1. JOSEPH’S FIRST DREAM
a. Who was Joseph, and what did he dream about? Genesis 30:22–24; 37:1–7.
“There was one [of Jacob’s sons] . . . of a widely different character—the elder son of Rachel, Joseph, whose rare personal beauty seemed but to reflect an inward beauty of mind and heart. Pure, active, and joyous, the lad gave evidence also of moral earnestness and firmness. He listened to his father’s instructions and loved to obey God.”—Conflict and Courage, p. 72.
“The angel of God instructed Joseph in dreams which he innocently related to his brethren.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 138.
b. How did Joseph’s brothers understand the meaning of his dream with reference to themselves? Genesis 37:8.
“Joseph dreamed that while they were all engaged binding sheaves of grain, his sheaf arose and stood upright, and the sheaves of all the rest stood round about and bowed before his sheaf. No sooner was his dream related than they all understood its significance. His brothers exclaimed with indignation, ‘Shalt thou indeed have dominion over us?’”—The Signs of the Times, December 18, 1879.
2. JOSEPH’S SECOND DREAM
a. In which way was the second dream different from the first dream? Genesis 37:9.
“Soon the Lord gave Joseph another dream of the same import, but more strikingly significant. This dream he also related to his father and his brethren.”—The Signs of the Times, December 18, 1879.
b. How did Joseph’s father react to his dream? Genesis 37:10.
“Soon [Joseph] had another dream, of similar import, which he also related: ‘Behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.’ This dream was interpreted as readily as the first. The father, who was present, spoke reprovingly—‘What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?’ (Genesis 37:9, 10).”—Patriarchs and Prophets p. 210.
c. How was Jacob’s reaction to the dream different from Joseph’s brothers’ reaction? Genesis 37:11.
“Jacob appeared to regard the dreams of his son with indifference. But he had been often instructed by the Lord in dreams himself, and he believed that the Lord was teaching Joseph in the same manner. He reproved Joseph that his true feelings might not be discovered by his envious brothers.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 139.
“Notwithstanding the apparent severity of his words, Jacob believed that the Lord was revealing the future to Joseph.
“As the lad stood before his brothers, his beautiful countenance lighted up with the Spirit of Inspiration, they could not withhold their admiration; but they did not choose to renounce their evil ways, and they hated the purity that reproved their sins.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 210.
“The Lord works in His own way and according to His own devising. Let men pray that they may be divested of self, and may be in harmony with heaven.”—The Review and Herald, May 5, 1896.
3. TIME REVEALS ALL
a. Many years later, how would Joseph eventually recognize the fulfillment of his first dream about the sheaves of grain? Genesis 42:6–9.
“[During the famine, Jacob’s sons] were directed to the king’s deputy, and with other applicants they came to present themselves before the ruler of the land. And they ‘bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.’ ‘Joseph knew his brethren, but they knew not him’ (Genesis 42:6, 8). His Hebrew name had been exchanged for the one bestowed upon him by the king, and there was little resemblance between the prime minister of Egypt and the stripling whom they had sold to the Ishmaelites. As Joseph saw his brothers stooping and making obeisance, his dreams came to his mind, and the scenes of the past rose vividly before him.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 224.
b. How many years passed before the first dream would be fulfilled? Genesis 37:2; 41:46, 53, 54; 42:6; 45:6.
c. Why did God allow such a length of time to pass before the vision would be fulfilled? 2 Peter 3:8, 9; compare Genesis 37:4, 11 with Genesis 45:15.
“Many who have never been placed in positions of trial appear to be excellent Christians, their lives seem faultless; but God sees that they have traits of character that must be revealed to them before they can perceive and correct them. . . . In the providence of God we are placed in different positions to call into exercise qualities of mind calculated to develop character under a variety of circumstances. . . . Professed Christians may live unexceptionable lives so far as outward appearance is concerned; but when a change of circumstances throws them into entirely different positions, strong traits of character are discovered, which would have remained hidden had their surroundings continued the same.”—Testimonies, vol. 4, pp. 55, 56.
“God designed that [Joseph] should obtain an experience by temptations, adversity, and hardships, to prepare him to fill an exalted position.”—The SDA Bible Commentary [E. G. White Comments], vol. 1, p. 1097.
4. TESTING MOMENTS
a. Discuss some other reasons why God allows certain experiences to last longer than we would like. Psalm 26:2; Hebrews 12:11; James 5:7–11; Revelation 14:12 (first part).
“None who receive God’s word are exempt from difficulty and trial; but when affliction comes, the true Christian does not become restless, distrustful, or despondent. Though we cannot see the definite outcome of affairs, or discern the purpose of God’s providences, we are not to cast away our confidence. Remembering the tender mercies of the Lord, we should cast our care upon Him, and with patience wait for His salvation. Through conflict the spiritual life is strengthened. Trials well borne will develop steadfastness of character and precious spiritual graces. The perfect fruit of faith, meekness, and love often matures best amid storm clouds and darkness.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 60, 61.
b. What is the greatest challenge to our faith during a prolonged trial? Hebrews 10:35–39; Psalm 27:14.
“Because circumstances change and disappointments come, because you do not have as much help as you hoped to receive for the building up of the work, you are not therefore to become disheartened. Lay every care at the feet of the Redeemer. ‘Ask, and ye shall receive’ (John 16:24). Do your best, and then wait, patiently, hopefully, rejoicingly, because the promise of God cannot fail. Christ’s life of untiring effort has been recorded for our encouragement. He did not fail nor become discouraged. In time of trial, be patient. Patience is a precious jewel. It will bring health to heart and mind. Wait on the Lord until He sees that you are ready to receive and appreciate the blessings for which you ask. Exercise faith, even though the trials are severe. ‘Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’ (Hebrews 11:1). Of faith hope is born.
“It requires self-control to accept disappointment meekly; but Jesus understands your needs. Every prayer offered to Him in sincerity and faith will be answered. Having done your best, refuse to give way to discouragement and despair. When hedged about with apparently insurmountable difficulties, then is the time above all others to trust in the Lord.”—The Review and Herald, May 30, 1912.
5. A DIVINE REVELATION
a. How did Joseph ultimately believe that these particular dreams were divine revelations, despite his brothers’ prior rejections? Genesis 40:8; 41:15, 16.
“Joseph did not take the glory to himself. He pointed Pharaoh to God, saying, ‘It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace’ (Genesis 41:16).
“Through the wisdom given him of God, Joseph could see the true meaning of the dream. He saw the wonderful workings of God, and he laid the whole matter distinctly before Pharaoh.”—The Youth’s Instructor, March 11, 1897.
“Joseph’s reply to the king reveals his humility and his faith in God. He modestly disclaims the honor of possessing in himself superior wisdom. ‘It is not in me.’ God alone can explain these mysteries.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 220.
b. What is God’s purpose in giving certain dreams and visions in the last days? Joel 2:28–31; Acts 10:9–28.
“I recommend to you, dear reader, the Word of God as the rule of your faith and practice. By that Word we are to be judged. God has, in that Word, promised to give visions in the ‘last days’; not for a new rule of faith, but for the comfort of His people, and to correct those who err from Bible truth. Thus God dealt with Peter when He was about to send him to preach to the Gentiles.”—Early Writings, p. 78.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Why should we be careful not to mock someone who has had a dream?
2. Explain why human nature doesn’t like to bow to another in authority.
3. What is the purpose of trials in the Christian’s life?
4. Which characteristic of our faith will trials help us develop?
5. Should we expect more dreams and visions to come in the future?