The backdrop for today’s lesson is Genesis 37 – please open your bibles and read Genesis Chapter 37.
Verses 1 – 11:
Overview: Jospeh (Jacob’s son) went to his father and gave a bad report “told on” his brothers. He was 17 years old, and the obvious favorite of Jacob. He had announced to his other brothers that God was giving him dreams of them all binding wheat in the field and suddenly their wheat bowed down but his stood upright. He then told them later of another dream, where the sun, moon and eleven stars bowed down to him. This infuriated the 11 brothers who already had much jealousy over Joseph because he was the baby of the family and his father Jacob, showed favoritism. He made him a coat of many colors. Why did this matter? In that day and time everyone had a tunic, or a cloak. Tunics were used for warmth, to bundle up belongings for a trip, to wrap babies, to sit on, or even to serve as a security for a loan. Most were short sleeved, and plain. In contrast, Joseph’s tunic was probably of the kind worn by royalty. Long sleeved, ankle length and colorful. The tunic became a symbol of Jacob’s favoritism towards Joseph.
We learn lessons from Genesis 37: 1-11
- Parents should NOT show favoritism toward one child over another. All children should be treated the same. This only caused division among the brothers and will cause destructive feelings in families today.
- Joseph fueled the fire with his brothers by his bragging. No one likes someone who brags. No matter what gifts, talents and abilities we have been given, we should remember those come from God and give HIM the glory. We should thank Him for our gifts, talents and abilities instead of brag on them which causes resentment in the hearts of others.
Verses 12 – 35
Overview: Joseph was sent to find his brothers and see if they were OK. They saw him coming from afar off and started saying “Oh no, here comes the dreamer!” “We should kill him and leave him out here.” The jealousy overtook their hearts, and they plotted his death. But one brother, Reuben, had not let his heart get totally hardened with the jealousy and he said to the others “Let’s not kill him. Let’s not shed his blood but let’s cast him in this pit in the wilderness and leave him here”. (Reuben’s plan was to go back later and get him and help him escape.) When Jospeh arrived to greet them, they stripped his coat and threw him in the pit with no water. Then they all sat down to eat and saw a group of Ishmaelites headed their way, going to Egypt. Judah got the bright idea they should sell Joseph to them. He convinced them saying “If we kill him and leave him here, we get nothing. But we can sell him to the Ishmaelites and get some money for him.” And that is exactly what they did. And he was taken as a slave, to Egypt.
Reuben had not been there for the selling of Jospeh and when he returned to the pit and saw he was gone he tore his clothes in grief and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is not in the pit, now what’s going to happen to me?” And the bad choices and sin just continued to pile up as they took the tunic and smeared the blood of an animal on it and took it back to their father Jacob and told him they found the tunic that they believed to be Jospeh’s and it appeared he had been devoured by a wild beast. The father Jacob went into great mourning over the loss of his youngest and favorite son.
Lessons learned from verses 12 – 35:
- Could jealousy ever make you kill someone? You readily say “Of course not” but it happens every day. People let jealousy grow into an ugly rage and completely blind them of what is right. These 10 men were willing to kill their younger brother over a coat and a few dreams. Today people are willing to kill or ruin another life over business deals, boyfriends or girlfriends, not making the team, etc. Just watch “The first 48” and so many times, it was jealousy that fueled the sin of taking another life.
- Jealousy grows quickly and leads to serious sins. The longer you let jealous feelings stay, the harder it is to uproot them. Sometimes jealous feelings are difficult to notice because the reasons to justify them seem to make sense “it’s not fair”… etc. But the time to deal with them is immediately if you notice yourself keeping score of others’ recognition, awards and achievements.
- Some people would never kill or hurt another, but they simply lose the joy of the Lord because they let the comparison of what others have in possessions or achievements take up way too much real estate in their minds. If this is you – you need to stop looking at others around you and comparing what they have to what you believe you do not and instead, focus on what you do have. Focus on getting closer to God, setting goals, and going after those goals. Spend your time and energy on something positive.
- Reuben had chosen the lesser of two evils, but it was still evil. And when he returned to the pit and found Joseph gone it wasn’t “Oh no, what will happen to Jospeh?!?” It was instead “Poor me! What will happen to me?!?” In a tough situation are you usually concerned first about yourself? If we always consider the person most affected by the problem, we are more likely to help find the correct solution.
- To cover their evil deeds, the sons deceived their father and caused him pain. If you had only read this story you would feel very bad for Jacob. But if you read earlier chapters in Genesis you would see that Jacob, as a greedy young lad, deceived his father into thinking he was his brother Esau to steal his blessing. (Genesis 27:35). Even though he didn’t know it at this point, he was learning first hand the destructive nature and consequences of deceit.
- The part I love the most about this story is this – in hindsight you can see God moving amidst the chaos and darkness. Although the brothers didn’t kill him, they didn’t think he would last long as a slave. They were quite willing to let slave owners do their dirty work for them. Joseph no doubt had a 30 day journey through the desert, probably chained and on foot. He would be treated horribly and sold once in Egypt. His brothers “thought” they would never see him again. BUT GOD. God is ALWAYS in control and he had other plans for Joseph’s life.
This “set back” was just the beginning of a beautiful story of “Set up” for greatness. Join me tomorrow as we continue into Chapter 39 where we read of Joseph getting thrown into prison.