So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way. Gen. 45:24
What does the phrase “to fall out” mean? It means to separate, to be in disunity. The Swahili version puts this scripture this way, “And do not quarrel among yourselves along the way.”
You may wonder why Joseph would need to tell his brothers, grown men, not to quarrel among themselves. Such a statement seems even out of place in the Bible!
But I can assure you that nothing that is written in the Bible can ever be considered “out of place”. The seemingly trivial and irrelevant statement that Joseph made here has very powerful implications in the Spirit.
At last, now, Joseph was in a position where he could speak to his brothers and they would listen to him. There was a time when they would not listen to him and they had even sold him into slavery.
But with God persecution is momentary. Soon Joseph was in a position of such authority that his brothers better take heed to every word that came out of his mouth if they wished to live!
It is so with our Lord Jesus and His church today. We cannot take Jesus’ words lightly today. He has passed through death and He is Lord over all, throughout eternity. Jesus’ words carry life. If we pay heed to them we will live. If we do not heed Jesus’ words we will die spiritually.
You see, Joseph was a type of Jesus and what is happening here with Joseph’s words is that Jesus is admonishing the church – us – to grow to the level of maturity where we as members of the Body of Christ no longer quarrel and fight amongst ourselves.
It is no doubt a matter of shame, and we do much to cover up the fact, but the truth is that we as believers squabble and quarrel among ourselves more than we show love and tolerance to one another. Even worse is the fact that we are not aware of the gravity of the negative attitudes that we carry. But they are not a small thing with God. Divisiveness and wrangling within the Body of Christ tears at the core of the Kingdom of God that Christ came to establish in men’s hearts.
Notice the flow of the scripture in this particular verse:
“So he sent his brethren away, and they departed…”
We, too, have been sent by Christ. We have departed; we are on a mission to save the world and establish the church. We are busy! But the mission that Christ has sent us on requires, not just “busy-ness”, but transformed hearts, transformed attitudes, and transformed lives.
“… and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.”
These words were Joseph’s final admonition to His brethren. As much as he loved them, yet he warned them because he wanted them to forge a true brotherhood.
Christ’s chief desire for His church is for it to grow and become mature and united. The Apostle Paul spent a lot of time and energy evangelizing; but his chiefest concern was for the church to be perfected – perfected in unity. That fact is reflected in his writings.
In one of his epic writings on the subject, Paul writes the Corinthians:
“1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ… 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor. 3:1-3)
The Body of Christ is about unity in the Spirit. The church, therefore must grow in the Spirit. We must desire to walk in the revelation of the cross, where we are daily submitting to Christ. Remember, Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart…” (Mat. 11:28)
Jesus had a meek and humble spirit! How about us?
If we choose any other way that way will simply be “another Jesus”, “another spirit”, and “another gospel” – things we have not received from Christ Himself (2 Cor. 11:4). Such a ‘gospel’ might appear attractive and fulfilling, but its appeal is only to the flesh. It has absolutely no power in the Spirit to transform the inner man. If we hearken to it we forever remain carnal believers – men and women of the flesh.
But the revelation of the cross – where we have the mind of Christ, and are daily denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ – this gospel has power to bring us to true spiritual maturity, into the character of Christ, and hence unity in the Spirit.
Like Joseph did with his brothers, Christ therefore warns us. He warns us to take up our cross and follow Him. Christ’s warning is not a trivial warning, and we cannot take it lightly. It is something that we should heed with alacrity, for it is very life.
[Below: A meek and humble spirit brings true unity among brethren]