In the quest to achieve our goals and our dreams, things often end up far different than we imagined. Getting what we want might take us down paths we never intended, some of them for better and some of them for worse. This week, we’ll look at two bookends of Joseph’s story in Genesis, the moment he receives his dream and the moment it was revealed. What has changed in Joseph between these two points, and what can that tell us about learning to trust in and walk humbly with God?
What is the craziest dream you ever had (that you can remember) ?
Genesis 37:1-34 & 45:1-15
Read Genesis 37:1-11
- How would you describe the family dynamics of Jacob’s family in this passage? Is that significant?
Leader’s Note: Verse 2-4 illustrate an ongoing that there is longstanding enmity between Joseph and his brothers. This is not helped by Jacob’s preference for Joseph. It is also good to remember that Joseph is the eldest child of Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife. His older brothers are the sons of Leah, Jacob’s first, but less favored wife.
- If you were Joseph, would you tell your brothers and parents about this dream? Why/why not?
- What sort of person does this section portray Joseph as? Is this someone that should be emulated?
Leader’s Note: While it might be hard for us to see, these passages go out of their way to represent Joseph as a prideful and disrespectful. His tattling (v.2) and dreams (V.5,9) are meant to convey someone who is a bit full of themselves.
Read Genesis 37:12-34
- What did Jacob hope to accomplish in telling his dream? What did it actually accomplish?
Leader’s Note: Jacob’s brothers call him “that dreamer” before choosing to throw him down a cistern. It is clear that his dream only worsened an already tense family system.
- What are the various plans that the brothers come up with? What figures stand out?
- What sort of characters are Judah and Reuben in this story?
- They did not have a clear plan when they threw Joseph into the cistern. Why then did they take the ring and the robe? What does it point to?
Leader’s Note: These were symbols of Jacob’s love for Joseph. By stripping them off of him, they are responding to their significance.
Read Genesis 45:1-15.
- A lot happened in Joseph’s since what we just read. Can anyone sum it up?
Leader’s Note: Here is a quick recap: Joseph is sold to Potiphar > Accused of sexual assault by Potiphar’s wife > Imprisoned > Interprets dreams in prison > Interprets Pharaoh’s dream > Made a high official to help prepare Egypt for famine > His brothers arrive to get grain from Egypt during famine > Joseph provides them grain, but tricks his brothers by hiding silver in their grain pouches (making it appear as if they stole from him)
- How does this moment relate back to Joseph’s dream? Was the interpretation he had in Chapter 37 correct?
Leader’s Note: Joseph frames his dream in the context of God’s plan. Rather than rejoicing in the fact of his prominence over his family, he is overcome with joy for his ability to be reunited with them and to care for them.
- How does Joseph treat his siblings? How does this compare to their relationship in Chapter 37?
- How does Joseph appear different on this side of his journey? What is different about him?
Leader’s Note: Joseph’s arrogance and pride at the beginning of the story worsened an already tense situation. Here, he exhibits humility. Having gone through so much, and having had to learned to trust God, he seems to recognize that he is only a small part of God’s larger plan.
- Have you ever been through a tough experience that taught you something valuable? What was it like? What did you learn?
- Is humility an important part of the Christian journey? Why/why not?
Leader’s Note: 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 says, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Humility is not achieved by putting down the self; it is achieved in rejoicing in who Christ is, and what that means for us and everyone around us.
Diving Deeper: Judah’s Change of Heart
Read Genesis 44.
- What is going on here? Why is Joseph doing this to his brothers?
- How has Judah’s response and concern for Benjamin different from his concern for Joseph in Chapter 37?
Leader’s Note: There are many parallels to early chapters and parts of Joseph’s story. See this helpful commentary for a step by step guide.