Genesis, Chapters 37–50
Genesis 37:1-11 “Now Jacob dwelt in the land where his father was a [a]stranger, in the land of Canaan. 2 This is the history of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brothers. And the lad was with the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives; and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father. 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also, he made him a tunic of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.
5 Now Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more. 6 So he said to them, ‘Please hear this dream which I have dreamed: 7 There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed, your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.’ 8 And his brothers said to him, ‘Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?’ So, they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words.
9 Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.’ 10 So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, ‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?’ 11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.“
Last week we began to look at a series about Triumph in Jesus. The text we considered in 2 Corinthians 2: 12-17 gave us some perspective on how Paul saw his life in Jesus. A man who was often imprisoned, often beaten, hated by many, he spent many lonely nights in diverse places, and he went from being a Pharisee and being wealthy to being an Apostle and, for the most part, was poor. Yet, Paul tells us that God brings us Triumph in Jesus ALWAYS.
The Triumph he was referencing was the grand parade that Rome would host for a returning and conquering General. This parade was a spectacle with the General paraded down the capital, surrounded by hordes of people chanting his name and throwing flowers and the like; there would be music and dancers and just a loud and joyous procession. Paul imagined himself in this parade, as Jesus is heralded, our great and conquering General. We would be in the procession enjoying the Triumph with Him.
Our modern world has created no shortage of victims. Everyone has been wronged by someone, and they have the right to accept failure and blame all of the tragedies of life on someone else. Sadly, this mentality has begun to creep into the Lord’s churches.
Over the next few weeks, we are going to look at the lives of some Bible characters that would offer them the reason to turn their backs on God, throw up their hands and quit. The life that God led them into would have offered them the opportunity to live godless lives and a life of victimhood. But they trusted God and saw His hand in their lives, and by His grace and in His time, God caused them to Triumph. I pray that we will learn and apply these lessons and principles to our lives.
We are entering a time as we approach the end where we will be hated more and more. God’s truths and those that bear them will be despised, and we may even be imprisoned and killed. What will our attitude be? Will we live in such a way that even our enemies leave knowing that there is a God in Heaven and that He is real?
In the story of Joseph that we are focusing on today, we will see that this young man, just 17 when we meet him here, was surrounded by serious issues in his family. If you have read the story, you know that this is one mixed-up family.
Jacob, the dad, has 4 women – 2 his wives, and 2 his concubines (kind of like wives but without the ceremony) with whom he has 12 children (he will have a 13th child). Joseph is the son of Rachel, the wife he loved first and was cheated out of by his father-in-law. He loves Joseph and adores him above all the other kids, and they do not like it (Genesis 37:3). We will explore all the reasons that Joseph had to turn his back on God and to hate his brothers, but we will also see that God never left this young man, and in His time (some 13 years), made his life glorious and brought about a great Triumph.
- Hatred and Jealousy: A recipe for Murder – verses 4-11
I don’t know about you, but I do not think that my siblings ever hated me to the point of murder. I certainly did not think of killing any of them. But this was one messed-up home. Dad has a favorite kid; he was very open about it, and the rest of the sons hated their little brother. Hated him. They did not dislike him; they were not indifferent to him; they hated him. The evidence of this hatred is found in verse 18. Joseph was sent by his dad to check on his brothers and the flocks, and when they saw him coming, they plotted to murder him.
If you read in the life of Jesus in John 7: 1-3, Jesus’ own brothers encouraged him to go to Jerusalem when they knew that the Jews plotted to kill him. Jesus also was hated by his family. We know He has 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters (Matthew 13:55). His brothers James and Jude, New Testament writers, were saved and served Him, but we do not know what became of the other brothers. But, at this time in John 7, all of his brothers hated him and encouraged him to go where he could be killed. They did not want to do it, but they knew who could.
In verse 6, Jesus confirms their motive by telling them His time was ‘not yet.’ What time? His time to die, but He reminds them that their time is always ready. God could strike you dead at any time. Jesus knows what it is like to grow up in a toxic environment and still see the glory and Triumph of God. In the book of Hebrews 4:14-18, he tells us that He knows every situation, including temptation, that you will ever face, and He is there to help in the time of need.
Back to Joseph, his brothers plot to kill him, but God intervenes and provides them an out, and they sell him to a passing caravan as a slave. Off to Egypt he goes, from free to being a slave, from being preferred to being nothing, and off to a country where he knew no one and did not speak the language.
- The Lord was with Him, Genesis 39:3-4, verses 21-23
If God is for you, who can be against you (Romans 8:31). God was with Joseph. He made all he touched to prosper even in captivity, and people saw that he was different, and they knew it was the Lord who was doing it. We are called to give God 100% all the time, no matter the circumstances. We are not to use our circumstances to hurt others or to cause shame to the Lord’s good name. We are not to be slackers in the place that God has put us. If you and I are children of God, we will find ourselves where God wants us to be even if we get there because of the malice of others.
God used the hatred of his brothers to get Joseph to Egypt. But make no mistake, it was God who wanted him there. Joseph trusted God, and even in the harshest of circumstances, he served God faithfully. In both cases, as a servant in Potiphar’s home and as a prisoner, God made all he did to prosper, and God made sure that the right people saw him and promoted him.
- In God’s time, Genesis 41
We live in an instant world. We want everything faster. Fast food, condensed books, shortened emojis to use for conversations. We text in tiny boxes with limited characters, and waiting has come to be the worst thing one can do. Even Amazon will get you your box in 24 hours or less, and if we have to wait at a store, we give them a bad review and say nasty things.
But God is the God of waiting. By the time we get to Genesis 41, Joseph is about 30 years old. It has been 13 years of patiently waiting on God. God had a plan; God had the timing, and God controlled all the circumstances. God allowed him to be sold into slavery, then bought by Potiphar, knowing that his wife would falsely accuse Joseph of rape, ending with him being imprisoned. This was so he could meet the 2 servants of Pharoah and have one of them survive to tell Pharoah about Joseph. This way, Joseph could be promoted to Second in Command in Egypt and rescue the men who plotted to murder him and sold him into slavery. But it all happened in God’s time and at His pace, for His glory and for our benefit.
God is not rushed; God is not running out of time, and He is not cheating you. If you are a child of God, serve Him where He allows you to be. Give Him 100%, and let God worry about the next step. God’s plan is better and greater than yours. And, unlike God, you don’t know the end.
Patience is one of the most important traits of a mature Christian. In Galatians 5:22-23, we see that one of the fruits of the Spirit is patience. This is a supernatural gift that we get from God, but it is not a popular gift in the modern church. We are not big on patience. One of the most important things to learn as we grow in Jesus is that God is not rushed, He will do what He wants when He wants, and He is not easily moved by our complaining. When we get ‘ahead’ of God, it is always to our detriment and our loss. Wait on God, trust Him; He cannot fail you, ever.
- The Big Picture, Genesis 50:20
Once Jacob was dead, the brothers feared that, with Dad gone, Joseph would try to enact revenge on them and kill them. But Joseph was way past that. He had forgiven them and moved on. He promised them that he would care for them and their children for as long as he could.
Genesis 50: 19-21 “Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.”
God meant it for good. God was in control all of the time, and He never left me. When we read Exodus 1, we see that Joseph’s legacy and influence lasted for about 400 years, even to the Pharaohs of Egypt. What kind of legacy will you leave your children, your nation, your family, and your friends? Will it be a legacy that points them to Jesus? Joseph had a life of Triumph in God because he trusted Him in all the circumstances of life and refused to use his past, his family, and even his present as an excuse not to serve God wholeheartedly. Oh, that we would be the same today. We are promised in 2 Corinthians 2:14 a great Triumph in Jesus.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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