Part II, "Genesis's Seed of Woman,"

Joseph Seen as a Type of Christ, By Ronald Ginther

A Question that has an easy answer concerns Joseph's appropriateness as a Type of Christ. Joseph is, someone has said, one of the very few people in the Bible about whom nothing negative has been recorded. Though the Bible does not criticise him, some today chide him for behaving with pride, evidenced in their eyes by his telling his dreams to his family and also by telling on his brothers' evil doing to their father! It is hard to imagine what was wrong. He may have been naive and inexperienced (his brothers were much older and worldly men, to say the best about them), but this seventeen year old youth was clearly innocent of any wrong-doing against his father and brothers. He loved his father deeply and truly, something his brothers did not. He naturally defended his father's best interests, and that meant telling his father how his brothers were casting reproach on the father's name by their wrong-doing. What were his brothers doing? It is not stated. It might well have been immorality, the abuse of servant women--something Father Jacob would have been horrified and angry to discover in his midst. They had already shown themselves to be cruel, treacherous, and murderers in the case of the Shechemites. They slew the entire male population of grown men and boys after their circumcision, which the sons of Jacob (excluding Joseph and Benjamin) had demanded in a treaty with Shechem. Not content with mass murder, they stole all the Shechemite wives and girls, and all their cattle and wealth for their own--showing their unrestrained greed. What monstrous behavior for holy sons of Jacob! No wonder Jacob was so unhappy with them, preferring only the company of Joseph and Benjamin.

Now as for the famous dreams of Joseph, they were given by God, and Joseph reported them faithfully to his family. If they did not rejoice in the dreams, reacting with envy, hatred, and misunderstanding, that was their problem, not Joseph's. God gave such dreams, and they set themselves against God by opposing Joseph. It is clearest proof the dreams came from God because they came to pass perfectly. In the matter of Joseph's two dreams of the sheaves and also the sun, moon, and stars, that clearly showed his family would be bowing before Joseph someday, even Father Jacob stumbled. But he too saw his mistake years later when he bowed before his own son in Egypt, whom the Pharaoh had made an exalted ruler of Egypt second only to himself in power and splendor.

With the question of Joseph's suitability as a Type of Christ (which is really a specimen of cavil, as we have seen), Joseph's character shines all the brighter as we go to the Bible to look at him. It is the Bible's value that counts, not the opinions of detractors, however saintly they appear, that are not supported by anything the Bible says.

First, Joseph as a picture of Christ the coming Redeemer is FLAX. Flax was a commonly cultivated plant, for the making of fiber with which to weave linen. Linen was very important, not for use for table napkins and curtains but as everyday clothing in a hot climate that favored such light, cool properties as linen afforded.

Flax is a small shrub, and its fibers that must be soaked, beaten, and separated in a lengthly process that at last produces the fine fibers that are so valued. The plant must first be soaked in water, then beaten and stripped.

Joseph's brothers unwittingly prepared the vessel of their own future salvation by stripping, beating, and throwing Joseph into a well to die They stripped him of his special coat that his father had given him as his favorite. Naked and shamed, he was beaten and thrown into a well to die. But the changed their evil, treacherous, darkened minds (thank God!) and sold him to an Ishmaelite trader to take to Egypt, where he was sold again as a slave. Thus, Joseph was stripped not only of his clothes but his family, his father, his beloved brother Benjamin, his rank in the family, his future happiness, his physical well-being, and his personal wealth! All he retained was his life in the end, but it was a life worse than an animal's to be a slave in Egypt--ordinary. But God turned even this impossible circumstance to good! Just see what happened.

Yet God was with Joseph, though all his older brothers forsook him. God saw to it that not just any Egyptian bought Joseph. It turned out to be Potiphar, a captain of the Pharaoh's palace guard, who was also responsible for the Pharaoh's prison. This highly-placed man was a man of wealth. He had a beautiful home, a beautiful wife, and servants. Joseph soon rose in this most favorable environment, with God's favor showing clearly upon him. Potiphar appointed him overseer of everything he possessed. We could go on to relate the following events, how Joseph was wrongly accused by Potiphar's seductive wife, but the point is that Joseph, though stripped, beaten, and deprived of all his advantages, was given favor, honor, and great responsibility in Egypt, though he was only a slave in a powerful man's household. God was with Joseph, for Joseph did not forget God in the house of bondage but served in the most honorable and industrious way, seeking to please God and his human master as well.

As a type of Christ, Joseph shows that though sin and guilt may strip us of everything we value in life that makes life worth living for us, Christ can clothe us with His righteousness which brings not only happiness but life eternal, just as Joseph's righteous behavior as a slave reclothed himself with honor, dignity, and high position in Potiphar's household that not only lasted his entire lifetime of 110 years but blessed the nation of Israel for thousands of years after him.

Second, Joseph was made BREAD. Made prime minister of Egypt, a job that included the whole administration of Egypt and its present and future well-being, Joseph moved to prepare the nation for the severe famine the Pharaoh's dreams had shown was coming after seven years of plentiful harvests.

Joseph, given wisdom from God, built an ingenious system of granaries throughout Egypt, connected with every large city. He then filled them with one fifth of the harvest each year, and the harvest were so great that after a while Joseph ceased accounting for the grain, it was so much. The granaries were filled to overflowing when the seven years of plenty ended and the drought began. This was a world-wide drought, but Egypt, thanks to God's man, Joseph, was prepared to stand in the evil days when famine struck the whole world after harvest after harvest failed for lack of rain.

The famine put intense pressure on Jacob's household back in drought-stricken Canaan, forcing him to send the sons down to Egypt to buy food. In this incredible stroke of God's planning, Joseph's brothers came in contact with their lost brother, in a way that fulfilled the very dreams they despised and hated. They bowed before the ruler of Egypt, who was Joseph, not able to identify this splendid official with their lost young brother whom they had sold, beaten, bloody, and weeping, as a slave to Ishmaelites in Dothan. The food saved Jacob and his family, and was also God's means to bring the whole family down to Egypt and confront these guilty men with their sin against Joseph, their father, and God. Would they have been redeemed except for Joseph and made to face their sin? It is difficult to think of any means other than Joseph. Without him they might have remained in their sin and guilt, and the consequences of their sin, with their father dying in grief for the lost son back in Canaan--for how could they have admitted their guilt to the father without any chance of restoring Joseph to his grieving father? No, they would have remained silent, and Jacob the Patriarch would have died a tragic man. What, then, would have happened to the Messianic line? With the destruction of Jacob, the blighting of his life, what would have become of Judah, through whom the Messianic line was to come? Everything in God's plan would have been cast into doubt. But, thanks to God's use of Joseph, everything meant for evil was turned to good, glorious good! The Patriarchy and the Messianic Line were preserved and saved.

This use of Joseph's suffering and life to save his family and also confront his brothers with their spiritual need, which went far beyond the physical need of food, was in Joseph's own understanding, God's awesome provision. He saw clearly that he had been sent before his brethren to prepare a place for them there, so that they might be blessed in wealth and numbers and made a great people. Only in the ever-green, river-fed, fertile land of Egypt could this be done. In Canaan they were few in numbers and hemmed in by more numerous, hostile neighbors the seven idol-worshiping nationalities of Canaan. In their own safe and spacious province of Goshen in Egypt they multiplied into a great multitude, with a number sufficient to return to the Promised Land and conquer it.

So, as a Type of Christ, as BREAD provision, Joseph superbly prefigured Jesus Christ, who said to the people that he was the spiritual Bread that came down from heaven (John 6:35).

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world...I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." (John 6: 32-33, 35)

Just as the Israelite people and nation were saved from starvation by the food Joseph provided his family, and just as the food Joseph accumulated in Egypt saved other starving nations who sent to Egypt for supplies of food in the world-wide famine, so Jesus, the BREAD OF HEAVEN, has been sufficient to save not only his people of Israel but spiritually-starving multitudes all over the world.

John 3:16, which is the whole Gospel in a nutshell, was foreshadowed in the experience of Joseph the merciful, life-preserving Provider: "For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Third, Joseph was a PRECIOUS STONE. In the terrible pain, suffering, grief, and alien conditions that afflicted him, he learned to be obedient and endure, choosing to remain steadfast to his godly training and faithful to his father's God rather than lie down in despair and die, or to falli sin when tempted because he had lost all hope of God's ever restoring him to his father. On the contrary, for the joy set before him, Joseph, like Jesus Christ, endured the suffering, reproach, and injustice of Potiphar after he was thrown into prison for a crime he did not commit. In the same way Jesus Christ, the choice Cornerstone of our salvation (Psalm 118: 22), was taught obedience through suffering, so that he was made a fit vessel for enduring the supreme cruelty of the Cross and the bearing of all sin that was his as Messiah.

Diamonds must be split by experts to remove the unflawed gem from the rough stone, then cut and polished to give the gemstone a beautiful design and its light-reflecting facets. However beautiful it is potentially, the rough stone would never be considered a thing of beauty; it must first endure the painful process of the diamond-cutter and the jeweler. Only after this does it become especially valuable and a thing of enduring beauty. Joseph, too, was a rough diamond when he still lived in Canaan in his father's household. It took the events of his rejection by his brothers and all they did to him to subject him to the process that makes a diamond out of a rough stone. Wounded, he was made into an instrument of God, great enough to save not only Egypt and other nations but, most significantly, he provided for the institution of the Patriarchy (his father Jacob being the embodiment of it) that in turn contained the succession of godly men who stood as links leading to the Davidic family line that produced Jesus. He was hurt, cut, wounded, split with injustice and reproach, so that he could be made jewel-like--pure, radiant, beautiful, shining, with a character that would last, like a diamond, forever.

Flax Fiber, Bread, and Precious Stone--By Now You Should Never Look at Such Things Without Thinking of Joseph and also Jesus Christ!--Read the Life of Joseph in Genesis as a Prefiguring Type of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and it will become greatly more than another Bible story. Read the other accounts of Joseph in the Bible as well, by using the bibliography below.

Bibliography: Genesis 30-50:26 (The Life of Joseph);

Psalm 105 (An Account of Joseph);

Acts 7: 9-18 (Stephen's Account of Joseph);

Hebrews 11: 21-22 (Joseph listed in Faith's Hall of Fame).

The Emmaus Walk Home Page

No doubt young Joseph, from the moment he was seized by his brothers and thrown into a dry well, was gripped by questions of life and death. Why were his brothers doing this to him? Were they going to kill him? If they did that, what would they tell their father? Why did God allow this tragedy to happen to him? Was his life over just when it seemed he was on top, his father's favorite? His questions must have continued, even as he was sold and taken to Egypt to be re-sold as a slave. His questions, however, received answers as he steadily looked to God. In the same way, we can find answers to many of life's troubling questions. Please visit the prose poem by Duane L. Smith, "Some Questions--A Poem" by using the link below. It will be worth your while.

Some Questions--A Poem, by Duane L. Smith

(c) 2006, Butterfly Productions, All Rights Reserved