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Sabbath School Lessons on Beginnings and Belongings
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 13: The End of the Beginning *
Introduction: Joseph's life has been steadily going downhill despite
his faithfulness to God. He now has his big break. Will God "fix" his
problems forever? If God is with Joseph, can he expect rewards for
his faithfulness here on earth? Was the entire thing part of God's
plan for Joseph and his family? Let's dive into our lesson and find
out how things worked out in Joseph's life!
- Joseph the Master
- Read Genesis 41:41-44. When God decided the time was right
to save Joseph from the dungeon, how long did it take Him
to completely reverse Joseph's situation? (Less than one
- It had been 13 years since Joseph had been sold into
slavery. Why did God wait 13 years?
- During those 13 years did it appear to Joseph that he
was making progress towards the throne? (From a human
point of view, things were only getting worse. It you
knew that God was going to give Joseph the kingdom,
it would seem Joseph was making no progress towards
that goal. The answer has to be (at least in part)
that God had some character development for this
young man who told his brother and parents that he
would rule them.)
- Read Genesis 41:45. The Priest of On. On means "light" or
the "sun." The city of On was the center of sun-worship in
Egypt. Commentaries I read referred to the sun-god "Re."
In popular reading, however, I have seen the Egyptian sun-god referred to as "Ra." Notice that Potiphera ends with
"Ra," which connects him to the sun-god. Why would Pharoah
direct that Joseph be married to the daughter of the
Priest of On? (It makes sense to put all of those "god"
genes together. They might have super "god-aware"
- What is the problem for Joseph?
- Read 1 Kings 11:1-2. Why did Joseph resist sleeping
with Potiphar's wife, but not resist marrying the
daughter of the priest of the sun-god? (I doubt he
had any say in the matter. He was not in the position
of King Solomon where this was a voluntary choice.)
- Read Genesis 41:50-52. Does Joseph think he is ever going
back home? (His son's name indicates that God has helped
him to forget his father's household. He is not going
- Read Genesis 41:53-57. How secure is Joseph's position in
- What is God doing through Joseph? (Saving the world
from starvation. Making the Egyptian government even
richer and more powerful.)
- Could God have done this through Joseph if Joseph had
never left home?
- Was God manipulating world weather conditions
for the benefit of Joseph?
- Joseph and His Brothers
- Read Genesis 42:1-2. Jacob is a man of vast wealth. How
can he speak of dying when he has so much cattle? (These
few words tell us volumes. The sons are so shocked by
their sudden change of fortune that they listlessly sit
there staring, not knowing what to do.)
- Read Genesis 42:3-5. What was the source of harm that
Jacob feared for Benjamin?
- Do you think Jacob has his suspicions about Joseph's
- Read Genesis 42:6. Does this remind you of any prior
dreams? (See Genesis 37:5-8. Now who do you say gave
Joseph this dream?)
- Read Genesis 42:7-11. Notice that verse 9 connects
Joseph's dreams to his allegation that they are spies.
What sense can you make of this? (The dreams are not yet
fulfilled. The second dream has his entire family bowing
down. Thus, Joseph may be thinking about how he can get
his entire family to Egypt.)
- What did Joseph's older brothers do to keep his
dreams from being fulfilled? (The very thing they did
to keep his dreams from being fulfilled is the cause
of the fulfillment of his dreams!)
- Are they, as they say in verse 11, "honest men?"
- Read Genesis 42:12-17. What do you think about this method
of proof? How difficult will it be for them to prove they
are not spies? (I'm not sure what this test proves. If
they were lying, they could bring any young person as
their "younger brother." This test only makes sense
because Joseph knows the truth.)
- Why does Joseph pick this test? (He wants to know
their relationship with his younger brother.)
- Why is Joseph lying about his brothers, swearing by
Pharaoh ("as surely as Pharaoh lives") and jailing
them? (He is giving them a taste of his past life in
- Read Genesis 42:18-22. Why would the brothers connect
their treatment of Joseph to their current situation?
(They were reminded of Joseph because of the command to
bring Benjamin to Egypt. This shows that their guilty
consciences had not abated.)
- Read Genesis 42:23-24. Are the brothers making progress?
Now, only one son is in prison. Why did Joseph take
Simeon? (The Wycliffe Bible Commentary says tradition
holds that he was the most cruel of the brothers. See
Genesis 49:5-7 for further proof of this tradition.)
- Read Genesis 42:25-28. What is wrong with getting your
money back? Shopping in Egypt is a real bargain! (They
were already accused of dishonesty. This might be taken as
evidence of it.)
- Why would the brothers attribute their problems to
- The brothers go home, explain the situation to their
father Jacob. He does not want to let them take Benjamin
and they do not return until their food situation is
desperate. Read Genesis 43:15-18. What do you think about
their fears? (They fear happening to them what they did to
- Read Genesis 43:26-34. Why did Joseph give directions that
Benjamin should have more food? (He wanted to see how the
brothers now reacted to favoritism.)
- Joseph instructs his steward to give the brothers their
grain, return their money again, and put his royal cup in
Benjamin's sack of grain. After they leave, Joseph sends
the steward to catch them and accuse them of theft. The
cup is found in Benjamin's sack, and they are forced to
return. It looks like Benjamin may be put to death for
theft and the rest enslaved, but the sentence is reduced
to slavery for just Benjamin. Roll the clock back, if
this had been Joseph and his brothers when Joseph was 17,
what would the brothers have said? (Great! Take him off
- Read Genesis 44:30-33 to see what Judah says about leaving
Benjamin. How have things changed?
- What do you think would have happened if the brothers
had been content to leave Benjamin?
- Joseph the Savior
- Read Genesis 45:1-7. Notice what Joseph says about God's
plan for his life and the lives of his family. Is Joseph
bitter about the 13 years he spent in slavery and prison?
- How about you? Have you reached the point Joseph has
reached? Can you see the hand of God working out for
your benefit the bad things in your life?
- What parallel do you see in Genesis 45:7 between
Joseph and Jesus?
- Joseph invites his family to Egypt, the brothers go home
and tell Jacob the amazing news that Joseph is the ruler
of Egypt. Read Genesis 45:25-46:4. Why does God allow
this when He knows that Jacob's descendants will become
slaves in Egypt?
- Jacob dies and Joseph's brothers are afraid. Read Genesis 50:15-21. What kind of attitude does Joseph show towards
- Friend, sometimes life does not go the way we want it to
go. The lesson from the life of Joseph is that we need to
simply trust God. Others may intend to hurt us, but God
can overrule every evil intent. Will you agree to trust
- Next week we begin the study of the book of Ecclesiastes.
* Copr. 2006, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.