Joseph prefigures Christ. After all, he was the savior of his brethren... and of the whole world in his day.
After all of the checkered characters that we have studied thus far, Joseph's story would be an incredibly refreshing one even without his messianic style. With it though, his story just keeps getting better.
In this chapter, Joseph's life foreshadows Jesus' in that, in a sense, he rose from the dead. To Jacob, Joseph was dead. So, just like Abraham saw Isaac resurrected in a figure (Hebrews 11:19), even so Israel was to see Joseph raised... in a figure. A scarlet thread is being woven through these ancient stories. It is a thread that will lead us to the foot of the cross, through the garden tomb and out again.
Joseph listened to Judah plead for mercy until his compassion overcame him and he gave his brothers the long awaited revelation... "I that speak unto thee am he!"
I cannot even begin to imagine how those men must have felt when they realized not only that their brother was alive and well... but also that he was an extremely powerful and wealthy man. He actually had to tell them several times before the truth finally settled in that it was really Joseph. He had been speaking through an interpreter, but at this point he spoke in their native Hebrew tongue. Finally, they were convinced. Tears, laughter, catch-up conversations, good news throughout the palace, presents... it all ensued freely.
The thing that strikes me most in this is how much emphasis Joseph placed on God's role in the narrative. In Genesis 45:5, 7 & 8 he said, "God did this." And, he was right. Additionally, he was apparently hoping to assuage their grief and their guilt. To him, it was all past and forgotten. What a wonderful view of Christ's perspective! He hung on the cross saying, "Father, forgive them... they don't know what they are doing!" Jesus knew that He was there in accordance to his Father's will.
Well, in continuation of the typology, Israel did not believe the good news initially. And, the Jews; God’s precious chosen people... they still seek for a sign. In mercy, Joseph sent a caravan of signs to Israel. When he saw them, Israel rejoiced with joy unspeakable... and the nation will yet rejoice with a grave realization of reality (Zechariah 12:10) when they realize that the One they thought was dead and forgotten is alive... and is their defender and KING.