Stage Is Set

“Joseph . . . was feeding the flock with his brothers . . . and Joseph brought a bad report of them to his father . . . Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him . . .”—Genesis 37:2-4 (NKJV)

This opening passage in Genesis chapter 37 sets the trajectory for the remainder of the book. From here on out, the narrative will center on Joseph and his tumultuous relationship with his family.

We can already see the stage being set here as we read that Joseph was openly honored as Israel’s (or Jacob’s) favorite son. Combine this with Joseph giving a “bad report” of his brother’s conduct and we can start to see the seeds of envy and hatred grow. But it didn’t stop there: “Joseph had a dream, and he told it to his brothers . . . ‘There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.’ . . . So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words” (Genesis 37:5-8 NKJV).

The uncontested favorite who had told on them now receives and relays a dream where they bow down to him! Imagine how tense the mood must have been within their home. And it only got worse: “Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, and said, ‘the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.’ So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him . . . ‘Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?’ And his brothers envied him . . .” (Genesis 37:9-11 NKJV).

There’s an added detail in this second dream that extends beyond Joseph’s brothers. Now his parents are brought into the picture and Joseph’s own father starts rebuking him! To his family, Joseph just seemed to have an air of being above everyone else, and they resented him for it!

But as his story unfolds and we look closer, we’re going to see that God had a very special and specific agenda for his life. Joseph wasn’t promoting himself, but pointing to the divine purpose the Lord had placed on his life. He did nothing wrong, although his family did in their reaction towards him.

There’s two lessons here. First, understand that other people won’t always understand what the Lord is doing with your life. As with Joseph and his family, there’s going to be misunderstanding and that’s not due to any wrong on your part, so rest in that even when others are bothered by it. Second, don’t let God’s agenda for someone else’s life lead you into a place of envy or hatred towards them. Be okay with what the Lord has in store for others and as it unfolds.

DIG: How was Joseph misunderstood by his family?

DISCOVER: What two lessons do we take away from this?

DO: Consider how you see yourself in this part of Joseph’s story.