Garry started a new series on the life of Joseph today, reading from Ps 105:16-21. Joseph is one of the most amazing of the Old Testament characters, and we will be looking at him both as a ‘type’ and at his character.
Typology is where we study the Bible, seeing that people or events foreshadow truths that are more fully revealed in the New Testament (the most obvious of which is the Jewish sacrificial system whereby the lamb which was sacrificed as a sin offering, is a ‘type’ of Jesus, the Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the world.) Typology was particularly famous from the 17th century onwards and can obviously be exaggerated, but there are definitely parallels which can be drawn between the lives of Jesus and the lives of Old Testament heroes such as Joseph, David and Daniel.
The story of Joseph is found in Genesis 30-50, and we see much we can imitate from him as he suffered but remained faithful to God throughout his life. He was the son of Jacob, who had two wives (Leah and Rachel). Jacob was tricked into marriage with Leah, and we see how his relationship with these two sisters caused many problems. It was not God’s ideal for marriage, and so often, we are influenced by the culture all around us. Children tend to absorb all they are taught and all they see without questioning, and so often we too can absorb the values and ideals of the world around us without thinking. We do need to be prepared to change at times, thinking through why we do what we do and not simply doing it because of tradition or culture. Like Paul, we must be prepared to become ‘all things to all people’ (see 1 Cor 9:19-23) in order to see peopoe saved.
God seeks to transform our views so that we are following His thoughts and ways rather than the world’s. He calls us to stand against our culture at times, realising that how we lived previously has to be left behind (as Paul demonstrated in Phil 3:7-8). The cost can be great, as those Muslims who have converted to Christianity can testify (since they are often cut off from their families and may lose their jobs and societal status as a result of their allegiance to Christ.) Ultimately, all that we gain in Christ (‘the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’) more than compensates for all we suffer and lose. The cost may be great, but the result is to know God better and to know freedom.