In Part 1 of Joseph's story, he was sold as a slave in Egypt. Joseph was bought by a man named Potiphar, but God was with him and helped him. Potiphar recognized that God was working in Joseph’s life, and he put Joseph in charge of his entire household. But Potiphar’s wife didn’t like Joseph, so she told a lie about him and he was thrown in jail.
Just like in Potiphar’s house, God was with Joseph and helped him in everything he did. The prison warden was so impressed with him that he put him in charge of the other prisoners!
Two other men, the pharaoh's cupbearer and baker, were also thrown into prison. God spoke to them through dreams, too, but they didn’t know what their dreams meant. So God told Joseph what the dreams meant. He asked the cupbearer to tell the Pharaoh about him when he got his job back, but the cupbearer forgot. Until…
Two years later, the king of Egypt, called Pharaoh, had two dreams, but he didn’t know what his dreams meant, either! He asked everyone around him what his dreams could mean, but no one knew. Not even the smartest guys in the palace.
Then, suddenly, the cupbearer remembered the guy in the prison who had interpreted his dream for him. He told Pharaoh about Joseph, and Joseph was brought out of the prison.
Pharaoh asked Joseph to tell him what his dreams meant. Joseph said he didn’t have the power to do that, but God could! He didn’t take any of the credit for the things he could do, because he knew his ability came from God.
In Pharaoh’s first dream, seven skinny, sick-looking cows ate up seven fat, healthy-looking cows. But they were still skinny and sick looking afterwards.
The second dream was basically the same. Seven withered, dried up ears of corn or grain ate up seven big, fat, delicious-looking ears.
Those are some pretty strange dreams! But God told Joseph what they meant, and he told Pharaoh everything God said.
The dreams meant that for seven years, there would be plenty of food in Egypt, and everyone would have more than enough to eat. But after those seven years were over, there would be seven years of famine, meaning there would not be enough food to eat. Usually that’s caused when there’s not enough rain, or something else happens to keep the food from growing. This famine would be so bad, and people would be so hungry, that they would forget what it had been like in the years when they had plenty to eat.
Joseph was smart, and he gave Pharaoh great advice. He said they should store up food during the seven good years that the people could eat during the seven years of famine. That way they would have enough to eat even after the crops stopped growing.
Pharaoh was so thankful for Joseph and his advice that he put him in charge of the food collection and made him his second in command!
Joseph was finally being rewarded for trusting God and following Him. But God had a bigger plan and purpose for everything He was doing. Watch this video to learn more.
The famine affected everyone, not just the people in Egypt. Jacob and his family ran out of food, but they had heard there was food in Egypt. So Joseph’s ten older brothers went to see if they could buy food.
Joseph recognized them even though they didn’t recognize him. He was a powerful man in Egypt, so they bowed down in front of him. Does that remind you of something? Do you remember Joseph’s dream that meant his brothers would bow down around him? Joseph remembered it, too. He knew this was all part of God’s plan.
But he wasn’t quite ready to tell them who he was. He gave them food, but he told them they had to prove they weren’t spies by bringing their younger brother, Benjamin, back so see him. Jacob didn’t want to let Benjamin go, but when their food ran out again, he had no choice. The brothers went back to Joseph, and this time they took Benjamin with them.
In the video, it said that Joseph gave his brothers a test. The test was this: He sent them back home with food, but he put a silver cup in Benjamin’s food sack. Then he sent his guards after them. They thought Benjamin had stolen the silver cup, so they arrested the brothers and brought them back. Joseph told them the one who had stolen the cup would have to stay in Egypt as a slave, but his brother Judah offered to become a slave instead because he knew how much his father loved Benjamin. Then, Joseph knew his brothers had changed and were really sorry for what they had done to him.
Joseph decided it was time to tell his brothers who he was. At first they were afraid because of what they had done to him, but he forgave them. He told his brothers, “Don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.” (Genesis 45:5-8).
Joseph knew that if he had never been sold as a slave and taken to Egypt, no one would have been able to tell Pharaoh what his dreams meant. No one would have been able to manage the food collection and storage for the famine. His whole family and many other people would have starved to death.
He sent his brothers back to get his father and the rest of their families. They all came to Egypt to live with Joseph, and God provided for them!
We can learn a lot from Joseph, but here are three key takeaways for you to remember.
When you follow God, He can use you to do great things! When other people see Him working in your life, make sure to tell them it’s Him! Other people saw God working in Joseph’s life, and he gave God the credit for all the good things God helped him do. He knew he didn’t have the power or ability to interpret dreams or help lead a great country like Egypt on his own. It was God doing those things through him. That’s the same thing we learned from Jacob. We don’t have to be the strongest or best at something. God can and will use anyone who is willing to trust and follow Him!
We should forgive other people, because God forgave us. Joseph could have been mad at his brothers and decided not to give them food because of what they had done to him. But he knew that wasn’t what God wanted him to do, and it would have hurt a lot of people. So he forgave them. Ephesians 4:32 in your Trailbook says, “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” God helps us forgive other people, just like He forgave us and sent Jesus to pay for all the wrong things we’ve done.
You can trust that God is working and has a plan for you!
Romans 8:28 in your Trailbook says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Joseph didn’t know how God was going to work things out, but he trusted God’s plan for his life. Even when he was going through hard times, he believed that God was working and doing what was best. Eventually, he could look back and say, “I know God meant this for good.” Maybe you’ve been going through hard times, and you wonder if God is really working. You can trust that He is, even if you can’t see it right now. He loves you and has a plan for you that is good!