Lesson 5 April 28 - May 4

Joseph: From Pit to Palace

Memory Text: (Gen 39:9b RSV) "How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"

"Scripture from the NEW KINGS JAMES VERSION" Copyright © 1982: Used by permission

Sabbath Afternoon


The Early Years

(Gen 30:1 NRSV) When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or I shall die!"

(Gen 30:1 NKJV) Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die!"

(Gen 30:24 NKJV) So she called his name Joseph, and said, "The LORD shall add to me another son."

(Gen 35:16-20 NKJV) Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel labored in childbirth, and she had hard labor. {17} Now it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, "Do not fear; you will have this son also." {18} And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin. {19} So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). {20} And Jacob set a pillar on her grave, which is the pillar of Rachel's grave to this day.

(Gen 37:2 NKJV) This is the history of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father's wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father.

(Gen 37:4 NRSV) But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably to him.

(Gen 37:4 NKJV) But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.

(Gen 37:5-8 NKJV) Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. {6} So he said to them, "Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: {7} "There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf."

{Gen 37:8} And his brothers said to him, "Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?" So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.

(Gen 37:10 NRSV) But when he told it to his father and to his brothers, his father rebuked him, and said to him, "What kind of dream is this that you have had? Shall we indeed come, I and your mother and your brothers, and bow to the ground before you?"

(Gen 37:10 NKJV) So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, "What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?"


The Dreamer Cometh

(Gen 37:14 NKJV) Then he said to him, "Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me." So he sent him out of the Valley of Hebron, and he went to Shechem.

(Gen 37:18 NKJV) Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him.

(Gen 37:27 NKJV) "Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites, and let not our hand be upon him, for he is our brother and our flesh." And his brothers listened.

(Gen 39:2 NKJV) The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 214

His soul thrilled with the high resolve to prove himself true to God--under all circumstances to act as became a subject of the King of heaven. He would serve the Lord with undivided heart; he would meet the trials of his lot with fortitude and perform every duty with fidelity. One day's experience had been the turning point in Joseph's life. Its terrible calamity had transformed him from a petted child to a man, thoughtful, courageous, and self-possessed. {PP 214.1}

Arriving in Egypt, Joseph was sold to Potiphar, captain of the king's guard, in whose service he remained for ten years. He was here exposed to temptations of no ordinary character. He was in the midst of idolatry. The worship of false gods was surrounded by all the pomp of royalty, supported by the wealth and culture of the most highly civilized nation then in existence. Yet Joseph preserved his simplicity and his fidelity to God. The sights and sounds of vice were all about him, but he was as one who saw and heard not. His thoughts were not permitted to linger upon forbidden subjects. The desire to gain the favor of the Egyptians could not cause him to conceal his principles. Had he attempted to do this, he would have been overcome by temptation; but he was not ashamed of the religion of his fathers, and he made no effort to hide the fact that he was a worshiper of Jehovah. {PP 214.2}

"And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man. . . . And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand." Potiphar's confidence in Joseph increased daily, and he finally promoted him to be his steward, with full control over all his possessions. "And he left all that he had in Joseph's hand; and he knew not aught he had, save the bread which he did eat." {PP 214.3}

Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 214 (Continued)

The marked prosperity which attended everything placed under Joseph's care was not the result of a direct miracle; but his industry, care, and energy were crowned with the divine blessing. Joseph attributed his success to the favor of God, and even his idolatrous master accepted this as the secret of his unparalleled (p. 217) prosperity. Without steadfast, well-directed effort, however, success could never have been attained. God was glorified by the faithfulness of His servant. It was His purpose that in purity and uprightness the believer in God should appear in marked contrast to the worshipers of idols--that thus the light of heavenly grace might shine forth amid the darkness of heathenism. {PP 214.4}


The Seductress

(Gen 39:9 NKJV) "There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"

(Psa 51:4 NKJV) Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight; That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.

(Psa 105:18 NKJV) They hurt his feet with fetters, He was laid in irons.


From Prison To Palace

(Gen 39:22-23 NRSV) The chief jailer committed to Joseph's care all the prisoners who were in the prison, and whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. {23} The chief jailer paid no heed to anything that was in Joseph's care, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.

(Gen 39:22-23 NKJV) And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing. {23} The keeper of the prison did not look into anything that was under Joseph's authority, because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper.

Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 146

The part which Joseph acted in connection with the scenes of the gloomy prison, was that which raised him finally to prosperity and honor. God designed that he should obtain an experience by temptations, adversity, and hardships, to prepare him to fill an exalted position. {3SG 146.1}

While he was confined in prison, Pharaoh became offended with two of his officers, the chief baker and the chief butler, and they were put in prison where Joseph was bound. "And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them, and they continued a season in ward." Joseph made his life useful even while in prison. His exemplary conduct, humble deportment, and faithfulness, obtained for him the confidence of all in the prison, and those who were connected with it. He did not spend his time in mourning over the injustice of his accusers, which had deprived him of his liberty. One morning as Joseph brought food to the king's (p. 147) officers, he observed that they were looking very sad. He kindly inquired,

Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 146 (Continued)

"Wherefore look ye so sadly today? And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me them, I pray you" Then the butler related to Joseph his dream, which he interpreted, that the butler would be restored to the king's favor, and deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand as he had formerly done. The butler was satisfied with the interpretation, and his mind was at once relieved. {3SG 146.2}

Read Genesis chapters 40 - 41

(Gen 41:8-14 NKJV) Now it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled, and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men. And Pharaoh told them his dreams, but there was no one who could interpret them for Pharaoh. {9} Then the chief butler spoke to Pharaoh, saying: "I remember my faults this day. {10} "When Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, both me and the chief baker, {11} "we each had a dream in one night, he and I. Each of us dreamed according to the interpretation of his own dream. {12} "Now there was a young Hebrew man with us there, a servant of the captain of the guard. And we told him, and he interpreted our dreams for us; to each man he interpreted according to his own dream. {13} "And it came to pass, just as he interpreted for us, so it happened. He restored me to my office, and he hanged him." {14} Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; and he shaved, changed his clothing, and came to Pharaoh.

(Gen 41:33-36 NRSV) Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man who is discerning and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. {34} Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. {35} Let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. {36} That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine that are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine."

(Gen 41:33-36 NKJV) "Now therefore, let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt. {34} "Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt in the seven plentiful years. {35} "And let them gather all the food of those good years that are coming, and store up grain under the authority of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. {36} "Then that food shall be as a reserve for the land for the seven years of famine which shall be in the land of Egypt, that the land may not perish during the famine."

(Gen 41:39-43 NKJV) Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. {40} "You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in 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} Then Pharaoh took his signet ring off his hand and put it on Joseph's hand; and he clothed him in garments of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. {43} And he had him ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried out before him, "Bow the knee!" So he set him over all the land of Egypt.


The Dream Fulfilled

(Gen 41:57 NRSV) Moreover, all the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine became severe throughout the world.

(Gen 41:57 NKJV) So all countries came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, because the famine was severe in all lands.

(Gen 42:21-22 NKJV) Then they said to one another, "We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us." {22} And Reuben answered them, saying, "Did I not speak to you, saying, 'Do not sin against the boy'; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us."

Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 225

They answered, "Nay, my lord, but to buy food are thy servants come. We are all one man's sons; we are true men; thy servants are no spies." He wished to learn if they possessed the same haughty spirit as when he was with them, and also to draw from them some information in regard to their home; yet he well knew how deceptive their statements might be. He repeated the charge, and they replied, "Thy servants are twelve brethren, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan; and, behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is not." {PP 225.1}

Professing to doubt the truthfulness of their story, and to still look upon them as spies, the governor declared that he would prove them, by requiring them to remain in Egypt till one of their number should go and bring their youngest brother down. If they would not consent to this, they were to be treated as spies. But to such an arrangement the sons of Jacob could not agree, since the time required for carrying it out would cause their families to suffer for food; and who among them would undertake the journey alone, leaving his brothers in prison? How could he meet his father under such circumstances? It appeared probable that they were to be put to death or to be made slaves; and if Benjamin were brought, it might be only to share their fate. They decided to remain and suffer together, rather than bring additional sorrow upon their father by the loss of his only remaining son. They were accordingly cast into prison, where they remained three days. {PP 225.2}

During the years since Joseph had been separated from his brothers, these sons of Jacob had changed in character. Envious, turbulent, deceptive, cruel, and revengeful they had been; but now, when tested by adversity, they were shown to be unselfish, true to one another, devoted to their father, and, themselves middle-aged men, subject to his authority. {PP 225.3}

The three days in the Egyptian prison were days of bitter sorrow as the brothers reflected upon their past sins. Unless Benjamin could be produced their conviction as spies appeared certain, and they had little hope of gaining their father's consent to Benjamin's absence. On the third day Joseph caused the brothers to be brought before him. He dared not detain them longer. (p. 226) Already his father and the families with him might be suffering for food. "This do, and live," he said; "for I fear God; if ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: but bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die." This proposition they agreed to accept, though expressing little hope that their father would let Benjamin return with them. Joseph had communicated with them through an interpreter, and having no thought that the governor understood them, they conversed freely with one another in his presence. They accused themselves in regard to their treatment of Joseph: "We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us." Reuben, who had formed the plan for delivering him at Dothan, added, "Spake I not unto you, saying,

Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 225 (Continued)

Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required." Joseph, listening, could not control his emotions, and he went out and wept. On his return he commanded that Simeon be bound before them and again committed to prison. In the cruel treatment of their brother, Simeon had been the instigator and chief actor, and it was for this reason that the choice fell upon him. {PP 225.4}

(Gen 44:33 NKJV) "Now therefore, please let your servant remain instead of the lad as a slave to my lord, and let the lad go up with his brothers.

(Gen 45:3 NKJV) Then Joseph said to his brothers, "I am Joseph; does my father still live?" But his brothers could not answer him, for they were dismayed in his presence.


Christ's Object Lessons, p. 286

Through the Jewish nation it was God's purpose to impart rich blessings to all peoples. Through Israel the way was to be prepared for the diffusion of His light to the whole world. The nations of the world, through following corrupt practices, had lost the knowledge of God. Yet in His mercy God did not blot them out of existence. He purposed to give them opportunity for becoming acquainted with Him through His church. He designed that the principles revealed through His people should be the means of restoring the moral image of God in man. {COL 286.1}

Christ's Object Lessons, p. 286 (Continued)

It was for the accomplishment of this purpose that God called Abraham out from his idolatrous kindred and bade him dwell in the land of Canaan. "I will make of thee a great nation," He said, "and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing." Gen. 12:2. {COL 286.2}

The descendants of Abraham, Jacob and his posterity, were brought down to Egypt that in the midst of that great and wicked nation they might reveal the principles of God's kingdom. The integrity of Joseph and his wonderful work in preserving the lives of the whole Egyptian people were a representation of the life of Christ. Moses and many others were witnesses for God. {COL 286.3}

In bringing forth Israel from Egypt, the Lord again manifested His power and His mercy. His wonderful works in their deliverance from bondage and His dealings with them in their travels through the wilderness were not (p. 287) for their benefit alone. These were to be as an object lesson to the surrounding nations. The Lord revealed Himself as a God above all human authority and greatness. The signs and wonders He wrought in behalf of His people showed His power over nature and over the greatest of those who worshiped nature. God went through the proud land of Egypt as He will go through the earth in the last days. With fire and tempest, earthquake and death, the great I AM redeemed His people. He took them out of the land of bondage. He led them through the "great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought." Deut. 8:15. He brought them forth water out of "the rock of flint," and fed them with "the corn of heaven." Ps. 78:24. "For," said Moses, "the Lord's portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye. As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him." Deut. 32:9-12. Thus He brought them unto Himself, that they might dwell as under the shadow of the Most High. {COL 286.4}

Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, pp. 219 - 220

Every institution established by Seventh-day Adventists is to be to the world what Joseph was in Egypt and what Daniel and his fellows were in Babylon. As in the providence of God these chosen ones were taken captive, it was to carry to heathen nations the blessings that come to humanity through a knowledge of God. They were to be representatives of Jehovah. They were never to compromise with idolaters; their religious faith and their name as worshipers of the living God they were to bear as a special honor. {6T 219.1}

And this they did. In prosperity and adversity they honored God, and God honored them. {6T 219.2}

Called from a dungeon, a servant of captives, a prey of ingratitude and malice, Joseph proved true to his allegiance to the God of heaven. And all Egypt marveled at the wisdom of the man whom God instructed. Pharaoh made him lord of his house, and ruler of all his substance: to bind his princes at his pleasure; and teach his senators wisdom." Psalm 105:21, 22. Not to the people of Egypt alone, but to all the nations connected with that powerful kingdom, God manifested Himself through Joseph. He desired to make him a light bearer to all peoples, and He placed him next the throne of the world's greatest empire, that the heavenly illumination might extend far and near. By his wisdom and justice, (p. 220) by the purity and benevolence of his daily life, by his devotion to the interests of the people,--and that people a nation of idolaters,--Joseph was a representative of Christ. In their benefactor, to whom all Egypt turned with gratitude and praise, that heathen people, and through them all the nations with which they were connected, were to behold the love of their Creator and Redeemer. {6T 219.3}

So in Daniel God placed a light beside the throne of the world's greatest kingdom, that all who would might learn of the true and living God. At the court of Babylon were gathered representatives from all lands, men of the choicest talents, men the most richly endowed with natural gifts and possessed of the highest culture this world could bestow; yet amid them all the Hebrew captives were without a peer. In physical strength and beauty, in mental vigor and literary attainments, and in spiritual power and insight they stood unrivaled. "In all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm." Daniel 1:20. While faithful to his duties in the king's court, Daniel so faithfully maintained his loyalty to God that God could honor him as His messenger to the Babylonian monarch. Through him the mysteries of the future were unfolded, and Nebuchadnezzar himself was constrained to acknowledge the God of Daniel "as a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets." Daniel 2:47. {6T 220.1}

So the institutions established by God's people today are to glorify His name. The only way in which we can fulfill His expectation is by being representatives of the truth for this time. God is to be recognized in the institutions established by Seventh-day Adventists. By them the truth for this time is to be represented before the world with convincing power.

(p. 221) {6T 220.2}

Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 176

Joseph walked with God. He would not be persuaded to deviate from the path of righteousness, and transgress God's law, by any inducements or threats. And when he was imprisoned, and suffered because of his innocence, he meekly bore it without murmuring. His self-control, and patience in adversity, and his unwavering fidelity are left on record of the benefit of all who should afterward live on the earth. When Joseph's brethren acknowledged their sin before him, he freely forgave them, and showed by his acts of benevolence and love that he harbored no resentful feelings for their former cruel conduct toward him. The life of Jesus, the Saviour of the world, was a pattern of benevolence, goodness and holiness. Yet he was despised and insulted, mocked and derided for no other reason than because of his righteous life, which was a constant rebuke to sin. His enemies would not be satisfied until he was given into their hands, that they might put him to a shameful death. He died for the guilty race, and, while suffering the most cruel torture, meekly forgave his murderers.

Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 176 (Continued)

He rose from the dead, ascended up to his Father, and received all power and authority, and returned to the earth again to impart it to his disciples. He gave gifts unto men. And all who have ever come to him (p. 177) repentant, confessing their sins, he has received into his favor, and freely pardoned them. And if they remain true to him, he will exalt them to his throne, and make them his heirs to the inheritance which he has purchased with his own blood. {3SG 176.1}

The children of Israel were not slaves. They had never sold their cattle, their lands, and themselves to Pharaoh for food, as many of the Egyptians had done. They had been granted a portion of land wherein to dwell, with their flocks and cattle, on account of the service Joseph had been to the kingdom. Pharaoh appreciated his wisdom in the management of all things connected with the kingdom, especially in the preparations for the long years of famine which came upon the land of Egypt. He felt that the whole kingdom was indebted for their prosperity to the wise management of Joseph; and as a token of his gratitude he said to Joseph, "The land of Egypt is before thee. In the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell. In the land of Goshen let them dwell. And if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle. And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread according to their families." (p. 178)

(Gen 50:20 NKJV) "But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.