Based on Genesis 24-Exodus 5
When Isaac was 40 years old, he married a kind woman named Rebekah. She loved God very much. After many years, they had twin sons named Esau and Jacob. But even though they were twins, they were very different.
Esau was impatient, selfish, and thoughtless. He didn’t care about God, and he chose to do whatever he wished. But Jacob made different choices. He was helpful and obedient. And even though he made many mistakes during his life, he always asked God to forgive him.
One time, he told a big lie to his father Isaac. Esau got so angry about it that he decided to kill Jacob. To be safe, Jacob had to run away from home. He must have felt that God could never forgive him for such a big mistake. But did God still love Jacob? Yes, of course.
One night, as Jacob was running away from home, he lay on the ground with only a stone for a pillow. He was tired, lonely, frightened, and discouraged.
While he slept, Jacob had a wonderful dream. There, right beside him, was a bright, shining ladder that stretched far, far up, right into heaven. Going up and down on the ladder were many beautiful angels. Then God spoke to him. What did He say? Genesis 28:13-15. God had been with him all the time, and He was going to stay with him.
What did Jacob say and do when he woke up? Genesis 28:16-19. Do you think Jacob felt alone anymore? No! He knew now that God still loved him and would always stay with him. He would help and bless him, and someday take him back home. He would still keep the wonderful promises He had made to his grandfather Abraham.
A few years later, Jacob got married. He had twelve sons and one daughter. God did bless Jacob just as He had promised, and Jacob learned to trust God even more.
By the time Jacob moved back to Canaan, his twelve boys were growing up. But except for Joseph and Benjamin, the boys made many bad choices.
In fact, Joseph’s brothers hated him very much, because he tried to help them make better choices. They were also jealous of him. They didn’t like the beautiful coat of many colors that Jacob had given him. They thought that Joseph was their father’s favorite son.
One day when they were away from home with Joseph, they got so angry at him that they sold him as a slave to some traders who were traveling to Egypt.
Joseph must have felt as if his heart would break. But he had already made a choice. No matter what happened to him, he had decided to love, trust, and obey God. He would never change that decision.
In Egypt, who bought Joseph as a slave? Genesis 39:1. Because Joseph was faithful, God blessed him. Potiphar put him in charge of everything he had.
Then everything suddenly changed. Potiphar’s wife told a terrible lie about Joseph. And even though he didn’t deserve it, he was put into prison. But even there God blessed him. Genesis 39:21-23. For a long time, day after day, he faithfully and cheerfully did his work in the prison.
One night, God gave Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, two dreams. But Pharaoh couldn’t understand what they meant. When he was told that Joseph could explain dreams, he called him from the prison. Genesis 41:14.
Joseph wondered why the king would want to see him. Read Genesis 41:15-32 to find out what happened.
Joseph told Pharoah that he should find someone to help him plan ahead. If lots of food could be saved during the seven years of plenty, there would be food for people during the seven years of famine, and no one would starve.
Pharaoh followed Joseph’s plan. Whom did he choose to help him? Genesis 41:37-44. How fast everything had changed again! From being in prison, suddenly he was the governor of the great country of Egypt.
Just as God had told Pharaoh in his dreams, for seven years there was more than enough food. So Joseph and his workers built many large buildings in which to store the extra food.
Next came the seven years of famine. But Joseph was ready. When people needed food, what did Pharaoh tell them to do? Genesis 41:54, 55.
Egypt wasn’t the only place where people were needing food. People in other countries were hungry, too. They also came to buy food from Joseph.
In the land of Canaan, a very special family was wondering what to do because of the famine. Genesis 42:1-5.
It had been about 20 years since Joseph’s brothers had sold him as a slave. Maybe they thought that he was dead. One day, ten of Joseph’s brothers arrived in Egypt to buy food. Of course they had no idea that the governor was their brother, but Joseph knew each of them. Did Joseph tell them who he was? What did he do? Genesis 42:6-17.
Was Joseph angry? No, he was testing his brothers to see whether they had changed since they had sold him as a slave. A few days later, he sent them home with food for their families. But he still hadn’t told them who he was.
When they came back a second time to buy food, he tested them again. Finally he was convinced that they had truly changed and were sorry for their bad choices. Then he told them who he was.
Their brother Joseph was the governor. His brothers stared at him. They couldn’t say a word. They couldn’t believe what was happening. What would he do? Except for Benjamin, they all deserved to be slaves.
Joseph knew that they were frightened. Quickly he told them not to be afraid. He had already forgiven them for being so mean to him. He told them that even though many bad things had happened to him, God had made everything turn out right in the end. God was using him to keep his whole family alive in the famine. Genesis 45:5-8.
He asked his brothers to bring Jacob and all their families to Egypt, because there would be five more years of famine. So Jacob, Joseph’s brothers, and their families all moved to the best part of the land of Egypt. There Joseph took care of them.
Long after Jacob and Joseph died, the families of Jacob’s sons were still living in Egypt. Soon, there were many of them. The Bible calls them Hebrews, or Israelites. God had promised to make a great nation from Jacob’s family. But He had said that Canaan was to be their home, not Egypt. When would they go back to Canaan?
The Pharaoh who had been so good to Joseph and his family had died. And many years later, another Pharaoh became worried about so many Israelites being in Egypt. But because they were good workers, he didn’t want them to leave. So he made them slaves and forced them to make bricks for the many large buildings he was making. Oh, how hard they had to work!
But because their families kept growing, Pharaoh made a terrible law that all the Hebrew baby boys must be killed.
Amram and Jochebed were an Israelite couple who loved God, and they had a son named Aaron and a daughter named Miriam. Then they had another baby—a healthy, beautiful baby boy. Even though they knew about the wicked order Pharaoh had given, they didn’t even think of obeying it. But what if someone found out that they had a baby boy? For three months they kept him hidden. But as babies grow, they can be very noisy sometimes, can’t they? What would Jochebed do? The whole family prayed about it. Read Exodus 2:3, 4.
What a brave idea! The family kept praying, and big sister Miriam waited at a distance, carefully watching the little basket as it floated among the reeds at the riverside.
What happened next? Exodus 2:5, 6. Can you imagine how excited Miriam was? The princess had found their baby. Miriam could tell that the princess liked him. Shyly, she came closer. What did she politely ask? Exodus 2:7. The princess looked at Miriam, and maybe she smiled. Then what happened? Exodus 2:8, 9.
Now, no one had to worry about baby noises anymore. Jochebed was even being paid by Pharaoh’s daughter for taking care of their own baby.
Jochebed knew that her son would be taken to the palace to live as soon as the princess thought he was old enough. She prayed for help to teach him to know God so well that he would choose to love, trust, and obey Him as long as he lived. And that is just what happened.
Moses’ parents knew that some day God would send a special person to help the children of Israel go back to Canaan. Now, they were sure that their baby boy would be that special person.
One day, the princess took him to be her son, and she named him Moses. Genesis 2:10. He learned quickly from the best teachers. Some Egyptians even thought that he should be the next king.
But when Moses was 40 years old, he made a serious mistake. Because of what he had done, Pharaoh wanted to kill him. But Moses got away and ran toward the land of Midian.
It was a long, long way to Midian. Moses must have cried more than once as he was running away from Egypt. He had disappointed God. He felt that he was a total failure. He was sure that now God would never be able to use him to free the Israelites.
Moses thought of his own mother, Jochebed. He would always remember what she taught him. He would still choose to trust God.
In Midian, Moses took care of the sheep belonging to a man named Jethro. He had gone from a cabin to a palace. Then, he had gone from being the son of the princess to taking care of sheep.
Do you know what sheep are like? They really aren’t very smart. And they have to be carefully watched, or they can get into lots of trouble. Now Moses learned to be very patient, kind, and watchful as he took care of sheep for 40 long years.
Often, Moses thought about the poor Israelites back in Egypt. He wished he could do something to help them. One day, while caring for the sheep, Moses saw something very strange. What was it? Exodus 3:1-10.
Did God really want him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt? Moses was sure he wasn’t good enough. He even tried to convince God that He was making a big mistake. But God patiently told him that He knew just what He was doing. He promised to be with Moses and help him know exactly what to say and do. He even agreed that Moses’ brother Aaron would do the talking to Pharaoh. But Moses would be the real leader.
Even though God was pleased that Moses was humble, should he have trusted God more?
Soon Moses was on his way back to Egypt. Would his job be easy? No. In fact, God had warned Moses that Pharaoh would be very stubborn. Exodus 3:19, 20.
Sure enough, when Moses talked to Pharaoh, he wouldn’t even think of letting his slaves go anywhere. He became very angry. What did he do? Exodus 5:6-14.
Now the Israelites had to work even harder than ever. There was no way that they could make the same number of bricks every day when they had to go find straw themselves. It didn’t take long for them to complain to Pharaoh. But the king wouldn’t change his mind.
Next they complained to Moses and Aaron. So Moses talked to God about it, and God assured him that He would keep His promise to free the children of Israel. In the end, Pharaoh and everyone else would know that there is only one true God, and that there is nothing impossible for Him to do.
Whom did the ladder in Jacob’s dream represent? John 1:51. Jesus would someday come all the way from heaven to our world to die for us. When we make mistakes, is Jesus just as close to us as He was to Jacob that night? Will He help us, too, just as He helped Jacob?
Is it always easy to choose to trust and obey God? At first, Joseph didn’t know why God was letting such terrible things happen to him. But he chose to trust God anyway. And everything turned out right. Have you chosen to trust God, no matter what happens?
How did Joseph treat his brothers? How should we treat people who are unkind to us? Ephesians 4:32.
Was God able to make everything that happened to Joseph become a blessing? Can He do that for us, too? Romans 8:28.
Do you think angels helped the princess find baby Moses? Do you know you have an angel right beside you every minute? Hebrews 1:14. Can you think of a time when your angel has helped you?
Even though Moses had made a big mistake, was God still watching over Him? Did He use this experience to help Moses learn some important lessons? When we make mistakes, does God still love us, and help us learn from them?
When God asked Moses to do a big job, did He expect Moses to do it all by himself, or did He promise to help him? Will God help us, too, with whatever He asks us to do? Isaiah 41:10.
Jacob, Joseph, and Moses learned that it is always best to trust God, no matter what happens. Is it always easy to keep trusting God when everything seems to go wrong? Do you want to choose to trust as they did?