Our theme for the year is “Walking by Faith and Not By Sight”. The theme was chosen to encourage us throughout the year when we encounter tough times. Luke 17:1 tells us that offences will come in our lives. The goal of this study is to help us to understand how to overcome adversity when it shows up. For this study we have chosen to study the life of Joseph who overcame great adversity in his life.
Genesis 30:14-16 (Rachel betray Jacob)Genesis 34:13-29 (Simeon & Levi betray Jacob, Hamor and Shechem)Genesis 35:18-22 (Reuben betray Jacob)
Genesis 25:26-28 (Jacob was Rebekah’s favorite)Genesis 33:1-2 (Joseph & Benjamin was Jacob’s favorite)Genesis 37:3 (Joseph was Jacob’s favorite)
How did you feel as a child when adults seemed to favor another child over you? How do you feel now when you sense someone getting an advantage simply because of favoritism? What happens in a family or organization when trickery or deceit become the usual way of relating and getting things done? How do you think Rebekah and Isaac should have handled their natural preferences for one twin over the other? What does it say about their relationship that they let their preferences turn into competitive favoritism? Jacob’s objections to deceiving his father were more timid than principled. What do you think he learned about scheming and deceit from his mother? Rebekah tricked her husband and older son on Jacob’s behalf. Her brother Laban then tricked Jacob and Rachel on Leah’s behalf. What should Jacob have learned from the humiliation of being tricked by his uncle?
What do you think happens in our souls when we start feeling sorry for ourselves because our family backgrounds are less ideal than we wish they were? Who has an ideal family background? How can the love of God and the power of community help us overcome our family backgrounds? What does God transform at the time of new birth (2 Co. 5:17; Ezek. 36:26-27)? What resources does God give us to overcome any negative family heritage?
One of the strange dynamics in family life is whenchildren grow up they often repeat the mistakesof their parents. Dysfunctional families tend toresult in dysfunctional families. It’s difficult tounravel all the factors involved in makingfamilies dysfunctional, but Genesis 37 providesome valuable lessons by giving us a look atJoseph’s experiences in life.
In Genesis 37:3, Jacob gives Joseph a coat. Let’s take a look at how this coat encouraged poor behavior by Joseph. We want to look at the description of the coat, the significance of the coat and the qualification for the coat.
It is described as "a coat of many colors.“ (Genesis 37:3) These words are a translation of two Hebrew words. The two words together mean a long-sleeved coat, tunic, or robe reaching to the ankles. These coats were sometimes brightly colored, as "many colors“ suggests. But very often they were simply white with some elegant embroidered trim in the appropriate places.
It signified rank. It indicated that the wearer was an overseer or master. It was not the coat of the common laborer. He wore a shorter coat, normally knee length and sleeveless, which was more suitable for hard labor than was a long-sleeved, ankle-length coat. By giving this coat to Joseph, Jacob plainly indicated that Joseph was to have the privileged position of preeminence over his brothers in the familys administration.
These would vary from family to family, but normally one must at least be the firstborn to be given such a coat. Joseph, of course, was not the firstborn. Then why was he given the coat instead of Reuben, the firstborn, or one of the other older sons of Jacob. Some say because Joseph was the firstborn of the chosen wife Rachel. Others believe it was because of Joseph’s character but scripture says “he loved Joseph more”.
Insensitive is defined as showing or feeling no concern for others feelings. Genesis 37:1-11 shows just how insensitive Joseph was. 1.) Disrespectful to his father 37:9-10 2.) Degrading to his brothers 37:5-10
To instigate means to urge on or stir up. Joseph definitely did that, even though it might have been unconsciously done. Genesis 37:14- 23 shows stirring up the situation even more by wearing the robe to the field to get a report on his brothers.
To what extent do you think Joseph contributed to his brother’s irritation, and to what extent was he a victim of circumstances? Was he in any way a victim of God’s plans? To what extent so you think Jacob (also called Israel) contributed to the impending relational train wreck between Joseph and his brothers? What jobs did Jacob assign respectively to his older sons and to Joseph? Why would Joseph wear his special robe for his job?
What does this story suggest about the dangers of letting unresolved family conflicts fester? What might a father do in a blended family to build harmony and reduce animosity between step- or half-siblings?
Joseph arrived in Egypt in chains, his high hopes shattered, his life in ruins. The taunts of his brothers still rang in his ears, " Bye, bye, Joey! Happy dreams!" What had become of those fine dreams of his? dreams of power, dreams of position, dreams of prominence and the riches of the world poured into his lap? He was a slave! He is in a foreign country, away from family, on a less than perfect job. How do you move on while dealing with such dysfunction?
1. Don’t allow people to pull you into their problems on the job. Joseph was one of many slaves and servants and it would have been easy to get caught up in complaining about his situation but he didn’t. He simply did his job. Stay away from backroom and around the corner meetings to talk about the negatives on the job and just do your job.
2. Don’t allow your personal problems to effect your job performance. Potiphar did not care about how Joseph got there. He cared about what Joseph did while he was there. It’s tough to drop your feelings and emotions and do your job at times but we must learn to do that. Verse 2 tells us how we can do this. The Lord was with Joseph, and he became successful. Joseph did not show up successful, he had to work to get there.
3. Don’t allow your position to become your disposition. Joseph might have been sweeping the floor but he was the best floor sweeper there. We have to learn to be faithful over a few things before God can promote us to something else. Potiphar watched Joseph and saw Joseph working hard for God not him.
Potiphar was not the only one watching Joseph. His wife was watching Joseph to and she like what she saw. Power, positions, popularity and prosperity are all very seductive to people. Plus scripture tells us that he was a good looking man. She asked, insisted, nagged and finally tried to take it.
Verse 12 says that Joseph ran up out of his clothes getting away from her. This was a risky move for Joseph. Sleeping with her could have improved his current condition. 1. Extra Favor and Fun for Joseph 2. Eventual Freedom for Joseph
Verse 9 tells us that in spite of the possibilities for Joseph personal satisfaction he refused to sin against God. Early in his life Joseph had taken advantage of the favor that was shown to him by his father but here he proves to be wiser. Joseph dealt with the promotion by Potiphar a lot better than he dealt with the one by his father. Joseph remained humble.
Verses 19 – 20 are hard to swallow. Joseph did the right thing but still got lied on, slandered and thrown in jail. Life does not seem fair at times but we must seek to understand God’s purpose for our lives even though it seems to cause us a great deal of pain. Consider the following:
1. God takes the blessings and trials of everyday life to purge the sin and scum from the believers life. In Josephs case, the sin was pride, arrogance, haughtiness, and cockiness. God takes the blessings and trials of everyday life to teach the believer whatever he needs to learn to become the worker and servant and leader God wants him to be
3. God takes the blessings and trials of everyday life and strengthens the believer to make better decisions in the future. God wants to entrust us with more and more work and service, entrust us with more and more to do for Him and mankind. Every tough experience is to enrich our character; it is to teach us some trait that will strengthen us for future decisions. This is the reason God allows us to face tough times and terrible trials. We see this in Josephs life
4. God takes the blessings and trials of everyday life and teaches us the greatest of all lessons: He and He alone can take care of everything, both now and eternally. We must, therefore, trust Him. God is sovereign; He is in control of everything, of all the events in our lives and upon earth. And God works all things out for good to those who love Him, those who truly love Him. God has both the knowledge (omniscience) and the power (omnipotence) to work all things out for good. God is sovereign: He can control and take care of everything in our lives.
The remainder of this chapter shows that God is protecting and keeping Joseph. His dreams have fallen apart, he’s in prison, but scripture says that God is with Joseph. How interesting? Verse 22 says that God gave him favor even in prison. Joseph should be dead at this point for what he was accused of but God was guiding his every step.