January 24, 2021 – Genesis 37

Lesson Date: January 24, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Genesis 37:1-36

AIM: To lead students to describe the amazing transformation that took place in Joseph’s life, and to examine themselves to determine if God has ever transformed their lives.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Genesis 37 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the word “Transformation” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the word “Transformation” written on the board. Ask them to suggest definitions for the word (a complete or drastic change in appearance or nature). Some synonyms for the word transformation include renovation, makeover, alteration, and conversion.

Tell the students that words such as these are used a lot today. For example, some of the most popular reality TV shows are about home renovations and personal makeovers. We enjoy seeing something that is run down transformed into something beautiful.

Ask: “What does the word ‘metamorphosis’ mean?” (it refers to a complete transformation, such as when a tiny caterpillar is transformed into a beautiful butterfly).

Tell the class the title of today’s lesson is An Amazing Transformation. We will learn about the amazing transformation that took place in Joseph’s life.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Genesis.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (steps toward revival and renewal).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Gen. 35:2-3).
  2. Joseph’s Exalted Position.
    • Read Genesis 37:1.
    • Remind the students that Jacob and his large family lived in Canaan.
    • Ask: “What do we know about Jacob’s family?” (he had four wives, twelve sons, and at least one daughter).
    • Ask: “Would you describe Jacob’s family as happy and harmonious?” (absolutely not; there was strife and contention between the wives, which the children mimicked).
    • Read Genesis 37:2-4.
    • Tell the class Joseph was feeding the flock alongside some of his half-brothers. They said evil things about or to him, which he reported to his father.
    • Ask: “According to verse 3, what other problem plagued this family?” (Jacob loved Joseph more than the rest of his children, and he made Joseph a special coat to show off his exalted position).
    • Explain the following:
      • The word “colors” in verse 3 literally means “the palm.”
      • This was a long-sleeved coat garment not intended for someone who would be doing manual labor.
      • Further, it “marked the owner as the one whom the father intended to be the future leader of the household, an honor normally given to the firstborn son.”[1]
    • Ask: “How did Joseph’s brothers feel about this?” (they hated Joseph and could not speak a peaceful word to him).
    • Tell the class that Joseph, even though he was the 11th of 12 sons, was the most exalted and honored one of Jacob’s children. This favoritism and the resulting envy, strife, and hatred made Jacob’s family a powder keg, just waiting to go off!
    • Summarize: Jacob showed favoritism among the children of his four wives, clearly showing everyone that he loved Joseph more than the others. Joseph was number one in his father’s eyes, and everyone knew it.
  3. Joseph’s Foolish Pride and Arrogance.
    • Read Genesis 37:5-8.
    • Ask: “What did Joseph see in his dream?” (he and his brothers were binding sheaves in the field; Joseph’s sheaf stood upright and his brothers’ sheaves bowed down to it).
    • Ask: “According to verses 5 and 8, how did this make his brothers feel?” (they hated him more than ever).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 37:9-11.
    • Ask: “What did Joseph see in his second dream?” (the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him).
    • Ask: “According to verse 10, how did Joseph’s father respond to this?” (he rebuked him, rejecting the notion that Joseph’s parents and brothers would bow down to him).
    • Ask: “What does verse 11 say about how Joseph’s brothers felt?” (they envied him; they knew he was number one in their father’s eyes and their father had chosen him to rule over the family after his death).
    • Tell the students that Joseph’s dreams were clearly from God, because they foreshadow times when his family would indeed bow down before him (see Gen. 42:6; 43:26, 28; 44:14; 50:18).
    • Ask: “Given the dysfunctional nature of Joseph’s family, was it wise of him to tell his brothers about his dreams?” (no).
    • Ask: “Why do you think 17-year-old Joseph told them about the dreams?” (because they hated him for his exalted position; he probably wanted to show that he was superior).
    • Summarize: Joseph’s foolish pride and arrogance moved him to tell his brothers about his dreams, causing them to hate him even more.
  4. Joseph’s Evil Brothers.
    • Read Genesis 37:12-17.
    • Explain that Joseph’s brothers were feeding their father’s flocks near Shechem (locate Shechem on the Map of Canaan).
    • Ask: “According to verse 14, why did Jacob send Joseph to them?” (to see if everything was going well with the brothers and the flocks).
    • Ask: “How do you think that made his brothers feel?” (even more envious and hateful toward him).
    • The brothers moved on toward Dothan (locate Dothan on the Map of Canaan). Joseph followed them.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 37:18-20.
    • Ask: “What did the brothers plan to do?” (kill Joseph and tell their father that a wild animal had devoured him).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 37:21-22.
    • Tell the students that Reuben tried to spare Joseph’s life, intending to take him safely back home to their father.
    • Read Genesis 37:23-27.
    • Ask: “Why do you think the brothers stripped Joseph of his special coat?” (they hated it: the coat was a visual reminder of their father’s favoritism).
    • Tell the class the brothers threw Joseph into a pit with no food or water.
    • Ask: “According to verse 25, what did they do while their brother was in the pit, begging and pleading to be freed?” (they callously sat down and ate a meal).
    • Ask: “What did they decide to do, rather than leaving him to die in the pit?” (sell him to slave traders).
    • Tell the class Joseph’s brothers reasoned that it would be better to make a profit by selling him into slavery than to have his blood on their hands.
    • Summarize: Joseph’s evil brothers, moved by envy and hatred, initially plotted to kill him. Later they decided to sell him into slavery instead.
  5. Joseph’s New Position.
    • Read Genesis 37:28.
    • Ask: “What did Joseph’s brothers do?” (sold him to slave traders).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 37:29-33.
    • Ask: “Why was Reuben upset to find that they had sold Joseph to slave traders?” (because he was hoping to bring Joseph home safely to his father).
    • Ask: “How did the brothers try to cover up what they had done?” (they dipped Joseph’s coat into animal blood and brought it to their father, saying they had found it that way).
    • Tell the students that Joseph’s evil brothers let their aging father assume that a wild animal had killed Joseph.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 37:34-35.
    • Ask: “How did Jacob react to the news?” (he mourned and wept for a long time).
    • Ask: “What did Jacob’s sons do?” (they tried to comfort him).
    • Tell the class that Joseph’s evil brothers hypocritically tried to comfort their father, all the while having in their bags the money they made from selling Joseph into slavery!
    • Read Genesis 37:36.
    • Ask: “What happened to Joseph?” (the slave traders took him to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, an officer of the Pharaoh.
    • Summarize: Joseph was no longer the exalted son; now he was the lowliest slave in a foreign officer’s household.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask the students to describe Joseph’s position at the beginning of this lesson (he was the pampered and favorite son in a large household, wearing a special coat that marked him as superior to his brothers and the future leader of the family. Ask: “What was Joseph’s position at the end of the lesson?” (he was the lowliest slave in a foreign land). Tell the class that seventeen-year-old Joseph was hundreds of miles from home, in an unfamiliar place, serving as a slave to an Egyptian officer. He was in a strange land where people spoke a strange language, had strange customs, and worshiped strange gods.

Stress that this was An Amazing Transformation. Ask: “Why did this amazing transformation take place in Joseph’s life?” (because of sin: his father’s favoritism, his brother’s envy and hatred, and his own foolish arrogance).

Tell the students that those who know Jesus Christ as their Savior have experienced an even greater transformation. We once were guilty sinners, condemned and spiritually dead. In fact, we were far worse off that Joseph was in slavery. When we come to Jesus Christ in repentance and faith, however, He transforms us into beloved children of God, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ, who will spend eternity in the Lord’s wonderful home. That is an even more amazing transformation than Joseph experienced!

Ask: “Have you experienced the amazing transformation that Jesus Christ can produce? Have you been transformed from a guilty sinner into a child of King Jesus?”

Tell the students if they have experienced that amazing transformation they should thank God for His mercy and grace. If they have not experienced that transformation they should repent of their sins and place their faith in Jesus Christ right now. Briefly explain the plan of salvation (you can use the verses printed on the back of the Sunday School Member Quarterly, a Gospel tract, or the Roman Road).

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Encourage any who do not know Jesus to turn from their sins and ask Him to save them now. Encourage those who already know Jesus to thank Him for transforming their lives. Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to look for opportunities this week to tell others how Jesus has transformed their life.

[1] The MacArthur Study Bible

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