Genesis: The Beginning
Slavery for Joseph 2-2-16
READ: Genesis 37
Yesterday, we read about the rape of Dinah, revenge of her brothers, and Jacob’s [Israel’s] subsequent return to Bethel. I did not spend time on Genesis 36, but please read it and realize the entire chapter is about Esau’s twelve sons; His family goes from tribal structure to kingship. Today, we will read about Joseph and his big dreams; those dreams land him in slavery. Look for the (glimpses) of how Joseph’s life foreshadows the life of Jesus.
Jacob [now called Israel] is back in Canaan. His son, Joseph, is about seventeen years old; he serves his father as a shepherd (Jesus is the Good Shepherd serving His Father). While out watching the flock, Joseph also sees the dishonorable things his brothers are doing (Jesus rebukes the religious leaders) and he reports his assessment back to his father, Israel. Israel already has a special place in his heart for Joseph, so Israel continues to heap favor on him. Joseph has a special coat made for him that distinguishes him above his brothers (Jesus has a righteous coat). This authority of Joseph’s is unwelcomed and against tradition (Jesus upset traditional leadership all the time).
Joseph has the gift of prophetic dreams (Jesus is a prophet). God uses prophetic dreams to reveal that His sovereign purpose guides all events. One night Joseph has a dream about his brothers. When Joseph tells them about the dream they hate him all the more. Why? Because in the dream, Joseph’s brothers [symbolized by grain bundles] bow down to him. Animosity continues to grow in the brothers (The Pharisees hated Jesus “Who gave you this authority?”). Joseph has another dream and he decides to share it with his brothers, too. Can someone say, “It’s a mistake! Don’t do it, Joseph!” Too late. Joseph tells them in this dream even the sun, moon and stars bow low before him; God is sending another message that this matter is decided by Him (reflects the authority of Christ over all creation). Joseph tells his father the dream and even Israel is puzzled by what the dream could mean.
The brothers take the flock to Shechem while Joseph stays at home with Israel. One day Israel decides to send Joseph to find his brothers, but when he gets to Shechem his brothers are not there (Jesus also seeks the lost). Joseph wanders in the wilderness until all things can be lined up [timing has to be just right encountering the Ishmaelite traders]. Joseph meets a man while being delayed in the wilderness who tells him the brothers spoke of going to Dothan, so Joseph follows this man’s lead (Jesus meets the devil in the wilderness but uses the Word to put him in his place).
Joseph is seen, by his brothers, coming in the distance; and they plan to kill “the dreamer!” Humanity cannot handle it when the favor of God rests on a person with purpose; darkness can rise up in the heart that does not bow first to God (Jesus had the Light and favor of the Father and the darkness in the human soul hated him). The brothers want to kill innocent Joseph and throw him down into an empty cistern (think about Jesus innocent/death/tomb). But Reuben, the oldest, redirects the plan as a way to redeem himself before his father [remember his fling with Bilhah]. Reuben suggests leaving him alive, but throwing him in the well to die; this would allow for Reuben to come back without his brothers and rescue him later. Reuben leaves thinking he is going to look better before his father for saving Joseph.
When Joseph arrives he is stripped of his robe and thrown into the cistern (think about Jesus and Caiaphas’ palace). The brothers are just sitting down to have dinner when a group of Ishmaelite traders come by on their way to Egypt; Judah [lineage of Messiah] suggests Joseph as a boy be sold to them for twenty pieces of silver (Jesus was sold for thirty pieces because he was a man). These resourceful brothers of deception saturate Joseph’s coat with goat blood and send the coat back to Israel who jumps to the conclusion a wild animal must have killed Joseph. Remember, Israel once deceived Issac with the use of a goat and it comes back through his sons to remind him of his sin. Israel mourns and weeps. While back in Egypt, Joseph has arrived and is sold to Potiphar—an officer of Pharaoh.
Joseph was following God but he suffered greatly; good people do suffer. Yet, God was working through Joseph’s situation to bring him into greater power and authority; a greater good as we will see more as we read. Joseph could not see it at the time, so he had to walk by faith. We cannot always see what God is doing in our lives, so we must walk by faith too. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:11). The brothers opened their heart to hatred, took one step toward sin, and sin snowballed from there. Blessing for your day as you guard your heart with all diligence and walk toward God’s greater good.