This past Sunday night we continued our study of the life of Joseph in our Rooted series. When we left Joseph last week he had just interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh and had been promoted to the number 2 guy in all Egypt. We picked up the story in chapter 42 and the land is being ravished by famine. Because of Joseph’s leadership, Egypt has the supplies to withstand the famine and people from all around are coming to buy supplies. Amongst those who come are Joseph’s brothers.
They do not recognize Joseph when they meet him, but he recognizes them. At this point in the story we see Joseph, having authority and power of his brothers, exercising grace and forgiveness merely by the fact that he did not kill them! Joseph talks with his brothers, figures out that his one full-blooded brother (Benjamin) is at home with their father, and devises a plan to test his brothers.
He keeps one brother with him in Egypt, sends the other 9 back home to Israel with supplies and instructions to bring Benjamin to Egypt to prove that they are not spies. As the brothers travel back to Egypt, they find themselves in despair because they find the money they were suppose to use to pay for the food, sitting in their sacks. When Israel hears this, he refuses to send Benjamin back. He is terrified he will lose Benjamin just like he lost Joseph. Eventually they run out of supplies again and are forced to go back, and Judah promises his father that he will bring Benjamin back or the blame will fall on him.
When they return to Joseph they are worried that he will be angry with them because of the money in their sacks and the time that had passed, but Joseph greets them with grace (as he has his entire life). He throws a big meal for them and feeds them and shows Benjamin the most favor. His brothers? Completely confused by all this, but happily partake.
This story is far too complex to try and dissect in one simple blog post so I would encourage you to read Genesis 42-43 with your students. As you do so here are a few key things to remember.
God has a plan but sometimes it’s hard for us to see his plan when we are in the midst of it! This happens because we get so focussed on our circumstances (like his brothers were) that we don’t see the bigger picture. Because of his life experiences, Joseph was no stranger to hardship. Yet he kept his focus on God, and because of that he was better able to see the plan God had! But even if he wasn’t able to see the plan, he was still at peace knowing God had one all the same.
- Based on what you know from past weeks, up until this point who has had a harder life, Joseph or his brothers?
- List all the emotions you see the 10 brothers having in this story and talk about why you think they had these emotions.
- What’s the problem with focussing on ourselves or our circumstances too much? How can you begin to focus on God more?
Again, I’d highly encourage you to read through the story of Joseph again! There is so much about his life that show’s how all-powerful God is. It’s a humbling story.