Bible Study - Joseph(8)
Joseph – A Life of Integrity and Wisdom
Wednesday 4th December
This Bible study is based on Genesis chapters 37-50 and is intended for group discussion after an initial talk by the minister. An outline of the talk is given in each handout for each study. The questions set out in each session of the study are intended to stimulate discussion and need not be kept to rigidly but all the questions arise from the content of these chapters.
The Big Moment
Passage for Study: Genesis 45:1-15
Outline of Talk:
* This is the moment that the whole account of Joseph’s life has been leading us towards – the “big moment” when he revealed himself to his brothers. It’s a passage full of intense anticipation and emotion. Nowhere else in the Bible’s account of Joseph’s character and actions do we find so much that reminds us of Jesus.
* Note that it is Joseph who directs all the proceedings, just as Jesus directs the circumstances by which he reveals himself to us. Joseph commanded everyone else to leave while he revealed his identity to his brothers. You can discuss how you became conscious that God was dealing with you personally and how that led to you coming to know Jesus for yourself.
* Another feature of the revealing (v. 3) is the clarity with which Joseph spoke about himself. (Compare the “big moment” in John 4 v 26 when Jesus revealed his identity to the woman at Sychar’s well.) They could not have misunderstood him even though they were “dismayed” (v. 3) at what they were hearing. One of the important elements of the gospel is the clarity with which God speaks about himself. He does not leave us in doubt as to who he is, nor does he leave unclear the essential truths about salvation. Yet it may take time before this becomes our experience.
* In verse 4 we see that Joseph encouraged them to come near him. We can understand why they may have been hesitant at this stage. Again, a crucial feature of the gospel is God’s invitation to sinners to come to him. This needs to be emphasised in the Church’s presentation of the gospel, in evangelism, witness, apologetics and preaching. See, for example, Paul’s urgent appeal in 2 Cor. 5 v 20-21, following his emphasis that God has already provided reconciliation through the death of Christ.
* Joseph then explained to his brothers how God had been the Arranger of all that had led to Joseph overseeing Egypt, including the part the brothers played in this! Question 3 asks you to think of how the same pattern and principle applies to Christ’s death and to our Christian experiences.
* In verse 14 there is no recrimination on Joseph’s part, only reconciliation, and only after that did his brothers talk with him!
* The Old Testament frequently takes up the matter of the “inheritance” that God promised and prepared for his covenant people. We have an anticipation of this in the allocation of “Goshen” to Joseph’s family (v. 10) and in his statements “you shall be near me” and “there I will provide for you.”
Questions for Discussion Session:
1. The discussion leaders at each table will briefly relate how they came to realise that God was speaking to them, and then others can do the same, but only if they want to. This should include the following:
a. The circumstances – Church, conversations, timescale, etc
b. The effect – serious prayer, concerns, thoughts about God, behaviour etc
c. The place Jesus had in your experience of this – did you realise immediately that salvation was through him? How long before you give your life over to him? What helped you towards this?
2. “Come near to me please.” (v. 4). In taking this as essentially the same as God’s appeal to us in the gospel, discuss the following:
a. The view within what is called “hyper Calvinism” that we should not appeal to people to come to Christ seeing God will sovereignly draw all whom he has willed to save anyway.
b. The reasons why it is important for us to remain close to Christ and the means we should use to try and ensure this.
3. Note the combination in verse 5 of “you sold me” and “God sent me.” Compare Acts 2 v. 23.
a. Why is it important for us to maintain “God’s side” and the “human side” of these events?
b. Why would this “balance” be important in our individual Christian experience?
4. Joseph arranged for his family to settle in the region of Goshen”, which in Hebrew means “light.”
Consider the following passages and discuss as many spiritual applications as you can think of in the time available:
Exodus 10 v. 21-23
Exodus 13 v 21
Psalm 36 v 9
Psalm 119 v 105
Isaiah 5 v 20
John 3 v 19-21
Ephesians 5 v 8
1 John 2 v 9-10
5. From this study:
a. What is the most surprising feature in the passage and why?
b. What is the most powerful feature in the passage and why?
c. If you could meet Joseph tomorrow what question would you most like to ask him about what happened here?