Summary: Usually, we are in pits of our own making. We find ourselves in a hole that we have fashioned for ourselves. What are the paths that lead to pits?
INTRO: At the end of this chapter, Joseph is going to find himself in a pit. A literal, dark and lonely pit. At the same time, the brothers are going to find themselves in a pit as well. But theirs will be a pit of their own making – a spiritual pit, one that is brought on by their own deception and cruelty.
I’m sure that at one point you have said, “My life is the pits!” “Man, this is the pits!” Contrary to what many popular preachers say, Christians do sometimes feel like they are in the pits. In this way, we have a lot in common with Joseph and his brothers.
Usually, we are in pits of our own making. We find ourselves in a prison that we have fashioned for ourselves. What are the paths that lead to pits?
I. When you depend on your own effort (12-17)
– After the revelation of Joseph’s dreams, the brothers decide that they need some space. There was adequate pasture right there where they were living. It appears that as a reaction of anger against Joseph and Jacob’s favoritism, they take the flocks 50 miles away back up to Shechem to feed.
– You remember all the bad things that happened at Shechem. Dinah was raped, Simeon and Levi had committed murder. Shechem was not a place of happy memories. Jacob again shows his passivity as a parent by letting his sons return to an area where so many people might want to kill them for revenge.
– It would have taken them several days to get there. After some time, Jacob gets worried about them and sends Joseph to go check on them. Little did Jacob realize that this would be the last time he would see his beloved son for almost 20 years. So many drastic changes can take place in our life in only 1 day. Don’t take your friends and loved ones for granted – you don’t know what a day may bring forth.
– Of course, Joseph made better time than them to Shechem, probably only took him 2 days. When he got there, his brothers were not there. As he roamed around the area looking for them, he met a man who told Joseph that his brothers had taken the flocks to Dothan.
– Dothan means “city of two cisterns” or wells. There was better water there for the flocks. They probably also went further away because they wanted some space.
– Now I don’t believe Joseph committed any sin in this situation, but he may have made a tactical error here. Knowing that his brothers had gone up to Dothan, he should have gone home and reported this to his father. But instead, he went after his brothers and found them in Dothan.
– I think that sometimes you and I need to give people space and let God deal with them. Your brothers or sisters may even be in the wrong. We are too eager to pester people. Especially if there is a problem, and you by nature are a problem-solver, you want to track that person down and get it settled.
– Watch me now – there are sometimes when we need to take the news concerning our brothers to the Father, and let Him work it out. We depend too much on our own human effort, and it gets us into trouble.
– We have too many entanglements and not enough prayer to the Father. We can drive our brothers away and end up in a pit.
II. When you only deal with the external (18-22)
– Joseph is about to walk into a frustrating set of circumstances. He didn’t realize the awful deed they were planning. Though this would be a terrible ordeal for him, in the providence of God, it would work together for good, as Joseph himself testified in Genesis 50.
– They saw the “dreamer” coming from a great way off, they could spot that coat of many colors anywhere. No doubt, they had been talking about his dreams since they left Hebron. They probably had discussed how they might get rid of him.
– The plan was simple. They would kill him, and throw him into one of the empty wells around Dothan, then tell dad that an evil beast had devoured him. That would be the end of his dreams!
– Reuben spoke up and was able to persuade them not to kill him, but just to throw him in a pit. He intended to come back later and release Joseph back to his father.
– But the point here is that the decision to cast Joseph into the pit alive, rather than kill him, took care of the external problem of keeping Joseph alive, but it did absolutely nothing about the internal hatred which was the root from which this murderous plan arose.