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Summary: Joseph was only seventeen when his brothers sold him into slavery. He faced many struggles that are common for young people today. We can learn from his struggles and victories.

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Sermon Notes April 7, 2013 FBCam

The Troubles of a Teenager

Genesis 37:1-11

What were you up to when you were seventeen? For me, it was my first year at Bible College. I was a year younger than Kim who attended when she was 18. At 17 Kim was enjoying her senior year of High school, like most other 17 year olds.

2013 was a great year for seventeen-year-old Nick d'Aloisio, from Wimbledon, England. He sold an app he developed to shorten programs run by a mobile device. Yahoo bought his app for 30 Million dollars!

SEVENTEEN is a time of FUN and GROWTH and PLANS and FRIENDS and DATING and ENTHUSIASM for life. It is also a time when God speaks in powerful ways.

I am struck with the impact of the opening words of Genesis 37:2. The chapter begins with “Joseph, a young man of seventeen...” (Genesis 37:2)

The emphasis on his age is strikingly important. It is rare that a young age is mentioned in Scripture. To my knowledge, no other character is specifically mentioned at the age of seventeen anywhere else in the Bible.

The point is clear - Joseph is a young man. Yes, by Jewish custom he was a man, but he was still a young man and the troubles of his life are similar to the struggles that we face in the early years of our entrance into adult life. I believe that there are important lessons that we can learn from the life of Joseph that apply particularly to young people today.

I. Joseph’s Importance in Genesis

From this point forward, The rest of GENESIS will focus on Joseph. Joseph receives more chapters than any other character in Genesis, including Abraham!

Genesis 37:2 marks the final Toledot section in the book. Toledot is the Hebrew word translated “These is the account of Jacob...” As we have studied, this word marks the major character shifts throughout the book. But there is something unique about this use of toledot. Notice the shift in the verse from JACOB to JOSEPH.

Genesis 37:2 "This is the account of Jacob. Joseph, a young man of seventeen, 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."

The “account of Jacob” continues with JOSEPH, not Jacob! Joseph will fulfill the promises that were given to his father ISRAEL. Joseph will rise above the other sons of Jacob, demonstrating a principle that carries throughout the Bible. The LAST will be FIRST and the first will be last!

Seth passes Cain

Jacob is greater than Esau

Joseph is greater than his brothers

David, the youngest, is chosen King

“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first." Matthew 19:30

For the next several weeks we will be studying the life of Joseph. On our first examination of his life, we will examine the struggles encountered by this godly young man. Although his circumstances were different from ours, the types of trials that Joseph faced at seventeen are similar to the struggles that you and I face in our youth. By examining these struggles we will discover the manner in which God can provide for us through our times of testing.

II. The Struggles of a Godly Teenager.

A. Joseph was Unappreciated.

1. There was a struggle within the FAMILY. Genesis 37:2 identifies the family situation with the distinctive of calling Joseph’s brothers “sons of Bilhah and Zilpah....” This emphasis demonstrates that there was division in the family between JOSEPH the son of Rachel, and the other sons of Leah and the handmaids. If ever there was a dysfunctional family, it was this one! One father. Four mothers. Joseph grew up in FAMILY CONFLICT. Not only that, but Father Jacob showed extreme favoritism toward Joseph, making the family situation worse and added to the hatred that the brothers all felt toward Joseph. Don’t forget, this entire family had to leave their home and flee for their lives! On the way, they encounter Crazy Uncle Esau! Perhaps they heard stories about him, but now he was coming out to meet them and bringing 400 men with him! This family was in turmoil.

Notice the birth order and you will see that Joseph is next to the youngest. As such, he was the brunt of every joke, the ridicule he must have endured must have been severe!

SON MEANING TEXT MOTHER

Reuben “Behold a son!” Gen 29:32 Leah

Simeon “God has heard” Gen 29:33 Leah

Levi “Joined” Gen 29:34 Leah

Judah “Praise” Gen 29:35 Leah

Dan “Justice” Gen 30:5-6 Bilhah (Rachel)

Napthali “Wrestling” Gen 30:7-8 Bilhah (Rachel)

Gad “Fortune” Gen 30:10-11 Zilpah (Leah)

Asher “Happy” Gen 30:12-13 Zilpah (Leah)

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