The students will be able to tell how Joseph's God-given ability to interpret dreams caused him to be released from prison and made ruler over the land of Egypt.
Introduction: Open your session by showing your class a book with a bookmark about halfway through. Explain to your class that you haven't finished the book yet, but that it is a very exciting adventure story. Outline the plot briefly, building up the suspense. Then set the book down. When they wonder what happened next, explain that you haven't read the last chapters yet. Compare this to Joseph's life—it unfolded chapter by chapter. He didn't know what the end would be, but God did!
Climax: Pharaoh set Joseph as ruler over all of Egypt, second only to himself.
Conclusion: God rewarded Joseph for his faithfulness and his integrity. All of his family came to live in Egypt and were saved from the famine.
Response: Your students will be able to describe why Joseph was released from prison and set up as ruler over Egypt.
While in prison Joseph was used of God to interpret the dreams of two other men in prison, Pharaoh's baker and his cupbearer. As the dreams indicated, the baker was hanged and the cupbearer was restored to his former position with Pharaoh.
Besides talking directly to people, God used dreams to tell of some future event or to give a warning. There are many occasions mentioned in the Bible where dreams are spoken of specifically. Godly men who interpreted were definite about the power's being of God and not of themselves. Dreams may lead men astray. If the content of the dream and its interpretation is not in harmony with the Word of God, one can be sure it is not from God. God's Spirit will witness to the truth, or the fulfillment of the prophecy will confirm the Word. Jeremiah 23:28 says, “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord."
When Pharaoh desperately wanted his dreams interpreted, the Lord, through Joseph, revealed the meaning of the dreams when all the magicians and wise men of Egypt could not. Pharaoh immediately set Joseph over his house and over all the land of Egypt; only in the throne would Pharaoh be greater.
When Pharaoh took his ring of authority and placed it on Joseph's finger, all the people of Egypt knew that Joseph had been given enormous power in the land. The signet ring symbolized great authority and was also used to sign documents. Impressing a signet ring into clay or wax was like signing one's signature today and all kings as well as other men of authority had their own special mark or symbol engraved in their ring.
Using the power or gifts that God had given him, even while still a slave in a foreign land, Joseph won the favor of God and man. Through his faithfulness and obedience to God, Joseph rose from the position of a slave to that of a ruler in the land. His father and family moved to Egypt and were subject to him. Looking back to Joseph's dreams we can see that nothing is impossible with God.
Use this review to wrap up the story of Joseph. Prepare the two number seven puzzles (see Patterns) by enlarging and drawing them on posterboard. Explain to the children that this lesson concerns the seven good and seven bad years during which Joseph was made second in command in Egypt. Tell what each piece represents as you put the puzzle together (in correct order). Here is a brief description of each piece.
1. Pharaoh took Joseph from prison.
2. Joseph explains Pharaoh's dreams.
3. Joseph was made second in command.
4. Joseph instructed the people to store food.
5. A famine came upon the land.
6. Many people looked to Egypt for food.
7. Joseph's brothers came to Egypt.
8. Joseph's own dreams finally came true—family reunion.
Compare life to a puzzle. God knows all the pieces will fit and what the picture will be. Make a large puzzle which can be assembled with your group (see Patterns). On the back of each piece write a question which could puzzle a child: Why do I get sick? Why did my puppy die? etc. Give an answer as you place each piece in the puzzle. Explain that in some cases only God knows the answer.