May 29, 2016 – June 4, 2016
The Life of Joseph
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you” (I Peter 4:12).
Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 224–227.
“We are standing before God on test and trial to see if we can individually be trusted to be of the number of the family who shall compose the redeemed in heaven.” Christian Education, 145.
1 THE REASON FOR FAMINE
- What hidden purpose did God have in allowing the famine to reach Canaan? Genesis 42:1, 2; 46:3. When we can’t see God’s purpose in our trials, what should we do? Proverbs 3:5, 6; Hebrews 11:6. Why?
Note: “We all desire immediate and direct answers to our prayers, and are tempted to become discouraged when the answer is delayed or comes in an unlooked-for form. But God is too wise and good to answer our prayers always at just the time and in just the manner we desire. He will do more and better for us than to accomplish all our wishes. And because we can trust His wisdom and love, we should not ask Him to concede to our will, but should seek to enter into and accomplish His purpose. Our desires and interests should be lost in His will.
“These experiences that test faith are for our benefit. By them it is made manifest whether our faith is true and sincere, resting on the word of God alone, or whether, depending on circumstances, it is uncertain and changeable. Faith is strengthened by exercise. We must let patience have its perfect work, remembering that there are precious promises in the Scriptures for those who wait upon the Lord.” Gospel Workers, 219.
- Why did Jacob send only ten sons to Egypt; what was he scared of? Genesis 42:3, 4.
2 A TEST OF SINCERITY
- What did Joseph immediately think of when he recognized his brothers bowing down to him when they came for food? Genesis 42:5–9; 37:5–8.
Note: “As Joseph saw his brothers stooping and making obeisance, his dreams came to his mind, and the scenes of the past rose vividly before him. His keen eye, surveying the group, discovered that Benjamin was not among them. Had he also fallen a victim to the treacherous cruelty of those savage men? He determined to learn the truth.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 224, 225.
- Why did his brothers fail to recognize Joseph? Genesis 42:8, 23; 41:42, 43, 45.
Note: “His [Joseph’s] Hebrew name had been exchanged for the one bestowed upon him by the king, and there was little resemblance between the prime minister of Egypt and the stripling whom they had sold to the Ishmaelites.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 224.
- Why did Joseph put his brothers in prison for three days, and what would have been on their minds during this time? Genesis 42:9–17.
Note: “He [Joseph] wished to learn if they [his brothers] possessed the same haughty spirit they had when he was with them. …
“The three days of confinement were days of bitter sorrow with Jacob’s sons. They reflected upon their past wrong course, especially their cruelty to Joseph. They knew if they were convicted of being spies, and they could not bring evidence to clear themselves, they would all have to die, or become slaves. They doubted whether any effort any one of them might make would cause their father to consent to have Benjamin go from him, after the cruel death, as he thought, Joseph had suffered.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 140–142.
“God … brings us into trying positions to see if we will trust in a power out of and above ourselves. Everyone has undiscovered traits of character that must come to light through trial. God allows those who are self-sufficient to be sorely tempted that they may understand their helplessness.” In Heavenly Places, 279.
3 WE REAP WHAT WE SOW
- Who was Joseph truly concerned for, and why? Genesis 42:18–20; 35:16–19.
Note: “He [Joseph] was anxious to draw from them [his brothers] some information in regard to his father and Benjamin. … His father and Benjamin are the very ones Joseph wishes to learn in regard to.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 140, 141.
- Why did Joseph’s brothers think this calamity had come upon them? Genesis 42:21, 22. What effect did this conversation have on Joseph? Verses 23, 24, first part.
Note: “They [Jacob’s sons] sold Joseph as a slave, and they were fearful that God designed to punish them by suffering them to become slaves.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 142.
“They accused themselves in regard to their treatment of Joseph: ‘We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.’ Reuben, who had formed the plan for delivering him at Dothan, added, ‘Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required’ (Genesis 42:21, 22). Joseph, listening, could not control his emotions, and he went out and wept.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 226.
- When things go wrong in our lives, whom are we tempted to blame? Genesis 42:24–28. Who was actually the real cause of their troubles? Galatians 6:7, 8; Numbers 32:23.
Note: “Oh, that a right impression might be made upon the minds of young and old in regard to the exceeding sinfulness of sin! Oh, that all might have a just realization of its offensiveness to God, and its injury to mankind! The word of truth declares, ‘Be sure your sin will find you out’ (Numbers 32:23). The real character of every act of your life will be made known. It may be even in this life that through the providence of God, some unexpected circumstance will uncover your secret deeds of evil; but should you succeed in hiding your real character from the eyes of men, there is an inevitable day of exposure reserved for every soul who does not repent of his sins and forsake all evil through the strength of Christ, Who has died that we might live.” The Review and Herald, March 27, 1888.
4 THE REVELATION OF CHARACTER
- Why was Simeon left in prison? Genesis 42:24. What was Jacob’s reaction when he was told the news? Verses 29–36.
Note: “On his return he [Joseph] commanded that Simeon be bound before them and again committed to prison. In the cruel treatment of their brother, Simeon had been the instigator and chief actor, and it was for this reason that the choice fell upon him.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 226.
“Jacob’s affections cling to Benjamin with all the strength of a mother’s love. He shows how deeply he has felt the loss of Joseph. But want presses upon Jacob and his children, and their households are calling for food.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 158, 159.
- Explain why the declarations of Reuben and Judah reveal how the brothers’ affection for their father and for one another had deepened since their betrayal of Joseph? Genesis 42:37; 43:8, 9.
Note: “During the years since Joseph had been separated from his brothers, these sons of Jacob had changed in character. Envious, turbulent, deceptive, cruel, and revengeful they had been; but now, when tested by adversity, they were shown to be unselfish, true to one another, devoted to their father, and, themselves middle-aged men, subject to his authority.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 225.
- What tendency do we often manifest in our families when things go wrong? Genesis 43:1–7. Where did this weakness originate? Genesis 3:12, 13; Revelation 12:10.
Note: “Let every family seek the Lord in earnest prayer for help to do the work of God. Let them overcome the habits of hasty speech and the desire to blame others. Let them study to be kind and courteous in the home, to form habits of thoughtfulness and care.
“What harm is wrought in the family circle by the utterance of impatient words, for the impatient utterance of one leads another to retort in the same spirit and manner. Then come words of retaliation, words of self-justification, and it is by such words that a heavy, galling yoke is manufactured for your neck; for all these bitter words will come back in a baleful harvest to your soul.” The Adventist Home, 438, 439.
5 LEARNING TO TRUST IN GOD’S MERCY
- When Jacob felt cornered, into whose hands was he compelled to surrender? Genesis 42:19, 20; 43:8–14; Psalm 33:18–22.
Note: “Jacob feels compelled to permit his son Benjamin to go with his brethren. He also sent a present to the ruler, hoping therewith to obtain his favor. He also directed his sons to take double money, and return the money found in their sacks; for it might have been placed there by mistake. He says to them, ‘Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man’ (Genesis 43:13).
“As his sons were about to leave him to go on their doubtful journey, their aged father arose, and, while standing in their midst, raised his hands to heaven, and entreated the Lord to go with them, and pronounced upon them a gracious benediction. ‘And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved’ (verse 14).” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, 159, 160.
- When we are faced with overwhelming circumstances, upon Whom can we always rely? Lamentations 3:22, 23; Psalm 103:13–17.
Note: “If we cling to Him [the Captain of our salvation] by living faith, saying with Jacob, ‘I will not let Thee go’ (Genesis 32:26); if we entreat, ‘Cast me not away from Thy presence; and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me’ (Psalm 51:11), the promise is to us, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ (Hebrews 13:5).” Our High Calling, 22.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 Explain how negative circumstances can benefit us in the long run.
2 How much faith can we put in God’s prophecies?
3 What should we always remember when tempted to conceal a sin?
4 How does a family crisis often reveal true character?
5 What is mercy, and why do we depend upon it so much?
Copyright © 2015 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.