BIBLE STUDY

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult)

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult)
DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult) || The Plot Against Joseph

Deeper Life Search The Scripture 24 July 2022

ADULT STS LESSON 29 – THE PLOT AGAINST JOSEPH

MEMORY VERSE: “And Reuben heard it and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him” (Genesis 37:21).

TEXT: Genesis 37:1-36; 39:1-23

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult) MESSAGE

The narrative in our text reveals how different incipient character-traits later diverge into different experiences in both temporal and spiritual spheres. On the one hand is young, innocent and Godfearing Joseph. on the other are his more elderly delinquent brethren. Between the two is their common father, Jacob, who is to be affected at least on the temporal sphere by the events emanating from the spiritual conditions of his children. In the end, the truth played out that righteousness brings exaltation, and sin a reproach (Proverbs 14:34).

Worthy of note is the special love that Jacob reserved for Joseph which he signified by the coat of many colours he made for him. The tension between Joseph and his brethren was because he reported their misdeeds to their father, and was evidently loved by him. His brethren’s correct extrapolation of dreams made the tension worse. on the other hand, Jacob’s affection towards Joseph was a natural product of Joseph’s filial submission and obedience to his father.

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult)

1. THE DANGER OF ENVY AMONG BRETHREN
Gen 37:1-36; Acts 7:9; Prov 14:30; 1 Sam 18:7-9; 1 Pet 1:17; Eph 6:9; Matt 5:44

Envy is a sin which is provoked in the heart of a sinner by perceived superiority, excellence or success of others. “And the patriarchs moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him” (Acts 7:9). Envy is a double-edged sword of wickedness, which if unchecked, has the capacity to destroy both its subject and object. The Scripture describes it as “the rottenness of the bones” (Proverbs 14:30), metaphorically portraying its spiritual, mental and physical debilitation, in contrast to the healing and health sustaining effect of a sound, contented heart.

Envy signposts the unregenerate heart and is a veritable expression of lack of faith in God and the absence of His Spirit. It was envy that drove Saul’s hatred against David and fuelled his plot to kill him. In the case of Joseph and his brethren, we cannot but notice that Jacob unwittingly contributed to the pains caused by division and envy in his family. “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours” (Gen 37:3).

The evil of envy in Jacob’s family which later caused him the agony of a broken heart was fuelled by his preference of one child over others. We must avoid such attitude in the administration of the family or the church. We should rather learn from the perfect example of our heavenly Father who “without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work…” (1 Pet 1:17). By giving His Son to “taste death for every man”, God, our heavenly Father, made no distinction with respect of race, gender, economic or social status.

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult)

Division, whether in the family or church, is counter-productive and destructive. Parents and ministers should therefore be careful not to appear to favour any person or group of persons above others. On the contrary, those attitudes and actions that emphasise love, inclusiveness and unity should be deliberately cultivated. Meanwhile, Joseph’s narration of his dreams to his already envious brethren was ill-advised and only made them to hate him the more. Believers should understand that it is the discretion of the wise to defer or withhold information which may create hatred, cause disaffection or inflame sinful or destructive passions.

It is instructive that Joseph obeyed the instruction of his father to go and “see whether it be well with [his] brethren, and well with the flocks” at Shechem. Although he was aware of the hatred and envy that lurked in the heart of his brethren, he obeyed his father’s command. Children should respond to the love and care of their parents by being obedient and honouring them. The Bible says, “A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master…” (Mal 1:6).

That Joseph obeyed his father and went to Shechem to know the state of his brethren in spite of their hatred for him is a lesson for contemporary believers. If those we are related to in the family, in marriage or in a community fail in their duty of care, love and affection to us, we are not discharged from our duties to them under Christ. Christ Himself says, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt 5:44).

Joseph gave proof of his godly love for his hateful brethren by his wholehearted and diligent search for them; going from home to Shechem and from Shechem to Dothan, exposing himself to danger until he found them. Indeed, “Charity suffereth long… endureth all things.” However, the hatred and envy in the hearts of his brethren birthed a murderous conspiracy. “They said one to another… Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him”.

The Scripture warns that “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). The sinful world may regard hatred with levity but God equates it with murder a gross wickedness that shuts out the sinner from the kingdom of God if not repented of. Hatred is evidence of lack of salvation. Joseph’s brethren planned to murder their own brother and to cover their sin with another sin lying.

The Scripture warns that “all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Rev 21:8). Reuben, with a mind to effect Joseph’s eventual release, prevailed on his brethren to cast him into a pit. Judah later convinced them to have him sold into slavery to the Midianites merchants who in turn sold him to Potiphar, the Egyptian head of Pharaoh’s guards.

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult)

2. THE DOGGED PROSPERITY OF THE RIGHTEOUS
Gen 39:1-20; Luke 10:42; John 15:16; 1 Cor 6:18; Prov 6:23-29; James 1:12

Our Lord Jesus Christ while in the house of Mary and Martha taught that, “one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). The new birth experience with its attendant grace of the omnipotent and omnipresent God is indeed the one thing needful for every man’s success and safety in life; and which no enemy can violate. This was demonstrated in the life of Joseph. Although his brethren stripped him of his coat of many colours, they could not touch his fear for God and the attendant virtue and wisdom. They separated him from his earthly father and family but his heavenly father’s presence and care was more than a replacement.

The presence of God with Joseph in his Egyptian slavery meant that his righteousness, industry, honesty, divine favour and prosperity were never removed. Potiphar soon became so impressed with his conduct that he “left all that he had in Joseph’s hand; and he knew not ought he had, save the bread which he did eat” (Gen 39:6). The coming of Joseph into the household of Potiphar was a great blessing. The grace of God in his life soon made an undeniable difference. It was a testimony to the fact that a Christian is a light to his world; lighting up wherever he is planted by circumstances.

Joseph’s industry, honesty and godly virtues, coupled with other manifestations of God’s grace made all that he did to prosper (Gen 39:3). Similarly, the influence we wield for Christ in our community can be measured by our righteous influence and wisdom in turning many to righteousness in Christ; making saints out of sinners. The example of Joseph as a slave in a foreign land rebukes all who, though not constrained by any hindrance, produce no discernible impact on the family or community, year after year.

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult)

The expectation of Christ is “that [we] should go and bring forth fruit, and that [our] fruit should remain…” (John 15:16). The quality and quantity of our spiritual harvest is a true index of our commitment to Christ and the quality of our spirituality. “And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes upon Joseph; and she said, Lie with me” (Gen 39:7). Every soul that truly loves God in this sinful and adulterous world is bound to face temptation at some point or another.

Accordingly, the path of life that led Joseph from his obscure place in a humble family to the great prominence of a prime minister in Egypt was not void of a fiery temptation. The temptation personified in the wife of Potiphar, who pressured him incessantly with the temptation to commit fornication. All circumstance of this enticement considered, Joseph was indeed assaulted with a severe temptation. But he countered the fiery temptation by the strength of his cultivated reverential fear of God. Thus, he said: “…how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?”

Fornication, like its twin counterpart, adultery, is indeed a great wickedness. The shame and reproach inherent in the sin of fornication and adultery are monumental. The Scripture vehemently abhors this horrendous transgression against self, fellow men and the almighty God. God warns: “Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body… neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexuals and lesbians)… shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:18,9,10).

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult)

Other Scriptures reserve the strongest condemnation for the sins of fornication and adultery; describing their destructive consequence as a fire in the bosom, a hot coal under’ the feet, sins that bring the sinner to an extreme state of spiritual and material poverty. Those who indulge in these sins without repentance will lose their precious souls (Prov 6:23-28). Through the grace of God, Joseph was able to overcome the temptation by fleeing from the temptress with determination.

The subsequent glory and other blessings that attended his life following this signal victory testify to the truth of the word of God that “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12). Potiphar’s wife presented Joseph’s coat which he left in her hands as evidence that he had attempted to rape her.

Lying and falsehood cannot be separated from sinners until they come to Christ. Potiphar, without proper investigation, cast Joseph into prison. “But the LORD was with Joseph.” The great power and comfort of God’s presence in Joseph’s life, beautifully amplifies the comfort of God’s presence in every believer’s life.

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult)

3. THE DOMINION OF GOD-CENTRED FAITH
Gen 39:21-23; 2 Chro 16:9; Psalm 34: 14; Heb 10:36

The light of God’s presence in a man’s life will distinguish him in any situation. Joseph was a remarkable example of this truth. What natural gift, intellectual superiority or persuasive oratory conferred this dominion over all circumstance upon him? Our text provides the answer which we will do well to take note of. “But the LORD was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Gen 39:21).

As we trace the path Joseph traversed from the moment he set out on his father’s errand to his incarceration in Potiphar’s prison, we discern the hand of God guiding and working behind the scene on his behalf. According to the Scripture, “…the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him…” (2 Chro 16:9). Joseph could indeed have been preyed upon by a wild beast as he was wandering in the field in search of his hateful brethren.

His brethren could have executed their original scheme to “slay him, and cast him into some pit”. He could have suffocated to death the dry pit into which he was eventually cast at the instance of Reuben. Potiphar could have executed him instead of imprisoning him. He could have been kept in a prison other than the one meant for Pharaoh’s prisoners. But God intended to fulfil the dream he gave to Joseph and since he retained his faith and righteousness, He would never have lacked the means of fulfilling His design for his life.

It does appear that Joseph understood the imperative of maintaining his integrity before God, and resting in the comfort of His word that “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19). The Lord made whatever Joseph did to prosper, whether in the house of Potiphar or in the prison. Although he was in chains because he was pursuing God’s will and righteousness, his faith in God still kept him above the water of despondency and loss of faith. He was never upset or disappointed; neither did he relent in the right ways of the Lord.

When we are tempted or have to endure adversity because of our faith, we should always remember that God does not forget His children. Like Joseph, we “…have need of patience, that, after [we] have done the will of God, [we] might receive the promise” (Heb 10:36).

DCLM Search The Scripture 24 July 2022 || Lesson 29 (Adult)

QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW:
1. What lesson can you draw from the opposite emotions towards Joseph by his brethren? Do you see any spiritual parallel?
2. Give an example of the ruinous effect of envy from the Scripture.
3. What can leaders and parents do to discourage the spirit of envy and hatred in the church and family?

  1. From the obedience and diligence manifested by Joseph to his father’s command, what should be a believer’s attitude to the great commission?
  2. How did the experience of Joseph demonstrate the truth that salvation is the most important possession of every man?

  3. Why is the sin of fornication and adultery a great wickedness? Mention its consequences in this present life and in eternity.

  4. What can we learn from the way God’s invisible hand guided Joseph safely out of all the dangerous possibilities he passed through?

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