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Bible Study - Joseph(5)

Session 5

God’s Man and Pharaoh’s Man

Passage for Study: Genesis 41:37-57

Outline of Talk:
* Joseph had an amazing change in his fortunes. On a day which began with him in prison it ended with him being in charge of all Egypt! As Pharaoh specified “Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you” (verse 40).

* An important feature of the passage is the way in which Pharaoh recognised in Joseph an ability that was related to Joseph’s relationship with his God. Hence the question in verse 38. This has implications for us today – for example, we should not see being an open and active Christian as an inevitable barrier to being given responsible positions in our daily work. Question 1 deals with this.

* Pharaoh’s appointment of Joseph to high office included those accoutrements of office that testified to his position (verses 42-45), including a limousine (the second chariot)! He also gave him a new name which would help to make his position acceptable to the Egyptians as well as a wife, probably for the same reason. Compare Daniel (Daniel 1:7). See question 2.

* The first two sons born to Joseph were given Hebrew names. You can discuss the significance of this in Question 3.

* In the last study mention was made of parallels between the events of Joseph’s life and those in the life of Jesus, especially the theme of “exaltation following humiliation.” The passage in this study has this too but in more detail. Again, this is dealt with in Question 4.

Questions for Discussion Session:

1. Pharaoh saw in Joseph qualities which he knew would serve the nation well, so he promoted him to high office with power second only to his own.

a. How should this affect both our thinking and our actions regarding Christians serving in politics, education, the judiciary or other positions of influence?

b. Pharaoh’s mention of “the Spirit of God” reminds us of New Testament passages like Acts 6 v 3, 6 and 10. In what ways should having the Spirit of God show through in our lives?

2. Consider the details of verses 42-45.

a. How could Joseph as a man of God accept a signet ring, fine clothes, a gold chain and a stylish chariot? Compare chapter 14:21-23.

b. Discuss the implications of Joseph accepting Asenath as Pharaoh’s gift of a wife, considering that he belonged to God’s covenant people and she likely to have been a pagan. Does 2 Corinthians 6:14 have any bearing on this in principle?

 3. What does Joseph’s naming of his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, and his explanation in each case, tell us about:

a. his consciousness as to his own spiritual identity and his relationship with God;

b. his determination that his sons would not be “Egyptianised”;

c. the covenant responsibilities, difficulties and privileges God has given to parents who belong to the Church.

4. Where in this passage do you see a foreshadowing of Christ’s relationship to his people regarding:

a. Ruler over all (Acts 2:36; Phil. 2:9; Eph. 1:22)
b. Provider of Life (John 10:10, and John 11:25-26)
c. Dispenser of Food (John 6:35; Acts 2:33; 1 Cor. 15:45).