Community Group Study “Genesis: In the Palace”
Read Genesis 41:1-57
Two years go by since we last sawJoseph. The cupbearer was freed from prison and restored to Pharaoh’s service, but he promptly forgot all about Joseph; that is, until Pharaoh has a disturbing dream. Pharaoh dreamed of seven plump cows coming out of the Nile river, followed by seven skinny, ugly cows. The skinny cows ended up devouring the plump cows. The dream was duplicated but instead of cows the next dream featured stalks of grain sprouting up, only to be taken out by thin ears of grain. Pharaoh sought out someone to help him understand these dreams but no one could. At this moment the cupbearer remembered Joseph. The cupbearer also had a disturbing dream and God gave Joseph the interpretation of it. Joseph asked to be remembered when the cupbearer was restored, but that did not happen, until this moment.
Pharaoh called for Joseph and he is “brought out of the pit”. Technically, Joseph was in prison, but it is important to see how this term “pit” highlights this stretch of his life connecting the moment his brothers threw him into a pit and sold him into slavery to this moment where he is”brought out of the pit”. Next, Joseph gets a nice quarantine haircut (Genesis 41:14) and is brought before Pharaoh. Before giving the interpretations to the dreams, Joseph recognized that it was not in his own natural ability, but that God was doing something in and through him to bless the broken and hurting world (Genesis 41:15-16). We find out that the dreams means that Egypt will have seven really good years of harvest, followed by seven years of famine. This should be shocking to the Egyptians and difficult to believe because Egypt’s agricultural system depended on the flooding of the Nile and not as much on seasonal rains, meaning that they had a more stable food supply. This connection is highlighted by the location where Pharaoh had his dreams, he was standing by the Nile (Genesis 41:1). We also learned earlier in Genesis about Egypts security in seasons of famine because as the land of Canaan experienced famine people would go down to Egypt for food. Yet, Egypt will face some really difficult years ahead and God spoke to Pharaoh through a dream and used Joseph to do something to save Egypt and the surrounding nations from this coming famine.
The plan Joseph presented to Pharaoh was to select someone who could administrate the setting aside of grain during the plentiful years to prepare for the famine years to come. This would take a lot of faith in the dream that God gave them. Surely there would be naysayers who talked about overreactions and how setting aside this grain was hindering their prosperity; but at the end of the seven years of famine we will see that God used Joseph and this moment to save many lives.
To Joseph’s shock, Pharaoh wanted him to be the one to put this plan into action. Notice Genesis 41:38-39, Pharaoh rightly sees Joseph as wise and discerning, but more important that those things, Pharaoh sees the Spirit of God in Joseph. God had been preparing Joseph for this moment and for this time. Jospeh was taken from his place of privilege in his father’s house and cast into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, locked up in prison and forgotten. Yet, the entire time God was with him and God was refining him for such a time as this. Joseph accepts Pharaoh’s plan and Pharaoh put a signet ring on Joseph’s hand, clothed him with an expensive cloak and a gold chain. These items remind us of Joseph’s robe of many colors, giving us a picture of Joseph’s restoration and God’s faithful love to bless Joseph in the pit so Joseph can be a blessing in the Palace. Joseph will be used by God, filled with the Spirit, to bless a broken and hurting world. Follower of Jesus, filled with the Spirit, how might God want to use your life to bless a broken and hurting world? What kind of power has God given you in your family, workplace or neighborhood to be used for the good and blessing of others?
Finally, we often want to rush the work of God, but notice God’s patient and faithful love. Joseph was forgotten for two years which was bad enough, but we read that he was brought out of the pit when he was 30 years old meaning that this whole saga took place over 12-13 years. But God was with Joseph in it and demonstrating his faithfulness the entire time. Joseph realizes the faithfulness of God and commemorates it in naming his children. Joseph’s firstborn is named Manasseh meaning “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” Jospeh turns around how people forgot him, and instead forgets the hardship he went through… it was all worth it to Joseph. Next, Joseph named his second born Ephraim meaning, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Genesis 41:51-52). This does not mean that Joseph’s life was not difficult, but Joseph recognizes God’s faithful and steadfast love through all of it. We pray that you can say the same thing at the end of a difficult season in your own life because as you follow Christ, God is providentially working to grow you and bless you through it.
Joseph recognizes God’s faithful love as he is brought out of the pit and into the palace. God will use Joseph to bless a broken and hurting world and likewise God calls his people who are filled with his Spirit to do the same wherever he has placed them.
At your community group:
Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.
How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?
Read Genesis 41:14-16 and 41:37-45
What events took place in Joseph’s life to bring him to this moment where he is called by Pharaoh to interpret the dreams and placed into a position of power? Spend some time remembering Joseph’s story and how he ended up in the right place at the right time for a moment such as this.
What was going to happen to Egypt according to Pharaoh’s dream and Joseph’s interpretation? What was Joseph’s suggested plan? What qualified Joseph to be put into this position of power?
Pharaoh claims to see the Spirit of God in Joseph. This is the first time in Genesis that God’s Spirit is said to be in someone. If we believe the good news of the gospel, this truth is also true of followers of Jesus today. Look at Ephesians 2:11 and John 14:15-17. Because of the plan of God and the Spirit of God, Joseph is brought to a place of power to use his power to help and bless a broken and hurting world. What are some ways that God chooses to use his people to be a blessing to a hurting world?
An important part of Joseph’s life is remember the faithfulness of God. Joseph could have looked at his life circumstances with a different perspective on these events, but he praises God for the hardship he faced. How did he commemorate God’s faithfulness? How can followers of Jesus similarly celebrate God’s faithfulness today?