The Big Idea:
Joseph was the favorite son in the family and received special treatment which was odd because he wasn’t the oldest. All of this led his brothers to betray him and sell him into slavery to get rid of him. Luckily for Joseph God was with him through every situation in his life. He was with him in slavery, false imprisonment, jail & famine. God eventually restores Joseph to a place of power in order to preserve his people & in the process Joseph becomes a blessing to his family. This brings an amazing picture of the Gospel in how Joseph forgives his undeserving brothers.
Point 1 - Trial and Suffering
Joseph was the recipient of many trials & sufferings. The thing to note is that “God was with him” through all of it. It’s pretty clear that trails & suffering were a part of God’s plan not only for Joseph, but for all of God’s people. What the world intends for evil, God uses to turn it into a blessing for his own kingdom. For example, Joseph being sold into slavery resulted in provisions being made for others in the midst of a famine. God doesn’t waste moments like these. In these moments we have to do exactly what Joseph did: trust God even when we can’t see him & believe that God is with us in the midst. It’s difficult to trust the promises of God when we’re under fire but we have to remember that God exists outside of time so he knows the future even though we can’t see it. The only way to remind yourself of that is to remember God not only sits on the mountain with you, but also walks through the valleys.
Point 2 - Forgiveness
Joseph represented the Gospel in amazing fashion. After so much betrayal and hardship, he never held a grudge. The man even said “am I in the place of God?” meaning it wasn’t his place to cast judgement on those who did him wrong, only to forgive them. We have all been betrayed in some fashion and the human response is to put up your guard and become bitter towards the other party. We treat forgiveness as if it’s a feeling when it’s actually a choice we have to make. As Christians, we have to learn to let the word of God dictate our actions, not our emotions and feelings. Here are seven proofs that you have extended true forgiveness:
Proof 1: Don’t Tell Anybody
- Joseph didn’t bad mouth his brothers all over Egypt.
Proof 2: Don’t let them be Afraid of you. (Humility & gentleness)
- Joseph said to his brothers in Gen 45:5... “don’t be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me here.”
Proof 3: Don’t Let Them Feel Guilty
- When Jesus forgives. He wipes away our guilt!
Proof 4: Let Them Save face.
- Don’t rub their face in it every time you see them. Joseph didn’t try to destroy them.
- Joseph treated them as if it never happened.
Proof 5: Protect Them From Their Darkest Secret
- He protected them from their dark secret. Joseph never told his dad what his brothers did. He never told the folks in Egypt.
Proof 6: Total Forgiveness is a life sentence.
- Forgiveness is a daily choice.
- You have to keep on doing it
Proof 7: Bless Them
- Finally, God asked you to pray for them and bless them from now on.
Point 3 - A Picture of Jesus
The point of this story is not to impress us with the life of Joseph, but to point us to Jesus. God took Joseph through all of these things to show a beloved son, a suffering servant, an exalted Prince, and the savior to a family. Scripture will always point us back to the only place we can find true salvation & freedom: Jesus.
What is the significance of trials and suffering in the life of a Christian?
How has God used trials and suffering to shape you? What effect did that have on others?
What role does forgiveness play in the Gospel?
After reading the seven proofs of forgiveness, is there someone in your life you haven’t actually forgiven?
We usually think of forgiveness as affecting only the person being forgiven, but can forgiving someone do for you?
How do you see Jesus in this story?
How has your week been spiritually? / What is God teaching you?
Questions for personal accountability
(these don’t have to be answered openly but leave your group with this thought)
When facing trials & suffering, do you fix your eyes on Jesus or do you focus on the trial?