*Message Notes originally taught at Sisterhood and lazily adapted to reader friendly form :)
Our story tonight takes place in GEN 37: 2-13
Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons because he was the child of his old age. And he made him an elaborately embroidered coat. When his brothers realized that their father loved him more than them, they grew to hate him—they wouldn’t even speak to him.
5-7 Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said, “Listen to this dream I had. We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat. All of a sudden my bundle stood straight up and your bundles circled around it and bowed down to mine.”
8 His brothers said, “So! You’re going to rule us? You’re going to boss us around?” And they hated him more than ever because of his dreams and the way he talked.
9 He had another dream and told this one also to his brothers: “I dreamed another dream—the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to me!”
10-11 When he told it to his father and brothers, his father reprimanded him: “What’s with all this dreaming? Am I and your mother and your brothers all supposed to bow down to you?” Now his brothers were really jealous; but his father brooded over the whole business.
12-13 His brothers had gone off to Shechem where they were pasturing their father’s flocks. Israel said to Joseph, “Your brothers are with flocks in Shechem. Come, I want to send you to them.”
We can look at Joseph in this Scripture and because the Bible is revered as holy and God’s word, we can tend to think, “How rude…” How dare his brothers hate him. Mmm they’re just jealous.
Well yes. Yes they were, but did you see what Joseph said? From their perspective, Joseph is setting himself up on a family pedestal. All the while already being on the pedestal hand crafted by Papa bear.
Joseph had dreams, about him and his funky family dynamics (that we could spend a whole evening on all by itself), but it was also about so much more than that.
We don’t know much about Joseph’s character except that he was the youngest, the favorite and the spoiled one. We don’t know if he was a brat.
We don’t know if he was a hard worker because he felt like he had to catch up to his brothers. Or if he was lazy because he lived his life entitled.
We don’t know if he was authentic and warm with amazing people skills, or if he was cold and distant, aloof or arrogant through and through.
But as I read this story again, I read it from a new angle.
What if Joseph, the youngest of 12, felt like he has something to prove? What if his arrogance, and it was arrogance, wasn’t out of haughtiness, but out of fear.
What if he’d tied his hope, his redemption, his significance to pride through his dreams.
What if he was saying, “Look at me look at me I finally fit in!”
Tying hopes and dreams to our own ability to accomplish or achieve our dreams brings PRIDE.
“God promised me, so I’m going to claim my promise.” Ever said that before?
“God told me, so I’m not gonna let anyone else speak into it.” Just me?
“I can’t help _______, it’s who God made me to be.” Mmmk let’s chill there.
The Bible is very clear about remembering when God gives us promises, He’s not asking us to fulfill them. He’s giving us spiritual eyes to watch HIM fulfill them.
“I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work[a] in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you[b] and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling[c] of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Philippians 1:6
“God will continually revitalize you, implanting within you the passion to do what pleases him...[so that] even though you live in the midst of a brutal and perverse culture.[m] For you will appear among them as shining lights[n] in the universe, 16 offering them the words of eternal life.[o] ” Philippians 2:13
“Never doubt God’s mighty power to work in you and accomplish all this. He will achieve infinitely more than your greatest request, your most unbelievable dream, and exceed your wildest imagination! He will outdo them all, for his miraculous power constantly energizes you.” Ephesians 3:20
He does the work, we walk it out.
Let’s keep going.
They spotted him off in the distance. By the time he got to them they had cooked up a plot to kill him. The brothers were saying, “Here comes that dreamer. Let’s kill him and throw him into one of these old cisterns; we can say that a vicious animal ate him up. We’ll see what his dreams amount to.”
21-22 Reuben heard the brothers talking and intervened to save him, “We’re not going to kill him. No murder. Go ahead and throw him in this cistern out here in the wild, but don’t hurt him.” Reuben planned to go back later and get him out and take him back to his father.
23-24 When Joseph reached his brothers, they ripped off the fancy coat he was wearing, grabbed him, and threw him into a cistern. The cistern was dry; there wasn’t any water in it.
25-27 Then they sat down to eat their supper. Looking up, they saw a caravan of Ishmaelites on their way from Gilead, their camels loaded with spices, ointments, and perfumes to sell in Egypt. Judah said, “Brothers, what are we going to get out of killing our brother and concealing the evidence? Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites, but let’s not kill him—he is, after all, our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
28 By that time the Midianite traders were passing by. His brothers pulled Joseph out of the cistern and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the Ishmaelites who took Joseph with them down to Egypt.
29-30 Later Reuben came back and went to the cistern—no Joseph! He ripped his clothes in despair. Beside himself, he went to his brothers. “The boy’s gone! What am I going to do!”
31-32 They took Joseph’s coat, butchered a goat, and dipped the coat in the blood. They took the fancy coat back to their father and said, “We found this. Look it over—do you think this is your son’s coat?”
33 He recognized it at once. “My son’s coat—a wild animal has eaten him. Joseph torn limb from limb!”
34-35 Jacob tore his clothes in grief, dressed in rough burlap, and mourned his son a long, long time. His sons and daughters tried to comfort him but he refused their comfort. “I’ll go to the grave mourning my son.” Oh, how his father wept for him.
36 Meanwhile, in Egypt the Midianites sold Joseph to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, manager of his household affairs.
Tying hopes and dreams to a PROMISE will bring disappointment and confusion.
God, gives Joseph these elaborate futuristic dreams, and then almost immediately after, Joseph is kidnapped, stripped, beaten and SOLD OUT. By his family.
And I just wonder in this room, if any of us can relate to the sell out.
The kick down. The beat down. Verbally, physically. Sexually.
What could even have been going through his mind in these moments?
Like, “What the world God! What is this? You promised!”
You PROMISED me (fill in the blank)!
But you see, we don’t know what we don’t know.
And often times our definition of God’s promise or dream for our life looks RADICALLY different from heaven’s perspective.
The problem with tying our hope to a PROMISE given, or a dream dreamt, is that we don’t get to see the “meanwhile.”
GEN 37:36. “Meanwhile, in Egypt the Midianites sold Joseph [as a slave] to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the [royal] guard.”
Will we trust the “meanwhile”?
It’s interesting that the rest of the story goes on to talk about how Joseph grew in character and wisdom. He rose to the top of mountain with his city officials and began to live out what he could have interpreted as his childhood dreams.
Then in a SINGLE MOMENT, he was tossed to the bottom of the barrel, a pit prison where he spends nearly a decade. Forgotten. Alone.
Yet his ability to interpret dreams and His devotion to God are the ONLY things that allowed him to rise AGAIN.
Tying hopes and dreams to the Person, God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, is the only true way to see our dreams come true.
Because when they’re tied to Him, they’re so much bigger than us. They can go BEYOND our limited vantage points.
The end of the story is that Joseph does in fact become the one to whom his family bows.
But he’s not an arrogant, insecure, significance striving 17 year old kid anymore.
He is kind, compassionate, forgiving and awakened to the purpose of his dreams. To love God and love others.