“Was Joseph, the son of Jacob, a type of Christ? If so, in what respects?”
WE have regarded Joseph as a type of Christ in the following particulars, viz:
1st. As the first-born of Jacob by his beloved Rachel. Leah, with her defective visage and weak eyes, was a suitable figure of the old covenant Israel, which the law required should be first recognized in her marriage covenant relation to God. With all her tinkling ornaments, worldly sanctuary and carnal ordinances, the Jewish church could not, even with nitre and much soap, or with all the blood of bulls and goats which constantly streamed from her altars, wash out the blemishes and defects of her ugly countenance, nor assume the lovely visage of the beautiful Rachel. All false prophets and idol gods, which had labored to improve her dull and listless eyes, had failed to so improve her sight as to enable her to see the kingdom of God, or to discern the things of the Spirit of God. She could not discern the signs of the times, nor did she know the things which belonged to her peace. She knew not the Son of God, nor could she see any comeliness or beauty in him that she could love or admire. True she was prolific, and increased the number of Jacob’s fleshly family, and prided herself as much in this as do her workmongrel connections at the present time.
Rachel who was well-favored and beautiful, presents a clear and brilliant figure of the gospel church under the new covenant dispensation. Her eyes were like doves’ eyes within her locks, and with one of them she delighted the heart of her Beloved. See Cant. iv. 1, 9. Kings and prophets desired to see the things which she sees, and were not able. She is the perfection of beauty, and her God will behold no spot or defect in her. As Lear represented the carnal race of Israel, so Rachel represents the spiritual church, and Christ is her firstborn. First Begotten from the dead; for, although she had long been derided for her barrenness, at length, Unto her a child is born; unto her a Son is given; and the government is on his shoulder, and his name is Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
2d. Joseph was not born until the fourteen years of legal obligation between Jacob and Laban were accomplished; so the law and prophets were until John, in whose days the ad vent of Christ occurred. And in reference to the canceling of all the demands of law and justice, and abolition of the hand writing of ordinances, they were accomplished when Christ died and nailed them to the cross. But in the espousal of the gospel church, or anti-typical Rachel, Christ in his resurrection became the first fruits of them that slept, and the first born among many brethren. In his being made of a woman, and born of the virgin, he came to “his own,” nationally; but in his resurrection from the dead he was born unto Rachel, or the Jerusalem which is above, not under the law; she is free. And she is also the mother of Benjamin, or of all who are, as Isaac was, children of the promise.
3d. In being despised and rejected by his brethren, Joseph was a type of Christ. Joseph came to his brethren, as sent by his father, to see how they fared, and they received him not as the messenger of their father, but conspired to take away his life. So Christ came to his own, and his own received him not; they conspired to slay him, and did with wicked hands crucify and slay him. Joseph’s brethren passed sentence upon him, and consigned him to the pit; the Jews passed sentence on Christ and consigned him to the tomb, from whence he arose, as Joseph was also raised from the pit.
4th. Joseph, in being sold to a company of Ishmaelitish stock-jobbers by his brethren, may well illustrate the merchandise which Judaizing teachers, legal work-mongers and others, are carrying on in converting sinners for money, qualifying them to preach for money, and delivering Christ, or eternal life nominally to Ishmaelites to peddle out in Egypt, or the house of bondage, for fat salaries. There being as many Ishmaelitish merchantmen now engaged in religious speculation as formerly; and they are now laboring as hard as then to get Christ in his word, in his children, and in his work, to a lucrative market. If they can purchase him, or a polite education for the ministry, for thirty pieces of silver, they can exchange their stock in Sodom and Egypt at advance to suit their covetous desires.
5th. Joseph’s history in the house of Potiphar is not without its counterpart among religious merchantmen; Potiphar’s wife did not think much of such restrictions as election, predestination, special union or relationship; a stolen embrace was equally valuable in her judgment, and like thousands in the present age, who are endeavoring to storm heaven, determined to have Christ; caring not whether their relationship to Potiphar or Moses is dissolved or not, or whether the demands of the law are canceled, or they dead to the law as a husband or not, conclude that their physical power shall supply what they lack in fascinating attractions, and they lay hold violently on the garments or external show of christianity, and when they find that it is not possible to bring the religion of heaven to their terms, they will raise the shout of persecution, and madly strive to destroy that grace, which they cannot enjoy. How many thousand Potiphar’s wives there are, and have ever been since the coming of Christ, who seek to be christians in an unlawful way. Many of them came to John’s baptism and were rejected, others desired to take Christ by force and make him king. Some have confidently affirmed that it is a matter of indifference with our spiritual Joseph who becomes his bride, or whether they have living husbands or not; if they will love him he will love them; if they will choose him, and lay hold of his garment with a determination not to let go, an exchange of souls is offered if such are not successful. And are they not somewhat akin to Potiphar’s lady, who hold that the church is under the law as a rule of life - those who hold that the old Abrahamic covenant is still in force, that baptism supplies the place of circumcision, and the first day of the week the place of the seventh day Sabbath which God enjoined on national Israel to be observed throughout their generations?
6. The object which God had in sending Joseph to Egypt to lay up corn, and to provide for the famine, and for the salvation of his father’s house, is emblematic of the purpose of grace developed in the coming of Christ nuder the law his Mediatorial work, and the provisions by him made foil the deliverance of his church from wrath, famine and death. In the case of Joseph’s persecutions, effected by the wicked hands and more wicked hearts of his brethren, they meant it for evil, but God designed it for good, and caused it to result in good to the house of Jacob, according to his purpose; so Christ, being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, his brethren (nationally) with wicked hands did crucify and slay him. Nevertheless through death he destroyed death, and in his resurrection he brought immortality to light.
7. The name which was given him by the king, Zaphnathpaaneah, which signifies one who discovers hidden things, or a revealer of secrets, certainly expressed something of the figurative connection between him and Christ.
8. The necessity laid on Jacob’s house to go to Joseph for bread, when it was not possible to obtain it from any other quarter, shows, in the figure, how God brings a famine on all the spiritual Israelites when quickened, and they can find life and salvation no where else.
9. The money and presents which they carried with them with which to obtain favor and buy corn, came back in their sacks’ mouths, as when a quickened soul takes with him all the treasures of repentance, grief, confession, supplication, humility and such other commodities as he has, he finds they will not buy corn, nor procure favor with Christ, but all is sent back in the mouth of the sack.
10. The experience of every child of God will show that the manner in which Joseph received and treated his brethren, when from their necessities they were compelled to apply to him for sustenance, agrees well with what they realized when they were convinced that there was salvation for them in no other than Christ. Like Jacob’s sons, they only knew Jesus as a sovereign, who was able to save, but on whom they had no claim; they knew him not as a brother, a friend, or as one nearly allied in relationship. From dire necessity they came trembling before him, supposing that he was as ignorant of them as they were of him; but he knew them well, and turned aside to conceal from them his emotion; and while his heart was moved in tenderness towards them, he spake to them roughly. He concealed himself from them as their brother, savior and friend, until they were sufficiently humbled, until the remembrance of all their wickedness stared them in the face; and at the moment when they looked for retributive justice for their sins, Joseph stood before them in all the tender affection of a brother, and said, “I am Joseph, your brother!” and gave them convincing evidence of the truth of his words, and assured them that God had sent him to save them. If in all this the christian can find nothing illustrative of the manner in which Jesus was made known to him, we shall have occasion to confess that we have erred.
11. Joseph’s sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, who inherited the patriarchal distinction of Joseph, were blessed of Jacob in a very peculiar manner: the younger receiving the greater blessing, and thus figuratively showing that the portion of Christ’s seed which were eldest, or the people of God under the Old Testament dispensation, were not blessed with the gospel privileges which distinguish the church under the gospel dispensation. In this also we think Joseph was a figure of Christ.
12. As Joseph dying in Egypt gave directions for the removal of his body to the promised land, and certain prediction that God would visit his brethren and bring them up out of Egypt, so Christ, who was crucified in the spiritual Sodom and Egypt, made provision for the deliverance of all his mystical body, the church, for whose sake he had sojourned in Egypt, which is the bone of his bones, and the flesh of his flesh; and gave abundant assurance that God would surely visit his spiritual Israel, and in due time bring them into the experimental inheritance of the privileges of the gospel, so that not a hoof should be left in the land of bondage.
We have noticed several particulars in which it has appeared to us that Joseph was a type of our Redeemer; if our views, are satisfactory to brother Guice, he is welcome to them; and if they are not satisfactory, we have no disposition to enforce them.
New Vernon, N. Y.,
Jan. 15, 1847.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 2
Pages 731 - 736