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Joseph and His Brothers

(Genesis 37:3,4,17-28)

Lesson 11 -- third quarter 1999
August 15, 1999

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

Joseph's brothers hated him because he was their father's favorite. Joseph's dreams of greatness (at their expense, of course) compounded their hatred. Then there was that rainbow he wore sometimes, that multi-colored coat--a vivid reminder to them of his status in their father's eyes.

Could Joseph have done anything to ease the tension in the home, to win back the loyalty of his brothers? It seems he was really stuck. He couldn't help his father's favoritism, and to not wear the coat would have been an insult to his dad. Perhaps it would have been best to have kept those dreams to himself. Maybe that was the last straw for his brothers; maybe that's where he botched the whole matter. Whatever the case, Joseph had to pay the price for his father's lack of wisdom in this area, and for his brothers' lack of integrity.

Have you ever had to deal with anything somewhat resembling this situation? Perhaps the odds of your being in Jacob's father-sandals are fairly slim, but I'm guessing they still might fit you. More likely, the sandals of Joseph or even his brothers fit you a little better. It would be well for us, though, to try on all the sandals for size.

Jacob's Sandals. We all have friends, and we all have friends that we "prefer" above our other friends. Are we ever guilty of treating our special friends in such a way that we create an atmosphere conducive to bad feelings between our friends and our special friends? Oh, let us be very, very careful in this matter! And please, be extra careful in playing favorites at home if you have more than one sibling. (Come to think of it, Jacob's sandals aren't as loose a fit as I might have expected!)

Joseph's Sandals. I am a friend to plenty of people, and a few would even consider me an extra special friend. Time to be careful! Then there's the matter of recognition-- how shall I respond when this comes over the pulpit on a Sunday morning: "I really enjoyed our Sunday School class; Mark did an excellent job teaching it." When you receive recognition or a special place in someone's life, beware of even appearing to exploit it for yourself! (Good fit?)

The Brothers' Sandals. Some people seem to get all the breaks; some of the rest of us only seem to get broken. It isn't fair! We are just as good as they are! This business of rejoicing with those that are exalted really gets to be difficult to live, especially if those getting the breaks rub it in. Is our faith in God large enough to accept that He exalts whom He will? Is the love of God in my heart real enough to be a servant to those getting the breaks...at my expense? (These sandals fit me well; how about you?)

God calls on me (and therefore, empowers me) to respond to the Jacobs, the Josephs and the brothers in my life on the basis of His grace and integrity...not according to how they are and how they treat me. And God will do it!

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