Archives For Bible study

Joseph’s Brothers

February 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

I’ve been reading again the story of Joseph and his family in the book of Genesis.  Here are a few quick notes:

The Brothers of Joseph:

Had a brother who robbed them of their father’s devotion – Genesis 37:3

Were humiliated by their brother’s dreams – Genesis 37:5-11

Were moved by envy to murderous anger – Genesis 37:11, 18-2

…and betrayed their brother and father

Yet received grace. – Genesis 45:1-11

Raised in a self-centered, undirected family.

Jacob was busy getting over on Laban – Genesis 30:25-43, 31:7-20

Rachel and Leah were busy getting over on each other – Genesis 29:31-30:24

-the children, and the servants of each, were pawns for getting at the heart of Jacob

Aside from that, Laban, the children’s grandfather, is trying to cheat their father Jacob, Jacob has already cheated his brother Esau, and Jacob is getting ready for a wrestling match with the angel of God! (Genesis 32:22-30)

Jacob is a striver with God and man – Genesis 32:28

Is it any wonder that by the time the family gets to Canaan the sons of Jacob are conniving, deceitful, and small hearted?  Genesis 34:13     – even when they’re in the right they lie!

But, for all that, God is with Jacob and in the midst of all this He reiterates the promise made previously to Abraham and Isaac – Genesis 35:1-15.  God’s promise stands, not because of righteousness of man, but because of God promised it.   And Jacob lived by faith – Hebrews 11:21.  But that doesn’t mean no mistakes were made.  And those mistakes are at the heart of the problem we see in Genesis 37 and 39

Genesis 37:18-36

Genesis 39:1-6

God can take all the bad and make it good, but look at all the misery, uncertainty, fear, and threat that filled these years.  Wouldn’t God have found a way to preserve them even if they hadn’t acted corruptly?

It is the same with us.  We all stumble often, James says, and God can make all things work together for good anyway.  If we endure the chastening, it will afterward yield peaceable fruit – Hebrews 12:11

But let us not sin that good may come!  Romans 3:8:.  There is a better way.

A few applications:

What becomes of our children when moms and dads are so focused on their own schemes that they neglect the welfare of their children?

Or when the parents act corruptly to get their way, what do the children learn?

When adults are self-centered, and the kids are left to themselves, are they inclined to good things, or mischievous things?  Proverbs 22:5

At church, when the parents are focused merely on their own edification, do we pay attention to whether our kids are paying attention?  Or when we let the kids sit with their friends – it makes church more fun for them and it makes it easier for us to focus on the service, right?  But are the kids worshiping then?  Or are they passing notes, joking around, and spacing out?  Can we be guilty of neglecting them right here in this good place?

And then, after worship – as the adults enjoy good fellowship and conversation and the kids are turned loose, is it just clean honest fun the kids are having?  I know I sometimes come home to angry kids with bad attitudes after 45 minutes left to themselves after church with their friends.

Proverbs 29:15

It’s worth acknowledging that no matter how good your child is, and mine, the influence they have on one another is not always good.  They are children and we are parents for a reason.   We need to be wise and be aware of what’s going on.  Or better yet, include our children with us.  Let them be where we are after church or, let us go where they are.

The story of Joseph and his brothers is the story of a family run amuck.  I have no doubt that Jacob was a faithful man – a well-intentioned man.  But his weaknesses carried consequences for his family.  As do ours.  May we strive to recognize them and overcome them.

Advertisements

Genesis 31:49

I’ve seen these words, as you have, used as a sign of romance or friendship, with the two halves of a locket divided between two people.    As beautiful as that sentiment is, it is almost exactly the opposite of what prompted the statement in the Bible.

In this story, Jacob, Laban’s son in law, had just fled with his two wives, 11 children, and all of his herds and livestock to go back to his home in Canaan.  Jacob’s wealth represented the best of what had once belonged to Laban.

The two men had spent the previous twenty years trying to find ways to trick and take advantage of one another, with varying degrees of success.  Now Jacob is leaving while he has the upper hand.

Laban rightly accused Jacob of having stolen his household idols.  Actually, Rachel had stolen them without Jacob’s knowledge and now Laban failed to find them among Jacob’s things.

In righteous indignation(as he thought), Jacob said, “What is my offense?  What is my sin, that you have hotly pursued me?  For you have felt through all my goods; what have you found of all your household goods? Set it here before my kinsmen and your kinsmen, that they may decide between us two…  If the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the Fear of Isaac, had not been on my side, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed.  God saw my affliction and the labor of my hands and rebuked you last night.”

Mizpah

Admitting defeat, Laban said, “the daughters are my daughters, the children are my children, the flocks are my flocks, and all that you see is mine.  But what can I do this day for these my daughters or for the children whom they have borne?  Come now, let us make a covenant, you and I.  And let it be a witness between you and me.”

It is in that context that Laban says, ‘The Lord watch between you and me, when we are out of one another’s sight.”  It is not a benediction; rather, it is a threat.  Notice the next few verses:

“If you oppress my daughters, or if you take wives besides my daughters, although no one is with us, see, God is witness between you and me.  This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass over this heap to you, and you will not pass over this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm.  The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.  So Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac.”   (Genesis 31:50-53).

So, the next time you see someone wearing half a locket, remember that the saying means, “I don’t trust you and I am calling on God to keep you accountable for not cheating me!”

On a more serious level, though, when we consider the Bible we find that God does exactly that.

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay’, says the Lord (Romans 12:19)”

“Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.  This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering —since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grand relief to you…(II Thessalonians 1:4-7).

Even today, the Lord is indeed watching between you and me, and between you and me and every person we interact with on a daily basis.  When we take advantage of the weak, He knows.  When we accuse someone wrongly or when we react with anger instead of kindness, He is keeping track.

Instead of the romantic sentimentality that is often associated with this verse, let’s take the warning seriously and do all things, every day and every time, as if we were doing it in the presence of God (Colossians 3:33-35).  For, actually, we are.

Brad