Joseph is what is known as an archetype of Jesus. That is to say, Joseph in many ways mirrors the life of Jesus in his own life. And that makes sense if you think about it. Let's walk through this thing together.
Joseph was highly favored by his father. In his family tree, he was the best one and it made his brothers mad to think there was something special about this kid. Once he starts talking about his visions of the future where his brothers will bow down to him, they begin to plot his death. Does that sound familiar? The Jews, the literal family of God and earthy brethren of Jesus felt similarly about Him once He began to talk about His future in God's kingdom.
Eventually, Joseph's brothers plot to destroy him and sell him into slavery. No, Joseph did not die, but he was dead to his father, dead to his family from the moment he was sold into slavery. For a period of time, in this case many years, Joseph's family went on as though he was gone forever. They moved on. But they had a major problem because famine had struck the land and they were starving to death - they needed a savior to rescue them. Jesus' brethren, the Jews, sold Jesus out and had Him executed. For a period of time, in this case three days, Jesus' disciples went on as though He was gone forever. They moved on. But the world had a major problem because they, too needed a savior.
In captivity in Egypt, Joseph went from slave to king. The Pharaoh made him the most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh himself. When Joseph's brothers arrived in Egypt seeking to buy food, Joseph used his position of power to turn his brothers' hatred into a great act of kindness and he rescued his entire family from destruction. After Jesus died on the cross, He defeated death and broke the power of hell and became the King that the Old Testament had promised. Jesus is the most powerful man in the universe, seated at the right hand of the Father. Now, in His position of power and authority, Jesus turned the hatred the world had shown Him into the greatest act of kindness the world has ever known and He rescued every single man, woman, and child who have ever lived and who will ever live from destruction.
At this point, you might be thinking... "Well, I kind of already knew that stuff." Or maybe you had never put it together in that way in your head before, but it doesn't detonate like a mind-bomb; well, tie your shoes up tight because here comes the boom!
One of the most shocking things about the life of Jesus was that he had been promised for thousands of years to be the Messiah of God's people - the Jews should have received Him as their king. He was their inheritance. Yet, when the moment came, the first people to receive the blessing of Christ were the Gentiles. The least deserving people received the greatest blessing. God works like that; it's part of what makes Him so great!
Let's go back to the life of Joseph now to see the connection that blew my mind. Because Reuben was actually the first son to Jacob (Joseph's dad), Reuben should have been the heir to God's blessing. That's the way Hebrew law worked, but God had already shown that He was willing to change that up. (Abraham, the very first man to be promised this blessing, had the blessing from God fall to his second son Issac rather than his first son Ishmael. Jacob was also the second-born but had gotten his brother Esau's blessing.) Reuben did not receive the blessing and so it's tempting to assume the blessing will fall to the part of the family line that has shown the greatest faith: Joseph. For all of the these years, Joseph has faithfully stuck to God's plan, it seems sensible that the blessings of God should fall on his family and that the future Messiah should come through his lineage.
But that's not how it happened. Joseph had a brother named Judah who was actually the fourth-born son to Jacob. We are made aware in the 38th chapter of Genesis that Judah slept with his son's widow and fathered children by her. (He thought she was a prostitute... I'm not sure if that makes this situation better or worse...) That said, when it comes to receiving the blessings of God, Judah was highly unqualified. He had been engaged in pretty sinful behavior and was not legally in any position to claim birthrights.
But, if you know about the story of Jesus, you know He was born to the tribe of Judah. In fact, He is a direct descendent of Tamar, the widow/prostitute I just mentioned! So Joseph performed this great act of kindness only to have the blessing of God fall not upon his own family, but rather on an undeserving line of people. Just like Jesus' blessings fell not on the family of Jews who had been with God all this time, but rather on the undeserving Gentiles. Gentiles who were highly unqualified to receive those blessings. We were sinners by definition and were in no legal position to claim birthrights.
We are the adopted children of God, chosen by grace, shown infinite mercy, included in a covenant that we do not deserve. God is good, is He not!?
None of us are qualified to receive the blessings God offers. But you cannot receive them if you are not adopted into His family by claiming the blood of Jesus on your life and becoming saved. Please, if you have not done so, pray to God and ask to receive the sacrifice of Jesus and have His blood applied to your soul. Go to your church or if you don't go to church, find one and ask to be baptized. Share the joy you find in being adopted and help others understand what a precious gift it is!