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.