I L.O.V.E. the story of Joseph in the Old Testament. More than I ever have before.
A Bible in my lap, I sat in the Bountiful Temple baptistry with my daughter and her friends. I had to leave to grab tissues, because the moment when Joseph sees Benjamin (likely the only brother who was nice to him all those years ago) and has to leave the room to weep, makes me weep. Then I wept again when Joseph finally tells his brothers who he is. They are terrified. This is the second most powerful man in all of Egypt, and he could easily execute them for having sold him into slavery so many years ago.
But Joseph doesn't.
Joseph reaches out to them, forgives them, tells them it's okay because God used their sin against him to save them all. He pulls them to him, kisses them, and weeps upon them. And when I read this touching reunion scene, I weep.
Jesus is like this with you and me.
Each of us is a sinner and is unworthy of Christ, who is perfect. But Christ says, "It's okay, come unto me, my arms are stretched out still. I love you even though you've made mistakes. I forgive you. Let me hold you, welcome you home, kiss you, and weep with you." Jesus' suffering saves all of us, just as Joseph's suffering saved all of Egypt and Israel.
And both still love their beloved sinners.
So, so sweet. I gain so much more from my Old Testament reading when I look for symbolism of Christ in the stories and characters. And especially when I apply some of these similarities to my life.
Moses 6:63 – All things have their likeness and are bear record of Christ.
Here are 28 parallels I found between the Savior and Joseph, using several sources to help me see what was already there.
P.S. As I'm studying the story again I found more parallels which I added to the list below.
- Both the Savior and Joseph were hated and rejected by their own brethren who plotted to kill them.
- Both knew at an early age they had a special mission to perform.
- Both made prophesies of their future power and leadership and were mocked.
- The Savior was 30 years old when began His ministry to save His people. Joseph was 30 years old when became prime minister of Egypt, in a position to save his people.
- The Savior took seven “days” to create earth and prepare it for us. Joseph took seven years to prepare Egypt for famine and his brothers.
- The Savior mercifully forgave those who crucified Him, seeing God’s hand in saving the people. Joseph mercifully forgave His brothers for selling him into Egypt, seeing God’s hand in saving them.
- Both were sold for the price of a common slave of their day.
- The Savior wasn’t in the tomb when others looked inside. Joseph wasn’t in the pit when Reuben looked inside to rescue him.
- Jesus was hung on the cross between two criminals. One repented and was saved, the other refused and was not saved. Joseph was imprisoned with two of the criminals of Pharaoh’s court – the butler and baker. The butler was saved, and the baker was convicted and not saved.
- The Savior left His heavenly home and people to save unbelievers on earth. Joseph left his home and people to live among unbelievers to save his family and others.
- The Savior second in charge under God. Joseph was second in charge under Pharaoh.
- Under God’s direction we’re tested during our time on earth. Under Joseph’s direction his brothers were tested during their time in Egypt.
- The Savior is the bread of life and we come to him for nourishment and eternal life. Joseph was the source of bread, and his brothers came to him for nourishment to sustain life.
- The Savior waits patiently and with deep love and tender emotion for us to grow and mature spiritually. Joseph waited patiently and with deep love and tender emotion for his brothers to grow and mature spiritually.
- The Savior was in their midst but often not recognized. Joseph was among his brothers but was not recognized.
- The Savior speaks through His servants the prophets, and works through His servants – us. Joseph spoke through an interpreter and had his servant do much of his work.
- Unless we keep God’s commandments we can’t return to Him and see His face again. Unless the brothers kept Joseph’s command to bring Benjamin they wouldn't be able to see his face again.
- The Savior (who was perfect) pleads our case with Heavenly Father and offers Himself as sacrifice for us. Judah (who had been so sinful but now was repentant and soft-hearted) pleaded to save Benjamin and his father, offering himself as a sacrifice. This must have been so healing for Joseph to hear and feel Judah's sincerity!
- Just as Joseph was sent to Egypt (which in scripture often symbolized the earth and its wicked people) to save many lives from famine, the Savior was sent to a wicked world to save many from “famine of hearing the word of the Lord” (Amos 8:11).
- The Savior is our Redeemer. Joseph was their redeemer.
- Once we've heard the good news of the gospel we are to haste coming to our Redeemer. Once Joseph’s brothers heard the good news that he was alive, that their sinful acts against him were forgiven, and that he saved them, they were to haste to get their father and bring them to their redeemer.
- Salvation came out of Egypt for both: The Savior came from Egypt as a child to live among his people. Joseph left his people and moved to Egypt to save his people.
- The Savior’s arms are stretched out still and He wants us back no matter how many times we've sinned. Joseph’s arms and heart were stretched out to his brothers, no matter their sins against them. Both still love their beloved sinners.
- Both are thrilled when we repent and show a changed, softened heart.
- God made something beautiful out of intense and ugly trials for both the Savior and Joseph. He can and does do the same for us.
- Both were falsely accused and punished for things they didn't do.
- After being punished greatly for sins they didn't commit, God rewarded them lavishly – the Savior with all that God has, and Joseph with a great leadership position, power, riches, a wife and sons, and a reunion with his own family.
- The Savior was tempted repeatedly by Satan but never gave in, then told Satan to leave. Joseph was tempted repeatedly by Potipher’s wife, never gave in, and Joseph left.
- Joseph lived in the midst of Egypt, symbolic of sin and worldliness, but stayed righteous. Jesus lived in the midst of a sinful world and stayed righteous. Joseph gave God credit for interpreting dreams. Jesus gave God credit for the good He did.
- They are both punished for others' sins. Joseph was punished for the sins of his brothers and then Potipher's wife. Jesus was punished for all of our sins.
- Joseph was alone and abandoned while in prison. While on the cross, Jesus experienced feeling alone and abandoned by His Father, so He could know how we feel when we sin.
- Joseph counseled the Egyptians how to prepare for famine to save their lives. Jesus counsels us through His prophets how to prepare for tribulations of the last days, which preparedness can save our lives.
- Joseph returned the money to his brothers, and then gave them the best of the land to live on. Christ blesses us every time we obey Him. As Melvin J. Ballard said, “A person cannot give a crust to the Lord without receiving a loaf in return” (Quoted by President Eyring, Ensign, May 2011).
- Joseph invited his brothers into his own home to dine with him. Jesus invites us into His heavenly home to enjoy all that he has with Him.
- Joseph wept with rejoicing when he saw his brothers' changed hearts and reunited with them. Jesus rejoices when we repent and come unto Him.
- Joseph counseled his brothers to "fall not out by the way" (Gen 45:24) when they went to get their father and families to return to Joseph. Christ counsels us to keep on the straight and narrow path, and not leave the iron rod so we can return to Him.
- Joseph's family's occupation was shepherding, which was an abomination to the Egyptians. Christ is the ultimate shepherd no matter how many mock Him, and we are His sheep. Do we know His voice when the shepherd calls us?
|My Genesis 41 margins are crowded with a list of all the parallels I was discovering. Then I decided to type up the list and glue it in as an insert.|
Does seeing the Savior all through Joseph and his story make you love the Old Testament more?
It sure does for me.
It makes me love Him more too.
It makes me love Him more too.