Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dreaming Big

Joseph is seventeen years old when we meet him in Genesis 37. The age when we just want to be loved and accepted for who we are, right? Joseph may have worn a coat of many colors, but he was hated for who he was. He was his father's favorite son. His mother was his father's favored wife. Rachel was a beauty and loved by Jacob. When she gave him a son in his old age he was proud as a peacock. 

See, Joseph's coat wasn't just a gift because his father loved him best. It was given to him because he was now his father's heir. All the brothers had coats. Their coats were made with the purpose of them staying warm as they worked the fields. Joseph's coat was to show his place in the family. 

Can you imagine how Joseph must have felt? Just maybe he wanted to be little brother who was loved and accepted. Sure, I have always heard pastors preach on Joseph's life during this time as if he were prideful and arrogant. But just what if it was the opposite? He has ten older brothers who hate him. Reuben the oldest brother should be the heir, but that title passes him and the other brothers and goes to Joseph. As if life wasn't hard enough, Joseph's parents didn't make it any easier with their differences they made in their sons. But this goes back further. 

What parents do in moderation children will do in excess. Jacob favored Rachel over Leah. There was always a competition of these sisters vying for the love and attention of Jacob. But even before them Jacob and Esau battled for their parents attention. Jacob was the favored son of his mother, Rebekah.  Esau the favored son of his father, Issac. For generations there would be favoritism. From this bitterness would take root and grow.

So Joseph as a few dreams. Yes, there are two ways of looking at this. He could be sharing these dreams out of pride and arrogance or he could be sharing like a little brother would in wanting to fit in and maybe have a bit of acceptance and praise from his other brothers. It's obvious his brothers do not like his dreams and his father isn't too happy either. His father calls him to quietness. His father's favored, but here Joseph could have only felt worse. His sharing got him no where fast. It angered his brothers even more. 

As if that wasn't enough his father puts him in a pickle of a spot. He tells Joseph to go check on his brothers. Really? Does Jacob think for a minute that this is going to turn out well for Joseph? His brothers already despise him. I can see Joseph asking his father to please not send him to the fields. Of course it doesn't tell us this in scripture. It's just me relating to how Joseph could have felt at the time being little brother and all. 

Joseph takes off and his brothers see him coming. They are plotting his demise before he even reaches them. That bitter root is making life for Joseph unbearable. But as his father's heir just maybe Jacob was giving Joseph the task of taking responsibility for who he is and for whom he belongs. 

Joseph couldn't have possibly seen what his brothers were planning. But God did. He was already present there. Waiting and protecting Joseph every step of the way. Through all of these trials Joseph would face his faith only grew. In the bottom of that pit was a God Joseph believed in and trusted. God would make a way.

Joseph knows he is hated. So, I'm sure there was mistreatment from his brothers. He must have felt so alone in this huge family. Maybe he even wished his father had given such a coat to Benjamin instead. For Pete's sake, just give it to Reuben. As a young teen this had to be such a trying time for him. Later he would see how God had been working in his life. He would recognize God as the Architect of his life and see that all along God was moving him toward the masterpiece He created him to be. In the meantime life didn't make much sense.

I see Joseph as so much more than the snotty nosed, prideful, baby brother. He knew he was hated. Maybe he tried all he knew to impress his brothers. Can't you see them sitting around the table talking about their day's activities? Just as brothers do giving one another a punch in the arm. But then Joseph shares and all is quiet. Did he really just say we would worship him? Oh, the anger that was brewing just exploded into a fury bomb. 

Sometimes no matter how hard we try we just are not going to be liked by everyone. We are not going to find love and acceptance from everyone around us. But isn't that how we are? We try so hard to fit in and to find acceptance. We become people pleasers. The only thing is, we can't please everyone and we cannot produce love from others no matter how much we try. This was a life lesson Joseph was learning that would later aid in his leadership and staying true to himself. 

I can see the brother's saying, "Here comes Daddy's little spy". Joseph's coat would be removed and covered in blood. The pit would hold Joseph. He would be stripped of all his brother's hated and thrown into a blackness so his brothers could finally forget him and be done. But there is Reuben, the oldest. The one to whom the heir should belong, but Joseph took that spot when Rachel gave birth to him. Big brother just can't imagine killing little brother, so the pit idea forms. He plans to go back later and rescue him, but that rescue wouldn't come in time. He would be sold for less profit than what a slave would bring. 

These brothers would dance their way back to the farm and deliver the news to their father. They would share his favored son was dead and gone. Oh, the pain Jacob must have endured. I can envision this time for this family. Jacob broken and the brothers living this lie. But all would not be well for Reuben's soul. He is broken over his actions and now must live with the choices he has made. That bitterness would now turn to guilt and shame. But that's how Satan works, right? 

Reuben is distressed but never enough to go to his father and speak the truth. I think there are more brothers here we can relate to besides Joseph, right? Nothing good becomes of secrets kept. Lies lived only turns to more lies until the pit becomes real for us as the truth prevails and comes to light before us. 

Did Jacob wish he had never sent his young son out to those fields? Joseph's character is even seen as he went into the fields. His brothers were not where they were suppose to be. He could have easily went back home and told his father they weren't to be found. But he traveled many miles more until he did find them. I think he truly loved his brothers. Maybe when he first didn't find them he was a bit worried and unsettled? Don't you love how the Word gives us room to dream along with Joseph? 

Of course Joseph was dreaming of greatness. He was a young teen with a big heart and big dreams. The hated one, the misfit, the black sheep to his brothers. Sure, he had his father's love, but he was seeking more. Ah...how often do we do the same? When will our Father's love be enough? My heart aches for Joseph. Maybe because I can relate to him. 

Maybe he just dreamed of normal. Don't we all just want a normal family? Can we all just get along and love one another? Yep, I knew you too could relate. 

Joseph would be pulled from that pit. Sold to Potiphar and travel to Egypt in chains. Joseph may not have known the road before him, but his God did and He never for once left Joseph alone. He never allowed Joseph to face anything that he couldn't do through his God. Joseph was more than his father's heir. He was an heir to thrown of King of kings. God would later bring Joseph's family together. He would be reunited with his dad and little brother. He too would gain the respect and love he so desired from his brothers. Not because of what he could do or he was, but because he remained true to who God created him to be. 

Young Joseph was filled with dreams. Dreams that God gave him. He would live with a mighty faith as an example to us all. He knew the God who rescued him from that deep cistern would forever go before him to prepare the way for those dreams to be lived out in a life that would bring glory and honor to God and would pave out the perfected arrival of our Savior.

"Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." Galatians 4:1-7

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