In dealing with Joseph as a “type” of Christ we come to his suffering. For the complete story please read Genesis chapter 37:12-36 and chapters 39-40. It starts with his brothers capturing him and placing him in a dry well in the desert. Few today have seen a real well as we have boreholes and running municipal water on tap in our houses. A well could be anything from 10 meters to 41 meter deep. The depth of the well Joseph was held captive in is unknown but it was nothing short of a very dark, cold, fearful dungeon. Joseph would have not known what his future would be or whether he would have another meal. That chilling darkness must have been a terrible experience for a 17 year old. Then he is sold as a slave to Midianite Merchants on their way to Egypt with their camel caravans. Again this ordeal of the unknown future must have had a huge impact on Joseph … literally from the father’s favourite, most loved son to a stock item that was sold. The journey to Egypt must have taken a few weeks in the desert sun and chilling nights. He would have walked all the way … in itself that must have been a tiring, painful journey. Once in Egypt he is sold as a slave to Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. Because God was with Joseph, working out His plans, Joseph quickly rose to being in charge of Potiphar’s house and possessions. He served Potiphar until he was about 27 or 28. Just before this Mrs. Potiphar attempted to seduce Joseph on many occasions. Joseph being a principled man of the highest morals refused such advances until one day Mrs. Potiphar’s attempt led to her snatching his robe (cloak) off his body. Just to get the picture, if you have been in the Middle East or Northern Africa, you will be well aware of the heat. As little light clothing as possible was used to help whilst fulfilling daily duties for the best comfort and working conditions. Her seduction attempts failed but in literally ripping his garment off his body another plan hatched. To prevent Mr. Potiphar from finding out his wife’s real motivates with Joseph, she sort of lays a “rape” case against Joseph. For this he lands up in prison.
Gen 39:20 Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.
If the well experience was bad, this is by far worse. No prison is easy, especially in Ancient Bible Times where there were no human rights nor prisoner rights. Yet God was with Joseph because this was all part of God’s plan working out. Soon Joseph was placed in charge of the prisoners, operating under the warden of the prison. Whilst there, both Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer landed up in prison under Joseph. Like Joseph before, they also have dreams … concerning dreams, because they do not understand them, leaving them dejected (40:6). He interprets the dreams and exactly what he says comes to pass. The baker was executed and the cupbearer reinstated. To the cupbearer Joseph requested a “mention” to Pharaoh (40:14) but he forgot all about Joseph once back in royal duty (40:23). Each step of the way God was with Joseph, but that did not make life in a well, as part of a Midianite Camel Train, being falsely accused for rape and imprisoned any easier. He suffered. Think through his experience asking yourself how you would have coped emotionally and physically? Remember he was a ‘type” of Christ! This part of his life happened around 1700 years before Jesus came. Some 800 years before Jesus came, Isaiah writes about how Jesus, the Christ (Messiah) would suffer! To get the feel of Jesus’ suffering you need to read the text:
Isa 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
None other than the Holy Spirit could capture the suffering so accurately. Where God used Joseph’s suffering to raise him up to become Prime Minister, fully in charge of the then great nation of Egypt, God used Jesus’ suffering to raise Him up to be the King, Ruler and Saviour of the whole world. Where Joseph was a type of savior for a people to become Israel, Jesus was used as the Saviour for a people who would be the Children of God (Kingdom of God). One must never underestimate the horrific suffering of Jesus. It started when He became man, ministering to a wicked people who mostly followed Him to get someone out of Him (food, healing & miracles). The manipulated court case again Him leading to Him being whipped (40 lashes minus 1). His lacerated body nailed to a Cross that became His death sentence. His body laid in a tomb … what suffering? The real impact unknown to us humans, for when His Father turns His face at His dying moment–”Father, why have You forsaken me?”–can only be felt and experienced by the three persons of the Trinity! When Joseph suffered for his family … those hurtful, shameful brothers … Jesus did it for us who despised and rejected Him and His Law over us seeking to live in our sinful depravity.
Lord God Almighty, thank You for suffering in our place. Forgive us for putting You on the Cross because of our rebellious, wicked ways. From now onwards, help us to appreciate You properly. Amen.