After Abraham, the story shifts from Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, to Jacob's twelve sons, specifically his eleventh son, Joseph. Joseph is Jacob’s favorite son. This fact, as well as his own words and behavior, leads his brothers to sell Joseph to a group of traders headed for Egypt, which was the world’s most powerful and influential nation at the time. Through Joseph’s years in Egypt, God delivers His chosen people — Abraham’s descendants, the Israelites — from a region-wide famine.
The movement of the Israelite people from their home to Egypt sets up the most powerful story in all of the Old Testament, the Exodus. As we have seen up to this point, God continually works through the lives of broken and sinful people for His glory, the good of His plan, and the fulfillment of His promises. We see this truth throughout scripture, and can trust it in our lives today as well. This truth is reinforced in the life of Joseph. This week’s reading is best summed up by a statement Joseph makes to his brothers at the end of Genesis, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive.” (Genesis 50:20)
Genesis 41:1-16, 37-57
FAMILY INGREDIENT: TAKING RESPONSIBILITY
Pharaoh has a disturbing dream. Hearing of Joseph's powers, he calls for him to be brought out of prison to interpret the dream. Joseph replies that he can not interpret the dream himself, but His God can give Pharaoh the answer he seeks. In this way, Joseph gives glory to God. Joseph also uses his God-given skills to oversee the food supply during Egypt's famine. By doing this, Joseph is able to feed all of Egypt as well as his own family. God calls us to take responsibility for the gifts and talents He gives us and to give Him glory as we live and serve Him. Helping each person in the family to use the ingredient of Taking Responsibility will strengthen your family.
- What was Pharaoh’s dream? How did Pharaoh react to it?
- Pharaoh asked Joseph to tell him what his dream meant. According to Joseph, who can explain Pharaoh's dream?
- Why did God give this dream to Pharaoh? (see vs. 28)
- Joseph gives Pharaoh a plan to save his nation and other nations from the coming famine (see vs.33-36). Where did Joseph get the wisdom for his plan?
- Did Joseph have to take responsibility and help Pharaoh by explaining his dream or wisely overseeing the food supply? Could he have let his anger (due to being thrown unjustly into prison) make him unwilling to help? What would have been the result?
- How will you benefit by taking responsibility for your gifts and talents? How will God benefit? How will others benefit?
Parent Prep: Read the passage so you will be able to tell the story simply.
Props: pillow, crown, ring, necklace, crayons and paper, and popcorn or pretzels. Have kids draw pictures of seven fat cows, skinny cows, ears of corn, and withered ears of corn.
Characters: God, Joseph, Pharaoh, court officials.
Action: Pharaoh (with a crown, ring, necklace, and pillow) tries to sleep. Have him toss and turn. “God” should hold the pictures over Pharaoh as he sleeps. Pharaoh wakes up, looks scared and calls for someone to explain his dream. Court officials run to Joseph. Pharaoh demands an explanation. Joseph says that he cannot, but that God knows the meaning. Joseph prays and explains the dream. Next, have Joseph say that he has a plan to save the people from starving. Have Pharaoh point to Joseph and choose him to be the leader of his plan. Pharaoh puts a ring and chain on Joseph. Joseph is now in charge of the food. Joseph serves the snack. Discuss the "Family Questions." Pray that God will help your family to be responsible for what He wants you to do.
- Sometimes faithfulness to God and His word sets us on a course where our circumstances get worse, not better. It is then that knowing God's promises and His ways are crucial. Faith in God's future grace for us is what sustains us in those desperate moments. As you read this week about the life of Joseph consider:
- Is there an example to follow?
- Is there a promise in which to trust or rest?