Genesis 45:16-47:12; 50:15-21; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 231-240
God helps me serve my family.
“Let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).
When his parents were sick, Ethan stepped up and took care of his little brother so his parents could rest awhile. Ethan served meals to his little brother and helped him clean up. Do you help to serve others in your family? Today’s story is about what Joseph did for his family.
After being away for many years, Father Jacob had returned to Canaan with his wives and 12 sons. Joseph was the second-youngest and his father’s favorite. Because of this, his older brothers hated him and decided to sell him to slave traders going to Egypt.
In Egypt, Joseph had remained faithful to God even when bad things had happened to him. Eventually, God had helped him to become the governor. When a famine came on all the land, Jacob sent his 10 sons to Egypt for food. Joseph was in charge of the food. Joseph’s brothers did not know who he was, but Joseph knew them, and finally he made himself known. He told them that he had forgiven them for selling him into slavery. He promised to take care of the entire family, and now the brothers were on their way back to Canaan with the good news.
What a grand trip it was! They had carts loaded with food. They had new clothes and money that Joseph had given them. They had many donkeys loaded with presents for their father. And they had Pharaoh’s special invitation to come and live in Egypt. He had promised that their families would have food to eat during the rest of the famine.
When they got home, their father, Jacob, could not believe the news! His favorite son Joseph was alive! Joseph was not dead, as he had believed all those years. “Are you sure?” he asked his sons over and over. “Are you sure Joseph is alive? And you say he is the governor of Egypt? Tell me again! Tell me again!”
Finally Jacob and his family set out for Egypt. Jacob, his children, his in-laws, his grandchildren—everybody went! Some rode comfortably in the carts that Pharaoh had provided for them. Jacob’s sons rode beside the carts on Pharaoh’s plump donkeys. It was a long journey, but they had plenty of food for the trip. Jacob’s heart sang the whole way! He was really, truly going to see his son Joseph once again!
In Joseph’s home his servants brought him the good news. “Your family is almost here,” they announced.
“Hurry! Get my chariot ready!” Joseph ordered. He drove as fast as his horses could gallop to meet his father. When he got to where he was, Joseph ran to Jacob and hugged him. Together they cried for joy.
Soon after, Joseph took five of his brothers to the palace to meet Pharaoh. “What is your occupation?” Pharaoh asked them.
“We are shepherds,” the brothers answered. “Your brothers may live in Goshen,” Pharaoh told Joseph. “It is the best of my land. And I will also hire your brothers to take care of my cattle, if they wish.”
Joseph took his father to meet Pharaoh too. Then Jacob, the great man of God, blessed Pharaoh, the mighty king of Egypt.
After that, Jacob lived with his family in Egypt for 17 years, and then he died. He was 147 years old.
Joseph’s brothers began to worry. Now that their father was dead, what would Joseph do? Would he finally get even with them for the terrible thing they had done? They decided to send Joseph a message. “Before our father died, he said he wanted you to forgive us for the evil thing we did to you.”
“You meant to harm me,” Joseph replied. “But God meant it for good. He made it possible for me to help all of you.”
How has God made it possible for you to serve your family? You may never be an officer in your country’s government. You may never have to save your family from starvation. But you are part of a family. What can you do now to help and show love to the people you live with? What can you do to serve your church family also?