Term 1 – Week 11
Big Idea – God had a plan to keep his promises through Joseph
- See that God is in control to keep his promises (through Jesus) even when it seems unlikely!
- Belief – God is in control; you can trust him when it is hard
- Behaviour – Obey God and follow his path because you can trust Him
We take another step down the story of the descendants of Abraham, this time to his great grandson Joseph. Joseph is one of the twelve sons of Jacob, who remember had been renamed Israel and would father the twelve tribes of Israel through these sons. We are going to dip into some of the key scenes from the Genesis account of Joseph in order build a picture of evidence that would lead Joseph to utter these words in Genesis 50 to his frightened brothers:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”Gen 50:20
Background: Jacob’s family are living in the promised land, the land of Canaan, but they are just one family. Jacob has twelve sons, and they are expanding the farming business. God’s promises so far have been kept to Abraham. Abraham’s family has grown, and they are living in the land they will be given. They don’t quite have a vast nation, but they are certainly growing! But we know that before God’s people settles in the land they will go through a period of 400 years in captivity (Gen 15:13).
Scene 1 – Chapter 37 – Joseph’s brothers sell him out of jealousy. As with the whole of Joseph’s story, we don’t have the time to treat each event in the detail we might like to. For this scene, it is important to note that Joseph had a dream where he would be ruling over his older brothers. If you have younger siblings, you might be able to imagine what they felt about that! The brothers decide, after originally planning to kill Joseph, to instead make some money and sell him off. Israel’s family is falling apart, and his favourite son is in big trouble. How could God be in control?
Scene 2 – Chapter 39 – Joseph is sent to prison but God keeps blessing him. Joseph is taken to Egypt and is sold into Potiphar’s household. Things are looking up as 39:2 tells us: ‘The LORD was with Joseph so that he prospered.’ This is the first time God is mentioned in the account of Joseph, and the writer wants to remind us who is in charge. Joseph might be separated from his family, but God is helping him. But then it goes wrong again! Potiphar’s wife accuses Joseph of doing something wrong (no need for detail here), and he is sent to prison. This was totally unfair! When teaching this scene, it would be worth pointing out verse 20-21. The two halves display to us what is going on. Joseph is put in prison – how could God be in control? God shows us here that is was with Joseph, he helped him. God is in control.
Scene 3 – Chapters 40-41 – Joseph interprets dreams and is promoted by Pharaoh. Joseph is in prison for years and years. Think about that! It would be hard to trust that God is in control during that time. However, Joseph, who remember got into all this trouble in the first place because of the dreams he had told hi s family about, is given the ability to interpret dreams. This is originally used for two fellow inmates. One finally remembers years later and informs Pharaoh who himself has had some dreams he needs help with. Joseph tells him the meaning of the dreams, which reveal the future of the nation (7 years plenty, 7 years famine). Pharaoh rewards Joseph with being placed in charge of the palace, in essence the prime minister of Egypt! He is given the job of preparing the country for the famine. Focus on 41:39-40 – Pharaoh is clear from what Joseph has said that God has given the ability to interpret the dreams. Joseph knows that God is in control!
Scene 4 – Chapters 42-47 – Jacob’s family are saved by Joseph in Egypt. There is lots of detail in these chapters, so it is worth summarising it significantly. The famine came just as Pharaoh’s dream had predicted, and Jacob’s family were in big trouble. Jacob hears that there is grain in Egypt (stored up by Joseph’s preparations) and sends his sons off to buy some grain. What follows is a bit of back and forth as Joseph tests his brothers – have they changed or are they just as evil as before? Will they be willing to sacrifice the youngest son for their own gain once more? He gives them multiple chances to abandon Benjamin but they prove to have learnt from their guilt after abandoning Joseph. For this scene, we focus on what Joseph finally says when he reveals himself to his brothers. Gen 45:4-7. This is crucial – Joseph clearly sees his role in saving his family from the famine – a ‘great deliverance’ to preserve the family of Israel. They are saved through Joseph, the brother they sold to slavery! Jacob brings his whole family to Egypt, where they are given lands to farm and food to live on. The whole country is saved through Joseph.
We come full circle then as we conclude on Gen 50:20, as Jacob dies and the brothers once more fear for their lives at the hand of Joseph. Joseph knows that even in all the bad things that happened God had a plan. This plan was to save lots of people, most importantly to save Israel from the famine. God keeps his promises by keeping this family alive, and they end up in Egypt. Things are going well there and the family grows and grows.
Our main application is to see that God had a plan to keep his promises through Joseph. Even though things went wrong multiple times in Joseph’s life, he kept trusting that God had a plan. We see throughout that God was working to help Joseph. The family of Israel were saved and God’s promises continued. This points us to the ultimate plan of God to save many lives in the death of Jesus. This was a bad thing that God was using to keep his promises. We know even when it is hard to trust God that God has a plan to keep his promises through Jesus.
‘If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise‘
Jesus, when you died – Awesome Cutlery – YouTube
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