Family Battles

Todays Reading Genesis 37

Good Monday Morning, the story that will take place here could easily be portrayed in a melodrama or soap opera for today.  The setting is just after the beautiful vision of heaven, Jacob has and the ladder to Heaven.  Jacob has just witnessed the promise that his entire linage will lead to God, through Christ. The destination is seen, but the journey is not known.   Directly after the vision, Jacob travels north to escape his brother, Esau, from killing him because he deceived his brother from his birthright.  

Once in Paddan Aram with his uncle Laban, Jacob finds work as a shepherd. Jacob promised to work for his uncle for seven years for the hand of Laban’s daughter, Rachel.  After working for seven years and having a wedding and feast, Laban tricks Jacob and slips his first daughter, Leah, into Jacob’s wedding tent.  The next morning, Jacob realizes the deceit and questions the validity of the transaction and finds out that in the new country where he resides the first daughter must be married before the younger daughter.  So Jacob gives Laban an additional seven years to be married to Rachel. With each daughter, Laban gives a servant.  To Leah, Laban gave Zilpah and to Rachel, Laban gave Bilhah.  In total Jacob works for Laban twenty years: seven for Leah, seven for Rachel, and six working flocks. 

Jacob had twelve sons and one daughter by theses women: Leah: Reuben(1), Simeon(2), Levi(3), Judah(4), Issachar(9), Zebulun(10), Dinah (technically 11) ;  Bilhah: Dan(5), Naphtali(6); Zilpah: Gad(7), Asher(8); Rachel: Joseph (11); Benjamin(12). Leah was Jacob’s first wife; Rachel was the second wife; Bilhah was the third wife given to Jacob from Rachel; and Zilpah the fourth wife given to Jacob by Leah.  

After twenty years under his uncle’s watch, Jacob decides to leave Paddan Aram and return to his home of Canaan.  As Jacob attempts to leave Laban, Laban pursues Jacob and tries to kill him.  Once Laban catches up to Jacob, they made a truce to never cross paths again.  As Jacob returns home to Canaan, he sees his brother, Esau, advancing with 400 men and he again is afraid for his life.  The night before he meets with Esau whom he stole the birthright; he is placed in a battle against an angel for the entire night.  He then is crippled from his wrestling match, but given a new name Israel. After Jacob has reconciled with his brother, his daughter is kidnapped and raped by the new neighbors at Shechem. His sons, Simeon and Levi, take vengeance on the men at Shechem. Then Jacob’s true love, Rachel, dies in childbirth giving birth to Benjamin.

This brings us to the seventeen-year-old Joseph and his brothers and coat of many colors.  Joseph is one of the favorite son’s of Jacob because he is the offspring of Rachel.  He has been treated differently his entire life because he has not really had to share or live in the same tent as his other siblings his entire life. He has now the opportunity to interact act with them and trying to fit in he tells them the different dreams that he has about grandeur and prestige.  He fails to realize that these dreams would have harmful implications for him. Joseph then is deceived and sold into slavery by his brothers.  His brothers then deceive their father into believing his precious son is mauled and killed by animals.  

There are many themes that run through the story of Jacob and Joseph: 

  1. Be careful whom you share your dreams with. It is good and necessary to have dreams and goals.  This allows us to set a target and make plans to achieve the target and adjust our sights if we do not make the mark.   We must be thankful for our dreams and blessings and not brag or boast.
  2. Good intentions are good if they are put into action and followed through.  Genesis 37:21-30

.   21 But when Reuben heard it, he rescued him out of their hands, saying, “Let us not take his life.” 22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood; throw him into this pit here in the wilderness, but do not lay a hand on him”—that he might rescue him out of their hand to restore him to his father.

29 When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes 30 and returned to his brothers and said, “The boy is gone, and I, where shall I go?” Rueben had the opportunity and the position to stop this entire scenario of the killing or entry into servitude for Joseph, but he did not act.  When we have the authority and the knowledge to act, we must be bold and not allow others to suffer because of our negligence and fear.

3. Model the behavior you seek.  Jacob had modeled the behavior of deceit from the beginning of his life.  He deceived his brother from his birthright.  His uncle with his brides deceived him.  He deceived his uncle when he ran away.  His sons deceived the men of Shechem.  His sons deceived Joseph.  His sons deceived him about Joseph.  We have to be mindful of our character and true nature.  We can perpetuate human nature or we can ask God to create in us a new creation daily to be more like Christ.  We will continually have these inner struggles, but with the Holy Spirit we are able to be strengthen for God’s work and glory.