Joseph: Slave to Savior

Gen. 37-50; Acts 7.9-14

Life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes things go well and sometimes they don’t. Joseph is a great example to us that we can trust God’s promises no matter the circumstances. God had a plan for Jacob’s sons, and he used Joseph to save his brothers from the famine. God has a plan for us too but his promises to us are fulfilled in Jesus. No matter the circumstances we can know that God loves us and we can put our faith in Jesus!

Key Verse

“For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ”

2 Corinthians 1.20a (NLT)


Lesson

Explain to the kids that each week you’re looking at a story from the Old Testament* that points to Jesus. It’s often helpful to briefly review the previous week’s lesson.

Object Lesson (The bill that keeps its value)

Supplies: A crisp new dollar bill.

Show the kids a crisp new dollar bill and ask them what it is. They will probably all recognize it as money. Explain to them that it’s a bill issued by the bank and that it’s worth one dollar. What gives the dollar its value? Is it the paper that it’s printed on? No, paper is not that valuable. It’s the fact that it’s issued by the bank! It even has a signature on it of the treasurer of the United States! Crumple the note up and ask the kids what it’s value is [still worth a dollar]. Drop the note on the floor and ask the kids what it’s value is [still a dollar]. Explain that the dollar bill is like a promise. It doesn’t matter if the note goes through difficult times. God’s promises still stand!

Bible story.

This lesson covers the entire story of Joseph without going into too much detail. The purpose is to help the children understand God’s faithfulness to both Joseph and his brothers throughout the the whole story. Props you may want to use: A colored robe/coat, chains/handcuffs. As an alternative for 4-5 year-olds you can use Joseph’s Colorful Coat (QED). As an alternative for 6-8 year-olds you could use the Jesus Storybook Bible. The Application part would stay the same.

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Last week we learnt that God spoke to Jacob in a dream and promised him the same promise that he gave to his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac; that He would give Jacob the land and that his descendents would become a nation and that all the nations of the world would be blessed through them.

This story comes from Gen. 37,39-50.

Jacob went on to have twelve sons. The twelve brothers were kind of like the paper that the money is printed on. The thing that made them special was that God had promised to make them into a nation. But how would he do that? For them to become a nation they would need to stand together, right? Well, there was a problem. These brothers fought a lot, and there was a lot of jealousy and rivalry between them. They were mostly jealous about the second youngest son named Joseph, because Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son.

Whenever they did something wrong Joseph would go back and tattle to their father Jacob. That made them really mad! Jacob also gave Joseph a really special coat to wear. That made them so angry that they started saying mean things to him. Then one day Joseph had a dream. In the dream his father and his ten brothers were bowing down to him. Oh man, when he told them about that it made them super-angry! Even Jacob said that maybe Joseph had taken it too far!

One day the older brothers were out in the field with their flocks, so Jacob sent Joseph to find them and see how it was going with them. Joseph walked the whole day to find them and when they saw him coming from far off they came up with a terrible plan to kill him. The oldest brother Reuben said no, so instead of killing him they took him and tore off his coat and  threw him into a pit. Then a group of merchants came by and Joseph’s brothers sold him to them as a slave.

Hold up the crumpled dollar bill and explain to the kids that it looked like God’s promise was falling apart. Use the dollar bill to represent Joseph in the story. Summarize Joseph’s trials as a list of bad things and good things that happen. Each time something bad happens you crumple the note. Each time something good happens you can uncrumple it.

So, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and he became a slave in Egypt with nobody coming to rescue him!

[crumple the dollar bill]

But God was with him and he was put in charge of the entire household where he was a slave.

[uncrumple the dollar bill]

But then he was falsely accused of doing something wrong, even when he didn’t and he got thrown into prison!

[crumple the dollar bill]

But God was with him and he was put in charge of all the prisoners.

[uncrumple the dollar bill]

Some guys promised to get Joseph out of jail but they forgot him there.

[crumple the dollar bill]

All this time God never forgot his promise and he had a special plan for Joseph and for Joseph’s brothers. God warned the king of Egypt (called Pharaoh) in a dream that there was a famine coming, but Pharaoh didn’t understand what the dream meant.

He heard about Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams and called for Joseph to be brought to him. So, they cleaned Joseph up [uncrumple the dollar bill] and they brought him before Pharaoh. Joseph told Pharaoh that only God can interpret dreams. Joseph told him that there was a bad famine coming and God gave him a plan for storing food to prepare for the famine!

An amazing thing happened! Pharaoh decided to put Joseph in charge of the whole of Egypt so that he could prepare Egypt for the famine that was to come. So, when the famine came there was enough food in Egypt for the people to eat! But, what happened to Joseph’s brothers? Well, when they ran out of food they heard that there was food in Egypt, so they went try to buy food in Egypt.

When they got there they discovered that Joseph was the ruler of Egypt. If your brothers had betrayed you and sold you into slavery would you want to get them back? Joseph could have had them thrown into jail or even had them killed. At first they didn’t even recognize him because they hadn’t seen him in so long, but he said to them: “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt!” They were scared that he would try to get back at them but he said: “Don’t be scared and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because God sent me ahead of you to save lives.” 

Joseph spoke to Pharaoh and he invited his whole family, with all his brothers and their families to come and live with him in Egypt where they would have enough to eat and he could protect them!

Application

Let’s list some of the things that happened to Joseph (you can write it on a whiteboard):

  • He was his father’s beloved son.
  • He was sent by his father.
  • He was stripped of his robes.
  • He was betrayed and sold for silver.
  • He was falsely accused.
  • He was elevated as king.
  • He forgave.
  • He became a savior.

This list sounds a lot like someone else doesn’t it? Who else fulfilled these things? That’s right, Jesus! Do God’s promises matter for us? When we believe in Jesus and ask him to forgive us he becomes our savior! Through Jesus, God writes his promise [new covenant] on each of your hearts (Jer. 31.33). You become one of God’s promised people.

Remember that, no matter what you go through, just like Joseph, God is still with you and you can always trust his promises! He loves you and he wants you to be part of his chosen people! Even when you go through difficult things, God can use those things in amazing ways!

Prayer: Thank God for sending his Son Jesus so that we can be forgiven and saved. Thank him that we can always trust his promises. Pray for wisdom and courage for the children as they seek to follow God.

* Old Testament: The first part of the Bible that tells the story of God’s people and explains his promise.



Game Option 1

Famine Food Relay

Supplies: Straws, dry beans, 2 trays, 2 cups

How to Play: To save the people from the famine, Joseph stored food for seven years. Divide the kids into 2 teams and assign a cup to each team to represent their granary. The beans go into the 2 trays to represent the fields. Each team needs to gather as many beans into their granary from the fields as they can. The catch is that they cannot use their hands. Each child gets a straw and when the game starts they have to suck through the straw to hold onto the bean and drop it into the cup. The team with the most beans in the cup after a set time is the winner!

If the teams are small they can all work on it together. If the groups are large then turn the game into a relay so that you don’t have too much congestion around the cups and the trays.

Game Option 2

Joseph’s Journey

Supplies: Masking tape, a rope or string, 2 brooms, 2 chairs or stools, and 2 paper crowns

Set up: make two winding courses consisting of a four foot strip of masking tape, followed by a circle made with rope or string(or masking tape can also work), then the broom and then the chair and finally the crown on the floor. Make the stations far enough apart so the children have to travel to each station.

How to Play: Split children into two teams. Have each team line up single file before their first station. Demonstrate the relay course saying you are walking through Joseph’s life and journey. First walk on the masking tape like you are on a balance beam, (Joseph walks to his brothers camp), then jump into the rope circle (Joseph is thrown into the well), then pick up the broom and sweep, (Joseph goes to work for Egypt’s rulers), crouch down behind the chair (Joseph is thrown in jail), then run to put on the crown (Joseph is made second to Pharaoh), then run back to the first person in line and shake their hand to show that Joseph made up with his family. This is how the next person in line will be tagged to start the course.   The first team to finish going through the course is the winner!

Rhyme: Joseph walked a long way

Got thrown into a well.

His brothers didn’t like him

As anyone could tell!

He worked for Egypt’s rulers

Got thrown into a jail.

But he became a ruler

‘Cause God can never fail!

Taken from Bible Story Games for Preschoolers