This blog post is a study that I put together with a great deal of help. If you want to take a look at the source that I got this from click HERE. I highly recommend his podcast in general.
The Bible is about Jesus
In the New Testament Jesus Christ taught that the Old Testament speaks of himself. This is an important principle of interpreting scripture, especially in a day when so many seem to want to understand the scriptures as types and shadows of themselves.
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,” John 5:39 ESV
“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 ESV
How does this principle play out in scripture though? How do we see types and shadows of Christ in the Old Testament narrative? One of the best examples is in the story of Joseph. If you want to read it yourself before continuing in this post you can find the story in Genesis chapters 37-50.
What we see in the story of Joseph are recurring themes pointing to Christ. They rotate back and forth, bringing in new elements as the story progresses. In a way you could think of it like walking up a spiral staircase with a painting of the Gospel narrative at the top. Each time you progress up this stair case you get a different view of Christ, and when you are back on the other side you see the same picture again but with a different angle as new elements are brought forward.
Kept the Saying
Though less obvious than the others that come later the first example of this is found right in the beginning of the story with Josephs dreams.
“For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? …. 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? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” Gen 37:7-11 KJV
Above we see two things that stand out when compared to the Story of Jesus, first is the theme of worship, for we know though many find the notion deplorable, one day “every knee [shall] bow” (Phil 2:10-11). Also we find some curious statements about Mary in the book of Luke.
“11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord….
18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:11, 18-19 KJV
Comparing the passage in Genesis with that of Luke and the birth of Christ we see types and shadows of Messianic worship. Also we see Israel pondering messianic promises in his heart, just as Mary does the actual messiah. If this were a work of fiction I would assume the writing was using foreshadow. However with the scripture, we see that God the Holy Spirit has written “foreshadow” on human history itself.
The Pit and Crucifixion
Later in the story we see that Josephs brothers are jealous and decide to take matters into their own hands. Specifically they decide to kill him.
“And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh.; Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams.” Gen 37:19-20 KJV
There are some preachers today who will say that you and I need to dream like Joseph about our own personal lives so that we can become great just as he did. And that this pit in his life is just like the “pits” that we fall into. The problem is that it takes a story ultimately about Jesus and makes it about yourself.
Instead what we see here is a father who loved his son and brother who hated him to the point of killing him. Just as Jesus is loved by the father and hated by man, even to the point of death. As with Jesus and Pontius Pilate there was an advocate for Joseph.
“And Reuben heard it, and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.; And Reuben said unto them, Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit that is in the wilderness, and lay no hand upon him; that he might rid him out of their hands, to deliver him to his father again.” Gen 37:21-22 KJV
“Said unto them, Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him:; No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him.; I will therefore chastise him, and release him.” Luke 23:14-16 KJV
“And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it.” Gen 37:24 KJV
“And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed.; And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.” Luke 23:23-24 KJV
Joseph and Jesus Betrayed and Sold
“Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.; Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt.” Gen 37:27-28 KJV
“And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” Matt 26:15 KJV
Notice that Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver and Jesus for 30. The interesting part is that both of these prices were the going rate for a slave in the period of time which they took place in. So even with a disparity in the actual price a connection between the two can be reasonably drawn.
Joseph in Bondage
“And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no.; And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces.; And Jacob rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.; And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.; And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.” Gen 37:31-36 KJV
What we have above is a theme of death burial and resurrection. The death is seen in that Joseph is presented as dead to his father, burial in that he was thrown into a pit, and Resurrection in that he yet lives thus carrying the Gospel story forward to the next generation.
Slave / Incarnation
In comparison of the story of Joseph under the service of Potifar to Jesus as God in Human Flesh we see some compelling correlations.
“And Joseph was brought down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him of the hands of the Ishmaelites, which had brought him down thither.; And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.; And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand.; And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.” Gen 39:1-4 KJV
“Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:; But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:; And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phil 2:6-8 KJV
An alternative translation to “servant” in Philippians would actually be slave. So what we have is Joseph in the form and likeness of a slave and Jesus who is God in flesh also taking on the likeness of a slave. What we have is type and shadow pointing to the incarnation so that we could recognize Jesus as the messianic fulfillment of all scripture.
“And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.; But he refused, and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand; There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God? And it came to pass, as she spake to Joseph day by day, that he hearkened not unto her, to lie by her, or to be with her.” Gen 39:7-10 KJV
“And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,; Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.” Luke 4:1-2 KJV
We see Joseph being punished for a sin he did not commit.
“And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, a place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.” Gen 39:20 KJV
Just as we see Jesus taking on the sins of the whole world which he did not commit
“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Cor 5:21 KJV
Death and Resurrection
Read through the story of the Cup Bearer and the Baker by clicking HERE. For starters we see parallels with the bread and wine of the new covenant with both a baker and a cup bearer. Secondly we see the death in the story of the Baker. Specifically as there are three cake baskets being eaten there were three days that Christ was dead. Just as the baker was hung on a tree so was Christ hung on one as well.
With the cup bearer we have 3 branches of grapes alluding to the three days he would have to wait to be restored to office. Just as Christ rose from the dead in three days conquering sin and death. Just as the exaltation of Christ came after the Resurrection so did the exaltation of Joseph come after the release of the cup bearer.
This is where things start to get really interesting, in this we see a comparison of the exaltation of Joseph with that of Jesus.
“Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.; And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.; And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; 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.” Gen 41:40-43 KJV
We even have types and shadows of the Trinity in the above passage. We see the relationship between Pharaoh and Joseph as similar to the Father and the Son. Within Joseph dwells the Spirit of God which gives us glimpses of the Holy Spirit.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Matt 28:18 KJV
“That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” Phi 2:10 KJV
“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” Rom 14:11 KJV
In the above passages we see that there are obvious paralells between the exaltation of Joseph and Jesus. In each case every knee bows, with Joseph all in the land of Egypt but with Jesus as antitype fulfillment with all of mankind.
Just as in his visions Josephs brothers did indeed bow down to him.
“And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.” Genesis 42:6 KJV
Joseph, knowing that his brothers have done evil to him chooses to weigh out their intentions at the end of the story.
“And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone: And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.” Genesis 42:33-34 KJV
He wants to know if they would harm their younger brother the same way that they did to him and tests them for it. What he finds after a bit of a game he plays with them is that the same brothers who had sought to kill him and did sell him into slavery were this time willing to give up themselves to save their brother.
“Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.” Genesis 44:33 KJV
When Jesus judges us he won’t have to run us through a narrative, he is divine and knows the heart of man in a greater sense then how Joseph was able to discern the truth through his authority. Joseph chooses to bear in his life and imprisonment the punishment that was due to his brothers rather than exact a punishment upon them.
We also get imagery of justification by faith too because we see his brothers bowing down to him before their works are laid bare before Josephs eyes.
We see in Joseph’ story that he was originally with his family and very wealthy just as Christ was in heaven before coming to earth. Joseph leaves his family and becomes a slave just as Christ left heaven entering into human history in the form of a servant with the incarnation. We see that Joseph ultimately goes to prison just as Jesus descended into hell. We see Joseph exalted to authority and power in Egypt just as Christ was exalted to the right hand of the Father in Heaven, and we see him judge the house of Israel just as Christ will judge and find guiltless the elect who are saved by faith.
What I like so much about this is to see Jesus being prophesied on the very history of the world. Next time someone tells you to cross your red sea, slay your goliath, or dream like Joseph know that the Bible doesn’t point in type and shadow to you. Instead take comfort in that it points to Jesus Christ on every page.