7/29/18 – Setting out to kill the brother you hate.

Posted on : Jul 26th, 2018 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

When people hold up the Bible and start quoting it as if they are “Holier than Thou,” I immediately know one thing about them:  they haven’t read much of the Bible.

I love the Bible because it is full of stories about people who are just like you and me.  There are few saints in our sacred text.  There are far more folks who are less than perfect, and some who are down right evil.  Since it’s summer, I thought it would be fun to focus on some of the “bad boys and bad girls of the Bible.”  My hope is you’ll see that perfection is not the ultimate goal of our Christian faith.  Faithfulness is. 

This Sunday we are going to begin with a story of sibling rivalry gone wild.  The story of Joseph and his brothers is quite a testimony to sibling rivalry.  Joseph was the youngest son of Jacob’s second wife.  In total Jacob had 12 sons and at least one daughter.  He had two wives (Leah and Rachel) and two concubines (Zilpah and Bilhah).  Of all the sons, Jacob loved Joseph the most.  Joseph as you know, was given a magnificent robe (coat) by his father.  In those days, the giving of a robe or coat was a sign of extreme honor.  Such a gift was usually given to the eldest son, who would carry on the family name.  Joseph was not the eldest.  He was the youngest child of Rachel, the wife whom Jacob loved the most. 

Joseph’s brothers hated that their father loved Joseph more than any of them.  One day, the brothers had the opportunity to throw Joseph into a pit where he would die.  Before throwing him into the pit, they took his beautiful coat, also known as “the coat of many colors.”  Joseph’s oldest brother suddenly realized what they were about to do was not only wrong, but extremely damming should their father ever discover what they had done.  So he intervenes and instead of leaving his brother in the pit to die, he sells his brother to slave traders.  As a cover for their actions, the brothers smeared Joseph’s beautiful robe with animal blood and concocted a story for their father that Joseph must have been devoured by wild animals.  When Joseph’s father heard this, he was inconsolable in his grief.

For the most part, the other brothers were quite happy with their work.  They had gotten rid of the brother they hated. 

Now, does this sound like a bunch of “Holier than Thou” folks?  Hardly!  The story doesn’t end there.  Believe it or not, things get much worse.  But then there is a surprise ending to this story, which shows that even the biggest schmucks are not beyond God’s redemption and inclusion in the community of faith. 

So, if you think you’re not perfect enough to be included in the community of faith, think again!  Our story of faith is full of less-than-perfect people.  One of these less than perfect people saves the entire nation of Israel and those twelve rowdy brothers each becomes the founder of the twelves tribes of Israel.  As Joseph so eloquently said when he confronted his brothers: “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good.”

More on Sunday.    




Genesis 37: 1-20

These are the generations of Joseph.

When Joseph was seventeen years old, he used to accompany his siblings, the children of Bilhah and Zilpah, Jacob’s spouses, as they herded the flocks.  Joseph would tattle on the others to Jacob while they tended the animals, always presenting them in a negative light.

Now, Israel (aka Jacob) doted on the youth, because he was a child of his old age; he loved Joseph more than the others.  And Israel gave Joseph a richly ornamented robe.

When the brothers saw that Israel loved him best, they were jealous and had nothing but words of contempt for the boy.

Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated Joseph all the more.  Joseph said to them, “Listen to my dream.  We were all out in the field binding sheaves, when all at once my sheaf straightened itself and remained standing upright, and your sheaves circled around my sheaf, bowing down as if paying homage to my sheaf.”

His brothers responded, “So you want to play the sovereign with us?  Do you really intend to rule over us?” – and they hated Joseph that much more because of the dream and how he interpreted it.

Then Joseph had another dream, which he told to his father and the brothers: “Listen to me, I had a second dream.  In this dream the sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to me.”

When he told them the dream, Israel (his father) scolded him.  He said, “What is all this dream business?  Are you saying that I, your mother, and the rest of the family will bow down to you?”  The siblings were jealous, but Israel did not forget the incident.

The brothers had gone to tend the herds at Shechem.  Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are tending to the herds at Shechem.  I will send you to them.”

Joseph replied, “I am ready.”

Israel told Joseph to see if things were going well and to report back to him.  So Joseph set off from the valley of Hebron.  When he arrived at Shechem and was wandering in the fields in search for the herds, someone asked, “What are you looking for?’

Joseph answered, “I am looking for my brothers.  Can you tell me where they are tending sheep?”

The person said, “They have moved on.  I heard them say they were going to Dothan.”  So Joseph left that place and caught up with the herd at Dothan.

They saw Joseph approaching in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to murder him. They said to one another, “Here comes that dreamer.  Now’s our chance!  Let’s kill Joseph and throw his body in one of these pits.  We’ll say a wild animal devoured him.  Then we’ll see what becomes of Joseph’s dreams!



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