Recently, T Desmond Alexander was interviewed over at the Gospel Coalition website. He was being asked about how to read Genesis with a Christ-centered focus. While the whole interview is worth reading, I couldn’t help but be struck by this paragraph:
“….in Genesis the future royal line is traced most strongly from Jacob to Joseph and then onward through Joseph’s younger son, Ephraim. We see this occurring when Jacob unexpectedly given the blessing of the firstborn to Ephraim (Genesis 48). Later, Joshua, as an Ephraimite, leads the Israelites into the promised land; Joshua is a king in all but name. However, back in Genesis, after Joseph’s departure to Egypt in chapter 37, Genesis 38 unexpectedly focuses on Judah’s offspring. The chapter concludes with a brief report of twins being born to Tamar, with the younger brother Perez pushing aside his older brother Zerah in order to become the firstborn. We later discover in the book of Ruth that from Perez comes the royal line of David. Key to understanding the significance of these observations is Psalm 78. According to Psalm 78:56-72, in the time of Samuel the royal line of Joseph was rejected by God due to its sinfulness, and at that stage David was appointed by God to continue the family line that begins in Genesis. This shift from the tribe of Ephraim to the tribe of Judah accounts for the importance of both Joseph and Judah in Genesis, and why the tribes of Ephraim and Judah are to the fore in the books of Joshua and Judges. These developments help me to understand how Joseph may be viewed as foreshadowing Jesus Christ.”
What an amazing piece of thematic study! I found this to be both encouraging and convicting It’s encouraging as a reminder that the Bible hangs together as one book with one story, written by one Author. It’s convicting, though, in that we are often used to reading in such a way that we see the trees but miss the forest. Alexander is bringing together history and theology across several books of the Bible that helps us better understand Jesus. As a pastor and preacher, how can I not want to do that? But this kind of reading only comes with actually reading the Bible–again and again, wide and deep, with eyes open, mind alert, and heart engaged. May we strive for such study in our own lives.