In middle school I remember a lie someone started about me – it was wild and far from true. Even though I knew the truth, the lie existing gutted me. My middle school confidence never hit a real high point (it’s middle school… does any […]
Joseph’s brothers do not take the family feud lightly… instead, the brothers begin planning to remove Joseph from the situation. As the brothers conspire to manage the situation, the first thought is “let’s kill him!” Wow – talk about a rough crowd!
Come now, let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits. Then we will say that a fierce animal has devoured him, and we will see what will become of his dreams.Genesis 37:20, ESV, Holy Bible
Luckily, Reuben steps in and squashes the “let’s kill him” plan and trades it for a “let’s leave him in this pit” and whatever happens happens. Now, Reuben didn’t offer this plan for purely selfless reasons. Reuben spied an opportunity to earn respect of his father and while it may not be the seat of the favorite it may secure second place (Genesis 38:22).
Reuben’s plan wasn’t motivated by a pure heart. Yet, even in the midst of the hatred and chaos, God raised up a friend for Joseph…even among his enemies. Reuben served Joseph as an unlikely source of safety and protection. As the oldest, Reuben knew protecting Joseph would bring him honor in the eyes of their father.
But then Judah gets a wild streak and becomes an entrepreneur. I can see the light bulb moment pop over his head with a thought bubble: ‘what if we sell Joseph to Midianites and make some money?’ Money talks and here, money wins. Joseph’s life becomes the property of the Midianites for 20 shekels of silver (depending on the value of silver, Joseph’s price tag ranged from $200-$400 in today’s world). Reuben didn’t know the transaction took place and was crushed to find the pit empty (we will give him some credit that his emotional reaction was for both selfless and selfish reasons). The Midianites then sold Joseph to Potiphar in Egypt.
Your dreams will inspire many people, but your dreams will also summon opposition for disrupting the status quo. If Joseph knew sharing his dreams would lead to his brothers considering murder and ultimately selling him into slavery, I jump to say he would have kept quiet. Dreams, especially those from God, will shake things up! There will be those in your life who celebrate and support your dreams. You will hear from some who mumble about reasons your dreams won’t work. And then you will find those who simple don’t want your dreams to succeed be it because they see your dream as direct competition or they just don’t like anyone else to win.
Joseph’s brothers certainly fall into the final category – they simply cannot imagine their little brother as their leader. Instead of watching Joseph receive the affections of their father, they reject him and without realizing it begin a process that prepares Joseph to do just that – lead.
Stop and really process your life and dreams.
- When did you last share a dream?
- Who did you tell? How did they respond?
- Was it with enthusiasm and excitement or dread and resentment?
- Can you look back and see a season God prepared you to serve or lead in a position today?
God actively moved in the life of Joseph when he pastured the flock with his brothers, when Jacob gifted him the robe, when Joseph shared his dreams, and when the brothers sold him into slavery. Yet I wonder how close Joseph felt to God on the day he was sold by his brothers compared to the mornings he woke up from his dreams?
Wherever you are in the dream – waiting for one, sharing the dream, suffering push back, or celebrating the victory – God is with you.
The LORD was with Joseph…Genesis 39:2a, ESV, Holy Bible
If a student brings a dream to you, they already assume you care at some level about their future, hopes, and dreams. The moment a student will share a dream with you, give thanks! Tell them thank you for being willing to share a dream with you and how exciting it is to be a part of the story! Even if the dream is SO wild you could never see it happening, speak care first.
We looked at waiting in the terms of minutes or a few days, but what about years that turn into a decade or more? Joseph didn’t see it coming, but 13 years would pass between a dream and a critical decision.
In Genesis 37 we meet 17-year old Joseph who worked in the pastures overseeing the flock with his brothers. Joseph enjoyed the added benefit of his father’s (Jacob) favoritism and received a robe of many colors (Genesis 37:3). This robe not only showed Joseph a sign of his father’s affection, but the robe came with a retirement package – labor would not longer be required of the young son or a sign to be a full-heir.
Can you imagine the brothers? I mean really, really, really put yourself in the moment as a quiet observer. One day, you see Joseph in the fields with this brothers working – physical labor providing food, water, shelter, and safety. The next morning while you collect water, you hear Joseph told Jacob about some lackluster shepherding (Genesis 37:2) and everyone wonders what they did. You walk by a few days later, the brothers continue to provide the needs of the flock and Joseph is rocking a new outfit, chillin’ with a mega nice Trust fund.
But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. Genesis 37:4ESV, Holy Bible
Is this really surprising? Not to me. I’ve been the receiver of the gift and I’ve been the grumbling brothers. Suffering alone seems unfair. Watching one person not suffer can ravage your thoughts and heart. Joseph’s promotion didn’t come with “we are so happy for you” cake and cards – instead Joseph’s brothers hated him for bringing a bad report and for accepting the position of favorite.
Now, I am an only child but, I’ve been around families with siblings and the next part here… it has me painting a pretty well-known scene. Joseph isn’t dumb…he knows his life is different because of Jacob’s favoritism and his brothers are refusing to speak kindly to him. Again, what’s next doesn’t really surprise me – it sounds perfectly human.
Joseph wakes up from a dream and he makes a choice to tell his angry brothers. A dream which describes bundles of sheaves (such as wheat) gathering around Joseph’s bundle and his brother’s bundles bowing to his. It doesn’t take much to interpret the meaning behind that dream (Genesis 37:5-8) and the brothers weren’t having it.
…So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words. Genesis 37:8b
Even more. Yikes.
Well, Joseph may not have been clear on the first dream, but the second dream included similar themes with Joseph at the center. Joseph makes another move and again…not surprised. Joseph has learned how to get under the skin of his brothers and I think he enjoys it! So when Joseph has a second dream with a similar meaning, the brothers hate breeds into jealousy (Genesis 37:11). Jacob smacks Joseph on the hand (Genesis 37:10), but not without remembering God and keeping the dream stored in his heart and mind. It reminds me of the parent telling the one son to stop being a pest, all while hoping the bossiness turns him into a future CEO. (I sure need Joseph and his brothers to get along right now, but what if this dream means something big for him…for us?)
Maybe I don’t give Joseph enough benefit of the doubt. He is young, immature, and lacks experiences – he may not realize just how much fuel he continues to add to the fire of division between himself and his brothers. As we all tend to do, the dreams for Joseph turn out exciting and flashy – if he is in charge, he will be in a position of prosperity! Yet, also as we tend to do, he doesn’t consider the time, effort, and transformation required to serve in a position of power and leadership.
In this moment Joseph only knows the love of his father, the hate of his brothers, and the two exciting and prosperous dreams. And then…
- As we move forward through Joseph’s story – think about a dream you had 10-13 years ago? Who did you tell?
- Joseph told the truth (Genesis 37:2) and we begin to see some consequences – do you find yourself keeping the truth to yourself to avoid conflict?
- What were Joseph’s brothers envious of? What or who do you find yourself being envious of?
- Do you think Joseph shared his dreams because he was excited or because he wanted to get a rise out of his brothers? Would you have shared the dreams?