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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!

  1. Joseph the Master

    1. 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 day.)

      1. It had been 13 years since Joseph had been sold into slavery. Why did God wait 13 years?

      2. 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.)

    2. 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" children.)

      1. What is the problem for Joseph?

      2. 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.)

    3. 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 back.)

    4. Read Genesis 41:53-57. How secure is Joseph's position in Egypt?

      1. What is God doing through Joseph? (Saving the world from starvation. Making the Egyptian government even richer and more powerful.)

      2. Could God have done this through Joseph if Joseph had never left home?

        1. Was God manipulating world weather conditions for the benefit of Joseph?

  2. Joseph and His Brothers

    1. 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.)

    2. Read Genesis 42:3-5. What was the source of harm that Jacob feared for Benjamin?

      1. Do you think Jacob has his suspicions about Joseph's death?

    3. 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?)

    4. 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.)

      1. 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!)

      2. Are they, as they say in verse 11, "honest men?"

    5. 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.)

      1. Why does Joseph pick this test? (He wants to know their relationship with his younger brother.)

      2. 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 Egypt.)

    6. 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.)

    7. 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.)

    8. 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.)

      1. Why would the brothers attribute their problems to God?

    9. 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 Joseph!)

    10. 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.)

    11. 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 our hands.)

    12. Read Genesis 44:30-33 to see what Judah says about leaving Benjamin. How have things changed?

      1. What do you think would have happened if the brothers had been content to leave Benjamin?

  3. Joseph the Savior

    1. 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?

      1. 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?

      2. What parallel do you see in Genesis 45:7 between Joseph and Jesus?

    2. 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?

    3. Jacob dies and Joseph's brothers are afraid. Read Genesis 50:15-21. What kind of attitude does Joseph show towards his brothers?

    4. 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 God?

  1. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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