Sabbath School Lesson for August 7-13, 2021

Teresa’s YouTube channel about the lesson:

Overview for Lesson 7

Part of finding spiritual rest must come from our ability to forgive and be forgiven. Joseph’s story taught us how to…

  • face the past (Sunday)
  • prepare for forgiveness (Monday)
  • forgive and forget (Tuesday)
  • make it practical (Wednesday)
  • restore the relationship and find rest (Thursday)

Joseph had every reason to be bitter about his brothers selling him into slavery. Their jealousy and hatefulness changed Joseph’s life forever. His ability to forgive them for such a heinous act demonstrates the kind of forgiveness God expects of all of us. And the kind of undeserved forgiveness God bestows on each of us as well.

Memory Text: ” ‘But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.’ ” Genesis 45:5 NKJV

Joseph was prepared for this meeting with his brothers so many years after his betrayal. His conscious effort to allow God to work things out for him paid off in the end. God had certainly put Joseph in a position to be able to save many lives, including the family of his father Jacob.

Seeing his brothers come and bow before him for aid to get them through the famine reminded Joseph that his life did have meaning. Only God could have worked through such tragedies and made it turn out good in the end.

We all deal with grief and anger at some point on this sin-filled planet, but God shows us the way to heal relationships and find true rest in Him, just as Joseph did.

Sunday: Facing the Past

Joseph’s role as a slave and prisoner enabled him to develop godly character traits that might otherwise not have been developed with his sheltered life as Jacob’s favorite son. Joseph’s humility and wisdom to deal with difficult people was tested in unforeseen ways during his time in Egypt.

It’s often hard to face our painful past and recognize how God has impacted us on our life journey. But doing this can bring needed peace and rest,  making us spiritually whole again. It worked for Joseph, and it even worked for his brothers.

Just as Joseph wanted to protect the vulnerable people in his family (namely Jacob and Benjamin), we must be aware of abuse that might be happening in our own family. Whether it’s emotional or physical abuse, it should never be tolerated, minimized, or overlooked. In addition, any abuse that is long-lasting and toxic should receive professional help and intervention.

Jesus considers our treatment of others to be personal. He told us we are actually hurting Him when we hurt or neglect others (Matthew 25:44, 45). Whether we are hurt, or we are hurting others, our past, painful experiences should be dealt with in the kindest, most loving way possible. Only then will forgiveness free us from our most troubling memories and guilt.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Genesis 42:15-17, 43:7

  • Why was Joseph testing his brothers in such seemingly harsh ways?

Matthew 25:41-46

  • Why does Jesus care so much how we treat or mistreat others?

Monday: Setting the Stage

Even though no formal forgiveness had been asked for by Joseph’s brothers, Joseph had been preparing his heart for the event of forgiveness that was about to take place. Without Joseph’s forgiving them in his heart during his years of captivity, bitter anger would have consumed him and prevented him from rising to his eventual place of authority in Pharaoh’s court.

This gradual softening of Joseph’s heart set the stage for the longed-for moment of forgiveness and reconciliation that finally took place in Joseph’s court. Forgiveness must be an inward experience, and with God’s help it’s always possible, even when the outward experience is missing or delayed.

Joseph wisely did not reveal his identity to the brothers at first. He wanted to determine whether their hearts had changed during those long years of their separation. He was anxious to know about the welfare of his father Jacob and brother Benjamin.

Unaware that he knew their language, it was encouraging for Joseph overhear the conversation of his brothers. Their words, spoken privately to each other, indicated that they had been plagued by guilt and remorse for their dastardly deed in the past. See Genesis 42:21-24.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Genesis 42:21-24 and Psalm 103:6

  • What caused Joseph’s brothers to feel guilty?
  • Why is it important not to ignore signs that we have hurt someone and to apologize as soon as possible?
  • When and where will justice take place for those who are oppressed in any way?

Genesis 43:34

  • For what purpose was Joseph showing favoritism to Benjamin at the feast?

Tuesday: Forgive and Forget?

Forgiveness means to intentionally give up our anger, resentment, and feelings of revenge when someone has wronged us. The easiest way for that to happen is when we give those feelings to God. Understanding the forgiving nature of our Savior, and the many things we ourselves have been forgiven of by Him, helps us forgive those who have made us a victim of their abuse.

This does not mean there will be no consequences to someone’s ill treatment of another. Nor does it mean we have to allow the abuser to continue harming us. What it does mean is that we allow God to have control over the feelings and consequences involved with the situation. This is possible when we understand that all of us are accountable to God for our thoughts and actions.

This is best illustrated by the story Jesus told of a servant who was forgiven a large debt from the king (Matthew 18:21-35). But the servant turned around and proved unforgiving of a much smaller debt from someone else. The words in the Lord’s Prayer to “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” was the principle of this parable of the unforgiving servant.

Joseph’s forgiveness of his brothers showed us the attitude of forgiveness we can and should have toward those who have mistreated us. He not only forgave them for their past offense, but gave them a second chance to restore their relationship by offering them asylum in Egypt during the famine.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Romans 4:7, 8

  • How are we blessed by God forgiving us?

Matthew 18:32-33

  • Why should we forgive others?
  • What can we learn from this parable to help us with our own forgiveness?

Wednesday: Making It Practical

Joseph could have ignored his feelings and just tried to get along the best he could in Egypt. But he evidently prospered more when he acknowledged how he felt and took the right steps to eliminate the toxic emotional baggage he carried with him to his land of bondage.

Blessing and praying for those who have wounded us is not easy, to say the least (Luke 6:28). As a matter of fact, in many instances, you might think it quite impossible. However, remembering Jesus’ announcement of forgiveness while on the cross should inspire us to attempt even the most difficult acts of forgiveness (Luke 23:34).

No matter what feelings of anger, hurt, or despair result from the abuse, they can be overcome by our choice to let God be included in the healing process. Even making the choice is impossible without God’s help though. Many have chosen forgiveness using God’s strength and found that nothing is impossible with Him (Mark 10:27).

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Matthew 5:44, 45, 48

  • What are the ways we can show love to our enemies?
  • For what reason should we forgive and love our enemies?
  • How does this help perfect our character?

Luke 23:34

  • How does this extreme act of forgiveness help your ability to forgive others? Give examples.

Thursday: Finding Rest After Forgiveness

When their father Jacob died seventeen years after they made Egypt their home, the brothers of Joseph thought it necessary to confront him about the status of their relationship (Genesis 50:15-17). Would they continue to be safe and welcome there, even without their father?

It was therefore evident that Joseph and his brothers had probably gone through different phases of forgiveness throughout their stay in Egypt. But Joseph’s conviction that God had placed him there for the purpose of saving his family during the famine helped his ability to forgive them for their past offenses.

Forgiveness is a process that requires various relational skills and often has different outcomes. For example, not all incidents of forgiveness result in restored relationships, nor should they. Sometimes our safety demands distance between a victim and his abuser.

The painful experience may also be so intense, it may never go away entirely. But the act of forgiveness, even if occurring only in our hearts, can put us on the path of healing and bring us much more peace than we would otherwise have. Rest in God is possible when we seek to maintain a forgiving attitude toward our enemies.

Bible Verses to Read and Discuss:

Genesis 50:18-20

  • What did Joseph mean by saying he was “not in the place of God”?

Genesis 50:21

  • How did Joseph reassure them once again of his forgiveness?

Friday: Final Thoughts

David may have been our example of how to ask forgiveness for our offensive behavior; but Joseph was certainly the one who teaches us how to forgive others for their hurtful actions. Both of these aspects of forgiveness are vital if we are to find spiritual rest with God. The alternative is to be torn apart with guilt and remorse, or anger and bitterness. And there is nothing restful about any of those feelings.

Ephesians 4:32 is a simple formula for achieving the kind of forgiveness Joseph demonstrated. Forgiveness consists of being kind and tenderhearted, indicating that it must include inward and outward signs of transforming grace. And the way we are able to forgive is by remembering that God forgives us for many things as well. Jesus even forgave those who nailed Him on the cross (Luke 23:34).

Allowing God into our lives means we allow Him to bind up our wounds, heal our hearts, and restore us into His image. And that image includes being “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy” (Psalm 103:8). This results in the ultimate rest and peace available to all who surrender to the Father’s will.

Next Week: Free to Rest

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