Grades 3-6 Lesson 49 for Sunday School:
Joseph: Part 7
God’s Record Book
Author’s Notes: Today we’ll be concluding our lesson series on the life of Joseph. We’ll look at his reunion with his father, Jacob; then the final days of both Jacob’s and Joseph’s lives. We’ll review the many great things we learned about Joseph, but find that, in the end, the thing that God found most important about his life is something we might have skipped over, altogether. And since it’s God’s record book that counts, we’ll look at what God has to say about the faith of Joseph, and how that faith was demonstrated in his final days.
How many of you enjoy sports? Do any of you have older brothers or sisters who play on a team? If you do, you might know that most coaches keep records of statistics from their games. It lets the coaches look back through the season to see who did the best job in certain areas, and where players might need to improve.
In baseball, for instance, a coach will keep track of how many times a player gets on base, how many base hits and homeruns he has, how many runners score on his hits, and how many catches he makes in the field. And sometimes, at the end of the season, the coach will name an MVP, or Most Valuable Player for his team, based on those statistics.
Did you know that God has a list of some of the Old Testament saints who He considered His MVP’s? We can find them in the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 11 has a list of those who demonstrated greatness in one of God’s favorite statistics. Does anyone know what that is? Hebrews 11 is God’s record book of those who demonstrated great faith!
So what is faith? (Allow the students to explain what they think faith is. Then share this definition.) We can actually find God’s definition right at the beginning of Hebrews 11:1. It says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is believing in something we can’t see, and living in a way that shows what we believe.
Why is faith so important? God tells us in Hebrews 11:6 that “…without faith it is impossible to please him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” So if we want to please God, we need to be living a life that shows our faith in Him.
You might think that God is looking for some great, heroic feats to show that faith. But our lesson today is going to reveal that what God considers great acts of faith might be things we would overlook. Remember, God looks at our hearts. He knows why we do the things we do. And that is why Joseph is included in God’s list in Hebrews 11. But if you were to guess what he did that got him on that list, you might be surprised.
What great things might we think Joseph would be remembered for in Hebrews? (Allow the students to make suggestions, reminding them of the lessons over the last few weeks.)
These are all great illustrations of Joseph living for God. But in today’s lesson, we’re going to find that none of these are mentioned as the reasons for Joseph being one of God’s heroes of faith. Let’s learn today’s memory verse, then take a look at the final years and days in the life of a hero of faith…Joseph.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for the great examples we have seen in the life Joseph as we’ve gone through this series. Please open our hearts today to the truths of Your Word, especially when it comes to demonstrating our faith in You. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: God’s Record Book (Genesis 42 - 45 )
Last week, Joseph finally revealed his true identity to his brothers, including the youngest, Benjamin, who had come back with them to Egypt. But Joseph had not yet seen his father. We’ll finish up our series on Joseph today, beginning with that great reunion – one that his father, Jacob, never expected in his lifetime.
(the shocking news)
16And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house, saying, Joseph's brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.
17And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;
18And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.
How did Pharaoh react to the news that Joseph’s brothers had come to Egypt? He was very happy for all of them. And he immediately came up with a plan for the rest of the family to join them, there.
19Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.
20Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is your's.
21And the children of Israel did so: and Joseph gave them wagons, according to the commandment of Pharaoh, and gave them provision for the way.
22To all of them he gave each man changes of raiment; but to Benjamin he gave three hundred pieces of silver, and five changes of raiment.
Why do you think Joseph did that? Maybe he couldn’t help demonstrating his great love for Benjamin, since he hadn’t been able to do that for so many years. And there’s no indication that the rest of the brothers were upset by the extra gifts for Benjamin. Perhaps they realized that they deserved nothing but revenge from Joseph, and were just happy to have his forgiveness and the generous things he gave to them, too.
23And to his father he sent after this manner; ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt, and ten she asses laden with corn and bread and meat for his father by the way.
24So he sent his brethren away, and they departed: and he said unto them, See that ye fall not out by the way.
25And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father,
26And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob's heart fainted, for he believed them not.
What was Jacob’s reaction to hearing that his son, Joseph, was alive? He didn’t believe them, and fainted! Jacob was completely overcome by the news. Not only had his favorite son not been torn to pieces by some wild beast, but he was now the governor over all of Egypt!
27And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived:
28And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.
What finally convinced Jacob that what his sons were telling him was true? He believed them when he saw all of the things Joseph had sent back for him. Then, he was ready to open his heart to the shocking news that he was actually going to see his son, Joseph, again before he died.
But leaving Canaan to go to Egypt was not an easy decision for Jacob. Yes, he was thrilled at the thought of seeing Joseph. But Canaan was the land that God had led his grandfather, Abraham, to. It was the land God had promised to give to their descendents that were to number as many as the stars in the sky. But God had a reason for wanting the Israelites in Egypt. God knew He would one day demonstrate His power to the world in bringing the Israelites back up out of Egypt. So He reassured Jacob that it was the right thing to do.
1And Israel took his journey with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices unto the God of his father Isaac.
2And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.
3And he said, I am God, the God of thy father: fear not to go down into Egypt; for I will there make of thee a great nation:
4I will go down with thee into Egypt; and I will also surely bring thee up again: and Joseph shall put his hand upon thine eyes.
And that was all Jacob needed to hear, to convince him to pack up his belongings, and head to Egypt…and to Joseph.
5And Jacob rose up from Beersheba: and the sons of Israel carried Jacob their father, and their little ones, and their wives, in the wagons which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.
6And they took their cattle, and their goods, which they had gotten in the land of Canaan, and came into Egypt, Jacob, and all his seed with him:
7His sons, and his sons' sons with him, his daughters, and his sons' daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.
Jacob didn’t leave anyone behind. Verse 26 says, All the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt, which came out of his loins, besides Jacob's sons' wives, all the souls were threescore and six. Sixty-six…that’s quite a family to pick up and move. Yet Jacob obeyed the Lord, and He would bless him for that obedience.
And then, it was time for the moment Jacob had probably never imagined would come:
29And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while.
30And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.
Can you imagine all the questions that must have been going through Jacob’s mind? What had happened to Joseph all those years ago? Where had he been all this time? Why hadn’t he come home? The Bible does not record what was said between these two about the past. We only know that Jacob was then content because he has seen Joseph’s face one more time.
And Joseph had a new home already chosen for his family. With Pharaoh’s blessing, Jacob and his family moved to Goshen, “the best of the land,” according to verse 6. There, they would raise their families and flocks, while living separately from the Egyptians, but close to Joseph.
Jacob lived for seventeen more years in Goshen, in the land of Egypt with his eleven sons; close to his son, Joseph. He had time to get to know Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Mannasseh. In fact, he even adopted them as his own sons, so that he could give them a blessing, along with Joseph and his brothers.
But when Jacob realized he was coming to the end of his life, he made Joseph promise him something.
27And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.
28And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.
29And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:
30But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said.
31And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head.
What did Jacob ask Joseph to do? When he died, he wanted Joseph to bury him in Canaan, not Egypt. Jacob wanted to be sure that his sons understood that Egypt was not to be their final resting place. God had given them a Promised Land. And that is where His blessing would be, for them and for their descendants.
And when that sad day came that his father died, Joseph did just as he had promised.
(Genesis 49:33 – 50:6)
33And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people.
1And Joseph fell upon his father's face, and wept upon him, and kissed him.
2And Joseph commanded his servants the physicians to embalm his father: and the physicians embalmed Israel.
3And forty days were fulfilled for him; for so are fulfilled the days of those which are embalmed: and the Egyptians mourned for him threescore and ten days.
The fact that Jacob’s body was embalmed shows just how much respect Pharaoh must have had for Joseph and his family. Embalming was usually done only for the nobility in Egypt.
And it was that same respect that was given to Joseph when he requested time to go to Canaan to bury his father, as he had promised.
4And when the days of his mourning were past, Joseph spake unto the house of Pharaoh, saying, If now I have found grace in your eyes, speak, I pray you, in the ears of Pharaoh, saying,
5My father made me swear, saying, Lo, I die: in my grave which I have digged for me in the land of Canaan, there shalt thou bury me. Now therefore let me go up, I pray thee, and bury my father, and I will come again.
6And Pharaoh said, Go up, and bury thy father, according as he made thee swear.
7And Joseph went up to bury his father: and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the elders of his house, and all the elders of the land of Egypt,
8And all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father's house: only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen.
9And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen: and it was a very great company.
10And they came to the threshingfloor of Atad, which is beyond Jordan, and there they mourned with a great and very sore lamentation: and he made a mourning for his father seven days.
11And when the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, saw the mourning in the floor of Atad, they said, This is a grievous mourning to the Egyptians: wherefore the name of it was called Abelmizraim, which is beyond Jordan.
12And his sons did unto him according as he commanded them:
13For his sons carried him into the land of Canaan, and buried him in the cave of the field of Machpelah, which Abraham bought with the field for a possession of a buryingplace of Ephron the Hittite, before Mamre.
Has anyone here ever been part of or seen a funeral procession? Most of us have probably never seen one like this! Not only did Joseph and his brothers go up to bury their father, but they were also accompanied by Pharaoh’s servants, elders in Pharaoh’s house, and other Egyptian elders. Their procession was such a sight that when the Canaanites saw them, they assumed a great Egyptian must have died. And though he wasn’t an Egyptian, Jacob must, indeed, have been considered a great man among them.
The remainder of the book of Genesis records Joseph’s final days on earth. But before doing so, there is one loose end that needed to be taken care of. We don’t know whether Jacob was ever told the truth of what happened to Joseph when his brothers sold him. And we find in this final chapter that they were still worried that Joseph would one day seek revenge.
14And Joseph returned into Egypt, he, and his brethren, and all that went up with him to bury his father, after he had buried his father.
15And when Joseph's brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him.
Now that their father was dead, what did Joseph’s brothers think he was going to do? They thought he would find a way to get back at them for what they had done to him. And even though they had had a change of heart, a little of their old ways crept back in, as they decided they needed to deceive Joseph in order to protect themselves.
16And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying,
17So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.
What was Joseph’s reaction to this message from his brothers? It made him sad to think that they still felt so guilty, and did not understand that he truly had forgiven them. So he reminded them, again, that he knew that everything that had happened had been in God’s plan, for everyone’s good.
18And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants.
19And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?
20But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
21Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.
Joseph wanted his brothers to understand, once and for all, that he held no grudge against them, and wanted only the best for them and their families. He was very much like Jesus, in that way. Jesus had to suffer a great deal on our behalf, so that our sins could be forgiven. But He holds no grudge against us for it. Like Joseph, Jesus loves us and wants the very best for us, even though it was our sin that put Him on the cross. And it was Joseph’s faith in God that allowed him to see past his hurt, to what the Lord was doing through him, for his family and all those around him.
(Joseph’s final days)
And that leads us to the end of Joseph’s life of faithfully trusting the Lord. But even in his death, Joseph did one more thing that demonstrated his great faith in his God. And it was this last thing for which Joseph is remembered in God’s list, in Hebrews 11, of Old Testament saints who had great faith. Listen to what God said Joseph should be remembered for.
22And Joseph dwelt in Egypt, he, and his father's house: and Joseph lived an hundred and ten years.
23And Joseph saw Ephraim's children of the third generation: the children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were brought up upon Joseph's knees.
24And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
25And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.
26So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.
Did anyone catch anything that seemed like a demonstration of great faith? To us, what Joseph said to his family might not seem like a big deal. But to God it was. Let’s take a look at what Hebrews 11 has to say.
By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)
What commandment did Joseph give concerning his bones? He wanted them to be taken back to Canaan when the Israelites went back. How was that request a demonstration of Joseph’s faith? What did Joseph believe that led him to make this request? Just as his father, Jacob, had, Joseph wanted to be buried in Canaan because it was the land God had promised to Abraham. In wanting to be buried there, Joseph was saying that he believed in God, and the promises God had made to Abraham.
What else did Joseph mention? He mentioned the Israelites departing from Egypt, to go back to the Promised Land. And in saying that, he showed his belief that God would one day lead the Israelites back to the Land He’d called them to.
God considered these statements to be proof of the faith in Joseph’s heart. Throughout his life, Joseph seemed to be able to see past the circumstances that he was in, and keep trusting that God had a plan for it all.
And God is still looking for men, women, boys and girls of great faith, even today!
Maybe you play sports. And maybe you even hold a record for whatever league you play in. That’s certainly not a bad thing. But have you ever considered whether God might include you in His record book of faithful saints? No one is too old or too young to live a life of faith. And that is what God says we need in order to please Him.
Joseph demonstrated his faith in God in ways we might not have thought were very significant. But in God’s book…they were a big deal! What might you be able to do for God, even this week, to demonstrate your faith in Him?
How about starting with something as simple as obeying your parents, even when they’re not there to check on you? If you truly believe that God is who He says He is, and that He’s always there, and knows just what we’re doing and thinking - then when you choose to obey your parents, knowing that it’s what God wants you to do, you are demonstrating your faith in Him.
What if you have a family member who is very sick? If you pray to God, believing that He can heal them, and that He will do what is best for them – then you would be demonstrating your faith in God.
There are so many ways we can live out our faith in God. But the question that must come first is this: do you even have that faith in God? Have you trusted Jesus to be your Savior? If not, then until you do, there is no way you can please God. Because without faith, pleasing God is impossible.
As we end our series on the life of Joseph, let his life of unchanging faith and trust in the Lord be an example for you to follow.
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the story of Joseph. And thank You for his example of great faith, reminding us that we can show our faith, too, even in the little things we do. Help us to be faithful servants for You, Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. When he left for Egypt, Jacob left some of his sons at home to guard their property. (false – everyone went to Egypt)
2. Jacob adopted and blessed Joseph’s two sons as his own. (true)
3. Jacob was buried in a special tomb in Egypt. (false – his sons took his body back to Canaan)
4. Joseph had Jacob’s body embalmed. (true)
5. Joseph wanted to be buried in one of Egypt’s great pyramids. (false – he wanted his bones taken back to Canaan)
Heroes of Faith
We can demonstrate our faith in little things we do;
Showing that we trust in God by simply following through,
Obeying what His Word has said and trusting Him, alone.
Then we can be a hero when we stand before God’s throne.
Lisa DeVinney, July 2014