Theologians and Bible Commentators refer to Old Testament symbols which point forward to Jesus as “types.” Noah’s ark was a type of Christ. The bronze serpent was a type of Christ. The sacrificial lamb was a type of Christ. Scholars refer to the study of types as typology.
These types can be objects. A type can also be a person or an event. Joseph is an excellent example of an Old Testament person who symbolizes and points forward to Jesus. Joseph is a type of Christ.
Arthur W. Pink, an English theologian who died in the mid-twentieth century, most intriguingly cataloged one-hundred ways that Joseph’s life points forward to Jesus. For today, let’s focus on the thirty-seventh chapter of Genesis.
Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob, the favored son, just as Jesus was the Beloved Son (John 3:16) of His Father. Jacob famously gave to Joseph a very special coat, “a robe of many colors” (Genesis 37:3). Jesus also had a unique coat, one that attracted the attention of the Roman soldiers at the crucifixion. The “tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be’ ” (John 19:23-24, ESV).
Jacob’s family were shepherds (Genesis 37:13). Yep... Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd!” (John 10:11).
When the ten brothers were out in the pastures caring for the flocks, Jacob sent Joseph on a mission to find the boys and check on them (Genesis 37:12). Jesus was sent on a mission to “seek and save” (Luke 19:10). Like Joseph, Jesus was obedient to His Father (Philippians 2:5-11).
In Jacob’s dysfunctional family, the ten older brothers learned to hate Joseph (Genesis 37:4). The New Testament tells us that Jesus’ Israelite brethren also hated Him, even enough to kill him (John 1:11). In fact, Joseph’s brothers “conspired against him to kill him” (Genesis 37:18).
They stripped Joseph, just like Jesus was stripped (Genesis 37:23, Matthew 27:27-31) and threw him into a dry well (Genesis 37:24). He would have died of starvation and thirst, but some Midianite traders happened by. So, the hateful brothers turned a profit. They sold their younger sibling for a few pieces of silver, just as Jesus was sold by Judas (Genesis 37:28, Matthew 26:14-16). By the way, Joseph’s trip to Egypt saved his life. Remember, Joseph and Mary escaped the wrathful Herod by travelling to Egypt.
Joseph was placed in a hole in the ground, in a well, but he came out of the hole alive! That’s a type of Christ. Jesus too, came out of the ground, alive! Hallelujah!
The study of Old Testament types is so interesting... thrilling... exciting! Jesus prowls the pages of the Old Testament! The Old Testament commentates on the New. The New Testament fulfills the Old. You can’t fully understand either without both.
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor