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September 13, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Israel said to Joseph . . . ‘Please go and see if it is well with your brothers and well with the flocks, and bring back word to me.’ So he sent him out of the Valley of Hebron, and he went to Shechem.”—Genesis 37:13-14 (NKJV)
We join Joseph here at an interesting juncture. In context, we know he was part of a family that had come to resent him. His own brothers hated him for being their father’s favored son. In addition to this, Joseph had received a couple of dreams where they all bowed down to him. It wasn’t the healthiest home environment!
Over time, the hatred Joseph’s brothers had for him continued to well up within them. One day, as they were tending their father’s flock out in a remote and desolate place, they see Joseph approaching in the distance and they couldn’t hold their hate in any longer. Watch how they release it: “Now when they saw him afar off, even before he came near them, they conspired against him to kill him. Then they said to one another, ‘Look, this dreamer is coming! Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, “Some wild beast has devoured him.” We shall see what will become of his dreams’” (Genesis 37:18-20 NKJV)!
We read that and rightly say, “How tragic!” A family should be a source of security, protection, and love. The reaction of Joseph’s brothers towards him was the exact opposite! They were willing to take matters in their own hands by doing away with him and blame his death on a wild animal. There’s a couple of important insights into the nature of sin here that we need to take note of.
The first is that sin starts in the heart. The hatred towards Joseph festered and smoldered internally before time and opportunity gave rise to it becoming actionable. That’s important to understand because we need to deal with our sin within before the occasion arises to act out on it. Left unconfessed and repented of, it will continue to grow and eventually “give birth” to something worse (James 1:15).
Second, we need to see that sin is prolific; it multiplies. Here, we see Joseph’s brothers were willing to lie in addition to committing murder. One sin will inevitably lead to another. We do something wrong, we lie about it, then we lie about that lie, and so on and so on . . .
These insights into sin can prevent a lot of pain and damage in our lives if we remember them when we’re tempted to internalize something we know to be wrong. And not only in our own lives, but in the lives of those closest to us, as well.
DIG: What two insights into sin do we gain here from Joseph’s brothers?
DISCOVER: How can these insights be beneficial to us?
DO: Ask God to show you if there’s something you need to follow up on with this example.