Summary: Lessons from the life of Joseph
Mark Herold tells the story of being a guest on the Gerry Ryan radio show to speak on birth order and the way it influences how we grow up. A woman came on the line to complain bitterly that, because she was the youngest in a large family, no one would take her seriously. She protested that her views were always ignored or laughed off. “And how old are you?” inquired Ryan. “I’m 72,” was the reply. And he writes, “We both had trouble keeping a straight face but, on reflection, the woman’s experience is not unusual. Many of us have great difficulty offloading an expectation within the family based on our chronological status (birth order), and this remains over a lifetime.”
Our Scripture today is about the youngest born of his family, Joseph, and who constantly seeks to get the attention of his family and brothers. Joseph was the great-grandson of Abraham and had 11 older brothers. (And speaking as a youngest child) like most youngest children, he was the favorite of his parents. ☺ As a sign of their love, Joseph’s mother Rachel made him a coat of many colors, meaning it was very expensive. And Joseph paraded it around his brothers. You can imagine Joseph’s brother’s feelings of jealousy, envy, and resentfulness. Then one day, when Joseph saw his brothers ignoring their responsibilities of feeding and watching the flock of sheep, Joseph told on them. Like a lot of teenagers, Joseph was often his own worst enemy. His story is one of many twists and turns as we will see but he eventually not only saves his family but his people as well, becoming a hero for the ages. There are several things we from Joseph.
First, heroes are dreamers. “Joseph had a dream…” The first was of stalks of wheat, bowing down to him and another of the sun, moon, and eleven stars (Joseph’s eleven brothers) that would bow down to Joseph as well. They were a premonition of the future. Heroes are dreamers. They see what can and will be, even when others don’t. Dreams were considered to be one of the more common ways God speaks in the Bible. There are 21 dreams recorded in Scripture and several more referred to. Job 33:14-17 (LB) says, “God speaks again and again, in dreams, in visions of the night… as they lie on their beds. He opens their ears...and gives them wisdom and instruction.” What we find is that dreams from God can not only change your life, they can even change the world! Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, which changed the world of physics, came to him in a dream. Dr. James Watson dreamed the double helix of the DNA’s structure, perhaps the greatest scientific discovery of all time. Paul McCartney actually dreamed the entire tune for their hit #1 song, “Yesterday.” Ben Franklin decided to encourage the other founding fathers to push for independence after he had a dream. Larry Page had a dream that led to creating the Google search engine. Emperor Constantine became a follower of Christ after Jesus appeared to him in a dream, paving the way for the dramatic growth of the Christian faith across the Roman Empire and beyond. Heroes and people who change the world are dreamers.
Second, heroes face great challenges. I love the story of one person who responded to his insurance company’s request for additional information on his claim. “In block #3 of the accident reporting form, I put "poor planning" as the cause of my accident…I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on the roof of a new six-story building. When I completed my work, I discovered that I had about 500 pounds of bricks left over. Rather than carry the bricks down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley, which fortunately was attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor. Securing the rope at the ground level, I went up to the roof, swung the barrel out and loaded the bricks into it. Then I went back to the ground and untied the rope, holding it tightly to insure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks. You will note in block number 11 of the accident report form that I weigh 175 pounds. Due to my surprise at being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rather rapid rate up the side of the building. In the vicinity of the third floor, I met the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone. Slowed only slightly, I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were two knuckles deep into the pulley. Fortunately, by this time I had regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground - and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel now weighed approximately 50 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block number 11. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building.