February 7, 2021 -Genesis 40 – 41

Lesson Date: February 7, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Genesis 40:1-8, 13-14, 19-23; 41:1-7, 15-16, 25-32, 38-46, 56-57

AIM: To lead students to recognize that Joseph was God’s instrument used by God to bring glory to God, and to encourage them to submit to God as His instrument and ask Him to use them to bring glory to Him.


Before class: Read the notes on Genesis 40 – 41 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. God made us to learn through our senses, and the more senses are involved the greater the impact and potential learning. If possible, bring to class some pictures of a musician, an artist, and a surgeon. Even better would be to bring an actual item such as a recording of beautiful instrumental music or a picture of a beautiful painting.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask the class the following questions:

“Who is responsible for producing beautiful music – the musical instrument or the skilled musician?” (the musician). “Can the musical instrument produce beautiful music without the musician?” (no).

“Who is responsible for producing a beautiful painting – the paintbrush or the skilled artist?” (the artist). “Can the paintbrush produce a beautiful painting without the artist?” (no).

“Who is responsible for performing delicate surgery – the scalpel or the skilled doctor?” (the doctor). “Can the scalpel perform delicate surgery without the doctor?” (no).

Tell the class that the musical instrument, the paintbrush, and the scalpel are important tools, but they cannot do anything without the skilled professionals who use them. They are merely instruments in the hands of their skilled human operators.

Tell the students in today’s lesson we will see how God used Joseph as His instrument to do His will and bring Him glory. We’ll also ask God to use us as His instruments for His glory.



  1. Review.
    • Tell the class that we are in the final month of our six-month study of the Old Testament book of Genesis.
    • Ask: “Why was Joseph in Egypt?” (his jealous and hateful brothers sold him into slavery).
    • Ask: “Why was Joseph in prison?” (Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of trying to rape her).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Gen. 39:9).
  2. Pharaoh’s Butler and Baker Were Sent to Prison.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 40:1-4.
    • Ask: “Why were Pharaoh’s chief butler (cupbearer) and baker sent to prison?” (they did something that offended Pharaoh and he was very angry with them).
    • Ask: “Who was placed in charge of them?” (Joseph).
    • Remind the class that Joseph had been promoted to a position of high trust in the prison.
    • Read Genesis 40:5-7.
    • Tell the class that the butler and the baker both had troubling dreams on the same night.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 40:8.
    • Ask: “What did Joseph offer to do?” (tell them what the dreams meant).
    • Ask: “To whom did Joseph give credit for the ability to interpret dreams?” (God).
    • Stress that like the musical instrument, paintbrush, and scalpel, Joseph was merely an instrument in God’s hand.
    • Summarize: Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker ended up in prison under Joseph’s care. Joseph offered to use the ability God gave him to interpret their dreams.
  3. Joseph Interpreted the Dreams of the Butler and Baker.
    • Explain the following:
      • The butler told Joseph his dream.
      • He dreamed he saw a vine with three branches full of ripe grapes.
      • He squeezed the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup.
    • Read Genesis 40:13-14.
    • Ask: “What did Joseph say would happen to the butler?” (Pharaoh would bring him out of prison and restore him to his place of service).
    • Ask: “According to verse 14, what did Joseph ask the butler to do for him?” (remember him and tell Pharaoh about him, because he was not guilty of any crime).
    • Explain the following:
      • The baker told Joseph his dream.
      • He dreamed he was wearing three baskets on his head.
      • The top basket was filled with all sorts of baked items, but the birds came along and ate the baked goods.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 40:19.
    • Ask: “What did Joseph say would happen to the baker?” (Pharaoh would execute him).
    • Read Genesis 40:20-22.
    • Ask: “What happened?” (the interpretations Joseph gave the butler and baker came true).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 40:23.
    • Ask: “What did the chief butler do?” (forgot all about Joseph).
    • Explain the following:
      • Some people today are intrigued by dreams and their interpretations.
      • We must remember, however, that God does NOT need to communicate with us through dreams anymore, because we have His completed word – the Bible.
      • We should never trust a dream or someone who claims to have had one if the message of the dream does not perfectly match the teachings of the Bible.
      • God is not giving new revelation to people today through dreams.
    • Summarize: God enabled Joseph to perfectly interpret the dreams of the butler and baker. When the butler was released from prison, however, he forgot all about Joseph.
  4. Pharaoh’s Troubling Dreams.
    • Read Genesis 41:1-7.
    • Explain the following:
      • Pharaoh was very troubled by his dreams.
      • None of his magicians or wise men could interpret the dreams.
      • Finally Pharaoh’s butler remembered Joseph.
      • Joseph was brought before Pharaoh.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 41:15-16.
    • Ask: “Who did Joseph credit with his ability to interpret dreams?” (God).
    • Tell the class Joseph could have claimed credit and made himself look good to Pharaoh (the most powerful man in the land). Instead, he said it was God who would reveal the meaning of Pharaoh’s dreams.
    • Tell the students Pharaoh told his dreams to Joseph.
    • Read Genesis 41:25-32.
    • Ask: “According to verses 25 and 28, who did Joseph say was revealing the future to Pharaoh?” (God).
    • Ask: “What message did Joseph say God was giving Pharaoh?” (there would be seven years of abundance followed by seven years of terrible famine).
    • Ask: “According to verse 32, why did God give Pharaoh two dreams that meant the same thing?” (He wanted pharaoh to know that these things would come to pass very soon).
    • Summarize: Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s troubling dreams. God was revealing to Pharaoh that seven years of plenty would be followed by seven years of famine.
  5. Joseph was Promoted and Managed Egypt’s Resources.
    • Tell the class that Joseph told Pharaoh to select a very wise man to oversee the resources of Egypt, storing up a portion of the abundant harvest over the next seven years so Egypt would have food for the seven years of famine.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 41:38-40.
    • Ask: “What did Pharaoh ask?” (“Where can we find such a godly and wise man?”)
    • Ask: “What did Pharaoh do?” (he made Joseph ruler of all Egypt under his authority).
    • Read Genesis 41:41-46.
    • Explain the following:
      • Pharaoh gave Joseph his ring (with which he could “sign” official documents in the name of Pharaoh), beautiful new clothing, and a fine chariot in which he could ride immediately behind Pharaoh’s chariot.
      • All the Egyptians had to bow before Joseph.
      • Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian name and an Egyptian wife.
    • Ask: “According to verse 46, how old was Joseph?” (30).
    • Remind the students that Joseph was sold into slavery when he was 17 years old; he had been a slave and prisoner in Egypt for 13 years – almost half his life!
    • Explain that the remainder of the chapter says during the seven plentiful years Joseph gathered up all the surplus food into storage cities. During those plentiful years Joseph and his wife had two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 41:56-57.
    • Tell the class the famine was severe: all the Egyptians, as well as people from other countries, came to buy food from Joseph.
    • Summarize: Pharaoh promoted Joseph to be the second-most powerful man in Egypt. Joseph wisely managed Egypt’s resources during the seven plentiful years.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Ask: “Was Joseph some sort of supernatural being with special supernatural powers?” (no – he was an ordinary human being). Ask: “Did Joseph claim credit for his ability to interpret dreams?” (no – he gave all the credit and glory to God). Tell the students that Joseph was a willing instrument in God’s hands.

Ask: “What can we learn from this lesson?” Share the following truths with the class:

  • God’s timing is not always our timing. Joseph did not choose to spend 13 years as a slave and in prison, but God used that time to develop humility, character, and wisdom in Joseph.
  • Like Joseph, we should give glory to God for the things He enables us to do. Joseph never took credit for his abilities, but continually directed attention to God (Gen. 40:8; 41:16, 25, 28, 32).
  • God will exalt you in His time if He chooses. It’s not God’s will for everyone to be the supervisor or the CEO. We should always try to do our best where we are (Col. 3:23) and leave the future to God.

Remind the students of the musical instrument, paintbrush, and scalpel mentioned at the beginning of class. Those items are very important tools, but they cannot do anything without the skilled professionals that use them: they are merely instruments in the hands of their human operators.

Tell the students that Joseph was God’s instrument used by God to bring glory to God. In the same way, we should submit ourselves to God as His instruments. We should ask Him to use us to bring glory to Him. Encourage everyone to do those things as you lead a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Colossians 3:23. Remind the students to serve the Lord faithfully where they are this week, waiting on Him to promote them if He chooses. Tell them next week we’ll learn why God promoted Joseph to such a high position.

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