Genesis 33:1-2, 37:2-18, Joseph's Coat (9/8/2009)
Many times I have advised the parents of 15-year-old boys that if they let the child live, he'll turn out okay. I've always gotten a special look – half desperate, half hopeful – and the piteous question, "Do you really think so?"
Joseph was Jacob's favorite son from the time Joseph was a little boy. When trouble threatened, favorite-wife Rachel and favorite-son Joseph were safe in the back. Do you think the older boys didn't notice? Or if they didn't notice then, did they remember it later? And to be perfectly fair, Joseph was kind of a pill when he was a teenager. I envision him as being 15 years old in today's passage, even though it says seventeen, because normally only a fifteen-year-old has the unique combination of cluelessness and obnoxiousness that we see in this reading.
As it happened, his brothers let him live, and he turned out okay.
Genesis 37:19-36, Joseph's Coat (9/9/2009)
I have a friend who sends me emails with jokes and stuff. At the end of every email is this tag line – First Law of Holes: When you're in one, stop digging!
Kill Joseph just because he's a pain in the neck? Not a good idea. Then Reuben, who is the oldest and maybe could reason with his brothers, instead decides not to argue about it, just to come back later and get the boy. That's not a great plan, but it's a plan. Instead of carrying out this plan, he wanders off somewhere – leaving Joseph in the pit and Judah in charge. Judah is the fourth-oldest, but usually he's fairly level-headed. He doesn't want to kill Joseph either. Instead of joining Reuben in the first place in arguing against killing Joseph, he comes up with a second plan – let's sell him!
When he gets back, Reuben has a couple of choices. He can take the money and go after the buyers, or he can tell Jacob the truth and let him send somebody else after the buyers, or he can make the whole situation worse
by lying to Jacob. Guess which one he chooses?
Next time we commit a sin, let's just stop and confess right then, instead of committing another sin to cover it up. The first sin puts us in the hole, but at that point, let's stop digging.
Genesis 45:1-16, Joseph Forgives His Brothers (9/10/2009)
When Joseph talks to his brothers after they come down to Egypt, he twice mentions that even though they tried to harm him, God brought good out of it. The first time is below in vss. 4-8, and the second time is in Genesis 50:19-21.
But Joseph said to them, "Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones." Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.
This is commonly paraphrased as "God can use evil for good." No matter what happens, no matter how bad things get, God can find a way to use it for good.
Never, ever make the mistake of reading these verses (or any other verses, for that matter) to mean that God wants
something evil to happen so that
he can use it for good. The Bible doesn't say that anywhere, in spite of what people tell you! To paraphrase Paul, even if I
were to tell you that God likes evil because he can use it for good, you shouldn't believe me.
It's much easier for God to use good
for good, and whenever possible he'd rather use good for even greater good.
Genesis 45:17-28, Joseph Forgives His Brothers (9/11/2009)
Today is a good day to be thinking about forgiveness, reconciliation, and God's ability to use evil for good. God requires us to ask for forgiveness from God and from any person we have harmed, and to be forgiving toward anyone who asks our pardon. Although it takes two to be reconciled, it only takes one not to; we should be sure we are not the one refusing reconciliation, either by action or inaction. Finally, when evil occurs in our lives, we need to be working with God, not opposing him, to bring some good out of it. The fact that evil men committed a monstrous act eight years ago today does not excuse me from being part of God's program.
More Bible Stories for Grownups
Copyright 2009, 2011, 2015, 2021 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. "Joseph's Coat" is from the Binns family Bible, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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