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Joseph: A Type of Christ

Carl is a biblical scholar, minister, husband, father and life coach. In his mid-twenties he had a powerful encounter with God and saw miraculous healings as a result. He passionately shares these stories and empowers others to fulfill their God-given potential.

Without doubt one of my favorite bible characters is Joseph. He endured many travails and hardships but also kept a heart of integrity toward God, amidst false accusations and bouts of jealousy. He’s also my namesake, as I share the same last name, ‘Joseph.’ The name Joseph means “God adds or increases.” This is certainly apt when we study Joseph’s life. At each stage of testing, greater favor was bestowed upon him because of his faithfulness toward those he served.

Joseph was a type of Christ as he was married to the daughter of the High Priest of Egypt (Asenath), a gentile bride. In like manner, Jesus will marry a gentile bride (the Church) at the wedding supper of the lamb (Rev 19:6-9). Also, Joseph’s marriage took place during the time of rejection by his brethren (Jews) as they suffered famine, which symbolizes the tribulation period. We the church will be celebrating our marriage to Christ, whilst simultaneously, Israel will suffer the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7) due to their rejection of Christ. Jesus must return for His bride before the tribulation commences. However, the Jew who eventually comes to the realization of Christ as Savior, will have to endure the seven-year tribulation, just as Joseph’s brothers had to endure the famine. Joseph was bestowed with favor because he honored God throughout his life. This favor reached fever pitch when Pharaoh announced Joseph as second in command of Egypt and a wife thrown in as part of the deal!  

Terry Lawson commentates, “We can see in Joseph a clear picture of the character and life of Christ. As Joseph was greatly loved by his father, and then sold by his brothers for the price of a slave, he entered into the role of a servant. As a servant, he was tempted and yet blameless, was unjustly condemned, bound and numbered with transgressors, then exalted as a prince and savior.”

If I could sum up Joseph’s life in one word, it would be ‘faithful.’ It’s required in a steward that he be found faithful (1st Cor 4:2) and Joseph was the epitome of faithful stewardship. The story of Joseph is found in Geneses chapters, 37-50 and I urge you to read his account for yourself. It’s a compelling story which culminates with Joseph invested as governor of Egypt and savior of Israel. God elevated Joseph in due season, because of his humility (Matt 23:11-12). If we desire promotion in the secular realm, we too must purvey the same attitude of humility. We must resist opportunities to ‘blow our own trumpet,’ letting the Lord exalt us in due season (1 Pet 5:6).

Beware of favoritism

Jacob’s heart was broken when Rachel died, whilst giving birth to Benjamin and he had a vested interest in the welfare of both Benjamin and Joseph because of this tragedy. Jacob’s love for Joseph was evident when he gave him a long sleeved, ground length coat (of many colors) at the age of seventeen. Some surmise the ‘garment of many colors’ was symbolic of his forthcoming governmental mantle, i.e., a kingly garment alluding to his future investiture. Joseph’s brothers became enraged with jealousy because of this. Scripture reveals Jacob loved Joseph more than all his children because he was the son of his old age (Gen 37:3).

Joseph’s lavish coat of many colors sparked jealousy in his brethren

Jacob was wrong to show favoritism, which fueled the envy of his older sons toward Joseph. If you’re a parent, let this be a warning to you; favoritism toward a ‘special’ child fuels jealousy in other siblings. Joseph had a dream in which his entire family bowed down to him. God was revealing Joseph’s destiny but when he shared this dream, his brothers were further exasperated. As Joseph was already the esteemed favorite in the eyes of his father, this dream’s revelation was more than his brothers could bear. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Joseph was headed for the pit alright, and his brothers would throw him in! Reuben tried to rescue his brother but alas Joseph was already sold to Midianite traders. Ironically, Christ too would be stripped of his garments by force, as was Joseph.

What was the secret to Joseph’s success? The fact that, “the Lord was with Joseph,” (Gen 29:2,21). We too have a direct promise from God, that He’ll ‘never leave nor forsake us’ (Heb 13:5). The same measure of favor is granted to you, as you faithfully serve Christ. God is not a respecter of persons (Rom 2:11).

11 Prophetic Parallels between Jesus and Joseph

Did you know there are some very strong parallels between Joseph and Jesus Christ? There are several bible characters which have displayed the attributes of Christ (including, Isaac, Moses, Samuel, Elijah and David), albeit Joseph has perhaps the most outstanding similarities. Jesus was the full embodiment of the positive character traits of the prophets, priests and kings who went before Him. The late great Dr. Gordon Lindsay offers the following prophetic parallels of Joseph and Christ, with some of my own thrown in:

1. A miracle was involved in Joseph’s birth, just as Christ’s birth was miraculous:

Genesis 30:22–24 “And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb.  And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: And she called his name Joseph; and said, The Lord shall add to me another son.”

Luke 1:35 “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” Jesus’s entrance into this world was via immaculate conception.

2. Joseph was greatly loved by his father, so too was Jesus loved by His Heavenly Father.

Genesis 37:3 “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.”

Matthew 17:5While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.” Christ was the father’s beloved (see also Jn 3:16)

3. Joseph was rejected by his brothers. Christ was rejected by His Jewish brothers.

Genesis 37:18 “And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.”

John 1:11 “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” Jewish brethren (Pharisees and Sadducees) also conspired against Christ, handing Him over to Pilate for crucifixion (Mk 15:13).

4. Joseph’s brothers didn’t believe him. Christ’s Jewish brethren didn’t believe Him either.

Genesis 37:10 “And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”

John 7:5 “For neither did his brethren believe in him.” Christ’s brothers initially didn’t believe Him either. His blood relatives only acknowledged Him after His death.

5. Joseph was a shepherd (Gen 37:2). Jesus is the Chief Shepherd (Jn 10).

Joseph and Jesus were both Shepherds of sheep and men

6. Joseph’s brothers sold him for 20 pieces of silver (Gen 37:28). Jesus was betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Matt 26:15):

Genesis 37:28 “Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.”

Matthew 27:3 “Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders.” Christ was betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of silver. This amount would be equivalent to about two and a half years wages for a common laborer of Christ’s day. This also fulfilled a prophecy by Zechariah, that 30 pieces of silver would be used to buy a place of burial for Judas in the potter’s field (Zech 11:13).

Like their forefathers, who took Joseph, after they rejected him, and sold him for 20 pieces of silver, and was hidden from their view in Egypt on the Throne of Pharaoh, so to, the Jews took Jesus, (their Joseph) and having rejected Him, sold Him for 30 pieces of silver. Likewise, Jesus is now hidden from the Jews on His Father’s Throne, until He returns to the earth at the Second Coming.

7. Joseph was stripped of his coat of many colors garment (Gen 37:23). Jesus was stripped of his kingly garments (Matt 27:27-28, Jn 19:23).

Joseph was stripped of his precious garments and left naked. Roman soldiers gambled for Christ’s precious garment after He was stripped naked on the cross (Mat 27:35)

8. Joseph was thrown into a pit of darkness. Jesus went into ‘the pit’ of outer darkness (Hell).

Genesis 37:24 “And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.

Jesus went down into the pit, into the lower parts of the earth, Ephesians 4:8–9 “Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” This speaks of Christ’s ascent to heaven with a train of captives, whom He released from Paradise (Abraham’s Bosom) following His descent into Hell for us.

Zechariah 9:11 “As for you (Jesus) also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit (ESV). This waterless pit is Hell, where the fires burn perpetually (Isa 66:24). The prisoners aforementioned were the Old Testament saints which resided in Paradise (Abraham’s bosom) prior to the cross (See also Acts 2:24, Col 2:15, 1st Pet 3:19, Hos 13:14, Zech 9:11, Ps 23:7, Ecc 24:45).  It should be noted that Hell is being removed from many of the modern bible translations (click here to find out more).

9. Joseph was made ruler of Egypt (the greatest nation on earth at the time). Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of all nations.

Genesis 41:43–44 “And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.”

Joseph, the Governor of Egypt, reveals himself to his brothers who betrayed him

Revelation 19:15–16 “…and he shall rule them (the nations) with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Christ is made the ruler of all nations and will rule and reign without hindrance in the millennial reign of Christ.

When Joseph was pronounced governor of Egypt, his name was changed to Zaphnath Paaneah. It was a long held custom among ancient Middle Eastern people to change their names following a significant life event. The king of Egypt changed Joseph’s name to Zaphnath-Paaneah because of his ability to reveal secrets (Gen 41:45). Zaphnath-Paaneah means ‘savior of the world,’ hence the ultimate typology of Christ, who is indeed the true savior of the world.

10. Joseph was 30 years old when he ruled Egypt (Gen 41:46). Jesus was 30 years old when he began His public ministry. This tradition stemmed from the Levitical priesthood, as they could only serve in the temple once they reached 30 years of age (see book of Numbers and 1st Chronicles).

11. Joseph was falsely accused (Gen 39:16-18). Jesus was falsely accused (Matt 16:59-60).

Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife. Jesus was tempted in all things yet never once did He succumb (Heb 4:15).

Can you find any more parallels? If so, please email them to me, I’d love to hear from you.  

Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, click here to find out more…

Author – Carl G.M. Joseph

Bibliography:

The Bible Training Series (Vol II) – Gordon Lindsay (Christ for the Nations Publishing, Dallas, TX – 2014).

Dispensational Truth – Clarence Larkin (Whitaker House, New Kensington, PA-2021).

Rightly Dividing the Word – Clarence Larkin (Martino Publishing, 2011, Mansfield Center, CT).

How to Study the Word: Taking the Bible from the pages to the heart – Terry Lawson (Faith Library Publications, Tulsa, OK, 1999).

James M. Freeman and Harold J. Chadwick, Manners & Customs of the Bible (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 281.

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