The murderous conspiracy against Joseph by this brothers is accompanied by an array of seemingly chance events and encounters. Someone once wrote that “coincidence is God working in disguise.” And in these events we are trained to see the hidden hand of God’s providence working all things according to the council of his perfect will.
Through the centuries Joseph has been understood by Christian readers of the Bible to be a Christ figure. That is, in addition to being a real flesh and blood man within his own time, in God’s economy, Joseph also functioned as a type; an in the flesh prophecy of the coming Christ. Like the Lord Jesus, Joseph was a witness to the will and purpose of God and was rejected by his own brothers because of it. In suffering at the hands of his brothers, Joseph reconciled them to himself and to each other. As Jesus was ultimately in a far more significant way, Joseph was one who suffered innocently for the sake of others. The life of Joseph was one more way in which God’s great redemptive purpose was woven into the very fabric of history as it unfolded. We have seen this already, in the lives of Adam and Eve, Noah, and the Patriarchs.
But to Joseph and his brothers, this glorious outcome has not been revealed. However, we have the privilege of knowing where the story is going; how the events will unfold by God’s sovereign decree. In knowing how the story ends, we are able to trace the themes of God’s providence and redeeming grace even as Joseph suffers. We can follow the path of that sorrow all the way to our Suffering Savior.