic hope. We cannot fully appreciate our relation to Him unless we understand the corporate aspects of this relationship foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Just as the men of the Bible expressed their solidarity with God and one another in terms of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, we find the fulfillment of ours in Christ Jesus.
The Mystical Order under the leadership of our Patriarch and Chief Apostle Sir Darrindel is leading the church to repentance and reconciliation. It is tile to rise and shine and give God the honour and the glory. Give Him some praise and thanks this morning.
Sir Godfrey Gregg