Bible Study - Joseph (9)
Wednesday 5th February
Joseph – A Life of Integrity and Wisdom
Reassurance for an Old Saint
Passage for Study: Genesis 45:25 – 46:7
Outline of Talk:
• The account of Joseph’s life now focusses on his father Jacob from the time that his other sons told him that Joseph was alive till the point at which Jacob reaches Egypt and sees for himself that Joseph is not only alive but is indeed ruler of Egypt.
• This involves a major shift in Jacob’s life; he must now leave Canaan (the promised land) and go to Egypt (which represents the powers which are set against God and his people). You can take account of this when you discuss why Jacob required reassurance from God at this point.
• It is important to remember that the need for assurance or reassurance does not imply lack of faith, although this may be the case in some instances. It often has to do with the need to be strengthened for a specific task (as with Jacob’s journey to Egypt) or generally for our ongoing service for God. There are many reasons as to why we might lose our focus on God and require his reassurance of what he means to us, and we to him.
• Note the reference to Beersheba (v. 1) and what Jacob did there. Beersheba was an important site relating to the worship of Jacob’s God (see 21 v 32; 26 v 23-25; and 28 v 10-15), so Jacob’s offering of sacrifices here is an important action on his part. It shows covenant loyalty and devotion to God and personal faith as he begins the journey to Egypt.
• God called Jacob by voice in “the visions of the night” (v.2). Question 2 asks you to consider and discuss six features of God’s revelation to Jacob, amounting to promises designed to reassure Jacob. God’s promises to us are also a personal matter; they apply to our personal life and we need to accept them as such, so that we ought to apply them daily to our life as it goes on, taking them with us into the future.
• God no longer provides a revelation of himself by visions such as these (see Heb. 1 v 1-2), yet he communicates with us by his written word, as the Holy Spirit uses that word to instruct, guide, assure, reassure, rebuke and counsel us (see 2 Tim.3 v 15-17).
Questions for Discussion Session:
1. Jacob is now 130 years old (see 47 v 28). He is an experienced believer who can look back on many episodes featuring God in his life.
a. Why then would he need reassurance as he set out for Egypt?
b. “I get reassurance from the fact that the likes of Jacob needed reassurance” – discuss.
2. God made six statements to Jacob in this “vision”, each amounting to a promise. Discuss how these would reassure Jacob and strengthen his faith.
a. “I am God” – God’s sovereign might. The word used is “El”, which lays emphasis on God’s sovereign power: he owns and regulates Egypt as well as Canaan!
b. “the God of your father” – God’s faithfulness. This relates to God in his covenant relationship with his people.
c. “there I will make you into a great nation” – God’s ability. (think of this in relation to 15 v 13-14).
d. “I myself will go down with you to Egypt” – God’s presence with his people.
e. “I will also bring you up again” – God’s victory over death (remember that Jacob was to die in Egypt, yet he would be buried in the “inheritance” of Canaan). See also John 6 v 39-40.
f. “Joseph’s hand shall close your eyes” (i.e. at death) – God’s sovereign control (contrast with Jacob’s conclusion in 37 v 34-35).
3. “There” in verse 4 is emphatic. God knew that Egypt would involve centuries of persecution and affliction. How is it that believers can grow in such conditions? Use the following in your discussion.
2 Cor. 4 v 17;
1 Thess. 3 v 7;
Rom. 5 v 3-5;
Rom. 8 v 18;
Philip. 3 v 10.
4. Note how frequently “Israel” is used in this passage rather than “Jacob”; what significance would you attach to this?
5. How would you use the teaching of this passage in relation to the following?
a. discussion with someone hesitating to take communion;
b. giving advice to teenage Christians about their outlook on life;
c. meeting the objections of an atheistic secularist who insists that “religion” is detrimental to human progress.