And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.Genesis 37:5
Dear Church and Friends,
Have you ever hated someone? Maybe you hated them because they were popular, smart, wealthy, beautiful, or the way they treated you. Maybe that hate joined itself to envy and twisted the relationship into something very wrong. We’ve all been touched by some part of this process. I remember having hate in my heart for someone and I remember how it withered me.
For this Pastor’s Letter let’s look at Genesis 37:1-11. Joseph is the target of the hate of his brothers. Now Joseph is not without his faults. He apparently is poor in the social skills area. He doesn’t seem to know when not to speak. Or, perhaps his speech is calculated to produce the maximum discomfort in his family. Reporting on his brothers doesn’t seem to be a problem for him.
Either way, his brethren should not have behaved the way they did. Three times we are told about their mounting hatred which led to envy.
- This sets up for us the conflict in the family. Joseph is a tattle-tale. These are the generations of Jacob. Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad was with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report (37:2).
- Boys want the love and affection of their father. Joseph was the clear winner in that department and Jacob made sure everyone knew it. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him (37:4).
- The hatred grows. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more (37:5).
- The pressure builds. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words (37:8).
- The hatred introduces envy. And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying (37:11).
We know what happens (see verses 18-28) and how it ends poorly for Joseph in the short-term. James’ words ring true here. “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (James 3:16). They envied him because his father loved him more than them. They envied him because he wore the symbol of that love, the coat of many colors. They envied his dreams and hated him because of them and the way he behaved toward them.
But they had no right to either kill him (which was their first choice) or to sell him into slavery (which was death by proxy). What they did have was a responsibility to love him, despite his behavior or the behavior of their father. He was their brother. They destroyed an entire city for their sister but for a ill favored brother they no patience?
We too have a responsibility to suffer long with our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as our relatives in the home. Their actions toward us do not release us from our duty to love them. Consider today your relationships and which ones you need to redeem from the trap of hatred and envy. Then, instead of being complicit in their downfall, lift them up from the pit your strife has thrown them in. In Christ resolve to love them no matter how unlovely they are.
Music: My Hope is Built by The Norton Hall Band
Prayer Requests: Please pray for the following.
- Phyllis Harbaugh, Sterling Heights, Mich. (Phyllis Harbaugh is a missionary to the Deaf in Sterling Heights, Mich.) “Pray as we minister to the needs of the Deaf in our community. Many are fighting depression and frustration as the coronavirus crisis continues to bring limitations. Pray we will be sensitive as we minister and begin to schedule opportunities for worship and fellowship.”
- Joy Chadwell’s family who will lay her great uncle to rest this week.
- Jeanne Bond who will travel back to the Cleveland Clinic next week.
- Mindy Hammonds’ father who continues to struggle with health issues.
Poetry: Will Then by C. Ellis Osterbrock
If and when the rain won't come If and when the storms arrive If and when silence the lot I still know Your Word alive If and when my chest turns cold If and when my words won't do If and when my sins revealed I still know grace will subdue If and when the torch is dim If and when I'm stained with doubt If and when just smoking flax I still know You're in the drought If and when this strife will end If and when my thoughts made clear If and when I stand again I still know Your presence here (Taken from Osterbroken Octuplets and Other Poems)
All my best.
And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.Genesis 37:11
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