This past Sunday at Youth, we wrapped up our study of Joseph. We have been studying Joseph for the past 4 weeks so our lesson started with a wonderful skit to recap the entire story of Joseph (shout out to all the amazing actors that helped). I forgot how much happened to Joseph until I started trying to condense it down to a skit. He had such a full life. His life was a roller coaster of ups and downs. First, he was his father, Jacob’s, favorite son and he dreamed of ruling over his family. This led to his brothers wanting to kill him but settling for just selling him into slavery. As a slave, he worked hard and rose to the top of the house he was in and basically ran Potiphar’s house. Then Potiphar’s wife showed interest in him and Joseph denied her. Actually, he ran from her (kudos to Joseph for literally fleeing from temptation) and made Potiphar’s wife mad so she tells her husband that he was the one that came on to her and Potiphar threw Joseph in prison. Joseph was there for a while. At one point, he interpreted 2 prisoners’ dreams correctly: one of the prisoners was killed and the other is freed. The freed prisoner promised to try to get Joseph out of prison but sadly, forgot all about Joseph. Years later, the Pharaoh had a dream that he wanted interpreted but no one understood it. That former prisoner remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh to get him out of prison to interpret his dream. Joseph heard Pharaoh’s dream and saw it as a warning of famine for Egypt that would last for 7 years after the 7 years of plenty that Egypt was about to have. Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of preparing Egypt for the famine and made Joseph his second-in-command. So the famine hit and guess who needed food from Egypt? Joseph’s brothers and family. They travelled to Egypt and asked Joseph for food, not knowing that it was their brother they were asking. Joseph then put his brothers through a few tests to see if they had changed since they sold him into slavery. At one point, the brothers said to each other that they were having such a hard time because of what they did to their little brother all those years ago. Once the brothers showed Joseph that they had changed and they were willing to sacrifice themselves to protect their youngest brother, Benjamin, Joseph revealed himself as their brother and forgave them. He had so much compassion for them and invited them to move to Egypt so he could care for them and make sure they didn’t starve in the famine.
In Genesis 45:5, Joseph tells his brothers “And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Joseph sees that God was providing for Jacob’s family and fulfilling his covenant with Abraham’s descendants. We can see how fundamental God’s provision was through Joseph’s entire life. We talked about 4 big ways that God provided for Joseph throughout his life:
- He saved Joseph from his brother’s murder plan and sent him to Egypt, all be it as a slave, but that’s what starts God’s plan to protect His family from the future famine.
- He places him in Potiphar’s house where Joseph can work hard and rise up in the house.
- God gave Joseph the gift to interpret dreams, which pulled him out of prison and protected Egypt from famine.
- Joseph became Pharaoh’s right-hand man and this gave Joseph the resources to help his family.
God always provides for us. He will never let us down (Deuteronomy 31:6). Joseph’s brothers and Potiphar let Joseph down just like we let our friends and family down all the time. God is our only constant and He will never let us down.
God provides for us but we have to accept His help. We have to humble ourselves and admit that we need God’s help. Joseph was definitely humbled by his brothers, Potiphar and his wife, and prison. He saw that his dream of ruling over his family was definitely not through his own ability. He had to rely entirely on God’s provision. Joseph’s roller coaster life was meant to humble him so that when his brothers showed up in Egypt, he was able to forgive them and have compassion for them. He relied on God and saw that God’s provision is bigger than our mistakes. His brothers’ hatred of him and their attempt to ruin his life was turned into something amazing. And because of Joseph’s humility and trust in God’s provision, he saved the brothers that wanted him dead.
Our questions for the students were:
- How was Joseph able to forgive his brothers?
- Was Joseph’s suffering worth it? What was the point?
- What are other ways God provided in the story other than the 4 we named?
- In what area of your life do you need to humble yourself and accept God’s help?
Lauren Van Tuyl