He’s Alive!

Genesis 37:18-20 18But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19“Here comes that dreamer!” they said to each other. 20“Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal devoured him. Then we’ll see what comes of his dreams.”

Genesis 45:3-5 3Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.4Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

Background Notes:

Many events in the Old Testament portray New Testament teaching. They are verbal pictures of spiritual truth which would be revealed with the coming of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:11 tells us that “all these things happened to them as examples...” In the context of this verse, “all these things” refers to events that happened to the Old Testament people of God on their long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. The word “example” is the Greek word tupos, or “type,” which essentially means a “picture.” Thus Old Testament “types” are spiritual pictures of New Testament truth for us.

One of the most outstanding and well-known types in the Old Testament is found in Numbers 21. During the children of Israel’s wilderness journey, God judged the people for their sin by allowing poisonous snakes to enter the encampment and bite the people. When the people cried out for deliverance, the Lord told Moses to fashion a bronze snake and raise it up on a pole where everyone would be able to see it. If the people looked to the snake on the pole, which was the Lord’s provision for their salvation, they were cured from the lethal bites. In John 3:14 the Lord Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up.” The Lord Himself emphatically identified the bronze serpent as a type, or spiritual picture of Himself, lifted up on the cross, as the means of salvation for those who were dying from the “poison” of sin. All Old Testament types are not so clearly identified as the bronze serpent. However, in view of what our Lord taught the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, we can be confident that many spiritual pictures are there. “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).

Noah’s ark is an example of an obvious Old Testament type concerning salvation that is not listed as a type in the New Testament. God had to judge the world for sin in Noah’s day, but He provided a way of escape from judgment through the ark. Just as there was only one way of escape from death in the worldwide flood of Noah’s day, so there is only one way of salvation from God’s wrath upon sin—through Christ, the true Ark. As the flood of God’s judgment came down on Noah’s ark, so God’s judgment for sin came down upon Jesus Christ as He was on the cross. As Noah and his family entered by the one door and were saved by and in the ark, so by faith those who believe in Christ alone are saved and are eternally secure in Him. And as Noah and his family were brought into a new world after the flood; so believersin Christ become part of a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

There are many more examples of types in the Old Testament. Eve and Rebekah are types of the Church; Abraham and Isaac are types of God the Father and God the Son, respectively. The battles in Joshua contain types of spiritual warfare. In your personal Bible study you may want to explore the ark of the covenant, the Levitical sacrifices and Kings David and Solomon as types of Christ. (For further study on types, go to our website and click on “Devotions for Growing Christians” and then click on “Index of Topics L-Z” and scroll down to either “Pictures” or “Types” for essays on many different Old Testament types.)

We must be careful, of course, not to push types too far by over-spiritualization, and not “discover” types in Old Testament people, events or things which God did not intend to be types! However, we should also be careful not to lose out on the divinely intended spiritual pictures contained in the Old Testament.

Although the New Testament Scriptures do not specifically state that Joseph, the Old Testament patriarch, is a type of Christ, the parallels between the life of Joseph and the life of our Lord Jesus are too many and too obvious to miss. In fact, in his convicting sermon before the Sanhedrin, Stephen may have been subtly pointing out these parallels to the Jewish leaders—the rejection and betrayal by the brothers (sons of Israel), the exaltation of the rejected One, and the ultimate reconciliation with Israel (Acts 7:9-13).

Doctrinal / Teaching Points

1. Joseph’s rejection by his brothers pictures Christ’s rejection by Israel

Joseph was the special object of his father’s love, because he was the long-awaited son of Jacob’s beloved wife, Rachel. Jacob honored Joseph above his brothers, and gave him an especially beautiful robe (Genesis 37:3). The love of Jacob for his son pictures the unique love relationship between God the Father and God the Son (which, of course, is free from any taint of earthly favoritism). In Matthew 3:17, God the Father spoke from heaven honoring Jesus and saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well-pleased.” John 17:25 tells us that this wonderfulFather/Son love relationship existed “before the foundation of the world.”

Just as Joseph’s brothers reacted to Joseph with jealousy and hatred (Genesis 37:4), so Jesus’ “brothers,” the nation of Israel,responded to Jesus with hatred and rejection. “He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). Also, in John 15:24-25 we read, “They have hated both Me and My Father” and “They have hated me Me without a reason”—a fulfillment of the messianic prophecy of Psalm 69:4.

The anger and hatred of Joseph’s brothers led them to conspire to kill him, as we see in Genesis 37:18-20: “Come now, let’s kill him and throw him into one of these cisterns and say that a ferocious animal has devoured him...” Jealousy and hatred also led the leaders of the Jewish people to conspire against Jesus. Jesus predicted their conspiracy in one of His parables. “When the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the son. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.” (Read all of this parable in Matthew 21:33-46, and notice in verse 45 that the Jewish leaders realized that Jesus was speaking about them.) Only a short time later the prediction of this parable was fulfilled when “the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill Him” (Matthew 26:3-4).

In both picture and intent, Joseph’s brothers “killed” him. Although their original intention was to kill him outright (37:20), they decided to make some money while “permanently disposing” of him when they sold him into slavery. So sure were they that Joseph was gone for good that they fabricated “proof” of his death, and brought Joseph’s bloodied robe home to their father.

The “brothers” of Jesus went even farther, seizing and imprisoning Jesus and putting Him to death. They, too, thought they had “permanently disposed” of their hated rival. In his speech to the Jewish people on the Day of Pentecost, Peter said, “Jesus of Nazareth, a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs…you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him on a cross” (Acts 2:22-23). But, as the Jewish leaders discovered a few days later, Jesus wasn’t “gone for good”! Peter went on to inform them that “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact” (v32). In addition, Peter proclaimed, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (v36). Certainly the exaltation and glorification of Joseph pictures the exaltation and glorification of Christ.

Several other parallels in the lives of Jesus Christ and Joseph are worth mentioning. Both Joseph and Jesus Christ received fatherly commissions to go to their brethren (Genesis 37:12-14; Galatians 4:4). Both Joseph and Jesus Christ were tempted to sin, but did not sin (Genesis 39:6-12; Luke 4:1-13; 1 Peter 2:21-22). Both Joseph and Jesus Christ were falsely accused and publicly humiliated (Genesis 39:13-19; Mark 14:53-59 & 15:16-21). Both Joseph and Jesus Christ suffered alone in their rejection (Genesis 39:20 & 40:23; Lamentations 1:12; Mark 14:50; Isaiah 53:3). Both Joseph and Jesus Christ were the means of “salvation” for the world (Genesis 41:53-57; John 3:16-17). Both Joseph and Jesus Christ became a blessing to the Gentiles, and both gained a bride (Genesis 41:1-45; Acts 15:14; Ephesians 5:25-32).

2. Joseph’s reconciliation with his brothers pictures Christ’s reconciliation with Israel.

After years of slavery and imprisonment, God raised Joseph up to a position of power and authority in Egypt. He became recognized throughout Egypt and all the world as the wise ruler who had saved everyone from starvation and sure death. In his humiliation and eventual exaltation, Joseph is a picture of Jesus Christ. We read about the humiliation and exaltation of our Lord Jesus in Philippians 2:6-11. For our sakes, the Lord voluntarily and temporarily gave up the trappings of majesty (but never gave up His deity!), and became human forever. He lived a life of poverty and rejection as a servant here on this earth, then “for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that “God has highly exalted Him to the highest place,” and one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Following Joseph’s rise to power in Egypt, his brothers came to Egypt to buy food. The brothers had not seen Joseph for many years, but because of the trial and suffering of the intense famine, they were eventually forced to come and bow to the one whom they had hated and rejected. After testing them to see if their hearts had changed in the intervening years, Joseph revealed himself to his brothers and forgave them for their treachery. (See Genesis 42-45.) Joseph’s entire family was brought into a position of prosperity and honor in Egypt because of their relationship to Joseph and their reconciliation with him (Genesis 45:16-18 & 47:11-12).

It has been many years since the Jewish people rejected their Messiah, but as Peter proclaimed to them on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:32-36: “God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear. For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, ‘The Lord said to my Lord:“Sit at my right hand until I make your enemiesa footstool for your feet.’ Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Jesus Christ has been exalted by God the Father. “God exalted Him to the highest place, and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father

(Philippians 2:9-11). In the intervening years, our Lord Jesus has been at work, bringing many people to Himself through His sacrificial and substitutionary death on the cross. During this time God has allowed the Jewish people who reject their Messiah to endure a period of “famine,” of severe suffering and trial. One day, however, Jesus the Messiah will reveal Himself in no uncertain terms to His people Israel (Malachi 3:1-4). Many will turn to Him and bow the knee in repentance and sorrow (Zechariah 12:7-14). In that day He will be reconciled to his “brothers,” the Jewish people, and they will be forgiven and restored (Zechariah 13:1-2; Hosea 2:4-23). In that day, Israel will be restored to its position of favor in God’s eyes because they have turned from rejecting Him to accepting Him as their Messiah (Deuteronomy 30:1-10; Romans 11:11, 15, 22-31).

Just as Joseph was reconciled to his brothers and then brought them into a position of honor and prosperity, so in a future day Jesus the Messiah will be reconciled to the repentant nation of Israel—the godly remnant of the Jewish people. He will restore this saved “all Israel” (Romans 11:26) to a position of honor and prosperity. Their time of separation and sorrow will end, and they will enter into a position of blessing and joy because of their relationship to Jesus Christ. In that future day, when Israel repents, all the covenant blessings which were promised in the Old Testament to God’s people, Israel, will be fulfilled and bestowed upon them (Zephaniah 3:14-20).

Practical Application:

Tell the good news that Jesus is alive!

As Joseph’s brothers told Jacob the good news that Joseph was still alive (Genesis 45:26), so we should tell others the good news that Jesus is alive! Jacob thought Joseph had been killed and was forever dead, and the average person today believes that when Jesus was crucified and buried, He was dead and gone—forever. The good news to Jacob was that Joseph was still alive and in a position of exaltation, power and authority. The same is true today about our Jesus Christ! However, Jacob did not know the truth about Joseph until he was told. We too need to share the truth that Jesus is alive. Just as Jacob didn’t believe the news until evidence was shown to him, so many people today will not believe the good news about Jesus until they are convinced by the evidence. Do you know enough about the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ to be able to show it to an unbeliever? If not, a Christian Evidences book, Ready to Give an Answer, is available at the store on Additionly, a Christian Evidences course can be downloaded from the website. Check it out!

Don’t be discouraged if people don’t become instant believers. Just tell them the good news and show them the evidence. Spread the word! Jesus is alive!
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