Monday, January 16, 2012

“Joseph Transmits Abraham's Promise” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 22, 2012

Purpose: To see our role in carrying out the purpose of God

Scripture Text: Genesis 50:15-26

Genesis 50:15-26 (NRSV)

(15)Realizing that their father was dead, Joseph’s brothers said, “What if Joseph still bears a grudge against us and pays us back in full for all the wrong that we did to him?” (16)So they approached Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this instruction before he died, (17) ‘Say to Joseph: I beg you, forgive the crime of your brothers and the wrong they did in harming you.’ Now therefore please forgive the crime of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. (18)Then his brothers also wept, fell down before him, and said, “We are here as your slaves.” (19)But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid! Am I in the place of God? (20)Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good, in order to preserve a numerous people, as he is doing today. (21)So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them.

(22)So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s household; and Joseph lived one hundred ten years. (23)Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation;the children of Machir son of Manasseh were also born on Joseph’s knees. (24)Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die; but God will surely come to you, and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.”(25)So Joseph made the Israelites swear, saying, “When God comes to you, you shall carry up my bones from here.” (26)And Joseph died, being one hundred ten years old; he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Have you ever asked God, or a friend or family member, for forgiveness and doubted that you had truly been forgiven? That is the position the brothers of Joseph find themselves in today's text.

I think there are times when forgiveness seems to be less than sincere or we are so haunted by our past deeds that forgiveness seems too good for us. We doubt that we are truly forgiven. I know many people have a hard time that have lived a rather wicked life, and when they come to that place where they ask God for forgiveness, and can not believe it is that simple for all of their past sins to be completely forgiven.

Joseph was in a position where forgiveness could be offered and given for what his brothers had put him through. And like us, when we come to Christ asking for forgiveness, Christ grants it completely, but we, like the brothers, have a hard time accepting it.

Because of Joseph’s closeness to God, he understood that his brothers had actually done him a favor, by selling him to the Egyptians. Now of course this outcome was dependent upon Joseph remaining obedient to God's call on his life. God wants us to work with him to accomplish His purpose. I am fully convinced God would have used another way and person if Joseph had not been obedient. God had revealed to Joseph that even if his father and brothers ended up in Egypt, God would still deliver them to the land promised to his great-grandfather Abraham. Knowing the promise given to Abraham, it must have been on the mind of Jacob/Israel when he consented to move to Egypt. Jacob/Israel wanted to make certain that when his death came that he would be returned to the land of his father and grandfather for burial.

We often say that Joseph was a “type” of Christ, and we can see in this text a few more examples of that. First he was able to forgive, second, he would provide for everyone that chose to live in the land of Goshen, and third, he promised that perfect resting place when death came.

Joseph does not live near as long as his father (147 years), but lived to be 110 and enjoyed his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. When Jacob/Israel died, Joseph requested a leave of absence from Pharaoh to go and bury his father as he had promised. Pharaoh not only granted that request but sent a large contingent of Egyptian officials to accompany Joseph and his family back to the cave where Jacob/Israel was to be buried. Joseph likewise, when he was dying, requested the he be embalmed and carried back to Shechem to be buried on the ground that his father Jacob had bought from the children of Hamor, as recorded in Exodus 13:19, & Joshua 24:32. It took a little over 400 years for that to come to pass, but that is what is so amazing about Joseph's faith, next week or next year or 400 years, he was certain of his final resting place.

Pharaoh had always said “Joseph was filled with the Spirit of God.” Joseph's life revealed that spirit, by his integrity, wisdom and faith; If only each of us could have that said about our lives. God's spirit is revealed to the world and to unbelievers by such things as wisdom, integrity and faith.

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