Summary: No-it is not the name of a new soap opera, but a study of Genesis 37. Joseph abuses his spiritual gift, his brothers act in violence and deceit
Pastor David M. Wilson
Grant Avenue Baptist Church
Redondo Beach, CA
The Proud and the Deceitful
No- this is not the title of a new soap opera!
Instead it is a set of Bible Study Notes on Genesis 37
The first thing we see about Joseph is that he is willing to bring a bad report on his brothers. This could be an example of the bratty little brother being a tattle-tale and might be our first clue towards an arrogant attitude towards his older brothers. However, later in the chapter, his father Jacob, now called Israel, sends Joseph to his brothers. It appears that Jacob’s sons had inherited some of his deceitful ways and they were not above deceiving their own father. Remember how they had responded with trickery and violence when their sister, Dinah was violated. Jacob knew he could count on Joseph to tell him what was really going on. In fact, there seems to be a lot of deceit going on as this chapter unfolds.
The second thing we see about Joseph is that he had a strong relationship with his father. This leads us to see how his brothers were bitter and angry against him because of this relationship. Bitterness never helps anybody, though. Instead of being angry because of the relationship that Jacob and Joseph shared they would have been better off trying to build and improve their relationships with Jacob. A good starting would have been for them to stop being deceitful towards him.
The brothers’ response to the relationship between Joseph and his father can also illustrate how some people will hate you because of your relationship with God. I believe that this is exactly what happened between Cain and Abel. Abel was responding in a right way to God and this in turn permitted God to respond in a positive manner. Cain’s relationship with God was marred by his slap hazard approach to worship. Soon, Cain despised Abel and it brought about an anger and hatred that could not be quenched by anything except the death of his brother.
The third thing we see in our text is that God gave Joseph the ability to have and interpret prophetic dreams. It was a God-given gift and the dreams came from the Lord. The Lord began to speak to Joseph about his future even as a young man.
However, this gift led to a problem. Joseph must have shared these dreams in an arrogant and proud manner. We know his brothers already had reason to respond negatively to him and we might assume that they were just bitter. However, we see that in verse 10, Jacob rebukes him. Therefore, we can assume that Joseph was not using this gift 100% properly.
In the church at Corinth the people were abusing their spiritual gifts as well. Paul rebukes them sternly because they have not applied their spiritual gifts in love. He describes love as the only supreme and eternal spiritual gift. If a person does not exercise his gift in love God will have to deal with him.
Jonah went to Nineveh, finally. Once there, he exercised his prophetic preaching ministry. Nineveh responded to his preaching (an example of God’s power) despite the fact that he did not preach or proclaim the message in love. While revival was occurring in Nineveh Jonah was sitting out on the beach pouting because God did not do things the way he thought God should have. So God deals with Jonah by calling him to account for his sinful anger and reprimanding him with an object lesson.
Whatever your spiritual gift and calling is—it must be exercised with love!
Jacob sends Joseph to find his brothers. The text does not make it clear, but it appears that the brothers were not where their father expected them to be. This does not necessarily means that they were wrong or did not have the authority to travel from Shechem to Dothan, but I think their response to his coming indicates that once again they knew Joseph would “rat them out” and it angered them again.
As they saw him coming they began to plot his death. This brings us to an important point about our recent study regarding how the brothers (especially Simeon and Levi) responded to the violation of their sister.
Before we cover that, let’s remind ourselves of what that response was. You remember that they deceived the Hivite men about their intentions. Under the guise of a grand social alliance, Jacob’s sons asked the Hivites to be circumcised. The Hivites in their greed for Jacob’s possessions and women agreed to do so. While they were still in bed, moaning in pain and attempting to recover from this surgery, Simeon and Levi (and perhaps followed by some of the younger brothers) went house to house and murdered these men. Jacob was very unhappy with his sons.