Summary: There are two different aspects of the Christian life. I call it the academic side and then also the experiential side.
There are two different aspects of the Christian life. I call it the academic side and then also the experiential side. The academic side is where we learn the Bible stories and so on from God’s word. Now when we’re teaching children we teach them about 200 Bible stories. And then of course there’s the teachings in the epistles and so on. Then we also encourage everyone to memorize scripture. When parents ask me “How many verses should my child memorize?” I say, “100 is good; 1,000 is better.” Because memorizing scripture gets it into your head and then allows it to get down in to your heart. And then there’s the theology that we learn. A theology of money, a theology of decision-making, a theology of creation. When we understand the theology of creation we understand that God made us in His image. That He created marriage. He’s the one who designed that. Where we see all of that, we’re just struck by just the immensity of it all. So the academic side of the Christian life is very important.
That’s why we dig into God’s work every week here at Calvary Chapel Living Hope. That’s why you’re having your quiet time. That’s why you’re reading and studying God’s word because that’s the portion that gives us truth. But there's another side of the Christian life and that’s the experiential side. That’s when we’re praying. That’s when we’re serving the Lord, that’s when we’re looking out at creation and seeing God’s work. That’s when we’re watching God at work in our lives and we see things take place. We experience God. Both are important. When we experience something we always have to check it with God’s word. Because sometimes people think well God told me this and they’re often running on something that’s rather crazy. Everybody else can see it’s crazy, but they can’t. We have to check it with God’s word and make sure it fits in there. But there’s these two aspects of the Christian life that are strategic for us as we move forward.
Does God speak to us through dreams, for example? That’s an experience. Well let’s find out as we look at Genesis 37 and Joseph who has these dreams, six of them in the passage (not today) – two of them in our passage today and then all through the passages through the end of Genesis we’ll see these six dreams. But there are two dreams we’re going to look at today.
But let’s pull this back a little bit and let’s take it from verse 1, even though we looked at verses 1-4 last week. Let’s bring ourselves into the picture as Moses under the influence of the Holy Spirit is laying this all out for us so that we can understand what’s going on.
It says in verse 1 – Jacob lived in the land where his father had stayed, the land of Canaan. This is the account of Jacob’s family line. Joseph, a young man of seventeen… This is a very obvious link to young people and understanding God working in the lives of young people and children. Very clear here.
He was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. Now Moses records this piece of information here to help us see the backdrop. There’s going to be a backdrop on the stage of the dreams. The backdrop is sibling conflict here. A bad report that he brought and you can feel the feelings of the brothers start to engage. That he’s a snitch. That he’s tattletale-ing on us.
Verse 3 amplifies this problem by saying this: Now Israel (or Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
Now did Jacob make a mistake by making a robe for his son? No. He didn’t make a mistake. That was a beautiful thing because the robe represented the love of the father. We talked about that last week. We have the love of the Father and He’s given us these clothes to wear in gentleness, compassion, humility, and patience, and kindness. Those words that we saw that we clothes ourselves with. Why do we do that? Because we have the love of the Father. So there's nothing wrong with Jacob making the robe for him. The problem is he only made a robe for one of his twelve sons. He should have expressed his value and his love to all of them. Maybe not with a robe. Maybe the second one should have gotten a nice staff that was all carved beautifully. Maybe a third one should have gotten a ring that was very nice. Uniquely and individually showing the love of the father to the son. In the same way God uniquely and in a special way shows His love for each of us. So that we can be proud to wear the clothes that God has given to us.