In the New Testament Book of Hebrews, in the eleventh chapter, we have a catalogue of several Old Testament heroes of the faith. It is interesting to note that 7 of these Hall of Famers come from the Book of Genesis: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. These 7 represent a thread line of faith that is woven right through the Book of Genesis.
J. Sidlow Baxter points out that Old Testament figures like Isaac (especially in Genesis 22) and Joseph (Genesis 37-50) are “foreshadows” or “types” of the Person of Jesus Christ. In Genesis 22, three times, Isaac is called Abraham’s “one and only son”, as Abraham gets ready to sacrifice him. At the last minute, God stops Abraham and says He will provide the sacrifice. In John’s Gospel, we see the fulfillment of this promise, as Jesus is called God’s One and Only Son whose sacrifice provides for the salvation of the world (John 1:14,18,29;3:16).
In Joseph, we read that Jacob loved him more than his other children (Gen. 37:3). Compare this with God’s words of favor upon Jesus at His baptism (Mt. 3:17). Joseph was rejected and hated by his own brothers (Gen. 37:4,8,18-20); he was sold for a few pieces of silver (37:27,28); he suffered because of his faithfulness to God (Gen. 37:23,24; 39:7-12,20) and was considered dead by his father Jacob(37:31-34; 42:13,38). Joseph’s life closely foreshadows and typifies the sufferings of Jesus. Jesus too was rejected and hated by His own (John 1:11, 15:24; Mt. 26:3,4), sold for a few pieces of silver (Mt. 27:9), stripped (27:28) and given up for dead.
Just like Joseph, who was exalted to the right-hand on Pharaoh’s throne, Jesus was exalted to the right-hand on God the Father’s throne (Eph. 1:20,21; Heb. 1:3) after His death. Both Joseph, as the world’s Bread Supplier (see Gen. 41:39-57) and Jesus are seen as Savior figures. Scripture levels not one charge against Joseph, although more space is given to him than any other person in Genesis. His exaltation to Pharaoh’s right-hand was both a vindication and a reward. So with Christ: “He humbled Himself……..God exalted Him to the highest place” (Phil 2:5-11).
Not only do people like Isaac and Joseph typify the Person of Christ, but each of the key men in Genesis typify/foreshadow progressive stages of spiritual experience in Christ:
A. Adam (in his fallen state) is a type of unregenerate human nature or natural man.
B. Noah typifies spiritual regeneration as he experiences salvation through the Ark (Christ) and by the waters of the Flood (regeneration).
C. Abraham typifies the life of faith.
D. Isaac typifies the life of sonship.
E. Jacob typifies the life of service ( worked for 14 years for 2 wives).
F. Joseph typifies the highest example of the regenerate life. “In him we see the life of suffering and glory. Here faith and sonship and service are blended in something deeper and grander, issuing in complete rule over the world and flesh. Here Egypt (a type of the world and sense-life), which had been a snare to Abraham and Isaac, is completely ruled”. (J.Sidlow Baxter).
In Joseph, we see the growing believer in Christ. We have been made alive (i.e. regenerate) and raised with Christ and are seated with Him in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:4-6). In Christ is “fellowship of His sufferings and the power of His resurrection” (Phil 3:10). It is in Christ that the character of the regenerate is made “perfect through suffering”. Here is suffering and reigning with Christ, and being “glorified together.”