By Kenny Bruce
Pastor Emeritus, Leawood East Baptist Church, Memphis
Focal Passage: Genesis 37:1-5, 19-24, 26-27
(1) Joseph’s boyhood (vv. 1-5). Joseph is introduced to us as a young man 17 years of age. Jacob loved Joseph more than his other eleven sons and made him a coat of many colors.
After Reuben, the firstborn, slept with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, he lost his birthright to Joseph. Jacob bequeathed to Joseph the only plot of land he owned, which was near Sychar (Genesis 33:19; John 4:5). Because of Jacob’s favoritism, Joseph’s brothers hated, resented and were jealous of him. They hated Joseph all the more because of his dreams he conveyed to them.
The first lesson we learn is that parents should never show favoritism to any child. It only fosters jealousy, resentment and hatred. The second lesson we glean is that we, like Joseph, can become the victims of problems or pitfalls which come to us through no fault of our own.
Joseph never complained about his circumstances, and neither should we. Circumstances are never “mere circumstances,” but God’s means of weaving a tapestry of our lives. God is guiding us and has us exactly where He wants us.
2. Joseph’s betrayal (vv. 19-24). Jacob had sent Joseph to find his other sons and to bring him a report about their welfare. When the brothers saw Joseph approaching them, they plotted to kill him and throw his body into a pit. Then they would tell their father that a wild beast had killed him.
Reuben intervened and suggested that they throw him into a pit alive where he could not get any water or food. He secretly planned to come back and rescue Joseph. When Joseph arrived, they stripped him of his coat, threw him into a pit, then sat down to eat. When an Ishmaelite caravan came by on their way to Egypt, they sold him to them as a slave.
Envy leads to hatred, and hatred to overt acts of sin against our brothers and sisters in Christ. A root of bitterness in the church today leads to a shoot of bitterness, and many get hurt (Hebrews 12:15). The resulting disunity and divisiveness causes the church to becomes weak and irrelevant.
(3) Joseph’s brother (Genesis 26-27). While Joseph was in the pit, begging his brothers to spare him (Genesis 42:21), it was his brother, Judah who suggested they sell him to the slave traders. Judah saw the opportunity to make money by selling Joseph or wanted to get rid of Joseph without being guilty of murder, or both. Either way, he saw Joseph as a pawn.
Joseph was the object of envy, resentment, hatred and indifference. The brothers would not talk peaceably with him. He felt alone, rejected and unloved, yet he did not take his eyes off of God.
If you feel the victim of an injustice or an object of rejection and hatred, keep trusting in Jesus. Our Lord was rejected by His own and suffered at the hands of those who hated Him. He prayed and forgave those who persecuted and murdered Him because He believed in God’s providence. Therefore, put your feet down in His footprints and trust God’s providence to unfold. B&R