Bible study: 'God will certainly come to your aid'

Genesis 50:15–26


Let us be honest. We have all experienced the temptation to exact revenge. Our thoughts about revenge are most often over minor matters. Genesis 50 describes the fear the brothers of Joseph had that in his role in the administration of Egypt, Joseph would seek revenge for his brothers having sold him into slavery in Egypt — not a minor issue. Our focal passage describes Joseph as a man with the power to exact revenge but who chooses reconciliation.

Message sent (15–18)

The death of Jacob opened old wounds within the family. Joseph’s brothers feared that Joseph had a grudge against them for selling him into slavery.

The brothers sent a messenger to Joseph claiming that Jacob commanded Joseph to forgive his brothers’ transgression (a willful act of rebellion) that brought great suffering for Joseph. What sinful acts of rebellion are you committing? Note that the brothers did not personally go to Joseph. Instead, they sent a messenger. Did Jacob actually speak such words to the brothers?

Interestingly, the Bible does not record such a command from Jacob. Was the faith of the brothers a secondhand faith?

The brothers described themselves as “the servants (or slaves) of the God of your father” rather than claiming to be personal servants of the one true God — “my” God or “our” God. The brothers approached Joseph with a spirit of humility and confessed their sinful and wrongful acts against Joseph. Joseph wept when he received the request for forgiveness. The brothers bowed down and identified themselves not as brothers but as slaves.

Truth declared (19–21)

Joseph comforted his brothers by twice commanding them not to be afraid. Presumably, the brothers feared that Joseph in his authoritative position in leadership would exact revenge since their father Jacob had died. Long ago, the brothers had planned evil in their treatment of Joseph, yet God overrode human intentions and brought about the survival of many people. In his administrative role, Joseph enabled many people to survive the famine.

Joseph revealed his heart as he attempted to comfort his brothers by speaking kindly to them as well as promising to take care of them and their children. Even though Joseph’s brothers had planned evil against Joseph, God used their evil intent to accomplish His good purposes — namely the survival of many people.

Promise assured (22–26)

Even though Joseph had been cast into an Egyptian jail because of his brothers’ treachery, Genesis concludes on a positive note. The family experienced life in Egypt together. Joseph saw his great-great-grandchildren during his life span of 110 years.

The key concept in this closing section of Genesis is “God will certainly come to your aid.” Genesis ends with the death of Joseph at 110 years old. Joseph made his family take an oath that when God leads them back to the land of promise, they will take his bones from Egypt with the assumption that the destiny for his bones is the land of promise.

In Exodus 13, Moses takes the bones of Joseph with him when he leaves Egypt.


This lesson was written by Mark Rathel, professor at the Baptist College of Florida in Graceville, Fla., and originally published by The Baptist Paper. This study is based on the Explore the Bible curriculum from Lifeway Christian Resources.