Summary: This is a narrative sermon of the story of Joseph.
Introduction: Joseph’s story is a story that has everything in it, including political intrigue, sibling rivalry, love and hate, jealousy and compassion, lust and ambition, heroism and pity. Of course, Joseph is the Hero, but as we will see God is the main character as well as the director. One of the things that is clearly evident in this story is that God was constantly at work in Joseph’s life as well as the world around him. Even though there are many different twists and turns to this story, it’s very easy to see how God worked everything out according to His timetable and according to His will. That fact alone should help us to realize that even though our lives are sometimes turned upside down and filled with all kinds of different challenges God really does love and care about us, and wants what is best for us.
Let’s pick up the story when Joseph was 17 years old. There wasn’t any doubt about it Joseph was the apple of his father’s eye. His father, Jacob, knew how it felt to be overlooked. His own father, Isaac, had preferred his brother Esau over him. Yet, Jacob was making the same mistake, he was also playing favorites. Without a doubt Joseph was Jacob’s favorite son, and everybody knew it.
We get a glimpse of what kind of young man Joseph was in verse 2. It seems that Joseph was tending his father’s sheep along with his brothers. But something happened. Maybe his brother’s were picking on him, or perhaps they were shirking their responsibilities and making him do all the work. We aren’t told exactly what the circumstances were all we know is that when Joseph got back home he gave his father a bad report about his brothers.
Do you get the picture? Joseph was a spoiled brat, and a tattle tale. He just couldn’t wait to get home and tell Jacob what his brothers had done.
Jacob had given Joseph a very expensive, ‘coat of many colors.’ Maybe it was a birthday present, or maybe Joseph had specifically asked his father for the robe, knowing that his father would give him anything that he wanted.
If this story had taken place today, Joseph would probably have gotten a brand new corvette, loaded to the tilt, with all of the latest gadgets.
But let’s get back to the story. When his brother’s saw Joseph wearing the beautiful robe that their father had given him, and realized that Jacob loved him more than any of them, the Bible says, they hated him, and couldn’t speak a kind word to him. They couldn’t stand to be around him, much less talk to him, or listen to him talk about his crazy dreams. In reality they simply refused to give Joseph the time of day.
Of course the fact that Joseph had always been a dreamer didn’t help matters any. One day Joseph said, "Listen to my latest dream. We were gathering wheat in the field when suddenly my bundle stood up and all of your bundles of wheat formed a circle around mine and bowed down to it." His brothers didn’t have to be rocket scientists to get the point. "What!" they shouted, "You mean to tell us that you are going to rule over us." This just made them hate him all the more.
I’m not sure why but for some reason Joseph just didn’t know when to keep his mouth shut. You would think after hearing how they responded to the first dream he would have kept the other dream to himself, but He didn’t. He said, "I saw the sun, the moon, and eleven stars prostrate before me." That was even too much for his father Jacob to take. He said, "You mean to tell us, that your mother and I, and your brothers are going to bow down before you?" Remember that, because it will be very important later in the story.
Verse 11, says that they were Jealous of Joseph, and I think most of us here can understand why. After all, he was Jacob’s favorite son. None of them would ever be able to say or do anything good enough to make them equal to Joseph in their father’s eyes.
One day Jacob sent Joseph to check on his brothers, who were grazing their flocks near the city of Shechem. But when Joseph arrived at Shechem, he found out that his brothers had moved the flocks to an area around Dothan. So he made his way to Dothan. He was still a good distance away from them, but according to the scripture His brothers they had no trouble recognizing that it was him. Perhaps he had a distinctive walk that gave him away. But a more likely explanation is that they recognized him because of the coat of many colors that he was wearing.