And Joseph opened all the storehouses. — (Genesis 41:56.)
PERHAPS the history of Joseph is to many persons the most interesting narrative in the whole of the Old Testament.
It is full of pleasing pictures. Poets, painters, writers of all kinds have reveled in the matchless scenes which that story presents. To us as Christians it is perhaps chiefly delightful because Joseph is such an eminent type of our Lord Jesus Christ. All through his life you see touches that remind you of the story of Jesus of Nazareth; whether it be in the dungeon or on the throne, whether it be as rejected of his brothers or as receiving them to his heart, or reigning in Egypt for their good and providing for all their wants. It needs no ingenuity — it is a very simple matter indeed — to say, “In this, Joseph is like to Jesus, and in that:, and in the other; and in hundreds of points he becomes one of the chief types of the Old Testament types of our divine Master.”
Now you see in the present text that Joseph is rightly made a type of Jesus Christ. There is a famine in all the earth — a famine after the bread, not of the body, but of the soul; and behold Jesus has provided for that famine; and it :s true in these latter ‘days. — especially and notably true — that, as Joseph opened all the storehouses, so has Jesus opened the rich treasuries of grace that famished souls in all regions may come and eat even to the full. That, then, will be the topic of to-night — to work a parallel between Joseph of Egypt opening the storehouses and Jesus, head over all things to His Church, opening the storehouse for perishing souls.
There will be four or five points upon which we shall briefly touch.
I. And the first is this: Joseph was empowered by the king to do what he did.
When Pharaoh saw the extraordinary wisdom which dwelt in that young man Joseph, and the evident favor of God that rested upon him, he selected him to carry out his own project, and to enable him to do so he made Joseph to be viceroy. He was the grand vizier of Egypt — was to stand in the place of the king, and attend to all the business of the land; so that, in the first place, nobody could approach to Pharaoh except through Joseph.
When the people petitioned the king he said, “Go unto Joseph. What he saith unto you, do it.” There was no coming to the throne except through the mediation of the king’s prime minister, even Joseph. Well now, at this day the Lord God is not to be approached by us except through Jesus Christ. Prayers addressed immediately to God apart from the mediator will be unacceptable. We can only hope to succeed with the Most High by pleading that name which He has given to be a pass-word to the courts of glory, which He has given to be the seal to our prayers and the pledge of their acceptance with Him.
Dear friend, are you beginning to desire peace with God? You can only get it through the blood of Jesus Christ. Do you want to be reconciled to the Father? It must be through the Son. Do not indulge in any sentiments which lead you to think little of the Lord Jesus Christ, for God will not receive one who will not receive His Son. “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me,” is Christ’s own word; and so it must be. If you will not go to Jesus, the Father can not — will not — accept you. That is the way of access: there is no other. Come then, I pray you, if you would approach the great God and find mercy at His hands — -come with the name of Jesus upon your tongue and upon your heart.
The king’s order was moreover that Joseph was in all things to be obeyed. “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it,” says he. Now it is the order of the great King of kings that Jesus is to be obeyed in all respects. “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth, and things that are under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” I want every sinner that would have peace with God to submit to the sway of Jesus, and to say in his heart, “What He bids me do, by His enabling grace I am prepared to do. Whatever of self-denial He shall ask at my hands, that would I endeavor to render, but I long for salvation through the Mediator.”
But note that in Egypt there was nobody else in power but the king and Joseph; so is there nobody appointed to intercede between God and man save the man Christ Jesus. Do not be beguiled by anybody to seek another mediator. The virgins and the saints can have no power with God. He has put all power in Christ. If He pleadeth, the intercession will avail, but seek no other. And do recollect that you do not want any mediator between you and Christ. Very simple as this statement is, there is need often to repeat it.
You may come to Jesus just as you are whoever you may be. The poor, needy, hungry, famished, Egyptians were to go to Joseph. They did not want any great man to introduce them to him, but if they went to him, then they came practically to Pharaoh. You do want a mediator between yourselves and God, but you want no mediator between yourselves and Christ. Priests, clergymen, ministers — -they are all altogether unnecessary in the matter of approaching to Jesus Christ. Come to Him simply and humbly just as you are, and He will accept you, for God has appointed Him to be a ladder between earth and heaven. He is the secret link between a needy sinner and the all-sufficiency of God. There is the first parallel then.
As Joseph was put in power so also is the Lord Jesus Christ King of kings and Lord of lords.
II. Secondly, the text says, “Joseph opened all the storehouses.” The fact is Joseph had filled the storehouses. He was the man to open them, for he was the man that filled them.
And Joseph had filled all the storehouses before the famine came. Glory be to the Lord Jesus that before Adam fell He had prepared the way to restore the fall. Before sin was born, or Eden had been blasted by the breath of treason, the Lord Jesus Christ had entered into a covenant with the eternal Father that He would redeem His people from the fall, which, as yet, had not happened. In that covenant He had filled the storehouses by His promise. Then came the fullness of time, and though as yet you and I were not born, and our time of famine had not come, the Lord Jesus by His life and death filled all the storehouses. What heaps of grace, what stores of heavenly food, He gathered together, reaping not with the sweat of His face as we do, but with the sweat of His very soul, sweating “as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground.” Vast granaries of mighty grace He filled with every pang His body and His soul endured. Gethsemane heaped up the bread of Heaven, its winepress was full. And Calvary can tell how the body which He gave to bleed and die became for the world food, of which if a man eat he shall live for ever. Joseph filled the storehouses before the famine came, and Jesus has made provision of grace before you and I were born — certainly long before we had any idea that there was a famine in the land.
And then note that Joseph had filled the storehouses sufficiently full to last through seven years. So much wheat did he gather that he ceased to keep account of it. Some of the vast storehouses are still remaining in Egypt, and we have on the tombs of Egypt representations of the great underground granaries which Joseph built. So much was it that he could not count it. O beloved, Jesus has made such provision for the sons of men as to be quite beyond all calculation. His granaries are deep as our helpless miseries are, and boundless as our sins. Not only is there sufficiency in Christ, but all-sufficiency. There is no measuring, for there is no limit.
When God Himself takes human flesh and bleeds and dies, the merit of that sacred passion is not to be set down in figures or conceived of by the mind.
So, poor needy souls, however ravenous your appetites, you will never exhaust the store of sovereign grace which Christ has laid by for such as you.
But He alone did this. When the famine was fully come there was nobody in all the world that could feed men but Jesus. He had filled the storehouses, and there they were. And Joseph hail them all under his own lock and key. And, mark you, there is salvation in Christ, but there is salvation in no other. The Gospel of Jesus is divinely intolerant. It does not say, “There is salvation here, and also there and there, for it courts not the approbation of being charitably false.” It speaks the truth and declares that “other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid “ — Jesus Christ the righteous. “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: he that believeth not shall be damned.” It does not flinch matters. Joseph knew that they must come and buy corn of him, or starve. They might work as hard as they pleased, but it was no use working where money wages would not buy a piece of bread. They might dig and toil and till the soil, but as the time of famine had come the land would yield nothing to them. There was nothing for any man in the known world, but to go down to Egypt to Joseph and buy corn. And such is the famine which has fallen on our entire humanity that there is no possibility of your salvation in any way by your own doings, by your own feelings, by the help of priests, by multiplying ceremonies, and the like. You must go to Christ and get bread from Him or you will perish as surely as you are born. May the Holy Ghost make men know this that they may decide to go to Joseph — -to Jesus at once.
III. This brings me to the third remark, which is this: Joseph opened those storehouses which he had filled all in good time. And here let us notice that Joseph had filled the storehouses on purpose to open them. He did not put a bushel of wheat in there for his own keeping and lock it up. What was the use of having it stale and musty for the mice and the rats? He put the wheat in on purpose to take it out again. When the Lord Jesus gathered all the merit of His life and death together, He did not do it to keep it useless. He gathered it on purpose to save sinners with it, on purpose to give it away.
Whenever you think of Jesus Christ and think highly of Him, dear heart, say to yourself, “All this is meant for needy sinners.” There is not anything in Christ for Himself. It is all for you and for me and such as we are. If we are guilty, that fountain which He filled is to wash us. If we are naked, that robe of righteousness was meant to clothe us. I will put it very plainly: there is not a bushel of wheat in Christ’s granary but what is meant for hungry souls to eat. You have but to come for it and take it, for He has put it there on purpose for such as you.
Now, if Joseph had kept the grain, it would not have been to his credit. His profit and his honor both lay in getting rid of the wheat that he had gathered. If he had kept it there in the granaries, of what good would it have been to collect it but to mock and to insult the people? Jesus Christ’s honor and glory never lie in denying mercy to sinners, but they lie in giving to those that need it. How you ought to catch at this, you that feel your need of Christ. I think this ought to cheer you very much. O Lord Jesus, if Thou deny me Thy grace, it will not make Thee more happy nor more rich, nor more honored. On the contrary, if Thou give me Thy grace I shall be greatly benefited, but Thou wilt be honored. It will be to Thy glory to distribute that which Thou didst gather on purpose to give us. Is not that good reasoning — sound argument? Be sure such a man as Joseph means to distribute what he collects, and be sure that such a one as Jesus means to distribute among poor and needy souls that rich, free, grace which by His life and death He has stored up on purpose for them. There is much encouragement in the parallel to those who seek the Lord.
Notice again that Joseph opened the storehouses when the famine was sore in the land. He did not open them during the seven years of plenty. If people could have come and had the wheat then, they would only have wasted it. He kept the door shut till there was need to have it opened, and then he opened it. If there is anybody here that is exceedingly good, righteous, excellent, and can get to heaven by his own works, the granary is not open. There is nothing for you. But if there is a poor soul here that has nothing to trust to of its own — no good works, no good feelings — if you feel that you are utterly lost by nature and by practice — then the granaries are open. The famine is in your land. And as Joseph opened all the storehouses, so does Jesus Christ. Famished soul, the promises are for you. Hungry soul, the blessings of the covenant are for you. Do but prove your need, and you have proved your right, for there can be no other need, no other right, for the poor soul except its own dire necessity. The advertisements of Joseph were not put out until the corn was all eaten.
Then he made the people know that they might come and buy of him. Jesus Christ publishes His Gospel to every creature, but the point of it is, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
You that know your need — you sinners, you lost, you ruined ones — it is to you that the invitation is most pressingly given. Come and welcome to Jesus Christ!
Now, when Joseph had opened the storehouses, he kept them open. As long as the seven years lasted, the granaries lasted; they were never exhausted. What a mercy that is, for children of God that have been His people these twenty years! The granaries are open still. Have you got grace? He giveth more grace — grace upon grace. Has He blest you? He will bless you twice as much. Have you been enabled to be strong? He will make you stronger. He never shuts the granary while there is a hungry soul to be fed. Dear saints, if any of you to-night are straitened, you are not straitened in Him. Come and welcome; come and take all that you possibly can out of the great storehouses of grace.
Once more. These granaries were all over Egypt. Up the Nile, down the Nile, everywhere where there was a city, there were the granaries. Where the people lived there were the storehouses. What a blessing this is — that, wherever there is a sinner, Christ is handy. You will find Him, you work people; you will find Him if you lift your eye towards Him in the workroom.
You will find Him, you poor sick folk, when you are in the hospital; when you are lying in the bed you expect to occupy before long. You will find Him, dear mother, at home with the little ones. Christ is near to you.
You may find Him there. And you that pace the streets, you that are watchmen of the night, you that have scarcely’ a home to call your own, go where you may, you will find Him there. And I would say to the prisoner, if he were lying in his cell in the jail — ay, and to him that is in the condemned cell — Jesus is to be found even there. Where there is hunger there, there is the granary; and wherever you are, needy, hungry one, say not, “Who shall climb to Heaven to bring: Christ down, or who shall descend into the deep to fetch Him up ?” He is “nigh you — in your mouth and in your heart.” If with thy mouth thou wilt confess the Lord Jesus, and’ with thy heart believe in Him, thou shalt be saved. St. Joseph opened all the storehouses.
But I should not wonder, dear friends, if the type would fail if we were to look closely into it, because he, very likely, only opened them during some hours in the day; and if you got too late you must go without your dinner.
Now, our’ Lord opens all the storehouses at all times. From morning’ till night — when you are young and when you are old — there is not one single minute of a man’s existence but that, if he seeks the Lord, he will be found of Him. The storehouses. are always open up to the eleventh hour.
Ay, and if a soul shall seek the Lord at the very last — sincerely seek Hiram He will still be found. While the lamp holds out to burn, The vilest sinner may return, and, returning, he shall still find the good Lord ready to receive him.
Joseph opened all the storehouses, but he could not keep them always open. He had his hours, and if he had, I suppose when the crowd was gathered together to get their morning meal, if it was anything like the shops in Paris, when the people went to be served, each one with his ration, there would be a deal of pushing and squeezing, and many poor women would get pushed against the wall and have to go home with nothing. But it is not so with Jesus. He has’ so opened all the storehouses that the poorest, weakest, most trembling and obscure shall be served as soon as ever He comes. No fear of too great a multitude. He has enough for all that come, and He has an open pathway from the very ends of the earth for all that draw near to Him.
IV. So that brings me to make the fourth observation. “Joseph opened all the storehouses”; that is, he opened ‘them to all comers. Joseph had an eye to his brethren. He .said, “God sent me before you to keep your souls alive.”
Yes, there is an election of grace, but, at the same time, Joseph served everybody that came, for so we find it. “All countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn because that the famine was so sore in all lands.”
And the Lord Jesus has a people for whom He shed His precious blood, for whom the whole work of grace is wrought out from top to bottom; but, for all that, it is quite as true that whosoever comes shall be received, come from what land he may. Here :are two truths. It is not everybody that will believe two truths that look a little different, but here are the two in the Bible. “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me.” There is sovereign grace. “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” There is the freeness and richness of the word of God addressed to every soul that comes to Him. Now, some came to Joseph a great many miles across ‘deserts, over the sea; but he did not ask where they came from. They might have the corn. Free trade then. And so some of you may come from very far-off places to Christ. Perhaps. you have been in character something unmentionable. Possibly you may so have sinned that, if your story were written, your own friends would blush to own you. But if you will: come to Christ, He will ask no questions, but will “blot out your sins like a cloud, and your iniquities like a thick cloud,” and feed you with the bread of heaven.
Some, however, came to Joseph from near at hand. No doubt they had, comparatively, a little way to come, but, if they had not come that little way, they would have perished. So you that are near to the kingdom, take heed of perishing near to the kingdom. The people in Egypt had to get the corn from Joseph as well as the people in Canaan and Arabia. It would have been a horrible thing for them to die of famine with all those great storehouses bursting with grain; and yet they would have done so if they had refused to go to Joseph. You people in the Tabernacle that hear the Gospel continually, if you perish, you will be like Egyptians that lived next door to a granary, and yet were starved, if such there were. I should suppose there would be none such, but there are such spiritually. The bread of life stands on the table before. them every day, and yet they are dying of famine because they refuse the appointments of the Lord. I say again, Joseph opened the granaries to all comers; and Christ has opened the doors of salvation to all sorts of people, of every color and language and character. None are excluded hence, but those Who do themselves exclude.
Welcome the learned and polite, The ignorant and rude.
While grace is offered to the prince, The poor may take their share.
No mortal has a just pretense To perish in despair.
Joseph opened all the storehouses, and so does Christ. We-never read of one that Joseph sent empty away; and you certainly will never hear of one that Christ sends empty away.
However, the parallel does not run all through, because Joseph, though he opened the storehouses, did not give his wheat away. No, those who wished to obtain wheat must bring their money with them. They could not have it without; and you know that, after all the money had been spent, they offered their lands; and when the mortgage had all been eaten up, then the poor Egyptians offered themselves to become henceforth Pharaoh’s servants. Then they had to be fed right through the rest of the time.
Now, our Lord Jesus Christ makes no such bargains as the son of Jacob did, but He gives without money and without price. I cannot blame Joseph, because very likely if he had proceeded to feed the people without their paying for the food, they would never have worked any more. After the seven years were over they would wish to be still fed in the same way. He would have demoralized all the people. As it was, they were ready enough to work, for a part of the bargain was that they were to have seed-corn as soon as the years of the famine were over, each man intending to get to his land again and work as Egyptians will do. Well, the Lord Jesus acts on another principle. Rowland Hill used to say, “You know, we ministers who have Christ to present to you are very different from other dealers, for all the other dealers have a difficulty to get people up to their price. Our trouble is to get you down to our price, for ours is ‘without money and without price.’” The moment you preach Jesus Christ, the sinner begins to fumble to see if he has not got a shilling’s worth of merit somewhere, and when he finds he has not, he puts his hand into the other pocket to see if he cannot find at least sixpenny worth of good feeling. When he feels nothing of the kind there, then he begins fumbling in his waistcoat to see if he has not got at least a halfpenny-worth of something or other that can recommend him Now, as long as ever he does that, he cannot deal with Christ. The terms of Christ are no terms at all: everything for nothing. That is Christ’s bargain — all things freely given to the man who, with an empty hand and a humble heart, will simply take. O soul, thou art not asked to be, or do, or feel, but simply to let Jesus be and do and feel, and be to thee all in all thy Alpha and thy Omega, thy entire salvation. What sayest thou? Art thou willing? If thou sayest “Yes, willing: I shall be rejoiced to have it so,” trust thou in Him, and it is so.
V. Now, the last point of all is this: Although Joseph and Jesus in the dealing out of the bread acted on different principles, yet Jesus brings the thing to the same conclusion. Before Joseph had done, Pharaoh had got everything in his hand — people, lands, houses, everything. It was a wonderful speculation in corn, indeed, and he had become the master — the absolute master — of the whole country. Probably, that was a good thing for the people; but now they had only one landlord, and he was a great one and a king; and the little petty landlords all over the country that used to grind them to death were all sold out. Everything was now held as crown-land on a lease, and the payment was by no means an unfair one. Though somewhat rigorous, it was nothing approximate to what is paid in rent and taxes in that country now.
Well, the Lord Jesus Christ acts on quite a different principle, but He brings it to the same result. At this moment it is the joy of a large number of us now present here to say that we belong to the Lord — our money, our lands, if we have any, and our persons. Oh, it is to us an intense delight that body, soul, and spirit now belong to God. We do not wish henceforth to think a thought for ourselves, or say a word except for His glory, or breathe a breath but for Him; nor would we wish to have a hair on our heads that did not belong to the Lord. Take my goods; take my talents; take myself, my time — all that I have. I surrender them to Thee. I do not say that all Christians keep to this. I am afraid that many of them do not, but they ought; and this is the point that the genuine Christian wants to come to. He says:- If I might make some reserve, And duty did not call, I love my God with zeal so great That I would give Him all.
How came we to this position, then? Did Jesus bargain with us? Beloved, we have given ourselves to Him because He did not bargain — because He said that His love would take no price, for it was priceless; because He was so generous and gracious; because it was all giving on His part and not receiving. We feel that we must be His: we love Him so. Oh, those dear wounds!
I remember seeing a picture once of Magdalen kissing the bleeding wounds of Christ upon the cross; and, though it was a ghastly subject, I thought that, had I been there, I would have carried out the painter’s strange idea.
O blessed person, even of the dying Savior. But oh, how blessed is He in His glory ! and what a joy it will be to see Him when He comes, as soon He will, and every eye shall behold Him. O beloved, do not your hearts burn within you at the very thought of seeing Him? If suddenly He were to appear on this platform, is there anything you would deny Him? If He were to look at any one of you and say, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love,” is there any pain you would not bear? Is there any sacrifice you would refuse to make for Him? You will not be put to the test, but I am quite sure many of you would bear it, whatever it might be. If He were to say, “My sister, My spouse, I take thee by the hand. and thou and I must walk to burn at Smithfield’s stake,” you would go gladly along if you knew that He grasped your hand. O dear, dear Savior, Thou art worth ten thousand of us, and we give ourselves up wholly to Thee from this time forth even for ever, for Thou hast saved our lives and fed us with the bread of Heaven; and henceforth we are not our own, but are “bought with a price.”
That was the conclusion of Joseph’s opening the storehouses. That is the conclusion of Jesus Christ’s opening the storehouses for you and for me.
The Lord bless this word for Christ’s sake. Amen.