Bible Study Lessons From the Life of Joseph
A study of the life of Joseph provides insight into the Christian belief in the rewards of trusting in God unconditionally and allowing Him to be the Lord of life in good times and bad. Joseph trusted in the Lord regardless of his external situation, and through him the Lord saved his family and an entire nation from famine while providing an example of faith to future generations.
The Life of Joseph
Joseph’s story is told in Genesis 37-45. After being sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph rose to a position of power and influence in his master’s house. He was eventually thrown into prison, falsely accused of attempting to seduce his master’s wife, but he eventually rose to a position of influence in the prison as well.
After God granted Joseph the interpretation of dreams for the royal baker and chief cup bearer, the cup bearer failed to fulfill his promise to speak to Pharaoh about Joseph’s release, and left him in prison for two years, until Pharaoh himself had a disturbing dream. God grants Joseph the interpretation of Pharoah’s dreams, and Joseph finds himself second in command over all Egypt and in a position to save the land from famine and reunite himself with his family.
Do Your Work as Unto the Lord
For Christians, Joseph is a shining example of a man who does his work as unto the Lord (Col 3:23) in times of prosperity as well as in trials. No matter what situation Joseph found himself in, he worked hard and remained faithful.
It is easy for modern Christians to convince themselves that they do not have the right position or influence to make an impact for God’s kingdom, but Joseph knew that he could have an impact in any situation, whether as a shepherd, a slave, a prisoner, or second in command of all Egypt. By trusting in God in good times and bad and never giving up hope, Joseph truly let his light shine among men (Matt 5:16), and everyone he came in contact with could see it. Like Joseph, modern Christians can live in a way that makes people notice divine influence.
God’s Timing in the Story of Joseph
After Joseph interpreted the dreams of the baker and the chief cup bearer in prison, the cup bearer failed to help him for two whole years. Two years is a long time to be sitting in prison,wondering if someone is going to fulfill a promise, and it stands to reason that Joseph may have considered that the Lord had forgotten about him, just as the cup bearer had.
If the chief cup bearer had remembered to mention Joseph to Pharaoh right away, it can be assumed that Joseph may have been released immediately. He would then have been a free man without a penny to his name and no place to call home. But since the cup bearer did not remember him until two years later, when Pharaoh himself needed an interpretation of a pair of dreams, Joseph was elevated to the second highest position in Egypt, and was able to save an entire nation and his family from famine and starvation.
Joseph may have felt that the timing was inconvenient while he was in prison, but the course of events served to accomplish a great deal more than could have otherwise been possible. Modern Christians who wonder if God has forgotten them in a specific situation often look to Joseph’s story. Religious individuals believe that this story is a testament to their faith in a divine power.
The life of Esther also serves as a powerful example of God’s perfect timing in believers’ lives.