This is the first lesson in a series of 5 about Joseph’s life and the incredible way that God used him to bless his people.
Title: Joseph’s Dreams (Lesson 1 of 5 – more coming soon)
Scripture: Genesis 37:1-11
Target Age Group: 3rd-5th grade
Supplies: paper, pencils, star printouts (download), crayons, scissors
Optional Story Illustrations: The Story of Joseph Coloring Pages
Lesson Opening: What is Pride, What is Humility?
Ask if anyone knows what the word “pride” means. (Thinking more highly of yourself than you should.)
Ask: is it bad to be proud of yourself when you do something well? When does pride become a sin? (It’s not wrong to feel good about our accomplishments, but when we forget that all of our talents and abilities come from God, pride becomes a sin.)
Ask what is difference between being prideful and being humble? (A prideful person cares more about their own glory than God’s. A humble person understands that what they have or what they are good at comes from God, and they honor God with their gifts.)
Ask if anyone has ever struggled with being too prideful. Give them time to share if they are comfortable doing so. What can we do when we sin because of our pride? (We can confess our sin to God and know that because of Christ’s death on the cross, we can be forgiven.)
Explain that in today’s story we will hear about one of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, who struggled with pride.
Pray that God would forgive us for the sin of pride on our lives. Pray that he would open our hearts to his Word this morning and that the gospel would become more beautiful to us today.
Tell the Story:
Our story begins with Jacob. Jacob’s grandfather was Abraham, and God had made a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be so numerous that they couldn’t be counted. Well, Abraham’s grandson Jacob ended up having 12 sons!
Ask: Can you imagine have 11 brothers? Do you think these brothers would always get along?
Jacob had a favorite son whose name was Joseph. Jacob gave Joseph special responsibilities like making sure his older brothers were getting all their work done. Jacob even gave him a special coat, just to show how much he loved him.
Ask: How do you think Joseph’s brothers felt when they saw all the special treatment Joseph was getting from their dad? (They were jealous and they hated him!)
One night, Joseph had a dream. In his dream he was out in the field with his brothers and they were tying up bundles of grain. All of a sudden Joseph’s bundle stood up tall while his brothers’ bundles bowed down to it. That sounds pretty crazy right? But then he had a second dream, and in this dream Joseph saw the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowing down to him.
Ask: What do you think these dreams meant? (Give a few kids a chance to answer.)
God had given Joseph this dream to show that one day Joseph would be more powerful than his brothers. The problem was that Joseph went to his brothers to tell them the dream, and he bragged about it! This made his brothers hate him all the more!
Ask: How many of you have a younger brother or sister? Can you imagine if they came up to you one day and said that some day they were going to be able to boss you around? How would that make you feel? Maybe angry, or jealous, or many even sad.
Joseph’s dreams weren’t bad, but it was wrong of him to brag to his brothers. Joseph allowed his dreams to make him prideful. Pride is when we start thinking more highly of ourselves than we should. We become prideful when we forget that all the things we have and all the things we’re good at are gifts from God.
Ask: How can we avoid being prideful? (We can remember that all our gifts and talents come from God. When we are good at something we can give Him glory for it and thank Him!)
God chose to bless Joseph even though he sinned and was prideful. Just like Joseph, we don’t deserve God’s blessings, but because God loves us so much he blesses us too!
Ask: What are some ways that God blesses you? (Allow several kids to answer.)
The best and most important blessing from God is Jesus! Instead of punishing us for our pride and sin, God sent His only Son to take the punishment for us. He did this because He loves us so much! Today we can thank God for making a way for our sins to be forgiven so that we can know God more.
Play Popcorn Questions. Toss a ball to one child and have them answer the first question. That child will toss the ball to someone else and they’ll answer the next question. More than one child may answer some questions. Try to give each kid a chance to answer at least one question.
- What were Joseph’s dreams about?
- What did Joseph’s dreams mean? (One day Joseph would be more powerful than his brothers.)
- Where did Joseph’s dreams come from? (God)
- Why did Joseph’s brothers hate him? (He was prideful about being the favorite child.)
- Did Joseph deserve God’s blessing? (No)
- Do we deserve God’s grace? (No, we are sinful and deserve God’s punishment, but he shows us grace anyway because he loves us!)
- How do we know that God loves us? (God sent Jesus to live a perfect life and die in our place, taking the punishment we deserve. God did this because he loves us and wanted to make a way for us to come to him.)
Learning Activity 1: Bad Hate, Good Hate
Supplies: Paper and pencils
- Explain that in today’s story we learned that Joseph’s brothers hated him for his pride.
- Have one child read Galatians 5:20-21. Ask: Is it ok to hate someone? ()
- Have another child read Romans 12:9. Ask: Are there ever times when hating something is appropriate? (Yes, we are told to hate what is evil.)
- Have the kids work in pairs for this activity. Pass out a sheet of paper to each pair and have them fold it in half. At the top of one side they will write “Bad Hate” and on the other “Good Hate.” Give the groups 3-5 minutes to come up with lists for each column that are examples of when it would be a sin for us to hate someone or something and when it is appropriate to hate something.
- At the end of the time have the groups share what they came up with. You might want to write their ideas on the board (a larger version of the columns on their sheets.)
Learning Activity 2: Naming God’s Blessings
Supplies: Star printouts (download), crayons, scissors
- Ask the kids to think about some of the ways God has blessed their lives. Give each child a star printout (or have them draw a star on their paper) and have them either draw a picture or write their blessing. They can also decorate and cut out their star. If you have space in your classroom, hang the stars on the wall.
- Explain that Joseph didn’t deserve God’s blessings, and neither do we because we are sinful. But God loves us so much that he doesn’t withhold good things from us! We can be thankful that God has made a way for us to be saved (through Jesus) and we can praise him for that every day!
4 thoughts on “Joseph's Dreams (Genesis 37:1-11) Sunday School Lesson”
Joseph was never prideful. The Bible never says that he bragged. It says that he called to his brothers and said “listen to this dream I had.” He was merely sharing his bizarre dreams that he had. It is the same with us as humans. Have you ever had a crazy dream and you couldn’t wait to tell someone about it? Thank you for your hard work on this lesson. However, it is not an accurate description of Joseph. I’m using Joseph this week to teach that God used him to show love and compassion. Joseph had the chance to hurt his brothers and get back at them but instead he showed love. He let his light shine.
Some of the key features of pride that are most commonly recognized are those of a sense of entitlement, and a sense of superiority over others that is seen in the life of Joseph beginning with Genesis 37. Joseph was indeed prideful, but later grows in humility as God continues to work in his life.
We deduce that Joseph boasted to his brothers because of what the Bible tells us in verse 4 of Genesis 37. Joseph at age 17, would have understood that his brothers did not like him. They never had a peaceful word to say to him. They couldn’t because of their hate. Yet he related to them his dreams which he must have known suggested some kind of position over them. Boasting like this emanates from pride.
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