Watchman Nee’s Allegory of Jacob and the Wagons of Egypt

When we read about what happened to Joseph in the book of Genesis we see many ways that he was a type of Christ. While some of the prophetic parallels are obvious, some are easy to miss. Watchman Nee, in The Normal Christian Life, pointed out one that I had always overlooked.

Genesis tells about how Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery and convinced their father Jacob that he had died. Years later they discovered that he was still alive in Egypt, and that he was running the place, second only to Pharaoh.

Genesis 45:16-28 relates how Joseph sent his brothers to Jacob to tell him the good news. He sent them with donkeys and wagons loaded with food, money, and other products—signs of the wealth of Egypt.

These wagons had two purposes: to convince Jacob that Joseph was still alive, and to bring him to Egypt in style. Here is Watchman Nee’s interpretation of this passage in chapter 8 of The Normal Christian Life:

“After Jacob had been mourning the death of his son for years, it was suddenly reported to him that Joseph was alive and in a high position in Egypt. At first Jacob could not take it in. It was too good to be true. But ultimately he was persuaded that the story of Joseph’s exaltation was really a fact. How did he come to believe in it? He went out, and saw the chariots that Joseph had sent from Egypt.

“What do those chariots represent? They surely typify the Holy Spirit, sent both to be the evidence that God’s Son is in glory, and to convey us there.”

To continue with this analogy, we can point out that it was not the wagons alone that convinced Jacob. Genesis 45:27 says: “But when they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said to them, and when he saw the wagons that Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of their father Jacob revived.”

If the wagons represent the Holy Spirit, the words of Joseph represent the gospel. The good news was announced and the wagons confirmed the word.

What a great illustration of how God not only convinces us that Jesus is alive, but in doing so, gives us a foretaste of the wealth of His kingdom and a way to get there.