“Jacob’s son Joseph was seventeen, and he served his older half-brothers, the sons of his father’s wives Bilhah and Zilpah, helping them watch over the flocks. One day Joseph went to his father with a bad report about their behavior.”Genesis 37:2 TPT
The story of Joseph gives away God’s secrets. It reveals how God raises up champions and deliverers. Here are just a few of those secrets that you will find in Joseph’s story.
Joseph had to learn that vindication is from God (Romans 12:19). As long as we don’t try to help God, he will honor us in his time. God is not out to prove us right, but he seeks to glorify himself and transform us, even in the midst of our rejection.
Joseph had to be matured. The lessons of Joseph teach us that there is a thorough preparation time in our lives before God promotes us. The enemy loves to sift us (Luke 22:31–32), but God will use it for preparation. In this world you will face challenges, but the Lord will reward you double for your trouble, turning it all around to prepare you for his call on your life. It’s never easy to walk through to maturity. We all think we’re more ready than we are. But our testing often reveals that we’re not quite ready yet. Joseph had to learn to use authority with humility.
Joseph had to learn to forgive. Our hearts are so easily deceived (Jeremiah 17:9). We often think we have learned a lesson only to see that we have not. Forgiveness is a lifelong lesson that will test us repeatedly. It is a test that comes without warning. Our need to forgive exposes our need of love. Love is the highest spiritual achievement there is. It’s our perpetual goal. Our lack of love justifies God’s delays in exalting us. To judge another is the grossest form of self-worship. When we judge another, we are stating, in effect, God is only working in me. Forgiveness forces us to remove self-pity and personal hurt from our lives. Forgiveness places us on the path of promotion and greater favor. I (Brian) have learned that when I hold hurt inside my heart and cling to my pain, I hurt only myself. The liberation of my soul comes through freely forgiving others.
Let’s see what we can learn from the story of Joseph. It begins long ago in a home and in a land far, far away.
Joseph grew up in a troubled home. His father had two wives and two concubines. Besides that, Joseph had eleven brothers who were always stirred to jealousy and competition among themselves. And then there was Joseph’s aging father. When Joseph was born, Jacob was already old, ninety-one years old, to be exact. Joseph was the son of his old age and quickly became his favorite child. And let’s consider the name Joseph, given to him by his mother Rachel, who had waited and waited to have a child. The name Joseph means “May God add another.” Naming him Joseph infers that she wanted another son. Perhaps that gave Joseph a measure of insecurity, knowing that he was not enough to be Rachel’s only son but that she had to have another. How would you like to live your life knowing that your mother was wishing for another to come and take your place? With a preoccupied mom, an aged father, stepmothers, eleven brothers, and one sister, their home life was in constant tension due to their clashing emotions. No doubt, the antagonism toward Joseph grew among his brother over the years. We take up the story with Joseph at seventeen years old.
“Israel’s love for Joseph surpassed that for his other sons because he was born to him in his old age.”Genesis 37:3
Being your father’s favorite child may give you a lot of self-confidence, but it also separates you from others in the family. Favoritism in a family breeds jealousy. To make matters even worse, Joseph was also a teenage tattletale. One day, he told on his brothers, bringing a bad report to their father. We can presume he was not being malicious but simply wanted his father to know what his brothers were doing. Joseph only wanted to be a faithful son and please his dad.
Joseph’s brothers (except for Benjamin who was a small child at the time) were wicked. Reuben had committed adultery with his father’s concubine (Genesis 35:22); Judah committed fornication with his daughter-in-law, who had disguised herself as a prostitute at the time (38:12–26); Levi and Simeon were cruel, having slaughtered the Shechemites (34:25–29). And ultimately all of them conspired to slay their own brother.
It’s very difficult to understand how they could be sons of a chosen family, isn’t it? They were all destined to be fathers of the tribes of Israel, but their hearts were so dark. But thank God! He knows how to transform our lives and make us into faithful sons and daughters of God. Joseph was the favorite son, the son of Jacob’s old age, the firstborn of Jacob’s favorite wife. Not only did Jacob love him most, but he also unwisely displayed it. And Joseph’s brothers quickly realized that he was the one, the favorite son. It was only a matter of time before they unleashed their sibling rivalry. When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father loved him more than he loved them, they hated him and would not speak a kind word to him. (37:4)
Jacob made his favorite son a beautiful multicolored robe. This was more than just a pretty coat; it was the robe of a priest. Jacob did not honor any of his other sons in this way. By this act, Jacob had designated Joseph the priest of the family. No wonder jealousy consumed his brothers.
Can you imagine Joseph walking out to the sheepfold showing off his richly ornamented, multi-colored, ankle length robe? This would be like a carpenter wearing a mink coat to the job site. No wonder it made his brothers angry. It’s one thing to be favored but another to flaunt it. Why didn’t Jacob make a coat for Reuben, his oldest, or for Benjamin, his youngest? A garment like this was to be worn only by a prince. Jacob was showing his sons that Joseph was the mantle-bearer of the inheritance of the favored son.
You are a favored one. God has placed upon you a robe of revelation colors, the robe of righteousness given to you when you believed in Jesus Christ. How you respond to favor and blessing is the key to living for God. Will you take the Father’s hand of favor today and live for him?
My heavenly Father, what favor and blessing spills over my life when I come before you! The endless love you have for me is my strength in life. I delight in knowing you as my Father. Help me to take your right hand of favor and live in purity and light for your name’s sake. Amen.
The above was adapted from The Dreamer: The Path of Favor, a biblical commentary on the book of Genesis chapters 36-50. In The Dreamer, Brian and Candice Simmons explore the breathtaking story of Joseph—a man who God prepared for great authority and privilege with a divinely inspired dream. Learn how to grow spiritually through every season of life and gain fresh insight from rich footnotes that include comments, word studies, cross references, and alternate translations.
Discover the power of a dream, the purpose of trials, and the true meaning of forgiveness. Let the spirit of wisdom and revelation uncover God’s plan for you.
Additional biblical commentaries on the book of Genesis are also available: The Image Maker (chapters 1-11) and The Blessing (chapters 12-35).
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