Tuesday, January 3, 2012

“Joseph Finds Favor” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 8, 2012

Purpose: To comprehend that God's favor can exceed our human expectations

Scripture Text: Genesis 41:37-45, 50-52 (NRSV)

Genesis 41:37-45
(37)The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. (38)Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone else like this—one in whom is the spirit of God?” (39)So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. (40)You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.”(41)And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” (42)Removing his signet ring from his hand, Pharaoh put it on Joseph’s hand; he arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain around his neck. (43)He had him ride in the chariot of his second-in-command; and they cried out in front of him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. (44)Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no one shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” (45)Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, as his wife. Thus Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41: 50-52
(50)Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him. (51)Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” (52)The second he named Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my misfortunes.”

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

After Joseph is falsely accused by Potifar's wife and placed in prison, his diligence and good demeanor are rewarded by the chief jailer and he is place as a trustee over fellow prisoners. The prison is the prison of Pharaoh, and in it are two of Pharaoh's former servants, the former cupbearer and baker to Pharaoh. Joseph interprets their dreams, and it leads to the cupbearer being restored to Pharaoh's court, and the baker being hanged, all within a three day period. After Joseph interprets the cupbearers dream he asks a favor and explains his plight of being falsely imprisoned under a false accusation. Three days later when the cupbearer is restored to Pharaoh's court, Joseph's request to be remembered to Pharaoh's is lost; the cupbearer develops “amnesia.” For two years Joseph remains faithful to his God and to his responsibilities as a trustee in prison.

Two years after the cupbearer is restored to Pharaoh's court, he hears that Pharaoh is having trouble getting a dream interpreted. Suddenly the cupbearer's amnesia is cured and he recalls Joseph who had interpreted his own dream in prison.

Out of frustration with the rest of Egypt’s brightest and best, Pharaoh is willing to listen to the cupbearer and Joseph is sent for and interprets Pharaoh's dream, not only interprets the dream but suggest ways to avoid the inevitable seven year famine and save all of Egypt.

Joseph never claimed that he was doing the interpreting, but always said it was God that revealed everything to him. Pharaoh was so impressed not only with Joseph but also his God that he made Joseph second-in-command in all of Egypt. In modern day language Joseph became the “the keeper of the seal.” A term used for secretaries of corporations. Nothing can be authenticated without the corporation seal.

Joseph's faithfulness to God is rewarded; he began his life receiving a coat of authority from his father, and being treated special. When his brothers sold him into slavery and Potiphar's wife falsely accused him and the cupbearer forgot about him for two years he never lost faith in his God. Now a coat stolen from him is replaced with an even better garment of “fine linen.” The chains of slavery are replaced with a “gold chain.” Instead of being thrown into a pit, he is given a ride in Pharaoh's chariot. And he was given a new name and a royal wife, so Egypt and Israel would be forever linked. Joseph is no longer thought of as an alien, but more like an adopted son, just as we are adopted into God's family by Jesus blood and righteousness.

Pharaoh recognized that “the spirit of God” not an Egyptian god but the God of Joseph, was a very powerful God, and greater than all the Egyptian gods, and He was with Joseph.

Pharaoh's recognition of “the spirit of God” is the second mention of “spirit of God” in the Old Testament. The first being in Genesis 1:2; NKJV says “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Joseph will long be remembered in Egypt until in Exodus 1:8 it says (8)Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. Pray that never happens to us or America.

It is often said only two people's lives, recorded in the bible, have no record of sin. One is Joseph and the other is Jesus. No wonder Pharaoh said, “Can we find anyone else like this?

The answer is, yes we can; He is the Incarnate Son of God, who came to save all of humankind.

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