God Redeems Betrayal

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Leader Guide CSB, Unit 4, Session 1
© 2018 LifeWay Christian Resources, Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser, edited by Rev. Lex DeLong, M.A.
God Redeems Betrayal
Summary and Goal
In this session, we will see that Jacob’s favoritism did not stop with his love for Rachel over Leah; he also loved Joseph more than his other sons. And once again, we will see that favoritism never ends well for anyone. However, we will also see that God continued His plan to use this family shattered by sin and strife.
What are ways people play favorites with others?
Big Idea: God is willing and able to redeem His people from the most adverse situations, even those His people create for themselves
Family strife can shatter a family, but God works even through the sinful choices of humanity to bring about good.
The life of Joseph is an example of God’s pattern of redemptive reversal, where He permits what appears to be detrimental or destructive and reverses it to accomplish His redemptive purposes.
Session Outline:
1. Favoritism leads to hatred and strife (Gen. 37:3-8).
++2. Jealousy leads to an opportunity for sin (Gen. 37:18-22).
++3. Bitterness leads to betrayal (Gen. 37:23-28).
++4. God Redeems through it all
Christ Connection
Joseph was his father’s beloved son who was betrayed by his own brothers and sold into slavery in order to rescue his brothers from the famine. Jesus is the Father’s beloved Son who was betrayed by His own and died on the cross to rescue us from our sin.
Søren Kierkegaard, a nineteenth-century Christian philosopher, said, “Life must be understood backwards … it must be lived—forwards.” 1 Time offers us a better perspective, a clearer lens, from which to understand what we experience today, whether good or bad. But while tomorrow can give us the gift of understanding, it cannot give us the gift of healing; that only comes from God.
God continued His plan to use the family of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, though shattered by sin and strife. God is willing and able to redeem His people from the most adverse situations, even those His people create for themselves.
The life of Joseph is an example of God’s pattern of redemptive reversal, where He permits what appears to be detrimental or destructive and reverses it to accomplish His redemptive purposes.

Point 1: Favoritism leads to hatred and strife (Gen. 37:3-8).

“Favoritism.” The word produces such great joy and great sorrow.
For the favored, the word prompts memories of advantages and perks: special gifts from a parent; special treatment from a teacher; special outings with a friend.
For those not favored, its fruit is jealousy, anger, bitterness, and heartache.
Jacob had played favorites with his wives. He favored Rachel over Leah.
As Genesis 37 opens, we now read of Jacob playing favorites with his sons, favoring Joseph over his brothers.
Joseph seemed to bask in his favored position, oblivious to the resentment festering in his brothers.
Read: Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 37:3-8 (DDG p. 12).
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than his other sons because Joseph was a son born to him in his old age, and he made a robe of many colors for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not bring themselves to speak peaceably to him.
5 Then Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 There we were, binding sheaves of grain in the field. Suddenly my sheaf stood up, and your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.”
8 “Are you really going to reign over us?” his brothers asked him. “Are you really going to rule us?” So they hated him even more because of his dream and what he had said.
Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph strained the relationships within his family.
· The multi-colored robe was a symbol of Jacob’s special love for Joseph for all to see. It may have signified Jacob’s choice of Joseph—the firstborn son of his beloved wife, Rachel—to lead the family after him, 2 being the firstborn who really counted in his mind. Jacob’s placing Joseph in the role of a supervisor over his brothers as they shepherded the flocks supports this possibility (see Gen. 37:12-17).
· Joseph’s brothers hated him and hated him more because of Joseph’s dream about their sheaves of grain bowing to his. The meaning of the dream was not lost on the brothers: they would one day bow to Joseph. His brothers did not respond with great joy at the thought that he was a seer in their midst.
· Joseph recounted a second dream in Genesis 37:9-11
“Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, “Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” He related it to his father and to his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, “What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the saying in mind.”
The sun, moon, and eleven stars bowed to him.
This time, Jacob himself rebuked Joseph for implying that the family would bow to him.
The brothers were jealous of Joseph, but Jacob continued to ponder what the dream could mean.
DDG (p. 12).
Favoritism, hatred, and strife plagued Abraham’s family for generations. Isaac favored Esau while Rebekah favored Jacob. Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah. Jacob favored Joseph, the firstborn son God gave his beloved Rachel. Because of favoritism, Jacob struggled to have peace in his family.
What kind of damage can such favoritism cause for you or others at home, at work, or in some other setting?
We aren’t all that unlike our biblical ancestors.
Our penchant to play favorites can lead us to try to help God accomplish His plans through our methods, but God does not need our interference.
Favoritism can never be justified because God does not show favoritism (Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:11; Gal. 2:6; Eph 6:9).
When we sin through favoritism, on any level, we perpetuate hatred and strife instead of love and peace.
Fill in the Blanks: Provide group members with the answers for the call-out in their DDG (p. 12).
Family Relationships: God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth. Children are to honor and obey their parents. DDG (p. 12)
“Family Relationships”: God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society to most clearly reflect the image of God, just like He has ordained the church as the primary witness of His salvation during this present age.
The family is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption.
Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.
It is God’s unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and His church, and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel of intimacy according to biblical standards Heb. 13:4, and the means for procreation of the human race.
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created to reflect together God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people.
A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church.
He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family.
A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.
She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him (interdependence), has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation (Eph. 5:22-33; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).
Children, from the moment of conception, are a blessing and heritage from the Lord.
Parents are to demonstrate to their children God’s pattern for marriage.
Parents are to teach their children spiritual and moral values and to lead them, through consistent lifestyle example and loving discipline, to make choices based on biblical truth (Deut. 6:4-9).
Children are to honor and obey their parents (Eph. 6:1-3).
Favoritism is never productive; it is always destructive…but it cannot stop God from doing good despite it.

Point 2: Jealousy leads to an opportunity for sin (Gen. 37:18-22).

At some point after Joseph shared his dreams with his family, his brothers went into the fields with their father’s flocks. Jacob then sent Joseph to his other sons so he could report back on them (never a good idea).
But when his brothers saw Joseph in the distance, they recognized an opportunity to rid themselves of the one they hated so much.
Read Genesis 37:18-22 (DDG p. 13).
18 They saw him in the distance, and before he had reached them, they plotted to kill him. 19 They said to one another, “Oh, look, here comes that dream expert! 20 So now, come on, let’s kill him and throw him into one of the pits. We can say that a vicious animal ate him. Then we’ll see what becomes of his dreams!”
21 When Reuben heard this, he tried to save him from them. He said, “Let’s not take his life.” 22 Reuben also said to them, “Don’t shed blood. Throw him into this pit in the wilderness, but don’t lay a hand on him”—intending to rescue him from them and return him to his father.
DDG (p. 13), Jealousy and hatred led Joseph’s brothers to consider the sin of murder.
Joseph’s brothers were blinded by jealousy and hatred, and Jacob was blind to just how deep their jealousy went.
Sending Joseph to report on them, the doting father had given his vengeful sons the opportunity they needed to dispense with their “beloved” brother, and they devised a plan to murder him.
As King Solomon would later warn, “Fury is cruel, and anger a flood, but who can withstand jealousy?” (Prov. 27:4).
Joseph and Jacob would soon see the wisdom of that proverb.
Joseph’s brothers had shown a tendency toward violence before in Genesis 34, where Simeon and Levi took vengeance on an entire city for the rape of their sister. In their deceit and hatred, they devised a plan and proceeded to kill every male in the city, and then the rest of the brothers joined in and plundered the city of all its people and possessions.
Why is it so difficult to see God at work in the midst of hurt and heartache, especially when you or someone you care for has been wronged?
DDG (p. 13).
The sin of jealousy led each of the brothers to view Joseph not as a brother or a person but as an obstacle.
Even Reuben’s seemingly heroic actions fell short of God’s expectations for His people.
As believers, God has called us not to jealousy and fear but to love as we confront sin in our lives and in our culture.
We are to know the truth of God’s revelation, live according to it, and be bold as we stand for truth in this world.
· Reuben offered a compromise to his brothers to save face as he veiled the truth of his plan—he advocated throwing Joseph in a pit so he could later come and rescue him.
But consider what Reuben failed to say and do, what he should have said and done.
Reuben should have rebuked his brothers.
He should have called on them to repent of their sin of jealousy and hatred and for even considering murdering their brother.
He should have demanded that they receive Joseph with open arms rather than an open pit.
· Unlike Reuben, we are to be bold as we stand for truth, even if we are outnumbered, even if our lonely voice crying out is mocked and rejected.
We are to declare clearly and emphatically what is right and what is wrong, as long as we do it with love (Eph. 4:15, speaking of doctrinal truth and teaching).
It is our duty to honor the banner of Christ above all else, and He came in truth and grace (John 1:14,17), so we honor Him by speaking the truth boldly.
· We are emboldened for the truth as we live according to God’s Word, trusting in His revealed sovereignty and goodness in the face of sin and evil.
This teaches us that He is capable of redemptive reversal today. In other words, He is able to take what is meant for evil and use it for good.
But perhaps too few of us are feeding our souls on God’s Word to stand for truth—we don’t know it, or if we do, we don’t love it.
The growing biblical illiteracy in our homes and churches pushes God’s people to the sidelines of our culture as we stand by and watch sins like favoritism and jealousy wreak havoc in our society, our churches, and our families.
Statistics: The majority of Americans value the Bible; almost ninety percent of American households own at least one Bible, including nearly seventy percent of non-Christian homes. But only one in seven adults reads the Bible daily. 3 https://www.lifeway.com/en/special-emphasis/read-the-bible/articles/dive-into-the-bible-and-learn-to-swim?carid=lw-psocial-ReadtheBible-12222017
How might spending more time in God’s Word motivate us to stand against sin and for the gospel in our culture?
(we would be reminded again and again of the destructive effects of sin; regular time in God’s Word helps to shape our worldview so we recognize sin when we see it and know the gospel is the solution for it; we would see the grace and kindness of God that draws us and the world to repentance and faith in Jesus)

Point 3: Bitterness leads to betrayal (Gen. 37:23-28).

Read Genesis 37:23-28 (DDG p. 14).
23 When Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped off Joseph’s robe, the robe of many colors that he had on. 24 Then they took him and threw him into the pit. The pit was empty, without water.
25 They sat down to eat a meal, and when they looked up, there was a caravan of Ishmaelites coming from Gilead. Their camels were carrying aromatic gum, balsam, and resin, going down to Egypt.
26 Judah said to his brothers, “What do we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? 27 Come on, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay a hand on him, for he is our brother, our own flesh,” and his brothers agreed. 28 When Midianite traders passed by, his brothers pulled Joseph out of the pit and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took Joseph to Egypt.
Since Reuben had forestalled Joseph’s murder by asking his brothers not to kill Joseph and to cast him into a pit instead, the brothers, in their bitterness, found another opportunity to sin.
· Seeing a caravan of Ishmaelites approaching, Judah suggested a new plan.
Killing Joseph would be of no profit, and as much as they hated Joseph, he was their brother, their own flesh and blood.
So instead, they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites as a slave for twenty pieces of silver, a modest return.
Judah offered selling Joseph as a slave in place of killing him, but this is not to his credit.
Judah saw Joseph was worth just enough not to take his life but not worth more than a small sum of silver divided between the brothers.
· The brothers’ final act that day was an attempt to hide their sin (Gen. 37:29-35).
They slaughtered a male goat, dipped Joseph’s robe in its blood, and sent the robe to their father to make it appear as if Joseph had been killed by a wild animal, part of their original plan (vv. 20,31).
They deceived Jacob, but a robe covered with goat’s blood would not cover their sin before God.
DDG (p. 14).
In the end, the brothers did not murder Joseph, at least not with their hands. But they did murder him in their hearts (see Matt. 5:21-22) as they sold him into slavery and then deceived their father, Jacob, concerning his fate.
Even so, God would turn their plan around. He would accomplish a redemptive reversal.
· Joseph’s brothers devised an evil plan, but God works all things together for good—even jealousy, bitterness, and betrayal.
God would eventually bring about a redemptive reversal from this situation, using the brother they had cast aside and sold into slavery to preserve their lives in a foreign land.
God used the brothers’ sin of selling Joseph into slavery to position Joseph to save the lives of the very ones who reviled him for being a dreamer and to preserve the line of the coming Messiah.
Sounds a little like what Jesus did on the cross, doesn’t it?
How have you seen God redeem situations for His glory and our good?
(be prepared to give an answer of your own to jump-start the conversation)
The gospel of Jesus is the ultimate redemptive reversal. DDG (p. 14).
We are more like Joseph’s brothers than we care to admit: All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
But God, who is rich in mercy, provided salvation to us through His greatest act of redemptive reversal—the rejection and crucifixion of His Son followed by His resurrection from the dead.
The blood shed by Jesus on the cross covers our sin—not in an attempt to hide it as Joseph’s brothers had done but as a satisfaction of our sin debt owed to God.
Voices from Church History
“My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought: My sin—not in part, but the whole Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!” –Horatio G. Spafford (1828-1888) 4
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 14), Jesus’ blood could cover our sin because He never sinned.
Temptation and Sin: Jesus was tempted like we are, and yet, He never sinned but faithfully resisted temptation and followed the will of His Father. Knowing our weakness, we are to be on guard against temptation that may lead us to sin, and we pray for God to deliver us from evil.
So many times we are focused on and practiced up on resisting temptation. That we seem to have down pat. The problem arises when we leave the empty slot of practice wide open for the temptation to return, rather than filling the slot with practices that follow the will of the Father.
Like Jesus Christ, we are to faithfully resist temptation, but it is also imperative that we replace it with following God’s will.
Essential Doctrine “Temptation and Sin”:
Temptation is not the equivalent of sin.
Temptation can refer to natural and good desires that are twisted and directed toward pleasing of self rather than giving glory to God.
Jesus was tempted like we are (Matt. 4), and yet He never sinned but faithfully resisted temptation and followed the will of His Father.
Knowing our weakness, we are to be on guard against temptation that may lead us to sin (Matt. 26:41), and we pray for God to deliver us from evil (Matt. 6:13).
· Jesus, like Joseph, was betrayed by His own. He too was sold for the price of a slave: thirty pieces of silver (Matt. 26:15).
We are the people God created for His glory, but we have all betrayed God, pursuing our own glory and seeking enjoyment and meaning apart from our Creator and His salvation.
· In His greatest act of redemptive reversal, God turned the betrayal against His Son around for our good.

Point 4: God Redeems through it all

Jesus paid for sins He did not commit to give life to people who did not deserve it.
Through the Holy Spirit, we are to fight selfishness and sin, such as favoritism, bitterness, and betrayal, knowing that Jesus gave His life to put these evil acts to death.
With love and grace for all, we join in calling others to become part of God’s family for His honor and praise.
DDG (p. 15)
Because we are fully accepted by the Father in Christ, we fight selfishness and sin to live in a way that brings honor and praise to God’s Son and guides others to become part of God’s family.
· What are some ways you will fight against selfishness and sin in your life this week?
· How can your group reach out to those who have been wronged and rejected by others?
· How can you use past times of redemptive reversal in your life to point others to God’s work in the gospel?
1. Søren Kierkegaard, in The Diary of Søren Kierkegaard, ed. Peter Rohde (New York: Citadel Press, 1988), 111.
2. Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible (Nashville: B&H, 2017), 64-65, n. 37:2-4.
3. Trevin Wax, “Dive into the Bible and Learn to Swim,” LifeWay.com, December 22, 2017, https://www.lifeway.com/en/special-emphasis/read-the-bible/articles/dive-into-the-bible-and-learn-to-swim?carid=lw-psocial-ReadtheBible-12222017.
4. Horatio G. Spafford, “It Is Well with My Soul,” in Baptist Hymnal(Nashville: LifeWay Worship, 2008), 447.
5. Roberta Jones, “Joseph and His Brothers,” Biblical Illustrator (Fall 2014): 55.
6. Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible, 65, n. 37:5-11.
7. Jesudason Baskar Jeyaraj, “Genesis,” in South Asia Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Brian Wintle (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2015), 58.
8. Barnabe Assohoto and Samuel Ngewa, “Genesis,” in Africa Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 66.
9. A. Boyd Luter Jr., “Genesis,” in The Apologetics Study Bible (Nashville: B&H, 2007), 61, n. 37:21-22,30-31.
10. Kenneth A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1b in The New American Commentary (Nashville: B&H, 2006) [WORDsearch].
11. T. Desmond Alexander, “Genesis,” in ESV Study Bible (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 116, n. 37:28.
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