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Mar 03, 2019

Joseph: The Dreamer

Joseph: The Dreamer

Passage: Genesis 37:1-36

Speaker: Pastor Chris Riedel

Series: Joseph's Journey

The story of Joseph is a reminder that patterns of behavior repeat from generation to generation. Is it working? Do we need to change?


Israel (Jacob) loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age, and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. Joseph had a dream and when he told it to his brothers they hated him all the more. He said to them "Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it." His brothers said to him, "Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?" And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said. Then he had another dream, and he told it to his brothers. "Listen," he said, "I had another dream, and this time the sun and moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me." . . . His brothers were jealous of him, but his father kept the matter in mind."
-Genesis 37 (3-9, 11)   


As a mother raising three young men, the story of Joseph and his brothers has become all the more compelling to me. Let's just picture this scenario. Let's say that my husband gave my youngest son, Drew, an authentic Ted Williams Red Sox jersey and left the two older brothers a couple of hand-me-down Hanes t-shirts. And then let's say Drew rolled into the kitchen one morning wearing said jersey, grabbed the box of Cheerios, and said to his older brothers, "Hey, guys. Wanna hear about these awesome dreams I had last night? Well, what happened was that you two schmucks and the sun and the moon and the stars and even Pops over there bowed down to me. Pretty cool, right?"
In this scenario, I'm pretty sure that Drew, in addition to his fancy jersey, had better be wearing some pretty solid running shoes that morning because I'm not anticipating that a happy family breakfast would follow.
To be clear, I'm not defending the actions of Joseph's brothers. They initially plan to kill him, then strip him of his robe, throw him into a cistern and eventually sell him to the Ishmaelites. Later they deceive their father into believing he's been killed by an animal. Not good.
But we know that by the end of this story, Joseph's dream will be a reality. We know that he is chosen. We know that the Lord never left him, loved him, and would redeem his suffering in amazing ways. There is a lesson for us in Joseph's initial misuse of this honor, privilege, and power. Perhaps some quiet reflection was in order after Joseph had the dreams. Perhaps some contemplative conversation with God. Perhaps Joseph was a little quick to relay this dream without first thinking about what it might mean, not only for his own life, but for the lives of his family. And hey, buddy, perhaps a little tact?
The lessons this story teaches about the sins of jealousy, anger, hatred, and vengeance are clear. But just as much I think it has a word to teach us about the sin of pride. It teaches us that power requires responsibility. It reminds us that privilege demands a huge dose of humility. It teaches us that using our words carelessly and impulsively can have dangerous consequences.
Gratefully, in the end it teaches us that all of these sins do not have the final word. Through the story of Joseph's triumph of faith we learn that God does not leave us alone in our sin and our distress. We learn that not only will God redeem our suffering, but that He can do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine with our lives to fulfill His plan. Through Joseph's astonishing acts of forgiveness and grace toward his brothers, we learn that no matter what we have done, the Lord can and will deliver us from evil.
His will be done and it will be for our good. Thanks be to God. 


Holy, gracious Lord. We thank You for shedding new light on familiar stories in Your Word. We thank You for revealing to us again and again the truth of Your character, Your power, and Your relentless grace for us. Help us to acknowledge the sin of pride, to recognize the gift of privilege, and to humbly seek Your guidance as we discern Your will for our lives. Amen.
Written by Jennifer Skinner, member of Arcola Church and a Texan (Texas Longhorn to be specific!) living in beautiful Virginia with her very patient, funny husband, and three very impatient, funny boys/ball players. She is also a blogger, The View From Behind Home Plate, who writes about finding extraordinary grace and blessings among the cleats and dirt and testosterone that fill her ordinary days.