Summary: In the wrinkles of this tragedy, God is present and working. He’s working to bring about His good and see His plans realized. It may not be a pretty picture at this point. But that just goes to show how broken our world is - and how persistent God is.
God in the Ebb & Flow of Life:
Betrayal and Burlap
Scripture Text: Genesis 37.18-35
Last-week, I tried to lay the ground-work so that we would have a realistic picture of Joseph’s family-life. It isn’t pretty!... Hatred, …jealousy, …resentment, …favoritism …in-fighting ~ …the ingredients that-make unsavory-recipe of brokenness.
This week, we find these-ingredients coming-together in a shocking-way. These attitudes and animosities have-been mixed-together and baking-in-the-oven of time ~ …and what we see take-place in today’s story is the fruit of what began quite-a-while-ago… It just goes-to-show, that-what’s on-the-inside, …will eventually, somehow, come-out in actions.
When I urged us last-week, not-to-let anger or resentment or jealousy get a foothold in our hearts, …part of the reason we don’t wanna let this happen is because it will come-out! Somehow, someway, those-feelings we try to push-down, …push-back, …bury-outta-sight ~ …they’ll come-out in ugly-ways!... A biting, cuttin-comment. Agreement with unfounded-gossip. Turning a blind-eye to a brother’s need. Clipping-the-wings of someone trying to fly. Refusing to read the new-chapter of someone’s-life who is trying to turn-the-page. Don’t let things take root in your heart… …except for the love, mercy, and compassion of God! Whatever gets-a-foothold… Whatever-takes-root in the soil-of-your-heart… It will produce fruit!... A lemon-tree cannot produce anything-else, …other-than sour-fruit. Don’t let anger, hatred, jealousy, or resentment take-hold in your heart!
Joseph’s brothers don’t take this advice to-heart. And the-things-that did-take-root in their hearts ~ …they produced absolutely-shocking fruit! A plot to murder. Violence against a brother. Sold into slave-traders’ hands. Profit from betrayal. A plan to cover-up their dirty-deeds. A scheme to deceive their aged-father!... Shocking-fruit! ~ Wouldn’t you-say!?!
But-then-again… What did you expect to happen?... A group hug!?! Chocolate and roses, exchanged? A friendly game of football in the fields of Dothan, once Joseph got-there!?!
On the fields-near-Dothan, …the brothers-of-Joseph hatched-a-plan to murder; …they executed an act-of-betrayal, …and they proceeded to-deceive their father ~ Why!?!
It’s really-pretty-simple!... They allowed things to take-root in their hearts that would-eventually-produce rotten-fruit!
Ya-know… you may be-able, …for-a-while, …you-may-be-able to sweep-it-under-the-rug, …or stuff-it-in a closet, …or hide it in the basement of your soul… But, whatever-it-is, …it will take-root, ..and spring-up-shoots, …and eventually…
Eventually it will produce ugly, rotten-fruit!... And-you’ll-be-surprised by what you see yourself doing; …and you’ll-be-surprised by what you hear yourself saying. You might-be-shocked that those-words came out of your-mouth; …or that your-hands did so-much-damage! But, when you’re in the heat-of-the-moment, …you’ll think, say, and do-things that you wouldn’t normally come up-with. Can you hear Joseph’s brothers justifying-themsleves?... As they sat-around the camp-fire, …with Joseph lying in the bottom-of-the-cistern ~ …It probably went something-like-this:
“Well! If he hadn’t been-wearing that blasted, rainbow-colored-coat! “Who does he think he is, …trotting-around-the-countryside, “…wearing that ridiculous-robe!?! “Does he think he’s a king? “Does he think he’s better-than-us? “Does he expect us to tell him how-great he-is!?! “His head is so-full of-dreams -…those stupid-dreams! “Every-time I see him, “…I can’t get-it outta-my-head! “How-dare-he suggest that he’s better-than-us… “How-dare-he flaunt that robe before-us! “I can’t stand the sight-of-him! “I wish I never-had to lay-eyes-on-him ~ ever-again! “I wish he was gone… We’d be better-off without him… “Then, life sure-would-be better!...”
“Yea… That’s-right… “Life would-be so-much-better without that-snooty, …snobbish dreamer-of-a-boy! “What are we watin’-for, boys!?! ~ “Now’s-our-chance: Let’s be-done-with our-problem.”
What did you expect to happen? ~ When we let this kinda-junk weasel-itself-into-our-hearts, …these are the kinds-of-actions that end-up coming out!
In the New Testament, James writes some powerful-words that could’ve-been aimed right-at Joseph’s brothers ~ …or it could be aimed right-at church-families in our day-and-time! He says:
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them… So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (James 4.1-2a, 7-10, NLT)
Whatever seeds you allow to be planted in your heart, …that’s the kind-of-fruit that your life will produce!
There’s an old saying: …Sin will take you further than you wanna go and cost much more than you’re willing to pay! Do you think that when they first-started-noticing that their father favored Joseph, …do you think the brothers immediately started hatching a murderous-plan? Do you think that when they first heard Joseph’s dreams (about bowing down to him), …do you think that they started-scheming-a-plan to sell him as a slave? Do you think that when they first saw that colorful-coat, …do you think they started planning to deceive their father by dipping the coat in blood?