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Whether for Jews, gentiles, or both, the Bible is loaded with messages intended to point to Yeshua as the Christ, our Messiah, Lord, and Savior. One of the most compelling stories that tells of a type of Christ is in the first book of the Bible, Genesis, in which Joseph is presented in a way that points to the Messiah to come to the world.
Many Bible scholars and theologians have talked about this. It’s the type of revelation that hits us hard when we connect the dots and realize the intense similarities between a man through which God saved Israel and the Christ through which the world is saved. It’s also a story that is not, in our opinion, discussed enough in churches. The significance is too important to pass over casually.
The Bible uses types throughout. Sometimes, a person can be a type that refers to someone in the past. Usually, they point to the future, giving us further affirmation of the timeless nature of the Father. Let’s look at a handful of similarities that point to Joseph as a type of Christ.
Men without Condemnation
Only Abraham is discussed more in the long book of Genesis than Joseph. Nearly everyone is presented with great faults, including Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even Noah, a just man, made a mistake after the flood that allowed Canaan to be cursed for eternity.
Joseph has arguably one fault described in the Bible. He may or may not have bragged to his brothers about his dreams in a way that was not truly humble. He told them as well as his father that they would all bow down to him someday. One can argue that he had to tell them and that he wasn’t doing so to brag but to declare a truth. Whether humbly or not, it was God’s Will for Joseph to tell of the dreams because this put it into his brothers’ hearts to betray him. Had they not, Israel would not have been able to go to Egypt and survive as a nation, at least not in the way that it happened in the Bible.
Genesis lays no condemnation on Jospeh. Yeshua is without sin, a status obviously higher than Joseph. If Joseph had no major faults and maintained faith in God throughout his story, then Yeshua magnified this to the point of righteousness. Joseph was only a man and therefore sinned, but he was without apparent flaw worth noting in the text. Yeshua was flawless.
Sent by His Father to Check on the Flock
This is a neat little note. Joseph was sent by his father to check on his brothers and the flock of sheep that they fed. Yeshua was sent by His Father to gather the brethren to tend to the flock.
While checking on the flocks, both were betrayed.
Betrayed by their Brethren
Joseph was cast into a pit while his brothers contemplated his fate. He was then taken by the Midianites and sold into slavery as his brothers watched helplessly.
Yeshua was betrayed by His people. One could take it further and point to those who knew Him as He grew up in Nazareth. They did not accept Him, even wanting to hurl Him off a cliff and few in His homeland believed that He was anything other than the carpenter’s son. Then, of course, we could look at Judas Iscariot, an original disciple who ultimately betrayed him.
With types, we can often see different degrees expressed. In Joseph’s case, he was betrayed to a life of slavery while Yeshua was betrayed to death. Joseph’s freedom was sold for 20 pieces of silver while Yeshua’s life was sold for 30 pieces of silver. Joseph saved nations. Yeshua saved the world.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of their betrayals is that both Joseph and Yeshua were falsely accused.
Two Criminals, One Saved
When Joseph was imprisoned, he came across two others who were condemned. He interpreted the dreams of the cup bearer and the baker. The cup bearer was to live while the baker was to die.
On the cross, Yeshua was there with two criminals. One mocked Him. The other worshiped Him. One would be saved. The other was condemned.
Not Recognized by the People
Joseph was 17-years-old when he was betrayed by this brothers. He was in his thirties when they would see him again and they did not immediately recognize him, even when they ate with him. They knew he was a powerful man who did wonderful works for the people, but they did not see him as their brother nor the person who would eventually save their nation. In fact, they feared him.
Yeshua was also in His thirties when He went to spread the Word of God throughout the land. He was seen by the Jews as a powerful teacher, a healer, even a prophet, but most did not see Him as the Messiah. His works were revered by most but there were those who did not recognize that these works were done through the Father. They both hated and feared Him.
Bible History put together a pretty comprehensive list of similarities in the form of verses:
|Joseph was Loved by His Father – Genesis 37:3||God said about Jesus “this is my beloved son” – Matthew 3:17|
|Joseph’s brothers did not believe him and hated him – Genesis 37:4-5||The Jews Did Not Believe in Christ – John 7:5 and they hated him – John 15:24|
|Joseph’s brothers rejected his right to rule – Genesis 37:8||The Jewish leaders said “we will not have this man to rule over us” Luke 19:14|
|Joseph’s brothers conspired against him – Genesis 37:23||They took counsel against Jesus Matthew 27:1|
|They stripped Joseph of his garments – Genesis 37:23||They stripped Jesus – Matthew 27:28|
|Joseph was sold for silver – Genesis 37:28||Jesus was sold for silver – Matthew 26:15|
|Everything Joseph put his hand to prospered – Genesis 39:3||“… And the pleasure of the Lord prospered in his hand” – Isaiah 53:10|
|All things were laid into Joseph’s trust – Genesis 39:4-8||God hath given all things into his hand – John 3:35|
|Joseph’s own brothers did not recognize him.||The Jews did not recognize their Messiah|
|Joseph was tempted and did not sin – Genesis 39:9||Jesus was tempted in all things yet was without sin – Hebrews 4:15|
|Joseph was bound – Genesis 39:30||Jesus was bound – Matthew 27:2|
|Joseph was condemned with two criminals – Genesis 40:2, 3||Jesus was crucified with two criminals – Luke 23:32|
|One criminal was given life and the other was condemned – Genesis 40:21-22)||Jesus told one of the criminals “Today you shall be with me in paradise” – Luke 23:43|
|Joseph was trustworthy and wise – Genesis 41:39||God said about Jesus “this is my beloved son in whom I well pleased” – Mark 1:11|
|Joseph’s brothers bowed their knee to him – Genesis 41:43||“At the name of Jesus every knee will bow” – Philippians 2:10|
|Joseph was 30 years old – Genesis 41:46||Jesus was “about 30 years old” – Luke 3:25|
|God planned the suffering of Joseph in advance to save many – Genesis 50:21||Jesus said “God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him shall be saved” – John 3:16|
|Joseph was made ruler over all of Egypt – Genesis 41:42-44||Jesus said “all power has been given unto me” – 8:18|
|Joseph married a foreign bride who shared his glory – Genesis 41:45||Believers in Christ are “joint heirs” with him in his glory – Romans 8:17|
|Joseph was cast into a pit and then later delivered out of it – Genesis 37:24, 28||When Jesus died he descended into the lower parts of the earth, and later ascended into heaven – Ephesians 4:9|
|Joseph was imprisoned based on false charges – Genesis 39:19, 20||During the trial of Jesus false witnesses were brought in testifying against him – Mark 14:56|
|Joseph’s brothers later repented for what they did to him – Genesis 42:7||“and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn” – Zechariah 12:10|
As a representation of the coming Messiah, Joseph acts as the right type to be able to point Jews and gentiles to the truth. Joseph had no ministry per se, but he did represent the rise, fall, and complete ascension of a man whom God used to make the tribe of Israel a nation that would rise from Egypt and take the land that was promised to their father Abraham.
This comparison allows everyone today to understand the divinity of Yeshua and the coming reign of our Lord. In the end, Joseph was accepted by his people and set the path for their lives to come. The same will be said of Yeshua in the last days.
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