Probably the most obvious parallel between Christ and Old Testament characters would be Joseph. His life is so closely related to Christ’s that Joseph can definitely be added as the most defined shadow of Christ.
Rachel was a barren woman until Joseph was conceived. When he was born, Rachel said, “God hath taken away my reproach.” (Genesis 30:23). The Hebrew word for “Reproach” is literally “shame”. Like Joseph was a symbol of taking Rachel’s shame away, so did Christ take away our guilt, shame and sin (Romans 8:1).
Next time we here of Joseph is when Jacob leaves Laban to live by himself with his family. The Bible says this happens right after Joseph was born and only follows two verses after the birth of Joseph. Like God guided Jesus to Bethlehem, the place where He was promised to be, Jacob led Joseph where he was promised to be.
Next time we here of Joseph, he is being protected by Jacob from his brother, Esau, whom Jacob believes will harm him. So, Jacob puts Rachel and Joseph in the back of the group approaching Esau. As did God when He kept Jesus’ true identity hidden from the world until the proper time (John 7:8 and 10).
Now that the background check on Joseph has been cleared, we must look into his later, and much more famous years.
When Joseph was but 17 years old, he was beaten of his brothers, thrown into a pit, sold to Midianites/Ishmeelites (future enemies of the Israelites), then to Potiphar, an officer of Pharoah’s and the captain of the guard, as a slave (Genesis 37).
Here, although many people miss it, is where Joseph has the deepest shadow. Joseph was despised and beaten by his brothers, just as Christ was of the world. The world hated Him, spit on Him, beat Him and killed Him. Joseph’s death is, however, more symbolic (the torn, blood-soaked coat) than the real death of Christ.
Christ was also betrayed/sold for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. Joseph was only sold for twenty, then the price of a slave. Both became servants. Joseph a servant to royalty, Jesus a servant to all.
After this you see Joseph resisting temptation, like Jesus did, preaching what God has spoken, like Jesus did, and forgiving those who treated him wrongly, like Jesus does and letting God turn what man meant for evil into good, like Jesus did.
The light of God’s Word shines brightly on Joseph because he followed God and what He wanted of him. Because of this, his shadow looks onward to Jesus, the Redeemer of the world.