God had taken the initiative in establishing the covenant alliance with His people. He has conferred His benefits upon them and requires their loving obedience and undivided loyalty in return for His continued support and protection, “you shall not have other Gods besides me” (Exodus 20:3). His chosen people bound themselves to “love, honour and obey” only the Lord. Because the Lord is a Person, His worshippers are bound to a personal response of loyalty, service and devotion that is summed up in love; and because His covenant is with the people as such, individuals are bound in similar loyalty to each other. For example, Deuteronomy 4-11 repeatedly exhorts the people to grateful love toward the divine Benefactor, insisting that the motive underlying the Covenant was not any merit on Israel’s part (Deuteronomy 7:7; 9:6), nor the Lord’s advantage (Deuteronomy 10:14) but simply the overwhelming mystery of His arbitrary love (Deuteronomy 7:8). This is the meaning of Joseph for the people of God.

Today we tend to express our basic relationship to God in terms of faith, hope and love, whereas the men of the Bible preferred to express these same concepts in the concrete terms of a corporate personality. Instead of “I have faith,” they would say, “I am a son of Abraham.” Faith for them is the way Abraham lived; hope is the way Jacob lived; love is the way Joseph lived.

The living God was the sole source of life and to depart from Him was death. The various aspects of this covenant life, which they had received as a gift of God, were understood in terms of their patriarchs.

Sir Godfrey Gregg

Divisional Patriarch

Author: Godfrey Gregg