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LESSON 1 – JOSEPH BIBLE STUDY
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All Courses are copyright and may not be used as Courses without permission. Copyright 2000 William MacDonald. I am greatly indebted to William MacDonald for his permission to use this material. He is widely known as the author of many books of which many of them can be purchased from the publisher below. I would also like to acknowledge the kind permission of the publisher of this book; Gospel Folio Press, 304 Killaly St.W. Poet Colborne, Ontario Canada L3K 6A6 Copyright 1999 William MacDonald All Rights Reserved
LESSON 1: JOSEPH, A TYPE OF CHRIST
JOSEPH MAKES ME THINK OF JESUS by William MacDonald
Contents of this Course
Joseph's early life
Joseph's life in Egypt
First trip of Joseph’s brothers to Egypt
Second trip of Joseph’s brothers to Egypt
Joseph's identity revealed
Jacob's move to Egypt
The family reunited
The patriarchal blessing
Stephen’s reference to Joseph
Lessons from the life of Joseph
You would have liked Joseph. He was an outstanding fellow. In addition to a warm, winning personality, he had a "conscience live and keen" when it came to moral and ethical questions. Joseph was both loving and lovable. He was also handsome. Although he was not flawless, he was one of two men in the Old Testament of whom no fault or failure is recorded. The other was Daniel. There are over a hundred correspondences between the life of Joseph and that of the Lord Jesus, so it is no wonder that our hearts are drawn to him. The Bible never says he was a type of Christ, 1 but the resemblance is undeniable. We cannot read the story of his life without thinking of the Saviour of the world. Joseph lived 2000 years before Jesus, and men, who could not have conferred, of course, wrote their biographies, but the similarities are unmistakable. That becomes evident as we turn to the sacred record. It is not surprising that more space is given to Joseph in Genesis than to any other person.
LESSON 1:JOSEPH A TYPE OF CHRIST
JOSEPH’S EARLY LIFE
A ROOT OUT OF DRY GROUND (GENESIS 35:23-26).
When I say that Joseph was a root out of dry ground, I mean that his background was not promising. It was not likely that such a person would come from such an environment. His father, Jacob, had four wives and therefore all the troubles that polygamy engenders. One of Joseph’s stepbrothers committed incest with one of his father's wives. Two of his stepbrothers were notoriously cruel, and another stepbrother got in trouble with a harlot. Today we would call that a dysfunctional family. But the grace of God triumphed over Joseph’s heredity and environment, and he lived to make history for God. The Lord Jesus was the true root out of dry ground. (Isaiah 53:2). In His case, the dry ground was the nation of Israel. Its spiritual condition was not what it should have been for the arrival of the Messiah. He came like a tender plant growing up in a desert. Yet in spite of adverse circumstances, He too made good history for God.
SHEPHERD (GENESIS 37:2)
When we first meet Joseph, he was feeding his flock with his brothers. As he cared for animals that can be clueless and exasperating at times, he learned lessons that would serve him well in days to come: lessons of patience, tenderness, sympathy, and faithfulness. Joseph foreshadows our Lord, the ideal Shepherd. A.W. Pink says, "The figure suggests His watchful care, His unwearied devotion, His tender solicitude, His blessed patience, His protecting grace, and His matchless love in giving His life for the sheep." We know Him as the Good Shepherd, the Great Shepherd, and the Chief Shepherd. But boys and girls in many homes prefer to call Him Jesus, tender Shepherd, when they pray to Him each evening.
SON OF HIS FATHER'S LOVE (GENESIS 37:3)
Conventional wisdom tells us that parents should not play favourites with their children. But the hard fact of life is that many parents do have a favourite child, and Joseph’s father Jacob was one of the many. He had a special love for his wife Rachel, and that love passed down to Rachel's firstborn son, Joseph. No doubt, Joseph's sterling character also helped to endear him to his father. This special love reminds us of the love of the heavenly Father for His unique Son. Twice God opened heaven to announce publicly, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). But we cannot say that God is guilty of favouritism. He has many children in addition to His unique Son. Every true believer is a child of God. The breath-taking truth is that He loves every one of them with the same love with which He loves the Lord Jesus (John 17:23). The mutual love of Jacob and Joseph is one of the great themes of this saga. Jacob could not conceal his special affection for this stalwart son. Though separated for years, he never ceased to mourn for him. And Joseph reciprocated that love. In his prolonged separation, he never failed to inquire for his father. So it is with the heavenly types. Jesus said, “Therefore My. Father loves me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again” (John 10:17). Repeatedly God calls the Lord Jesus My beloved Son. In Colossians 1:13 Paul calls our Lord the Son of His love. Only once do we read that Christ loves the Father. That is in John 14:31: "But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do.” That once is enough, because the next day He went to the Cross to prove that love by submission to His Father’s will.
SON OF HIS FATHER'S OLD AGE (GENESIS 37:3)
The reason given by the Scripture for the special love shown by Jacob to Joseph is that Joseph was born when his father was quite elderly. Jacob could have been in his eighties. He realized that his time on earth was limited, so there was special joy connected with the birth of a son at this stage of his life. We must be guarded in drawing an analogy with the Lord Jesus here. God, His Father, does not grow old. He never reaches old age. But since one of the names of God is the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9), we are safe in saying that Jesus is the Son of the Ancient of Days.2
A DISTINCTIVE ROBE (GENESIS 37:3)
Jacob gave Joseph a coat of many colours, an expression of special love for him. In a sense, this set Joseph apart from his eleven brothers. It marked him out as different. People may argue that it was unwise for the father to do this, but the Holy Spirit would use it to point forward to another loved Son at whose death another robe would figure prominently. The scene was Calvary, where the Lamb of God was nailed to a cross. The Roman soldiers laid claim to several items of His clothing, and divided them among themselves. But there was a seamless robe, which could not be divided without destroying its usefulness. So they gambled for it. Pause here to marvel at Denney’s reminder, “His was the greatest life ever lived on earth, and He left nothing but the clothes that He wore.” Joseph's brothers dipped his multicoloured tunic in the blood of a young goat to deceive their father into thinking that Joseph had been slain. A strange coincidence that the Saviour’s robe should also be linked to His death.
I hope I am not carrying typology too far if I suggest that Jesus has a coat of many colours. First, a word of explanation. Clothing is sometimes used as a figure for character. For instance, "Put on the new man which was created according to God, in righteousness and true holiness" (Ephesians 4:24). "Be clothed with humility" (1 Peter 5:5). "The fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints" (Revelation 19:8). So I would suggest that the multi-coloured garment of the Saviour means the sum of all His glorious virtues: His wisdom, love, power, righteousness, holiness, grace, mercy, truth, and all His other perfections. In a song titled “My King’s Apparel,” an unknown author sees the marks of Christ’s suffering and death as His royal apparel:
MY KING’S APPAREL
The crown that my King wore was made of thorns,
His jewels were bright rubies of blood,
His royal apparel designed with a scourge,
Making bright crimson stripes on His holy train.
And oh, He wore it so well.
My King’s apparel—He wore it so well.
His jewellery was nails in His hands and His feet.
No throne, He hung on a sinful tree.
His royal carpet was blood in the sand.
"Crucify Jesus!" we sinners demand.
His life for the sinner He willingly gave.
They laid my Saviour in a cold, dark cave.
But Jesus was righteous, was never death’s slave.
My Almighty King conquered death and the grave.
THE APPOINTED HEIR (1 Chronicles 5:2B)
Reuben was Jacob's firstborn by Leah (1 Chronicles 5:1) and thus should have inherited a double portion of his father's estate as well as headship of that tribe. But because he sinned by sleeping with his father's concubine, he lost the birthright and it was given to Joseph (1 Chronicles 5:2B). When the land of Canaan was eventually divided among the tribes of Israel, Joseph received a double portion, one for his son Ephraim and one for Manasseh. This is a faint foreshadowing of One who, as Firstborn (Romans 8:29), is appointed to be Heir of all things. Here it is not a matter of inheriting a few parcels of real estate, but all things (Hebrews 1:2). It is nothing short of universal dominion.
HATED WITHOUT A CAUSE (GENESIS 37:4).
If Joseph was such a splendid fellow, why did his brothers hate him? First of all, a family does not always appreciate one of its member’s greatness. "A prophet is not without honour except in his own country and in his own house" (Matthew 13:57 see also Matthew 10:36). Second, Joseph’s brothers were jealous of him, perhaps because of his coat of many colours and what it meant (Genesis 37:11; Acts 7:9). Then again there was the dislike of the unlike. Joseph's righteous life was a rebuke to them and convicted them of their unrighteousness. So it was in the experience of the Lord Jesus. He could say in the language of Psalm 69:8, “I have become a stranger to my brothers, and an alien to my mother’s children.” His brothers hated him without any valid reason. At one time they even thought He was deranged and tried to hustle him away (Mark 3:21). The religious leaders of Israel were also jealous of Him. They feared that everyone would believe on Him, and the Romans would crush their Temple and nation (John 11:48). It was because of envy that they delivered him up to Pilate (Matthew 27:18). As He Himself explained, "Everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed" (John 3:20). It is unimaginable that when the Creator-God came to this earth, His creatures should despise him. That the words Jesus and was hated should ever be spoken in the same breath is absolutely incongruous.
DREAMS WITH A MEANING (GENESIS 37:5-11)
Twice Joseph dreamed that his family would bow to him, that he would reign over them. In the first dream, he saw sheaves of ripened grain bowing to his sheaf. The sheaves represented his brothers. In the second dream, the solar system paid homage to him. The sun and moon personified his parents. The stars were his brothers. When he explained the dream, his father rebuked him and his brothers were livid with envy. Some might fault Joseph for revealing the dreams, but in the sovereign purposes of God, it was necessary that he do it. His brothers said they would never bow to him, but circumstances later forced them to do it three times (Genesis 42:6; 43:28; 44:14), and finally they did it willingly (Genesis 50:18). In speaking to Joseph in chapters 42-50, they called themselves "your servants" at least fourteen times. How often they had to eat their words! Only God can say never. Centuries later the Son of man prophesied that He would return to earth as a conquering Monarch in power and great glory. In saying this, He implied that His people would pay homage to Him. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30). Hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64).
HIS PEOPLE WILL BE WILLING IN THE DAY OF HIS POWER (PSALM 110:3 KJV).
In his book A Fruitful Bough, Christopher Knapp makes an interesting observation concerning the two dreams. The setting of the first is on earth (sheaves of grain). The locale of the second is the heavens (the sun, moon, and stars). Knapp suggests that this anticipates the time when “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). He also links the dreams with Ephesians 1:10: “that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.”
MICROSOFT WORD FORMAT OF LESSON AND TEST FOR - LESSON 1 – (Click on the "Microsoft Word" word in blue to choose this option)
TEST LESSON 1: JOSEPH A TYPE OF CHRIST
Place a T (True) or F (False) for your answer at the beginning or end of the question;
1. Joseph was born in a good family and environment. - TRUE................. FALSE ..................
2. Joseph was a shepherd, but Jesus was never likened to a shepherd. - TRUE................. FALSE ..................
3. Joseph inherited the birth right of the family - TRUE................. FALSE ..................
4. God is called the Ancient of days - TRUE................. FALSE ..................
5. Twice Joseph dreamed that his family would bow down to him. - TRUE................. FALSE ..................
Fill in the blank with CAPITALS LETTERS in the spaces with the correct word/s
6. The fine .................. is the .................. acts of the ...................
7. A .................. is not .................. honour .................. in .................. own ...................
8. .................. practising .................. hates the .................. and .................. not come to the ...................
9. .................. people will be .................. in the .................. of His ...................
10. Henceforth .................. will .................. - the .................. of man .................. at the right .................. of ...................
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Updated May 2012 by Shelly Allen