The Angel of the Lord – Part 3

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The Angel of the Lord – Part 3
By Randy Nettles

After Isaac died, Jacob and his large family continued living in the land of Canaan. This was the land which was promised to them by God Himself. Just as God had made a covenant with Abraham and Isaac, so He did with Jacob at Bethel. He also confirmed this covenant between Himself and Jacob (and his descendants) decades later in Bethel once again.

Jacob had twelve sons and one daughter with four different women. “Now there were twelve sons of Jacob: the sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, then Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Zebulun; the sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin; and the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali; and the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram” (Genesis 35:22-25). Dinah, the only girl, was the daughter of Leah. The two sons of Sarah, Joseph and Benjamin, were the youngest sons of Jacob; born to him in his old age.

The story of Joseph begins in Genesis 37. Joseph is 17 years old at this time, and Benjamin is probably about 10 or 11. The family has been in the land for about 10 years now. Joseph was the favorite son of Israel which caused feelings of jealously and resentment among his brothers toward him. “Now Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also, he made him a tunic of many colors” (Genesis 37:3).

Joseph had a dream and told it to his brethren; and they hated him even more. “And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: for, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and then my sheaf arose, and stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dream, and for his words” (Genesis 37:6-8).

He had a similar dream where the sun and the moon and eleven stars made obeisance to him. When he told it to his father and brethren, Jacob rebuked him, and said to him: “What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall I and your mother and your brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to the earth to you? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying” (Genesis 37:10-11).

Most of you learned readers of the Bible know the story of Joseph and his wicked step-brothers and how they sold him into slavery to the Ishmaelites. Afterward, they lied to their father and told him he had been killed by a wild animal. They gave him the remains of Joseph’s coat of many colors as proof. Joseph wound up in Egypt at the household of Potiphar, an officer (captain of the guard) of Pharaoh; and the Bible says the Lord was with him.

“The LORD [Yahweh/Jehovah] was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. It came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD’S blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field” (Genesis 39:2-5).

After many years of faithful service to his master, Joseph had an encounter with Potiphar’s wife. She tried to seduce him, but he refused to participate. Upon Potiphar’s return home, she spoke to her husband and wrongfully accused Joseph of trying to rape her. She lied because Joseph refused her sexual advances toward him, and this angered her greatly. Potiphar had no choice but to put Joseph in prison. The only other choice would have been to kill him. Once again, the Lord was with Joseph. Joseph spent 13 years in the land of Egypt (including his stay in prison) before he was brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams. He was 30 years old at this time. God conveyed the dreams and their meaning to Joseph.

Joseph told Pharaoh the meaning of his dreams. “God [Elohim] has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do. Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt, and the famine will ravage the land. So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe. Now, as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about.”

Joseph even gave Pharaoh God’s remedy for the coming seven years of famine that were to follow the seven years of plenty, according to Genesis 41:33-36. Pharaoh, of course, was impressed with Joseph’s interpretation of the dream and his solution for the famine to come. The Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the operation and made him his governor over all of Egypt. The only individual that was over him was Pharaoh himself.

After the seven years of plenty, the famine was in the land of Egypt and throughout the region, even unto the land of Canaan. It got so bad in Canaan that Jacob sent his sons to Egypt just to buy bread so they could survive; for he had heard that Egypt still had grain. Jacob sent all of his sons except Benjamin, for he was afraid something bad would happen to him as had happened to Joseph (or so he thought).

Genesis 42-45 describes the two times Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy food and the events that unfolded there. When the food they purchased the first time ran out, Jacob told the men to return to Egypt to purchase more. The brothers then informed their father that the governor of Egypt had told them not to return unless they brought their youngest brother back with them. Jacob didn’t want to send Benjamin to Egypt until Judah told him he would accept responsibility for his safety and return.

The brothers made the trip to Egypt. They bought the corn and loaded the sacks in their wagons. What they didn’t know was that Joseph had commanded his steward to hide his silver cup and the money they paid for the corn in Benjamin’s sack. After they departed, the steward and his men caught up with the brothers on their trip back home and searched their sacks for the missing cup. The Egyptians found the cup in Benjamin’s sack and made the brothers return to their city in Egypt.

When Joseph’s brothers stood before the governor of Egypt (Joseph), he asked them why they had stolen the silver cup. Judah spoke up and said that no one had taken the cup, but if one of them had, they would all become his servants. But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace” (Genesis 44:17).

Judah reasoned with the man regarding this situation and pleaded with him concerning Benjamin. “We have an elderly father and a younger brother, the child of his old age. The boy’s brother is dead. He is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him. Then you told your servants, Bring him down to me so that I can see him for myself. So we said to my lord, The boy cannot leave his father. If he were to leave, his father would die. But you said to your servants, Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.

“Now when we returned to your servant my father, we relayed your words to him. Then our father said, Go back and buy us some food. But we answered, We cannot go down there unless our younger brother goes with us. So if our younger brother is not with us, we cannot see the man. And your servant my father said to us, You know that my wife bore me two sons. When one of them was gone, I said: Surely he has been torn to pieces. And I have not seen him since. So if you take this one from me as well and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray hair down to Sheol in sorrow.


“So if the boy is not with us when I return to your servant, and if my father, whose life is wrapped up in the boy’s life, sees that the boy is not with us, he will die. Then your servants will have brought the gray hair of your servant our father down to Sheol in sorrow. Indeed, your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father, saying, If I do not return him to you, I will bear the guilt before you, my father, all my life. Now please let your servant stay here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy. Let him return with his brothers. For how can I go back to my father without the boy? I could not bear to see the misery that would overwhelm him” (Genesis 44:20-34).

When Judah was a younger man, he showed no regard for Joseph, the favored younger brother, or his father’s feelings. He talked his brothers out of killing Joseph, but it was his idea to sell him into slavery. Judah also lied to his father concerning Joseph’s fate by telling him a wild animal had killed him. Judah had evidently changed for the better. He now had the ability to take his eyes off himself and think about the concerns of others. The man who had originally sold Joseph into slavery now offered to become a slave himself in place of Benjamin. He was even willing to die for his father and youngest brother.

Once Joseph knew his brothers had changed their evil ways, he could no longer refrain from making himself known to them. He first asked them if his father, Jacob, still lived. The brothers couldn’t even reply for they were very troubled at his presence.

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, Please come near me. And they did so. I am Joseph, your brother, he said, The one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed or angry with yourselves that you sold me into this place, because it was to save lives that God sent me before you. For the famine has covered the land these two years, and there will be five more years without plowing or harvesting. God sent me before you to preserve you as a remnant on the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. Therefore it was not you who sent me here, but God, who has made me a father to Pharaoh—lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:4-8).

After Joseph forgave his brothers, he told them to go and bring back his father to Egypt; for there were still five more years of famine to endure. “So the brothers went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. Joseph is still alive, they said, and he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!” (Genesis 45:25-26). Jacob was stunned at the news, and he did not believe them. 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. “Enough! declared Israel. My son Joseph is still alive! I will go to see him before I die” (Genesis 45:28).

Jacob began his journey to Egypt and took all he had with him. When they came to Beer-sheba, Jacob offered sacrifices unto the God of his fathers, Isaac and Abraham. The wilderness of Beer-sheba was the place where the angel of the Lord called to Hagar out of heaven and saved her and Ishmael from the elements. It is the same place where Isaac dug a well after the Lord (angel of the Lord) appeared unto him there and made a covenant with him.

This time God spoke to Jacob (Israel) in a night vision, and said: “I am God [Elohim], the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will surely bring you back. And Joseph’s own hands will close your eyes” (Genesis 46:3-4). “Then Jacob departed from Beersheba , and the sons of Israel took their father Jacob in the wagons Pharaoh had sent to carry him, along with their children and wives. They also took the livestock and possessions they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt” (Genesis 46:5-6).

Jacob’s immediate family consisted of his 12 sons, 1 daughter, 1 granddaughter, 55 grandsons, and himself; for a total of 70 people. This does not include all the wives of the sons. Jacob’s wives had all died by this time. It had been 22 years since Jacob had last seen Joseph. “And he sent Judah before him unto Joseph, to direct his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen. And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him, and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen your face, because you are yet alive” (Genesis 46:28-30).

After Jacob and Joseph’s miraculous reunion, Joseph brought his father to meet Pharaoh. They had quite an interesting conversation as recorded in Genesis 47:7-10. “Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and presented him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. How many years have you lived? Pharaoh asked. My travels have lasted 130 years, Jacob replied. My years have been few and hard, and they have not matched the years of the travels of my fathers. Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and departed from his presence.”

Joseph placed his family in the fertile land of Goshen, as commanded by Pharaoh; and made sure they had plenty of grain and bread during the famine. This was a stark contrast for the citizens of Egypt, who had no grain. Pharaoh, however, had mass amounts of grain in storage, thanks to the preventative actions taken by Joseph. Joseph now represented the government of Egypt as he was the second in command under Pharaoh.

The first item the government took from the people was their money. The people had to spend all of their money for grain just to survive. The next item the government took was their livestock and work animals. Since the people had no money left, they bartered their animals for grain. The third item that was taken from the people was their land. Once all the money and cattle were gone, the only thing they had left for bartering was their land. They had to sell their land to the government in exchange for grain. With the loss of ownership of their land, the people also lost some of their liberties, as they were relocated to different parts of the country. This was probably done for work projects of the government. Basically, it was a form of slavery or serfdom.

When the famine was over, Joseph gave the people of Egypt seed to sow in the land. They worked the land that was now owned by Pharaoh. Joseph allowed them to keep 80% of their crops, and the remaining 20% was given to the government. This was a form of tax or wealth re-distribution system. It worked out really well for Pharaoh and the children of Israel, but not so much for the citizens of Egypt. However, they did survive the seven-year famine.

As time passed, Jacob became sick, for he was dying. He was getting very old and going blind as his father, Isaac, had decades earlier. Joseph brought his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, with him to receive Israel’s blessing. Before he blessed them, Jacob spoke to Joseph regarding his encounters with the Lord. “Then Jacob said to Joseph, God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me, and He said to me, Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants after you for an everlasting possession“ (Genesis 48:3-4).

Joseph brought his two sons to his father, and Jacob placed his right hand on the younger son’s head and his left hand on the eldest son’s head. “And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel [angel of the Lord] which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Genesis 48:15-16). As Israel was blessing his grandsons, he was also acknowledging God’s providence in his life.

Joseph was displeased with his father about placing his right hand on the younger son’s head. The right-hand placement was generally reserved for the oldest son, who would get the bigger blessing. Jacob prophesied to Joseph and told him the younger son, Ephraim, would be greater than the elder son, Manasseh. “Then Israel said to Joseph, Behold, I am about to die, but God will be with you, and bring you back to the land of your fathers. I give you one portion more than your brothers, which I took from the hand of the Amorite with my sword and my bow” (Genesis 48:21-22).

Before Jacob died, he gathered his twelve sons to him and prophesied regarding their future (and the future of their descendants). Jacob especially blessed Joseph and Judah. Here is the blessing Judah received:

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Judah is a lion’s whelp; From the prey, my son, you have gone up. He crouches, he lies down as a lion, And as a lion, who dares rouse him up? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes are dull from wine, And his teeth white from milk” (Genesis 49:8-12).

God had chosen Judah to be the one whom the kings of Israel would later come. Judah’s line would produce the promised Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus would be the one whom the angel of the Lord prophesied about long ago in Genesis 3:15 (the first theophany in the Bible). In other words, Christ (as the angel of the Lord) prophesied about Himself, as the Messiah who would come to redeem fallen mankind. This is hard to fathom with our limited minds, but one day we will understand it perfectly.

After Jacob blessed all of his sons, he gave them instructions for burial after his death. “Then he charged them and said to them, I am about to be gathered to my people; bury me with my fathers in the cave that is in the field of Ephron the Hittite, in the cave that is in the field of Machpelah, which is before Mamre (Hebron), in the land of Canaan, which Abraham bought along with the field from Ephron the Hittite for a burial site. There they buried Abraham and his wife Sarah, there they buried Isaac and his wife Rebekah, and there I buried Leah—the field and the cave that is in it, purchased from the sons of Heth. When Jacob finished charging his sons, he drew his feet into the bed and breathed his last, and was gathered to his people” (Genesis 49:29-33).

Joseph had Jacob embalmed, and the Egyptians mourned for him 70 days. Afterward, Joseph spoke unto Pharaoh and received his permission to take the body of Israel back to Canaan for burial. A large caravan joined Joseph on his trip to Canaan. The caravan consisted of servants and elders of Pharaoh, Joseph’s brothers and their household, and Jacob’s household. Only the young ones and livestock remained in the land of Goshen, Egypt.

Upon entering the land of Canaan, the group mourned for Jacob seven days. The sons of Jacob (Israel) did as they were told and buried Jacob with his family and his wife Leah in Hebron. His favorite wife, Rachel, was buried near Bethlehem, where she died giving birth to Benjamin. She was the mother of Joseph as well.

Joseph and his entourage returned to Egypt after the burial of Jacob. The brothers began to worry about Joseph seeking retribution for their evil deed which they inflicted upon him decades earlier. They acknowledged their sin against him and asked for his forgiveness. Joseph responded: “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s [Elohim’s] place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones” (Genesis 50:19-21).

The little brother, Joseph, had now become the leader of the family. The dreams he had as a youth long ago came true, for his brothers did indeed bow down before Joseph. In those dreams, God gave Joseph a vision of his glorious future; so in the hard times to come, he would have hope. This is just as God has done with all who believe in Him (Christ). He has given us His written word as hope and confirmation of our glorious future.

Joseph and his brethren lived in the land of Egypt for the rest of their lives. There is no mention in the Bible of Yahweh appearing (as the angel of the Lord) to any of the sons of Jacob. However, it does say several times: “and the Lord was with Joseph.” Before he died, Joseph prophesied to his brethren, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here” (Genesis 50:24-25).

Randy Nettles

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