Victim of Jealousy
Genesis 37:5-11, 17b-24
INTRODUCTION Murderous jealousy is an old story in our sinful race. The first murder on record is Cain's killing of his brother Abel. "And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous" [I John 3:12]. In many ways Joseph is a "type" of Christ; that is, his great work of providing temporal salvation for his brethren who hated him is a striking illustration or type of Christ's redemptive work for those who by nature hated and rejected Him. This lesson is the first of four on Joseph and his brethren. The following outline may be helpful: 1. Revelation, Genesis 37:5-8. a. Ground of hate, 5. b. Grudge of hate, 6-7. c. Growth of hate, 8. 2. Representation, Genesis 37:9-11. a. Prophecy related, 9. b. Prophecy rebuked, 10. c. Prophecy resented, 11. 3. Repudiation, Genesis 37:17b-20. a. Conspiracy of death, 17b-18. b. conspiracy of deceit, 19-20. 4. Remonstration, Genesis 37:21-24. a. Murder postponed, 21-22. b. Murder prevented, 23-24. NOTES ON THE TEXT: REVELATION, Genesis 37:5-8. Before the Word of God was put into writing, He often revealed Himself and His purposes to men through dreams and visions. Apparently Joseph learned at an early age to recognize messages from God given to him in dreams. It is not surprising that his brothers would not accept Joseph's dreams as a revelation from God, especially since those dreams seemed to cast Joseph in a superior role. Ground of Hate, 5. His older brothers hated Joseph partly because he "brought unto his father their evil report" [verse 2], but chiefly because "Israel loved Joseph more than all his children" [verse 3]. Added to this, when Joseph started having dreams of future authority over his brothers, "they hated him yet the more." Grudge of Hate, 6-7. Naive lesson commentators, in accord with the evil spirit of our time, always sympathizing with criminals rather than their victims, are pleased to call Joseph a spoiled child, and blame him for arousing the jealous hatred of his brothers. But time and the divine record vindicate Joseph. Decent men do not bear a grudge of hate against a younger brother, or take pleasure in the bereavement of a doting father. Growth of Hate, 8.
REPRESENTATION, Genesis 37:9-11. Evidently it was God's intention to give Joseph's dreams as prophetic representation to the whole family of Joseph's future position. As with all true prophecy, the truth would be realized in due time, even though disbelieved when first stated. Prophecy Related, 9. Symbols in this dream were different from those in the first, but the essential message remained the same, with the addition of symbols for the parents. Let those who would criticize Joseph for telling his dreams take notice that it is generally not a prophet's function to keep silence. Prophecy Rebuked, 10. Even in that early time it seems to have been recognized that dreams are often no more than wish fulfillments. Failing to recognize the dream as a prophecy, Israel rebuked Joseph for having such thoughts concerning his parents and brothers, even in his dreams. Prophecy Resented, 11. Yet there must have been suspicions of the possibility that the dream was prophetic. It must have been in consideration of this possibility that "his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying."
REPUDIATION, Genesis 37:17b-20. Some time later, probably while Joseph was still in his teens (he was seventeen in verse 2), his father sent him to find and bring word back from the older brothers, who were tending the flocks in the open grazing lands. Obviously Israel had no idea how much hatred and malice had built up in the hearts of those older sons, or to what extent natural affections had been repudiated. Conspiracy of Death, 17b-18. Here was no sudden fit of anger, no extenuating circumstances of momentary provocation. Here was cold-blooded conspiracy by older men to murder their younger brother. Conspiracy of Deceit, 19-20. If they could conspire to kill their brother, of course they could conspire to deceive their father. Their story of "some evil beast" might be nearer the truth than they intended. But they forgot about God. They would indeed see what would become of Joseph's dreams, but not at all in the way that they expected.
REMONSTRATION, Genesis 37:21-24. Two of the brothers, however, were less bloodthirsty than the others. Though they did not have the courage to take a firm stand against murder, Reuben and Judah, each in his own way, sought to avoid it; and God so overruled, as He always does, that His purpose was accomplished in the end. First, Reuben suggested that they simply leave Joseph to perish in a pit, intending secretly to deliver him later; and then Judah suggested that selling their brother into slavery would be a little more profitable than murder[verses 25-28]. Murder Postponed, 21-22. Reuben's proposal would merely have postponed the murder to a later occasion if he had been successful in delivering Joseph from that pit. There was too much hatred among those brothers to allow Joseph to go on living with their father. Who knows what they might have done next? Murder Prevented, 23-24. Slavery instead of murder was a doubtful mercy, and might have been rather added cruelty through alien hands, except that God was with Joseph. So far as these brothers could arrange it, Joseph was dead, and this was what they led their father to believe.
CONCLUSION [Psalm 69:8] These words refer to the Messiah, but to a remarkable extent they apply also to Joseph, except that his brothers were his father's children. with reference to Christ, "He came unto his own, and his own received him not" [John 1:11]. =================[From Ashland Avenue Baptist paper, November 7, 1975, pp. 2-3brong.ss.ot.gen. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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