Guys, I’m excited! I absolutely have to share what I learned from listening to the story of Joseph, the son of Jacob, and his eleven brothers. I have heard the story several times, but only just now picked up several huge comparisons from Joseph in the Old Testament, and Jesus in the New Testament. I have never had a Biblical story smack me in the face like that one! But in order for you to understand the comparisons I found, let me give you the background.
Joseph (not Jesus’ foster father) was the favorite son of Jacob. He was so favored by Jacob that his older brothers became jealous of him. He also had the God-given gift of being able to interpret dreams. This angered his brothers. So much so that they plotted to kill him, saying, “Look! Here comes the Dream Master! Come on! Let’s kill him and toss him into one of the cisterns. Then we’ll report that some wild animal devoured him and wait to see what becomes of his dreams!” (Genesis 37:19-20)
For the full story of what happens with Joseph and his brothers, read from Genesis 37-45. But for the purposes of this blog, just know that Joseph was treated very poorly by his jealous brothers. They did not kill him, but instead sold him into slavery, where he eventually made his way to Pharaoh. It was a bad situation for Joseph. But God makes use of Joseph, and his gift to save the lives of countless Egyptians during a seven-year famine.
Even more profoundly, Joseph does not react like we would expect someone in his situation to react. He had been left for dead by his jealous brothers. But instead of doing something human, like taking revenge on his brothers, he forgives them, crying so loud that everyone in the area can hear him. He hugs each one of them and tells them to not be angry with themselves for selling him into slavery. What he says next is even more stunning:
“And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me a father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household, and ruler of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:5-8)
How crazy is that? Instead of acting like most of us probably would in that situation, steaming mad and vengeful, Joseph demonstrates a grace and mercy to his brothers that can only come from one source: God Himself. Joseph showed divine mercy. As I went beyond this story, I noticed two themes: God demonstrating His mercy and that He can create so much good out of a bad situation.
Where else aside from what He did for Joseph, did God demonstrate His endless mercy, and turn a bad situation into a good one? Through the death and Resurrection of Jesus! Some people have lightbulb moments. I think this was a lightning bolt moment for this guy! Going through the comparisons between Joseph in this part of Genesis, and through what I know about Jesus gave me chills. Let’s dive into the comparisons!
If we judged Joseph’s brothers for what they did to him by our human standards, we would probably say he would’ve been justified tossing his brothers into prison or worse. But he did not do that. He cried, embraced his brothers, and forgave them. In the same way, we deserve Hell by our sins. That’s what we’ve earned with everything we’ve ever done against God. But He does not judge us in a human way. If He did, He wouldn’t be God, and we’d all be going to Hell. No exceptions. We would have no chance. But in His mercy, He sent Jesus to pay for our sinfulness.
At one point in the story, Joseph’s brothers realize their wrongdoing, with the oldest one, Reuben, offering to have all the brothers serve Joseph as his slaves. But Joseph forgives them instead, and tells them to go get Jacob. In a similar way, Jesus doesn’t hold our sins against us if we truly ask for forgiveness. We are washed clean in His blood. I may not know much about how God does things, or what His character is. But I DO know that if we turn to Him and are genuinely sorry, His love and mercy is endless. Far greater than we can come close to comprehending!
God uses our sin as a tool to show His Glory
The next striking comparison I saw between Joseph and Jesus, were the fact that God used the sins of the people conspiring against them, to demonstrate His Glory and His goodness. Like I said in the beginning of this post, Joseph was loved by Jacob the most out of all his sons. Joseph’s brothers became angry, and murderously jealous of him. And while they may not have killed Joseph, they still committed a heavy sin by selling their own flesh and blood into slavery, and then lying to Jacob about it to cover it up! They slaughtered a goat, and dipped Joseph’s colorful robe in its blood, and told Jacob that he had been mauled to death. But in the midst of a bad situation, God watched over Joseph while he was in prison. Then once he was out, God used Joseph and his dream-reading ability to save the country from severe famine.
Similarly, the Pharisees were murderously jealous of Jesus, because He was favored both by God and the people over them. But the Pharisees didn’t kill Jesus directly. They made up bogus charges against Him, heavily inferring to Pilate that if He wasn’t put to death, He would lead a rebellion against the Romans. Even though we know this was obviously a boldfaced lie. Jesus never intended to lead an armed rebellion against the Romans. That wasn’t why He was sent here. Nevertheless, the Pharisees got their way, and Jesus was crucified.
But because Jesus was crucified, our price was paid. Out of the sinful, bloodthirsty intentions of all who wanted Him dead arose the most beautiful thing: Salvation for all who believe in Him. God made sure the best thing happened in both bad situations concerning Joseph and Jesus. The difference? Joseph saved lives. Jesus saved souls!
I am no one special. I’m just a sinful, flesh and blood man who will one day die and have to answer for my sins. But I haven’t had God speak to me that clearly in a very, very long time. He revealed His character and the depth of His mercy to me while I continued studying Genesis. And He allowed me to have a clear enough mind to make the connection from the story of Joseph and his brothers, to Jesus.
God is waiting to reveal Himself to us. All we have to do? Approach Him with a humble heart, ask Him to help us see what He wants us to see, and genuinely try to look for Him.