Submitted by Editor on Sat, 12/28/2013 - 19:11


Our previous Lesson (No. 13), showed us how God had guided Jacob's family and had made Joseph a ruler in Egypt. He was then able to preserve Israel


This lesson shows how God watched over the events of Joseph's life so that he might foreshadow, or be a type of, the life and mission of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Genesis 45


A type is an event or person deliberately set forth in the Bible to be a foreshadowing of something which will be greater in the future.

It is a "shadow" of the later event, and as a shadow it is only an outline, a silhouette, lacking the details of the actual object. It is not an exact parallel. It is as important to remember the differences as it is to learn the similarities.



God often describes events in His Word by the use of "types" or ex­amples. We have already seen how some of the events in the lives of Abraham and Isaac point forward to the life of Christ. For example, in the offering of Isaac (Gen. 22) we can see a foreshadowing or type of the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ.


The wanderings of the children of Israel in the wilderness are called by Paul "ensamples" (1 Cor. 10:6, 11). In the margin, we read "types or "figures". Paul teaches us to learn from their experiences and not to "imitate" their failings.


A type is like a parable or story with a hidden meaning. The life of Joseph was a dramatic and detailed parable of the life of Christ although Joseph lived two thousand years before Jesus Christ was born.



Joseph is similar to Jesus in these ways:—


  • Both Joseph and Jesus were loved by their fathers, but hated by their brethren (Gen. 37:4-8; cp. Matt. 3:17; John 15:25).


  • Joseph's brothers were jealous of him because of his dreams which pointed forward to his authority over them. The Jewish rulers were jealous of Jesus because of the authority and influence he had over the people (Gen. 37:5-11 cp. Jn. 19:15; Matt. 27:18).


  • The brothers of Joseph plotted his death and so did the Jews plot the death of Jesus (Gen. 37:18-20 cp. Matt 21:38; 26:4).


•Joseph's brethren determined to slay him and cast him into a pit, as good as dead. In Egypt he was cast into prison though he had done no sin. The Jews, the Gentiles (the Romans under Pilate) combined to put to death the sinless son of God (see Gen. 37:26-28; 39:20-21 cp. Matt. 27:26; Acts 4:25-27, where Jew and Gentile unite).


• As God brought Joseph out of prison and appointed him second to Pharaoh, so He brought Jesus from the grave and granted him immor­tality and honour at His right hand (Gen. 41:14; 39-42 cp. Acts 2:24, 33; 3:13-21).


•Joseph's brethren sought his help in a time of need. They did not know him and bowed down to him as unto a ruler. Likewise Israel in a future time of great trouble will be saved through Christ's help. At first they will not recognise him, but when they realise that he is their Messiah and see the marks of crucifixion in his feet and hands they will mourn and fear (Gen. 45:1-8 cp. Zech. 12:10-14; 13:6; Isa. 49:6).


• Joseph overlooked their sins and gave them the best land in Egypt. Even so the Lord Jesus Christ will restore Israel and cause them to inherit the promised land in peace and prosperity. Under him they will be the "head" and not the "tail" among the nations (Gen. 45:5, 9-11 cp. Zech. 2:12; Mic. 4:7-8).



The life of Christ followed closely the pattern of the life of Joseph. We can expect the still future work of Christ to follow the remaining events in Joseph's life. In fact the prophets tell us this is so. From Joseph's life we can look ahead to the return of Christ who will reveal himself unto his people. He will gather, restore and bless them in the Kingdom which he will soon establish. We therefore know in part what Christ shall do on his return and this helps us to picture in our minds the Kingdom.


To be ready for that glorious time we should learn the lesson of Joseph's life. We should ask ourselves what qualities of character made Joseph fit for favour and rulership. We see how Joseph's life was guided and controlled by God so that His purpose with Jacob's family would be fulfilled. We should also note how God is guiding events in our lives. If we follow His directions in His Word we will be among those who gladly honour Him in the wonderful Kingdom Age.



•The close similarity between the life of Joseph and that of Christ is ob­vious and striking.


• Joseph's sufferings foreshadow the great trials of Christ. His promotion to honour foreshadows the resurrection and future glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.


  • Jacob's family was humbled and then accepted by the exalted Joseph—so too will Israel be humbled before restoration by their ex­alted Messiah.


  • Those who follow God's direction, like Joseph, will also be blessed by the greater than Joseph, even the Lord Jesus Christ in the land of pro­mise.




"Elpis Israel" (J. Thomas)—Part 2, Ch. 3 "The Parable of Joseph"



1. a) What is a type?

b) Give examples of how this is a form of scriptural teaching.

  1. Show how the treatment of Joseph by his brothers in their hatred and planning of his death is a type of the treatment that Christ experienc­ed by the Jews.

  2. What can we expect to happen to natural Israel at Christ's second ad­vent? (use the typical story of Joseph's revealing himself as ruler of his brethren)



  1. Describe how Joseph's life was a type of the first and second advent of Christ.

  2. Write a character study of the life of Joseph bringing out the lessons for us in our youth.


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