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37:4-11 - JosephThe Son - Part 2

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Introduction:

n our last study in “The Life of Joseph, Part 1 - Joseph the Son”, we looked at

·         Why is so much written in the Bible about Joseph?

·         The Age of Joseph (Genesis 37:2)

·         The Purity of Joseph (Genesis 37:2).

·         The Preference for Joseph (Genesis 37:3).

·         The Privileges of Joseph (Genesis 37:3).

Today we are going to look at a little bit of what we went over in our last study, then moving on into some more points on “The Life of Joseph”


!! A.           The Preference for Joseph (Genesis 37:3)

1.            “Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, he was the son of his old age…”  (Gen.37:3).

a)            The Cause of the Preference.

(1)           The cause of Jacob's preferential love for Joseph was Joseph's character.  But this is not what the text seems to state.
(a)           The text says that Joseph ("was the son of his old age").  The lack of understanding of this text has resulted in much criticism of Jacob.
(b)           He has been criticized for showing favoritism and foolishness in his preferential love for Joseph.
(c)           The favoritism criticism says Jacob was guilty of loving one of his children more than the others.  We would call this favoritism and favoritism is truly wrong.
(2)           Favoritism – Although I don’t believe that the phrase “son of his old age” is referring to favoritism specifically, which we will talk about in a moment, but I do want to touch on the subject of favoritism.
(a)           Favoritism is forbidden in scripture:

Deuteronomy 21 says "Suppose a man has two wives, but he loves one and not the other, and both have given him sons. And suppose the firstborn son is the son of the wife he does not love. When the man divides his inheritance, he may not give the larger inheritance to his younger son, the son of the wife he loves, as if he were the firstborn son. He must recognize the rights of his oldest son, the son of the wife he does not love, by giving him a double portion. He is the first son of his father’s virility, and the rights of the firstborn belong to him." (Deuteronomy 21:15-17, NLT)

(i)             If you want to destroy your child, just make him feel inferior to everyone else in the family.

(b)           Favoritism or partiality discriminates (James 2:1-9.

b)            The Meaning of the Preference.

(1)           The phrase "son of his old age" in our text does not refer to how old Jacob was in years but to how mature Joseph was in behavior.
(a)           Jamieson says this phrase is a "Hebrew phrase for 'a wise son,' one who possessed observation and wisdom above his years—an old head on young shoulders."
(b)           Matthew Poole speaks likewise.  He says, "The ancient translations, Chaldee, Persian, Arabic, and Samaritan, render the words thus, a wise or prudent son; old age being oft mentioned as a token of prudence; one born old, one wise above his years, one that had a grey head, as we say, upon green shoulders."
(c)           Joseph's wisdom is especially evidenced in his holy character. 

Wisdom is indeed evidenced in character as is seen in "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov.9:10), and "The fear of the Lord is to hate evil" (Prov.8:13).

(d)           If it was simply Jacob's old age at the birth of a son that determined who was the favorite and got the most love, then Benjamin, not Joseph, should be the most loved.


!!! 2.            “Joseph made him a tunic of many colors…”  (Gen37:3).

a)            The Coat for the Preference.

(1)           The description of the coat:
(a)           These words are a translation of two Hebrew words “kethoneth passim”.  Kethoneth means coat, tunic or robe; passim means ankles or wrists.
(b)           The two words together mean a long-sleeved coat, or tunic reaching to the ankles.
(2)           The significance of the coat.
(a)           It signified rank.  It indicated that the wearer was an overseer or master.
(b)           By giving this coat to Joseph, Jacob plainly indicated that Joseph was to have the privileged position of preeminence over his brothers in the family's administration.
(3)           The qualifications for the coat:
(a)           These would vary from family to family, but normally one must at least be the firstborn to be given such a coat.  Joseph, of course, was not the firstborn. 

3.            “When his brothers saw their father loved him more, the hated him…”  (v.4).

a)            The Contempt for the Preference.

(1)           The kind of persons these ten brothers were would predict such hatred.  But they have no justified reason for complaining.
(a)           The ten brothers could not complain that Jacob loved Joseph more than he did them, because they were evil themselves which certainly did not help Jacob to love them.
(b)           Furthermore, they certainly did not love Jacob.  Their meanness later to Jacob in their evil treatment of Joseph shows their great lack of love for Jacob as well as for Joseph.
(2)           Many people are like Jacob's ten evil sons.
(a)           They complain about God's lack of love to them and get upset quickly when God shows any preference for the godly.  
(b)           But they ignore the fact that they are the ones who have the love problem.

b)            Hated Without a Cause (John 15:18-25).

(1)           We can say the same of Jesus.  Jesus too was loved by his Father.  He too stood for truth.
(2)           I think of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday.  

He came, as Zechariah prophetically described it: "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey." (Zechariah 9:9)

(3)           Yet within the week the crowds were provoked by the leaders of the nation to cry out, “Crucify him!  Crucify him!”  Why did they hate the Son of God?  
(a)           It was because he was not like them.  He spoke out against evil.  He was hated without a cause in him.  The cause was in the people, in their hearts.  
(b)           It was directed against anyone who called their wickedness into question.
(4)           We know what happened.  Joseph was kept through the days of hatred and was at last exalted to the second highest position in Egypt.
(a)           Jesus was betrayed, tried, and crucified; but he was raised from the dead and today sits upon the throne of the universe.
(b)           Are you suffering?  If you suffer with him, you will also reign with him.  Are you hated?

The Lord said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:10).


!!!!! (5)           We today can turn to passages like (Phil.1:28–30; 2Tim.2:9–12; Heb.12:3–4; and 1Pet.4:12-17).  We also have the encouraging words of our Lord found in the Gospels.

Paul says to not be "terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God.  For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me."  (Philippians 1:28-30, NKJV)

Paul said that he suffers "trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us."  (2 Timothy 2:9-12, NKJV).

When we feel like giving up, we nee to "consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.  You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin."  (Hebrews 12:3-4, NKJV)

1Peter4:12ff

(6)           As you read the life of Joseph, you see in him a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.
(a)           The birth of Joseph was miraculous in that it was by the intervention of God as an answer to prayer. The Lord Jesus is virgin born. His birth was certainly miraculous!
(b)           Joseph was greatly loved by his father (v.3; Matt.3:17), hated and envied by his brothers (Jn.15:25; Mk.15:10), plotted against, arrested unjustly, and made to suffer.  Jesus was loved by his Father but hated by His enemies and made to suffer.
(c)           As is was on account of envy that Joseph was handed over into slavery, Pilate recognized in the actions of the Jewish leaders that “it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him” (Matt.27:18).
(d)           As Joseph traveled across the hill country in search of his brothers who would end up rejecting him, so Jesus “came to His own, but His own did not receive Him”( Jn1:11).
(e)           Joseph had the coat of many colors which set him apart.  Christ was set apart in that He was “separate from sinners.”
(f)            Joseph announced that he was to rule over his brethren.  The Lord Jesus presented Himself as the Messiah.  Just as they ridiculed Joseph’s message, so they also ridiculed Jesus.  In fact, nailed to His cross were the words: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
(g)           Joseph was sent by his father to his brethren. Jesus was sent to His brethren—He came first to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
(h)           Joseph was hated by his brethren without a cause, and the Lord Jesus was hated by His brethren without a cause.
(i)             Joseph went from suffering to glory and became the savior of the people who had rejected him.  Jesus became the Savior of the world, even of those who rejected Him.    
(j)             God’s goal for all His children is that we become like His Son.
(k)           The goal is glorious, but the process is painful.  Both Jesus and Joseph had to suffer before they could enter into their glory (Luke 24:26; 1 Pet. 5:10).


!! B.           The Prophecy About Joseph (Genesis 37:5-11).

Joseph had two dreams relatively close together when he was seventeen which were both prophetic regarding his future.  These dreams also involved the future of his brothers and Jacob.  Two more times Joseph came into contact with dreams about the future, and they were both in pairs, too.

·         When he was in an Egyptian prison, two prisoners had dreams the same night about their future which Joseph interpreted.

·         Then while still in prison, the Pharaoh of Egypt had two dreams one night about the future of Egypt's crops which Joseph also interpreted which resulted in Joseph becoming the number two ruler in Egypt.

·         To study the two dreams in our text about Joseph's future, we will note the revelation of the dreams and the reaction to the dreams.

1.            “Joseph had a dream, he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more…”  (v.5).

a)            The Revelation of the Dreams (v.7, 9).

(1)           Joseph's first dream was about sheaves in the field (v. 7) and the second dream was about the sun and the moon and eleven stars (v. 9) in the sky. 
(2)           The dreams revealed that Joseph would in the future be over his brothers and even his parents.
(a)           The dream about the sheaves revealed Joseph would be over his brothers (v.7).
(b)           The dream about the sun, moon, and eleven stars revealed Joseph would be over all Jacob's family (v.9)
(c)           The sun and moon represented Joseph's parents, and the eleven stars represented his eleven brothers.
(3)           These dreams were, of course, fulfilled some twenty or so years later. 
(a)           The fulfillment of the dreams is recorded in the later chapters in Genesis.  Joseph's brothers did indeed bow down to Joseph (Genesis 42:6; 43:26, 28).
(b)           And Joseph was over all the house of Israel when Jacob moved his family to Egypt to live (Genesis 47:11, 12).
(c)           Many times God will give us a promise but it will not be fulfilled for years to come.
(4)           God’s Word will come to pass.
(a)           through the mocking of mouths (his brothers' attitude towards him)…
(b)           the might of muscles (his brothers' selling him, and his slavery and prison experience),
(c)           it sometimes looked like God's revelation would come to nothing.  But that has never happened and never will:

Jesus said "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." (Mark 13:31).

We read in Isaiah 40 "The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.”  (Isaiah 40:8, NASB95)


!!!! b)            The Reaction to the Dreams (v.5, 8, 10, 11).

(1)           The hatred (v.5, 8): The ten older brothers of Joseph already hated Joseph because Jacob loved Joseph more than any of the other brothers. 
(a)           Now upon hearing about Joseph's dreams, their hatred only increased.  Divine revelation does not cause all people to rejoice.
(b)           Many reject the Word with great hatred.  That hatred will be vented against those who have the Word and proclaim the Word.  

When Christ was praying that great prayer recorded in John 17, He said, "I have given them [His disciples] your word; and the world has hated them" (John 17:14).

(c)           God sets people up and brings people down.  So the people who are raised up mustn’t get fat heads, and those who aren’t raised up mustn’t get discouraged.
(d)           If only Joseph’s brothers had fastened on to this truth, they would have saved themselves and their whole family much heartache. 
(e)           Someone expressed this truth and a little couplet: “It takes more grace than I can tell, to play the second fiddle well.”
(f)            John the Baptist played the second fiddle well.  John understood his role.  So when his disciples came and told him he was losing his crowd to his man called Jesus…,

John replied "John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven" (John 3:27)

The answer to avoiding hatred and jealousy is in 1 Corinthians 4:7 that says "What are you so puffed up about? What do you have that God hasn’t given you [Answer: nothing]?  And if all you have is from God, why act as though you are so great, and as though you have accomplished something on your own?" (1 Corinthians 4:7, The Living Bible)

(2)           The envy (v.11, 8): The ten brothers readily understood the dream's message which predicted that Joseph would "reign" (v. 8) over them and have "dominion" (Ibid.) over them.
(a)           This message caused them to envy Joseph.  As is always the case with the wicked, they are jealous of anyone who has spiritual privileges and honor.
(b)           Spiritual privileges will always provoke envy from those who did not receive them.

(3)           The rebuke (v.10): The word "rebuked" is translated from a Hebrew word which is quite strong.  It means "to rebuke with severity either of [by] words or deeds.
(a)           Jacob's first reaction to Joseph's dream was unspiritual.  He did not see a Divine message in them at all.
(b)           This reaction is sometimes the reaction of the older servants of God to those young men who have received a call from God.
(c)           These older servants sometimes treat the newly-called servants of God as trespassers upon the ministry and resent the young men becoming prominent and taking positions of leadership.


!!!!! (4)           The observation (v.11): Shortly after the rebuke, Jacob began to rethink his attitude about Joseph's dreams.  Instead of a critical attitude, Jacob began to ponder the message.

(a)           This pondering is the same attitude or observation that Mary had about Christ:

Regarding the events of Christ's birth, "Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19).

Regarding the comments of the young Christ, Mary "kept all these sayings in her heart" (Luke 2:51).

(b)           The "pondering" of Jacob and Mary is the attitude we need regarding the Word of God.
(c)           We may not understand all the Scriptures, but we still need to keep them in our heart for someday we will come to understand them better (Prov15:28).

c)            The Root of Bitterness (Hebrews 12:15).

(1)           This is a good warning, for it is precisely this that the sons of Jacob had in their hearts.
(a)           At the beginning they probably didn’t have their hearts set on Joseph’s murder.  But they envied him, and envy gave way to hatred that gave way to a plot against his life.

Moses warned the Israelites in the wilderness that there should not be among them “a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of those nations; lest there shall be among you a root bearing poisonous fruit and wormwood.  And it shall be when he hears the words of this curse, that he will boast, saying, ‘I have peace though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart in order to destroy the watered land with the dry’ ” (Deut. 29:18–19).

The text says, “His brothers were jealous of him” (Gen. 37:11)

The writer of Proverbs says “A sound heart is life to the body, But envy is rottenness to the bones" (Proverbs 14:30, NKJV)

(b)           Pilate knew that the reason the chief priests and elders handed Jesus over to him was because of envy:

Matthew 27 says "When they had gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you?  Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that they had handed Him over because of envy." (Matthew 27:17-18, NKJV)

Paul writing to those in Rome said in chapter 13 "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts." (Romans 13:13-14, NKJV)

James wrote, “Where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16).

(2)           Going back to Genesis, the brothers of Joseph had envied him before this.
(a)           They envied him for his good qualities, which revealed their evil ones, and because of his father’s choice of Joseph to assume the rights of the firstborn.
(b)           But this was not merely resentment of these circumstances.  Ultimately God is responsible for circumstances; so the brothers’ envy was essentially a resentment of what God had done and was doing, as the dreams show.
(c)           Since the brothers did hate Joseph, the implication is that they were actually taking the dreams seriously.  

Later on, they saw Joseph coming toward them and said, "Come and let us kill him and throw him into one of the pits; and we will say, ‘A wild beast devoured him.’  Then let us see what will become of his dreams!”" (Genesis 37:20, NASB95)

(d)           This put them against God and thus revealed their folly as well as their malice toward their younger brother.  Beware of envy.

Donald Grey Barnhouse wrote, “How unfortunate that many are not willing to take the place which God has assigned them in this world!  When a man is covetous and envious, he is saying, ‘God, I am not satisfied; you didn’t give me what I want!”

(3)           Envy not only says “I wish I had what you have” but envy also says, “Not only do I want what you have, but I don’t want you to have it either (1 Kings 3:16-28).

d)            The Fruit of Bitterness (Galatians 5:19-26).

(1)           A root of bitterness will lead to having the fruit of bitterness.  Attempted murder was the fruit of bitterness in the lives of these brothers. 
(2)           In Galatians 5, Paul does not mention murder in this second list, but he mentions two items we have already spoken of, envy and hatred.  He could have listed murder also.
(3)           It would be great if we could say that envy and hatred are traits of only those who do not know Christ, but unfortunately that is not the case.
(4)           We find an example of envy and strife in Christians in the book of Philippians.

Paul alludes to the strife present in the church of his day: “It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill.  The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.  The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains” (Phil. 1:15–17).

e)            The Mind of Christ (Philippians 2:1-8).

(1)           We need what Joseph exhibited in his day and what Paul speaks of in Philippians 2: the mind of Christ.
(2)           We live in a sinful world where envy is all too real.
(a)           Envy leads to hatred and hatred to overt evil acts, even against our brothers and sisters in the faith.
(b)           It is a root of bitterness, which, when it has flowered, defiles many. Christ is the cure for envy.
(c)           His mind is in his people, and it will produce the Spirit’s fruit rather than the acts of sinful natures.

C.           The Pursuit of Joseph (Genesis 37:12-36).

1.            “Are not your brothers feeding the flocks in Shechem, I will send you to them…”  (v.13).

a)            The Vindication of the Pursuit.

(1)           Some have questioned, and for good reasons, the wisdom of Jacob sending Joseph to check up on his brothers.
(a)           It was a long trip for young Joseph to make by himself.
(b)           Also, the hatred of the brothers for Joseph was very great; and sending Joseph all alone to see them would seem to give them great opportunity to do him harm.
(c)           But the pursuit of Joseph can still be justified; it was needed for the well-being of the family, the flocks, the father, and the (Joseph).
(2)           The well-being of the family: The well-being of Joseph's brothers certainly justified the trip.  They were a messed up bunch of guys and needed to be monitored.
(a)           Therefore, the first reason Jacob gave Joseph for going to Shechem was to "see if it is well with your brothers" (v. 14).
(b)           Jacob was concerned about the brothers, and well he should have been. Not only did their past motivate Jacob to keep a close watch on them, but their present action of going to Shechem would also prompt checking up on them.
(c)           Jacob had a right to be concerned about how his boys were doing and was justified in sending Joseph to check up on them.


!!!!! (3)           The well-being of the flocks: Jacob's concern included the well-being of his flocks, and so he also told Joseph to see if it was "well with the flocks" (v. 14).

(a)           Jacob had a responsibility to know the condition of his flocks (Prov.27:23).
(b)           In view of that, it is hard to criticize Jacob for wanting to know about his flocks and, therefore, sending Joseph to check up on them.
(4)           The well-being of the father: Jacob's age would make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to check up on the family and the flocks himself.
(a)           So he did the logical thing and sent Joseph in his place.  Joseph was physically much more able to travel than Jacob was; therefore, it made sense for Jacob to send Joseph
(5)           The well-being of the favorite: This duty of checking up on the family and the flocks fit the coat Joseph was given by Jacob.
(a)           Joseph had been chosen by his father as the one to oversee the family.  He was the heir apparent to rule the household.
(b)           The coat made the choice official and, of course, made it known to others.
(c)           Sending Joseph to check up on the family and flocks was good training for Joseph for his eventual leadership in the family.
(d)           This trip could give him good experience which would help him in the future when he would take over the family leadership.

2.            “I will send them to you…  So he said to him, here I am…”  (v.13).

a)            The Valor of the Pursuit.

(1)           Joseph was submissive: When Jacob called Joseph to pursue his brothers, Joseph's response was a noble "Here am I" (v. 13).
(a)           The answer indicated Joseph's ready submission to the commands of his father.  He was a good servant, for service begins with submission to the master.
(b)           Christian service begins with submission to Christ.  Few serve well because they will not submit well.  Many who complain of not being used in service have only their lack of submission to blame.

There is a story I read about of a boy who applied for a job.  When he was asked what he could do, he replied, "I can do what I am told to do.”  The boy was hired because he had one of the most important qualifications of all—submission to the boss.

(c)           You, too, will be employed in God's service when you learn to submit to Him.
(2)           Joseph was sacrificial: To do as Jacob told him, Joseph must leave his comfortable home in Hebron and travel sixty miles to Shechem.
(a)           This would require much time, effort, and inconvenience; travel in those days was much more difficult than it is today.
(b)           He would have to give up the comforts and pleasures of his home.  But he was willing to pay the price to perform this service for his father.
(c)           If we are going to do as our heavenly Father orders, we will, like Joseph, have to do some sacrificing, too.  But too often we refuse to serve because we would have to leave the comforts of home.

The writer of Hebrews says about Moses, "By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin," (Hebrews 11:24-25, NASB95)

(3)           Joseph was steadfast: Joseph stuck to his task even though he ran into some problems.  When he arrived at Shechem, his brothers were not there.  But he did not quit and go home.
(a)           He continued looking for them until he found them in Dothan some twenty miles away.
(b)           This steadfast feature of Joseph's character was one important reason why he ended up on top in spite of the many adversities he experienced.  Joseph never gave up.

Paul said, "In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy." (1 Corinthians 4:2, NASB95)

(4)           Joseph was stouthearted (brave, courageous): What courage Joseph would have to have to do as his father asked him to do.  His courage was demonstrated in two ways. It was demonstrated in where he went and in what he wore.
(a)           The place where he went was where hatred for him was very intense.  Joseph had to go where his brothers were and they hated him.  A brave heart was certainly required to leave the place where love for him was very great and go to the place where hatred for him was very great.
(b)           It does not require much courage to live for Christ in the midst of a sympathetic crowd.  Where courage is required is when one is surrounded by the ungodly.

b)            Some closing observations.

(1)           The unfolding drama of josephs life is already providing us with principles to ponder. 
(2)           Let us recognize again that God was as firmly in control of the plots and the pits of Joseph’s life as He was in control of Joseph’s dreams and their fulfillment.
(3)           When your loved one gets rolled into the hospital room for a CAT scan and the doctor says the news is bad, the temptation is to say, “Where is God in all of this?”  The answer is He is as sovereignly in control of “all of this” as He is in control of the blessings in our lives.  

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