Joseph - A Type of Christ and a Shadow of Israel
One of the great outstanding characters of history, was the Patriarch Joseph; many valuable lessons may be learned from a study of his life and times. Joseph typified Christ, perhaps more than any other Bible character, and led a more blameless life than most of the other great leaders. Some commentators have written of him as: “One of the most faultless heroes in Scripture”.
Besides being a type of Christ, Joseph was a fore-shadowing of the Israel nation, which sprang from his father Jacob’s loins; he was also the father of the renowned brothers, Ephraim and Manasseh, whom Jacob adopted as his own, and to whom he gave the birthright blessings, with the promise of future greatness as a “multitude of nations”, so wonderfully fulfilled in these latter days. By this adoption, so carefully recorded in Genesis 48, Jacob gave to his favourite son, the first-born of his beloved wife, Rachel, the double portion due to the holder of the birthright; besides raising to thirteen the number of the tribes of Israel, who are counted as descendant from him.
If Ephraim and Manasseh are actually, as British-Israelites believe, the British and American people, they have fulfilled in minutest detail Jacob’s blessing to them; when he crossed his hands, and gave to the youngest, Ephraim, the promise of multiplicity of seed and of nations; and to the elder, Manasseh, the promise that his seed should become a Great People. The British Empire stands before all the world today, as the greatest ever known Commonwealth, or Multitude, of Nations; so obviously descended from the one root, which we believe to be Ephraim, that it is a constant source of amazement, that those who do not see this great Truth, can continue in blindness, with so much evidence plainly before their eyes. Manasseh, the thirteenth tribe, has the number thirteen written all over his history, his flag, and his national emblems; and again, it is amazing that the skeptics can look at so many “coincidences”, which are coupled with so many other marks and evidences, and be unable to see that the United States is the Great People which stems from this illustrious ancestor.
In common with his great prototype, Joseph’s birth was miraculous; his mother, Rachel, having been barren until God answered her prayer, and Jacob’s, for a son. Even as a child, Joseph gave his parents much food for thought; and of Jesus, it is said that Mary “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart”. (Lk. 2:19 and 51).
Jacob made a “coat of many colours” for his beloved Joseph; our Lord, also, had a famous coat “without seam”, made for him, no doubt, with loving care by His Mother, and for which the soldiers drew lots at His Crucifixion. Lloyd Douglas makes the most of the legends about Jesus’ coat in “The Robe”; and there is an interesting legend about Joseph’s coat, that it was made from the original “coat of skins” God made for Adam (Gen. 3:21) which had been handed down from father to son, until it came to Joseph.
Joseph’s coat was taken from him when his brethren cast him into the Pit, and sold him, at Judah’s instigation, for 20 pieces of silver. Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot for 30 pieces of silver, to the priests, who caused Him to be crucified, and He, likewise, went down into the Pit; or, as St. Paul puts it in Ephesians 4:9: “He descended first into the lower parts of the earth.”
Afterwards, both Type and Antitype ascended out of the Pit—the one to sit on Pharaoh’s right hand as the Second Ruler in Egypt; and the other, to sit “on the right hand of God: from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool”. (Heb. 10:12-13).
How often we have read the lovely story of Joseph’s treatment of his brothers. Was that not heaping coals of fire upon their heads? Dare we suggest that as Joseph forgave his brethren, and thus overcame their enmity, so Christ will overcome His enemies, by making them His friends.
As far as history relates, Joseph was almost faultless; and although his persecutors did not know what they did, it was God’s Purpose that through him, his whole family should be saved. Jesus, who was perfectly sinless, was sacrificed to the end that “Whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. (Jn. 3:16). Joseph told his brethren: “God did send me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5); and similarly, Jesus told His disciples: “I go to prepare a place for you ... that where I am, ye may be also”. (Jn. 14:5).
Joseph was sent down to Egypt for his own, and his family’s good. Of Jesus, it was said: “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.” Joseph foreshadowed Israel (the nation), in that he was sent forth into the world (Egypt), to act as a means of salvation in time of great tribulation (7 years of famine); and to set up a government system which would save the people, and bring them directly under the rule of the King (Pharaoh). Joseph’s Egyptian name, Zaphnath-paaneah, signifies “Preserver of the Age”, or “Saviour of the World”.
British-Israel teaches that the work of modern Israel is to prepare for the Kingdom of God on earth; “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33); and for the King (Jesus Christ) who, we believe, will very soon, in the Day of Tribulation, return to reign over us in power and great glory.
Both Joseph and Jesus were about 30 years of age, when they began their ministry; and both had to overcome great temptation.
Joseph had very great power throughout the whole of Egypt. He first took over the people’s money, then their cattle, their land, and finally their labour and their allegiance; so that it could have been said of the King of Egypt, at that time, that the people were wholly his; and so we hope soon to surrender our all to Jesus Christ, to do with as He will, when He reigns supreme as King over all the world; with His Throne at Jerusalem, and the whole world doing Him homage, and acknowledging Him Lord of All.
Foreshadowed by Joseph, we believe that Israel will, one day, as God’s Chosen People (Nation), be acknowledged throughout the world as: “the head and not the tail” (Deut. 28:13); and as the Bride of the Coming King. “Kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens, their nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their faces toward the earth ...” (Isa. 49:22-23).
Joseph’s life was one of service, as was that of his great Prototype, who said to His disciples: “Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered to, but to minister ...” (Matt. 20:26-28). Israel, too, was to serve, and be a blessing to all mankind; and this she has been doing in her blind, unknowing way, simply because she is Israel, and because service for others is bred into her bone. Britain and America have long led the world in service for all who are in need. What would they not be able to accomplish, were they to know and acknowledge their Identity, and their Duty to God?
Compare Joseph’s whole life with the picture the Prophet Isaiah has given us of the future Israel, serving her Lord, at her very best. “But thou, O Israel, My Servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham, My friend ... I, the Lord, have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a Covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house”. Not only Joseph may be seen there in type, but Jesus Christ, and even Israel as she is today, in her unseeing way.
Study these Types and Antitypes for yourself, and you will find many more similarities and lessons for today. The story of Joseph carries much for our instruction, and above all it carries a message of Hope. The Bible contains the Will and Purpose of God, and it is our privilege, as well as our duty, to search it out, and to spread its wisdom far and wide. We are His Witnesses, and our work is to “lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of Thy people Israel."