The text for this lesson is Genesis 46:29–30; 47:7–12
- God commands that we learn His Word. God’s Word, the Bible, reveals the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, who brings us forgiveness, life, and salvation.
- Law: Joseph’s brothers sinned when they sold Joseph into slavery and then lied to Jacob, their father, instead of respecting authority and showing love for their father and brother as Joseph did in Egypt. I, too, break the Fourth Commandment by disobeying my parents and other authorities and failing to honor them.
- Gospel: God’s Son, Jesus, perfectly obeyed the Fourth Commandment for me, fulfilling His heavenly Father’s plan of salvation by dying on the cross to save me from my sins.
- One could certainly level reasonable criticism against Jacob for favoring Joseph over his brothers and endowing him with such a grand coat. No doubt this bred jealousy. Nevertheless, Joseph’s brothers sinned against God and their father, breaking the Fourth Commandment. The brothers presumed that they had reason to be angry with their father and perhaps even with Joseph for flaunting his new coat, the mantle of Jacob’s preferential love. Yet, speaking to their father and expressing their hurt verbally would have been a better solution than their heartbreaking deceit.
Every person bearing authority over our lives is a human being; they bring their sinful nature into their role as parent, teacher, work supervisor, police officer, mayor, senator, president, and the like. Each one fails to live up to our expectations as a caretaker and leader. Nevertheless, God placed each of them in our lives and for our good. Therefore, we are bound to honor and obey them. They protect, nurture, and provide for us. Their authority, according to their individual office, is ordained by God. When we fail to honor and obey them, we ourselves sin, breaking the Fourth Commandment.
Joseph suffered greatly at the hands of others. Perhaps we can fault him for flaunting his precious coat before his brothers. Nevertheless, he did not earn such foul treatment as we read about in Genesis. Enslaved to Egyptian masters, Joseph submits to those in authority. Although he never asked for life in Egypt, Joseph so impressed Pharaoh that he was able to ascend to his own place of authority. Seeing God’s hand in his circumstances, Joseph was able to extend mercy to his father, Jacob, visiting him in Goshen. In Joseph, we have an example of honoring those in authority even in the worst of circumstances.
Jesus demonstrated a flawless interpretation of the Fourth Commandment. He knew when obeying His heavenly Father entailed obedience to earthly authorities and when it required disobedience. Jesus remained with His parents as a child in Nazareth, submitting to their authority as His earthly parents. Yet, His parents were upset when, as a young adolescent, Jesus remained at the temple long after his parents had to return home. Jesus obliged others to “give unto Caesar” as the present earthly authority in Palestine. Nevertheless, He stood fast against the Jewish and Roman leaders in order to fulfill His Father’s plan for our salvation, a plan that took Him to the cross, where He died to pay for our sin of breaking the Fourth Commandment and all the Commandments.