Teaching Series
Wednesday—Wise Faithfulness in Power

Series: Citizenship
Message: Hopeful Faithfulness in Prison
Preacher: Tim Gillespie*
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Ame Fowler
Live Beyond: Chelsea Mensink
Live Purpose: Emily Ellis
Editor: Becky De Oliveira

*The guest speaker at Boulder Church on Sabbath, July 13, is choosing to preach on a different topic. If you would like to engage with a sermon that corresponds to the Daily Walk, you may watch Tim Gillespie preach about Joseph online.

Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.

Read: Genesis 41:41-49 in The Complete Jewish Bible (CJB). Note 1–3 insights or questions.

Reflect: I have always admired Joseph’s character. He is one of my favorite Bible heroes (after Samuel, of course!). And in the text this week, we read how he was given virtually unlimited power. Undoubtedly God used Joseph to deliver all of Egypt and his own family from starvation.  However, I have felt uneasy about one particular aspect of Joseph’s reign. Was it possible for Joseph to falter and misuse his authority? We readily agree that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were flawed individuals, but could Ellen White’s commentary in Patriarchs and Prophets apply to Joseph as well?

Inspiration faithfully records the faults of good men, those who were distinguished by the favor of God; indeed, their faults are more fully presented than their virtues. This has been a subject of wonder to many, and has given the infidel occasion to scoff at the Bible. But it is one of the strongest evidences of the truth of Scripture, that facts are not glossed over, nor the sins of its chief characters suppressed. The minds of men are so subject to prejudice that it is not possible for human histories to be absolutely impartial. Had the Bible been written by uninspired persons, it would no doubt have presented the character of its honored men in a more flattering light. But as it is, we have a correct record of their experiences. (p. 238)

With this in mind, read Genesis 47:11–24 carefully. This seems fairly harsh to me. Was Joseph guilty of price-gouging? There are different readings of the text, either commendatory or critical of Joseph. I encourage you to read (or listen to the audio) from the commentary of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) on this passage for further research (see below). It is proposed that Joseph’s treatment of the Egyptians eventually led to the enslavement of his own family, the Hebrews. But ultimately God would use all of history—“the good, the bad, and the ugly,” to accomplish His will. The “twists and turns” in human affairs can be harrowing, but one analogy I find compelling gives us a hopeful perspective. God can always draw a straight line with a crooked stick. God used Joseph’s failures and successes, and He will use yours as well. Consider this from the JTS:

The natural human tendency is to focus on events of a scale we can comprehend and even shape: family relations, communal affairs, local politics, the news today, and what we can expect tomorrow. But the Torah makes it clear that our private circumstances are directly impacted by the story of our people. We are connected to a past and future much larger and grander than we can know. (JTS Commentary)

You may disagree with any criticism of Joseph’s administrative decisions, but even when we do things contrary to God’s will, He can still use these misdeeds (while disapproving of them) as part of His plan to ultimately accomplish His will. Incredible!

Recalibrate: Lord Acton said, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” If this is true, how was Joseph able to avoid corruption?

Respond: Offer this prayer (from the Book of Common Prayer), or your own for our leaders:

O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we
may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to
other nations of the earth. Lord, keep this nation under your care.

To the President and members of the Cabinet, to Governors
of States, Mayors of Cities, and to all in administrative
authority, grant wisdom and grace in the exercise of their
duties. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

To Senators and Representatives, and those who make our
laws in States, Cities, and Towns, give courage, wisdom, and
foresight to provide for the needs of all our people, and to
fulfill our obligations in the community of nations. Give grace
to your servants, O Lord.

To the Judges and officers of our Courts give understanding
and integrity, that human rights may be safeguarded and
justice served. Give grace to your servants, O Lord.

And finally, teach our people to rely on your strength and to
accept their responsibilities to their fellow citizens, that they
may elect trustworthy leaders and make wise decisions for
the well-being of our society; that we may serve you
faithfully in our generation and honor your holy Name. For
yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above
all. Amen.

Research: Read or listen to this JTS Commentary analysis on Joseph in Pharaoh’s court.

Remember: “So the king said to Joseph, ‘God has shown you all this. There is no one as wise and understanding as you are’” (Genesis 41:39, ICB).

Sam Millen is the pastor at Anacortes Adventist Fellowship in Washington State. After living in five countries on three continents (and five states), he feels at home on Orcas Island with his wife and three kids.

With your little one, cut up a piece of fruit that has seeds in the middle. If you have watermelon, cut a slice and help your child pick out the seeds. Take the seeds and plant them in fertile soil. Water when needed. When we help, share with, care for,  and love each other we plant and water the seeds of love that God has given us.

Joseph was so obviously filled with Jesus that people said, “The spirit of God lives in him.” I like the idea of being so obviously filled with Jesus that people notice. What does it look like now to be obviously filled with the Spirit of God? Play a short game of Charades. Choose someone from the Bible who showed good judgement. Have each family member act as one person. Who did you choose? How did that person spend time with God? How do you connect to Jesus? Are you open to what Jesus wants you to do and who He wants you to be? Don’t be afraid to show who God is.

My name is Chelsea and it means “chalk landing port.” It’s not a very interesting meaning, but it’s because there is a harbor in England called “Chelsea” and it is where a lot of limestone—or chalk—comes into England.

Joseph means “He will add” in Hebrew. Joseph was given this name because he was the firstborn of his dad’s favorite wife, Rachel. And she had been waiting a long time to have a child. When Pharaoh declared Joseph the ruler of Egypt, he also renamed him. He named him Zaphenath-paneah—wow, what a mouthful! The meaning is a little bit of a mystery, but some scholars think it means, “The God speaks and He lives.”

Imagine having a name that means something special like that! Pharaoh renamed Joseph to not only reflect Egyptian culture but to also show how God was working through Joseph. What does your name mean? If you don’t know, take some time to look it up.

One of the most amazing things about following God is that He always goes above and beyond what we could have imagined Him doing. We see this in the story of Joseph where God gave him a dream that his brothers would bow down to him. I’m sure Joseph thought that it might mean his dad would give him an inheritance, or that the beautiful coat he got would be the thing that would cause his brothers to bow down to him. I can only imagine his confusion when he was sold into slavery and then sent to prison. He probably wondered if God had forgotten him and if God was backing down on His word. However, when God finally did fulfill His promise, it was beyond what Joseph had ever imagined for himself. It probably never crossed his mind that he would become the second highest official  in the greatest world power of the ancient world! What is God promising you? Where do you feel God calling you? Don’t give up on what God is placing on your heart because when He does fulfill His promise, it will come in an abundance.

Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
Ame Fowler has fifteen years of youth and children’s ministry experience and has served as a leader with TOP kids. She and her husband enjoy ministry through coffee, and live in Chattanooga, TN.
Chelsea Mensink serves as the family ministries director at Crosswalk Church in Redlands, California. She is a delightful and talented children’s pastor who just oozes fun and love like a squished Twinkie.
Emily Ellis is a junior studying theology at Walla Walla University and interning at the Eastgate Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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