Summary: Healing the dysfunction; restoring the relationships that are divided (even, deeply divided) ~ God will take care of this as we seek Him, follow Him, pursue Him.
God in the Ebb & Flow of Life:
Dysfunction, Division & Dreams
Scripture Text: Genesis 37.2-11
Do you every wonder where-in-the-world God is? ~ …Events unfold and stuff happens, …and sometimes we just can’t see God in any-of-it! Have you ever wondered where God is ~ …cause you can’t feel Him, …or sense His presence, …or see His fingerprints anywhere-at-all~ …have you ever-wondered where God is?
Well, I can say with absolute-certainty that God wants to be involved in our lives. He loves His children ~ …and if you’ve received Christ-as-Savior, …then God is working in your life.
And I hope that as we take a look at Joseph’s life, …that you’ll not-only-see that God was involved in the ebb-and-flow of Joseph’s life, …but-that, He also-is-present in the ebb-and-flow of your life!
Let’s start-off by reminding ourselves of who this-guy is…
His great-grand-father was Abraham ~ …the guy that left his homeland because God promised him a new-land and lots of descendants. Oh-yea… and he’s the one who became the first-time daddy at 85 years-old!
Abraham’s son, Isaac, was Joseph’s grandpa. Isaac married Rebekah and they continued to live in the land-of-Canaan ~ …the place that God had-told Abraham would-be theirs.
Isaac had a couple-of-boys: Esau and Jacob. They were a couple-of-characters ~ …but each-as-different as two-people could-be! As-a-matter-of-fact, even-though Isaac favored his-oldest-son, Esau, …Jacob pulled-a-switch-er-roo to get his father’s blessing. This made everybody in-the-house spittin’-mad ~ …so-mad, that Jacob had to get-outta-Dodge!
While Jacob was exiled from the land of Canaan, he got married. Actually, Jacob got married a couple-of-times; …and he also ended-up having a boat-load of kids!
Joseph was one of them. He was the eleventh-son born to his daddy. But, the thing-about-it-was, Joseph was the first son born to Jacob’s favorite wife! Guess what that did for Joseph!?! ~ He was special in his daddy’s-eyes. His ten-brothers born-before-him were loved by dear-ole-Dad; …But, the Bible says that Jacob loved Joseph more-than all-the-rest!
Now… you’ll notice that the first word of the sermon-title is: “dysfunction”. I’m using that-term loosely because I’m not a licensed therapist or counselor; …and I’m not-sure of the technical definition of ‘dysfunction’ ~ …at-least, as-far-as the American Psychiatrists Association. However, I know what Webster says about it:
Abnormal or unhealthy interpersonal behavior or interaction within a group. (mirriam-webster.com)
And, I know what dictionary.com says about it:
A consequence of a social practice or behavior pattern that undermines the stability of a social system.
And-so, …according to these common-definitions, I think we’re safe to make a general-diagnosis about Joseph’s family-life: It was dysfunctional!
The ways that these brothers interacted was not healthy… They hated Joseph! And as the story unfolds ~ …even-here, in the early verses of their family-life ~ …as the story unfolds, we find that the level-of-hate keeps getting stronger and deeper! Verse 4 says: “they hated him”; …verse 5 says: “they hated him all the more”; …and verse 8 says: “they hated him all the more” (emphasis added). And-as-though we weren’t really-clueing-in-to how-bad-things were between the brothers, …the Bible tells us,
“…they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.” (v.4)
The Hebrew phrase, there, can-mean that they wouldn’t-even greet their younger-brother! No, “Hello!”; …no, “How ya doin’?”, …or “How’s life been treatin’ ya, lil-bro?” No. They hated him. They ignored him. They shut him out and didn’t even give him the decency of a greeting! Things aren’t right, between Joseph and his brothers! ~ …And this isn’t the way a family is supposed to relate! This hate is undoing Jacob’s family…
But-wait! Joseph’s brothers aren’t the only-ones who carry the dysfunctional-blame! Joseph has his share of dysfunction, too!… Very early-on, we’re told that Joseph tattled on his older brothers! Now, when he did this, …he was 17 years-old. Seventeen… Joseph, grow-up! Your brothers are grown men, by-now. His older brothers must’ve been well into their 30’s. Joseph-himself was now-old-enough to act more-like-a-man. They’re in the family-business together ~ keeping herds and flocks. If there’s a problem, …don’t go-tattle like a 5-year-old. Go-to-your-brothers and work-it-out with them!
Ya-know, it reminds me of the wise advice that Jesus gave to His followers:
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. Matthew 18.15
It’s good-advice for every generation; …and Joseph would’ve-done-well to resolve-the-matter with his bothers, …rather-than going-and-tattling to dear-old-Dad!
But-hold-on! Joseph-and-his-brothers aren’t the only-ones who carry the blame for all this dysfunction! Sure, all-eleven of them have a big-part-to-play in-all-this, …but, their parents also deserve some of the blame. We don’t have time to go through all the examples, …but if you go home and read the earlier chapters ~ …you’d find that the mothers treated their children like trophies-in-a-competition.