Genesis 37:1-11: The Gospel Connection of Joseph to Jesus

Genesis 37:1-11: The Gospel Arc/Connection of Joseph to Jesus

Interpretive Framework Is Essential

Our interpretive framework matters. 

  • Expositional teaching/preaching is not enough. 
    • “Others” practice expositional teaching, and they come to far different conclusions than us. 
  • Hermeneutic informs exposition. 
    • John 5:39 (ESV) You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me,
    • John 5:45-47 (ESV) Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
    • Luke 16:31 (ESV) He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Once you see that Jesus is the one who fulfills Genesis 3:15, you read the whole narrative differently. 

What do we see in Genesis 37:1-11

NOTE: The meaning of these passages is found not at the sentence level (like we study much of the NT, but at the narrative level. 

Gospel arcs/connections are all over the place!

  • Trinitarian Arc: The Lord works hidden behind the scenes because he intends to do some Trinitarian gospel work through his instrument that will be put on display to prepare for Jesus. 
  • Explicit type of Jesus: Joseph as the redeemer of his people through suffering (put into a well, sold, lied about, imprisoned) and exaltation (resurrection from being given up for dead) to 2nd in command (another Trinitarian hint in the narrative) so that he can save his people.
  • Gospel pattern: Genesis 37-50 helps build a pattern of how God is working in the world: Saving a people from all nations from sin by sending one who “saves”. 
    • Joseph is sent to Egypt by Yhwh to save. (Jesus sent to save.)
      • NOTE: When we go with the gospel we are living as participants in the story.
    • Yhwh works in, through and by Joseph as the mediator to bring about rescue. (God working in, through and by Jesus as the mediator/God of the new covenant.)
      • Paul will make this explicit in passages like Colossians 1:15-16 (ESV) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
  • Joseph’s dream to Jesus’ birth announcement by the angels: Jacob’s keeping Joseph’s dreams in mind (37:11) takes us right to Luke 2:19 where Mary keeps the Shepherd’s recounting of the angelic vision worshiping the Lord because Jesus had been sent. 
    • Luke 2:19 (ESV) But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.
      • Mary’s response to the Shepherd’s visit is Jacob’s response to Joseph’s dream. 


  • Jacob’s rebuke Joseph arcs to Mary’s rebuke of Jesus: God is bending history to show us his work to save!!!




  • Mary will later rebuke Jesus along with his brothers who think he is crazy. 


      • Mark 3:20-21 (ESV) Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
      • Mark 3:31-35 (ESV) And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

Genesis 37:1-11 Is not primarily about Jacob the sinner, but it is about Joseph the redeemer who points us to Jesus, Jacob’s God.

The “generations of Jacob” indicate that this passage is about Jacob and his descendants. 

  • The passage begins to tell us about Joseph. Why not Jacob? Jacob’s narrative is not marked by his exploits. Rather, Jacob’s story is redeemed by a savior who will rescue Jacob, namely Joseph. 
  • Jacob takes a back seat in the narrative because Jacob is a gospel account of sin. 
    • Jacob receives his wives slaves as child bearers. 
    • Multiple wives lead to competition for his affection. 
    • Jacob’s favoritism for sons leads to mistreatment of the favored son. 
      • Romans 6:23 (ESV) For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • We also learn that God is able to redeem even sinful Jacob and his messes for the saving of his people. 

Moses Intends To Show Israel Who God Is. 

  • Moses needs Israel to know Yhwh is their deliverer and not false gods.
  • Moses intends to show that Yhwh is distinct from the false gods of Egypt and of Canaan by being providentially in charge.
    • Dreams / sinful brothers / Jacobs sinful favoritism. 

19th Century Illustration: Ira Sankey, the song leader for the famous evangelist of the 19th century D.L. Moody, was on a Delaware River steamboat on Christmas Eve 1875. 


How do we apply our passage?

Faith. Believe the Lord. Trust him. Rest in him. 

  • Hebrews 11:6 (ESV) And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
    • Believe that what God has labored to secure for us in history and fulfilled in Christ is secured. 
    • Stop fretting over details you can’t control. Sabbath in the Lord’s work over the details. 
      • God has worked in history to build gospel patterns into the narrative of the gospel to draw people to himself. 
      • The divine authorship of Scripture is our finest defense of the faith. 66 books. One message through many authors. It’s truly miraculous.
      • Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and rest in Jesus. 

Believe to be reconciled to God through Jesus.

  • Romans 10:9-11 (ESV) because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Fight sin. 

  • Nothing in the narrative of Scripture paints sin in a good light. Kill it. 


  • Psalms 147:1 (ESV) Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s