Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Genesis 37:29-36

When the eldest brother, Reuben, returned from wherever he’d gone, he found that Joseph was gone, and “he tore his clothes.” (Gen 37:29) Reuben had intended on somehow rescuing his brother and returning him to Jacob (vs. 22), but now it was too late. Sometimes the moment to speak up and act is gone before we have had the courage to step out boldly. Each day we are faced with opportunities to do the right thing or to present Christ to others. Often, when the moments pass us, they never return. Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2). Joseph was gone, so now Reuben joins the cover up.

Then they got Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat and dipped the robe in the blood. They took the ornamented robe back to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it to see whether it is your son’s robe.”

He recognized it and said, “It is my son’s robe! Some ferocious animal has devoured him. Joseph has surely been torn to pieces.” (vs. 31-33)

Remember that Jacob had used the skin of a goat to deceive his father, Isaac in Genesis 27:16. Here, his sons deceived him with the blood of a goat. What goes around comes around, or, as the Bible says it, “A man reaps what he sows.” (Gal 6:7)

The brothers had hoped to be rid of Joseph and the hold he had on their fathers’ attention. But the opposite happened. Jacob became unconsolable:

Then Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and daughters came to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. “No,” he said, “in mourning will I go down to the grave to my son.” So his father wept for him. (vs. 34-35)

The loss for Jacob was so great that he refused the comfort of his other children. Jacob would spend his days grieving for what he had lost, rather than appreciating what blessings he had (although I’m sure we could argue whether or not these kids were a blessing)! The brothers had completely blown it! They nursed their jealously until it grew into unmitigated hatred. They plotted to kill Joseph (and for all intents and purposes, Joseph WAS dead to his family for years). They sold him as a slave. And, finally, they covered it all up with deception. Their hopes for finally having their father’s approval died when Jacob refused their comfort. Sin never satisfies - it ALWAYS brings death.

Don’t you wonder what was going through Joseph’s head through all of this? Isn’t it amazing that it appears he was silent throughout? We are not told of him protesting or resisting. Did he cry out? Certainly he must have been overwhelmed by the extent of their hatred for him. This was rejection on a huge scale. He wasn’t merely abandoned - he was sent away. Joseph would be the perfect example of the person who lets God be his defense. In the same way, Jesus did not speak to defend Himself when he was arrested and tried and crucified. This chapter ends with almost a footnote:

Meanwhile, the Midianites sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard. (vs. 36)

While all looks hopeless for Joseph, we will see that God has actually rescued him. Even before Joseph was thrown into the pit, God was sending the answer in the form of the Midianite merchants. If Joseph could have seen what lay ahead for him, and for his family, in Egypt, he would have rejoiced. But at this point in the story, he must have felt desolate and deserted. When we are at our lowest point, and think all hope is gone, we need to remember that God’s plan is still unfolding, and He is already sending help our way! Can’t wait to see it all unfold!

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