Many of you are familiar with Jacob’s son, Joseph—also known as “the king of dreams.” The Lord chose to speak to Joseph—as with other prophets such as Daniel—through the interpretation of dreams. Sometimes these dreams were the dreams of Joseph himself—and sometimes they were the dreams of others.
“Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed’” (Genesis 37:5-6).
“And Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that you can understand a dream, to interpret it.’ So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace’” (Genesis 41:15-16).
Joseph is not only notable for the gift given to him by the Lord to interpret dreams—he is also notable as one of the most amazing illustrations of what the future physical ministry of the Lord Jesus would mean to the world.
Certain people and events from the Old Testament are clearly identified as “types” or symbols in the New Testament—such as Adam being a type of Christ:
“Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come” (Romans 5:14).
When the apostle Paul described Adam as being a “type” of Christ—he used the Greek word “typos”—which means “a form, pattern, model, or example.”
Paul also used this same Greek word “typos” in his first letter to Timothy—when he counseled Timothy to be a proper godly “example” in his conduct to the members of his church—to avoid the possibility of any justified criticism of his youth:
“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Joseph is one of the most astonishing examples or type of the Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated in the Old Testament—though the Bible never specifically labels him as a type of the Lord Jesus. However, the parallels between Joseph and Jesus are too obvious to be ignored.
- Joseph’s brothers were the sons of Israel: “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors” (Genesis 37:3).
- Joseph—like Jesus—was loved by and pleased his father (Genesis 37:3 & Matthew 3:17).
- Joseph—like Jesus—rebuked the sin of his brothers—the sons of Israel (Genesis 37:2 & many verses of Jesus rebuking the sins of the Scribes and Pharisees).
- Joseph—like Jesus—was hated by his brothers (Genesis 37:4 & John 11:47-48).
- Joseph—like Jesus—was sold into the hands of his enemies by his brothers (Genesis 37:27 & Matthew 27:9).
- Joseph—like Jesus—was punished unjustly (Genesis 39:20 & Matthew 27:24).
- Joseph—like Jesus—was 30 years old when he began his ministry of service to the people (Genesis 41:46 & Luke 3:23).
- Joseph—like Jesus—was exalted and became a savior to the world through the Lord, causing all countries to come to Joseph for bread to live (Genesis 41:57 & John 6:35).
- Joseph—like Jesus—received a Gentile bride after his rejection by his brothers—the sons of Israel (Genesis 41:45 & Ephesians 5:25).
- The brothers of Joseph bowed down before him: “And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed down before him to the earth” (Genesis 43:26).
When Joseph was sold by his brothers to the Midianites, this represented Jesus being rejected by Israel and delivered unto the Gentiles. After Joseph was delivered to Egypt, God then dealt primarily with the Gentiles through the ministry of Joseph—as He has in the same way through the body of Christ until the present time.
Today the nation of Israel has been regathered back into its native land, and the Lord is once again dealing with the nation of Israel as a complete entity. The clock is set to start at the exact moment of God’s choosing—when the entire world will be totally consumed by God’s direct dealings with Israel—during the Tribulation.
During the seven years of famine in Egypt—starving people came from around the world to buy grain from Joseph:
“The famine was over all the face of the earth, and Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians. And the famine became severe in the land of Egypt. So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands” (Genesis 41:56-57).
Joseph represented the Lord Jesus as the one through whom all the blessings of God are supplied to all the hungering peoples of the earth. Then—when Joseph’s brothers appeared before him after he rose to a position of great power—Joseph again represented a type of Christ dealing with His Jewish brethren during the coming Tribulation.
“Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he acted as a stranger to them and spoke roughly to them. Then he said to them, ‘Where do you come from?’ And they said, ‘From the land of Canaan to buy food.’ So Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him” (Genesis 42:7-8).
Joseph dealt “roughly” with his brothers in order to provoke them to repentance. In the same way, the Lord Jesus will judge the sons of Israel during the Tribulation in order to provoke them to repentance, thereby producing their recognition of Him as their true Messiah.
The incredible change that occurred in the heart of Joseph’s brother, Judah—from selling Joseph for profit through deception to offering himself as slave to Joseph—represents the repentance of Israel after the Tribulation.
“Then Judah came near to him and said: ‘O my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s hearing, and do not let your anger burn against your servant; for you are even like Pharaoh. Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers’” (Genesis 44:18, 33).
In a coming day—the believing remnant of Israel will confess its guilt in connection with the death of the true Messiah, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son:
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10).
The apostle Paul tells us that the experiences of Israel described in the Old Testament are given to us as examples for our caution:
“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).
But make no mistake—the Lord Jesus identifies with and loves his Jewish brethren:
“Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me’” (Matthew 25:34-40).
The revealing of Joseph to his brothers—and their subsequent recognition of him as their brother following their repentance—represents the recognition that awaits the people of Israel when the Lord Jesus reveals Himself as their Messiah and their King:
“Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory” (Matthew 24:30).
As Joseph freely forgave his brothers for their sins committed against him, so the Lord Jesus will forgive all who come to Him in repentance:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Someday very soon—the Lord will begin to open the hearts of the believing remnant of Israel to the Pentateuch scriptures concerning their true Messiah—through stories like the story of Joseph. All of the books of the Old Testament—from the books of Moses (Pentateuch) to Malachi—testify that Yeshua was and is the promised Mashiach:
“Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:25, 27).