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Joseph, a type of Israel’s Messiah


by Anton Stier



Whoever studies the history of Joseph will soon discover that this is not just a description of historical events. It also shows a wonderful testimony of the Messiah in relation to His people Israel. In this brief article we can only mention a few examples, but we hope to encourage you to find more yourself.


Two important general prophetical clues


1. Joseph is described as a person without sins


Nowhere in Scripture is mentioned a negative thought, deed, or word that can be attributed to Joseph’s account. Of course Joseph certainly must have sinned, but the Scriptures nowhere mention anything about it[i]. With that He is a clear type of Christ, Who was, contrary to Joseph, completely without sin.




“For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21)


2. Joseph’s life is build up out of two parts; his suffering and his exaltation


In this Joseph is a clear type of Christ.




“Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, and have prophesied of the grace that should come unto you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them did signify when He testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow” (1 Pet. 1:10,11).




The old rabbis also notice this double role of Israel’s Messiah. They distinguish a suffering Messiah Ben Joseph and a reigning Messiah Ben David. Unfortunately, they did not understand that it was not about two persons, but about the one suffering Servant of the Lord, Whom at His second coming would mount the throne of David as King to establish His kingdom out of Israel.


The history of Joseph studied more closely


Joseph as a witness


“And Joseph brought unto his father their evil report” (Gen. 37:2).


This deed of Joseph is often depicted as negative, as if wanted to harm his brothers. The opposite is true, as it will turn out in the rest of the story. A negative reaction we also observe with respect to the witness of the Lord Jesus. “The world cannot hate you, but Me it hateth, because I testify of it that the works thereof are evil” (John 7:7).


Joseph the beloved son


“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age” (Gen 37:3a)


With this our minds are set to the theme: ‘the beloved son’. Joseph was the beloved son of his father Jacob. And so he is is a type of Christ, Who is the beloved of His heavenly Father.




And lo, a voice came from Heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." (Mat. 3:17).




Joseph’s coat of many colors


“and he made him a coat of many colours” (Gen. 37:3).




Such a coat of many colours reveals in the Bible honour, standing, important position, it speaks about Christ, who possessed the majesty of the Father. However, He gave this up voluntarily to surrender Himself to death for the sin of His people and the rest of the world.




“And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5).




The theme “clothed with” can also be found in relation with Israel.




“I clothed thee also with embroidered work and shod thee with badgers’ skin, and I girded thee about with fine linen, and I covered thee with silk” (Ezek. 16:10).




Israel was not worthy of this clothing: "But thou didst trust in thine own beauty, and played the harlot” (Ezek. 16:15a).




Christ was shown to be worthy to be clothed with majesty. In Revelation 1 we find the glorified Christ described as “the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the breast with a golden girdle” (vs. 13).




Joseph’s dreams


“…and behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf…and behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me” (Gen. 37:7,9). Joseph was no daydreamer who felt superior towards his family. God inspired his dreams. After all Joseph himself was chosen by God to save his family from destruction, a prophetical foreshadowing of the Messiah of Israel, who would deliver the children of Israel. Not only the tribes of the people of Israel shall bow down before Him, but every knee. “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in Heaven and things on earth and things under the earth” (Phil. 2:10).


The hatred of Joseph’s brothers


“And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him and could not speak peaceably unto him” (Gen. 37:4).


His brothers could not speak peaceably to Joseph, because the hatred was so deep. Also with Christ His brothers hated Him and despised him.




“He is despised and rejected of men, a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. And we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not” (Isa. 53:3).




Joseph’s dreams, in which his future dominion was shown, did not arouse sympathy from his brothers. The same resistance against the kingship of the Lord Jesus is seen in the parable of Luke 19:14.


“But his citizens hated him and sent a message after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us”. Also were they set against the inscription ‘King of Jews’ written at the top of His cross (See also John 19:21).