Joseph’s Brothers Return to Egypt | Genesis 43

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

May God Almighty grant you mercy before the man, and may he send back your other brother and Benjamin. And as for me, if I am bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.” (Genesis 43:14 ESV)

He replied, “Peace to you, do not be afraid. Your God and the God of your father has put treasure in your sacks for you. I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. (Genesis 43:23 ESV)

OPENING THOUGHT

When it comes to understanding the Bible, Genesis is a crucial book to know. Its first eleven chapters establish how the world was made and why it is now broken by sin. The rest of the book concerns itself with how God plans to fix humanity’s problem of sin. God promises to do this through the family of Abraham. Even though Abraham was a man of faith, he was just as marred by sin as anyone else (and his son, Isaac, and grandson, Jacob, were the same).

But the narrative now follows the life of Joseph, Abraham’s great grandson. After being sold into slavery by his brother, Joseph rose to a prominent rank as a servant only to be falsely accused and cast into prison. As a prisoner, Joseph was placed in charge of other prisoners, like Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. After correctly interpreting the cupbearer’s dream, Joseph beg him to mention Joseph to Pharaoh, but two whole years passed before the cupbearer remembered Joseph. In a blur of a moment, Joseph found himself removed from the prison, interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, and placed as second-in-command over all of Egypt. But God’s providence is displayed even greater when Joseph’s brothers come before him in Egypt.

Our present chapter deals with Joseph’s brothers’ return to Egypt. We find two major sections of the text. First, the brothers must convince their father, Jacob, to allow Benjamin to travel with them to Egypt. The patriarch’s struggle to entrust his beloved son into the hands of his other sons and ultimately God is a battle with which many of us can relate. Second, the brothers are invited to a lavish dinner with Joseph in Egypt, wherein Benjamin is given five times the portion of his brothers. Here Joseph’s brothers are forced to confront their envy, jealousy, and covetousness, the very sins that caused them to sell Joseph so many years ago.

GROUP DISCUSSION

Read chapter 43 and discuss the following.

  1. The chapter opens with the brothers needing to return to Egypt, but Jacob is still hesitant about sending Benjamin with them. How does Judah’s answer to his father differ from Reuben’s in the previous chapter? Why might we call Judah a wise leader? Why might we call Reuben foolish?
  2. Jacob eventually realizes that he must let Benjamin, his treasured son,  go to Egypt, trusting God and Judah to bring him home safely. What do you similarly treasure? Have you similarly experienced leaving them in the hands of God and others? What benefit is there in surrendering our treasures over to God?
  3. At the banquet, Joseph gives Benjamin five times the portion of his other brothers. This is meant to test the jealousy which they had for Joseph long ago. How does your heart respond when other receive more from God than you? Why is jealousy such a destructive sin? How can we combat jealousy in our lives?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Because all Scripture profits us through teaching, reproving, correcting, and training us, reflect upon the studied text, and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What has God taught you through this text (about Himself, sin, humanity, etc.)?
  • What sin has God convicted or reproved you of through this text?
  • How has God corrected you (i.e. your theology, thinking, lifestyle, etc.) through this text?
  • Pray through the text, asking God to train you toward righteousness by conforming you to His Word.

Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt | Genesis 42

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us. (Genesis 42:21 ESV)

He said to his brothers, “My money has been put back; here it is in the mouth of my sack!” At this their hearts failed them, and they turned trembling to one another, saying, “What is this that God has done to us?” (Genesis 42:28 ESV)

OPENING THOUGHT

Genesis, the first book of the Bible, can easily be divided into two main parts. First, chapter one through eleven deal with the shaping of the world as we know it through creation, humanity’s fall into sin, the great flood, and the humanity’s dispersion at Babel. Second, chapters twelve through fifty focus upon Abraham and how God would use his family to bring salvation to all of humanity.

We now follow the life of Joseph, Abraham’s great grandson. After being sold into slavery by his brother, Joseph rose to a prominent rank as a servant only to be falsely accused and cast into prison. As a prisoner, Joseph was placed in charge of other prisoners, like Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker. After correctly interpreting the cupbearer’s dream, Jospeh beg him to mention Joseph to Pharaoh, but two whole years passed before the cupbearer remembered Joseph. In a blur of a moment, Joseph found himself removed from the prison, interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, and placed as second-in-command over all of Egypt. In all of these things, God’s providence has been on grand display, but Joseph’s story isn’t finished yet.

Today we learn that the famine struck Canaan as well, forcing Jacob to send his ten older sons to Egypt to buy food. Of course, the men must buy their food from Joseph, who is now an Egyptian noble named Zaphenath-paneah, and although they don’t recognize Joseph, he realizes who they are. Joseph then proceeds to test his brothers, casting them into prison and speaking roughly to them. But all of this is God providentially bringing the men’s guilt over Joseph to the surface that they might find true repentance.

GROUP DISCUSSION

Read chapter 42 and discuss the following.

  1. Jacob derides his sons for doing nothing when they know that Egypt has food to buy. Of course, their reluctance may have come from a fear of traveling to the land where they thought Joseph was most likely a slave. Similarly, can you think of times in your life when sin caused you to shirk your responsibilities?
  2. God uses Joseph’s harsh treatment of his brothers to remind them of their bloodguilt against Joseph. Can you think of a similar time when God used circumstances to convict you of sin? When is guilt beneficial, and when it is harmful? What is the ultimately goal of our guilt?
  3. When Joseph’s brothers find their money still in their bags, they are afraid, knowing that they might be accused of stealing whenever they return, and they held God responsible (and He was).  How can you resonate with the men’s fear of God? What is a biblical fear of God, and why is it important?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Because all Scripture profits us through teaching, reproving, correcting, and training us, reflect upon the studied text, and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What has God taught you through this text (about Himself, sin, humanity, etc.)?
  • What sin has God convicted or reproved you of through this text?
  • How has God corrected you (i.e. your theology, thinking, lifestyle, etc.) through this text?
  • Pray through the text, asking God to train you toward righteousness by conforming you to His Word. 

Joseph Sold into Slavery | Genesis 37

Week 1 | Sermon

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 37:28 ESV).

If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:14 ESV)
OPENING THOUGHT

Genesis is the book of beginnings. It opens with eleven chapters that describe the creation of the world, humanity’s fall into sin, the great flood that only Noah’s family survived, and the scattering of humanity at Babel. In the creation account, we learn that God created the world good and even made humanity in His image. We were not content, however, to be made in God’s likeness. We wanted to be God, and so we disobeyed, bringing sin onto the earth. But even in the midst of our sin, God showed grace beyond measure, proclaiming hope that one day sin would be defeated for good. Indeed, these chapters are essential for properly understanding both the Bible and ourselves.

Beginning with chapter twelve, Genesis takes a significant shift in perspective by focusing upon a man named Abram instead of on humanity in general. Through his faith walk with God, the LORD promises to bless him by giving him a son through his barren wife, blessing all the nations through him, and giving him all the land of Canaan. Abraham then dies, only seeing the first of God’s promises fulfilled. The narrative then follows Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, as he attempts to follow God but repeatedly trusts in his own strength instead.

We now come to the fourth and final section of Genesis, which focuses predominately on Jacob’s son, Joseph. As the eleventh of twelve sons, Joseph could have been the runt of his family but was favorited by his father instead. This favoritism ultimately causes Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery, leading to one of the most well-known stories of the Bible. Unlike the lives of Abraham and Jacob, Joseph’s life is marked by stunning displays of God’s glory; rather, Joseph’s life is saturated in the providence of God. Although he faces abuse, slavery, and prison, God’s plan is present throughout and ultimately leading to Joseph becoming Pharaoh’s right hand. As we dive into Joseph’s story, may we become more aware of the everyday glories of God around us.

GROUP DISCUSSION

Read chapter 37 and discuss the following.

  1. A great benefit of reading narratives in Scripture is that we often are able to become aware of our own sin through reading these ancient sins. Do you presently wrestle with any sins present in this chapter (i.e. Jacob’s favoritism, Judah’s greed, the brothers’ unwillingness to reconcile, etc.)?
  2. How does this chapter serve as a stern warning against the dangers of unrepentant jealousy?
  3. Because no sin is ever committed in isolation, Jacob is grievously impacted by his sons’ sin. Can you recall a time when your sin hurt someone else? How might “secret” sins still harm others?
  4. The chapter ends with a cliffhanger, informing us that Joseph’s story is only beginning and that his visions might still become reality. How might this example of God’s providence provide hope for those suffering?

PERSONAL REFLECTION

Because all Scripture profits us through teaching, reproving, correcting, and training us, reflect upon the studied text, and ask yourself the following questions.

  • What has God taught you through this text (about Himself, sin, humanity, etc.)?
  • What sin has God convicted or reproved you of through this text?
  • How has God corrected you (i.e. your theology, thinking, lifestyle, etc.) through this text?
  • Pray through the text, asking God to train you toward righteousness by conforming you to His Word.

Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis 20)

Abraham Study Guide (Week 11)

SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION

Then God said to him in the dream, Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of you heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her. (Genesis 20:6)

Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, and also healed his wife and female slaves so that they bore children. (Genesis 20:17)

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)

OPENING THOUGHT

From a cursed, pagan to the epitome of a faithful believer: that is the heart of Abraham’s story. His willingness to trust God and obey His commands is a testament of how every Christian should live. His readiness to intercede in prayer for sinners stands as an example of how we should pray. Even Lot’s rescue last week from the destruction of Sodom was attributed to God remembering Abraham.

But this is not to say that Abraham is without his sins, and today, we see one of Abraham’s sins repeated. In a previous journey to Egypt, Abraham passed off his wife, Sarah, as his sister in order to avoid being killed, so that the king could take her. Of course, this resulted in the king buying Sarah from Abraham (as a side note, selling your wife to another man is always frown upon). However, we now read of Abraham doing the same thing again with another king named Abimelech.

Throughout this odd story, two great lessons stand out. First, even though Abraham sort of led Abimelech into sin, the king was quick to repent of his sin. Rightfully, he expressed his frustration to Abraham, but he was still quick to accept responsibility for his own actions. Second, the faithful providence of God toward Abraham is astounding. The sovereign hand of God keeps Abimelech from a great sin against Abraham and Sarah and governs the wombs of Abimelech’s wife and servants.

Read verses 1-2 and discuss the following.

  1. As Abraham journeys into Gerar, he tells people once again that Sarah is his sister. Because of this, the king of Gerar, Abimelech, takes Sarah to be one of his wives. This is the second time now that Abraham has given away his wife in order to save his own skin, revealing his lack of faith in God’s protection. How might times of our lack of faith similarly lead to sinful actions?

Read verses 3-7 and discuss the following.

  1. Abimelech responds to the LORD’s warning by claiming that he would have never taken Sarah if Abraham had told him the truth. God then responds by assuring Abimelech that He knew of the king’s integrity, so He kept Abimelech from sinning. What does this show us about the providence of God?

Read verses 8-13 and discuss the following.

  1. Understandably, Abimelech wishes to know why Abraham lied to him about Sarah being his sister. Abraham then explains that his deception was not technically a lie because Sarah is his half-sister. Did Abraham give a sufficient excuse for why he deceived Abimelech? Is there ever a sufficient reason behind why we sin?

Read verses 14-18 and discuss the following.

  1. Though God knew of Abimelech’s integrity, He still warns him that he must return Sarah to Abraham or be killed. Abimelech responds by obeying the LORD’s commands. How is this a picture of repentance?
  2. After Abimelech returns Sarah to Abraham, Abraham prays to God for Abimelech and his people. The LORD then heals the wombs of all the women. How is this a testament to God’s faithfulness and graciousness toward Abraham? What does this show us about the importance of prayer?

ACTIONS TO CONSIDER

  • Consider Abimelech’s quick repentance, even though Abraham caused him to sin, and consider your own tendency toward repentance. Ask the LORD for a heart that is quick to repent, even under difficult circumstances.
  • Notice the faithful providence of God in caring for Abraham even when he sinned. Recall times when God has been similarly faithful with you and thank Him.