Genesis 48 - 50
Today we have come to the conclusion of our study in Genesis. From the beginning It all started with the jaw dropping act of creation and concludes with the inspirational and tear jerking reunion story of Jacob/Israel and Joseph. Throughout this book we have seen God’s sovereign hand at work through creation, humanity, the nation of Israel and the plan of redemption. We have witnessed accounts of God working through the lives ordinary individuals (Noah, Abraham, Jacob and Joseph) to accomplish the extraordinary. What I find most appealing about Genesis is seeing sinful and flawed humanity being used by the Almighty and infallible God in accomplishing his will. What is most clear is that He and his ways are perfect and His promises are true.
When we look at the whole of Genesis we can see the big picture; the care, love and passion God has for his people. Many of his attributes are displayed throughout and we are given a glimpse at how great, mighty and awesome our God truly is.
The remaining three chapters of Genesis not only bring us to the conclusion of this book of beginnings but also to the story of Jacob and Joseph. In these chapters Jacob pronounces blessing upon his sons and grandsons, give directions to where he should be buried and speaks prophecy of what is yet to come.
Jacob blesses his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh. In this emotional chapter Jacob adopts them as his own sons. A beautiful moment happens in verse 11 where Jacob says to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.” God’s grace is evident in this reunion because not only does Jacob live to see his son whom he thought dead alive but he also sees and blesses his own grandchildren.
Jacob blesses his grandsons and in the vain of what goes around comes around he blesses the younger over the older. Joseph tries to correct his father but his father continues to bless the younger. He declares that Ephraim will become a greater nation than his brother. Incidentally Ephraim does become a great tribe and they are one of the leading tribes with Joshua in bringing the people to the Promised Land.
Jacob gathers all 12 of his sons so he may speak final words to them.
He speaks blessings to 9 of his sons (Judah, Zebulon, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph and Benjamin). Most notable he speaks a prophecy concerning the future human king of Israel and the eternal King (Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah) was given to Judah. He chastises three sons… Reuben who’s lust burned so hot that he committed the sinful act of having sex with his dad’s wife. Simeon and Levi were chastised for their violent reaction to the men of Shechem. They would still prosper but their tribes would be scattered among the other tribes.
At the conclusion of Chapter 49 Jacob dies and his sons return him to Canaan where he is buried in a cave with his wives.
When his father dies Joseph weeps and kisses him. He tells the servants to embalm his father so his body can be preserved for the long journey ahead. There is a time of great mourning for their father as the brothers return him to the land of promise.
Joseph’s brothers fear for their lives again. They fear Joseph was still harboring bitterness and revenge in his heart. Now that their dad wasn’t around Joseph could easily take his vengeance. However Joseph assures his brothers all is well and that God’s plan is perfect. At the conclusion of this chapter the death of Joseph is detailed. His body was not returned to the Promised Land until the Exodus of Moses,
Genesis is the story of beginnings. It is the story of blessings. As a whole it is ultimately the story of God. When I think about all we have learned together I ask the question, “What can we take away from the story of Genesis?” I believe there are three truths or more specifically blessings we can hold onto that interwoven throughout the Genesis account.
Genesis 46, 47
Interestingly and ironically Egypt is the final destination for Jacob and his sons. It is in Egypt that Israel finds salvation but it is also here that the nation will one day be held in captivity as slave. At the onset one may think this journey to Egypt was a mistake because of the impending slavery that would happen years down the road. I have also noted that Egypt represents the pagan world at the time. Why would Jacob (AKA Israel) want to leave the Promised Land and go to a Pagan country? If you recall Egypt has really never been a place where Jacob and his family have had good experiences. His grandfather Abraham had bad two experiences in Egypt. So why go?
As Jacob leaves he goes to Beersheba and inquires of worship God and inquires of the Lord as to whether he should or should not go. On the surface going down doesn’t seem like a great idea because there has been a lot of heartache in Egypt.
Nevertheless the Lord meets with Jacob in a vision at night and He assures him that he should go. Once again God speaks through a vision or dream. He first tells him not to be afraid to go Egypt because this journey is part of God’s greater plan to make him a great nation. Then he informs Jacob that He will be with him on this journey. This journey is part of God’s grand plan. The stay would be temporary but not easy. The journey would initially be the Salvation of Israel. The famine was getting worse and would continue to get worse and if Jacob does not go to Egypt chances are he and his family would perish. Death was not an option and not part of God’s plan. God had a plan and yes this plan did include eventual slavery, a mass exodus (God’s glory), a lot of death, years of wandering in the wilderness, the giving of the Law and this would force Israel to have complete dependence and obedience to God throughout these years.
Eventually Jacob, his family, their livestock, their goods and all they acquired in the land of Canaan left for Egypt with the Lord’s blessings.
In verses 8 – 25 there is a list of all Jacob’s children and their offspring. The sons mentioned and their ancestors in these verses make up the 12 tribes of Israel. These 12 brothers (Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulon, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan) and their ancestors would go on to become the great and powerful nation (Israel) that God promised he would make them.
There were seventy who entered Egypt. This did not include wives of the brothers, and servants; they were only flesh and blood relatives. Seventy is a sacred number. Seventy has a sacred meaning in the Bible that is made up of the factors of two perfect numbers, seven (representing perfection) and ten (representing completeness). Now there are 70 men who made up what would become the complete and perfect nation of God’s chosen people called Israel.
Reunion with Joseph – In verse 29 Joseph and Jacob finally meet and embrace after a long time. The father has immense joy in reuniting with his son. His son who he thought was dead is alive and well. It is at this reunion Jacob said he could now die in peace. He was an elderly man and just holding his son in his arms was enough to make everything complete. For many years Jacob thought his son dead, he hears he is alive and now he holds his son in his arms. I can think of no better way for a heart broken man to finish out the remaining years of his life. Not only do we see that this reunion was a way to help Jacob die peacefully but we also see in God’s perfect plan as He has used Joseph in a powerful way to bring salvation and life to Israel.
Joseph then coaches his family as to what to say to Pharaoh when they meet with them. Joseph want to ensure Pharaoh that they are not here seeking employment or food and that they will maintain their identity as shepherds. They have their own livestock and livelihood so they will not be a burden to the Egyptian people. They are to inform Pharaoh that they are shepherds and Joseph tells them that shepherds are an abomination. Some have suggested that this was Joseph’s way of preserving the identity of God’s people. They would be considered lower class citizens and the Egyptians would have nothing to do with them. This would free up the Israelites to be separate from the culture. They would not be forced to lose their identity and conform to the Egyptian way of life. It could be a way of Joseph saying that you will be an abomination for your own sake. You will be preserved and not tainted by the worldly ways of Egypt.
After meeting with Pharaoh he was delighted and gave them the choice land of Goshen and invited them to become the men who would be in charge of Pharaoh’s livestock. Once again we are seeing Israel blessed because of Joseph.
This story has so much for us to take home with us today. Joseph’s life is a picture of what the Christian life can look like. In this account I see three things that can be brought to our attention.
Genesis 42 – 45
When the famine was in full swing Joseph’s father heard that there was grain for sale in Egypt. Apparently his sons were a little mystified as to how they should deal with this famine. He says, “Why do you look at one another?” This is another way of saying, “Why are standing around doing nothing when there is a lot of work that needs to be done?” He sends his sons to Egypt, but leaves his youngest Benjamin behind. We see Jacob still did not trust his sons with Benjamin after all that happened with his brother Joseph. He was afraid they might allow something bad happen to Benjamin like they did Joseph. The pain of losing his son is still real to Jacob. It has been 17 plus years and Jacob has not forgotten what happened to his beloved son Joseph. There is a lack of trust on his part and rightfully so.
The brothers make the trek to Egypt and unbeknownst to them their brother Joseph is still alive and thriving; in fact he is now the governor of the land and the one person people would see when they came to buy grain from the storehouses. When his brothers approached Joseph they did not recognize him but Joseph knew them. They bowed before him and Joseph remembered his dream of many many years ago.
Joseph decides to play a little game of cat and mouse with them. He doesn’t want to reveal his identity to them just yet. He treats them like strangers and speaks harshly to them. He accuses them of being spies. After speaking with them for some time the brothers mention they have another brother that is alive… Unfortunately one is dead and the other is back home with his father. Joseph demands they bring Benjamin to back to him and one should stay back until they return. The brothers talked among themselves and Joseph went to a private place and wept.
Joseph filled their bags with grain and put their money back and sent them home; Simeon stays back. When they returned home they were afraid because their money was still in the bags and they were more so when they saw their father. They told him the governor wants Benjamin to come back with them and Jacob refuses. Interestingly he would rather lose his son Simeon than entrust Benjamin with his sons.
Some time passes and the famine gets worse (just as the dream stated) the grain runs out in Jacob’s household and he tells them to go back to Egypt to buy more. They convince Jacob to send Benjamin along with them. Judah swears that he will protect him and if anything bad happens to Benjamin then his father could hold him responsible.
As they return to Egypt they are afraid because they think they will be accused of stealing since the money was still in their bags from before. This ends up not being an issue. Joseph tells them he received their wages so God must have blessed them.
As they stand before Joseph, this time with Benjamin, he is overcome with emotion. He goes into his chamber and weeps. After he regains his composure he invites the brothers to dinner and portions from Joseph’s table were given to them but Benjamin received five times the portion.
Joseph plays cat and mouse with the brothers again by planting his cup in Benjamin’s sack. He accuses Benjamin of stealing and the brothers pleaded for mercy for their brother. Judah insists on taking the blame instead of Benjamin.
It is at this point Joseph can no longer contain himself. He begins crying and then commands everyone to leave him except his brothers. He reveals his identity to his brothers. They were troubled at this revelation. They were literally speechless. They were afraid because they knew what they had done. Never in a million years would they have ever thought this would have happened but it did. They didn’t know how Joseph would respond. He was now second in command in all of Egypt and he could have easily sought revenge. But he doesn’t. This is where we see the true heart of Joseph. He had compassion, he shows them grace, and he shows them forgiveness. He responds in 45:5, “Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God has sent me before you to preserve life.” Did you hear that? Do not blame yourselves for anything because I am here by divine appointment. In verse 7 he declares his purpose for going through all he went through and then caps it off in verse 8 by saying, “It was not you who sent me here, but God.” In so many words he is saying, “All is forgiven.”
Not only does he show compassion and forgiveness but he invites his brothers, their families and his father to come move to Egypt so he can take care of them. What an amazing spectacle of grace. They are so undeserving of this treatment yet Joseph shows them kindness regardless.
As he sends his brothers back home he says, “Do not quarrel on the way.” He knows his brothers well. They could very easily play the blame game on the way home… “Hey, it wasn’t my idea to put him in a pit!” “I never wanted to sell him, I was going to rescue him, and so you are to blame!” and so on…. Joseph says “don’t quarrel. All is forgiven so let’s put this behind us now and continue as a family.”
When the brothers returned home they told their father what happened and he is ecstatic! He is willing to go to Egypt so he can go see his son Joseph before he dies.
This is a beautiful story of compassion, grace and forgiveness. I think what Joseph does could only happen through the power of God and the Holy Spirit. Joseph chose to forgive because he knew it was the right thing to do and by the power of the Spirit is he able to forgive. He could have easily justified revenge or gave his brothers a taste of their own medicine. But he doesn’t. He forgives. I/we can certainly learn a lot from Joseph when it comes to forgiveness. There is great difficulty in showing forgiveness. I have never experienced something so painful or great that I ever refused anyone forgiveness (That is not to say that I have never experienced something painful). I have held grudges but I have never withheld forgiveness. I don’t say this to brag but to declare God’s work in my life. I am sure some of you have had painful experiences and have difficulty showing forgiveness; so I am not going you how easy it is to forgive… but I will tell you by the power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit you can forgive… even if you think you can’t.
Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (2:32). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 Groeschel, Craig (2010). The Christian Atheist: Believing in God But Living As Though He Doesn’t Exist. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. P. 118, 119
Many years ago, long before I became a follower of Christ, I would often get into conversations with my friends about the purpose of life. I remember hanging out them as we would imbibe until the wee hours of the morning (usually until dawn) and talk. We would sit under the star lit sky and have some deep conversations. One night someone asked, “Do you guys ever wonder since we live in such a big universe what our reason for our existence is? We are so small and insignificant, why do you think we are here? What’s our purpose?” I think back and remember none of us would have considered ourselves “religious” but we certainly had the curiosity to the wonders of life… even when I did not have a relationship with God I still felt like I had a purpose.
“Why are we here?” “What is our purpose?” These are pretty common questions asked by millions of people day after day. I am sure you have asked this question. You may have even struggled with what your purpose in life really is. Maybe some of you are wrestling with these questions today. They are good questions to ask. Rick Warren tackles this question head on in his book THE PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE. I believe Warren does a fairly good job helping in pointing people in the right direction to find their purpose in life.
Discovering your purpose is always joyous, freeing and frustrating. I believe we all have at least one common purpose and I also believe we each have a more specific or unique purpose individually which is directly tied in to our common purpose. I would define this specific purpose as “The thing God created you to do or be.”
The Westminster Confession does a great job in answering the general purpose question. The Confession asks, “What is man’s (humanities) chief end?” The answer: “To glorify God and to enjoy him forever.” Generally speaking we are all created for the glory of God and to glorify Him. Our specific purpose may be unique to you and it is certainly engrafted in glorifying God.
We see this in the life of Joseph. God had created him to bring glory to his name but he also created him for a specific purpose and we will see this today in Genesis 41. What is wonderful to know is that we all have a purpose in life and God does use each of us in a unique way (like Joseph) to fulfill our purpose. The joy (and sometimes frustration) comes in discovering our unique purpose.
Genesis 41 is a long chapter. I have chosen once again to give a brief overview of what is happening and I will highlight the parts I feel are relevant to us today. One of your challenges this week is to spend some time reading this chapter on your own to see what God may be showing you personally.
Joseph has been in prison for 2 years prior to his encounter with the King’s (Pharoah) cupbearer and baker. We do not know what was going on in Joseph’s life at this time. We are not sure how he is dealing with everything. Was he depressed, discouraged, or frustrated with his current situation? Or was he patiently waiting for God to intervene and continue the work He has begun in Joseph’s life. One can only imagine.
So here we are 2 years later the chapter begins with Pharaoh having two dreams and his spirit is greatly troubled. Much like the baker and the cupbearer the dream was vivid enough to cause him great distress. He knew the dreams had significance to them (because in ancient Egypt dreams were usually tied in with a deity revealing something to the dreamer). He wanted to know what they meant. He inquires all the magicians and wise men (dream specialists) of Egypt but none of them can accurately interpret his dreams. It is at this moment the cupbearer remembers Joseph. I can picture him planting palm to forehead and saying… “Aw man! I forgot I was supposed to tell you about this Hebrew guy named Joseph two years ago and…”
Pharaoh calls for Joseph. He is cleaned up so he may be properly presented to Pharaoh. He is brought before Pharaoh and told of his concerns and he would like Joseph to interpret his dreams. Joseph once again gives all credit to God. He knows his purpose in life is to bring glory to God in all situations yet he also know God uses him to interpret dreams. He humbly acknowledges that it is not in his power to interpret the dream but it is through God, who will reveal the interpretation. God will give a favorable answer. I think it is important for us to note that this is not the same arrogant Joseph who was living under the roof of his father. It is now 14 years later and God has been fashioning and preparing Joseph for this specific time and purpose. He has emerged a wise and humble man who is completely dependent on God to work through him for His glory. God is now using Pharaoh as a means for accomplishing His purposes through Joseph. It is in this understanding that God does whatever He needs to accomplish his will. God had made a promise to Joseph, his father, his grand father and his great grand father and it is here we begin to see God’s perfect plan for Joseph and the Hebrew people start to come into shape.
Joseph tells Pharaoh the interpretation that God revealed to him. The bad news is there is a famine coming. The good news is God will make sure you will be well stocked to get through the famine. You need to be prepared. He informs Pharaoh that seven years there will be an abundance of crops in the land. He needs to be mindful that for seven years after there will also be a famine. God is revealing this so the Egyptian nation can be wise and store up enough over the plenteous years so that when it does come there will be enough to get them through the famine. Joseph, in his godly wisdom tells Pharaoh to appoint overseers over this project so they can collect the fruit and grain during the good years and store it up for the seven famine years. He also informs Pharaoh that since he had the dream twice that God has already determine this will happen and it is set.
Pharaoh is pleased with Joseph’s interpretation and asked his servants “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” I believe this is a rhetorical question because he immediately appoints Joseph to the task of overseer. Joseph is promoted to second in command over all of Egypt. He has received the promotion of a lifetime. Pharaoh gives him his signet ring which gives him absolute authority and clothes him in many fine clothes, garments and a necklace and provides his with the classiest wheels of his time, a brand new chariot. He is to answer to no one but Pharaoh himself.
Pharaoh changes his name and gives him in marriage to a prominent woman… The daughter of Potiphera the priest of On. This was a sign that he is now a man of great influence in Egypt. Once appointed Joseph does all God has revealed to him in making preparations for the nation. For seven years Joseph stores up grain and fruit in preparation for the coming seven year famine.
Once the famine has begun to spread over all the nations Joseph opens up the storehouses and begins selling to the Egyptians and all the surrounding land. People knew that there was grain in Egypt so people came from all over to buy their grain. We are told this to set the stage for what comes next.
In many commentaries Joseph is often portrayed as a type of Jesus Christ. He is a man who is loved by the father, betrayed by his own people, unjustly convicted of something he never did, punished and imprisoned but eventually emerges as one who brings salvation to all nations. Certainly Joseph is NOT Jesus he was a precursor to Christ; a picture of Jesus. Nearly two thousands years before Jesus comes to the earth God gives a glimpse of his perfect plan of redemption to humanity. God had a perfect plan of redemption since the beginning of time. We also see in his perfect and specific plan he uses Joseph to accomplish His will.
I believe whole-heartedly that God’s perfect plan is still in motion. I also believe the Bible tells us that God has a purpose and plan for each one of us. When the question, “Is there a purpose to my life” is asked the answer is yes. We are created to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. This is our common purpose. Yet God has a specific purpose for each one of us as well. Granted it may not be as grandiose as saving a whole nation from famine or dying to save humanity. More than likely it will not be something on a grand level humanly speaking but your specific purpose is important to God’s plan and unique to you. God has designed each and every one of us in a unique way. Not a single one of us is the same. (Read Psalm 139:13 – 16) We are wonderfully made. We are crafted in his image and yet we are all unique in so specific way. God has gifted and given all of us various gifts, strengths and talents that we can use for his glory. I believe when we are serving in the area where God has gifted us is when we are fulfilling our unique purpose. We are told that God has given his people gifts. In the New Testament there are at least 24 Spiritual Gifts listed. Most of them can be found in I Corinthians 12, Romans 12, I Peter 4 and Ephesians 4. I would encourage you to read through these passages and make a list of gifts and discover the gift(s) God has given you. If you already know your gift then hold tight I’ll get to you in a moment. Part of the joy and frustration is in discovering how you are wired? What God-given talents or strengths God has given you? How can/do you use them for his glory?
A discouraged minister once dreamed that he was standing on top of a great granite rock, trying to break it with a pick ax. Hour after hour he worked on with no result. At last he said; “It is useless; I will stop.”
Suddenly a man stood by him and asked, “Were you not allotted this task? and if so, why are you going to abandon it?”
“My work is in vain; I can make no impression on the granite,” was the minister’s reply.
Then the stranger solemnly replied, “That is nothing to you; your duty is to pick, whether the rock yields or no. The work is yours, the results are in other hands; work on.”
Did you know there was a formula for discouragement? It is to first take two steps forward and then take three steps back. There have been times in my life where I feel like I am doing just that. You think you are moving forward and then something comes along and turns your intended progress becomes failure... You find you are back to square one or in a worse situation than when you started.
Discouragement is a tool the devil uses often to sway God’s people from moving forward and doing what God desires of us. It reminds me of a story I read about a time when the devil advertised his “tools” for sale at public auction. When the prospective buyers assembled, there was one oddly-shaped tool which was labeled “Not for sale.” When he was asked to explain why this tool was not for sale, the devil answered, “I can spare my other tools, but I cannot spare this one. It is the most useful implement that I have. It is called Discouragement, and with it I can work my way into hearts otherwise inaccessible. When I get this tool into a man’s heart, the way is open to plant anything there I may desire.” This is so true. The devil finds so many ways to discourage God’s people but as with all things how we deal with or face discouragement says a lot about us and our view of God.
Speaking of two steps forward three steps back; Joseph was VERY familiar with this formula. We have been looking at the trials and tribulations this young man of God has faced. Life was good for Joseph when he lived at home with his parents. Gradually life kept throwing him curve balls as he goes from beloved son to behind bars in a foreign prison for a crime he did not commit. Fortunately Joseph was a lemonade man. When life gave him lemons he made lemonade. As a slave he became head of his master’s household. Now, in prison, he is put in charge of all the prisoners. Certainly he is not in the most favorable of places but God is still using him and preparing him even in this unfavorable place.
Some time after his incarceration (we are not sure but some time has passed) he is introduced to two men who had committed offenses against the King of Egypt. One was the King’s cup bearer; this was a high position. It is often that a cup bearer was one of the Kings closest confidant and he wielded great power and influence. The other was a baker. He was probably the head baker and had influence over the royal court. Both were probably advisors of sorts to the king. We are not told of their offenses but they were bad enough to enrage the King and land them in prison. Since Joseph was put in charge of the prison he was appointed to be over and attend to them. He builds a relationship with these men. Apparently he is a kind person and does not misuse his authority. Abusing his authority would have been all too easy for a man in his position
One morning Joseph noticed both men were troubled and asked what was wrong. Both men had dreamed dreams and they were troubled. The dreams were vivid enough to remember and unsettling enough to cause them distress. They wanted to someone to interpret their dreams. Joseph informs them that dream interpretations belong to God. He clearly remembers his dreams and their interpretations; so he understood God speaks through dreams. Let us not forget it is Joseph’s dreams and interpretation that ultimately led him to his past experiences with his brothers.
For one reason or another God sometimes reveals himself and/or his will or purpose through dreams. Joseph gives me a reminder that God is the one who interprets dreams. Interestingly Joseph tells the men to speak the dreams to him. I believe Joseph is saying that God has given him the gift of interpretation and through him God will give them the interpretations they are looking for.
Fortunately for the cup bearer the news is good. He will be released and restored to his original position as a cup bearer to the King. He is delighted to hear this news… As would anyone in this predicament. Joseph then states clearly, “Remember me when you get out of prison and tell Pharaoh of the kindness I have shown you, so I can get out this place.”
Unfortunately for the baker the news is not so good. He is told about his graphic and impending execution. One can only imagine how the baker must have felt. I can also imaging that he was hoping Joseph was wrong. I love in the musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat where Joseph sings, “Sad to say your dream is not the kind of dream I'd like to get. Pharaoh has it in for you, your execution date is set. Don't rely on all I said I saw. It's just that I have not been wrong before.” Everything happens the way Joseph says.
Vs 23: It is here that one begins to imagine Joseph’s frustration and discouragement would come to a head. “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.” At the conclusion of this chapter I can picture a frustrated Joseph behind prison bars shouting a resounding scream, “NOOOOOOOO!”
How frustrating would this be? Joseph had only ONE request! Remember me and tell of my kindness. Yet the cupbearer completely forget.
Once again I can’t help but think that Joseph gets a raw deal. It is in this time I would also expect to read in the following verses about Joseph’s discouragement, depression or his frustration with God. I wouldn’t be surprised to read Joseph, much like Job, going into a long tirade about how unfairly God is treating him or how he has remained faithful to God all this time and God rewards him with punishment. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had an Elijah experience where he goes into deep depression because God had forgotten him in this lonely foreign prison. It would not be unusual to read a list of prayers or poems like David who cries out to God for justice and mercy. I wouldn’t be surprised because I know I definitely would have done all of these. Who am I kidding? I HAVE done all of these. Here is a man who has been given a promise by God to do great things in his life, the promise to become a great leader and still he has yet to experience any kind of hope at all in seeing this promise fulfilled.
I know how I feel when I am discouraged or frustrated. I begin to lose hope. I start to go into periods of depression. I become anxious. I worry. I complain. I forget the God whom I serve “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” In my despair and discouragement I lose focus on who is in charge. I lose a vision for the big picture. Sometimes I even begin to feel like God has let me down.
Poor Joseph, here he is with his seemingly one window of opportunity and it seems to have been lost. We who have read the story know this is not the case. It is in this time that Joseph is still being formed and fashioned for a great work that God has foreordained. It is here that Joseph may feel like he has taken two steps forward and three steps back. At least before his encounter with the cup bearer he didn’t have any false hope in getting out of this predicament. It is here that Joseph is once again reminded who is and who is not in control of the situation.
We can continue to learn life lessons through Joseph. It is in this man we can learn how to face discouragement and frustration. We all have or are dealing with discouragement and frustration in our lives. The stress of life has really taken its toll on you. You are feeling discouraged because it seems like life (or God for that matter) has dealt you a pretty crumby hand. You may feel like Joseph in the prison where you just can’t seem to get a break. There may even be some who are almost ready to give up their faith all together because God just doesn’t seem to be dealing too kindly with you. For those of you who may feel like you are in this boat may I give you some encouragement from the word of God?
 Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (337). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
 Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (337). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
Genesis 39:13 - 23
“They were a happy little family, living in a small town in North Dakota, even though the young mother had not been entirely well since the birth of her second baby.
But each evening the neighbors were aware of a warmth in their hearts when they would see the husband and father being met at the gate by his wife and two small children. There was laughter in the evening too, and when the weather was nice Father and children would romp together on the back lawn while Mother looked on with happy smiles.
Then one day a village gossip started a story, saying that he was being unfaithful to his wife, a story entirely without foundation. But it eventually came to the ears of the young wife, and it was more than she could bear. Reason left its throne, and that night when her husband came home there was no one to meet him at the gate, no laughter in the house, no fragrant aroma coming from the kitchen—only coldness and something that chilled his heart with fear. Tragedy had struck as the mother could not handle it if this affair was indeed true. She took her life and her children’s as well.
In the days that followed, the truth of what had happened came out—a gossip’s tongue, an untrue story, a terrible tragedy.”
Lies, gossip, mistreatment and false accusations about people always end poorly. Granted most do not end the way this tragic story does but they rarely have positive impact.
Have you ever had someone say something untrue about you? Have you ever been accused of something falsely? How did you respond? How did it make you feel? What did you do, if anything, to clear your name?
We are continuing through the life of Joseph and this is a man who understood all too well the injustice of life but he never let that drag him down.
Last week we looked at Joseph’s temptation. I talked about the difficulty of facing and resisting temptation and how we have the power through the Holy Spirit to effectively resist temptation. We, like Joseph, do not need to give in to temptation.
As Joseph’s life story continues it does seem as though this man cannot catch a break. It all starts with a coat and a dream ends with betrayal, slavery, serving in a foreign country, being promoted to head of Potiphar’s estate (things were beginning to look up), and facing his bosses wife’s sexual advancements. Joseph continually responds in the proper ways he should; showing he is man of integrity. One would think he would be rewarded for this… yet once again trouble is lurking in the darkness. Joseph has been mistreated over and over again. It doesn’t seem fair but he moves on and trusts God.
Vs 13: Joseph’s garment – Once again Joseph’s garment is causing him a world of pain. This is not the coat from his father but it is another cloak, it is a cloak of status. Joseph was a man whom God used mightily. God had given him much authority and this made him a perfect target for spiritual attack. Satan loves to wreak havoc on the lives of men and women whom God has appointed for his purposes. Many, when faced with spiritual attacks, remain faithful but many have fallen prey. Joseph was one who trusted God and allowed him to work during all of these difficulties. It is here that in Joseph fleeing his cloak was left behind. He had to get out of the situation as fast as he could so he ran and left his cloak behind; which was very smart of him. It was at this moment Mrs. Potiphar seizes the opportunity to either get revenge for not accommodating her advances or to cover her tracks and fabricate a story before Joseph could tell her husband the truth.
Vs 14: She calls on the other servants and falsely accuses Joseph of attempted rape. It is interesting to note that early on she is putting the blame on her husband for this supposed act. “See, HE (Potiphar) has brought among us…” My husband is bringing in shady characters (if he had not brought him in this would never have happened)… this Hebrew (not a term of endearment) into his household and he “laughs at us”. The words used for “laugh at us” means to humiliate or hold something up for ridicule. It also means to toy with something harmfully and attempted rape would certainly fit in this category. So she blames her husband for this predicament and accuses Joseph of a horrendous crime. For Mrs. Potiphar it certainly seems a lot easier to blame others for her sinful actions. Isn’t this true today and throughout history? The blame game is continual. Humans do not like to take responsibility for their actions. We can be so stubborn and prideful that we would rather accuse, blame or indict others for sin issues than take responsibility for our actions.
Vs 19: When Potiphar hears the news from his wife he is furious… and rightly so. If these accusations were true then he would have every right to be angry. But I wonder how much of it he believed? If indeed Joseph had done what he was accused of then Potiphar could and would have had him executed, in fact that would have been the proper response. Instead of execution Potiphar has him thrown into prison… Why is that? Maybe because he knew the claims were false. He felt he needed to respond to the accusation to appease his wife but he didn’t believe in his heart of hearts that Joseph was guilty. Maybe he knew that since God was with Joseph and if he had him killed then God would bring ill will to his household. Whatever the reason; Joseph is put in jail when he should have been executed.
Vs 20: Joseph is sent off to prison for a second time. God remains with him during his difficult time. Joseph is a natural born leader because he is given a position of leadership in the place where he dwells. This has become the cycle for Joseph. Wherever he goes he rises to the occasion and is put in charge. Here in prison he is appointed head of all the prisoners. The prison guard lets Joseph do whatever he wanted. He trusts Joseph and even in the dungeon Joseph meets success.
Once again we conclude one part of Joseph’s story with a common theme… A righteous man is treated unjustly, sent to prison and God remains with him. These are comforting words for us to read because even in our times of despair we know God is with us. God was molding him for the future. Joseph didn’t know it yet but God was preparing him for leadership. In the mean time Joseph is a falsely condemned man. Tried and falsely convicted of attempted rape, Joseph sits behind bars in prison and waits for God’s next move.
What lesson can we learn from today’s account in Genesis? I asked earlier if you have ever been mistreated or falsely accused of something. Maybe you are on the receiving end of an accusation right now… OR maybe you are the one falsely accusing someone. Here are a few things we should know and take with us today.
 Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times (112–113). Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.
Since the beginning of recorded history humanity has struggled with the temptations of sin. In just a short time after God creates humanity they are faced with the temptation to sin and unfortunately they give in. From that point on many men and women have been faced with temptation and the struggles to resist has been continual. Each one of us has faced temptation to sin in our lives. For many it is a daily struggle. Sometimes we face temptation with success and at other times we fail miserably. The truth is temptation to sin has a strong desirous magnetic pull to it and one of the most important things we need to know is how to face it, resist and come away from it victoriously. So many people view or face temptation as though it is something that cannot be resisted or overcome. For some the temptation to sin is so overwhelming that they feel they are not able to resist because the struggle and desire is too great. There are a number of stories in regards to infidelity in marriage because of a temptation that seemingly could not be resisted. There are countless moral failures people face. It seems that wherever there is a situation to gain power, wealth, self advancement, self fulfillment and/or recognition sin is quietly dangling its tempting fruit for humanity to consume.
Today we are continuing in the life of Joseph and more specifically his temptation. Up to this point Joseph has been dealt a pretty crumby hand in life having been sold by his brothers into slavery and forced to serve in a foreign land under a foreign leader. However we are reminded that God has been with him all along. God has brought success to his life and to the household of his master Potipher. He is given a place of high authority and respect by his master and he entrusts his household to him. Things are beginning to go well for Joseph once again… until Potipher’s wife enters the picture.
Vs 6b: Joseph was a handsome man. If you recall his mother (Rachel) was beautiful and he must have inherited her good looks. The text states that Joseph was good looking and well built. He was the Hugh Jackman of his time. I am sure he would have been in Egypt Today Magazine’s list of top 100 Sexiest Men Alive. He was the full package… good looking, well built, smart, and successful.
Vs 7: Potipher’s wife would concur that he was a “hottie”. She had clearly been watching him. She had looked longingly after him and desired to have him for herself. This is where the downfall begins. There is a chance that Mrs. Potipher was unhappy in her marriage, maybe she felt her husband wasn’t giving her the attention she needed, or maybe she just wanted more than she already had. Possibly she wasn’t feeling fulfilled. We do not know why she desired Joseph other than it began with her eyes and desire. The eyes and the heart are always where lust and temptation take root. In the Garden Eve SAW that the fruit was a delight to the eyes and desirable to make one wise… she ate. She looked longingly at the fruit. She desired the fruit. King David saw Bathsheba bathing on the rooftop and longed to have her for himself. Jesus was taken to the mountain top and shown the land that could be his if only he bowed down to worship the devil. The eyes are where sin and temptation begin. Jesus speaks about this in Matthew 5:28, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Was it Joseph’s fault that he was a great looking man? No, the problem came with the heart and eyes of Mrs. Potipher.
Eventually her longing stares prompted her to act on her lust. She approaches Joseph and told (maybe asked) him to sleep with her. What may have started with an innocent glance turned into full blown lust which turns into her physically acting on her lust.
Vs 8: But he refused. These three words tell us that Joseph was a man of integrity. He probably knew his refusal to oblige Mrs. Potipher could get him on her black list. He knew she could make his life miserable. If Joseph were only looking out for himself he probably would have been better off sleeping with her. But he knew this would be wrong. He responds by telling her that her husband was very explicit in telling him what he did and did not have charge over and she was not his for the taking.
Vs 9: Joseph says he will not sleep with her because her husband has been good to him, trusts him and she is his wife. Then we see the true heart of Joseph in his next few words, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?” Wow! These words hit straight between the eyes. Notice he didn’t say, “I can’t sin against Potipher.” Nor did he say, “I can’t sin against you.” He says, “I can’t sin against God.” He gives her the truth up front. He states that it would be wickedness for him to take another man’s wife for himself. Why? Because it would be a sin against God. This is interesting because the laws of God had not been established yet. We are all familiar with the 10 Commandments and even more so with Commandment seven “Do not commit adultery”. Before the Law of God was even established among the nation of Israel adultery was considered wrong in the eyes of God. How did Joseph know this? I think it is a testimony of his relationship with God. It wasn’t about keeping rules or finding out what he could get away with and still be good with God. He more than likely had a genuine relationship with God.
It’s kind of interesting how many Christians worry so much about what they can get away with and not be considered sin than they do about doing what is right in the eyes of God for the sake of being pleasing to Him. Certainly Joseph could have slept with her and then quickly asked God for forgiveness and went on with his life. He could have justified pushing the limits and fooled around with her or lusted after her all the while not actually having sex with her. He could have said, “Hey, I didn’t actually sleep with her I just…” But this was not Joseph’s heart. He couldn’t do this wickedness against God.
Vs 10: So everything went back to normal in the house. Mrs. Potipher said, “Ok, I’ll respect your wishes. I have seen the error of my ways and now I will leave you alone.” Uh, not exactly. She was persistent. She continually approached him. She was not going to give up. Her lust was driving her and her advancements became more and more forward. Day after day he refused. I am sure this was not an easy thing for Joseph. I am sure he was praying often for the advancements to either stop or the strength to refuse.
Vs 11: One day the two were alone… Whoa horsey! The situation just became even more dangerous. Why they were alone we are not sure. But here they were... nobody is around. The workers are nowhere to be found. Eventually this DOES become a problem for Joseph because he has no accountability for his actions.
Vs 12: Apparently not taking “No” for an answer she grabs him violently and demands she has sex with her. Mrs. Potipher’s advances just became violent. Joseph’s response is one that we should all learn from… He got out there faster than you can say “Run!” Joseph fled! He high tailed it out of there as quick as he could, so much so he left his cloak in the clutches of her hands. Joseph removed himself from the situation and did not look back.
I cannot think of a more relevant story in Genesis than this one. This is an account of lust, desire and temptation. However it is not like many other stories in Genesis, our main character does not have a moral failure; he does not use deception and trickery to get what he wants and most of all he shows us how to overcome temptation and sin through the power of God. I mentioned earlier that we all face temptation in our lives. Some of us face it on a regular basis. It may or may not be similar to Joseph’s temptation to sin. Maybe someone at work, school or in a place you frequent is pursuing you to sin against your spouse. Maybe you are a teenager struggling with lustful thoughts. Maybe you are faced with the temptation to cheat on your school work or at your place of employment. Maybe you are faced with the temptation to lie, deceive and trick people into giving you what you want. Maybe you are facing the temptation to look at certain web sites that are not honoring to God. I don’t know what temptation you may be facing today or tomorrow but Joseph gives us all hope. If we look at his response in this passage I think we can all benefit in resisting temptation when we come face to face with it.
Many years ago I received a magazine in the mail titled SUCCESS. I remember thumbing through the magazine and one article caught my attention, “How to Make More Money Than You Know What To Do With”. I mean who wouldn’t be interested in reading an article with this title? Unfortunately I didn’t gain any practical insights and I currently do not have more money than I know what to do with. I continued looking through the magazine and most of the articles equated success with money. It brought a question to mind, is success always about making money? Is success always connected with winning? Is success always associated with being “top dog”? Is success really about what you get? What is success? I did a Facebook poll a while back and asked my friends, “How would you define success?” Here are some of their answers…
We will look today at the success of Joseph. Does he have special secrets to his success (that are not so secretive)? I firmly believe we can learn and benefit from these 6 passages as we look at the success story of Joseph.
Vs 1: Joseph is in Egypt. Back in chapter 37 Joseph was sold to a group of Ishamaelites. They sold him to an Egyptian named Potipher. Potipher was the captain of the guard. This meant he was put in charge of all the royal prisons. Some have even suggested his job was to be the chief executioner. Whatever his specific duties were we know him as a wealthy man who was influential and powerful. By today’s worldly standards he would be considered a successful man.
Vs 2: Joseph was initially bought as a slave. We are told though that “The Lord was with Joseph” – God had his hand on his life. He was a man who followed and trusted God. Remember Genesis continually reminds us of the promise God had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; that he would be with them and this promise is carrying through to Joseph. We are told this so we know up front that God was with him so in preparation for when things so when things start going bad for Joseph again we will be reminded that God was with him even in the hard times.
“He was successful” – He was a prosperous man. This doesn’t mean that he was wealthy. It is suggested that his success from the fact that God blessed him and he had a kind of “magic touch. He was one of those guys who was good at everything he did. The author attributes his success to the fact that God was with him. God had blessed him greatly. Joseph’s success was not merely a reflection on his ability but on the fact that the Lord was with him, and that through him Potiphar enjoyed God’s blessing.
Vs 3: Joseph wore his faith on his sleeve. His walk with God was apparent to everyone. Potipher observed that God was with him. His relationship with God was something that people noticed about him. He was also a man who gave God his due credit. Joseph was a successful man but he was vocal in sharing where his success came from. Potipher observed that the reason Joseph was successful was because the LORD was with Him. This gives us a glimpse of Joseph’s character. He was a humble man who knew where his success came from.
Vs 4: Potipher observed his success and appointed Joseph to overseer of the house. Joseph was promoted early on. He went from being a slave in the field to being an overseer of Potipher’s house. Granted Joseph was still a slave at this point but Potipher trusted Joseph so much that he became Potipher’s personal assistant; he was now the household steward. He was in charge of not only the house but the whole estate and the surrounding property.
Vs 5: Because God was with Joseph and Potipher appointed Joseph to his personal assistant God blessed the whole household. God’s hand had been on Joseph and as a result he became a blessing to Potiphers whole household.
Vs 6: Potipher trusted Joseph exclusively. He trusted him so much that the text implies that he gave everything over to Joseph’s care. He wasn’t the least bit concerned or worried that Joseph would take advantage of him, rip him off or abuse his trust. He was convinced that Joseph was doing the best for him. Joseph was able to take care of the matters of Potipher’s home so he wouldn’t have to watch Joseph’s every move. He knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that nobody could care for his things better than Joseph.
“The food he ate” – Probably refers to Potipher’s private affairs. Everything was entrusted to Joseph but not EVERYTHING. Not everything belonged to Joseph… and Joseph respected his private affairs.
In these modern days we, like Joseph desire to be successful in all we do. Nobody wants to be known as a failure. As I mentioned earlier there is no clear cut definition of success. One’s person’s success could be another person’s failure or vice versa. However as a Christian man I do determine my success on a different set of values that the world. Yes, I would love to have more money than I know what to do with. Yes, I would love to have a packed congregation… standing room only. Yes, I would love to give my family everything they wanted. I don’t have this… does it make me a failure? Not at all! Why? Here are some reasons
 New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (86). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
Genesis 37:12 - 39
Have you ever been betrayed by someone? Has something ever been done to you that hurt so badly you thought you could never forgive that person? Maybe it was a close friend, confidant, or a relative which may have made it all the more difficult to face and endure. This betrayal may have shaken you to the core or you are still reeling from it today. Betrayal is never something anyone wishes upon themselves or their worst enemies. The act of betrayal is defined as giving information about (a person, group, country, etc.) to an enemy. It is the act of hurting someone (who trusts you, such as a friend or relative) by not giving help or by doing something morally wrong. It is probably safe to say that we have all been betrayed or felt betrayed at some point in our lives. I know one thing for certain betrayal hurts and bouncing back from it is very difficult… but doable.
Betrayal is something Joseph understood well. When we read his story it is amazing to see how well Joseph does with the hand he is dealt early in his life. For the remainder of the book of Genesis we will be looking at the life of Joseph. His story is significant to both the history of Israel and for the book of Genesis overall.
We are also told that Joseph was also a dreamer. In the first part of Genesis 37 he dreamed two significant dreams. His interpretations were that his brothers and eventually his father and mother would all bow down before him one day. This was preposterous! This infuriated his brothers even more. Tension was high in the family and this bitter jealousy leads up to what happens next in the text I will speaking on today.
Vs 12: The brothers pastured the sheep in an area near Shechem. This was probably about a 30 to 40 mile hike for them. Shechem is the place where Levi and Simeon massacred the son of Hamor and all the inhabitants. We are not told why they went back there but it seems rather strange they would even go back to this place.
Vs 13: Joseph was not with the brothers. He was a shepherd as well so it is unusual that he would not be with them. Maybe he knew how they felt about him and figured it wouldn’t be wise to be left alone with them.
“Here I am” – These words depict Joseph as an obedient son. He is ready to do what his father asks of him even if he knows that danger could lie ahead.
Vs 14 – 17: Joseph takes the 30 mile trek to where he thought his brothers were. We are told a man found him wandering like a lost sheep. He tells Joseph his brothers went 10 miles north to Dothan.
Vs 18: The brothers saw Joseph from afar. He may have been wearing his cloak. When they saw him they “conspired” or “plotted” to kill him. We now see the true depth of hatred they had for their brother. From what we gather Joseph hadn’t done anything against them that would warrant this type of hatred. It is at this point we are actually given a glimpse into their dark hearts and the wickedness that has taken root. They had murderous intentions. This wasn’t a strong dislike they had it was pure hatred.
In killing Joseph the brother’s figure that if he is dead then there is no way his dreams can come to pass. They were trying to thwart God’s plan by intervening and killing him. They were consumed and controlled by their hatred and this led to their evil plot.
Vs 19 - 20: “Here comes the dreamer” – This was said sarcastically and with disdain. It is apparent that the way this is written the brothers seemed unified (with the exception of Reuben) in their desires to kill Joseph. It wasn’t the idea of just one of them. They plotted to kill him, throw him in a pit and tell their father that a wild animal killed him. Yes, this is certainly a premeditated murder plot. The brother’s never took in to consideration the heartache and sorrow they would cause their father by going through with this act. They were controlled by their evil hearts.
Vs 20 - 22: The eldest brother Reuben was the only one not on board with this plot. He steps in and speaks with authority by telling the brothers that they will not kill him. It is here we are getting a glimpse of compassion from Reuben. He eventually talks them out of murdering Joseph. We do not know Reuben’s motives; he may have been standing in for his brother because he was the eldest and Joseph’s death would have fallen on his shoulders. Basically the death of the favored son would have occurred on his watch. This would have certainly driven a deeper wedge in his relationship with his father. If you recall Reuben isn’t on the best terms with his father. He tells the brothers to put him in the pit but not murder him. He was intending on rescuing him a little later in the day or evening and bring him back safely to his father.
Vs 23 - 24: When Joseph arrives they attacked him, stripped him of his robe and threw him in the pit (an empty and dry water cistern). There are a lot of similarities between Joseph’s and Jesus’ betrayal.
Vs 25 - 28: One would think Joseph would have been pleading with his brothers while in the pit (or maybe he remained silent) to rescue him but they paid no mind to him and they sat down to eat. They went on as if nothing happened… business as usual.
Eventually a caravan of Ishmaelites heading to Egypt came upon them and Judah came up with the idea of selling Joseph to them. He convinced the brothers to sell him for a profit. They paid 20 shekels of silver for Joseph. This was a pretty nice price for the brothers to split. It was here that the brothers thought they could solve their problem. Sell the brother and make a hefty profit and the brother will be gone out of their lives forever thus the dream would never be fulfilled. Unbeknownst to them they were actually helping Joseph fulfill the dream.
Vs 29: Reuben was not present for the transaction because when he returned the deal was done. He tore his clothes (a sign of deep sadness). His sadness was not so much because Joseph was gone but because now he would have to worry about facing his father with this news.
Vs 30 – 35: They still stuck with the wild animal story. They dipped the cloak in goat’s blood (Something had to die and blood still needed to be spilled) and brought it back to Jacob. The brothers tell their fabricated story to their father and he responds by tearing his clothes and mourned the death of his son. The sons and daughters tried to comfort him but he refused. He told them his mourning would last a lifetime. It was common to grieve for 1 week. Occasionally one would grieve for a month. Jacob informs his family he would never stop grieving. “Now I shall go down to Sheol”. Sheol was the place of the dead. It was believed to be where the spirits of the departed went and would continue on in a state of unhappy existence forever.
Vs 36: The Midianites (Ishmaelites) sold Joseph to Potiphar and thus Joseph’s journey continues and begins…
Genesis 37 is one of many depressing chapters in the Bible. We certainly see the ugly side of God’s chosen people. We see that these individuals, these brothers who should have a genuine love and affection fro one another were far… VERY FAR from perfect and yet God still used these people for his plan. In this passage we see the true core of the sinful human heart. Some observations I have found remind me of why we need a Savior. Here is what I believe Genesis 37 shows us about the human heart and the sovereignty of God.
So in this account of Joseph it may seem as though things don’t look so good for this young man. Maybe you are reading this today and you feel as though you are in a pit like Joseph. Take comfort in the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” The pit is not a fun place. However it was a place where Joseph could do nothing but depend on God.
Maybe you don’t feel so much like Joseph but you may feel more like the brothers as you harbor anger, bitterness, jealousy or any other issue in your heart. I am here to tell you that Jesus has come to transform hearts. It is in Jesus that we are able to lay all of our sins upon him. If your heart is not right with God today I want to implore you to allow Jesus to work on you and transform your heart it into a heart that beats in tune with His. He is in the transformation business.
Genesis 37:1 - 11
The story of Joseph is significant in setting the stage for the nation of Israel. It is amazing how quickly the story of Genesis goes from God’s wonderful act of creation and quickly turns into account upon account about the depravity of humanity which include murderers, jealousy, liars, people of unbridled lust, judgment, idolatry, war, rape, adultery and much more. Strangely Genesis could rival any modern day drama television show… Actually I think it would be too much for prime time television.
We don’t know a lot about Joseph at the beginning. However we do know he is important since almost a ¼ of Genesis is dedicated to his life. We will get to know him well in the next few weeks. We only know now that he is 17 years old. He was a good boy. He was the favored son. Dad beamed with pride when Joseph was around. He could do no wrong in his father’s eyes. Certainly he did a lot of good things and he most likely towed the line in life (rule follower). He was the kind of person people love to hate.
Vs 1 - 4: In fact his brothers did hate him. They couldn’t and didn’t speak kind words about him. In this account Joseph brings a bad report about his brothers to his father. We are not sure what the report was but it certainly did not sit well with the brothers. Some have suggested the implication is they were doing something and he was informing his father of what was going on. Some have called him a tattle tale. Others call him an obedient son who had a close relationship with his father. “This section portrays Joseph as faithful to his father in little things, even though unpopular—and so he will eventually be given authority over greater things.” Others think that Joseph was speaking lies about his brothers and they resented him for his lies. Since his brothers were never held in high regard with their father it would have made them all the more angry because the lie wouldn’t have really served any real purpose.
Israel/Jacob loved Joseph the most – fatherly favoritism. Jacob does to his sons what his father did to him. Interestingly this has been a trend passed down from his father. One would think Jacob would understand what it was like to be the least loved of the brothers. He would have empathy for his sons because he never won his own father’s affection. There was really no other reason than Joseph was the favorite because he was the son of the favored wife. As we will soon see this favoritism leads to bad things.
To show his son his affection Israel gives Joseph a robe of many colors. Some versions call this garment a robe, some a tunic and others a coat. We are not exactly sure what this robe looked like. It may have been a garment that a prince wore. It is also described in other passages of the Bible as being a long garment reaching down to the ankles or wrists. I don’t believe that what the robe looked like matters as much as what it represented. Every time Joseph wore this robe the brothers were reminded how little value their father had of them. There was a deep seeded jealousy and probably not for a bad reason.
The jealousy was so great that they could not speak peacefully about him. I could imagine whenever his name was spoken the brothers would spit in disgust at the mere mention of his name. He certainly was a point of tension whenever his name was brought up in discussion.
Vs 5 – 11: Joseph was also a dreamer. No, he wasn’t a guy who walked around with his head in the clouds drifting in and out of reality… He was a man whom God spoke to in his dreams. He may have been a man who was in tune with God. He was sensitive to His presence. When God spoke Joseph listened. As we have seen in previous accounts with Jacob and Abraham God reveals himself through dreams. This is the first of Joseph’s dreams and it gives him a glimpse of what is yet to come.
Joseph tells his dream to his brothers and this only added fuel to the fire. The interpretation didn’t set to well. Essentially Joseph was saying that there will be a time when the brothers will bow down before him. The brothers certainly felt this was ludicrous. There response was, “There is no way on God’s green earth that we will ever bow down to you.” Remember their words… because the phrase, “Never say never” will eventually come in to play.
Joseph dreams a second dream. This time he tells them not only will his brothers bow before him but his mother and father will as well. This sounded even more ridiculous. His brothers respond with jealous hatred and his father kept his saying in his mind. He put this interpretation in the back of his mind. He may have pondered the words of Joseph in his heart.
Three Key Thoughts
Jealousy’s Stronghold (James 3:16) – Jealousy is a heart issue. It is safe to say that jealousy takes a person down a very dark road. One needs only watch the news to see that the heart of a jealous person can lead some to domestic violence and murder. When we look at the core of jealousy it is in its simplest form hating (or strongly disliking) someone because of something they have and you don’t. In the case of Joseph the brothers did not have the affection of their father. It wasn’t the coat that made the brother’s hate Joseph. It was the reality behind it… The coat represented the father’s favoritism. We are not sure if Joseph flaunted the coat around or if he was a humble person. We do know that the brother’s hearts were not in a good place. In some cases one could understand why they were jealous. It is understandable that they would resent Joseph because he had special privileges with the father. Regardless of how the father treated them their jealousy was not justified.
God Still Speaks Through Dreams (Acts 2:17) – Joseph’s was a man who listened to God and He revealed his plans and purposes to him through dreams. I personally believe God still speaks through dreams. I also believe not all dreams are divine encounters either. In recent years I have had very vivid dreams that I know are from God. How do I know? I wish I could give you concrete evidence but I can’t. I just get a sense that God is speaking to me. I also know because the subject matter of the dream is recurring. Now the dream is not recurring, it is the subject. I am still processing (I have been for nearly 5 years now) what these dreams mean. I do know for certain that these dreams are God’s way of speaking and revealing to me something of importance concerning me and his plans. I believe God will eventually reveal to me what He is trying to say to me and release me to do what he is calling me to do in due time. Until then I need to….
Be Patient (Psalm 37:7) – You and I know the story of Joseph. It is a tragically beautiful story of forgiveness and restoration, yet Joseph didn’t know it at the time. God’s plan was slowly revealed to Joseph over time (and we will look at this for the next few weeks). The same goes for us. We don’t always see or know what God is up to. In Joseph’s story God is setting the stage for the nation of Israel and He is going to use Joseph in a mighty way. God is doing this today as well. The trials, joys and circumstances we may face today are part of the process. God has a plan and his plan will be executed and accomplished in his own time and He will use whomever he chooses. Fortunately for those of us who are in Christ Jesus we are the “whomever’s”. What I love about God is that his plan is perfect. It is designed to bring him glory and be a blessing to me. I am grateful that God has chosen me to be part of his kingdom plan. It is in this process I am waiting and waiting is not one of my strong points. I want to do something and I want to do it now. Some of you may be in a place today that is less than desirable. Maybe you feel God has forgotten about you or He is not going to follow through for you. It is a dark place to be… I have been there and someday I may be there again. Hopefully you can look to Joseph (and if you need to cheat and read ahead then do it) and know that what may seem like something bad going on in your life can be used by God for his glory and purpose.
 Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
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I currently live in Florida with my beautiful family. The Lord has blessed me with 20 years of full time ministry. He is and has been faithful. I am currently serving at a church as an Associate Director of Discipleship.