8 Lessons from the Life of Jacob and Joseph

Lessons from Giants—Part 2

In the second half of Genesis we are introduced to two primary figures—Jacob and Joseph. These men lived very colorful lives. Let’s look at them and the lessons their lives have for us.

1. God Knows Who You Are

Jacob, because of his conniving, deceitful ways, is estranged from his family. He finds himself out in the middle of the wilderness and on his way to his Uncle Laban’s house. God reveals Himself to Jacob when he is by himself out in the wilderness away from everyone who knows him. God comes to him in a vision at night with angels ascending and descending on a ladder and God standing above. God talks to him and promises to bless his life.

Joseph is with his family as a young man. His brothers hate him because he is a tattletale and because he tried to do what was right. Though all those around Joseph despised him, God comes to him at night in a dream and reveals his future. God knows exactly who he is and tells him what his life is going to produce.

God knows who you are. He knows what you are thinking. He knows what your life is all about.

2. God Doesn’t Need Your Help

In the stories of Jacob, Joseph, and Abraham God had promised to do something great. It is interesting that each of them determines to try to help God out so that their dream can be fulfilled. Abraham and Sarah tried to help God out by giving Hagar, Sarah’s handmaid, to Abraham as a second wife. This brought problems into Abraham’s life that he would have to deal with the rest of his life. We should never violate God’s principles in order to accomplish God’s will.

Jacob tried to help God out by stealing his brother’s birthright and blessing. There is a very interesting story that is told in Genesis 30. Jacob put poplar rods in the feeding troughs of cows so that they would produce ring-straked and spotted cattle. This must have been a popular superstition in his day. It did nothing. God was in control, and Jacob just made himself look foolish trying to help God out.

Joseph had to tell his brothers the dream. He was not told by God, as far as we know, to reveal the dream to his brothers. Joseph tried to help God out by telling his brothers the dream, and all it did was get him into trouble.

God does not need our help to fulfill His purpose in our life. All He needs is our obedience.

3. God Has Not Forgotten You

It is clear from the story of the patriarchs that God does not forget us. Time can go by in our lives and we can think that God has forgotten the promises He made to us. Abraham waited twenty-four years for the birth of Isaac and laughed when God told him that Sarah would have a child in her old age.

Jacob served a deceitful and wicked man, his Uncle Laban. For twenty years, he was separated from his family. During that time, his father grew old and his mother evidently passed away. It would be easy to think during this long period of trial that God had forgotten. God had not forgotten Jacob, and God has not forgotten you.

Joseph was thrown in prison. The Bible says in Genesis 41:1 that he waited in prison for “two full years” with no word at all of his release. During times like these, we can feel that God has forgotten us. We need to remember, God has not forgotten us. Which leads us to the next point…

4. God Has a Plan for Your Life

While Jacob was serving Laban for those twenty years, God’s plan had not diminished. God had a plan for Jacob’s life, and it would be completed. God promised to bless Jacob, and He did.

Joseph would be used by God to deliver God’s people. It would would have been easy to divert from that plan while he was working as a slave or while he was imprisoned, but God’s plan does not change.

Just as God had a plan for Jacob’s and Joseph’s lives, God has a plan for yours. Keep being faithful to Him.

5. God Wants You to Seek His Face

The Bible tells us in Genesis 32:24–30, that Jacob wrestled with God. As he wrestles with God, God tells Jacob it is time for Him to go, but Jacob will not allow the LORD to go until he receives his blessing. God wants us to come to a point in our lives where our relationship with Him is more important than anything else. He will allow us to go through times of struggle so that we will seek His face.

Joseph was allowed to go through one trial after another. Every time he got up, it seemed he was knocked down again, yet Joseph sought God. In Genesis 41, Joseph was so committed to God that when he was brought before Pharoah and commended for being able to interpret dreams, he gives all the credit to our God.

6. God Wants You to Be Obedient to Him No Matter the Circumstances

This is obvious from the life of Jacob and the life of Joseph. God visited Jacob and told him to return to his homeland. Of course, that is exactly what Jacob wants to do. Once Jacob determines to do what is right, he heads home. He sends some of his men to let Esau know that he is returning. The last thing he knew about his brother was that he was out to kill him. When the messengers come back from seeing Esau, they return with this message, “Your brother is heading back with 400 men.” Jacob could have determined to run, but instead, he determined to obey God and face Esau and his 400 men.

Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to do the wrong thing. Though tempted, he did not submit to the temptation, but rather, refused. Because of his refusal, he was thrown in prison and lost his position. His obedience later led to his deliverance from prison and promotion to the number two position in Egypt.

7. God Will Bless You for Your Obedience

The Bible tells us in Genesis 5 that everyone is going to die. The Bible also tells us that Jacob died at a good old age. He lived to be over 130 years old. He was able to see Joseph again and meet his grandchildren. What a blessing! Jacob was disobedient in many things, but because of areas of obedience, God blessed him.

Joseph was promoted to the number two position in the kingdom, as already mentioned. He also lived to be an old man. He was very respected and given a great opportunity and position of authority. He recognized that what he had came from God, and though his brothers tried to do evil to him, God used it for good.

God will bless you if you continue to be obedient to Him in the midst of your difficult circumstances.

8. God Will Allow You to Reap What You Sow

In Galatians 6:7, we learn the lesson of reaping and sowing. We can see this in the life of Jacob. Jacob had a hard life—twenty years serving Laban. He was fearful of Esau all of his life, and his children dishonored him because of his disobedience. It is true that God is merciful and that, at the end of his life, Jacob received the blessings of God. He also reaped a lot of negative things in his life because he sowed deceit and discord.

Joseph also went through hard times, but because of his attitude of obedience, he earned the respect and honor of his father. He earned the respect and honor of Potiphar. He earned the respect and honor of the captain of the guard, even in prison. He then earned the respect and honor of Pharaoh and the entire world at the time.

The principle of sowing and reaping is true in every aspect of our lives. It is important to remember that we will reap what we sow.

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