Monday, January 2, 2012

On 1-8-12 Genesis 41:37-45, 50-52 or 41:37-46, 50-52 will be our International Sunday School Lesson/Adult Sunday School Lesson herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as Joseph Finds Favor aka A Discerning and Wise Leader.

Joseph Finds Favor
 A Discerning and Wise Leader
Genesis 41:37-45, 50-52 or 41:37-46, 50-52
International Sunday School Lesson
January 8, 2012

Jed Greenough

How many of you that read today’s lesson will look at it and think only of the past?  It really can be hard not to given the imagery that floods our mind as we think of what Egypt, or a Pharaoh must have looked like given all the beautiful images that remain and those retrieved in archaeological endeavors.

For me I must admit that it is difficult to not consider today’s scripture without picturing the scenes from the Ten Commandments movie starring Yul Bryner and Charlton Heston.  I find it particularly useful as I imagine the storing of grain and I remember the scene where Heston’s character, Moses had grain released to the Hebrew slaves.

I bet they come close to getting the scenes fairly accurate and so as we consider today’s lesson from history perhaps viewing our scripture today as a history lesson is a wise way to go about this if we are apply it to 2012.

As you may have read in my previous commentaries such as 9-11-11, we have the scriptures as examples and warnings (1 Corinthians 10:1-12).  This one from Corinthians cited in that September lesson was one I referenced as we discussed a lesson on the Proverbs and we looked at the advice given for walking God’s straight path.

Due to the remarkable consistency of God’s word we know that we can draw wisdom and develop our discernment just like the man Pharaoh was advised to put in charge of the land.  What is it from this scriptural history lesson that will be useful if we are to develop these qualities in ourselves?  Today’s history lesson from God’s word is not best revealed by looking at 12 or 13 verses but all of Genesis 40 and 41.

1.     First off, we should not tire of sharing God with others even when we don’t receive or see results today.  Joseph stayed two years in prison before Pharaoh’s cupbearer remembered him.
2.     We must not forget that God can use anyone even nonbelievers such as the Pharaoh and the chief cupbearer.
3.     Our abilities are not our own and God should be given the glory as Joseph did in interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams.
4.     God’s plans at times are discernable according to His will.
5.     As even our era proves now, fruitful days do not last.  Recognizing this and planning for times of “famine” is wise.
6.     Godly wise and discerning leaders are needed not just in the church but also in positions of worldly leadership.
7.     Even though we have a natural desire for autonomy we must be mindful that to God there is a place for government, that governments must at times be in charge and that they serve to protect the well-being of the citizenry. 
8.     God can give us confidence.  Joseph not only interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams, he also told him what to do to deal with the upcoming famine.
9.     You could say that Joseph instructed Pharaoh about what God was saying to him.  The result was Pharaoh’s complete obedience even though he did not worship God.  This should shame believers into reexamining how faithful they are in whole heartedly following the instruction they receive in God’s word.
10.                        Pharaoh chose a wise and discerning man in Joseph to lead.  The result was that only with regard to the throne did Pharaoh have greater power.  We should choose the Godly, wise and discerning and let them do their jobs without hindering their effectiveness.

The challenge becomes whether or not we will actually take this history lesson and not just leave it as that, history.  The famous quote from George Santayana says, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  Mr. Santayana will long be remember in the opinion of the world for his great writing, but being man and not God he only got it half right with that statement.

Yes, if we fail to remember the failures from the past history we will be condemned to repeat those failures but God shows us that if we remember the past successes we can be blessed just as Joseph, Pharaoh and those who were fed during the famine.

Pharaoh first turned to magicians, the world turns to philosophers such as Santayana, and clearly these are unwise and undiscerning choices.  Joseph showed that the wise and discerning turn to God instead.

For Discussion:

Slowly and prayerfully ponder those ten items I point out above for your ideas for discussion.

Upcoming Adult Sunday School Class Commentaries

1-15-12:    God Preserves a Remnant (A Brother Revealed) Genesis 45:3-15
1-22-12:    Joseph Transmits Abraham’s Promise (Reconciliation in the Family) Genesis 50:15-26
1-29-12:     Out of Egypt (A New Ordinance) Exodus 15:1-3, 19, 22-26 or 15:1-5, 19-26
2-5-12:       Justified by Faith in Christ Galatians 2:15-21
2-12-12:    Freed from Law through Christ (The Blessing for All) Galatians 3:1-14

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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