Link: Genesis 37:1-28; 50:15-21
Discuss jealousy between brothers and sisters. Is God pleased when we are jealous of others? Does this kind of behavior show a lack of gratitude for what God has given us? Using grocery sacks make Joseph’s coat. Use crayons to make a many colored coat.
BBC BACKGROUND: Genesis 37 & 50
Life Through Joseph's Eyes
He wasn't sure what was causing all the commotion. The boy was young and often would be the last to know in his large family of twelve children. His brothers weren't very nice. They always called him a 'daddy's boy.' It was no use trying to find out what was really going on from them. His father was rounding up the camels and shouting orders right and left. He noticed his father was limping. It must be because of what happened last night. There was so much noise that the little boy could hardly sleep. After the family had crossed the Jabbok, his father wrestled with a man till dawn. He worried about his father's limp. It just seemed to be one hard thing after another for his father. He had just seen his grandfather pursue his father in anger, and now his father was limping. On top of all of this, there was a large band of Bedouin warriors approaching them with their spears and lances glittering in the sunlight. Strangely enough, although the boy saw fear in his father's face, he saw his father as he had never seen him before; as if his father had seen God face to face. He wondered what really happened last night with that man by the river.
They mounted the camels and father instructed him and his mother to go to the back behind his older siblings. "I wonder what is happening?" thought the little boy. His mother held him tightly. Up ahead, he could see the men coming closer to his father. He prayed God would keep his father safe. Then, he heard weeping and celebrating. The next thing he knew he was bowing down before a man they called his Uncle Esau. He had heard of him, but he knew that his father had feared him. There was happiness and good will wished to this enemy who was now a beloved brother. Something profound had happened that day. His father would never be the same again. The little boy was tired. Today had been far more exhausting then any six year old could handle. So, he slept in the place of booths that night, happy that his father was safe from all harm.I wrote this narrative to meditate on what that experience must have been like for Joseph and how it might have shaped him and the man he would later become. It was the introduction to a paper I wrote about Joseph in Bible school.
Character is defined as "the aggregate of moral qualities, ethical standards, and principles that form the individual nature of some person" (Random House Dictionary). Joseph was a man of Christlike character, even though he was born more than 1800 years before the time of Christ. Because of the similarities between Joseph and Jesus, we will also be looking at the strange and mysterious parallels between the life and character of Joseph and Jesus Christ.
Type is defined as:
A pre-ordained representative relationship which certain persons, events, and institutions of the Old Testament bear to corresponding persons, events, and institutions in the New.
(Bernard Ramm, Protestant Interpretation, p. 208-209, quoting Terry quoting Joseph Muenscher, “On Types and the Typical Interpretation of Scripture, ”) , (Jan 1841): 108
Joseph is an Old Testament personage who has many characteristics and life parallels to Jesus. Although there is no mention of this parallel in the Word of God, these parallels are noteworthy.
We can learn so many lessons from Joseph's life. He incarnated the truth and Chuck Swindoll sums it up well:
Abstract truth seems sterile and difficult to grasp if it stands alone--but when we see it illustrated in a life, it's amazing how clearly it emerges and how attainable it becomes. This, of course, is the genius behind any biography.
Joseph is a classic example. He embodies some of the most significant truth in all of Scripture. Although a man just like us, Joseph blazes a new trail through a jungle of mistreatment, false accusations, undeserved punishment, and gross misunderstanding. He exemplifies forgiveness, freedom from bitterness, and an unbelievably positive attitude toward those who had done him harm. From one episode to the next, you will literally shake your head in amazement.
That's the way it is when mere humanity incarnates divine truth. My prayer is that this principle will not stop with Joseph.
(Joseph: From Pit to Pinnacle, Introduction)It is my prayer too!!!! May we learn and apply what we learn from the example of his life to live lives that look Godward.
We know very little from the early events of Joseph's life except where he was placed in the "line up" of the children when going to meet Esau. We might conclude that Jacob placed a high priority on protecting Joseph's life when Esau approached (33:2) because Jacob put Joseph and Rachel in the very back of the pack.
In addition, we learn that "Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age" (37:3). Because Joseph was the son of Jacob's old age, he probably saw a very different man in his formative years than his siblings had seen. His brothers saw more of Jacob, the "cunning self-helpful supplanter," than Israel, the "prince of God" (The Bible History Old Testament by Alfred Edersheim, p. 135). Joseph saw more of the man who was consecrated to God by his experiences with Laban, his physical and spiritual breaking with the "man" at Peniel, and his final reconciliation with Esau.
Also, and this may be a stretch, he probably saw a more stable and loving relationship between his mother, Rachel, and father even though she did die when he was young. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, and Leah was unloved (Genesis 29:30-31). One cannot help but think what kind of negative influence Leah and Jacob's marriage had on their children. Proverbs 30:21-23 says that one of the four things that the earth quakes under is an "unloved woman when she gets a husband."
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
One parallel between Joseph and Jesus is that both births were miraculous (obviously Jesus' birth was much more miraculous than Joseph's though). In Genesis 30:22, we read that "God opened her womb." In both cases, God moved by bringing a child into the world that would change the course of history in a miraculous way.
Another parallel is that they were both beloved sons. Jesus is referred to as the "beloved Son" in Luke 3:22. Similarly, we know that "Israel loved Joseph more than all his brothers" (37:3). (The difference, in this case, was that Jesus was God's only son and Joseph had other brothers. Favoritism breeds jealousy and bitter feelings in families and should be avoided at all cost!)
Another parallel between Joseph and Jesus is that both were mistreated by their brethren. We will get more into this as our reading of the life of Joseph continues.
You might want to continue with your "Journal of God" as you study Joseph's life.
It also might help to start a list of things in Joseph's character worth emulating.
One more thing: do you show favoritism toward any of your children? Talk to God about that one!
Lord, help us to really learn what You want us to learn as we study Joseph's life. We know that the Scriptures were not given to increase our knowledge but to change our life. Lord, please change us and mold our character as we meditate in Your Word. In Jesus' name, AMEN
Genesis 50 - Get Bitter or Grow Better? The Choice is Yours
Even the Egyptians mourned Jacob for seventy days after he died. Some commentators believe this showed the importance of Joseph and his family as the traditional amount of time for mourning for a Pharaoh was seventy-two days.
Jacob desired to be buried in the land of Canaan with his ancestors at the Cave of Malchpelah. Remember this is where Abraham established a beachhead in the Promised Land. His wish was granted.
After his death, burial, and mourning were complete, Joseph's brothers began to worry that perhaps Joseph still bore a grudge for the evil they had caused him. Joseph's assurances in Genesis 45 were not enough to assure the brothers that once the father died, Joseph would not deal out his revenge for how they had wronged him in the past. Joseph had to reiterate his complete forgiveness:
But Joseph said to them, "Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? And for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive."
(Genesis 50:19-20)Joseph could see God's higher plan. There are not too many people who have been mistreated like Joseph was mistreated, but Joseph's character was free from bitterness even to the end, and God blessed him for the forgiveness that he showed his brothers.
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
Only One outshines even Joseph, Jesus was mistreated and stands as a perfect picture of forgiveness. Jesus, too, could see the higher plan:
. . .who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
(Hebrews 12: 2-3)
It is SO hard to forgive and trust when we do not understand why evil things have happened to us. I have had to do it more than once in my life, and it has been so painful, but I can look back and wholeheartedly say that God really "meant if for good," and He did it for higher purposes to place me where He wanted to place me and used those bad things to equip me for the purposes that He has for me today. I am sitting here today looking at what God is doing, and I stand amazed! He really did mean it for good, and I can honestly say there is not one person that I have not forgiven in my life! It was a process, and it doesn't mean that it happened instantly either! I see the God's sovereignty in all the bad things that have ever happened to me in my life. HONESTLY!
Extending forgiveness is a painful step of maturity, but in that pain comes the freedom from a bitter spirit which could eventually destroy us. Chuck Swindoll sums up Joseph's final years with the following application for the Christian today:
"To grow old, free of bitterness,
is the finest gift we can leave humanity.
To face death, right with God and man,
is the finest way we can enter eternity."
(Joseph: From Pit to Pinnacle, p.17)
When it comes to forgiving others for evil done against us, we can either get bitter or grow better. The difference in our life is entirely in the choice we make. Joseph made the better choice. I pray you will make that choice too.
This article on the the hard work of forgiveness is a favorite. I bolded some parts for emphasis:
The Thing We Don't Do
Forgiveness is hard work
by Andrée Seu
Forgiving is the hardest thing you will ever do. That's why most people don't do it. We talk about it, cheer for it, preach on it, and are sure we've practiced it. But mostly the illusion of having forgiven is that the passage of time dulls memory. The ruse will come to light with hair-trigger vengeance when fresh offense hurls in to empty out the gunnysack of half-digested grievances.
I asked a few people if they'd ever forgiven anyone, and what it felt like. They gave me answers so pious I knew they'd never done it. I am at the present moment in the maw of temptation, and I can tell you there is nothing exalted about this feeling, this one-two punch to the gut that comes when you even contemplate forgiving, which is as far as I've come.
At first I decided I would forgive the person—and never speak to him again. This felt pretty good, but I saw the dissimulation in it at once. I alternately toyed with going to him to "tell him his fault" (Matthew 18:15), which is my biblical right, so there. I had the decree of rebuke written up in my head, a document of fastidious and plenary detail—all for his own good. A smarmy satisfaction accompanied the plan, so I nixed it. For now.
In C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce, a woman confronted by an angel about forgiving her husband says, "Well, I have forgiven him as a Christian." The phrase is meaningless. She then bulimically seethes for pages about his wrongdoing and her longsuffering.
Keeping one's mouth shut is commendable, and more than I have managed in the past. It will work as long as I don't go near a phone or e-mail. But I am reminded that "Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad" for two whole years after the rape of his sister Tamar, and it ate him alive till in the end he killed the man.
O my brothers, you cannot imagine the exquisite verbal retaliations I have hatched in the idle hours, each more perfect than the last: theologically impeccable, legalistically faultless, poisoned prose polished to a lethal point. Must I now relinquish these? Must I kill the little darlings? Are they not to see the light of day? Such a waste.
Forgiveness is a brutal mathematical transaction done with fully engaged faculties. It's my pain instead of yours. I eat the debt. I absorb the misery I wanted to dish out on you, and you go scot-free. Beware the forgiveness that is tendered soon after injury; be suspicious. Real forgiveness needs a time lag, for it is wrought in private agony before it ever comes to public amnesty. All true acts of courage are thus done in secret.
Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Church in Manhattan shares the following letter from a man who once had to forgive a woman:
"I forgave her and it took me a whole year and I had to forgive her in small sums over that whole twelve months. I paid those sums whenever I spoke to her and kept myself from rehashing the past. I paid them whenever I saw her with another man and refused self-pity and rehearsal inside for what she'd done to me. I paid them whenever I praised her to others when I really wanted to slice away at her reputation. Those were the payments but she never knew them. However, I never knew her payments, but I know she made them. I could tell."
And now the unthinkable: not only to forgive but seek the good. Nature abhors a vacuum and Jesus admits of no middle ground between hate and love. Pray for him.
When you were a child you thought like a child, that pain was something to flee. Now in the adulthood of faith, suck up your hundred denarii, because someone took your ten thousand talents upon Himself (Matthew 18), and like a lamb led to slaughter and a sheep before its shearers was silent (Isaiah 53:7). He did not retaliate but "continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly" (1 Peter 2:23). Be so awash in the ocean of His love, my soul, that the shortcomings of all human loves will, more and more, seem but a trifling thing.
Copyright © 2006 WORLD Magazine
September 30, 2006, Vol. 21, No. 37
Can you say AMEN to this!!!!???? It is easier said than done, but let's DO IT with the help of the amazingly love of God "awash" in our hearts.
Lord, Joseph was such an example of forgiveness for us. THANK YOU for letting us see the light of Your love as the pages of his story unfolded to us over these last couple of weeks. Lord, we want to be "awash in the ocean of Your love." We know that human love has its shortcomings and forgive us for the expectation that it would satisfy us when only Your love can really satisfy. Give us the supernatural ability to forgive from the deepest parts of our hearts because Your love is overflowing within us. Wash over us, dear Jesus, because You are the ultimate example of love for us, and it is in Your precious and magnificent name that we pray, AMEN!