The students will be able to describe how Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery. They will understand that God spared Joseph's life and that He had a plan for Joseph.
Introduction: Blindfold one of your students and have him put two fingers on the table in a "let your fingers do the walking" position. Tell him you have a plan to help his fingers move to a treat you have placed on the table, but he must follow your instructions in order to get it. Direct his movement until he reaches the reward. Help your students understand that Joseph didn't know what God's plan was for him, but he was willing to follow God and do what was right anyway.
Climax: A group of traders passed by on their way to Egypt, and Joseph's brothers decided to sell him as a slave.
Conclusion: God permitted these things to happen to Joseph as part of His divine plan for his life.
Response: Your students will be able to describe the events which led to Joseph's being taken into Egypt. They will understand that God allowed all of this because He could see what the final outcome would be.
Joseph's brothers, having been antagonized by the favoritism of the father, plotted to kill him and deceive their father into believing an animal had done it. The "pit" they cast him into was likely a cistern, a deep hole cut into rock or hard clay, and used to collect and hold rainwater for watering the flocks or quenching the thirst of traveling caravans.
Cisterns were used also as dungeons when they held no water. The opening was small enough to put a cover on top, with the bottom of the cistern much wider. This shape made it virtually impossible for a person to escape once he was dropped into the cistern. Centuries after the time of Joseph, the prophet Jeremiah was put into a cistern in a prison courtyard.
Dothan, the area where Joseph finally found his brothers tending the flocks, was situated on a major trade route between Syria and Egypt so it wasn't unusual for caravans to be moving through this area. By God's providence a group of Ishmaelite traders came by while Joseph's brothers were still in the area. Instead of his being left to die in the pit, as some of them intended, he was brought forth and sold as a slave to be taken into Egypt. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery thinking to get rid of him forever, not knowing that this was the very means God planned to use to spare his life and eventually their very own lives and the lives of their families. The brothers maybe thought they could prevent Joseph's dreams from being fulfilled. It is good to remember in times of adversity that others cannot prevent God's working in our life or fulfilling His plans for us. Only we can separate ourselves from the love of Christ and His will or plan for our life.
Plan your presentation along the lines of Paul Harvey's, "The Rest of the Story." Using large pictures or an overhead, talk about other Bible characters who could have said, "Why did this happen to me?" Some possible examples: Job, the blind man, Samuel, three Hebrew children, Daniel. Explain how the end result was good in each case: God had a plan, just as He did for Joseph.
Sister Edna Crawford's testimony could be used effectively for this lesson. [Tract No. 33—Teenager Rewarded for Faithful Stand] It tells how her parents persecuted her and told her to leave home. She came to live with Sister Florence L. Crawford and eventually, one by one, her family was saved—because she continued to love them, pray for them, and was true to the Lord.
Bring a beautiful tapestry or something else handmade and show the children the reverse side first. Compare it with how we don't know why we go through some things here, but later on in life or when we reach Heaven, we will see the full pattern worked out. Turn the tapestry over to show the finished work.