A Pathway into Romans, Addendum

An addendum to the earlier post on Romans.

In my first essay, I pointed out how the role of the sin of Joseph’s brothers in bringing about Joseph’s exaltation in Egypt, and the resulting salvation of the world from famine, might show us and explanation to some of the distinctive in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

There is another angle on the story of Joseph that might also be relevant. James Jordan (www.biblicalhorizons.com) has argued that the Bible shows us a threefold cycle of temptation and sin and resulting judgments. In Genesis 1-9, Adam and Eve lose sanctuary access for seizing forbidden fruit, Cain is driven from the Land (the edge of Eden near the Garden) because he kills his brother, and the Sethites are destroyed because they intermarry with the Cainites (Genesis 6.1-4). During the time of Judges, Eli’s sons trespass on sanctuary food and God takes the sanctuary away from Israel by breaking it apart (1 Samuel 1-3). In the time of kings, there is much idolatry and bloodshed and the Land is divided in two, before they are all finally exiled from it. Finally, when they are returning from exile, the Israelites begin intermarrying with pagans in the land. Jordan argues that this is related to God raising up Haman who would destroy all the Israelites.

Jordan also argues this cycle is found in the lives of Abraham, Jacob, and Joseph. In the case of Joseph, his brothers were not only sinful in how they treated him, but they began intermarrying in the land (Genesis 38). The worldwide famine was a judgment, but God had mercy so that it did not lead to death but rather brought the Israelites into Egypt where they could grow as a distinctive people and not get absorbed by the tribes of Canaan. This would mean that the sin of Abraham’s seed is more than the means of getting Joseph to Egypt, but also provoked a judgment that, instead of resulting in wrath, was used to graciously bring about a new order. The judgment of famine on Israel’s disobedience actually worked to bring about a fulfillment of the promise that Abraham’s seed would be a means of blessing all the families of the earth.