1. A TIME OF MOURNING
a. Describe the depth of Jacob’s sorrow when he thought Joseph was dead—and the impression made on his guilty sons. Genesis 37:33–35.
“[Jacob’s sons] had looked forward to this scene with dread, but they were not prepared for the heart-rending anguish, the utter abandonment of grief, which they were compelled to witness. [Genesis 37:33 quoted.] Vainly his sons and daughters attempted to comfort him. He ‘rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.’ Time seemed to bring no alleviation of his grief. ‘I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning,’ was his despairing cry. The young men, terrified at what they had done, yet dreading their father’s reproaches, still hid in their own hearts the knowledge of their guilt, which even to themselves seemed very great.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 212.
b. What is grief designed to develop in us? James 1:3, 4.
“God permits us to be placed under circumstances that will test us, to increase our love and to perfect our trust in Him. . . . Trials will come, but they are an evidence that we are children of God.”—Gospel Workers, p. 441 (1892).
2. GROWING IN GRACE
a. How had Jacob’s character grown since his agonizing night in prayer for himself and his family at Bethel? Psalm 92:12–15.
“Jacob had chosen the inheritance of faith. He had endeavored to obtain it by craft, treachery, and falsehood; but God had permitted his sin to work out its correction. Yet through all the bitter experience of his later years, Jacob had never swerved from his purpose or renounced his choice. He had learned that in resorting to human skill and craft to secure the blessing, he had been warring against God. From that night of wrestling beside the Jabbok, Jacob had come forth a different man. Self-confidence had been uprooted. Henceforth the early cunning was no longer seen. In place of craft and deception, his life was marked by simplicity and truth. He had learned the lesson of simple reliance upon the Almighty Arm, and amid trial and affliction he bowed in humble submission to the will of God. The baser elements of character were consumed in the furnace fire, the true gold was refined, until the faith of Abraham and Isaac appeared undimmed in Jacob.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 208.
b. What legacy of Jacob does God intend for our families? Isaiah 8:16–18; Deuteronomy 29:29.
“The father is in one sense the priest of the household, laying upon the altar of God the morning and evening sacrifice, while the wife and children unite in prayer and praise. With such a household Jesus will tarry, and through His quickening influence the parents’ joyful exclamations shall yet be heard amid more exalted scenes, saying: ‘Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me.’ Saved, saved, eternally saved! freed from the corruption that is in the world through lust, and through the merits of Christ made heirs of immortality! I saw that but few fathers realize their responsibility. They have not learned to control themselves, and until this lesson is learned they will make poor work in governing their children. Perfect self-control will act as a charm upon the family. When this is attained, a great victory is gained. Then they can educate their children to self-control.”—Testimonies, vol. 1, p. 547.
3. THE FRAIL FAMILY OF FAITH
a. When Jacob’s sons stood before the governor of Egypt (who, unbeknownst to them, was actually Joseph), what reveals the transformation in their attitude? Genesis 42:21.
“During the years since Joseph had been separated from his brothers, these sons of Jacob had changed in character. Envious, turbulent, deceptive, cruel, and revengeful they had been; but now, when tested by adversity, they were shown to be unselfish, true to one another, devoted to their father, and, themselves middle-aged men, subject to his authority.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 225.
“[Joseph] had seen in his brothers the fruits of true repentance.”—Ibid., p.230.
b. After so many years of trial in the lives of Jacob and his children, where was the persevering patriarch finally called to go? Genesis 45:9, 25–28.
c. How only did Jacob know for sure that this was a step he needed to take—and why did the Lord arrange it? Genesis 46:1–5; Psalm 103:13.
“The promise had been given to Abraham of a posterity numberless as the stars, but as yet the chosen people had increased but slowly. And the land of Canaan now offered no field for the development of such a nation as had been foretold. It was in the possession of powerful heathen tribes, that were not to be dispossessed until ‘the fourth generation.’ . . . Should they mingle with the Canaanites, they would be in danger of being seduced into idolatry. Egypt, however, offered the conditions necessary to the fulfillment of the divine purpose. A section of country well-watered and fertile was open to them there, affording every advantage for their speedy increase. And the antipathy they must encounter in Egypt on account of their occupation—for every shepherd was ‘an abomination unto the Egyptians’—would enable them to remain a distinct and separate people and would thus serve to shut them out from participation in the idolatry of Egypt.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 232.
4. BLESSED MOMENTS
a. Describe the reunion of Jacob and Joseph. Genesis 46:28–30.
“Upon reaching Egypt the company proceeded directly to the land of Goshen. Thither came Joseph in his chariot of state, attended by a princely retinue. The splendor of his surroundings and the dignity of his position were alike forgotten; one thought alone filled his mind, one longing thrilled his heart. As he beheld the travelers approaching, the love whose yearnings had for so many long years been repressed, would no longer be controlled. He sprang from his chariot and hastened forward to bid his father welcome.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 233.
b. Relate the encounter between Jacob and the king. Genesis 47:7–10.
“The patriarch was a stranger in royal courts; but amid the sublime scenes of nature he had communed with a mightier Monarch; and now, in conscious superiority, he raised his hands and blessed Pharaoh.”—Ibid.
c. What was Jacob’s experience in Egypt like? Genesis 47:27, 28.
“In his first greeting to Joseph, Jacob had spoken as if, with this joyful ending to his long anxiety and sorrow, he was ready to die. But seventeen years were yet to be granted him in the peaceful retirement of Goshen. These years were in happy contrast to those that had preceded them. He saw in his sons evidence of true repentance; he saw his family surrounded by all the conditions needful for the development of a great nation; and his faith grasped the sure promise of their future establishment in Canaan. He himself was surrounded with every token of love and favor that the prime minister of Egypt could bestow; and happy in the society of his long-lost son, he passed down gently and peacefully to the grave.”—Ibid.
d. Despite Jacob’s pleasant time in Egypt, what earnest request revealed how strongly his aim was to trust in God’s promises? Genesis 47:29–31.
5. FOCUSING ON THE FUTURE
a. What demonstrates Jacob’s prophetic discernment regarding the sons of Joseph? Hebrews 11:21; Genesis 48:8, 9, 17–19.
b. How was this prophecy soon to be fulfilled? Numbers 1:33–35; 2:21, 24; Deuteronomy 33:16, 17.
c. How is the experience of Jacob and his sons to motivate us today? Romans 12:1, 2.
“The power of evil in [Jacob’s] own nature was broken; his character was transformed. . . .
“Jacob, reviewing his life-history, recognized the sustaining power of God—‘the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil.’ Genesis 48:15, 16.
“The same experience is repeated in the history of Jacob’s sons—sin working retribution, and repentance bearing fruit of righteousness unto life.
“God does not annul His laws. He does not work contrary to them. The work of sin He does not undo. But He transforms. Through His grace the curse works out blessing.”—Education, pp. 147, 148.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What might be the real purpose for the trial I am currently facing?
2. Describe God’s plan for fathers of today.
3. Why was Egypt a suitable place for God’s people—but only temporarily?
4. What should I learn from Jacob’s perspective while briefly in Egypt?
5. How can wayward members of my family change as Jacob’s did?