Outreach Israel Ministries and Messianic Apologetics need your help as we enter into 2020, and the third decade of the Twenty-First Century. This new decade is going to see the Messianic movement have theological and spiritual issues thrust upon it that most are not ready for. We have been preparing for this time for the past several years, and now it is time for us to speak out.
Our overarching ministry theme for this next decade is: How do we not lose the next generation?
Reflection for V’yigash
“The Family Reunited”
Acts 7:9-16 (esp. 13-15)
by Mark Huey
In the third installment on the life of Joseph, which is being examined this week in V’yigash (Genesis 44:18-47:27), the emphasis focuses on the second visit of the brothers. A kind of family reunion occurs, as Joseph’s brothers go back to Canaan to get their father Jacob, and then they return to Egypt with him. You might be moved to tears by the thought of how, after so many years separated, Joseph was finally able to see his father.
Considering this week’s selection from the Apostolic Scriptures, we can note how Stephen appealed to the reunification of Jacob’s family, in his defense before the Sanhedrin:
“The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household. Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all. And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem” (Acts 7:9-16, NASU).
Looking at more of Stephen’s defense, he made an appeal to the Prophets. He compared the persecution and execution of many of the Prophets to what his detractors were doing to him, in failing to hear what he had to preach. His declarations were so profound, that his detractors were provoked to stop him from convicting them of having hardened hearts. Coming to a crescendo of condemning statements, Stephen exemplified the similar character traits of not only Joseph, but also Yeshua. He died a martyr’s death in standing firm for the truth of the gospel:
“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it. Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Yeshua standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Yeshua, receive my spirit!’ Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:51-60, NASU).
Stephen had a heart similar to Joseph, who was able to forgive his brothers for selling him into slavery, as before dying he prayed to the Lord to not hold his death against those murdering him. Joseph was mature and wise enough to understand that it was God’s will to send him ahead, for the ultimate deliverance of Jacob’s family:
“Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Please come closer to me.’ And they came closer. And he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life. For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt’” (Genesis 45:4-8, NASU).
Stephen, obviously filled with the Holy Spirit as the text indicates (Acts 7:55), echoed the heart of the Lord Yeshua. He too asked His Father to forgive the executioners who were unjustly crucifying Him:
“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Yeshua was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves” (Luke 23:33-34, NASU).
Seeing how Stephen emulated both the Patriarch Joseph and the Messiah Yeshua should be very encouraging to us as people of faith. We should all strive to emulate them. There is no doubt from reading the Scriptures that the Second Coming of the Messiah will be preceded by much turmoil and tribulation. There will most likely be many, who will be alive at that future time, who will be called upon to exemplify the character traits of figures like Joseph and Stephen. Even if you are not called to live in those end-times, there are still some important questions you might want to ask yourself, considering your own state of spirituality:
- How would I react given some of the challenges faced by Joseph and Stephen?
- Do I have godly attributes similar to Joseph and Stephen?
- Am I ready to forgive those who do me harm?
- Can I forgive my brethren, and recognize God’s sovereign hand on whatever circumstances arise?
- Am I ready to face persecution for the faith, and will I be confident to proclaim the gospel of the Messiah and His Kingdom to come?
Has the Almighty prepared you to be useful for Him in His Kingdom’s work? Have you allowed the words of the Scriptures, which have perhaps been given to you throughout a lifetime of discipleship, to enable you to declare His goodness to all you encounter? Lord, please make us ready, able, and willing—no matter what comes in our lifetime! Allow us to be able servants of You, who can speak forth Your truth when the situation requires it!
 This is according to Genesis 46:27, as found in the Greek Septuagint:
“And the sons of Joseph, who were born to him in the land of Egypt, were nine souls; all the souls of the house of Jacob who came with Joseph into Egypt, were seventy-five souls” (LXE).