6-Week Series: Against All Odds


Summary: Joseph’s family background

The beginning of Joseph’s life Genesis 37:1-11

Two Cape Bretoners went to a western movie and just before the end one of them said to the other, “I’ll bet you five dollars the guy in the white hat gets shot.” And the other guy said, “All right, you’re on.” And just as the movie came to an end, the guy in the white hat was shot. Well, the second guy handed the first his five dollars but after a while his friend felt guilty and he told him he wasn’t being completely fair because he had already seen the movie. And then the other guy said, “Well, I saw it too, but I thought he had learned his lesson by now.”

I remember one of my neighbors in Cape Breton whose name was Johnny MacDonald (which is basically the name of every second person from Cape Breton) anyway, Johnny went to a doctor with what he considered to be a very serious problem. He said, “Doc, when I touch my head, I can hardly stand the pain, when I touch my stomach it hurts so bad it almost makes me sick and even if I feel the back of my legs or my feet the pain is absolutely unbearable. So, the doctor took several x-rays of his complete body and they discovered Johnny’s finger was broken.

I don’t read a lot of poetry but I thought this one by Nancy Fitzgerald relates to the life of Joseph and it’s called, “The meaning of life.”

“There is a moment just before a dog vomits when its stomach heaves dry pumping what’s deep inside the belly to its mouth.

If you are fast you can grab her by the collar and shove her out the door. Avoid the slimy bile, half chewed food from landing on the floor.

You must be quick, decisive, controlled. And if you miss the queue and the dog erupts enroot; you must forgive her quickly and give yourself to scrubbing up the mess. Most of what I have learned in life leads back to this.”

As sickening as this poem is; there’s a lot of truth here because as we look at Joseph’s life we see that he spent more time suffering than he did enjoying any fruit from his labors.

So today, there are just three points I want to look at in this passage and they are Joseph’s background in terms of where he came from and who his family were, how he fit in or didn’t and then how his life was a prophetic picture of Jesus Christ. So, let’s begin by reading the scripture.

“And Jacob dwelt in the land wherein his father was a stranger, in the land of Canaan. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colors. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: for, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, what is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.”

I In terms of Joseph’s background we have to understand something of his family history in order to appreciate both his spiritual understanding and also his family situation.

In the book right after Genesis is the book of Exodus where God introduced Himself to the Jews by saying; “He was the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” and these three men were Joseph’s great-grandfather, grandfather and father. And our first reaction to hearing this is that Joseph had really come from good spiritual stock because God was actually using the names of these three to introduce Himself to the people of Israel; but listen very carefully or you’ll miss what’s actually going on. I think that what God was saying was; I’m the God of sinners like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and by saying this, He was telling us; now you know there’s hope for the rest of you as well.

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