Modelling God’s grace, Joseph welcomed his brothers into his home, responded to their mistreatment with kindness and blessing, and gathered into a family those who had long felt alienated. As we watch Joseph’s shamefaced brothers receive his outpouring of grace, we will be challenged to set aside our guilt and fear and accept God’s free gift of grace.
Struggling through reading the lesser-known Old Testament passages and long prophetic oracles may seem to have little relevance to everyday 21st-century life. But there are important things we can learn from the Old Testament. First, the New Testament is based on the Old Testament. Second, the Old Testament reveals the character of God. Third, the Old Testament has transformational power. Its message transcends time, geography, and culture. It speaks to everyone, everywhere, in every situation.
Though seasoned in walking with God, Jacob remained a victim of his own carnal clumsiness. Instead of seeing the Lord’s hand of protection on his sons’ lives, he became paralyzed by fear, worry, and resentment. Jacob relied on himself rather than on God’s strength. And his reluctance to trust God almost led to disaster. Sometimes we tend to be just like Jacob—expecting the worst rather than trusting God’s best.
After seven years of blessing and abundance, the famine was in full bloom. People from the surrounding lands came to Egypt for grain—including Joseph’s brothers. Upon recognizing the men who threw him into a pit and sold him as a slave, Joseph faced a difficult decision. Would he be the type of person who remembers what he ought to forget and forgets what he ought to remember? Are you?
God is never obligated to give us health and wealth, but the story of Joseph is an example of a man who was rewarded for his righteousness and kept his integrity intact. From him we can learn a lesson in how to respond to those who prosper and those who suffer.
In life, testing is more often than not “par for the course.” But sometimes God rescues us from our plight, bringing us into new circumstances. For 13 years Joseph had been a slave in Egypt. And all the while, His plans for Joseph were in motion, leading Joseph to the cusp of his release from prison and an unexpected blessing. Through Joseph’s example, we should be encouraged to trust God—even in difficult times of waiting.
The pain of unjust suffering—one of the most severe trials we can experience—tests our faith like nothing else. In our world today, we can’t escape it. As difficult as injustice is to endure, the greater challenge is facing it with an attitude that preserves faith. For the most part, we can’t control what happens to us today or tomorrow, whether fair or foul. But we can choose our attitude.
When it comes to temptation, our culture offers very little motivation to resist it. More often than not, we hear the voices yelling, “Give in! You deserve to be happy!” Truly, yielding to temptation is much easier than resisting it. Joseph provides a sterling example of one who could have cuddled lust and enjoyed its warm embrace but instead chose to resist its persistent, alluring offer in favour of righteousness.
The biography of Joseph is nothing short of remarkable, occupying as much or more space in Genesis than the biographies of Adam, Noah, Abraham, or even his father, Jacob. Joseph emerges from the pages of Scripture as a man with whom most of us can identify. Over his long life, Joseph responded to broken dreams and impossible circumstances with a faith that propelled him from the pit of slavery to the pinnacle of power.
While our impersonal world makes us wonder if we really matter, Psalm 139 tells us that we do matter—we matter to God. The Lord watches over us intently, He probes the deepest recesses of our hearts, and His love always reaches us no matter how far we stray. As we prepare to learn this last song in our study, let’s quiet our minds and silence the messages from the world that tell us we don’t matter.
Psalms 127 and 128 provide the encouragement we need to put the Lord at the helm of our families, and they show that blessings come if we keep Him at the centre of our lives and endeavours.