“The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household” (Acts 7:9-10).
The more I spend time reading the sermons in the book of Acts, the more I feel irresistibly drawn back to study the Scriptures that are quoted and alluded to in them. For Stephen, the story of Joseph was not written simply to inform us about the past, but also to prepare us for the future. Joseph’s rejection by his brothers and miraculous rise to power, not just over Egypt, but eventually over “all his household” as well, is Stephen’s proof from the Torah that the Messiah Jesus, though currently despised and rejected by Israel’s rulers, will one day become “governor over Egypt [the Gentile world] and all his household.” This, my friends, is not an example of creative Christological interpretation; it is the interpretation of Joseph’s story we find in the Torah itself! According to Jacob in Genesis 49, Joseph’s story (a tale of resistant brothers bowing down to the God-ordained ruler) serves as a prophetic simile of how the tribes of Israel will eventually bow down to Messiah from the tribe of Judah in the “last days”! ”
Then Jacob summoned his sons and said, ‘Assemble yourselves that I may tell you what will befall you in the last days…. Judah, your brothers shall praise you; Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you'” (Gen 49:1, 8).
Because Stephen knew the Torah, we can be assured say that his premature death at the hands his people most assuredly did not extinguish his hope for them in the future!