Summary: Looks at the reasons for and the consequences of deception (sin).
Dreams, Deception and Slavery –
OMG is it Wednesday again, you ask. Why do bad things keep happening to me? Is it bad luck? Believe me things could not absolutely be any worse. Everything I have tried -and done not to get to this point- has failed. Why me?
Today we are going to examine a fraction of the life of a young man (seventeen years old) called Joseph. As we dissect the account of his life up to this point, we are going look at how his dreams spoke about his future and to that of a whole nation. We will seek to understand what could have possibly caused a family (chosen by God) to disintegrate; leading to attempted murder and later into one the greatest tale of deception recorded in the Holy Bible. Yet, it doesn’t stop there. We will pause to consider the motive not just of his brothers in trading Joseph into slavery – but also God’s plan for the life of such a young man.
The account in Genesis 37 is not just about Joseph’s ordeal. In fact it is as much about Joseph as it is about Jacob and the sons of Jacob. I believe it gives us a snap shot of what happens in a slightly dysfunctional family –it is remarkable how God uses the least likely subjects to fulfil the most unlikely destinies – ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary feats.
To prepare a message on Genesis 37 is a difficult prospect. It is even more difficult if you examine it by itself. Even if you tried to look at the chapter by itself you would be tempted to want to know more about this family – all that there is to know does not lie within the scope of this single chapter – so pardon me if I give flash backs and future glances in the book of Genesis to make the story told more comprehensible.
It begins in the first couple of verses by setting the stage of where the story happens and to whom it is happening. Jacob lived in the land where is father stayed, the land of Canaan. This is a most interesting start to the chapter bearing in my mind that in chapter 32 Jacob’s name was changed to Israel after battling a whole night with an angel. I think that there is a hidden intent here in the deliberate use of the name Jacob. The Hebrew meaning of the word Jacob is translated “heel/ leg puller”. Today’s understanding of the word leg puller suggests a practical joker.
In Jacob’s time it was a name that not only described how he was born (hanging on to the heel of his brother Esau) – names also were an indication of an individuals personality/nature/character. Names were prophetic. In fact the name Jacob in Hebrew is also translated deceitful:
(Genesis 27:36 ESV) Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?”
See also Genesis 30 Jacobs increases his personal flock while tending to his Uncle Laban’s flock by trickery.
Jacob’s life was a life littered with deception and he only begins to shake off this notoriety when he wrestles with an angel and gets renamed Israel (meaning with God and with men). But not only had Jacob been deceptive in some of his dealings – he was also a victim of deception (deceived by his uncle into marrying Leah before Rachel - Chap 29).
So we start off by being introduced to a master of deception - a man that would do anything to get himself out of trouble – do anything to get on top or succeed. Yet sadly, it was not a trait that was foreign to Jacob’s children either. Maybe it was a value system passed on to the boys inadvertently – I really can’t say – but it is to me, more than a coincidence that in Chap 34 two of Jacob’s sons deceived a whole nation called the Shechemites to restore the honour of their sister Dinah.
This leads me to my first point; Deception will catch you up. In this narrative - Jacob’s sons with the exception of Benjamin (because he was too young) planned the most hideous deception children could ever do on their parents. Jacob was told that the apple of his eye – the firstborn of the wife he loved most was dead. He was said to be eaten by ferocious animals – evidenced by the remains of the torn, mangled, blood splattered Technicolor robe of Joseph. The bible speaks of Jacob’s abject misery when he learns of the demise of his precious son. Yet, this deception though cruel and heartless was not to be permanently hidden in the dark. When we go to chapter 45 we see the brothers terrified in the presence of a brother who they thought was either dead or a slave in some foreign land.