Summary: In some ways it is rather amazing that Joseph, the son of Jacob, ever amounted to anything. It was obvious to his 10 older half-brothers that Joseph was “Daddy’s favorite.” (Powerpoints Available - #375)



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TEXT: Genesis 37:1-28; Genesis 50:20

ILL. Years ago there was a TV show called “The Honeymooners”. Jackie Gleason was its star, & Art Carney played his best friend & neighbor, Ed Norton.

Ed was a happy-go-lucky, but fairly slow thinking, worker in the sewer systems of the city. And Ed once summed up his “philosophy of life” with these words:

“When the tides of life turn against you, & the current upsets your boat, Don’t waste tears on what might have been, just lie on your back & float.”

(Adapted from a sermon by Jeff Strite on Sermon Central.)

This morning I want to talk about someone who repeatedly saw the tides of life turn against him - whose boat was upset more than once - someone whose difficulties would have crippled the faith of a weaker person.

But he didn’t sink - & he didn’t even float. He rose above the waves of adversity. He overcame his difficulties because his “philosophy of life” was nobler & wiser than Ed Norton’s. Who was he? His name was Joseph.

In some ways it is rather amazing that Joseph, the son of Jacob, ever amounted to anything. His father, Jacob, with 2 wives & 2 concubines fathered 12 sons & an unknown number of daughters. Joseph had 10 older half-brothers & one full brother younger than he.

His mother, Rachel, who was Jacob’s favorite wife, had died a few years before, giving birth to his younger brother, Benjamin.

Because Joseph was Rachel’s first child, & had been born in Jacob’s old age, it was obvious to his 10 older half-brothers that Joseph was “Daddy’s favorite”. And this favoritism became painfully obvious in their eyes when Jacob gave Joseph a very fancy coat of many colors.

We sometimes talk about sibling rivalry & dysfunctional families. Well, it is clear here that his half-brothers were absolutely hostile to Joseph. Genesis 37:4 reports, "And his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers. So they hated him & could not speak to him on friendly terms."

Joseph had another problem. Not only was he his father's favorite son, but he appears to be a rather naïve 17-year-old teenager – naive in not realizing how much his half-brothers hated him.

Consider two dreams Joseph had. In Genesis 37:7-8 he told his half-brothers, "We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose & stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine & bowed down to it."

“His brothers said to him, ‘Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?’ And they hated him all the more because of his dream & what he had said.

Then in vs. 9 he told them, "I had another dream, & this time the sun & moon & 11 stars were bowing down to me." By this time the hostility was so evident that even his father Jacob felt that it was necessary to rebuke Joseph.

Now, if you have studied the life of Joseph, you know those dreams were prophetic. The dreams came from God, & they showed what God planned to do in Joseph’s life. But the fact that Joseph thought his brothers would be excited about these dreams shows us just how sheltered & naïve Joseph really was.

The rest of this story is a familiar one. The older brothers were tending their father's flocks some distance away from home & Jacob had not heard anything from them. So Jacob sent Joseph to see about them. And, of course, Joseph wore his fancy coat for the trip.

I wonder how you would have felt if you were one of Joseph's brothers & saw him wearing that coat? Well, when they saw him coming, that coat of many colors was like a red flag waving in their faces. So they plotted against Joseph.

Most of them wanted to kill him. But Reuben, the oldest brother, suggested that instead of killing him that they throw him into a deep cistern & just leave him there to die. That way they wouldn’t be guilty of shedding his blood. Vs. 22 says that “Reuben said this to rescue him from them, and take him back to his father.”

So when Joseph got to their camp they seized him, stripped off his coat, & threw him into a cistern. But then, as they were eating, they saw a slave caravan passing by on its way to Egypt.

Judah, another brother, had a bright idea. "Let's sell him to these people. We'll save ourselves from the guilt of murder, & we'll even make a little money on the side." So vs. 28 tells us that they “pulled Joseph up out of the cistern & sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt."

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