We find the story of Joseph in Genesis chapters 30 to 50, and nowhere else in the Bible has one man gotten so much coverage as Joseph, except Jesus Christ, and the point is that it is a very important story. Not so important as a story of Joseph, but much more importantly, as a foreshadow of the story of Jesus Christ.
The story of Joseph contains numerous intrigues, prophecies, examples and lessons interspersed with the best mankind has in terms of courage, long-suffering, forgiveness and love - characteristics we find in Jesus Christ himself. So we are not going to read this story as a story of Joseph. We are going to delve deeper into it and regard it as a story of the life and times of Jesus Christ.
The most theoretical way to illustrate this, is to quote you a specific text from Genesis and then quote you the corresponding scripture from the New Testament, but that would be hard work and study, and this is a Sunday School lesson, and will not do. I have therefore decided that the easiest way to read and understand it, would be to rewrite the Old Testament story and changing the story to fit the New Testament history as a narrative. It is in no way an attempt to change scripture, but to bring the deeper meaning out - after all, that is what Bible stories for Sunday School should be. I will thus be pushing the story of Jesus Christ which plays off in the background to the foreground, and that of Joseph to the background. The small numbers refers to the Bible text from which I derive the narrative.
We start at Josephs' birth (read Jesus's birth), borne by the beloved wife (read Holy Ghost) of Israel (read The Father), and she gives him this name with the comment: Gen 30:24 And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son. This other son is Benjamin, but indeed also Jesus Christ. So we see the story starts off immediately with a prophecy.
So here is the short narrative - I hope you like it.
One day there was a father who had many sons1. These sons were in a faraway land tending to his sheep2 and his vineyard3. One day he received an evil report6 of the behaviour of his sons, so he wanted to send someone to find out how well they fare, whether the harvest was ready, and to bring some of the fruit back from his vineyard8. When he asked in his household who would go, his beloved son4 said that he would go7.
When his beloved son reached his brothers, they conspired10 to kill9 him, and to take his coat11,12,13, which they smeared in blood27. Then they then cast him in a pit14 where no-one has ever been laid in, from which he arose alive15, after being sold for thirty pieces of silver16. When they returned to the pit, he was not there anymore17,28. They then made a story up to convince the people that somebody stole his body29.
Whilst he was in custody, there were two men with him who was to be executed18. One, on his left hand (a baker) and the other on his right (a butler), but the son said to the one on the right, that he would not die, but would be reinstated19 that same day and be with him in Paradise.
When the son arose from the pit, he was taken into the court of the king20 to rule as second in command21. There then came famine22 in the land for seven years, but the nation was saved, because of the bread25 that was given them, that was saved up in heaven for seven (thousand) years.
Ultimately the son married a gentile24 wife23, and he and his brothers lived in the new land26.
What can we learn from this?
1. God uses a technique called mapping to map human stories to Himself. Here he uses the story of Joseph and maps Joseph to the life and times of Jesus Christ, and this we call typing. Here Joseph is a type of Jesus Christ, and there are many stories in the Bible where this is done - I will give you a few more in coming lessons.
2. The foreground story cannot map the background story perfectly, because the foreground is about mankind and the background about God. There are certain things which can only refer to mankind and certain which can only refer to God.
We can take the discrepancy in the priced mentioned as an example. Joseph was sold for twenty pieces of silver and Jesus for thirty. Could this be a mistake? No. When you read the prophecy about the price Jesus would be sold for in Zec. 11:2, you will see it was meant to be thirty pieces and it was meant to be used for the potter's land:
Zec 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. v:13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
The reason for this is that two is the number for mankind (Adam and Eve) and three is the number for the Godhead (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), and thus it transpired that we valued God at thirty pieces of silver and our neighbour at even less. How true this is even today.
3. Why would Joseph marry a gentile bride? The reason is that God cannot marry his nation Israel or Judah again, because He gave them a bill of divorce:
Jer 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
So God's Son can still marry, but not a divorcee. He therefore had to select a bride from the gentiles.
4. Joseph tells the butler that he would be reprieved after three days, whilst Jesus told the sinner on his right that he would be in Paradise on the same day. Is this a mistake? No. When the butler had the dream, the crucifixion was still three days away (three thousand years).
5. So we will find discrepancies in all the stories where we compare them, and we can learn from that as well, as this is called anti-types.
1. 1Jn 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God.
2. Mic 2:12 I will surely assemble, O Jacob, all of thee; I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah, as the flock in the midst of their fold
3. Luk 20:9 Then began he to speak to the people this parable; A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time.
4. Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
5. Luk 20:13 Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him.
6. Gen 37:2 ... and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.
7. Gen 37:13 And Israel said unto Joseph, Do not thy brethren feed the flock in Shechem? come, and I will send thee unto them. And he said to him, Here am I.
8. Psa 80:14 Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine; v:15 And the vineyard which thy right hand hath planted, and the branch that thou madest strong for thyself.
9. Mat 21:39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
10. Mat 27:1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
11. Gen 37:23 And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stript Joseph out of his coat, his coat of many colours that was on him;
12. Luk 23:11 And Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe, and sent him again to Pilate.
13. Mat 27:35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments
14. Joh 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid.
15 Mar 16:6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here
16. Mat 26:15 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.
17 Gen 37:29 And Reuben returned unto the pit; and, behold, Joseph was not in the pit; and he rent his clothes.
18. Luk 23:32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.
19. Luk 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.
20. Act 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
21. 1Co 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
22. Mat 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
23. Rev 21:9 And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb's wife.
24. Act 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.
25. Joh 6:58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
26. Rev 3:12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
27. Rev 19:13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
28. Mat 28:6 He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
29. Mat 28:12 And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, v:13 Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. v:14 And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.