It has been reported that in no less than one hundred and fifty ways, Joseph was like the Lord Jesus Christ. If we are to follow in Christ’s steps (I Peter 2:21), Joseph must be a mirror of the Saviour.
Joseph was the apple of his father’s eye. He and his brother Benjamin were the two sons of Rachel, a woman supremely loved of Jacob. With Joseph having such a large family, including eleven brothers, it strikes one as amazing that Joseph was bountifully and obviously loved more by his father than all the other siblings. This would be enough to incite jealousy in any child, not to mention those grandiose dreams Joseph had been having about his brethren worshipping him!
When the opportunity presented itself, the forbearance of his brother’s jealousy wore paper-thin. While coming to check on them as they tended father’s flock, they sold him into slavery and hid the crime. That once beautifully colored coat of Joseph was now stained with blood and ripped to shreds. Proof enough to one and all that Joseph had fallen prey to wild beasts!
For those of you new to the story, you might ask where God was. To be honest, God was in it all. God had sent Joseph ahead to preserve life (Genesis 45:4-5, Genesis 50:20) promoting him, inevitably, to the Vice Regency of Egypt and having full control of that empire’s food supply. In the process of time, Joseph’s ten brothers, Benjamin being left at home, traveled to Egypt to buy bread.
When they arrived, Joseph was a stranger to them…but to him they were still brothers. We pick up with the words of Genesis chapter forty-five. There the Bible says,
Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.
And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.
And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. (45:1-5)
The heart of our Saviour is seen in the words of Joseph, “Forgiven! You are forgiven!” Forgiveness had long rested in his heart and to them it was granted. Twice he says, “I am Joseph,” as if revealing himself afresh and anew to them. Read again those heart-rending words, “I am Joseph…come near to me.”
There was a day in my life when Jesus revealed Himself to me. I was born a sinner and had done many things to prove my enmity to Him. He was concealed from me, but softly said, “I am Jesus,” and He drew me near. He drew me near with bands of love and granted me forgiveness! I am saved because my Heavenly Joseph issued a grand pardon and made me His child!
In our story and several years later, Jacob died. Into chapter fifty of Genesis we come. “Well,” said the brothers, “Daddy is dead, and Joseph is going to get us now. He did not act against us while Daddy was around, but, hang on, the hammer is about to fall!”
The Bible says,-
And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. (50:16-20)
“Daddy told you to forgive us,” was the tenor of their comments. It is here, then, that we see one of Joseph’s greatest likenesses to Jesus Christ. He says, “I am not God. I have forgiven you, having come to understand that it was the plan of God. You are still forgiven!”
I am so glad today that the forgiveness I found in the blood of Christ Jesus shall never be wiped away! The glory of Divine restoration shall never tarnish. The peace treaty with sinners signed with Christ’s blood at Calvary shall never be null and void. I am forgiven! And once forgiven, always forgiven!
Regardless of your past, if you have come to God by faith, trusting in Christ alone to forgive your sins and to wash you in Calvary’s blood, you are still forgiven! You may come to God like Joseph’s brethren, saying, “Okay, peace was nice, but surely you are going to repay.” However, our Heavenly Joseph died once and for all to settle the issue of your sin and give you peace and release from your past. What a great God, and what a great picture of forgiveness in the life of Joseph.