Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, April 7, 2018

“Fruitful in the Land of My Affliction”

Think for a moment and imagine that you have died, and entered the spirit world. Upon entry you are now reviewing your earthly life and all of your experiences in mortality.  While there and reflecting you are asked the following questions, what would be your answers?

What were some of the trials you faced?...

What lessons have you learned from life's trials?...

If you could live your life over, what would you change about the way you dealt with your trials?...

How could you have taken better advantages of life's experiences?...

When I imagined this senario, I really thought, and reached into my heart trying to answer truthfully in my journal.

What are some of the trials I faced?  For me life has been full of trials, its just been one hit after another.  Some of my own making and some not but on the whole has been a struggle; but what lessons have I learned from those struggles?  I have learned to not give up, even when I felt like giving up, even when I wanted to die and prayed Heavenly Father would just take me, even when it hurt beyond the capcity I felt I had to deal with it, even when I didn't understand things fully, I learned not to give up to be steadfast and immovable leaning on Christ.  In the world of Elder Jeffery R Holland, "Don't you give you, don't you do it!"

If I could live life over, what would I change about the way I dealt with my trials?  I would not be weak and give in, I would not let Satan win, for in some of my battles, he won.  Rather,  I would be obedient to the commandments and Gospel of Jesus Christ because in there is safety and peace, I would seek and follow the counsel of the Lord because again there in, no matter how hard, is safety and peace. So, in going back, I would tell myself to stay the course...

How could I have taken better advantages of life's experiences?  I should have paid more attention, I should have not been times when I forgot, I should have remembered and requested and followed the counsel of the Lord, it would have been so much better, it would have been safer...even when it was hard.

The Moral of my story, I should have at certain times in my life, not fallen short, stayed the course and held to the iron rod, in doing so, I would have been that much smarter, and stronger. I am sometimes saddened that it took me too long to become converted, I wish I had allowed mine eyes to be opened sooner.

What is the Moral of your story?...

For Joseph Son of Jacob, in the Old Testament, the moral of his story was faith and obedience.  Even in the heat of great adversity, trail and tribulation, he did not falter, and the Lord was with him.  Our goal today is to learn from him so that we can gain strength and knowledge that we too will not falter, but be Fruitful in the Land of our Affliction.

1. Joseph interprets the dreams of the butler, the baker, and Pharaoh. Pharaoh makes Joseph ruler over all Egypt.  Genesis 40–41

In Genesis 3739 we learned of many of the trials and tribulations of Joseph:  

He was hated by his brothers Genesis 37:4 
His brothers conspired to kill him, then sold him as a slave instead Genesis 37:18–28 
He was unjustly put in prison after refusing to do evil Genesis 39:20 

How did Joseph respond to his trials?   Joseph, rather than sulk in his misery and curse God for all his bad situations, remained steadfast and faithful.  

How did the Lord bless Joseph for being righteous during times of trial?  "But the Lord was with Joseph, and shewed him mercy, and gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.  And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison, and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it."  Genesis 39:21-22

Joseph In Prison  Genesis 40  

Being put in prison unjustly was a great trial for Joseph yet at the same time it was a blessing.  In the Quran the story of Joseph states that he was actually happier to be in prison, than to be in the household with Pottifers wife and drama, it was safer.  I think this may have been a true statement for he was being hunted so to speak by a wild woman. and he's goal was to stay true to God.  So though it was a great trail, and injustice, Joseph treated it as a blessing. 

In doing so, while there he gained the respect of the prison master and was elevated in his position while serving sentance.  And along with him serving time, were Pharaoh's butler and baker.  These two servants were put under the charge of Joseph while serving their sentence.  In this chapter of Genesis we learn that while in prison these men each had dreams which Joseph, through the power of God, accurately interpreted teaching each man that interpretations belong to God.  

 When Joseph interpreted the butler’s dream, what did he ask of the butler in return?  Genesis 40:14–15

14 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:
15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.
What happened when the butler was released from prison?  Genesis 40:21, 23.
21 And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand:
23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgathim.
Why was this another trial for Joseph? He remained in prison for two more years.  Genesis 41:1, 14
Why was Joseph finally let out of prison? Genesis 41:1, 8–15 
Two years after being imprisoned, Pharaoh dreamed two dreams and sought the Intrpretation.  Calling on the wise men and magicians of Egypt for answers none could interpret the dream. The butler then reported his experience with Joseph in prison two years earlier and Joseph was summoned to the court of Pharaoh.  
What was Joseph’s response when the Pharaoh said he had heard that Joseph could interpret dreams? Genesis 41:16
16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
How can we give proper acknowledgment to the Lord for our talents and gifts?  We can use them to glorify God and bless others, not for our own glory.
What did Pharaoh dream?  He dreamed of seven fat cows and seven lean cows Genesis 41:1-4 and he also dreamed of seven good ears of corn and seven thin ears of corn.  Genesis 41:5-7
What was the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream?  The dreams represented seven years of plenty and seven of famine (Genesis 41:25-32).
After Joseph gave the interpretation, what did he suggest Pharaoh do?  Joseph counseled Pharaoh about preparation for the years of famine Genesis 41:33-36
Joseph counseled Pharaoh to use the seven years of plenty to prepare Egypt for the seven years of famine that would follow (Genesis 41:29–30, 34–36).

What counsel do our Church leaders give us about preparing for times of famine or other difficulty?
Elder L. Tom Perry taught:
“Just as it is important to prepare ourselves spiritually, we must also prepare ourselves for our temporal needs. … We have been instructed for years to follow at least four requirements in preparing for that which is to come.
“First, gain an adequate education. Learn a trade or a profession to enable you to obtain steady employment that will provide remuneration sufficient to care for yourself and your family. …
“Second, live strictly within your income and save something for a rainy day. Incorporate in your lives the discipline of budgeting that which the Lord has blessed you with. As regularly as you pay your tithing, set aside an amount needed for future family requirements. …
“Third, avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. …
“Fourth, acquire and store a reserve of food and supplies that will sustain life [if local laws permit such storage]. Obtain clothing and build a savings account on a sensible, well-planned basis that can serve well in times of emergency. As long as I can remember, we have been taught to prepare for the future and to obtain a year’s supply of necessities. I would guess that the years of plenty have almost universally caused us to set aside this counsel. I believe the time to disregard this counsel is over. With events in the world today, it must be considered with all seriousness” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 46–47; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 36).
During the famine, “all countries came into Egypt to Joseph” to buy food because Egypt was the only country that had prepared for the famine (Genesis 41:54–57). How can being prepared provide us with opportunities to serve others?
How did Pharaoh respond to Joseph’s suggestion to prepare for a famine? Pharaoh was pleased with Joseph and the interpretation. He elevated Joseph to second in command in all Egypt Genesis 41:37–43
2. Joseph makes himself known to his brothers and forgives them Genesis 42–45 

Joseph directed the storage of food during the seven years of plenty, when the famine deepened, even into Canaan, Joseph sold grain from the storage that had been prepared.  When Jacob learned that there was food in Egypt he sent his ten oldest sons to buy grain and Benjamin, the youngest remained home with Jacob (Genesis 42:1-4).  Upon arriving in Egypt Joseph's brothers came and kneeled before Joseph seeking to buy grain. They did not recognize Joseph (Genesis 42:6-24). but he knew them and he accused them of being spies and sent them back to bring their youngest brother, Benjamin.

As they talked amongst themselves, the brothers were still feeling guilty about having sold Joseph into slavery 20 years earlier.  And at the demand of Joseph Simeon remained in Egypt as insurance that they would return.  "We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us" "And they knew not that Joseph understood them; for he spake unto them by an interpreter. And he turned himself about from them, and wept" 

Upon their return to Canaan, they asked Jacob to let Benjamin return with them to Egypt (Genesis 42:29-43:14). Jacob refused since he had already lost his beloved Joseph and now Simeon was left behind in Egypt, but he finally gave in when the famine became more sore and Judah said that he was willing to take full responsibility for Benjamin. 
With this it would appear that that Joseph's brothers matured some since they sold Joseph to the slave traders. Their guilt for that act was displayed in Egypt and now Judah, the one who led the brothers to sell Joseph, was willing to take full responsibility for Benjamin's safe return.  

The brothers went then to the house of Joseph but still did not recognize him (Genesis 43:15-34).  Joseph inquired of their father and when Joseph saw his brother Benjamin "he entered into his chamber, and wept there" Benjamin was given special treatment being his youngest brother and blood kindred, but before Joseph's brothers left with their grain, he had a silver cup planted in Benjamin's sack (Genesis 44:1-45:1).

Shortly after the departure of his brethren, guards were sent and out searched the sacks of the eleven brothers and the cup was found in Benjamin's sack. The brothers were returned to the house of Joseph, where Joseph ordered that Benjamin be left behind and that they bring their father down to Egypt.

They pleaded for Benjamin, "The lad cannot leave his father: for if he should leave his father, his father would die" Then Judah plead for Benjamin and his father: "...when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave"  Judah even offered to stay behind in Benjamin's place and again we see the tremendous change of heart of Judah. Years before he was concerned about his pride and selfish-ambitions and sold his brother into slavery. Now he is more concerned about his father and brother than he is his own life. The emotion of the moment was too much for Joseph.  "Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren." 
Like many other foreigners who needed grain (Gen. 41:57), Joseph's brothers went to Egypt, where they bowed themselves before him, unknowingly fulfilling the old prophetic dream (Gen. 42:6b). Recognizing them and understanding their language, Joseph apparently seized the opportunity to test their integrity before divulging his identity. He challenged their claim that they were not spies but ten of one man's twelve sons—one of whom was at home "and one is not" (Gen. 42:13). Three days in jail with the prospect that only one would be allowed to return home must have terrified them. Then Joseph's release of all but one must have amazed them, as also his explanation that he did so be-cause he had reverence for God. In addition, they had a new challenge: to return with their youngest brother to prove their veracity.
Note how guilty they felt regarding the lost brother, how Reuben chastised them, and how Joseph reacted—obviously not enjoying their suffering. Joseph may have held Simeon rather than Reuben, the firstborn son and natural leader, because he appreciated Reuben's attitude and remembered Reuben's effort to frustrate his brothers' violent intent and lack of compassion when they sold him (Gen. 42:21-2437:2229-30).
The return of Israel's money by Joseph was generous, but even that was looked upon suspiciously by the brothers as a plot whereby God might yet punish them.

The brothers did not go back to Egypt to obtain Simeon's release until their acute need of food persuaded their father to let them go in spite of his fear of losing Benjamin in addition to Simeon and Joseph. So Judah also volunteered to be surety for Benjamin. Recall that it had been Judah's suggestion years before that Joseph be sold so that his blood would not be shed Gen. 37:26-27.    (Ellis T. Rasmussen Latter-day Commentary of the Old Testament)

 Why did Joseph’s brothers come to Egypt the first time?  Genesis 42:1–3

1 Now when Jacob saw that there was corn in Egypt, Jacob said unto his sons, Why do ye look one upon another?

2 And he said, Behold, I have heard that there is corn in Egypt: get you down thither, and buy for us from thence; that we may live, and not die.

3 And Joseph’s ten brethren went down to buy corn in Egypt.

 Why did they return to Egypt a second time?  Genesis 42:33–34; 43:2.

33 And the man, the lord of the country, said unto us, Hereby shall I know that ye are true men; leave one of your brethren here with me, and take food for the famine of your households, and be gone:

34 And bring your youngest brother unto me: then shall I know that ye are no spies, but that ye are true men: so will I deliver you your brother, and ye shall traffick in the land.
2 And it came to pass, when they had eaten up the corn which they had brought out of Egypt, their father said unto them, Go again, buy us a little food.

 Why was Jacob reluctant to let Benjamin go to Egypt with his brothers?  Genesis 42:36, 38.

36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.

38 And he said, My son shall not go down with you; for his brother is dead, and he is left alone: if mischief befall him by the way in the which ye go, then shall ye bring down my gray hairs with sorrow to the grave.

 Why did he finally agree to let Benjamin go?  Genesis 43:3–5, 11–14

3 And Judah spake unto him, saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.

4 If thou wilt send our brother with us, we will go down and buy thee food:

5 But if thou wilt not send him, we will not go down: for the man said unto us, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you.

11 And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds:

12 And take double money in your hand; and the money that was brought again in the mouth of your sacks, carry it again in your hand; peradventure it was an oversight:

13 Take also your brother, and arise, go again unto the man:

14 And God Almighty give you mercy before the man, that he may send away your other brother, and Benjamin. If I be bereaved of my children, I am bereaved.
In sending Benjamin to Egypt with his brothers, Jacob felt that he would be losing another son (Genesis 42:36). How did the Lord turn this perceived trial into a blessing for Jacob?
 36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved of my children: Joseph is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin away: all these things are against me.
 When Joseph was young, he had a dream foretelling that his brothers would eventually bow down to him (Genesis 37:5–11). How was this dream fulfilled?   Genesis 42:6; 43:26–28. 
6 And Joseph was the governor over the land, and he it was that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him with their faces to the earth.

26 And when Joseph came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth.

27 And he asked them of their welfare, and said, Is your father well, the old man of whom ye spake? Is he yet alive?

28 And they answered, Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance.

How did this fulfillment, which the brothers had thought would be a great trial to them, turn out to be a blessing?   Who would believe that a brother who was sold as a slave to a caravan of Arabians would have become the second most powerful man in Egypt.  
 More than 20 years after they sold Joseph into slavery, his brothers still felt guilty about their action (Genesis 42:21). How can guilt be a positive force in our lives?  Guilt can make us want to be better people, it can make us sorry for our actions and it can make us want to come unto Christ. Guilt can be a great teacher and prevent future sin.  

 How can it be a negative force? If we do not handle guilt in the right way, it can cause us to not fully repent and leave us with heavy hearts, and sometimes cause us to turn away from the very things we should seek.  Not letting go of guilt after seeking the Lord through repentance can leave us, faltering, we must also learn to forgive ourselves.  

 How does complete repentance affect feelings of guilt?  Enos 1:4–6
They are gone, it erases them and the feelings of the past sins change, they become lessons of learning, and lessons that one doesn't want to repeat, but the pain, is gone, it is truly a miracle and a gift.  

In making all these things happen, it had been Judah’s idea to sell Joseph as a slave.  How did Joseph’s brother Judah show that he had become a kinder person since he had last seen Joseph?  Genesis 44:18, 30–34.

18 Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.

30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life;

31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave.

32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever.

33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.

34 For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

By demanding Benjamin be brought back to Egypt Jospeh allowed his brothers to show whether or not they truly were sorry for what they had done to him so many years before.  Would they now show the same lack of concern for Benjamin?  It is significant that Judah who suggested that Joseph be sold became the one who was willing to become the surety for Benjamin.  There does seem to be evidence of sincere repentance on the brothers part and Joseph's stratagem allowed them to demonstrate this repentance.  When the pressure wason Judah's change of heart was shown to be complete.  (Old Testament Student Manual) 
 Why do you think Joseph’s brothers were worried when Joseph revealed his identity to them? Genesis 45:1–3   Most likely they feared revenge and Joseph was in a great position to do just that therefore they feared. 

1 Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he cried, Cause every man to go out from me. And there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known unto his brethren.
2 And he wept aloud: and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard.
3 And Joseph said unto his brethren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his brethren could not answer him; for they were troubled at his presence.
How did Joseph show that he had forgiven his brothers? Genesis 45:4–11, 14–15.

4 And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.

5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest.

7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.

8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

9 Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not:

10 And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:

11 And there will I nourish thee; for yet there are five years of famine; lest thou, and thy household, and all that thou hast, come to poverty.
14 And he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck, and wept; and Benjamin wept upon his neck.

15 Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

 How do you think Joseph’s forgiveness helped lift his brothers spiritually?  I am certain that it was a most humbling experience for them and seeing Joseph act as God had intended his children to act must have been a great teaching for the brothers spiritually, as well it lifted there souls for in this there repentance was complete.  

 What does the world tell us to do when someone has wronged us, as Joseph’s brothers did him? Get Even! Sue! Revenge!  He had it coming.  She deserved it, it was their own fault...

  What does the Lord tell us to do? (See D&C 64:8–11.)  Forgive....

 How have you been blessed when you have dealt kindly with others who have mistreated you?  I have felt the spirit in doing this very thing, so strong you could touch it, I know it Christ wants us to do this, but I also know that it is very hard, yet when we seek him, it is possible, and the pain, the pain of the incident, is no more...

  How can we become more forgiving?  By seeking the Counsel of the Lord.  Through study, prayer, and listening to those who are called to preach and teach unto us we can have a desire to be  better people, we can have a desire to be even like Jesus Christ, and be forgiving, even in the hardest of circumstances...

How did Joseph’s imprisonment in Egypt, which was a trial for him, become a blessing for him, his family, and all Egypt? Genesis 45:4–8.
Joseph sends his brothers home and to bring their father, Jacob, down to Egypt where Israel in its entirety can be safe and taken care of, where they can dwell in peace.  Joseph became a great ruler, he married and had two sons that continued the tribes of Israel.  Prophecies were fulfilled through his trails.  

  How can we follow Joseph’s example in dealing with our own challenges and trials?
Joseph's reliance was upon the Lord, his trust was in the Lord, and his allegiance ran to the Lord.  This is the greatest lesson we can learn.  When things get bad we cannot give up, even when we don't understand or see the outcome, we must weather the storm, hold to the iron rod, stay the course, seek God, see the good, and always forgive...

 In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul told the Romans that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Romans 8:28). How has this been true in your life?  Record your thoughts in your journal!

3. Joseph’s sons

After Pharaoh made him ruler over Egypt, Joseph married a woman named Asenath, and they had two sons (Genesis 41:45, 50). What did Joseph and Asenath name their sons? Genesis 41:51–52

51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.
52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

Why were these appropriate names for sons of Joseph?  Manasseh means “forgetting” and Ephraim means “fruitful.”  (Bible Dictionary, pages 666 and 728.)


Throughout his many trials, Joseph remained faithful. Do we remain faithful during our trails in our time? It is not always easy but should be our utmost goal!  Joseph even forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery. Could we do that?  We should be able to, again though it is not easy, it should be our utmost goal.  Because of his righteousness, Joseph was greatly blessed.  If we are faithful, God will bless us by making all things work together for our good, even those things that seem unbearable.  


Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament 

Bible Dictionary

old testament student manual

gospel doctrine class

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