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Joseph, as Messiah

What do you know about your savior? Many of us were reared in either Catholic or Protestant mainstream so-called "Christian" denominations. We just accepted what we were taught and really may not have proved the veracity of what we were told. Have you ever sat down and really studied the Old Testament prophecies that predicted the Messiah to come? There are more than 100 scriptures that foretell and paint a picture of the traits concerning the savior whom God promised to send to earth. Today we will review several of them but we'll go beyond the mere prophecies to see if there isn't more we can learn about God's plan for us from one who served as a physical foreshadow of our Messiah.

Prophecy lights the way

The first prophecy in the Bible about the savior Messiah is found in Genesis 3:14. It is the account of God's pronouncement of condemnation on the serpent and the real spiritual entity who was behind the actions of the serpent in the Garden of Eden.

(Gen 3:14-15 NASB)  And the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly shall you go, And dust shall you eat All the days of your life; {15} And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel."

Notice verse fifteen, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." What does that mean? Who was the "seed of the woman"? The answer lies in Galatians 4:4.

(Gal 4:4 NASB)  But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,

So, Jesus was "born of a woman" but was he that promised "seed of the woman" and was he sent to "bruise" Satan? We'll find the answer in Hebrews 2:14.

(Heb 2:14-15 NASB)  Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; {15} and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Look at those verses closely. Jesus was born of a woman and shared the same flesh as the rest of the sons of David. It was through the existence in the flesh that Jesus was able to qualify yet still die and, thereby, was also able to render powerless, Satan, who had hold over all mankind through the slavery of sin. That's a mouthful but consider it for a moment. Satan, or the devil, had mastery over all men because they were subject to his will of sin, through fear of death. Jesus, however, was able to render Satan powerless because he undercut his power through the quality of the life he led overcoming Satan in the flesh. How, though, did he do it? The apostle John tells us in 1 John 3:8.

(1 John 3:7-8 NASB)  Little children, let no one deceive you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; {8} the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil.

Messiah Defined

Just what is a messiah? The word messiah comes from the Hebrew root, mashach, Strong's #4886, and according to Strong's Hebrew Dictionary, it means "to rub with oil, that is, to anoint." Therefore, messiah means the anointed one or the consecrated one [that's the "set apart one"]. So, God's Messiah is the one he set apart or anointed.

Isaiah prophesied of one to be set apart by God to make special proclamations of good news, of freedom, and of vengeance on God's behalf.

(Isa 61:1-2 NASB)  The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives, And freedom to prisoners; {2} To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,

In Luke 4:16, Jesus was the fulfillment of Isaiah's scripture because his life embodied the duties of the Messiah outlined by Isaiah.

(Luke 4:16-21 NASB)  And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. {17} And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, {18} "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN, {19} TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD." {20} And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. {21} And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

The apostle Peter, in Acts 10:38, spoke as a firsthand witness of the daily deeds of Jesus and how he fulfilled the prophecies we just heard from Isaiah.

(Acts 10:38-43 NASB)  "You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. {39} "And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. {40} "God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, {41} not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. {42} "And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. {43} "Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."

In his sacrificial death for his people, the Messiah was to spiritually embody the physical sacrifice of another time and place. As part of delivering his people from their spiritual captivity in the bonds of Satan, Jesus, through his death, also fulfilled the physical sacrifice exemplified centuries before in the lamb's blood, which delivered God's people from physical death in Egypt.

(Exo 12:3, 5, 7 NASB)  "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, 'On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers' households, a lamb for each household. [verse 5] 'Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. [verse 7]  'Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. {8} 'And they shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.

Skip down to verse 46.

(Exo 12:46 NASB)  "It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it.

John the Baptist bore witness of Jesus' true identity when he met him in John 1:29.

(John 1:29 NASB)  The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

In 1 Corinthians 5:7, Paul put into correct spiritual context the significance of Jesus' sacrifice.

(1 Cor 5:7 NASB)  Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed.

In 1 Peter 1:18, the apostle Peter concurred with Paul but tied it all together by focussing on the significance of shed blood of both the Passover lamb and of the redemption of the Messiah.

(1 Pet 1:18-19 NASB)  knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, {19} but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.

There are many other proofs and scriptural examples of Jesus fulfilling the messianic prophecies. For a more in-depth analysis, please request your free copy of our booklet, Proofs that Jesus is the Messiah.

The scriptures we've reviewed today showed different aspects and traits of the prophesied messiah and how Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. They may have seemed to bring out unrelated traits but, upon closer analysis, we will find that all of those disparate qualities were, in fact, intricately related. Not only were they related; they were interdependent but they were not new. Students of the torah should know them well.

In Genesis 22:2, most know of the account of Abraham being commanded by God to offer his son, Isaac, as a burnt offering to God.

(Gen 22:2 NASB)  And He said, "Take now your son, your only son, whom you love, Isaac, and go to the land of Moriah; and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you."

God's test of Abraham was concluded in verse 12 when Abraham showed he was willing to sacrifice his son to obey God's commands.

(Gen 22:12 NASB)  And he said, "Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me."

In Genesis 15:13, God confirmed his covenant and promises to Abraham. In so doing, God also told Abraham of the future for his children.

(Gen 15:13-16 NASB)  And God said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. {14} "But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. {15} "And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. {16} "Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete."

The Children of Israel

The act of Abraham being able to willingly sacrifice his son in obedience to God as an offering to cover transgressions or sins was a foreshadow of the our Father's willingness to sacrifice his son, Jesus the Messiah, as a covering for the transgressions or sins of all mankind. In that way, Isaac was an example of Messiah to come.

There was another example in Genesis that foreshadowed the Messiah in many ways. Most people know the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob or Israel; but few realize the significance of the many ways in which his life mirrored the life of Jesus.

In Genesis 37, we first see Joseph as a mature teen when he told his father and brothers about his dreams.


(Gen 37:1-28 NASB)  Now Jacob lived in the land where his father had sojourned, in the land of Canaan. {2} These are the records of the generations of Jacob. Joseph, when seventeen years of age, was pasturing the flock with his brothers while he was still a youth, along with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives. And Joseph brought back a bad report about them to their father. {3} Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic. {4} And his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers; and so they hated him and could not speak to him on friendly terms. {5} Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. {6} And he said to them, "Please listen to this dream which I have had; {7} for behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf rose up and also stood erect; and behold, your sheaves gathered around and bowed down to my sheaf." {8} Then his brothers said to him, "Are you actually going to reign over us? Or are you really going to rule over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. {9} Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, "Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." {10} And he related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?" {11} And his brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind. {12} Then his brothers went to pasture their father's flock in Shechem. {13} And Israel said to Joseph, "Are not your brothers pasturing the flock in Shechem? Come, and I will send you to them." And he said to him, "I will go." {14} Then he said to him, "Go now and see about the welfare of your brothers and the welfare of the flock; and bring word back to me." So he sent him from the valley of Hebron, and he came to Shechem. {15} And a man found him, and behold, he was wandering in the field; and the man asked him, "What are you looking for?" {16} And he said, "I am looking for my brothers; please tell me where they are pasturing the flock." {17} Then the man said, "They have moved from here; for I heard them say, 'Let us go to Dothan.'" So Joseph went after his brothers and found them at Dothan. {18} When they saw him from a distance and before he came close to them, they plotted against him to put him to death. {19} And they said to one another, "Here comes this dreamer! {20} "Now then, come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, 'A wild beast devoured him.' Then let us see what will become of his dreams!" {21} But Reuben heard this and rescued him out of their hands and said, "Let us not take his life." {22} Reuben further said to them, "Shed no blood. Throw him into this pit that is in the wilderness, but do not lay hands on him"-- that he might rescue him out of their hands, to restore him to his father. {23} So it came about, when Joseph reached his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the varicolored tunic that was on him; {24} and they took him and threw him into the pit. Now the pit was empty, without any water in it. {25} Then they sat down to eat a meal. And as they raised their eyes and looked, behold, a caravan of Ishmaelites was coming from Gilead, with their camels bearing aromatic gum and balm and myrrh, on their way to bring them down to Egypt. {26} And Judah said to his brothers, "What profit is it for us to kill our brother and cover up his blood? {27} "Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; for he is our brother, our own flesh." And his brothers listened to him. {28} Then some Midianite traders passed by, so they pulled him up and lifted Joseph out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. Thus they brought Joseph into Egypt.

Notice the value given for Joseph when he was sold to the Ishmaelites was in accordance with the scriptural value of persons listed in Leviticus 27:5.

(Lev 27:5 NASB)  'And if it be from five years even to twenty years old then your valuation for the male shall be twenty shekels, and for the female ten shekels.

So, Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt. We'll continue the story in Genesis 39.

(Gen 39:1-20 NASB)  Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt; and Potiphar, an Egyptian officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the bodyguard, bought him from the Ishmaelites, who had taken him down there. {2} And the LORD was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. And he was in the house of his master, the Egyptian. {3} Now his master saw that the LORD was with him and how the LORD caused all that he did to prosper in his hand. {4} So Joseph found favor in his sight, and became his personal servant; and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he owned he put in his charge. {5} And it came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he owned, the LORD blessed the Egyptian's house on account of Joseph; thus the LORD'S blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field. {6} So he left everything he owned in Joseph's charge; and with him there he did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. {7} And it came about after these events that his master's wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me." {8} But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Behold, with me here, my master does not concern himself with anything in the house, and he has put all that he owns in my charge. {9} "There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?" {10} And it came about as she spoke to Joseph day after day, that he did not listen to her to lie beside her, or be with her. {11} Now it happened one day that he went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the household was there inside. {12} And she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me!" And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside. {13} When she saw that he had left his garment in her hand, and had fled outside, {14} she called to the men of her household, and said to them, "See, he has brought in a Hebrew to us to make sport of us; he came in to me to lie with me, and I screamed. {15} "And it came about when he heard that I raised my voice and screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled, and went outside." {16} So she left his garment beside her until his master came home. {17} Then she spoke to him with these words, "The Hebrew slave, whom you brought to us, came in to me to make sport of me; {18} and it happened as I raised my voice and screamed, that he left his garment beside me and fled outside." {19} Now it came about when his master heard the words of his wife, which she spoke to him, saying, "This is what your slave did to me," that his anger burned. {20} So Joseph's master took him and put him into the jail, the place where the king's prisoners were confined; and he was there in the jail.

Note how Joseph was unjustly accused and sentenced. It was after several years in prison that Joseph was able to secure his release by becoming known to the court of Pharaoh as an interpreter of dreams. Continue the account in Genesis 41.

(Gen 41:14-16 NASB)  Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh. {15} And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it." {16} Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer."

Notice how Joseph fully gave the credit to God. Then, after Pharaoh told his dream to Joseph, Joseph gave the interpretation to Pharaoh in verse 25.

(Gen 41:25-36 NASB)  Now Joseph said to Pharaoh, "Pharaoh's dreams are one and the same; God has told to Pharaoh what He is about to do. {26} "The seven good cows are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years; the dreams are one and the same. {27} "And the seven lean and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind shall be seven years of famine. {28} "It is as I have spoken to Pharaoh: God has shown to Pharaoh what He is about to do. {29} "Behold, seven years of great abundance are coming in all the land of Egypt; {30} and after them seven years of famine will come, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will ravage the land. {31} "So the abundance will be unknown in the land because of that subsequent famine; for it will be very severe. {32} "Now as for the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh twice, it means that the matter is determined by God, and God will quickly bring it about. {33} "And now let Pharaoh look for a man discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. {34} "Let Pharaoh take action to appoint overseers in charge of the land, and let him exact a fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven years of abundance. {35} "Then let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and store up the grain for food in the cities under Pharaoh's authority, and let them guard it. {36} "And let the food become as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish during the famine."

So, Pharaoh heeded the interpretation and advice of Joseph. Pharaoh chose and elevated Joseph to a high position of authority in Pharaoh's government, second only to Pharaoh. We can see that in the next verse.

(Gen 41:39-46 NASB)  So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are. {40} "You shall be over my house, and according to your command all my people shall do homage; only in the throne I will be greater than you." {41} And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See I have set you over all the land of Egypt." {42} Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand, and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen, and put the gold necklace around his neck. {43} And he had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, "Bow the knee!" And he set him over all the land of Egypt. {44} Moreover, Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Though I am Pharaoh, yet without your permission no one shall raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt." {45} Then Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, as his wife. And Joseph went forth over the land of Egypt. {46} Now Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh, king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt.

For confirmation of the circumstances of what we just read, let's consult an independent secular source. In his book, The Bible as History, Werner Keller writes of Joseph:

"Joseph's elevation to viceroy of Egypt was reproduced in the Bible exactly according to protocol. He is invested with the insignia of his high office, he receives the ring, Pharaoh's seal, a costly linen vestment, and a golden chain... This is exactly how Egyptian artists depict this solemn ceremony on murals and reliefs.

As viceroy, Joseph rode in the Pharaoh's 'second chariot'... That implies the time of the Hyksos. These "rulers of foreign lands" were the first to bring the swift war chariot to Egypt. We know too that the Hyksos rulers were the first to use a ceremonial chariot on public occasions in Egypt. Before their day this had not been the practice on the Nile. The ceremonial chariot harnessed to thoroughbred horses was in those day the Rolls-Royce of the governors. The first chariot belonged to the ruler, the 'second chariot' was occupied by his chief minister.

Joseph in accordance with his rank married Asenath... and thereby became the son-in-law of an influential man Potipherah, the priest of Heliopolis. Heliopolis is the On of the Bible, and it lay on the right bank of the Nile a little to the north of present-day Cairo.

Joseph was thirty years of age when he 'went out over all the land of Egypt'...

The Bible depicts Joseph as an able administrator who as grand vizier guided the Egyptian people through difficult times by his counsel and actions, making provision in years of plenty for years of want...

Under the [Egyptian] Pharaohs a sand-dweller could never have become viceroy. Nomads bred asses, sheep, and goats, and the Egyptians despised none so much as breeders of small cattle... Only under the foreign overlords, the Hyksos, would an Asiatic have the chance to rise to the highest office in the state. Under the Hyksos [which means 'rulers of foreign lands'] we repeatedly find officials with Semitic names. (The Bible as History, pages 89-93)"

Joseph, the Messiah of ancient Israel

All of this set the stage for the physical saving of the children of Israel. Joseph had been set up in the highest position of power in the land of Egypt. He was to administer the law in order to store produce throughout the land for the overt purpose of saving the Egyptians from starvation in the coming time of famine. That is what was apparent to Pharaoh and his administration. God, however, had a hidden purpose in mind. Continue the account in Genesis 41:57.

(Gen 41:57 NASB)  And the people of all the earth came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the earth.

Continue in chapter 42.

(Gen 42:1-10 NASB)  Now Jacob saw that there was grain in Egypt, and Jacob said to his sons, "Why are you staring at one another?" {2} And he said, "Behold, I have heard that there is grain in Egypt; go down there and buy some for us from that place, so that we may live and not die." {3} Then ten brothers of Joseph went down to buy grain from Egypt. {4} But Jacob did not send Joseph's brother Benjamin with his brothers, for he said, "I am afraid that harm may befall him." {5} So the sons of Israel came to buy grain among those who were coming, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also. {6} Now Joseph was the ruler over the land; he was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph's brothers came and bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. {7} When Joseph saw his brothers he recognized them, but he disguised himself to them and spoke to them harshly. And he said to them, "Where have you come from?" And they said, "From the land of Canaan, to buy food." {8} But Joseph had recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him. {9} And Joseph remembered the dreams which he had about them, and said to them, "You are spies; you have come to look at the undefended parts of our land." {10} Then they said to him, "No, my lord, but your servants have come to buy food.

After giving them the grain they desired, Joseph kept their brother, Simeon, as surety for their return with Joseph's younger brother, Benjamin. They departed and returned to their father, Israel, in the land of Canaan. We'll continue the story in Genesis 43.

(Gen 43:1-15 NASB)  Now the famine was severe in the land. {2} So it came about when they had finished eating the grain which they had brought from Egypt, that their father said to them, "Go back, buy us a little food." {3} Judah spoke to him, however, saying, "The man solemnly warned us, 'You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.' {4} "If you send our brother with us, we will go down and buy you food. {5} "But if you do not send him, we will not go down; for the man said to us, 'You shall not see my face unless your brother is with you.'" {6} Then Israel said, "Why did you treat me so badly by telling the man whether you still had another brother?" {7} But they said, "The man questioned particularly about us and our relatives, saying, 'Is your father still alive? Have you another brother?' So we answered his questions. Could we possibly know that he would say, 'Bring your brother down'?" {8} And Judah said to his father Israel, "Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go, that we may live and not die, we as well as you and our little ones. {9} "I myself will be surety for him; you may hold me responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him before you, then let me bear the blame before you forever. {10} "For if we had not delayed, surely by now we could have returned twice." {11} Then their father Israel said to them, "If it must be so, then do this: take some of the best products of the land in your bags, and carry down to the man as a present, a little balm and a little honey, aromatic gum and myrrh, pistachio nuts and almonds. {12} "And take double the money in your hand, and take back in your hand the money that was returned in the mouth of your sacks; perhaps it was a mistake. {13} "Take your brother also, and arise, return to the man; {14} and may God Almighty grant you compassion in the sight of the man, that he may release to you your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved." {15} So the men took this present, and they took double the money in their hand, and Benjamin; then they arose and went down to Egypt and stood before Joseph.

Joseph ultimately revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt in Genesis 45. Here it is that Joseph also gives proper credit to God for having a master plan for both him and the children of Israel.

(Gen 45:1-8 NASB)  Then Joseph could not control himself before all those who stood by him, and he cried, "Have everyone go out from me." So there was no man with him when Joseph made himself known to his brothers. {2} And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard of it. {3} Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph! Is my father still alive?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed at his presence. {4} Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Please come closer to me." And they came closer. And he said, "I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. {5} "And now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life. {6} "For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five years in which there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. {7} "And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance. {8} "Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Read the last verse again. "Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt." God had a plan for the saving of the family of Abraham from physical death. He provided a savior in the form of one of Abraham's own children. Joseph prepared the way for the saving of Abraham's family in the land of Egypt.

After the death of their father, Jacob, the sons of Israel became fearful for their former misdeeds. Joseph, however, kept God's plan for the family of Abraham centered in his mind. Look at his response in Genesis 50.

(Gen 50:15-24 NASB)  When Joseph's brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, "What if Joseph should bear a grudge against us and pay us back in full for all the wrong which we did to him!" {16} So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, "Your father charged before he died, saying, {17} 'Thus you shall say to Joseph, "Please forgive, I beg you, the transgression of your brothers and their sin, for they did you wrong."' And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father." And Joseph wept when they spoke to him. {18} Then his brothers also came and fell down before him and said, "Behold, we are your servants." {19} But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? {20} "And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. {21} "So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones." So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. {22} Now Joseph stayed in Egypt, he and his father's household, and Joseph lived one hundred and ten years. {23} And Joseph saw the third generation of Ephraim's sons; also the sons of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were born on Joseph's knees. {24} And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you, and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob."


The title of this sermon is "Joseph, as Messiah." What a strange title! We're told repeatedly throughout scripture that it is Jesus who is the Christ, or Messiah. Is there any Christian believer who doubts that? I don't think so, but we have also seen that scripture has examples of a first type, then an anti-type or a first example that foreshadows the real thing to come in the future. As we've read the words of Paul so many times before, "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work."

Today, we've learned much from the life of Joseph and we've seen from the book of Genesis how God used him as a physical savior and a crucial piece in God's master plan for Israel.

Beside the mere events of how Joseph preserved life for Israel in Egypt, we've also seen many key details of how Joseph physically foreshadowed the real spiritual Messiah to come more than one thousand years later. Let's review some of those details:

  1. Joseph pictured the "rags to riches" growth from his father's household of shepherding to ending up ruling the greatest nation on earth at that time. So, too, Jesus started from humble beginnings in a manger with livestock in the stable to ending up qualifying to rule all nations on earth in the coming Kingdom of God.
  2. Joseph ruled as the greatest power in Egypt but under the authority of Pharaoh. Jesus will rule as the greatest power over all nations on earth but he will rule under, and according to, the authority of God, the Father.
  3. In Luke 3:23, it states that Jesus was "about thirty years of age" when he began his spiritual ministry. We read earlier that Joseph was taken out of prison and set over the land of Egypt when he was thirty years old. Thus Joseph began his physical ministry.
  4. Joseph gave the children of Israel physical food. Jesus gave the children of Israel spiritual food. In John 6:27, Jesus said "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give to you, for on Him the Father, even God, has set His seal." Pharaoh also set his seal on Joseph.
  5. Joseph kept alive the children of Israel in Egypt. Jesus gave spiritual life to the children of Israel and, ultimately, to the whole world. In John 10:10, Jesus said "The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.

As we have said, throughout the scriptures, there are examples of a forerunner that pictures the greater thing to come: a type and an anti-type. Paul spoke of the same symbolism in 1 Corinthians 15:42.

(1 Cor 15:42-46 NASB)  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; {43} it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; {44} it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. {45} So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. {46} However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.

Always remember the former and the latter, as you study scripture. There is a former fulfillment and there is a latter fulfillment. Strive for the understanding of both.

Sermon given by Philip Edwards
Feb 3, 2006
Copyright 2006,
Philip Edwards

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