1. THE CHRISTIAN’S TRIALS
a. Why was Joseph permitted to enter yet another trial in his life? Genesis 39:20; Psalm 105:17, 18; 1 Peter 4:14–16.
“The part which Joseph acted in connection with the scenes of the gloomy prison, was that which raised him finally to prosperity and honor. God designed that he 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.
b. What promises can we keep in mind when passing through a trial? Genesis 39:21; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:19.
“God safely guarded that reputation [of Joseph] that was blackened by a wicked accuser, and afterward, in His own good time, caused it to shine.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 145.
“With every temptation we have the promise of God that there shall be a way of escape. Why, then, are so many overcome? It is because they do not put their trust in God.”—Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, p. 22.
2. TOTAL CONTENTMENT
a. How was Joseph’s faith unshaken by this severe yet unjust trial? Genesis 39:22, 23.
“At the first Joseph was treated with great severity by his jailers. The psalmist says, ‘His feet they hurt with fetters; he was laid in chains of iron: until the time that his word came to pass; the word of the Lord tried him’ (Psalm 105:18, 19, RV). But Joseph’s real character shines out, even in the darkness of the dungeon. He held fast his faith and patience; his years of faithful service had been most cruelly repaid, yet this did not render him morose or distrustful. He had the peace that comes from conscious innocence, and he trusted his case with God.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 218.
b. When tempted to question God because of the severity of an injustice, whom should we remember? Isaiah 53:7; 1 Peter 2:21–23.
“Are you tempted? [The Elder Brother] will deliver. Are you weak? He will strengthen. Are you ignorant? He will enlighten. ‘He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds’ (Psalm 147:3). Whatever your anxieties and trials, spread out your case before the Lord. Your spirit will be braced for endurance. The way will be opened for you to disentangle yourself from embarrassment and difficulty. The weaker and more helpless you know yourself to be, the stronger will you become in His strength.”—The Signs of the Times, January 15, 1902.
c. What is evident that Potiphar didn’t fully believe his wife’s accusation? Genesis 39:20; Proverbs 6:34.
“Had Potiphar fully believed the charges of his wife, Joseph would have lost his life. But his past conduct, his modesty and firm integrity, were convincing proof of his innocence; and yet, to save the reputation of his master’s house, Joseph was sacrificed, while the sinful wife was exalted in the estimation of her friends as if a model of virtue.”—Ibid., January 8, 1880.
3. THE TESTING OF A CHARACTER
a. What did Joseph’s attitude in prison reveal? Philippians 2:4.
“[Joseph] was condemned as a criminal to a gloomy prison, yet he did not become morose and look upon the discouraging features of his case. He kept his patience and his hope and faith. He did not close his heart against suffering humanity, he did not turn his attention to himself, but entered into the troubles of his fellow-prisoners, giving them his kindly sympathy. He found work to do, even in the prison. He was indeed a servant of servants. God was fitting him, in the school of affliction, for greater usefulness. He was learning to govern himself. From a position of honor and trust he had been suddenly abased to one of apparent degradation; but integrity, innocence, and virtue can never be degraded. God’s will had been his ruling motive in prosperity, and he shows the same high regard for that will now that he is enclosed in prison walls. He carried his religion with him wherever he went, and in whatever situation he was placed.”—The Signs of the Times, January 8, 1880.
b. While in prison, what type of qualities was God trying to inspire in Joseph? Genesis 40:1–4; 41:33, 38, 39; Proverbs 1:1–5; 14:35.
“[Joseph] did not brood upon his own wrongs, but forgot his sorrow in trying to lighten the sorrows of others. He found a work to do, even in the prison. God was preparing him in the school of affliction for greater usefulness, and he did not refuse the needful discipline. In the prison, witnessing the results of oppression and tyranny and the effects of crime, he learned lessons of justice, sympathy, and mercy, that prepared him to exercise power with wisdom and compassion.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 218.
“The formation of a noble character is the work of a lifetime and must be the result of diligent and persevering effort. God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them.”—Ibid., p.223.
“We become overcomers by helping others to overcome. We overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony. The keeping of the commandments of God will yield in us an obedient spirit, and the service that is the offspring of such a spirit, God can accept. . . . How many in our churches will seek to set such an example as will reflect to mankind the Light of the world?”—The Review and Herald, February 25, 1909.
4. ANOTHER STEP IN GOD’S PLAN
a. Through God’s providence, how was Joseph able to minister to Pharaoh’s butler and baker? Genesis 40:5–8 (first part). In whom did Joseph place his confidence when offering the interpretation? Verse 8 (last part); James 1:5.
“’If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him’ (James 1:5). Such a promise is of more value than gold or silver. If with a humble heart you seek divine guidance in every trouble and perplexity, His word is pledged that a gracious answer will be given you. And His word can never fail.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 427.
b. What was the dream of the chief butler, and how did Joseph interpret it? Genesis 40:9–13.
“Then the butler related to Joseph his dream, which he interpreted, that the butler would be restored to the king’s favor, and deliver Pharaoh’s cup into his hand as he had formerly done. The butler was satisfied with the interpretation, and his mind was at once relieved.
“Joseph told the chief butler that in three days he would be no more a prisoner. He felt very grateful to Joseph because of the interest he had manifested for him, and the kind treatment he had received at his hands, and, above all, for helping him when in great distress of mind, by interpreting his dream.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 147.
c. The baker was excited to find out about his dream, but what was its meaning? Genesis 40:16–19. How accurate were Joseph’s interpretations? Verses 20–22.
“ ‘When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good’ (Genesis 40:16), he took courage and made known his dream. As soon as he related his dream, Joseph looked sad. He understood its terrible meaning. Joseph possessed a kind, sympathizing heart, yet his high sense of duty led him to give the truthful, yet sad, interpretation to the chief baker’s dream. He told him that the three baskets upon his head meant three days. And that, as in his dream, the birds ate the baked meats out of the upper basket, so they would eat his flesh hung upon a tree.”—Ibid., pp.147, 148.
5. LEARNING THE LESSONS OF TRUST
a. After giving the interpretation of the butler’s dream, what did Joseph ask of him, and why? Genesis 40:14, 15. How did the butler repay the kindness of Joseph? Verse 23.
“The butler was guilty of the sin of ingratitude. After he had obtained relief from his anxiety, by the cheering interpretation of Joseph, he thought that he should, if brought again into the king’s favor, certainly remember the captive Joseph, and speak in his favor to the king. He had seen the interpretation of the dream exactly fulfilled, yet in his prosperity he forgot Joseph in his affliction and confinement. Ingratitude is regarded by the Lord as among the most aggravating sins. And although abhorred by God and man, yet it is of daily occurrence.”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 148.
b. What important lesson did God desire Joseph to learn while in prison? Jeremiah 17:5; Isaiah 49:14–16. Why? 1 Corinthians 1:31.
“For two years longer Joseph remained a prisoner. The hope that had been kindled in his heart gradually died out, and to all other trials was added the bitter sting of ingratitude.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 219.
“Faith is trusting God—believing that He loves us and knows best what is for our good. Thus, instead of our own, it leads us to choose His way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness. Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges His ownership and accepts its blessing. Truth, uprightness, purity, have been pointed out as secrets of life’s success. It is faith that puts us in possession of these principles.”—Education, p. 253.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What means does God use to develop character?
2. Why can we look to Him when facing trials?
3. How should we act when going through trials and difficulties?
4. How do we truly receive wisdom?
5. What should we remember when disappointed by human neglect?