Gen 37:3 “Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” Gen 37:3, 4 NIV2
Joseph’s Father played favorites. He loved Joseph more than all his other sons. This wasn’t Joseph’s fault; nonetheless, despite the fact that he loved his brothers, they hated him.
One day Joseph had a dream. “Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. “Listen,” he said, “I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” When he told his father as well as his brothers, his father rebuked him and said, “What is this dream you had? Will your mother and I and your brothers actually come and bow down to the ground before you?” His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind.” Gen 37:5-11
He was not trying to show off necessarily, but when he shared his dream with his family his brothers became fiercely jealous, and they hated him even more: “What makes Joseph so special? Who does he think he is?”
This family was not united. Everyone was looking out for no one but himself. So sad.
“And Israel said to Joseph, “As you know, your brothers are grazing the flocks near Shechem. Come, I am going to send you to them.” “Very well,” he replied.” Gen 37:13 NIV2
The wickedness of the brothers reached a peak, and they show their real colors when they were out with the sheep and they saw Joseph heading towards them. At first they wanted to kill him. Instead, they decided to sell him as a slave to the Ishmalites. That way they would get the money, Joseph would never be heard of again and they would be innocent of shedding his blood.
Their wickedness showed up: “(Gen 37:31 [NIV2]) Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood.
“They took the ornate robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.” He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “I will continue to mourn until I join my son in the grave.” So his father wept for him.Genesis 37:31-34. Their dad was morning big time. No one could console him. Gen 37:32-34 NIV2
In the meantime Joseph is now a slave. Eventually he was sold to Potiphar, and the life he had lived before was just a memory. Now he was facing hard work with no recompense. Now he had to serve people who he had never met. He had no choice. There was no way he would ever be freed.
Besides all this, Joseph was far from all his family. He was lonely. He had no friends, and he didn’t speak the language. The dream he had dreamed would never come true!
Still, Joseph held on to the dream he had been given. He believed in His Heavenly Father. No matter what the circumstances, he would stand fast on the promises of God.
Remember that God knew what would happen to Joseph before it ever happened. The dream that he received from God would give him the hope he needed to make it through.
I can relate to Joseph, for I, too, found myself in a foreign country, far from my family and friends, and I also had no idea what to expect.
At that time, I belonged to a certain domination that claimed to teach from the Bible. I figured that they must be from God, and so after completing my Masters at Theology at one of their schools in France, I decided to move from my home country of Belgium to the United States to do my doctorate in Theology at one of their American universities.
Unfortunately, once I was there, I was told that I would have to redo my Masters degree in Theology before I would be allowed to begin my doctorate, as they didn’t recognize the degree I had from France. It would cost my family way more money, and I knew I couldn’t do that to them. I prayed for a few days, and then I decided to become a teacher.
I was a bit disillusioned, I admit, and being in a foreign country with a culture that was completely strange to me, I often asked myself if I was doing the right thing. Like Joseph, I was alone, and like him, I could barely even speak the language. But also like Joseph, I had a promise, which I will share with you next time; and that promise brought me the encouragement I needed. Only my Heavenly Father could give me reassurance.
Let’s be like Joseph. Don’t be discouraged, for one of God’s Christmas promises is that He is trustworthy. Make the decision this Christmas to hold on to His promises, for they will guide us to the end of our lives. Our Father is always with us.
(To access the entire “Hope in the Distance” devotional series, please click here.)