For the past 5 weeks we have briefly observed God’s big picture and plan for humanity from the book of beginnings. Genesis begins with an awe-inspiring act of creation and ends with an inspirational and almost tear-jerking reunion of a father and son and the beautiful story of forgiveness and redemption. Throughout Genesis you see God’s sovereign hand at work through creation, humanity, a nation, and in redemption. You witness accounts of God working through the lives of ordinary individuals such as Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, to accomplish God’s extraordinary will. When you read through Genesis you see God’s ways are perfect and His promises are true.
For the sake of review, let me remind you that the first 11 chapters of Genesis deal with the origins of humanity. “In the beginning God created…” It is imperative as followers of Jesus Christ to believe these first five words. It is God who creates. He is the beginning of all things. He has taken great care, love, and affection through His act of creation. His power is displayed as He merely speaks and all that is comes into existence. He creates man from the dust of the ground, and he forms woman from the man and commands them to be fruitful and multiply. He establishes relationship with them. He meets with them in the cool of the day in the garden that he created specifically for them. He gives them dominion over all creation. Man and woman are joined as one flesh and they are called to care for and tend his creation.
In the Garden we are also introduced to evil and sin and the consequences of the man and woman’s disobedience. From the moment they sinned fellowship between humanity and God was severed. Fortunately, God does not give up on humanity. We see throughout Genesis multiple times where God gets extremely frustrated with humanity (The Flood, and the Tower of Babel), but He always shows grace. It is in the introduction of sin that we made aware of humanities need for a Savior. We see the need for forgiveness and redemption. We are reminded constantly that sin separates but the Savior unites.
The second half of Genesis (12 – 50) deals primarily with the origins of a nation and the history of the patriarchs of this nation. Last week we were introduced to a man named Abram and he is the one whom God will bless and establish as the father of a chosen race of people for his glory. He makes a promise or a covenant with Abraham that God would make him the father of a great nation and he would be blessed by God even though he had no children. Through his offspring (his son that he would not see until he was 100 years old) God would fulfill his plan and purpose. God’s plan is perfect, but humanity was not. In the lives of Abraham, his son Isaac, and his grandson Jacob we see how human interference, deceit, idolatry, immorality, conformity to the world, and betrayal can cause a world of trouble. Yet still not all is lost because God uses it all of this for his glory. I haven’t covered most of this, but I would highly recommend you read Genesis chapters 18 – 36 this week to gain a better understanding. Today we are going to skip to Genesis 37 as we look briefly at the life of Joseph and God’s promise fulfilled through his father’s blessings of him and his brothers as they become a nation called by God.
Joseph - The Favored One
The story of Joseph is significant to setting the stage for the nation of Israel. It is amazing how quickly the story of Genesis goes from God’s wonderful act of creation and quickly turns into account upon account of depravity including murderer, jealousy, deceit, unbridled lust, judgment, idolatry, war, rape, adultery and so much more. Strangely Genesis could rival any modern-day drama television show…I think it would be too much for prime-time television.
We don’t get much information about Joseph when we first meet him. We do know he is important since almost a ¼ of Genesis is dedicated to his life. What we do know is that he is 17 years old. He was a good boy. He was the favored son. Dad beamed with pride when Joseph was around. He could do no wrong in his father’s eyes. Certainly, he did a lot of good things, and he most likely towed the line in life (rule follower). He was the kind of person people loved or hated.
Vs 1 - 4: Sadly, his brothers did hate him. They couldn’t and didn’t speak kind words about him. In this chapter Joseph brings a bad report about his brothers to his father. We are not sure what the report was, but it certainly did not sit well with them. Some have suggested they were doing something, and he was informing his father of what was going on. Some have called him a tattle tale. Others call him an obedient son who had a close relationship with his father. “This section portrays Joseph as faithful to his father in little things, even though unpopular—and so he will eventually be given authority over greater things.” Others think that Joseph was speaking lies about his brothers, and they resented him for his lies. Since his brothers were never held in high regard with their father it would have made them all the angrier because the lie wouldn’t have really served any real purpose.
Israel/Jacob loved Joseph the most – fatherly favoritism. Jacob does to his sons what his father did to him. Interestingly this has been a trend passed down from his father (Jacob and Esau). One would think Jacob would understand what it was like to be the least loved of the brothers. He would have empathy for his sons because he never won his own father’s affection. There was no other reason than Joseph was the favorite because he was the son of the favored wife. As we will soon see this favoritism leads to bad things.
To show his son his affection Israel gives Joseph a robe or cloak of many colors. Some versions call this garment a robe, some a tunic and others a coat. We are not exactly sure what this robe looked like. It may have been a garment that a prince wore. It is also described in other passages of the Bible as being a long garment reaching down to the ankles or wrists. I don’t believe that what the robe looked like matters as much as what it represented. Every time Joseph wore this robe the brothers were reminded how little value their father had of them. There was a deep seeded jealousy and probably not for a bad reason. The jealousy was so great that they could not speak peacefully about him. I could imagine whenever his name was spoken the brothers would spit in disgust at the mere mention of his name. He certainly was a point of tension whenever his name was brought up in discussion.
Vs 5 – 11: Joseph was a dreamer. No, he wasn’t a guy who walked around with his head in the clouds drifting in and out of reality… He was a man whom God spoke to in his dreams. He was a man who was in tune with God. He was sensitive to His presence. When God spoke, Joseph listened. As we have seen in previous accounts with Jacob and Abraham God reveals himself through dreams. This is the first of Joseph’s dreams and it gives him a glimpse of what is yet to come.
Joseph tells his dream to his brothers, and this only adds fuel to the fire. Joseph told his brothers that there will be a time when the brothers will bow down before him. The brothers certainly felt this was ludicrous. Their response was, “There is no way on God’s green earth we will ever bow down to you.” Remember their words… because the phrase, “Never say never” will eventually come in to play.
Joseph dreams a second dream. This time he tells them not only will his brothers bow before him, but his mother and father will as well. This sounded even more ridiculous. His brothers respond with jealous hatred and his father kept his saying in his mind. He put this interpretation in the back of his mind. He may have pondered the words of Joseph in his heart.
With what we know about Joseph, one would assume that he had a pretty good life, that he had an easy life. But this wasn’t the case. He was betrayed by his brothers and sold as a slave. He was falsely accused of trying to seduce an Egyptian officer’s wife. He was thrown into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Eventually, many years later, Joseph became a man of influence among the Egyptians and more specifically the Pharaoh. He comes face to face with his brothers later in life and forgives them for the horrible things they did to him in the previous years.
It is specifically in the story of Joseph that we understand what God is up to. We are reminded when Joseph speaks to his brothers at the end of Genesis “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” (50:19 – 20). The story of Joseph reminds us today that our problems, difficulties, and hardships in no way indicate abandonment from God. In fact, it can and usually does mean just the opposite. God sometimes allows difficulty in our lives so we will be more dependent on him and grow to trust him more and more.
Genesis 48 - 50
The remaining three chapters of Genesis not only bring us to the conclusion of the book of beginnings but also to the conclusion of the story of Jacob and Joseph, and the beginnings of the future of the nation of Israel. In the concluding chapters Jacob pronounces blessing upon his sons and grandsons, gives directions to where he should be buried, and he speaks a prophecy of what is yet to come.
Jacob blesses his grandsons Ephraim and Manasseh (Joseph’s sons).
Vs 11: Jacob says to his son Joseph, “I never thought I would see your face again, but now God has let me see your children, too.” God’s grace is evident in this reunion because not only does Jacob live to see his son whom he thought dead is alive and he also sees and blesses his own grandchildren.
Jacob blesses his grandsons, and he blesses the younger over the older. Joseph tries to correct his father, but his father continues to bless the younger. He declares that Ephraim will become a greater nation than his brother. Incidentally Ephraim does become a great tribe and they are one of the leading tribes with Joshua in bringing the people to the Promised Land.
Jacob gathers all 12 of his sons so he may speak final words to them.
He speaks blessings to 9 of his sons (Judah, Zebulon, Issachar, Dan, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Joseph, and Benjamin). He speaks a prophecy concerning the future human king of Israel and the eternal King (Jesus the Lion of the Tribe of Judah) to Judah. He chastises three sons… Reuben whose lust burned so hot that he committed the sinful act of adultery with his dad’s wife. Simeon and Levi were chastised for their violent reaction to the men of Shechem. These brothers would still prosper but their tribes would be scattered among the other tribes.
At the conclusion of Chapter 49 Jacob dies and his sons return him to Canaan where he is buried in a cave with his wives.
When his father dies Joseph weeps and kisses him. He tells the servants to embalm his father so his body can be preserved for the long journey ahead. There is a time of great mourning for their father as the brothers return him to the land of promise.
Joseph’s brothers fear for their lives. They fear Joseph was still harboring bitterness and revenge in his heart. They believed that since their dad was dead, and Joseph could easily take his vengeance. Joseph assures his brothers all is well and God’s plan is perfect. Concluding this chapter, the death of Joseph is detailed. His body was not returned to the Promised Land until the Exodus of Moses,
Beautiful, Loved and Blessed
Genesis is the story of beginnings. It is the story of blessings. It is the story of God working among his people and creation. When reading through the fifty chapters of Genesis a good question to ask is, “What can we take away from the Genesis?” I believe there are three truths or more specifically blessings we observe throughout the book of beginnings.
God has blessed you. It is God’s nature to drench his people with his blessing. We are blessed. God wants to bless you and know that you are a blessing to Him. Author Bruce Wilkinson writes in his book THE PRAYER OF JABEZ, “Why not make it a lifelong commitment to ask God every day to bless you.” You are his child, his son or daughter. Just like any father who loves his children He wants to bless you abundantly, more than you know. Most of all He wants you to say, “Father, I am yours and whatever you have purposed for me, and my life is what I want. I want more of you in my life. I want all of you and you can have all of me.” There is no limit to God’s goodness and blessing and He wants to pour out His blessings on us. When we ask God to bless us, we are giving Him our complete submission and we throw ourselves at His mercy to do as He pleases in our lives for his glory and our benefit.
This is what God did through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. From the beginning God had a plan. This plan included His divine act of creation, the fall of creation, and the promise of redemption through the nation of Israel and more specifically through Jesus Christ who would come through the line of Israel to bring redemption and eternal life to all who repent and believe.
 Biblical Studies Press. (2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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