April 3, 2016 – April 9, 2016
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12, last part, 13).
Study Help: The Signs of the Times, December 18, 1879.
“God’s way, not man’s way, is to be taken as the guide of action. He has a plan, well and wisely ordered. He has revealed this plan to us in His Word, and He expects us to take it as our guide in all things, great and small. Man is not to make plans according to his finite judgment. He is to search for and find God’s plan.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 18, 270, 271.
1 JOSEPH’S FIRST JOURNEY ALONE
- Why was it significant that Joseph set off to find his brothers alone? Genesis 37:12–14.
Note: “He [Jacob] … sent Joseph to find them [his brethren], and bring him words as to their welfare. Had Jacob known the real feeling of his sons toward Joseph, he would not have trusted him alone with them; but this they had carefully concealed.
“With a joyful heart, Joseph parted from his father, neither the aged man nor the youth dreaming of what would happen before they should meet again.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 210.
- Why was it essential for Joseph to meet the man who told him his brothers’ whereabouts? Genesis 37:15–17, 28.
Note: “When Joseph arrived at the place where his father supposed his brethren were, he did not find them. As he was traveling from field to field in search of them, a stranger learned his errand and told him they had gone to Dothan. He had already traveled fifty miles, and, a distance of fifteen more lay before him. This was a long journey for the youth; but he performed it cheerfully.” The Signs of the Times, December 18, 1879.
2 THE BROTHERS’ PLOT
- What was the first thing that came to the brothers’ minds when they saw Joseph coming, and why? Genesis 37:18–20.
Note: “At length he [Joseph] saw his brethren in the distance and hastened to greet them. They also saw him coming, his gay colored coat making him easily recognized; but as they beheld it, their feelings of envy, jealousy, and hatred, were aroused. They did not consider the long journey he had made on foot to meet them; they did not think of his weariness and hunger, and that as their brother he had claims upon their hospitality, their tender consideration and brotherly love. The sight of that coat which signalized him in the distance filled them with a Satanic frenzy.” The Signs of the Times, December 18, 1879.
- How was the devil trying to thwart God’s plan to use Joseph to save His people? Genesis 15:12–14; 37:20; Ephesians 6:11, 12. In the long run, who would the brothers really be killing had they succeeded in their plans against Joseph? Genesis 42:1, 2.
- In his efforts to spoil God’s plan for Joseph and his family, what ultimate plan was the devil trying to thwart? Genesis 3:15; 22:16–18; Galatians 3:16.
Note: “The murder of Abel was the first example of the enmity that God had declared would exist between the serpent and the seed of the woman—between Satan and his subjects and Christ and His followers.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 77.
“By leading Israel to this daring insult and blasphemy to Jehovah [at Sinai, when Moses found them bowing in adoration before a golden image], Satan had planned to cause their ruin. Since they had proved themselves to be so utterly degraded, so lost to all sense of the privileges and blessings that God had offered them, and to their own solemn and repeated pledges of loyalty, the Lord would, he believed, divorce them from Himself and devote them to destruction. Thus would be secured the extinction of the seed of Abraham, that seed of promise that was to preserve the knowledge of the living God, and through whom He was to come—the true Seed, that was to conquer Satan. The great rebel had planned to destroy Israel, and thus thwart the purposes of God.” Ibid., 335.
3 THE BATTLE FOR THE SOUL
- Upon whom did God’s Spirit move to save Joseph from death, and why did God select this particular brother? Genesis 37:19–22; 29:31, 32.
Note: “They [Joseph’s brothers] would have executed their purpose but for Reuben. He shrank from participating in the murder of his brother, and proposed that Joseph be cast alive into a pit and left there to perish.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 211.
“He [Reuben] plead for Joseph, showing with clear arguments what guilt would ever rest upon them, and, that the curse of God would come upon them for such a crime.” The Signs of the Times, December 18, 1879.
- What was God’s plan for Joseph at this point? Psalm 105:16, 17. What was Reuben’s plan? Genesis 37:22, last part.
Note: “He [Reuben] proposed to have him cast alive into a pit, and left there to perish, meaning to take him out privately and return him to his father.” The Signs of the Times, December 18, 1879.
- On which other brother did God then have to work to carry out His plans, and why did God have to ensure that Reuben was not around at the time? Genesis 37:25–30.
Note: “Having persuaded all to consent to this plan, Reuben left the company, fearing that he might fail to control his feelings, and that his real intentions would be discovered. …
“Judah now proposed to sell their brother to these [Ishmaelite] heathen traders instead of leaving him to die. While he would be effectually put out of their way, they would remain clear of his blood; ‘for,’ he urged, ‘he is our brother and our flesh’ (Genesis 37:27). To this proposition all agreed, and Joseph was quickly drawn out of the pit. …
“Reuben returned to the pit, but Joseph was not there. In alarm and self-reproach he rent his garments, and sought his brothers, exclaiming, ‘The child is not; and I, whither shall I go’ (verse 30)? Upon learning the fate of Joseph, and that it would now be impossible to recover him, Reuben was induced to unite with the rest in the attempt to conceal their guilt.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 211, 212.
4 OUR PROTECTOR
- Even though Joseph was outside of the protection of his earthly father, Who was still with him? Genesis 39:2; Psalm 103:13.
Note: “Joseph’s brethren flattered themselves that they were taking a sure course to prevent the fulfillment of Joseph’s strange dreams. But the Lord controlled events, and caused the cruel course of Joseph’s brethren to bring about the fulfillment of the dreams which they were laboring to frustrate.
“Joseph was greatly afflicted to be separated from his father, and his bitterest sorrow was in reflecting upon his father’s grief. But God did not leave Joseph to go into Egypt alone. Angels prepared the way for his reception.” The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, 130, 131.
- What do we always need to keep in mind regarding God’s control and jurisdiction over all human life? Job 2:3–6; Psalm 56:11.
Note: “Study the history of Joseph and of Daniel. The Lord did not prevent the plottings of men who sought to do them harm; but He caused all these devices to work for good to His servants, who amid trial and conflict preserved their faith and loyalty.” Gospel Workers, 477.
- What assurance can a believer in Christ have in God’s care for him or her? John 10:27–29; I Peter 5:6, 7.
Note: “Christ says to man, You are mine. I have bought you. You are now only a rough stone; but if you will place yourself in My hands, I will polish you, and the luster with which you shall shine will bring honor to My name. No man shall pluck you out of My hand. I will make you My peculiar treasure. On My coronation day, you will be a jewel in My crown of rejoicing.” In Heavenly Places, 267.
“The present and eternal security of men is their surety, Jesus Christ the righteous. No man will be able to pluck the believing soul out of His hands. … By keeping the love of God in the heart, the love of the world is kept out, and we become built up in the most holy faith.” The Youth’s Instructor, February 17, 1898.
5 COOPERATING WITH GOD
- To those who put their trust in God as Joseph did, what is the promise? Psalm 37:4, 5; Proverbs 3:5, 6.
Note: “Spread every plan before God with fasting, [and] with the humbling of the soul before the Lord Jesus, and commit thy ways unto the Lord. The sure promise is, He will direct the paths. He is infinite in resources. The Holy One of Israel, Who calls the host of heaven by name, and holds the stars of heaven in position, has you individually in His keeping. …
“I would that all could realize what possibilities and probabilities there are for all who make Christ their sufficiency and their trust. The life hid with Christ in God ever has a refuge; he can say, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ (Philippians 4:13).” Country Living, 28.
- In the Christian journey, what are we to work out and how? Philippians 2:12, 13.
Note: “No man can of himself work out his own salvation, and God cannot do this work for him without his co-operation. But when man works earnestly, God works with him, giving him power to become a son of God.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 372.
“God and the human being are to cooperate. All are to work out that which God works in.” To Be Like Jesus, 120.
“It means everything to us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. God works in us, to will and to do of His good pleasure. If we let Him work, He will work. Our reward in heaven above depends on our daily walk and conversation here below. We can be Christians here. And to be a Christian, it is not necessary that we live in depression, mourning because we cannot have our own way. If we are Christians indeed, Christ is formed within, the hope of glory.” The Upward Look, 204.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 Explain why seemingly small decisions can be life-changing.
2 In what kind of warfare are Christians involved?
3 How can the Spirit of God influence us to allow God’s will to be done?
4 Why should we not fear what man can do to us?
5 Is it God or humanity that is to work for our salvation?
Copyright © 2015 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.