We shall make it our aim to look for SIMILARITIES and CONTRASTS as we compare the experiences of Joseph with those of Christ. We pray that the Holy Spirit may teach us to look beneath the surface of God's word and to see in this outstanding personality a foreshadowing of the One who was "greater than Joseph."--[a Type of Christ]. This will not make the experiences of Joseph less real.
While Ch. 38 does not belong directly to the story of Joseph, the Holy Spirit had a purpose in including it where it is. It gives us a glimpse into the corruption existing even among God's people. It was necessary for God to intervene on behalf of His people and remove them from the corrupting influences of Canaan. In doing so He gave them a new opportunity of life on a higher plane. The outcome of such an opportunity depended on themselves.
Joseph was an adolescent youth at that time, very impressionable and sensitive to the surrounding influences, Ch. 37:2. Jacob loved him more than his other sons. As a token of his special love he present Joseph with a beautiful coat. Dressed in that coat his father sent him one day on an errand of love to his brothers. While it is true that obedient and cooperative children are more loveable than the disobedient, it is never wise for parents to show preference to one child above the rest.
When God sent His beloved Son to sin-corrupted mankind, He was clothed in our humanity, becoming blesh and dwelling among us, John 1:14. Gal. 4:4,5 tells us the purpose for which He was "born of a woman" and "under the law." Thrice during Christ's earthly ministry the Father's voice was heard declaring His love for His Son, Matt. 3:17; Matt. 17:5, John 3:35. The Son also spoke confidently of His Father's love for Him, John 3:35; John 10:17. Only Jesus could say, "I do always the things that are pleasing to him," John 8:29.
Joseph's brothers hated him, conspired against him, threw him into a pit, and afterwards sold him to the Ishmaelites who brought him to Egypt, Ch. 37: 18-35. Men who love sin usually resent those who seek to "abstain from every appearance of evil." Also their father's special love for Joseph may have been partly the reason for their resentment. By his exemplary life Joseph no doubt placed his brothers at a disadvantage in relation to their father.
Concerning Jesus we read, "His own received him not," John 1:11. He was pure and sinless and He went about doing good. But He also spoke to them about their sins and sounded the warnings of God fearlessly. He was "the Light of the world," but "men loved darkness. . .their works were evil," John 3:19. They resented Him because they were unwilling to repent and seek forgiveness. Finally they took counsel against Him how they might destroy Him. Not a pit or a prison cell awaited Jesus, but a Cross on Calvary.
Concerning Joseph, we read, "they hurt his feet with fetters," Ps. 105:17,18. Of Christ it is written, "They pierced my hands and my feet," Ps. 22:16. It is said about Joseph that God was with him CONTINUALLY. This was also true of Jesus, but from the cross we hear this cry: "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
Joseph was a much tempted man. Periods of loneliness brought temptations--a form of temptation which has led many young people astray. Though exalted in the house of Potiphar, he had to face subtle temptations there also. Read Ch. 39.
Joseph was determined to keep his integrity at any cost. Yet he must have felt sometimes during the two years of imprisonment that God had forgotten him. Where was the reward of his obedience to God? We see him in prison, rising above his temptations to serve others, vv. 20-23, but even his helpful concern for his fellow-prisoners seems to win him no favor. These temptations were very real in the experience of Joseph even though he did not yield to them. One who RESISTS temptation SUFFERS being tempted. This was also true of Christ, "the author of our salvation." He "suffered being tempted," Heb. 2: 10,18. It was necessary for Christ to be tempted, Heb. 4:15,16. He had to taste of every experience of men in order to redeem men. During His life on earth He was on a battle field with the tempter. Not once did He yield to his subtle attacks, and now in our temptations we may flee to One who understands, and also is able to "succor them that are tempted."
The wheels of circumstances are always under God's control as He perfects His plan for His own. Had Joseph been released from prison before Pharaoh had his dream, he might have missed the opportunity of becoming governor of Egypt [note the sad instance of a man, thinking he was doing a kind thing, releasing a butterfly from its cocoon before its time, a disaster for the butterfly's development! All he got, and all you will get, is a badly deformed butterfly if you release it prematurely or help it out of its cocoon before it does it itself, unaided and in God's perfect time!]. Joseph did more than interpret Pharaoh's dream. Note the many references to GOD in Ch. 41. Fearlessly he announced to the king that the condition of those years was under the control of God, vv. 25-32. Do we, who profess to know God, speak thus of crops and famine, of storms and floods, of peace and war?
Christ is called the "faithful witness" in Rev. 1:5. In John 12:49 He says this about His testimony, "The Father that sent me hath given me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak." To His followers, who would also be persecuted for their faithful testimony, He has a special word in Matt. 10:19.
Stephen spoke thus concerning Joseph in Acts 7:10 "...and God delivered him out of all his afflictions." First, HUMILIATION; then EXALTATION. Read Ch. 41: 38-40. A man "discreet and wise" is one in whom "the Spirit of God is." The man who had been hated by his brothers, sent into exile and into prison was exalted to the governorship of Egypt. Pharaoh said, "Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled," v. 40.
A greater than Joseph is here! Read Heb. 1:2-6. The first step in Christ's exaltation was His victory over sin and death, Acts 2: 24-28. A new name was given to Joseph at his exaltation, v. 45, meaning "abundance of life." In Phil. 2:6-11 we read about the name given Jesus when God exalted Him to the right hand of His power and glory. "The name which is above every name" means "abundant life" to all who receive Him by faith as Savior and Lord, John 10:10. When we hear Jesus say, "All authority has been given unto me in heaven and on earth," we exclaim again, "A greater than Joseph is here!"
Joseph dealt with his brothers in such a way that they were brought under conviction and had to confess their sins, Ch. 44:16. Not until then could Joseph make himself known to them as their brother and clasp them to his heart with a kiss of forgiveness, Ch. 45: 1-15. When they responded to his invitation, "Come near unto me," all their needs were supplied. "Regard not your own stuff, for the good of the land is yours." Then it bcame plain, as stated by Joseph, "God did send me before you to preserve life," v. 5.
In 2 Cor. 1:10 we read that Jesus "has delivered," and "will deliver," those who are willing to leave the "stuff" of their old life and begin a new life with him, walking no longer according to the course of this world, but in newness of life. First, He gives life, and then He preserves life. When Joseph opened the storehouses, so well filled through his wise management, we read, "there was enough for all." Hungry people will try to overcome every obstacle to get bread and to be delivered from physical death. Jesus speaks to us again, "I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst," John 6:35.