This object lesson uses a tower of cups and a waterfall of liquid to demonstrate how God blessed everyone around Joseph because of Joseph’s faithfulness to God.
- Genesis 37:12-36; 39:1-6, 20-23; 41:53-57
- 2 Corinthians 9:8 – The Voice translation: “God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way and you’ll have more than enough to share.”
- Notecard (1)
- Cup Tower
- Clear, plastic cups (41)
- Transparent tape (“Scotch” tape or another brand) (1 roll)
- Double-sided foam tape (1 roll)
- Large spoon (for stirring)
- Tray or clear basin (to catch any water that overflows the cups)
- Food coloring (I recommend a darker color such as green, red or blue.)
- Write 2 Corinthians 9:8 from The Voice translation on a notecard.
- Create a cup tower.
- Stack the cups in five layers.
- The bottom layer will have 18 cups.
- The next layer will have 12 cups.
- The next layer will have seven cups.
- The next layer will have three cups.
- The top layer will just have one cup.
- It may be helpful to assemble each layer separately first and to tape the cups together at the rims with transparent tape.
- Then, place a piece of double-sided foam tape wherever three cups will be supporting an upper layer cup.
- Finally, place your layers on top of each other one-by-one, and press gently to get the double-sided tape to stick.
- You don’t need your cup tower to last forever, but you don’t want it to fall apart during your lesson as you add the weight of the water to the upper layers.
- See the photos below to help you assemble the cup tower.
- Place your cup tower into or onto the clear basin or tray.
- Test your cup tower, but pouring water into the top cup, and ensuring that water cascades into the lower levels of cups.
- Fill the pitcher with water, add food coloring, and stir.
- Bookmark Genesis 39:20-23 in your Bible so that you can find it quickly when you need someone to read it out loud.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- Joseph was sold by his brothers and had to go to serve as a slave in Egypt.
- He was sold to a man named Potiphar, who held a very high position in Pharaoh’s court.
- Pharaoh was the king of Egypt, and Potiphar was the captain of his security team.
- Potiphar was probably very wealthy and had a large household.
- He put Joseph to work, and he was soon very pleased with how hard-working and responsible Joseph was.
- The bible says that Joseph “succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master.” (Gen 39:2)
- Potiphar was so happy that he made Joseph his personal attendant and put him in charge of his entire household.
- Then, an amazing thing happened!
- The bible says, “the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s household for Joseph’s sake. All his household affairs ran smoothly, and his crops and livestock flourished.” (Gen 39:5)
- In other words, Potiphar’s life got better BECAUSE Joseph was there!
- Potiphar wasn’t even a follower of God, but God blessed him, because he had Joseph living in his house.
- Here’s what’s really cool!
- This doesn’t just happen with Joseph; it happens with you, too!
- When you are following God and doing what He says to do in your bible, God is so pleased with you that He blesses you.
- But God loves to bless you with much more than you need. (Have volunteer read 2 Corinthians 9:8 from The Voice translation: “God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you’ll always be taken care of in every way and you’ll have more than enough to share.”)
- That’s such a great Scripture!
- Let me show you what that looks like. (Ask for a volunteer to come help you, and bring out your cup tower and your pitcher of colored water.)
- In this stack of cups, you are this top cup, and the other cups are the people around you.
- When you are pleasing God by doing what He wants you to do, He blesses you.
- Let’s pretend that this liquid is God’s blessing in your life. (Show pitcher of colored liquid, and help your volunteer pour it into the top cup in the stack. Keep pouring after the cup is full, and the liquid will start to spill over into the other cups, which will then spill over into the other cups. Continue pouring until all the cups are full.)
- God overwhelms you with his blessings!
- It’s more than you could ever imagine!
- You are taken care of in every way!
- And you have more than enough to share!
- See how all the people around you get blessed, because you are doing what God wants you to do!
- You take God’s blessing with you everywhere you go. (Thank and dismiss your volunteer.)
- So Joseph is in Potiphar’s house, and Potiphar is being blessed.
- But through some unfair events, Joseph was thrown into prison.
- You might think Joseph would have been angry with God for allowing this to happen, but he continued to trust God even in prison.
- And you know what God did? He blessed the prison because of Joseph. (Have a volunteer read Genesis 39:20-23.)
- God overwhelmed Joseph with blessings, and they poured out onto the people in the prison. (Gesture toward the cup tower.)
- You know what happened next?
- Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, had some dreams that troubled him.
- He heard that Joseph knew how to interpret dreams, so he released Joseph from prison and had him interpret his dreams for him.
- When he heard how wise Joseph was, he promoted him to the second highest position in the entire country.
- He put Joseph in charge of all the food in Egypt, and Joseph managed it so well when there was plenty of food that there was enough for all the people during a terrible famine that lasted for seven years.
- In fact, Joseph had saved so much food during the good times that there was enough to feed the people of other countries when they ran out of food.
- The people of these nations bought food from Egypt and made Pharaoh very rich.
- Again, God overwhelmed Joseph with blessings, and those blessings poured out onto the people of Egypt and the nations around Egypt.
- God can do the same thing through you!
- If you do what God wants you to do, God will bless you and everyone around you!
- (You may want to have the kids say the following Rhyme Time a few times to reinforce the main teaching point.)
When we do what God wants us to do
God blesses us and those around us, too!
Children, Teens, Adults
This object lesson teaches about how God’s permissive will works with God’s unchangeable will. It uses the stories of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his brothers to illustrate how God allows us to make choices but brings even our bad choices and sin into alignment with his perfect will in the end.
- Genesis 2:16-17; 37-50
- Numbers 23:19
- Deuteronomy 30:15-20
- Joshua 24:14-15
- 1 Samuel 15:29
- Malachi 3:6
- Romans 8:28
- Hebrews 6:17
- James 1:17
- One red rope – about 15-20 ft long
- Five ropes (any color other than red) – about 15-20 ft long each
- Printout of the file, “JJ – God’s Permissive Will – Choices Cards (OBJ LESSON).” It can be found on the Lesson and Material Downloads page at www.teachingthem.com. This can be printed in black and white on regular paper.
- 70 clothespins
- Large paper clip or rubber band
- Bag to hold clothespins, Choice Cards and ropes
- Print out “JJ – God’s Permissive Will – Choice Cards.” (There are 35 pages.)
- Cut each of the pages in half down the line in the middle to make 70 separate Choice Cards.
- Put ropes in your bag
- Put the clothespins in your bag so that you can carry them during your lesson.
- Put the Choice Cards in numerical order (the numbers are on each card) with #1 on top and all the rest following.
- Clip or rubber band these cards together, and put them in your bag.
- Practice the script.
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “God’s will is difficult to understand.”
- “In some parts of the Bible, it says that God’s will never changes.” (Have volunteer(s) read one or more of the following Scriptures out loud: Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29, Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 6:17, James 1:17.)
- “But we know from other parts of the Bible that God allows us to have free will – meaning, He lets us make choices.” (Have a volunteer(s) read one or more of the following Scriptures out loud: Genesis 2:16-17, Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Joshua 24:14-15.)
- “This is sometimes called ‘God’s permissive will,’ which means that God gives us permission to choose to do something different than His will.”
- “These Scriptures make me wonder how God’s will can always stay the same even though we do things that are not in His will.”
- “Why don’t our bad decisions mess up God’s perfect and unchanging will?”
- “I’m going to show you how this all works.” (Ask for two volunteers. Give them each one end of the red rope, and have them stretch it out as far as it will go across the room.)
- “Let’s say that this is God’s unchanging will.”
- “It stays the same no matter what.”
- “On this end, we have ‘Before time began,’ and on the other side, we have ‘Eternity.’”
- “God’s will is outside of time. It was here before time began and will continue on after time ends.”
- “This rope represents our free will.”
- “There was a time in the Garden of Eden when God’s will and man’s free will were tied together.” (Tie the two ropes together near the ‘Before time began” end.)
- “But that didn’t last long, because Adam and Eve chose to do something against God’s will when they ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
- “Whenever people step away from God’s will by using their free will to do something wrong, it looks like this.” (Ask for another volunteer to come up and hold the “free will” rope away from the “God’s Will” rope. Leave the two ropes tied together, but have the volunteer just hold the rope a few steps away from the “God’s Will” rope.)
- “That first sin was followed by many more, and I don’t have time to tell you about all of them.”
- “Instead, I’ll focus just on one family – the family of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.”
- “I’m picking this family, because they are God’s chosen people, the ones He made a promise to bless.”
- “The story started with God making a promise to Abraham. Abraham was old and didn’t have any children, but God promised to make him the father of many nations. His son Isaac was the child of that promise.”
- “At this point, Abraham’s free will was lined up with God’s will, so the two ropes are together.” (Have volunteer who has the “free will” rope come back to the red “God’s will” rope and hold both ropes together. Pull out Choice Card #1 from your bag. Show it to the audience. Clip the two ropes together using a clothespin. Anytime a Choice Card says, ‘GOD’S WILL – BOTH ROPES’ at the bottom, clip the two ropes together.)
- “Isaac grew up and got married. His wife Rebekah couldn’t have children, so he prayed for her. God answered his prayer and gave them two children, Esau and Jacob.”
- “What do you think? Was Isaac’s free will still lined up with God’s will at this point?” (Listen to responses.)
- “Sure it was! Isaac wanted what God wanted, and God blessed him with two children.” (Show Choice Card #2, and use the clothespin to clip the two ropes together.)
- “Esau and Jacob fought with each other in their mother’s womb, and God told Rebekah that Jacob would one day rule over his brother Esau.”
- “Do you think it God’s will that the babies fought in the womb?” (Listen to responses.)
- “I don’t know for sure if babies know enough to use their free will, but let’s say that it could be possible.”
- “That means that their free will separated from God’s will.” (Have ‘free will’ rope volunteer take a step away from the ‘God’s will’ rope so that the two ropes separate. Make sure he/she doesn’t pull hard on the rope and rip the Choice Cards that are already on it. Use a clothespin to clip Choice Card #3 to just the ‘free will’ rope. Draw out Choice Card #4, and show audience.)
- “Jacob’s name in Hebrew means, ‘He deceives,’ and it’s a great name for Jacob. He was one of the trickiest people in the whole Bible. The first trick we know about is when he convinced his brother, Esau, to sell him the birthright of the firstborn son in exchange for a bowl of stew!”
- “The birthright of the firstborn son was a special privilege given to the boy who was born first, and it made him the leader of the family when the father died. It also gave him twice the inheritance of the other children, so it was pretty important.”
- “Now we know that God said Jacob would one day rule over Esau, but I’m pretty sure this is not how God planned for it to happen.”
- “God didn’t need Jacob to trick Esau. God would have made His will come true without tricks.”
- “So, this choice that Jacob made was definitely away from God’s will!” (Clip Choice Card #4 with a clothespin to just the ‘free will’ rope. If you have lots of participants, you could give the choice card to a volunteer and have him/her clip it and then stand by it to represent that choice. There will be 70 choices total, so you might have each volunteer represent several choices. Draw out the remaining Choice Cards in numerical order while telling the story of God’s chosen people. The cards are listed below for your reference along with important story elements.)
- REBEKAH AND JACOB – Tricked Isaac into giving Esau’s blessing to Jacob (It wasn’t enough that Jacob stole the birthright from Esau; he felt he had to steal his blessing, too. (The blessing was a special gift from the father that helped a child to know what his or her future would be like.)) FREE WILL ROPE
- ESAU – Threatened to kill his brother, Jacob (Esau was so mad when he found out, that he promised to kill Jacob as soon as their father died.) FREE WILL ROPE
- REBEKAH – Tricked her husband, Isaac, into sending Jacob away to find a wife among her brother’s people (Now we know where Jacob learned to be so tricky. His mom was a trickster, too! She saved Jacob’s life by sending him where Esau couldn’t get him. It’s good that she saved Jacob’s life, but she didn’t trust God to help. Instead, she told a lie. That’s away from God’s will.) FREE WILL ROPE
- GOD – Promised land to Jacob in a dream and told him that he would have many descendants (God met Jacob while he was running away and renewed the promise that He had made to Abraham and Isaac.) BOTH ROPES
- JACOB – Fell in love with Rachel as soon as he saw her (When Jacob arrived at the land of his relatives, he saw a girl named Rachel and fell in love with her. God wants us to fall in love. This was lined up with God’s will.) BOTH ROPES
- JACOB – Worked for Laban for seven years in order to marry his daughter, Rachel. (It was the custom for these people at this time that a man would pay a woman’s father for the privilege of marrying her. Jacob didn’t have any money or property, so he worked for seven years as payment. This was honorable behavior.) BOTH ROPES
- LABAN – Tricked Jacob into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah (Jacob wasn’t the only tricky person. His uncle Laban wanted to marry his oldest daughter off before Rachel got married, so he tricked Jacob into marrying her. That’s definitely away from God’s will.) FREE WILL ROPE (have volunteer step away from ‘God’s Will’ rope to hold ‘free will rope’ and show the distance between the two. You might want to have them step in the other direction from the first time in order to make the best use of space.)
- JACOB – Was angry with Laban but agreed to work for Laban for seven more years so that he could marry Rachel, too. (Jacob loved Rachel very much and still wanted to marry her, so even though he had been tricked, he agreed to work seven more years to pay for her hand in marriage. That’s pretty romantic, but the problem with it is that God doesn’t want us to marry more than one person. This is away from God’s will.) FREE WILL ROPE
- LABAN – Tricked Jacob many times in order to make him keep working for him. (Laban wasn’t satisfied with having Jacob work for him for 14 years. Jacob was a talented shepherd, and Laban got rich while Jacob was taking care of his sheep.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 14. GOD – Blessed Jacob by giving him many herds and many children (12 sons and 1 daughter). (This is the beginning of God fulfilling His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.) BOTH ROPES
- 15. RACHEL and LEAH – Competed with each other to see who could have the most sons for Jacob. (In their culture, they believed that you were more important if you had more sons. Leah was able to have six boys, but Jacob didn’t love her. He loved Rachel, but she couldn’t have children for many years until God finally let her have Joseph and Benjamin towards the end of her life.) FREE WILL ROPE
- JACOB – Ran away from Laban. Laban chased him, but God warned Laban in a dream not to hurt Jacob. (I’m not sure if it was God’s will for Jacob to run away or not, but God protected Jacob, so we will say that this was lined up with God’s will.) BOTH ROPES
- JACOB – Wrestled with God until God gave Jacob a blessing. (While Jacob was traveling back to the land his family lived in, and angel of the Lord (probably Jesus) came to earth and wrestled Jacob. Jacob wouldn’t let go until God blessed him.) BOTH ROPES
- 18. ESAU – Forgave his brother Jacob, because he had been very blessed by God over the years they were apart. (Jacob was worried about his brother still being mad at him, but he was surprised to find that Esau had totally forgiven him.) BOTH ROPES
- SIMEON AND LEVI – Took revenge on people who hurt their sister, Dinah, by killing all the men in the town. (When Jacob settled his family in Shechem, a man hurt his daughter, Dinah. Her brothers took revenge by killing every single man in the town. Jacob never forgave his sons for what they did.) FREE WILL ROPE
- GOD – Allowed Rachel to die giving birth to Benjamin, Jacob’s youngest child. (Sometimes God allows bad things to happen, and we don’t understand why. There are times when we find out later what God was doing, but we won’t know all God’s reasons for what He allows to happen. We just have to trust Him.) BOTH ROPES
- JACOB – Loved Joseph more than any of his other children. (Because Joseph was the firstborn child of Rachel, the wife Jacob loved and because some of his other sons had disappointed him, Jacob showed favoritism to Joseph.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 22. JOSEPH – Told his father about the bad things his brothers had been doing. (Joseph saw his brothers do some pretty bad stuff, and he told his dad about it. I think it was the right thing to do, but it made his brothers really mad at him.) BOTH ROPES
- 23. JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Hated Joseph because their father loved him more. (It was obvious to his brothers that Joseph was their dad’s favorite, so they hated him.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 24. JOSEPH – Had two prophetic dreams that showed he would one day rule over his family. (These dreams were from God, because they eventually came true.) BOTH ROPES
- JOSEPH – Told his brothers about his dreams. (I think this was a mistake. Joseph might have been showing off to his family, and all it did was make them all angry with him and hate him more.) FREE WILL ROPE
- JOSEPH’S BROTHER – Hated Joseph because of his dreams. FREE WILL ROPE
- 27. JACOB – Made a special coat of many colors for Joseph, because Joseph was his favorite. (This was another mistake. The coat was a special coat like the one rulers would wear. It was a coat for people who didn’t have to work, and it made Joseph’s brothers hate him even more.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 28. JACOB – Sent Joseph to check on his brothers and bring him back a report. (And another mistake! Didn’t he realize how much his sons hated Joseph? The brothers were working, and Joseph was wearing his fancy, no-working coat. And Jacob sent Joseph to tattle on his brothers – not good!) FREE WILL ROPE
- 29. JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Threw Joseph in a well and then sold him to some slave traders. (Joseph’s brothers were sick and tired of their little brother, and they decided to get rid of him.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 30. JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Tore his robe and dipped it in blood. Then they let their father believe Joseph was killed. (They hid what they did by making Jacob think that Joseph had been eaten by a wild animal.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 31. MIDIANITES – Sold Joseph as a slave to Potiphar, the Egyptian and captain of the guard for Pharoah. (God is never happy when people are treated as slaves.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 32. JOSEPH – Served Potiphar faithfully and honored God. (Suffering can often change your heart, and I think Joseph grew up a lot when he was sold as a slave. During this time, he learned to trust God and do his best even in a bad situation.) BOTH ROPES
- 33. GOD – Was with Joseph and gave him success in everything that he did. (When we are lined up with God’s will, He blesses us and blesses us!) BOTH ROPES
- 34. POTIPHAR – Put Joseph in charge of everything in his household and trusted him with everything he owned. (Even people who don’t believe in God can be in line with God’s will sometimes. Potiphar was so impressed with Joseph that he gave him responsibility for everything.) BOTH ROPES
- 35. POTIPHAR’S WIFE – Tried to get Joseph to kiss her. (What?! She was married! Definitely not in God’s will!) FREE WILL ROPE
- 36. JOSEPH – Refused to sin against Potiphar and God and avoided Potiphar’s wife whenever possible. (Good for him!) BOTH ROPES
- 37. POTIPHAR’S WIFE – Lied about Joseph to her husband and said that Joseph tried to kiss her. (Oooh….she’s not a good person!) FREE WILL ROPE
- 38. POTIPHAR – Put Joseph in the prison where the king’s prisoners were kept. (It’s interesting that he put Joseph in this special prison for Pharaoh’s prisoners. That gave Joseph opportunities to meet important people. Still, Potiphar shouldn’t have put him in prison for something he didn’t do.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 39. JOSEPH – Served the prison warden faithfully and honored God while he was in prison. (Joseph was put into prison unfairly, but he still chose to trust in God and honor God by working hard.) BOTH ROPES
- 40. GOD – Was with Joseph and gave him success in everything that he did. (Again, when we line up with God’s will, He blesses us.) BOTH ROPES
- 41. THE PRISON WARDEN – Put Joseph in charge of everything and everyone in the prison. (Because Joseph was so trustworthy, the warden trusted him with everything. God was definitely at work.) BOTH ROPES
- 42. THE CUPBEARER and THE BAKER – Offended Pharaoh. (We don’t know what happened, but Pharaoh was mad at two of his top servants.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 43. PHARAOH – Put the cupbearer and the baker into prison. (It’s hard to know if Pharaoh was being fair or not, but God was going to use it.) BOTH ROPES
- 44. POTIPHAR – Assigned the cupbearer and the baker to Joseph. (Potiphar was in charge of the prison, and he apparently still had some trust in Joseph.) BOTH ROPES
- 45. THE CUPBEARER and THE BAKER – Both had dreams on the same night, but they were sad because they didn’t know what the dreams meant. (Sometimes God is the One who gives people dreams.) BOTH ROPES
- 46. JOSEPH – Noticed their sadness, asked to hear their dreams and then interpreted them. He asked the cupbearer to remember him when he returned to Pharaoh. (Joseph had interpreted his own dreams in the past and knew that God could interpret these dreams through him. In this case, Joseph told them that the cupbearer’s dream meant that Pharaoh would restore him again in three days and that the baker’s dream meant that Pharaoh would kill him in three days. Joseph asked the cupbearer to remember him and get him out of prison.) BOTH ROPES
- 47. PHARAOH – Restored the cupbearer and killed the baker, just as Joseph had predicted. (Exactly as Joseph had interpreted the dreams, the cupbearer went back to work, but the baker was killed.) BOTH ROPES
- 48. THE CUPBEARER – Forgot about Joseph for two years. (Not cool! Joseph got him free, and he totally forgot about Joseph.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 49. PHARAOH – Had two dreams that worried him. (These dreams were definitely from God. One was about seven fat cows that got eaten by seven skinny cows, and the other was about seven healthy heads of grain that got eaten by seven sick heads of grain.) BOTH ROPES
- 50. PHARAOH – Called all his magicians and wise men, but no one could interpret the dreams. (God was saving the interpretation for Joseph.) BOTH ROPES
- 51. THE CUPBEARER – Remembered Joseph and told Pharaoh about his ability to interpret dreams. (Finally!) BOTH ROPES
- 52. PHAROAH – Called for Joseph to come to interpret his dreams. (It’s just about to get really good!) BOTH ROPES
- 53. JOSEPH – Interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams and gave him advice about how to prepare for the coming famine. (Joseph didn’t take any of the credit for his ability. He gave it all to God, and he helped Pharaoh understand that the dreams meant there would be seven years of plenty of food followed by seven years of starvation.) BOTH ROPES
- 54. PHARAOH – Put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt, gave him his official ring, robes, chain and chariot and gave him a wife. (Pharaoh realized no one would do a better job than Joseph at saving the country, so he put him in charge of everything!) BOTH ROPES
- 55. GOD – Allowed a famine throughout all of the world. (A famine is a bad thing, but God allowed it to help many people stop believing in false gods and start believing in Him.) BOTH ROPES
- 56. JOSEPH – Managed the food in Egypt well so that no one had to starve during the famine. (God gave Joseph excellent management skills, and he saved so much food during the good years that there was plenty of food for everyone during the seven years of famine.) BOTH ROPES
- 57. JACOB – Sent Joseph’s brothers to Egypt to get food for the family. (It wasn’t just the people in Egypt who couldn’t grow food during the famine. People all over the world started coming to Egypt, because they were the only ones with food.) BOTH ROPES
- 58. JOSEPH – Recognized his brothers when they came to buy grain but didn’t reveal his identity. (Joseph knew that he had to test his brothers to make sure that they had changed.) BOTH ROPES
- 59. JOSEPH – Tested his brothers to see if his younger brother, Benjamin, was still alive. (First of all, Joseph was worried that his younger brother might have been killed or sold into slavery, so he made his brothers go and get him to bring him to Egypt.) BOTH ROPES
- 60. JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Returned home to get Benjamin, but they had to leave Simeon, who was put into prison. (To make sure that they would come back, Joseph made them leave Simeon behind.) BOTH ROPES
- 61. JACOB – Didn’t want to let his sons take Benjamin, but he finally gave in when they got too hungry. (Jacob was afraid that the ruler (actually Joseph) in Egypt might keep Benjamin, so he didn’t want to let him go. In the end, though, they needed the food for survival.) FREE WILL ROPE
- 62. JOSEPH’S BROTHERS – Returned to Egypt with Benjamin and two times the money needed to pay for food. (They returned with twice the money, because Joseph had their money put back in their grain sacks before they left the first time. That shows that he had forgiven them. He didn’t want their money, and he didn’t want to get even.) BOTH ROPES
- 63. JOSEPH – Tested his brothers one more time to see if their hearts had changed. (Now that Joseph saw Benjamin, he was relieved, but he still wondered if his brothers were the same, evil people that they had once been, so he tested them one more time by sending them back with a silver cup hidden in Benjamin’s sack. After they had left, he sent his official to find out who “stole” his cup. He wanted to know if they would sacrifice Benjamin for their own safety.) BOTH ROPES
- 64. JUDAH – Offered to be Joseph’s slave if Joseph would just let Benjamin and the others go. (To Joseph’s surprise and joy, Judah offered to become a slave in order to free Benjamin. Judah was the brother who led the others to sell Joseph into slavery, but his heart had changed over the years.) BOTH ROPES
- 65. JOSEPH – Revealed his identity to his brothers and sent them back to get their father and bring him to Egypt. (When he was sure that his brothers had changed, Joseph told them who he was. They had dinner together, and he told them the whole story. Then, he sent them back to get the whole family.) BOTH ROPES
- 66. PHARAOH – Approved for Joseph’s family to live in the best part of Egypt. (Pharaoh trusted Joseph so much and was so grateful for his wise leadership that he gave Joseph’s family the best land in Egypt to live in.) BOTH ROPES
- 67. JACOB – Brought his whole family to Egypt. (70 people in all!) BOTH ROPES
- 68. JOSEPH – Reunited with his father and family and received his father’s blessing. (Jacob was so happy to see Joseph alive! The two had a great reunion.) BOTH ROPES
- 69. JOSEPH – Forgave his brothers for the terrible things they had done to him. (Joseph really forgave his brothers. In fact, he told them that he knew they meant to hurt him, but God allowed it to happen so that he could save many lives.) BOTH ROPES
- 70. MOSES – Led the Hebrews out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. (And that wasn’t the end of the story, because Jacob’s family lived in Egypt for 400 years. During that time, they were protected from the evil religions that were in the country of Canaan, where they had come from, and they were able to grow from 70 people to over 2 million. When the time was right and the Hebrews were ready, God sent Moses to lead them out of Egypt and back into the Promised Land of Canaan.) BOTH ROPES
- “Notice how often people in this story did their own free will apart from God’s will.”
- “But also notice that God always brought events back in line with His will.”
- “So here’s the answer to how God can allow us to have free will and sin but still accomplish His perfect will in the end…”
- “No matter what these people did, God would take it and use it for His purposes.”
- “Even when they sinned, He turned it around and made it work for good.”
- “In the end, God brings everything in line with His will.” (Grab the end of the Free Will rope. Then go to the “eternity” end of the red rope, and pull on the Free Will rope until it straightens out right next to the red rope. This shows how God brings everything into alignment with His purposes in the end.)
- “You’ve probably noticed that the ‘God’s Will’ rope is red. That’s to symbolize the blood of Jesus, that has the power to bring our Free Will into alignment with God’s Will.”
- “Satan is a bigger trickster than Jacob, Rebekah and Laban put together, and he constantly tries to get us to pull away from God’s Will.” (Gently pull several of your volunteers back away from the red rope as they hold onto the “Free Will” rope.)
- “But no matter what he tricks us into doing, God offers to help us line up with His will if we will just trust in the blood of Jesus.” (Pull the ropes together again.)
- “When you accept Jesus’ sacrifice of His own life on the cross as payment for your sins, God brings everything in line with His will.”
- “He will take all the bad and sinful choices you made and use them in a positive way.”
- “He will take all the terrible things other people did to you and use them in a positive way.”
- “And even though you can still make choices that take you away from God when you are a believer…” (Pull one of your volunteers and the “Free Will” rope away from the red rope.)
- “If you ask God for forgiveness, He will bring those bad choices back into line with His will.” (Pull the ropes together again.)
- “Romans 8:28 says that God will use ALL things for the good of those who love Him.”
- “God is pretty amazing, don’t you think?” (Acknowledge responses, thank your volunteers and allow them to be seated.)
Filed under Abraham, Abram, Challenges, Choices, Decision making, discipleship, faith, God's Plan, God's Will, Jesus, Joseph, Lesson, Listening to God, Obedience, Object Lesson, Repentance, Satan's tactics, Spiritual Growth, temptation, Transformation, unity
This object lesson looks at the different clothing Joseph wore and asks the question, “do clothes really make the man?” The old adage means that how you dress says a lot about you, but in Joseph’s case, he was the same person in any costume. However, no matter how good Joseph was, he couldn’t be good enough to impress God just through his good works. God isn’t interested in what we DO until He changes WHO we are, and that only happens when we accept Jesus as our Savior.
- Genesis 37-50
- Isaiah 64:5-6
- Isaiah 61:10
- Several smocks (Loose-fitting fabrics that simply have a hole in the middle to fit over the head (for quick changing during the lesson) and a belt to tie them off. You can do more elaborate costumes if you want, but these simple outfits will work.)
- One plain white smock (to start the story)
- One “coat of many colors”
- Two dingy-colored or burlap smocks (for slavery before being sold and for prison)
- One nicer white smock (for serving Potiphar)
- Two even nicer smocks (for when Potiphar put Joseph in charge of his entire estate and for when Joseph comes up from prison)
- One even nicer, nicer smock (for when Joseph was put in charge of Egypt – “robes of fine linen”)
- One “filthy rags” smock (to represent our “righteousness”)
- One “golden” smock (to represent the righteousness of Christ)
- Gold chains costume jewelry
- Ring costume jewelry
Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):
- “There is famous saying that ‘Clothes make the man.’”
- “It means that what you wear says a lot about you and that people will judge you based on the clothes that you wear.”
- “I think we ought to be careful about judging people based on the clothes that they wear.”
- “They could be a great person inside of terrible clothes.”
- “For example, Joseph wore many clothes in his lifetime, but for most of his life, Joseph was the same person underneath those clothes.” (Ask for volunteer to come to the front, and put the plain, white smock on him or her.)
- “Here’s Joseph, a young man of 17 years.”
- “Look closely at him. I want you to tell me if he changes when he gets his new clothes.”
- “Joseph had 11 brothers, ten older than him.”
- “In Hebrew culture, the oldest son was supposed to get the best treatment, but Joseph’s father loved him more than all the others, because he was the firstborn son of Rachel, Jacob’s favorite wife.)
- “To show his love for Joseph, Jacob gave him a fancy coat to wear.” (Put coat of many colors on volunteer.)
- “Look closely; is it the same person or a different person underneath?” (Acknowledge responses. Hopefully, the participants will agree that Joseph was the same person no matter what he was wearing.)
- “This made Joseph’s brothers really jealous and angry with him, and they got even angrier when Joseph started having dreams about ruling over his brothers.”
- “The next time the brothers were out shepherding their sheep, Joseph’s father sent him to check on them.”
- “He made the mistake of wearing his fancy robe to go and find them.”
- “The brothers were all wearing the clothes of smelly, dirty shepherds, and here came Joseph, wearing the clothes of someone who didn’t have to work because he was so special.”
- “When they saw Joseph with his fancy coat, they were furious with him and talked about killing him.”
- “In the end, they decided to sell him to a passing group of slave traders.” (Put the dingy-colored smock on the volunteer.)
- “What do you think now? Is it the same Joseph, or did the clothes change him?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “The slave traders took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to an Egyptian, named Potiphar. There, he was given the clothes of a servant.” (Put nicer white smock on volunteer.)
- “Same Joseph or different?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “Joseph served Potiphar so well that Potiphar soon promoted him and put him in charge of everything in his household.” (Put even nicer white smock on volunteer.)
- “Is he different yet, or is he the same Joseph he was when we started the story?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “But then a terrible and unfair thing happened! Potiphar’s wife accused Joseph of doing something he didn’t do, and Potiphar was so angry that he threw Joseph into prison.” (Put second dingy smock on volunteer.)
- “Do these clothes make him someone different?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “Joseph was in prison for years, but he served the prison warden so well that the warden put him in charge of everything in the prison.”
- “There came a day when Pharaoh (the king of Egypt) had a few dreams that bothered him.”
- “No one could interpret the dreams for him, but he learned from one of his servants that Joseph had the power to interpret dreams.”
- “Pharaoh called Joseph up from prison, and they dressed him in nicer clothes to prepare him to meet Pharaoh.” (Put second even nicer white smock on volunteer.)
- “Has he changed?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “Joseph interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams for him, and Pharaoh was so impressed that he promoted Joseph to the 2nd highest level within Egypt. Only Pharaoh was more powerful than Joseph.”
- “Pharaoh had Joseph dressed in robes of fine linen and put gold chains around his neck and an important ring on his finger.” (Put even nicer, nicer smock, gold chains and ring on volunteer.)
- “Even in this really nice set of clothes, isn’t Joseph still the same person underneath?” (Acknowledge responses.)
- “In this new role, Joseph did even better than he did in all his other roles.”
- “He helped the Egyptians to save some food during the good years when there was lots of food, and when the famine came, there was plenty of food for everyone in Egypt and in the surrounding nations.”
- “So, here we have Joseph with his eight different sets of clothes.” (Show all eight smocks.)
- “But the Joseph underneath is the same Joseph no matter what he is wearing.”
- “Joseph always did his best and served those in authority faithfully, and in the end, he was recognized as a great and wise leader by Pharaoh.”
- “Joseph was a pretty impressive guy!”
- “When we read about him, most of us think it would be pretty cool to be like Joseph.”
- “But you know what? No matter how impressive Joseph is to us, he doesn’t impress God just because he was a good person.”
- “The Bible tells us in Isaiah 64:5-6, ‘How then can we be saved? All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.’”
- “What that means is that even the ‘best’ person in the world – the one who does the most good things – looks like he is dressed in filthy rags to God.” (Put filthy rags smock on volunteer.)
- “We can’t save ourselves from Hell just by being good – not even if we are as a good as Joseph was.”
- “You see, God doesn’t care what you DO until you change WHO you are, and there is only one way to change WHO you are in God’s eyes…you have to accept Jesus (God’s Son) as your Savior.”
- “Two thousand years ago, Jesus died on a cross to save us from our sins.”
- “He had to do that because we sin.”
- “You sin, I sin…everyone who has ever lived sins.”
- “The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death. That means separation from God.”
- “But God loved us so much that he didn’t want us to be separate from Him.”
- “So He sent His Son, Jesus, to take the penalty of our sin for us.”
- “Jesus died on a cross to pay for our sins. Then He rose from the dead to give us new life!”
- “But you have to accept what Jesus did for you. It’s a gift, and He won’t make you take it.”
- “If you want to, you can still pay the penalty for your own sins, but that would be a terrible waste of the gift Jesus bought for you when He died on the cross.”
- “But here’s what’s cool about accepting Jesus’ gift!” (Have someone read Isaiah 61:10)
- “This Scripture is talking about two of the things Jesus did for us by dying on the cross.”
- “The first is that He clothed us with salvation. In other words, we get to go to heaven.”
- “The second is that He dressed us up in a robe of righteousness. In other words, He covered our unrighteousness (our filthy rags) with His righteousness.” (Put golden smock on volunteer.)
- “Now THIS impresses God!”
- “When we accept Jesus as our Savior, He covers our sinfulness with His perfection.”
- “Then, whenever God, the Father, looks at us, He sees the righteousness of His Son, Jesus.”
- “This is the only set of clothes that will ever change WHO you are, because it makes you a child of God.”
- “It has nothing to do with what you DO, because it’s a gift from Jesus.”
- “You can’t earn it. You can only accept it.”
- “So in a sense, clothes really do make the man, but in God’s eyes, there are only two types of clothes that say anything about WHO you are.”
- “Are you wearing the filthy rags of sinfulness? (Show the filthy rag smock.) ….or the righteous robe of a child of God?” (Show the golden smock.)
- “I hope you will accept the wonderful gift Jesus bought for you. He really wants you to have it!” (Thank and dismiss volunteer. At this point (depending on your tradition), you might want to make an invitation for the audience to accept the gift of salvation and the robe of righteousness that Jesus has purchased for each of us.)
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For summer camp this year, I’ve written ten Challenges (Bible activities for small groups and a leader to do together – sometimes in competition with other groups) and some large group lessons on the story of Joseph. They are all located on the Lesson and Material Downloads page (see the link at the top of the screen), and you can find them alphabetically in the list. They all start with the letters “JJ” for “Joseph’s Journey.”
Hope you can find some lessons that will be useful for you!
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