Joseph As Christ Figure The story of Joseph is a two-fold demonstration of the Christian idea of an omniscient and omnipotent God with a master plan for the life of each human being and for the universe as a whole. Every circumstance in Josephs life is turned around to lead to his ultimate position as an Egyptian ruler, which allows him to save his family. In addition to the predestined events that happen within Josephs life, the story as a whole foreshadows Gods plan for salvation through Jesus Christ. Joseph is a shadow who has remarkable similarities to Christ and the events of his life. Both Joseph and Jesus are unlikely candidates for their positions and are mocked when they tell people Gods plan for their lives.
Joseph is his fathers second-youngest son, yet God chooses him as the savior of his older brothers and his father. When Joseph tells his family his visions that he will rule over them, they ridicule him. His brothers “hated him even more for his dreams, and for his words.” While the Jews were expecting their Messiah to come as a rich and mighty king, Jesus comes as the son of a carpenter. His authority is questioned by people who are astonished at his miracles and asked, “Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenters son?” The fact that Joseph and Jesus achieve the things they do from the places they start suggests a master plan constructed and carried out by a powerful God. Both Joseph and Jesus are loved by their fathers.
Joseph is given a special coat by his father because “Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age..” Jacobs favoritism toward Joseph causes the jealousy in his brothers that starts Joseph on his destined road. God, Jesus father, declares his love for his son upon Christs baptism, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased..” Josephs jealous brothers sell him into slavery to Ishme-el-ites for twenty pieces of silver. What appears to be a horrible situation is actually an essential part of Gods plan for Josephs life. His brothers have no idea that the boy they are angrily selling will later save their lives. Josephs betrayal by his brothers parallels Judass betrayal of Jesus Christ for thirty pieces of silver.
Joseph is a servant who becomes exalted. He is a slave and a prisoner , and through this becomes a great ruler. Similarly Jesus Christ takes on the conduct of a servant and is exalted because of it. Christ “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant..” , until “God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” Josephs submission to Potiphar is part of the road that leads to the fulfillment of Gods plan. This fulfillment includes Josephs promotion above Potiphar.
Similarly, Jesus Christ becomes mortal, submitting to death in order to overcome it. Joseph is tempted by Potiphars wife and resists temptation just as Jesus does during his forty days of temptation in the wilderness. The temptation illustrates that God can implement his plan only if people are obedient. Joseph and Jesus must live righteously in order to fulfill the dream that God has given them. Although Joseph resists Potiphars wife, he is condemned and sent to prison.
Josephs prison sentence parallels Jesus death and burial. Both come out of their confinement exalted as princes over foreign lands. Joseph becomes a prince of Egypt, while Jesus becomes a prince over the Earth. After being exalted, Joseph takes a Gentile bride, Zapthanathpaaneah. Similarly, the church, which is predominantly Gentile, has been “espoused..to one husband, that [God] may present [it] as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Joseph saves Egypt and Israel from starvation during the seven-year famine, when “..all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.” Just as Joseph provides food for many nations, Jesus Christ becomes the “bread of life” for the entire world. He says, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh unto me shall never hunger..” God has Joseph sold into slavery so that he can save his family.
Joseph understands Gods scheme and explains it to his brothers, saying, “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” This foreshadows the sacrifice that God has Jesus make to save mankind. This sacrifice is that “..while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Joseph is reunited with his brothers and forgives them, saying, “..but as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Likewise, Jesus Christ forgives his brothers who crucified him, saying “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” God gave Joseph a dream as a young man and Joseph lived in a way that allowed God to accomplish that dream. God sent Joseph through a long period of tribulation, Joseph proved faithful in every situation, and God exalted him because of his devotion and righteousness. The similarities between the lives of Joseph and Jesus Christ seem to point to an ordained plan by a Supreme Being. Josephs life is the most extraordinary of many shadows in the Old Testament of the Messiah. Christians often point to this shadow as confirmation that Jesus Christ is the Messiah whose incarnation was foretold by the ancient prophets.