"Fall Not Out By the Way”
The title of this article is found in the context of the experience of Joseph and his family, recorded in Genesis, chapters 37-50. The story constitutes one of the most emotionally captivating and spiritually challenging character studies of the Old Testament.
The Bible nowhere says that Joseph was a type of Christ, but the similarities are so numerous and so striking that we must believe in a historical Christ-like Joseph who lived on earth about seventeen hundred years before Jesus Christ lived here.
Joseph was robed in glory at home with his father while his brothers were roaming the countryside with their flocks—a type of Christ in glory at home with his Father. When Jacob sent Joseph to his brethren, he had to seek them to find them. In a sense, they were lost to their father. When Joseph found them, they rejected him, and in their minds they disposed of him forever—a type of Jesus seeking and finding His own, and His own rejecting and disposing of Him.
Joseph was taken into Egypt and although His record was faultless, he was falsely accused and unjustly imprisoned—a type of Christ's condemnation and death through false accusation.
In prison Joseph delivered an inspired message of destiny to two different prisoners. To the one prisoner he gave a message of exaltation, to the other one he gave a message of execution. He did not change the destiny of either prisoner, but he did verify a verdict for both of them—a type of Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison during the entombment of His body.
By divine intervention in due time, Joseph was brought "hastily out of the dungeon; and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment"—a type of Christ's resurrection—and was brought before the king who assigned him to be ruler supreme over the nation and before whom they were called upon to "bow the knee"—a type of Christ's exaltation.
In his exaltation, Joseph provided inexhaustible stores of food for an approaching divinely designed worldwide famine—a type of worldwide spiritual famine for which Jesus has provided. This famine brought Joseph's rejecting, hungry and destitute brethren before him to beg for some of his life sustaining food. Joseph tested them "roughly" and led them into the deepest of humiliation and repentance—a type of "the time of Jacob's trouble" and the repentance and deliverance of the "house of David." (See Jeremiah 30:1-9; Zachariah 12:10-14:9.) After being fully assured of their genuine repentance, Joseph revealed himself to them and brought them close to him. He spoke words of peace and assurance, and of his love for and acceptance of them. (See Romans 11:25,26.)
After the revelation of his glory, his authority and his ability to bountifully supply their every need in the face of worldwide famine, Joseph gave them an urgent commission: "Go to my destitute, starving family and bring them to me for nourishment, rest, and security." This commission was followed by a solemn warning: "See that ye fall not out by the way."
Joseph may have had several things in mind in giving this warning. First, he did not want them to lose any time. "Haste ye, and go..." was his urgent request. Secondly, with all the shame associated with their former rejection of him and his revelation of himself to them, he may have feared that they would lose the courage they needed to face their father. Thirdly, and perhaps most of all, he must have feared that they may fall out with each other on the way and be detained or fail to get the task done. He had proven them to be good and peaceable men at that time, but knowing their nature, he also knew that his good and peaceable brethren could again become quarrelsome and fall out by the way.
As a present-day application, our humiliated, crucified, resurrected, exalted, empowered and glorified "Joseph" has given us a commission: "Go ye to my spiritually famine-stricken, bankrupt, broken-hearted, bound, blind, and bruised family and tell them to come to me. Come for acceptance and protection, come for rest and nourishment, come and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Come and partake of my boundless supply, for all things are now ready."
He also entreats us that the task is urgent and that "the time is short."
Perhaps one of our Lord's greatest concerns is that we do not fail in fulfilling our great commission because of falling out with each other over needless and unnecessary disagreements.
Fall-outs over departure from the faith are recognized in the Bible as essential and even necessary in order to keep the purity of the gospel in practice. Unscriptural invasions into the church such as divorce and remarriage, shorn and unveiled women, the wearing of jewelry, immodest dress, immoral practices, dishonest business dealings, and so forth, call for a response that some times results in a fallout and a break in relationships. The devil fell out with God and fell out of heaven through no fault of God. These kinds of fallouts must have a definite Scriptural basis on which to warrant the fall-out. We should also be very concerned about the processes that lead up to these flagrant departures from the faith.
However, church history is strewn with fallouts that did not involve the compromising of the truth. Some examples of this might be personality preferences, (a Corinthian problem), personality clashes, (a Paul and Barnabas fall-out), competition for an up-front status, (a James and John syndrome), orthodoxy without love, (an Ephesus crisis), and so forth. Fall-outs over issues like these and others often result in a root of bitterness and mind defilement and oftentimes leaves spiritual babes and innocent people wounded, offended, and easy victims of discouragement and possible spiritual fall-out. Our great commission is often sadly neglected and left unfulfilled due to such fall-outs by the way.
This must have been part of our Lord's concern when He warned His disciples that "whoso shall offend one of these little ones [causing them to fall out spiritually] which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
Spiritual famine and starvation stalk throughout the world with devastating results. Thousands die daily in spiritual starvation with storehouse reserves ample for the salvation of all. Can we not hear our exalted, authorized "Joseph" saying, "Haste ye with the invitation to come unto me" and "See that ye fall not out by the way."
Aaron M. Shank