Summary: I want to take the first eleven verses of this chapter and show you the ways Joseph was different from his brothers. I want to show you how we can be a light in the middle of a dark and dying world.
A ROSE AMONG THORNS
In our first message on Joseph, we took a hard look at his background. We discovered that his family was marked with problems of all sorts. This godly man grew up in some of the roughest of conditions. I am still amazed that God could take a young man from such a background and use him like He did.
That gives me hope as a parent, a pastor and as a person today. If God can do that with Joseph, then He can take my children use them for His glory. If He can do that with Joseph, He can take your children and use them. If He can do that with Joseph, He can take you and me and use us for His glory! Of course, if you read the Bible you will soon discover that God specializes in taking what appears to be nothing and making something magnificent out it.
As we begin to consider the verses in the Bible that speak about the life of Joseph, we are going to see just how different he was from the rest of his family. It is astounding that a young man who grew up in the same home, the same condition, the same environment as his brother, could be so different. Of course, if you have more than one child, or if you come from a family of more than one child, you have seen this with your own eyes. No two children are alike. Joseph, however, is so different that he literally stands out like A Rose among Thorns.
I want to take the first eleven verses of this chapter and show you the ways Joseph was different from his brothers. I want to show you how we can be a light in the middle of a dark and dying world.
I. THE PURITY OF JOSEPH’S LIFE (v. 2)
A. One of the most striking ways Joseph was different was in the purity of his life.
• Every time you see Joseph, he is doing the right thing.
o This made him very different from his brothers.
o Purity, integrity and a desire to do the right things at all times marked the life of Joseph.
• Verse 2 brings us faced to face with the holy heart that beat within the chest of Joseph.
o We are told that Joseph was tending to his father’s sheep with his half-brothers, the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah.
o You might remember that Bilhah was Rachel’s handmaid and Zilpah was Leah’s handmaid.
o These two women had been given to Jacob by his wives and he had fathered two children with each.
o The sons of Bilhah were Dan and Naphtali.
o The sons of Zilpah were Gad and Asher.
• As you read the story, you get the impression that this is the first time that Joseph has been sent out to work with these men.
o What he saw them doing must have shocked him deeply.
o This may have been Joseph’s first exposure to the vile nature of his brothers.
• The brothers of Joseph were an evil bunch.
o Among other things, they were guilty of murder, Gen. 34:25; incest, Gen. 35:33; hatred, Gen. 37:4; envy, Gen. 37:11; enslaving their brother, Gen. 37:38; lying, Gen. 37:31-33; and immorality, Gen. 38:12-18.
• Whatever it was that these men were doing, it shocked Joseph so much that he came and told Jacob.
o This event surely caused problems between Joseph and the rest of his brothers.
o It may have been the seed plot where the root of bitterness in the hearts of his brothers began to grow.
B. Some authors accuse Joseph of being a talebearer.
• They believe that Joseph brought about the hatred of his brothers because he acted like a “goody two-shoes”.
o In reality, Joseph displayed absolute integrity in going to his father with the evil report concerning his brothers.
• Joseph had a responsibility to his father.
o Whatever his brothers were doing, it involved the good name of Jacob in the area.
o He needed to know what was going on with his sons.
o Joseph did the right thing when he went to Jacob and told him about the evil deeds of his brothers.
C. There are some lessons in this verse that we need to take to take to heart today.
• Every one of our lives should be marked by purity.
• The God we serve is a holy God and He expects His people to be a holy people.
• He wants us to stand separate from this world and its evil ways.
• He wants us to be different.
• We should be different in the way we act, talk, think, live, etc.